There’s now just 2 weeks until Christmas everyone. Two weeks. 14 days! Crazy right? It doesn’t feel too long ago that our 100 days countdown began (yes we do that). Anyway, we’ve had some fun festive recipes and tutorials on our blog so we thought we’d create a quick round up of our favourite and most popular ones. We’re not done yet though. Oh no. There are still two more weeks after all… we’ve got a few more little things up our sleeves!
Our top 5 Christmas recipes and tutorials
01: Have a cute Christmas!
Make your own Candyland themed Christmas dessert table with the help of our adorable gingerbread character tutorial! You can create this little cutie to add to buttercream swirled cupcakes, or iced cakes. A few of these would even be great added to a gingerbread house or village. Want to create your own sweet little gingerbread character? Check out our tutorial!
02: Homemade luxury!
Adding a little extra oomph to hot cocoas or seasonal coffees doesn’t have to mean a splash or several of festive liquor. Whip up some homemade vanilla marshmallows with our easy recipe, pile them on top and wait for them to melt a little. It is amazing! You can fancy it up too with whipped cream, sparklers and even edible gold leaf!
03: Make it a-DEER-able!
Invite a few reindeer to the Christmas party! We created one a-deer-able (sorry) tutorial for a little fondant reindeer cupcake or cake topper. We love the golden antlers and of course the finishing touch of the tiny bow and fondant bell! Create eight, nestle them on top of a buttercream cake with a golden picket fence to create Santa’s reindeer enclosure. It’s bound to be an instant hit during the party season!
04: Everyone loves a classic!
Of course offering up the traditional gingerbread cookie ever Christmas is going to be a crowd pleaser. We love making them so this year we’ve posted up our go-to gingerbread cookie recipe! We’ve tried lots of different recipes and methods over the years, but this one was by far our favourite. We like our gingerbread fairly dark and with a good amount of spice so it was perfect for us. It’s also one of the best recipes for sturdy gingerbread houses too!
05: Everyone also loves a little twist…
Christmas is definitely cookie season. For anyone who doesn’t whip up trays upon trays of cookies on a regular basis a drawer full of cookie cutters may not exist in their kitchen. With this in mind we thought of putting together a cool recipe and tutorial on candy cane cookies that don’t need a cutter! Check out our Candy Cake Twist Cookie recipe here!
We’re ready for Easter this year with one super cute little cake tutorial that we whipped up exclusively for the lovely folks at Tala! Lovely fresh colours, an adorable bunny rabbit and some pretty florals help make this petite design the perfect Spring cake for Easter lunch (or even an Easter birthday). If you’re ready to start re-creating our bunny and daffodil cake then head over to the Tala blog for our step-by-step guide!
As an established British company since 1899 Tala create fabulous vintage-inspired beware from flour sifters to cookie baking kits. We use their modelling tools and rolling pins regularly when we work so making this pretty little cake was super easy. Their stylish white modelling tools are also absolutely perfect for us photograph in our tutorial and recipe posts… you can probably spot them dotted around our blog!
Easter bunny rabbit and daffodil cake!
Inspired by a lovely large bundles of pastels that adorn the shop fronts of florists during the run up to Easter our tutorial via the Tala blog will show you how to create quick soft golden and white daffodil blooms, a cheeky little bunny rabbit (that peers over the florals) and the floral stem effect that wraps around the sides of the cake. Broken down into more digestible steps this tutorial should be great for anyone with a bit of cake crafting experience!
Our top tip alert for anyone about to start a cake decorating project is to prepare yourself and also give yourself some good time! Cake decorating is never as straight forward or easy as it may seem unless you know what you’re doing so plan everything and don’t rush.
One of the best things about a little cake like this is that it’s super easy to adapt for different occasions. Swap the daffodils for deep red roses for Valentine’s Day or daisies and peonies for a Mother’s Day treat. You can even use a darker green fondant for the ‘stems’ and top with sugar poinsettias for a festive winter design.
