So, week two of GBBO and it was another Mary Berry recipe for the technical bake - I can't deny I was pleased to see Florentines on the menu. I love Florentines - they are delicious and they always make me think of Christmas (save this recipe for a few months time, they make really nice Christmas gifts all wrapped up and finished with festive ribbon). Florentines are surprisingly easy to adapt for both gluten and dairy free diets. They also contain no egg, and you could even make them nut-free if you like - just increase the proportion of dried fruits to compensate for the nuts. Right, on with the recipe...
I've set myself a challenge - can I recreate the 'technical challenge' from each episode of the new series of The Great British Bake Off (GBBO) but make it gluten or dairy free (or sometimes both)? We here at The Buttercup Kitchen are getting more and more requests for gluten and dairy-free celebration cakes and when watching the first GBBO episode last week I realised it must be frustrating for those following restricted diets who might want to recreate the recipes on the show. Therefore for each week that GBBO do cake or biscuits (I won't attempt bread, The Buttercup Kitchen is all about cake!) you will find a recipe on this blog giving you an alternative for the technical challenge - do try them out for yourself or your gluten/dairy-free friends and let us know what you think!
So, it seems the little bag of sugared almonds that traditionally greeted you as you took your place at a wedding reception has competition - brides and grooms are getting more inventive with their choice of wedding favour. A wedding favour is a small gift given as a gesture of appreciation to their guest for joining them on their special day. So, why choose iced biscuits for your favours?....
At the consultation for this wedding cake, the bride knew she wanted something 'a bit different' - no fruit cake, no traditional white icing - she had however seen pictures of our buttercream ruffle cakes and it didn't take long to decide this was what she wanted. This cake design also complimented her chosen dress, which had layered ruffles. Isn't it great when the details of a wedding all come together?
The colour scheme of the wedding was to be peach, and we decided on an ombre effect for the buttercream ruffles. These layers of buttercream ruffles were hand-piped around each tier.
A modern cake needed a statement flower rather than anything too fussy, and the cake was adorned by a large sugar peony.....'Read more' to see the whole cake.
Did you miss out on this year's Squires Kitchen Exhibition? Well all is not lost - sit back and enjoy our highlights! The Exhibition, held in Farnham, Surrey is now in its 28th year, and is Europe's longest running sugar-craft show. It attracts some big names from the industry, and is therefore a must in any cake enthusiast's calender. We arrived early on the Saturday and joined the queue to enter, glad of the first of the spring sunshine. Whilst queueing we were handed programmes so we were able to plan our day.
Once inside we headed straight for the Wedding cake showroom - over 100 wedding cakes by professional cake designers were on display. Here are our favourites:
This four tier cake from 'Cake Creations by Jill Fisher'' showcases what can be achieved with wafer paper flowers - a relatively new cake trend that is becoming increasingly popular. The flower centres were delicately coloured, and the rest of the cake was understated with edible lace and ribbon to compliment the flowers.
'Whoopie Pies' came and went, Macarons can still be found but never really hit the big-time but the Cupcake trend doesn't seem to be going away. So with sensible shoes, an A-Z (well, Google maps actually) and empty stomachs we went in search of the best cupcakes London has to offer - we wanted to compare the most popular cupcake haunts, as well as find inspiration for new and exciting flavour combinations. Our first stop was at The Primrose Bakery....
Are there any wedding invites for 2014 on your mantelpiece yet? We are looking forward to creating more wedding cakes in 2014 and thought we'd have a go at predicting what trends will be big for this year:
Sugar flowers have always been popular toppers for wedding cakes, often matching the bridal bouquet, but in 2014 it will be the large 'fantasy' flowers that you will see in place of roses and other traditional blooms. These will compliment cakes with a more modern look, like this 'Tiffany' inspired cake opposite we created last year.
I recently joined 5 other cake decorators at Squires Kitchen International School for an amazing 3 day 'Contemporary Wedding Cake' course led by the renowned tutor Ceri DD Griffiths. We'd been told to bring a decorated 3 tier cake so we knew the focus would be on creating the detail and finish to our cakes. This photo is the 'before' shot, keep reading for the 'after' photos...
We began by discussing where to get inspiration from for wedding cake designs, as well as gaining wisdom from Ceri on how to use various sugar craft techniques to create beautiful cakes. Ceri then challenged us to get our ideas down on paper and draw out our cake designs.
When given a 'blank canvas' for a cake design, where do I start? Well, one of the first things I'll think about is the colour. The colours used in the decoration must compliment each other, and the occasion the cake is being created for. I've stumbled upon an amazing colour palette blog that has been such an inspiration when it comes to colour I just had to share it with you. It is called The Perfect Palette and it's tag-line is 'Colour ideas for wedding, parties and life'...
We are receiving more and more requests for cakes made without gluten here at The Buttercup Kitchen – coeliacs have to avoid gluten entirely, but there are also an increasing number of people aware of their gluten intolerance. Whilst gluten free foods are more readily available, we all know shop bought cakes are rarely as good as their homemade versions. We’ve experimented with lots of gluten free ingredients to make sure our gluten free cakes taste amazing, and we thought we would pass on our top tips for gluten free home baking success!
It is best to avoid just swapping normal flour for gluten free flour: Gluten free flours often require more fluid than regular flours, so you will get better results if you follow recipes designed for gluten free baking. A gluten-free cake batter will be far more liquid than a regular cake batter, don’t be tempted to add more flour, trust the recipe!
Helen owns and runs The Buttercup Kitchen, a cake design company in Woking, Surrey. Welcome to our blog which indulges in all things baking and cake decorating. Do add comments or questions on our posts, we'd love to hear from you!