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Mermaid’s Tail

I go loads of brilliant cake decorating things in my Christmas stocking including a silicone mould for a mermaid’s tail and various sea shells – cockles, whelks and top shells; some Katie Sue Design ferns and some other lace texture panels. No better excuse to use them than to bake a cake!

The cake is a 4-layered chocolate sponge with coffee buttercream. I covered it in various sprinkles and topped it (for no better reason than wanting to try marshmallow meringue) with piped meringue shapes.This meringue is similar to a Swiss meringue in that it is cooked over a bain marie

Until recently, I had only heard of French Meringue, the one with egg white and icing sugar that gets baked in the oven. Since then I have found out and made (several times), Italian and Swiss meringue which I like much better.

Italian meringue has hot sugar syrup gradually beaten into the egg whites then whisked till it forms firm glossy peaks. This is the meringue mix I use in Macarons.

Swiss meringue is made by stirring sugar and egg whites together over a bain marie (a pot of simmering water) until they are warm then whipping them up to glossy firm peaks.

Swiss meringue with golden syrup

260g caster sugar

3 free range egg whites

100 ml golden syrup

1/4 tsp of cream of tartar

2 Tbsp water

1 tsp vanilla

 

Put all of the ingredients in a large bowl. Place the bowl over a pan of simmering water making sure that the base of the bowl doesn’t actually touch the water.

Use a hand whisk and beat for 5 mins.

Take off the heat and beat for a minute more or until the meringue is glossy, white, stiffish and will form soft peaks.

Use it as the topping for lemon meringue or to make chocolate dipped marshmallow topping for cupcakes (pipe the meringue onto a batch of cupcakes, melt some chocolate and while still warm enough to be liquid but not so warm as to melt the meringue, dip the cupcakes into the chocolate).

 

My favourite go-to bakers on You Tube are the bubbly and friendly Jemma Cupcakes and British Girl Bakes. Lots of inspiration and instruction all in metric. My head feels like it’s buttoned up the wrong way round trying to fathom my way around volume using cup measures and am on safer ground with metric or imperial so I stick to bakers that speak my love cake language.

The sea shell and tail moulds are really easy to use. I dusted them with a soft paintbrush and Tylo powder then squished in some fondant. I scraped the excess off the mould with the edge of a thin knife and popped them out. Perfect and a really nice level of detail. I’ll get some vodka next time I’m out to blend with colouring gels and pastes so that I can paint with them and touch the shells up with some colour.

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Crochet me happy new year!

Have you got Christmas all put away? I still have boxes to get up to the loft but other than that, Christmas has left the building. I’m relaxing for a while and getting back to crochet.

I made a couple of bonnets and bootees over the last couple of weekends. I love, love love making the little flowers and embellishments!

Same crochet pattern but a size up.

I was caught by the macaron bug again! I love them little dotes as well!

I have edible gold food paint – think the brand is called ‘Fairy Dust’ – and really enjoy painting ditzy little designs on the smooth shells.

And made a lovely big load of them!

Not all for us; some are little gifts for friends and neighbours.

 

Maybe a bit late, but Happy New Year!

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Letter boxes

The boring TV offerings left me feeling in need of some stimulation and creative outlet. Inspiration took the form of creating stand up letters.

You can see the box from the angle of the picture. Very straightforward.

And folds flat.

Thinking about how to creating a box for rounded letters like C, J and O or non-vertical letterforms like X. I think I have a solution but need to make up a couple for proof of concept.

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Gingerbread

I made some gingerbread and it was the nicest gingerbread I’d ever tasted. It was based on a recipe I found online but I’ve tweaked it in lots of little ways to make it perfect for me! Love it! Had some yesterday with a good coffee. So good.

Now, the icing still needs attention! Simple Royal Icing with a 2. nozzle. Should have watered it down to make it a little thinner. My hand was aching from the pressure I had to exert to squeeze the icing out of the piping bag.

More learning opportunities… Anyway, here’s the recipe for you:


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Macarons gussied up for Christmas

What do you do when you’re stuck in waiting for Mr Amazon to call round?

Make macarons.

Macarons seem to be divas of the cakey world. Ostensibly simple, deceptively so. They are proper little madams; the dominatrices of the food fetish world. They who must be obeyed demand mindfulness and control at every stage.

I made them once before and ignored their demands. They refused me. They did not gratify my senses in any way. They were bland, flat, soggy, nasty and bad. And they were the compliments.

The time came to try again… I prepared to be enslaved.

First I made them with green-coloured ganache and covered them with sprinkles. I was surprised. They were delicious.

That was all the motivation I needed to make another batch. Inspired and confident, the process was easier second time round.

I satisfied the urge to prettify them further with little gold dots, painted on with a fine paintbrush.

Most satisfying. Better than waiting around with nothing to do. A bit zen.

The chocolate ganache was made with Moser and Roth (Aldi) orange and almond chocolate (food of the Gods) and a bar of their ‘normal’ milk chocolate (still really good chocolate, imho).

They were left in the fridge overnight and bagged up this morning. My neighbour LOVED them. So did we.

The little bags set them off beautifully.

My recipe and method
If you want the piping template as well

Persevere. Be mindful and be careful with every stage and hopefully, you, too, will have a great macaron life.

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