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Brandy Snaps – A Christmas Dessert

These brandy snaps actually do not contain any brandy but could made festive by adding brandy to the whipped cream filling! This is one of my favourite treats around the holidays because of the ginger in the recipe and you can’t go wrong with these at a Christmas party or just a treat for yourself!

Ingredients

100 grams salted butter

100 grams brown sugar

100 grams golden syrup or honey

100 grams all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp lemon juice

For decorating (optional)

100 grams chocolate, melted

100 grams chopped nuts like pistachios

For the filling

1 cup heavy whipping cream

4 tsp cold water

1 tsp unflavoured gelatin

1/4 cup confectioner’s sugar

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Special Equipment

Silpat or other silicone mat that is oven-safe and food-grade silicone

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°F
  2. In a medium size saucepan combine the butter, sugar, and syrup over low heat until the butter has melted and the sugar has dissolved (this should take about 15 minutes, taking care not to let the mixture boil)
  3. Remove from the hear and let the mixture cool for a few minutes
  4. Sift the flour and ginger into the sugar mixture and add the lemon juice
  5. Mix well until all ingredients are fully incorporated and there are no lumps of flour
  6. Spoon rounded teaspoons of the mixture 4 inches apart onto the Silpat on a baking sheet
  7. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes or until the brandy snaps have a dark golden colour
  8. Allow the biscuits to sit out for a few minutes to firm up before shaping around the handle of a wooden spoon or form to get the classic brandy snap shape
  9. The brandy snaps only need a few seconds to cool on the wooden spoon handle before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely
  10. Dip the ends of the brandy snaps in melted chocolate and sprinkle with chopped nuts
  11. Fill the snaps with the whipped cream filling using a piping bag and a nozzle or a ziplock bag with the corner cut off and refrigerate until serving (the gelatin in the whipped cream will keep it from going runny so you could prepare these up to a day ahead)
For the filling
  1. In a small microwave safe bowl sprinkle the gelatin over the 4 tsp water and allow to sit for 2 minutes
  2. Microwave the mixture for about 15 seconds or until the gelatin is dissolved and is liquid
  3. Using an electric mixer whip the cream, vanilla, and confectioner’s sugar to soft peaks
  4. While the mixer is running on medium speed, slowly drizzle in the gelatin mixture and whip the cream until stiff peaks form

 

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Homemade Jaffa Cakes

These are one of my family’s favourite treats from back in England but unfortunately you can’t buy them here. Here’s my take on how to make these orange-chocolate jaffa cakes.

Ingredients for the jelly

3/4 cup plus 2 tbsp powdered orange gelatin (Jello)

1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp cup hot water

zest of 1 orange

Directions for the jelly

  1. In a small bowl, combine the gelatin, hot water, and orange zest, and stir until the gelatin is completely dissolved.
  2. Pour the mixture into a 20 x 30 cm non-stick rectangular pan (don’t grease the pan).
  3. Refrigerate for at least 15 minutes.

 

Ingredients for the cakes

2 large eggs

1/4 cup sugar

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

180 grams of dark chocolate, melted

 

Directions for the cakes

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  2. In a large bowl beat the eggs with the sugar with an electric mixer until they are pale and fluffy, about 5-7 minutes.
  3. Sift in the flour and gently fold it into the mixture
  4. Grease a mini muffin pan and fill each cup with about 1 tbsp mixture.
  5. Bake for 7-8 minutes or until a toothpick poked in the middle comes out clean.
  6. Allow to cool completely.

 

To assemble

  1. Turn out the jelly onto a piece of parchment paper by loosening the edges and then quickly flipping the pan over the non-stick paper
  2. Using a 1-inch cookie cutter cut out the jelly, the off cuttings can be melted and refrigerated again to cut out more jelly pieces.
  3. Place one jelly piece on one cake and coat the top in the melted dark chocolate.
  4. Allow the chocolate to set in the freezer, then serve.

