Wednesday, 29 September 2010

How to apply Fondant to Square cake

Last night I had my second Cake Decorating class. I must say it was great fun. We had to cover cakes and boards with Fondant (Sugar paste). Next week then we'll move on to a new technique.
I have always been scared of icing a cake because it seemed so difficult but was thrilled with the outcome! It turned out so great if I do say so myself!

We all had to choose a cake shape, I got a square shape. Other shapes were a circular, heart shaped, petal shaped and hexagonal shaped.

Equipment needed:

  • 9 inch cake dummy to practice on. You can get these on eBay for a few euro.

  • 1kg approx of sugar paste. The brand we had was M&B, however Regal ice is a good one to use also. (you can buy both of these in

  • Plastic rolling pin

  • Fondant smoother (available on eBay or Decobake)

  • Cake board

  • Knife

  • Icing sugar

If working on a real cake, either use a marzipan layer (fruit cake) or butter cream layer (all other cakes) before putting on the fondant. For chocolate biscuit cake you can use a chocolate ganache.

When using marzipan, you will need to lightly brush the cake board and the marzipanned cake surface with clear alcohol, such as vodka, Bacardi or Gin. The alcohol is used to help the fondant adhere to the marzipan and cake board beneath and because it is sterile.

For cake dummies, while practising, the alcohol is not required.

  • Lightly dust a clean work surface with icing sugar.

  • For a 9 inch cake, use approx 1kg of fondant. Check the list below for guidelines on correct amount to use.

  • Knead the fondant until soft and pliable.

  • If working on a square cake, mold the fondant into a rough square shape. If working on a round cake, make the fondant into a rough circular shape.

  • Using your rolling pin roll out the fondant, turning the fondant 90 degrees after each roll for a square cake and a 45 degree turn for circular, petal shape cakes.

  • Use a large rolling pin so the fondant is not marked by edge or rolling pin.

  • Once rolled to correct size, (about ¼ inch thick with enough to cover top of cake, cake sides and board), take the fondant and lightly roll onto rolling pin. Place over cake and remove rolling pin. Center the fondant.  Note – cake board should be 2 inches larger than cake size.

  • For cakes with angles/corners such as square or heart shaped, always for on the corner first.

  • Dust your hands lightly with icing sugar and smooth down the 1st corner. Move on to the next corner until all corners are completed. Then start to work on the sides. If you get a pleat in the fondant, simply lift the pleat out lightly and then smooth down.

  • Once sides and edges have been smoothed down, cut any excess fondant using a knife and the edge of the cake board.

  • If your fondant starts to crack at all, lightly rub some icing sugar into it. the icing sugar acts like sandpaper to smooth the fondant. If you get any air bubbles, pierce the air bubble lightly with a cocktail stick and smooth out the air. Once again, rub down with icing sugar to smooth down the hole.

  • Continue to smooth any lumps and bumps with your hands. You should have clean lined corners and edges.

  • Next take your fondant smoother, dust with a little icing sugar and start rubbing the fondant smoother over it. you will be using little or no pressure with the smoother, you should use just 2 fingers to hold the smoother to lightly work the fondant. If you apply any more pressure, you will see marks on your fondant.

  • Take your time, it will take 30 mins to 1 hour to get everything nice and smooth (Once you become more experienced, time required will reduce.)

  • You will eventually get a light sheen to the surface of your fondant.

  • Cake is ready to decorate!
Check the table below for guideline on how much sugarpaste/fondant to use.

Pan Size

Sunday, 26 September 2010

Birthday Cake Trials

My son's birthday is coming up shortly, and I’m hoping to bake my first ever 2 tier cake!

Today I am trying out a Madeira Cake which hopefully will serve as the top tier. I will then use a chocolate biscuit cake (icebox cake) as the bottom tier.
Both will be covered in fondant. I’m thinking baby blue fondant for the bottom tier with white fondant stars and then alternate the colours on the top tier.

The recipe I’m trying out today is taken from

This can be used for a wedding cake tier as can the chocolate biscuit cake.

I’m using the 10” recipe below. I am using butter instead of the soft margarine and added 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract to flavour. If you want to make this lemon flavoured, simply add the rind of one lemon or orange.