We love love LOVE our KitchenAid Artisan mixer. Love it. We’ve used others, but they’ve just not kept up with our demands. They’re also pretty beautiful as well as being incredibly robust and reliable. We love ours so much that we’ve already convinced a fair few people to buy a KitchenAid (one person even changed their kitchen to match their mixer). We don’t work for them we swear. Anyway, everyone has their own preferences though so shop around, if you can try some out or really look at the parts in store before you succumb to KitchenAid desires (JOKE… seriously though they’re perfect).
Scales are important. They’re so important we capitalised the title for this section. Cups just don’t do it. They’re not as accurate, convenient, professional or even worldwide. Most recipes list ingredients in weight measurements so if you do use cups you’re then going to have to faff around converting the amounts. Invest in some good scales (digital are best) and you’re ready to bake!
Don’t scrimp on any tools or you’ll regret it later. A well made spatula and a cheap spatula can make all the difference between a perfect macaron or the a butt-ugly macaron sent from Satan’s yard sale. Our top brands for utensils are Tala, Mason Cash and KitchenCraft. Depending on where you live in the world you’ll find brands and styles that you prefer to work with, so shop around and find what you’re most comfortable with!
We’ve amassed a small collection of thermometers that help us run our kitchen pretty efficiently. Two main thermometers you will need to invest in are an oven thermometer and a candy thermometer. Use your oven thermometer to check your oven temperatures are accurate. They’re handy as not many people realise that oven temps drop every time you open the oven door. Candy thermometers can be used for making Italian meringues or Sucre Cuit method macarons as well as for candies, chocolates and sauces.
Cheap or bog standard (British for ‘average’) baking pans and tins just won’t do. Instead spend a few extra pennies on some good, durable, straight-edge cake tins. Our absolute favourites are by Silverwood. They are amazing. They’re well made, sharp, strong and seamless. Alongside this tip we’d also recommend opting for loose bottom pans and staying away from springform which can cause odd shaped sides on a cake.
Whilst most people use wire racks to help set their bakes out of the way to cool we prefer a good marble slab or marble pastry board. It’s permanently cold, sturdy and won’t leave annoying wire lines across your cakes and cookies. The last thing you want on a naked cake are those wire indentations running along a cake you aren’t covering up!
It happens. You put a cake in the oven and you think you’re going to remember when to take it out, but someone calls or you have work to do. You forget about the cake until the distinct smell of burning finds its way to your nose and the panic sets in. You can pick up a small kitchen timer from most grocery or department stores. You can even find some really cute novelty timers out there too. If you’re more tech-y then utilise your iPhone or tablet. We use our iPads to mainly keep track of things in the kitchen because we’re often on ours replying to emails, managing social media or playing Plants vs Zombies. There are apps to time multiple activities too such as Timer+ which is perfect for a busy kitchen!
Sometimes a recipe calls for a teaspoon of this or a tablespoon of that. It seems like it’d be OK to just use an actual teaspoon or tablespoon right? Wrong. Different designs and companies tend to yield different sized tea and table spoons which is pretty annoying. Grab a good quality set of stainless steel measuring spoons to help make all your bakes more accurate.
We have three main rolling pins in our kitchen. Three. Main. If we counted all our rolling pins then we’d have around 7. Crazy, but at times essential. We have a heavy 6lb Kingpin rolling pin, a long PME silicone rolling pin and a super SUPER long silicone rolling pin by The Little Venice Cake Company. Each have different jobs… the Kingpin is perfect for quickly flattening out stiff fondant (or a lot of it) or cookie dough. That 6lb in weight is so useful. The long rolling pin is good for cookies and rolling fondant / sugar paste for small to medium cakes. The super long rolling pin is ideal for covering both large and deep cakes. Then there are smaller rolling pins for cupcake work, florals and sugar craft.
Good quality knives of varying sizes that are kept in tip top condition are a must in any kitchen. For baking you’ll find them handy for a whole list of things from chopping and transferring ingredients, freeing the sides of cakes from baking pans, cutting custom shapes from rolled cookie dough and tidying up the edges of fondant / sugar paste cake boards. Make sure to have a selection of styles, sizes and edges to help you out with different tasks!