 

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19TH STRAWBERRY & WHIPPED CREAM BIRTHDAY CAKE – step by step guide to making a birthday cake

This year I had a small birthday bbq for my 19th birthday. I’m still not 19, a few more weeks and I will have completed my 19th year of life, but I wanted to have some friends over early to celebrate and eat cake. It’s not often that everyone is around on my birthday, especially because it is exactly in the middle of summer when everyone goes on holiday so I guess I get 2 celebrations, one with friends and one with my family on my actual birthday.

I was so excited to make the same cake as I had for my brother’s wedding because I think it may have become my favourite type of cake. I did cheat and use box cake mix but its oh so worth it, plus it cuts down some of the time it takes to make the cake, especially since there are extra steps. I made a white chocolate cake with fresh whipped cream and fresh strawberries.

Tip: I like to make the cake decorations at least 2 days before assembling the cake and bake the cakes one day before assembling. That way the cakes will be 100% cooled and there will be no chance of the frosting melting!

Scroll down to see some pictures and to get the recipe for the cake and the frosting!

Ingredients for the cake (makes 4 layers)

1 stick of butter cut into slices about 1 tbsp each

6oz of white chocolate chips

1 box of white cake mix (the

1 cup whole milk

3 large eggs

 

Steps

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F convection bake.

2. Place the butter and white chocolate in a glass bowl over a pan of simmering water (bain-marie) and stir until both have melted. then set aside.

3. In a large bowl add the cake mix, the milk, the eggs, and then add the melted chocolate mixture.

4. With an electric mixer mix the cake batter on medium until smooth. It will have thickened and may have tiny lumps but that’s okay.

5. Divide the batter between 2 greased and lined cake pans and bake for 20-30 minutes or until the top is golden brown and a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.

6. Allow the cakes to cool in the pans for about 5 minutes and then turn them out to cool on a wire rack.

7. Trim the domes off the cake and wrap in clingfilm (saran wrap) before popping them into the freezer for at least 2 hours.

8. Cut each cake in half to make 2 layers of cake from each one (you will now have 4 layers total).

 

Ingredients for the stabilized whipped cream filling

2 tsp unflavoured gelatin

8 tsp cold water

2 cups heavy whipping cream

1 cup confectioner’s sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 packages of strawberries washed and cut into half (this is for the assembly)

 

Steps

1. In a small bowl sprinkle the gelatin over the cold water and set aside.

2. Whip the cream and the confectioner’s sugar until it begins to thicken.

3. Microwave the gelatin mixture for about 10 seconds or until liquidy.

4. While mixing on high, slowly drizzle the gelatin into the whipped cream.

5. Whip until stiff peaks and then store in the fridge in an airtight container.

Ingredients for the swiss meringue buttercream

6 egg large whites at room temperature

1 1/3 cups white sugar

4 sticks salted butter at room temperature

2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

 

Steps:

1. Over a bain-marie, combine the egg whites and sugar and mix until the mixture reaches 140°F (if you don’t have a thermometer this will be when the sugar is completely dissolved and it will be pretty hot to the touch, be very careful not to cook the egg whites).

2. Remove the egg white mixture from the bain-marie and with an electric mixer on high, whip until stiff peaks.

3. Once the egg whites and sugar have reached stiff peaks (the bowl should be able to be turned over and the meringue will not move or fall out).

4. With the mixture on medium, slowly add the butter 1 tbsp at a time. Whip for about a minute after adding the last piece of butter.

5. If the mixture looks like it has separated at the end of mixing, the butter may have been too cold, so to fix this, return the frosting to the bain-marie until it begins to look a little melted around the bowl. Remove from the heat and whip until stiff peaks.

Assembling the cake

1. On the cake stand put 1 layer of cake.

2. spread about a cup of the whipped cream all the way to the edges of the cake layer. The whipped cream filling should be about 1 cm thick.

3. Press the strawberry halves into the cream filling.

4. Repeat steps 1-3 for all the layers.

5. Place in the fridge for 10 minutes.

7. Frost the crumb coat (a very thin layer of frosting on the cake to stick all the crumbs to the cake).

8. Let the crumb coat set in the fridge for 10 minutes.

9. Apply the final layer of frosting (I tinted half of the remaining frosting a very very pale blue and the other half a slightly darker blue and put the darker blue on the bottom and turned the cake standing while holding my frosting knife still to blend the colours. I also piped a geometric design on the bottom of the cake using royal icing.)