Square Tin
18cm / 7"
23cm / 9"
Round Tin
15cm / 6"
20cm / 8"
25cm / 10"
Self Raising Flour
175g / ¾ cup
350g / 1 ½ cups
575g / 2 .5 cups
Caster Sugar
125g / ½ cup
275g / 1 cup
500g / 2 cups
Soft Margarine
125g / ½ cup
275g / 1 cup
500g / 2 cups
15ml / 1 tbl
45ml / 3 tbl
60ml / 4tbl
Baking time (approx.)
1 - 1 1/2 hrs
1 1/2 - 1 3/4 hrs
2 - 2 1/4hrs

1.   Line deep cake tin with a double layer of greaseproof paper.
2.   Pre-heat oven to 150°C / 300°C / Gas 2.
3.   Sieve the flour into a bowl and add all the other ingredients.
4.   Gently beat all the ingredients together, using a low setting on the mixer.
5.   When ingredients are combined, increase speed and beat for one minute.
6.   Spoon mixture into the prepared baking tin and smooth the top.
7.   Cook in the centre of the oven for specified time, as above. Test the cake by lightly pressing the centre. If baked, it should spring back and the top should be golden brown. To be extra sure, insert a skewer or knife and if it comes out clean, the cake is cooked.
8.   Leave in tin for about 15 minutes, then turn onto a wire tray to cool.
9.   When completely cold, wrap in greaseproof paper and store in a cool, dry place.

Note: I creamed the butter and sugar first and then added the rest of the ingredients. Use a large mixing bowl if making the 10” as the recipe makes a lot of batter and it went everywhere when I turned on the mixer!

The cake is in the oven at the moment, with a lovely vanilla aroma. Can’t wait to see what it turns out like!
I'll upload some photos when it comes out of the oven!

Friday, 24 September 2010

Chocolate and Hazelnut Cupcakes

I saw the picture of these chocolate and hazelnut cupcakes in The Hummingbird Bakery book. They looked delicious so I decided these would be the next ones to try.  I tried the cupcake base recipe once before, but they really were a complete disaster. They overflowed everywhere and the top was crispy! Not a good combination for a cupcake!!! If you like Nutella, then you will LOVE these.

For the Cupcake, You will need:
Cooking Time: 20
Servings: 12
Preparation Time: 15

·         100g / 3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon plain flour
·         20g  /2.5 tablespoons of cocoa powder
·         140g/ 3/4 cup of caster sugar
·         1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
·         a pinch of salt
·         40g / 3 tablespoons of butter, at room temp.
·         120ml / 1/2 cup of whole milk
·         1 egg
·         120g/ 1/2 cup of  Nutella  (or any hazelnut and chocolate spread)
·         Whole shelled hazelnuts to decorate

For the icing
·         250g/ 2 cups icing/confectioners sugar , sifted.
·         80g / 5 tablespoons butter, at room temp
·         25 ml milk
·         80g / 1/3 cup nutella

·         Pre-heat the oven to 170C/325F
·         Put the flour, cocoa, sugar, baking powder, and butter together in a freestanding electric mixer with paddle attachment (or use a handheld electric whisk) and beat on slow speed until you get a sandy consistency and everything is combined.
·         Slowly pour the milk into the mixture, beating until all the ingredients are well mixed. Add the egg and beat well, scraping any unmixed ingredients from the side with a spatula
·         Spoon the mixture into the paper cases until 2/3 full and bake for 20 minutes. Cakes are ready when a skewer comes out clean. Cool slightly in tray, before turning out onto a wire rack.
·         When the cupcakes are cold, hollow out a small section in the centre of each and fill each one with a dollop of nutella.

For frosting:
·         Beat the icing sugar and butter together in a freestanding electric mixer with paddle attachment (or use a handheld electric whisk) on medium/slow until everything is well mixed . I would suggest putting a tea-towel over the mixer when mixing. it can get messy!
·         Turn to mixer to slower speed and slowly pour in the milk. When the milk is completely incorporated, turn to higher speed and beat until frosting is light and fluffy (approx 5 mins).
·         Stir in the Nutella by hand until evenly mixed into the frosting. Spoon on top and finish with hazelnuts to garnish. 

Results - Hmm ok first things first, I didn't get 12 cupcakes out of this as suggested. I got 10.  Only some of my cupcakes overflowed this time. Just be aware that these rise quickly so don't over fill. Next time, I am only going to half fill the cupcake liners.

Some were slightly crispy.  I think my oven temperature is wrong and will really need to get myself a separate oven thermometer.

When you are hollowing out the hole for the nutella, use an apple corer or a small pairing knife if you don't own a cupcake corer. I used a pairing knife and then used a small teaspoon to put a dollop of nutella inside.

You can refrigerate these and they will last 2-3 days. Though you won't have any left by then.
To decorate, I used my Wilton 6B icing tip for the large Swirl. But you can equally just spoon on.

This were really nice to eat, So if I manage to get these right, I'll have these for my son's birthday party!

