hot from the oven

Tips & Tricks

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I thought I would share a few baker’s ‘tips & tricks’ – to make your baking just that little bit easier.

  • Always use your ingredients at room temperature.  If they are straight out the fridge, chances are your cakes won’t rise as well
  • Don’t skip sieving your ingredients.  You’ll have unwanted lumps and also, very dense cupcakes/cakes
  • Use the best you can afford.  Butter is better than margarine, and the cheapest cocoa on the shelf will not give you that rich,  chocolatey taste that you’re after.
  • Cooking chocolate is horrendous.  Rather spend a little more and buy good quality dark or milk chocolate to cook with – remember the saying when it comes to using wine in cooking?  If it’s not good enough to drink, it’s not good enough to cook with.  Same goes for chocolate!
  • If you are wanting white white frosting, use Wooden Spoon Margarine.  The taste is not the same as butter, but no matter how long you beat your butter for it will never ever achieve the white white look you’re wanting.  Trust me!
  • Gel Food Colourings taste better, use less and give a much better colour and consistency than regular liquid food colourings
  • If you are baking cupcakes and you do not have enough mixture to fill all the ‘holes’ in your tray, fill these with water.  This will ensure your other cupcakes bake evenly

Happy Baking.  Please do not hesitate to contact me should you have any questions!

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Authored by: Shayne on Thursday, May 5th, 2011 at 15:05
Categories: Tech

Beach Party Cake

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Oh my goodness – how much fun did I have with this cake?

I have to confess the idea was not mine. I did however tweak and fiddle it somewhat and am completely thrilled with the outcome – as was my 9 yr old client!

It was was very simple to put together. The cake itself was my favourite Vanilla sponge and the layers on each tier were sandwiched together with Vanilla Buttercream & Caramel. All the embellishments were made a couple of weeks prior to the cake, simply using cutters and sugar paste.

And look what we ended up with?

Pretty cool dude :)

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Authored by: Shayne on Thursday, May 5th, 2011 at 15:05
Categories: Cakes

Buzz Lightyear Cake


Not having boys of my own, I always find making ‘boy themed’ party cakes a bit of challenge. Ie i have to change my mindset from pink and girly to masculine and brightly coloured!  But I managed to change my mindset enough to create this funky & delicious cake. A simple vanilla layer cake, shaped and then frosted with Vanilla Buttercream frosting.

Buzz is made from sugarpaste and he was quite fun to put together – I must be honest.

The cake board was covered in sugarpaste too, then stars cutout and replaced with coloured stars to match the party colours.

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Authored by: Shayne on Thursday, March 24th, 2011 at 10:03
Categories: Cakes

Clothesline Baby Shower Cake

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How cute is this cake?  When I saw it I fell in love with it and was completely delighted that I received a request for a Baby Shower Cake shortly thereafter.

The cake itself is simply vanilla with buttercream frosting.  All the extra’s are sugarpaste – the washline, the clothes, the baby carriage and the daisies.

Such a simple, yet effective cake.

Pastel Daisy cupcakes accompanied the cake.

Such pretty, dainty cuppies!

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Authored by: Shayne on Sunday, February 20th, 2011 at 12:02
Categories: Cakes, Cupcakes

Princess Polly Cake


It was my daughter’s 5th birthday this last weekend, and she wanted to have a Princess Party.  A very pretty, pink & white, girly Princess Party.

I had such fun deciding on the decor and putting together the Dessert Table. We featured a Sweetie Bar, in which the girls could choose and scoop out their fav sweetie from the jars.

Red lollipops were tied with polka dot ribbon for a fun look.

I served Berry Juice complete with these gorgeous old fashioned paper straws.

I baked Cake Pops and dipped them in white chocolate – yummy.

The Cupcakes were Vanilla with Buttercream frosting and decorated with sugarpaste crowns and mirrors, which I made myself.

The cake was a 2 tier Chocolate & Vanilla Cake, frosted with buttercream and decorated with pink, white & lilac sugarpaste dots. Princess Polly (sugarpaste and made by myself) completed it.

All the girls had an absolute ball. They got to ice sugar cookies and make fairies too.

A very successful, very pink & white, very girlie party!

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Authored by: Shayne on Tuesday, February 15th, 2011 at 20:02
Categories: Cakes, Cupcakes

Polka Dot Ribbon Cake

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Here is a really simple, but very effective birthday cake to make for someone.
This is a 3 layer vanilla cake, sandwiched together with caramel and frosted with buttercream.
Then simply topped with a Sugarpaste ribbon and small and large polka dots.
Thanks for looking!

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Authored by: Shayne on Friday, February 4th, 2011 at 17:02
Categories: Uncategorized

Black Forest Trifle

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I made this Trifle as one of our desserts for Christmas Day, but quite honestly, it is something that I will certainly be making more frequently, and not keeping it solely for Christmas Celebrations.

It was made *out of my head* as such, so the quantities are a bit vague, but here goes. It made a large glass dish full, if that’s anyhelp.