10. Finish with the decorations and serve!

 

 

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OVERLOOKING THE CITY

This was my favourite spot to watch the sun setting over Hartford because it was just so relaxing. it still is one of my favourite spots but unfortunately, often times when people go to really pretty places around the world, the secret gets out so it becomes quite a popular spot.

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MY BROTHER GOT MARRIED!

Photo credit to Dei Gratia Photo

Just last week my older brother and his fiancé got married! Congratulations!!! It was such a beautiful wedding filled with love & laughter, the best things to have at a wedding. I am so happy to say that I now have another sister! My brother and his (hehe) WIFE asked me about a year ago if I would bake their wedding cake, and my first reaction was to laugh. It probably wasn’t the best reaction, but I wasn’t a professional baker, I had yet to master making creme brulee. I had baked and decorated a couple of birthday cakes only for family members, which I think turned out pretty good. Each time I learned what not to do from the previous time.

Eventually, I convinced myself that I could do it. All I needed was a little faith and of course, the equipment and ingredients to bake and assemble the cake. Every now and then, my mum would ask me, “Charis? Are you sure you want to make the cake? We can get it made by the bakery and I’ll help to fund it.” But my brother and his fiance had asked ME to do it and I really wanted to make them proud.

I was never really nervous about the process until the day before the wedding. I wanted the cake to be as fresh as possible and so I had planned to bake the cake the day before and freeze them until assembly time. I had completely forgotten the time constraints for getting ready and attending the rehearsal and the dinner, leaving me with a few hours less than I thought. Later that night I baked the 2 last layers of the bottom tier of the cake, breaking one because I was too impatient to wait to turn it out of the pan. I had prepared all of the fondant flowers the week before so decoration wasn’t a huge issue but the interior structure of the cake seemed that it would be compromised by the broken cake layer.

The next day, Wedding Day, I got a few extra ingredients having second-guessed how much I really needed of each, and off we drove 40 mins away from the center of town. a trip that I knew if I ran out 0f ingredients no one would want to make, especially with the wedding in just about 7 hours. I mixed up fillings and syrups and I filled and stacked the different tiers of the cake and then my biggest worry, frosting. With the wedding being outdoors on what was supposed to be an 85-degree day, without research haha, Italian buttercream seemed like a good choice. Its base was meringue which would help to hold the butter up, and it tastes fantastic. But the only issue is that it’s very finicky. one wrong move and the frosting could be a soupy mess. To my horror, I hadn’t let the Italian meringue cool enough before adding a small amount of the butter. The meringue that I had beaten for ages to get the silky, hold-the-bowl-over-your-head meringue, was destroyed.

I didn’t have enough time or enough eggs to re-whip it so I had to wing it. I did a little research, the first result saying that this had happened to them and so they added all the butter in one go and it worked. That was a huge gamble being that it was all of the butter that I had brought. So I read other results saying it was gone, I had to start over, no one knows how to fix it. So I did it, I added ALL the butter in one go, in hopes that it would cool the mixture down fast enough that I could whip it in and then reincorporate air to get the frosting to that bright white.

In the end, it had worked! I couldn’t really tell if it was a super bright white frosting but I had been told by passers-by that it looked bright to them. The bride and groom were so relaxed that they said it’ll taste good anyways and they gave me confidence that no matter what it’d be okay. I frosted it together and stuck the cake in the fridge, I think the bottom 2 tiers must have weighed 30-40 pounds 😅 because my and my sister’s arms were shaking as we tried to keep the cake level on a wobbly stand, going into the fridge. After the ceremony, we recruited 2 of the groomsmen to help us carry it to the barn where the reception was and there my sister Emma and I topped it off with the last tier.

It was done. The cake was finally a cake, 3 tiers high, Tiramisu, White chocolate cake with strawberries and whipped cream, and lemon and whipped cream. Now it was up to the weather to not melt the icing off the cake. My sister and I rushed off to take pictures, icing on her bridesmaid dress 😆, but the bouquet could cover it. She thought it was funny as well so we laughed and enjoyed the wedding.