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Cake decorating

This week I started at a cake decorating course. I've always been scared of Fondant for some reason! But really it's just like playdoh!  We didn't do much the first night, Just discussed the different types of icings,fondants, tools and what type of decorations you can make with them.

My son will have his first birthday in a few weeks and I was hoping that i'd be able to bake and decorate a fabulous cake for him. Not sure if i'll manage it, But i have a 2 tier cake in mind! How hard can it be eh?? :-P

Last night I tried my first fondant rose. I'll upload a photo later this evening. It didn't turn out half bad!!! I followed this Youtube Tutorial. Very easy!

Sunday, 19 September 2010

Mini Vanilla Cupcakes with chocolate frosting

The next Cupcake I am tryng is a mini vanilla cupcake with chocolate frosting.

The recipe for the vanilla cupcake is from the 'Bake me I'm Yours...Cupcake' by Joan and Graham Belgrove.

You will Need:
  • 225g/1 cup slightly salted butter
  • 225g/ 1 cup caster sugar
  • 4 medium eggs
  • 225g/1 cup self-raising flower
  • 5ml/ 1 tsp natural vanilla extract.
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 175c/347f/Gas 4. Places cases in cupcake trays.
  2. Put sugar, then flour sieved, then chopped up butter and vanilla in a food mixer with paddle attachment or a hand held electric mixer. Beat on a medium-high speed until well combined.
  3. Add the eggs one by one with mixer on slow speed.
  4. Spoon into cupcake cases. Place in the center of the oven for:
    1. 13-14 mins for mini cupcakes or until cake springs back to the touch.(A skewer will come out clean)
    2. 18-20 for normal cupcakes or until cake springs back to the touch.(A skewer will come out clean)
  5. Turn out and cool on wire racks.
For the chocolate frosting, I used the chocolate frosting from the Hummingbird bakery book
You will need:
  • 300g/ 2 1/2 cups icing/confectioners sugar, sifted
  • 100g/6 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature.
  • 40g / 1/3 cup of unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
  • 3 tablespoons of whole milk
  1. Beat the sugar, butter and cocoa in a freestanding electric mixer with paddle attachment or an electric hand mixer on a mdeium slow speed untilt he mixture comes together and is well mixed.
  2. Turn the mixer down to slow. Add the milk to the butter mixture a little at a time. once all the milk has been incorporated, turn the mixer up to high speed. beat until the frosting is light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. the longer the frosting is beaten, the fluffier and lighter it becomes.
Here are a few pictures of mine coming out of the oven and then frosted.

Full sized Vanilla Cupcakes, Just out of the oven

Mini Vanilla cupcakes, just out of the oven

Mini Vanilla and chocolate frosted Cupcakes

I left the mini cupcakes (24 of them plus 6 large) in the oven for the suggested time. However I found that they were a little over done when I took them out. I really need to invest in an oven thermometer! Funnily enough the day after, the cupcakes seemed to be much lighter and softer!

The chocolate frosting was lovely and creamy. I topped it off with a Cadbury's chocolate button and dusted with icing sugar.

I will try this recipe again, but take them out 2 minutes earlier.

Saturday, 18 September 2010

Red velvet mini cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

I decided that this week, I would try a red velvet cupcake with cream cheese frosting. This is not my first attempt. I have tried these on one occasion before. Problem being they were the second ever cupcake I ever tried and made a rookie mistake of opening the oven way too soon. The looked like lovely domed mini cupcakes coming out of the oven, but within 30 seconds had sunk in the middle. I had read on a forum to remove them from the oven slightly over half the cooking time stated for normal sized cupcakes. So I took these out after 11 minutes which in hindsight was much too early, hence the impression of the Titanic!

This time I’m determined to get them right!

The recipe I’m using is from The Hummingbird Bakery. It isn't super chocolatey, but has a hint of Cocoa.

You Will Need
For the Cupcakes
o 60g / 4 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
o 150g/ ¾ cup Caster Sugar
o 1 Egg
o 10g/1 Tablespoon Cocoa powder
o 20ml/2 tablespoons red Food Colouring (preferably Dr. Oetker Red Food Colouring, I used Goodalls Red food colouring)
o ½ Teaspoon of Vanilla Extract
o 120ml/ ½ cup of Buttermilk
o 150g/1 cup plus 2 tablespoons of plain Flour
o ½ teaspoon Bicarbonate Of Soda /Baking Soda
o 1 ½ teaspoons of white wine Vinegar
o Baking Tray, spatula, ice-cream scoop
o 24 mini cupcake cases (plus enough for 5 normal sized cupcakes), Or if making full sized cupcakes, you’ll have enough for 12.

