My Birthday Cake

Yes, I made my own birthday cake. Before I go any further I will say that my lovely hubby did offer to make it, or we could have bought one, but I said no. I wanted to make my birthday cake, and I will tell you why.

Regular readers will know that I recently went to a cake decorating masterclass with Cake Boss Buddy Valastro. At the class, I was basically just having a bit of fun and the cake I decorated was a right mess if truth be told! When we left we were given a decorating set from the Cake Boss range, and I decided that I would like to decorate my birthday cake, using the set. Partly to make use of the set, and partly to prove to myself (and the world) that I am capable of decorating a cake slightly better than the one I did at the masterclass!

We were having a birthday BBQ on the Saturday after my birthday, so on Friday, Monkey and I did a lot of baking. Or at least, I did a lot of baking while he basically ate quite a lot of butter and sugar. He was happily occupied at least!

I made a huge batch of cake mix, all following a very simple recipe. To make a fairly small batch (for 12 cupcakes or a fairly thin layer of sponge) you would follow this recipe.

4oz Self Raising Flour
1 tsp baking powder
4oz soft Marge or butter (I use Stork)
4oz Caster Sugar
2 Large eggs
2-3 drops Vanilla Extract

Preheat oven to 170°C

Put all in a bowl and whisk with electric whisk until smooth and light. (Yep it is THAT simple!)

Bake 30 mins for cake, or 25 mins for cupcakes. Should be golden and bounce back if pressed gently in the middle) 

I made 4 times that amount, made a huge cake, in two layers, and 24 cupcakes.

Then I made lots of lovely buttercream icing, using this recipe: (I made a double batch for my cake and cupcakes)

110g Unsalted Butter at room temperature
60ml Semi-skimmed milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
500g sifted Icing sugar

Beat the butter, milk, vanilla extract and half the icing sugar until smooth – can take several minutes with an electric hand mixer.

Gradually add the remaining icing sugar and beat until smooth and creamy.

If you want different colours – your best bet is to add gel food colouring otherwise the consistency gets a lot sloppier and harder to work with.

On Friday night I dirty iced the cake (or applied a ‘crumb coat’) ready for some fondant. Now I didn’t do quite as cake boss would recommend. I didn’t trim the cake to make it flat (I did plan to cut off the tops of the sponge, but it felt too much like a waste of cake!) and I don’t really have the smoothing tools he mentions in his book. I did pipe the icing onto the cake before spreading with a spatula though, and I have to say that was much easier. Normally i am dragging it all over the place and there is crumbs sticking to the icing everywhere, and it basically looks a bit rubbish. Piping the buttercream onto the cake, and then spreading with a spatula, worked a LOT better!

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I made some different coloured buttercream for decorating the cupcakes and used a couple of the tips we already had for piping the decorations on. It started off quite well, and I was really pleased with myself.

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Then somehow, it went wrong. I know they say a bad workman always blames his tools but honestly something went weird with the piping tips. I used exactly the same technique from moments before, but they went from looking like this…

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to this…

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What? How? Oh I don’t know, but they look like I suddenly got drunk while piping, and well, as I am 3 months pregnant, I don’t think that happened. Anyway, hey ho, they will all taste the same!

I had planned on finishing the cake on the Friday night too but this had annoyed me somewhat and by now I was tired and irritable and eventually conceded the point to hubby and agreed it may be more sensible to finish icing the cake the following morning!

Feeling fresh on Saturday I set about decorating my cake. Unlike at the masterclass where I just went all guns blazing with no clear idea in my head, this time I had a vague design idea.

I started with the white fondant, which seemed to go ok, although I did make a bit of a mess on the sides of the cake.

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Thankfully I planned on putting a thick band of icing round this bit, which will hide it but I managed to patch it up a little.

Then I cut some ribbons using the handy cutting tool from the set, and applied round the base of the cake (handily hiding my previous errors!).

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The set comes with lots of different shaped cutters, but I chose to just use the star shapes for my cake. So I cut out lots of stars in the different coloured fondant and applied to the cake.

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I don’t think I was very delicate with the stars as they look a little more like star fish than stars as they are all wavy, but they still look quite pretty! We’d bought some gel icing pens for writing on the cake with, so I had a little practice, and actually found them really easy to use!

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So Ouila! My Birthday Cake and cupcakes! Not perfect and my writing on the cake was a little wonky but overall I was quite pleased. I was pretty chuffed with them, and everyone said they tasted yummy, so a big success overall I think!

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I used the Cake Boss circus kit to make my birthday cake, which retails at £25.00. I received the kit free but all words and opinions are my own.

 

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A Cake Decorating Masterclass with Cake Boss Buddy Valastro

Buddy Valastro, AKA Cake Boss, is an awesomely talented New Jersey Baker who has become a household name in the US, and across the world. Having watched his show a lot, I have also attempted to make his amazing Red Velvet Cake recipe in the past, and have blogged about it. This blog post led to me receiving an invite to meet the man himself! I couldn’t believe it! After much excitement I agreed and made all the arrangements to head to London for the evening.

Last Monday was The Night! I headed to L’atelier Des Chefs in London for a Masterclass in Cake Decorating and to meet the amazing Buddy. I was excited, nervous, awestruck… but you know what, I had so much fun, and he was LOVELY!

The man himself arrived!

The man himself arrived!

He was such a lovely, genuine guy and seemed genuinely happy to meet us all! There was a real mixture of people there from die-hard fans, to journalists, digital media marketing peeps and a few of us bloggers (including the lovely Lucy from Capture by Lucy, and it was great to meet her!). There may have been more variety than that even, there was quite a few people there and I didn’t get to speak to everyone!