There was live music, dancing, and a mac ‘n cheese bar. Later that night I got to drive them away in the getaway car, the night was so peaceful driving through the countryside with the stars twinkling above and the bride and groom sitting up on the back of the convertible, the wind in their hair, and such love beaming from them.

It was an absolutely wonderful day, congratulations I & N! I love you guys so much! Xx

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MY 17TH BIRTHDAY CAKE!

This summer I turned 17! It was so much better than when I had baked my cake on my actual birthday. This year I made the decorations 2 days before and baked and decorated the cake one day before. This way I had my cake exactly how I wanted it and I wasn’t stuck making it on my birthday, just in case it didn’t work out.

As you might have already noticed, I am a lover of the sea and anything to do with the sea. My family and I live about 1 to 2 hours away from the coast, and on my birthday my parents and I went! I would really love to go again because I always think of the ocean and it makes me happy. My birthday is in July, I believe I could not have been born on a better day. When I was younger, and my parents did not have my older brother and sister in college, we would go on holidays and they would be around my birthday. If I could live on the beach I would, better yet I would live in Hawaii! Since I’m not quite old enough to have graduated,  don’t have a full-time job, and am unable to begin building my dream house, I can still bring the beach to me. Here is yet another of my beach-themed cakes!

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TIRAMISU TRIFLE: A DELICIOUS COMBINATION

It’s actually called a Triferrystrawbisu! I would have used this name as the title but you wouldn’t be able to find it on the search engine, because guess why, we made it up!

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While the name might look crazy, my friend from England and I created this recipe when she came over to visit. After buying fruits at the store and picking our own cherries, we had so much fruit that we didn’t want to let go to waste and so we came up with a plan. Because tiramisu usually doesn’t have fruits in it, we decided that we would combine a tiramisu with a trifle and get the best of both worlds. We couldn’t find a recipe using cherries, strawberries and blackberries in a tiramisu, so we created our own guess-and-hope-it-turns-out-well version. #toughdecisions. Along the way, were numerous mishaps with the mascarpone cheese, but there was always a way to fix it, a way that everyone should know if something were to go wrong. My friend was telling me that everytime she wanted to make something it turned out as a disaster, for example her half raw, half burned mug-cakes. I was so determined that this tiramisu trifle would be the best ever, that if there was a problem, we had to find a way to fix it. So keep scrolling to find out our solutions to a kitchen nightmare and how we made this show stopper!

 

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Makes about 20 generous servings
Ingredients
2 1/2 cups strong brewed coffee, room temperature
1 1/2 tablespoons instant coffee granules
2 packages margherite cookies or ladyfingers
4 tablespoons Kahlúa, divided (one half for the whipped cream, one half for the coffee)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup powdered sugar
2 cups heavy whipping cream
1 large package vanilla pudding mix
1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
1 – 1 1/2 cups unsweetened cocoa powder
1 punnets strawberries, washed, dried, and halved
2 cups pitted cherries, washed, dried and halved
A few blackberries, washed and dried for garnishing
Glacé or maraschino cherries for garnishing
Pitted cherries with the stems for garnishing
Directions

1. In a large bowl, mix the coffee, instant coffee granules, and 2 tablespoons of the Kahlúa, set aside

2. In a large bowl, with an electric mixer, beat the mascarpone cheese until light and fluffy

3. Beat in the vanilla and Kahlúa

4. Whip the 2 cups of heavy whipping cream and add to the mascarpone mixture one-third at a time, folding with a rubber spatula to combine

5. Make the pudding according the packet

6. Whip the last cup of whipped cream and fold into the vanilla pudding one-third at a time

TIP:
USING MASCARPONE WAS STRESSFUL, NOT KNOWING THAT IT WOULD CURDLE IF EVERYTHING WASN’T AT ROOM TEMPERATURE. IF IT DOES CURDLE PUT THE MIXTURE OVER A BAIN-MARIE AND STIR CONSTANTLY UNTIL SMOOTH. I DID THIS WHEN IT CURDLED AFTER ADDING THE KAHLÚA AND VANILLA, AND AFTER ADDING THE WHIPPED CREAM, SO DON’T WORRY ABOUT IT IF THE MIXTURE CURDLES, YOU CAN FIX IT!