Cream cheese frosting:
o 300g / 2 ½ cups of icing/Confectioners sugar, sifted.
o 50g / 3 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature.
o 125g / 4oz cream cheese, cold (I used Philadelphia)

1. Preheat the oven to 170'C (325'F) Gas 3.
2. Put the butter and the sugar in a freestanding electric mixer with a paddle attachment (or use a handheld electric whisk) and beat on medium speed until light and fluffy and well mixed. Turn the mixer up to high speed, slowly add the egg and beat until everything is well incorporated.
3. In a separate bowl, mix together the cocoa powder, red food colouring and vanilla extract to make a thick, dark paste. Add to the butter mixture and mix thoroughly until evenly combined and coloured (scrape any unmixed ingredients from the side of the bowl with a rubber spatula). Turn the mixer down to slow speed and slowly pour in half the buttermilk. Beat until well mixed, then add half the flour, and beat until everything is well incorporated. Repeat this process until all the buttermilk and flour have been added. Scrape down the side of the bowl again. Turn mixer up to high speed and beat until you have a smooth, even mixture. Turn the mixer down to low speed and add the salt, bicarbonate of soda and vinegar. Beat until well mixed, then turn up the speed again and beat for a couple more minutes.
4. Spoon the mixture into the paper cases until two-thirds full or use an melon scoop for mini cupcakes or ice-cream scoop for full-sized and bake in the preheated oven for 16-18 mins for mini cupcakes or 20-25 minutes for full sized cupcakes, or until the sponge bounces back when touched. A skewer inserted in the centre should come out clean. Leave the cupcakes to cool slightly in the tray before turning out onto a wire cooling rack to cool completely.

For the cream Cheese Frosting (Which is delicious)
1. Beat the icing/confectioners sugar and butter in a freestanding mixer with paddle attachment (or use a hand held electric mixer) on medium-slow speed until the mixture comes together. Note: I used a handheld mixer and am just warning you to expect a cloud of icing sugar as soon as you switch on your mixer. It goes everywhere! Tip is to drape a tea-towel/cloth over the top of the mixer and over the bowl, (taking care not to obstruct any air vents in the mixer) until the mixture comes together.
2. Add the cream cheese in one go and beat until completely incorporated. Turn the mixer to medium high speed. Beat until the frosting is light and fluffy, at least 5 minutes. Do not overbeat, as the frosting will become runny quickly and will be impossible to ice. If You do over beat, place the frosting in the fridge for 30 minutes, it should start to stiffen up again. Note: Instead of adding the cream cheese in the second step, I added it altogether at the start, this was due to the fact that there didn’t seem to be enough unsalted butter to make the icing sugar come together, so to save my kitchen from an icing sugar dust storm, I took the easier route!

Another tip, the cream cheese frosting really comes into it’s own the day after, So I suggest frosting them and then leaving them until the following day before eating!

Here’s a good youtube video to show you how to Frost cupcakes using a spatula.

Friday, 17 September 2010

The start of a very long cupcake journey!

Cupcakeries haven't yet taken off in Ireland. Yes we have a few cupcakeries but they are not in every town and every city - yet! Recently one opened in a town close by and I couldn't wait to get in to try one. They looked absolutely delicious with all that frosting heaped on top!

I chose a chocolate orange cupcake. It was a chocolate base with chocolate frosting and then a Terry's chocolate orange segment on top. Unfortunately, the cake itself was dry and the whole thing left me with a taste of disappointment!

I thought that something that looked so good, really needed to taste good too! I decided to try baking myself.

Looking at cupcakes, I really didn't think they were going to be difficult to bake! How wrong was I!!!!! Believe me when I tell you, it's a complete science.

I started researching cupcake blogs. There are some really good inspirational bloggers out there. I love the cupcakeproject and cupcake bakeshop. Another great place to start is over with the good guys at cakecentral, just hop along to the cupcake forum for lots of tips and recipes.

My first attempt at cupcakes was a chocolate cupcake with creamy vanilla frosting. For the frosting I followed this Youtube video from I thought the frosting was lovely but my family thought it too sweet and buttery.

I used the epicurious double layer chocolate recipe. You can find it here The recipe is for a cake but I used it to make cupcakes instead. There is ALOT of better from this recipe so either be prepared for lots of cupcakes or use half of it to make a one layered cake. Either way the recipe makes a lovely chocolate base.

I haven't quite figured out how to upload pictures to the blog yet, but will upload one soon!

What was your first ever cupcake to taste and bake?