After meeting Buddy and his UK ambassador Juliet Sear we headed in to the kitchen where Buddy gave a demonstration of some of his techniques, giving us decorating tips and showcasing his range of products which you can buy (more on that later). He was also answering a lot of questions, on a whole variety of subjects including the balance of personal/private life with filming a reality TV show – to why he does what he does. He was very lovely and genuine and took it all with real aplomb. He said that for him it is all about family – he wants people to bake as a family and show people that anyone can do it. And you know what, I believed him.

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Then it was our turn to have a go at decorating cakes. The hard bit of baking, trimming and shaping the cakes had been done in advance so all we had to do was decorate, but it was for a competition judged by Buddy! Yipes! Right off I made a mess of my fondant so he helped me sort it out and we had a lovely piccy together and a brief chat, though I was a bit awestruck to ask any serious questions not related to cake decorating – sorry everyone!

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The lovely Lucy from Capture by Lucy

I got the fondant on the cake with the help of his handy smoother tool… (ok so it’s not THAT smooth, but better than I’ve ever managed before!)

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But then didn’t really know what to do, and instead of forming a plan, I decided to just have some fun and try out some different techniques, some of which I managed better than others!! My drop lines were not particularly effective as they kept falling off the cake. Think I need some more practice there!!

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I was having lots of fun then I looked round and realised some people were actually taking it pretty seriously…. and their cakes looked fab! Oops! So I panicked and stuck a layer of fondant over my messy creation in a last ditch attempt to make it a bit more appealing? (Not sure it worked??!)

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Then it was judging time and there was so many fab cakes to choose from (not including mine – though shhh I don’t think mine was the absolute worst – but it was down there with them!) and he chose a lovely cake with a bow decorated by Kirsten at The Little Wedding Helper.

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The evening was over and I got my pinny signed by the man himself, and a couple more snaps to remember the evening!

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As we were leaving we got an awesome goody bag with a Cake Boss DVD, Baking Tips book, a Cake decorating kit, a book by his UK ambassador Juliet Sear and some fondant icing! Great stuff!

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Some of his products were fab, I am very excited to try out the kit we got as a freebie and have popped a couple of others onto my birthday wishlist! :)

If you would like to buy any of the Cake Boss range I am sure there are a lot of places you can buy them but I have found them on Very.co.uk

If you would like to see Buddy in action you can catch him on TLC as follows:

The current series of Bakery Boss is on Fridays at 9pm right now

Cake Boss is on Fridays at 9pm from June

Next Great Baker is on Fridays at 9pm from September

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I’ve been invited to meet Buddy Valastro!

If you are wondering “Who is Buddy Valastro?” He is an oh so cool New Jersey Baker who is the star of a very popular show, “Cake Boss” on TLC. He is famous for making some seriously incredible cakes. Cakes that are the size of cars. Cakes that are so intricate and detailed that they look like works of art. He is basically incredible, and very funny. He also has two other shows – “Next Great Baker” a competition show to find the next great baker,which is a lot of fun, and “Bakery Boss” which I have to admit I haven’t seen yet but looks to be a little like Ramsey’s Kitchen Nightmares…. but in Bakeries, which sounds like it would be very good fun!

And I have been invited to meet him! Moi? Little old me? I have blogged about his amazing Red Velvet Cake recipe before (which is incredible) and somehow, that blog post has led to an invite to a press event! Me and approx. 14 journalists are attending an exclusive cake decorating Masterclass in London. I can’t believe my luck! My initial response to the invite was a LOT of nervous giggling and it took me a few hours to get my head around it! Heck I’m not sure I do have my head around it! But I am definitely excited!!

My version of Buddy's Red Velvet Cake

My version of Buddy’s Red Velvet Cake

Hubby was very excited for me and is happy to look after Monkey while I trot off to London for the evening where I will be attending L’atelier des Chefs for said Masterclass and ‘chat’ with Buddy Valastro!  They are even going to pay for my train ticket to London! I’m dead excited (have I mentioned that?) but also really nervous! I love baking and I love his cakes, but he and his staff are INCREDIBLE and create some serious masterpieces. Have a look here for some of their recent cakes.

After a bit of trial and error I have managed to succeed in baking his Red Velvet Cake but this is a cake decorating masterclass, and, well, look at Monkey’s 1st Birthday Cake! Decorator Extraodinaire I most certainly am not! So the masterclass will be great and hopefully I will pick up some tips, but I also hope I don’t completely embarrass myself either!

Decorator Extraordinaire? Ummm .... No

Decorator Extraordinaire? Ummm …. No

Not to mention the fact that the other attendees are journalists, I am just a mummy blogger who likes baking, I have a feeling I will feel ever so slightly like a fish out of water! I will have to put a lot of effort into faking some confidence I think! I just can’t believe that I have been picked to attend a press event with a celebrity. Little old blogging me! Crazy, but awesome :)

I am hopefully going to get a chance to chat with Buddy (eek!) so I need to come up with some questions for him. Are any of you fans of Buddy or Cake Boss? Any burning questions you’d love to ask him? I can’t promise I’ll be able to get answers to any of them but I will give it a good try!

To see Buddy for yourself you catch him on TLC as follows

The current series of Bakery Boss is on every Friday at 9pm 

Cake Boss is on Fridays at 9pm from June

Next Great Baker is on Fridays at 9pm from September

 

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