 

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Layering the Triferrystrawbisu

1. Put one layer of ladyfingers on the bottom of the trifle bowl

2. Using a pastry brush brush the ladyfingers with the coffee mixture until they are soft but not soggy

3. Spread a layer of the mascarpone mixture over the cookies

4. Add the halfed strawberries around the edge of the bowl, pushing the cut side against the side of the bowl

5. Layer halved cherries on the mascarpone

6. Dust with cocoa powder using a fine-mesh sieve

7. Repeat step 1 to 6 until the trifle bowl is half-way filled

8. Finish layering the bowl with the vanilla pudding mixture in place of the mascarpone so the layers go ladyfingers, coffee mixture, pudding mixture, strawberries around the edges, cherries in the middle, and then cocoa powder.

9. Chill, (and hang out haha) and refrigerate the tiramisu trifle for at least 3 hours and then enjoy!

TIP:
The reason why we originally did this was because our trifle bowl was only filled to the middle, but this will also be a good idea when you want to be able to serve kids as well, the top half will be the kids, and the bottom half will be a treat with Kahlúa for the adults.
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ZESTY BEAN SALAD WITH CAJUN SPICE PORK CHOPS

zesty pork chop with cajun spices and lime juice

This is a great recipe from HelloFresh™. It was the first time we tried a set meal delivery and my daughter and I were very pleased with our first experience. The package consisted of 3 meals that came in three boxes packed in a large box with an ice pack in it.

Zesty pork chop was the first recipe we picked to cook. The instructions came in a lovely booklet that adds nicely to our menu library. The beauty of a set meal is a stress-free cooking without having to shop for ingredients and dreaming up recipes to cook.

Instructions for the Zesty Pork Chop

1. Wash, dry and prepare the vegetables. Chop the onions into little chunks, dice the tomatoes, grate the garlic, grate the lime skin, cut the corn kernels off the cob, finely chop the parsley, rinse and drain the beans.

2. In a large bowl, marinate the pork chop. Rub it with the cajun spices, lime zest and lime juice and season with salt and pepper. You can buy cajun spices conveniently mixed and you’d need about 1 to 2 tablespoon to mix all your meat in.

3. For the pork chop, you’d need to heat some oil (a couple of tablespoons) and fry it over medium-high heat, or barbecue it if you prefer. It will take about 4 – 5 minutes per side to cook it through.

4. For the salad, heat some oil in a large pan and add the corn and chopped red onion. Toss them over medium-high heat for just 2 – 3 minutes. Mix the remaining of the salad ingredients, lime zest, and lime juice. Season with salt and pepper. The salad can be prepared in advance and chilled if you prefer.

5. Serve the pork on the salad. You can glaze the pork with a drizzle of honey.

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SALMON BAKED WITH POTATOES, SPINACH, AND CHEDDAR CHEESE

Salmon Baked with Potatoes, Spinach & Cheddar Cheese
Salmon baked with potatoes, spinach & cheesePrepare all the ingredients
  1. STEP 1: Slice the potatoes thinly (preferably with a mandolin slicer) so they’ll cook in the oven. This time round my potatoes were a bit chunky so I ended up with extra minutes in the oven, so the thinner the better.

 

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STEP 2: Put the salmon in a baking glassware or tray

 

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STEP 3: Layer the ingredients on top of the salmon, bake it at 350ºF

Bake the fish covered (you can use silver foil) for 30 minutes

Bake uncovered for 15 to 25 minutes

 

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STEP 4: Serve hot

You can serve this dish with bread or hot plain rice.

 

Oh yes – I forgot to take pictures before eating! Thankfully, we had enough to put in a small plate for the photo shoot but really they turned out better looking than this. The cheese curdled a bit but that didn’t impair the taste. You can disguise the curdle by garnishing with a few fresh spinach leaves and sprinkle of parmesan cheese before serving. Equally, you can leave the spinach out until the last 5 – 10 minutes of cooking!

 

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SHORT CRUST PASTRY RECIPE

This Is A very basic recipe and my favourite! I use this pastry for everything and have never gone to a different recipe.