Hurrah! Christmas is coming! Whilst this is ever so exciting we understand that whipping up (pun fully intended due to the nature of this blog post) festive treats for the holiday season need to be both striking yet stress-free. That’s why for our collection of Christmas cake, cupcake and cookie decorating tutorials and recipes we’ve tried our best to keep them simple. This week we begin our festive series with some delightfully easy Meringue Christmas Trees!
How to whip up easy Meringue Christmas Trees…
60g egg whites (room temperature works best)
120g caster sugar (this needs to be caster sugar as it dissolves perfectly in a meringue)
Green gel or paste food colour
Note: As a general rule you need double the amount of caster sugar to egg whites so if you need to make a large bowl of meringue keep this in mind!
828 Ateco piping tip
Cookie sheet/tray or any flat baking tray
Parchment paper or silicone baking mat
Clean kitchen paper towels
Pre-heat your oven to gas mark 2/300F/170C and line a flat baking try with either parchment paper or a silicone mat.
In the lemon juice wiped (this rids any fat residue with can make a meringue seriously fail) bowl on a stand-up mixer add your room temperature egg whites and whisk on high speed for a few minutes or until lovely stiff peaks are formed!
Add in your food coloring and mix for around 20 seconds or until fully incorporated. Don’t worry if your egg whites begin to look a little ‘clumpy’ or if they all seem to congregate inside your whisk. Adding the sugar next ‘loosens’ them.
Gradually add in your caster sugar a tablespoon at a time as you whisk on high until glossy, stiff peaks form.
Fill a piping bag fitted with a 828 piping tip with your green meringue mix and shake the bag down to rid yourself of any unwanted air bubbles.
Pipe a row of Christmas trees at least 2 inches apart on your tray. To do this simply pip as your would with cupcake buttercream/frosting yet a little taller.
Place in the oven on the lowest rack for around 1 hour. To prevent the tops from browning add a thin sheet of foil to the top tray of your oven and increase your baking time to 1 hour and 30 minutes.
When baked remove and set aside to cool. You can then work on some decorations like fondant/sugar paste stars using rolled out fondant or sugar paste icing, some star shaped cutters and a little pearlescent, gold or silver lustre dust! Attach any extra decorations on with a tiny dab of melted white chocolate and you should be left with a miniature forest of festive trees.
There are lots of fabulous ways you can use these adorable edible Christmas trees for holiday treats. We added ours on top of a red velvet cake smothered with rustic and white cream cheese buttercream before dusting them lightly with a little icing sugar to create a quaint snowy scene.
Some great ideas on how you could decorate cakes and cupcakes with your easy Meringue Christmas Trees are to nestle them on top of tasty cupcakes, add them around the edges of a freshly baked and iced cake, or your could even serve them up on a silver platter just as they are!
Cake, cookie or flat fondant disc to top a cupcake (fondant/sugarpaste covered is best)
Royal icing (find our recipe here) the consistency of toothpaste
Trex or Crisco (optional)
Step 1: One of the first steps (if obvious) is to make sure that your stencil is the appropriate size for the surface you wish to decorate! Also, it’s best if your stencil is flat so look after them to avoid kinks, bends or folds. If you’re a fresh faced beginner it’s best to steer clear of over-complicated stencil designs until you’re more proficient!
Step 2: Apply the stencil to the surface (some people paint Trex or Crisco onto the side of the stencil that will touch the cake to help stick it on, some utilise pins instead, and some have someone generous enough to lend their steady hands for a few moments), hold down steadily yet lightly before you apply your royal icing.
Step 3: With a good spatula (we recommend a cranked or angled spatula for good control). Whilst holding the stencil steady apply some royal icing and use the spatula to smooth over the stencil. Scrape excess royal icing away with the spatula and when ready slowly peel the stencil away. Remember to always work pragmatically… clean and wipe your stencil between each cookie or side of a cake to avoid blurred or indecipherable designs. Impatience will lead to mess!
Once you become more confident with this technique adding stencil designs to your cakes and cookies with royal icing will be a fantastic and fast way to add detail! Now that our ‘Into to Royal Icing’ series is over why not keep test your new-found skills on a batch of cookies or cupcakes? Stop by next week to find out what our next collection of tutorials will be!