1 x Swiss Roll, sliced
2 x Tins Cherries (reserve liquid of one), halved
3/4 cup Cherry Liquer
1 x Punnet Strawberries, halved
1 x Punnet Blueberries
3 x cups cream
4 x Flake chocolates, crushed

Begin by beating the cream with a little castor sugar (about 2 tbs) till thick, but still spreadable.

Next mix the reserved cherry juice together with the cherry liquer.

Line the base of your dish with slices of swish roll. Pour a good amt of liquid over this. Scatter an even amount of strawberries, cherries and blue berries over swiss roll, then pour over some cream. Next sprinkle crushed flake over the cream.

Repeat this process as many times as your bowl will allow. Mine allowed 3 layers. Finish off with a layer of cream, and a lot of crushed flake on top. I reserved 3 strawberries to pop in the middle of the trifle.

Make at least 8 hours ahead, or preferably overnight. Just as a matter of interest, this trifle stayed fresh for almost a week – hard to believe it lasted that long, but with all the desserts available, we really did have to watch our waistlines!

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Authored by: Shayne on Tuesday, January 11th, 2011 at 20:01
Categories: Uncategorized

Orange Velvet Cupcakes


I found this recipe the other – for the life of me I cannot remember where – but decided that I was going to give them a try. I don’t think I would have tried these were it not for the fact that I *love* Red Velvet Cupcakes so much. I imagined these to be the same, only orange.

Well, I was pleasantly surprised. They were delicious. Soft, moist and indeed velvety. Not too sweet and a flavour that really just moves around in your mouth – you know what I mean?
Instead of Cream Cheese Frosting (this is traditionally used with Red Velvet Cupcakes) I decided to use just a simple Vanilla Bean Buttercream Frosting. As these cuppies are not too sweet, i thought it was the perfect finish to them.
Here is the recipe that I used – your feedback, if you make them, would be welcome:

Orange Velvet Cupcakes
Yields: 24 cupcakes

– 1/2 cup butter, softened
– 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar (i used light brown)
– 2 eggs
– A good squirt Orange Gel colouring
– 1 cup buttermilk
– 2 1/2 cups flour (sifted well)
– 1 teaspoon salt
– 1 teaspoon vanilla
– 1/2 teaspoon orange extract
– 1 tablespoon vinegar
– 1 teaspoon bicarb

Beat sugar and softened butter well. Add food coloring and eggs. Beat well. Add buttermilk, flour, salt, vanilla and orange extract. Mix well. Stir the vinegar in by hand. Then add bicarb. Mix well.

Pour batter into cupcake liners. Bake +/- 20 minutes at 350 (180). Allow to cool before frosting with your fav Vanilla Buttercream Frosting.

And then sit down and enjoy with a cup of tea!

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Authored by: Shayne on Wednesday, January 5th, 2011 at 10:01
Categories: Cupcakes

Ice Cream Sandwiches

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Whilst watching the Food Channel (185) a couple of weeks ago, I happened upon The Barefoot Contessa and was completely delighted. I love her food, her home, her entertaining ideas, and really just the simplicity of her recipes.

She made these Choc White Choc Chunk Cookies, and then sandwiched them together with ice-cream. I knew I had to make them. So I did. And here is the recipe, and some photos too. Enjoy.

My only suggestion would be to make them smaller. We had them last night for pudding, and only my husband and FIL managed to finish theirs. They are just a little too big and rich for one serving. Otherwise?

Pure heaven.

Choc White Choc Chunk Cookies:

1/2 pound unsalted butter at room temperature
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 extra-large eggs at room temperature
2/3 cup good unsweetened cocoa
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 pounds good white chocolate, coarsely chopped

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (180C). Cream the butter and both sugars until light and fluffy in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the vanilla, then the eggs, 1 at a time, and mix well. Add the cocoa and mix again. Sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt and add to the chocolate with the mixer on low speed until just combined. Fold in the chopped white chocolate.

Drop the dough on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, using a 1 3/4-inch ice cream scoop or a rounded tablespoon. Dampen your hands and flatten the dough slightly. Bake for exactly 15 minutes (the cookies will seem underdone). Remove from the oven and let cool slightly on the pan, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

To serve, simply sandwich together 2 cookies with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Heaven on a plate.  Truly.  And quite delish on their own too.

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Authored by: Shayne on Saturday, January 1st, 2011 at 20:01
Categories: Uncategorized

Water Polo Cake

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I needed to make a cake for a client who’s son is mad about Water Polo. He is also 15 tho, so i didn’t want to make it to childish. I wanted to keep it simple but still a bit fun.

This is what i decided to do.

A double layer vanilla cake, with caramel inbetween. Simply frosted with buttercream frosting and a sugarpaste ‘Water Polo Ball’.

Clean lines + bright colours = fun!

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Authored by: Shayne on Wednesday, December 22nd, 2010 at 17:12
Categories: Uncategorized