I got this recipe from my Great British Bake Off Book, of course! Instead of using unsalted butter, if I’m in a rush, for example if I’m making Cornish Pasties, a family favourite, then I do break the rules and use salted butter. Either way the pastry turns out delicious.

Ingredients
600 grams all-purpose (plain) flour
pinch of salt
300 grams cold unsalted butter, cubed
3-6 tablespoons icy water

 

DIRECTIONS

1. In a large bowl, rub the flour and butter together until it resembles bread crumb

2. Add about 3 tablespoons of the water and mix well

3. Continue adding water, one tablespoon at a time until the dough comes together, the dough shouldn’t be sticky or crumbly

4. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap (cling film) and refrigerate the dough for at least 20 minutes

5. Its ready to use!

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20TH BIRTHDAY CAKE!

I love baking cakes, and usually plan to bake the cake before the day it is being served and decorating on the day.

My sister just turned 20! She loves to do make up, so I thought – why not make a birthday cake with a Sephora makeup theme – her favorite! It wasn’t a total surprise for her as she came back from college much sooner than I thought. Thankfully I hadn’t put on the decorations yet and it was just a cake covered in marshmallow fondant that I thought looked really ugly. I ended up tearing off the fondant, and giving it a new coat of chocolate buttercream frosting. The second round look was much better!

Sephora cake

Serves 15 inch-thick slices
INGREDIENTS
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups granulated sugar
2 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon instant coffee granules
2 large eggs at room temperature
2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup of boiling water
To make the decorations:

Make black marshmallow fondant by following a marshmallow fondant recipe. When the marshmallows are melted add cocoa powder, 1/4 cup at a time, until it is a dark brown colour, then add black food colouring, and begin adding the powdered sugar, then continue to follow the recipe.

To bake the cake:
Tip: START 1 DAY AHEAD

1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF convection bake

2. Grease and flour 4, 9-inch cake pans with a removable base (you can use one cake pan like I did, but you just have to wait for each cake to bake, then remove from the oven, cool slightly, and then re-grease and flour the pan)

3. In a large bowl mix together the cocoa powder, flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and instant coffee granules

4. Add the eggs, vanilla and vegetable oil and mix until the batter is smooth

5. While mixing, slowly add in the boiling water, about 1/8th cup (2 tablespoons) at a time

6. Divide the batter into 4 and pour each portion into the prepared pans

7. Bake for about 20 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the centre of the cake, comes out clean

8. Allow the cakes to cool, then level them and brush a simple syrup (1/2 cup water + 1/2 cup sugar brought to a boil) over each of the layers on the cut side

9. Wrap the cakes in clingfilm (plastic wrap) and freeze over night

To assemble the cake:

1. Put 1 tablespoon of the chocolate buttercream onto the cake board and put the first layer of cake on it (this is to hold the cake in place)

2. Spread a 1 cm thick layer of buttercream then put another layer of cake on it, repeat with the rest of the layers

3. Spread the buttercream over the whole cake

4. Add the decorations

5. Enjoy!

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MAKING A CAKE FOR MY MUM!

Occasion: 50th birthday
The most amazing 50th-birthday-cake Cake original design by: Charis Summers

This cake was made for me by my daughter, isn’t it amazing?

This cake is not easy to make, you have to be very patient and need to practice your sculpturing fingers. Give yourself plenty of time, maybe the entire day!

NB. There's no recipe for this post but there are references to videos to show you how to make certain components of the cake.

For the base, you can use any type of sponge cake, yellow cake or white cake recipe.

The lovely icing that covers the whole of the cake is made with ruffled effect fondant.
Kb-youtube
Watch on Youtube – How to make the ombre colored fondant by Cake Trend
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The flower decorations can be made with homemade modelling chocolate.

Kb-youtubeWatch on Youtube how to make modelling chocolate

This cake takes inspiration from a bunch of beautiful fresh flowers – a combination of lillies, roses, yellow daisies and a burst of tiny purple flowers. For an extra nice finishing touch, the cake is laced with glazed cherries and fresh raspberries.

Birthday Flowers

50th birthday cake

50th-birthday-cake

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