Getting Started – My top 10 cake decorating essentials…

Now I am a few months into my cake business journey, I’ve decided to put a little post together for you all about my top 10 cake decorating equipment essentials.

Starting out cake decorating can be really daunting, but it shouldn’t be and you really don’t need loads of fancy pieces of equipment to get going. That said, there are a few pieces of equipment that will make your life A LOT easier and will, hopefully, mean you’re less likely to have a Gordon Ramsay-esque rage resulting in your beloved cake being launched towards a window or set of doors with a parting profanity…

via GIPHY

We all have bad days.

Trust me.

You can read my post by clicking here.

I hope you find it useful and it inspires some of you to get in the kitchen and just have a go.

Go on, get your bake on!




“But it’s only cake…”

Back at the end of last year, I started out on my journey to beginning my own cake making business, Little Gem Bakes.

It’s something I’d wanted to do for a while but either the timing was never right, I had a crisis of confidence or something else would crop up meaning I didn’t have the time and energy to put into it.

After much learning, studying, sleepless nights, planning and preparing, my little business is now fully fledged (hello 5 star food hygiene rating!) and my shiny new website is now up and running.

It’s hard keeping your confidence when you become a mum, well it was for me anyway. I’ve never been very confident in myself or my abilities and I always seem to focus on what could go wrong rather than what could go right. I’m definitely a pessimist…

Over the last few months I’ve worked really hard on telling myself I can do things, like I do with my children, and I’ve now been brave and taken the plunge.

I’ve started a little blog over on my baking website and this is one of the posts I’ve recently written for it. It’s called,

“But it’s only cake…” 

I was prompted into writing it because, after building myself up confidence wise, I have had a bit of a dip again in the last couple of weeks because I’ve had so many enquiries that don’t come to fruition, mainly because of the price I quote. So, as I always feel better for it, I’ve had a ramble about it and the reasons why bespoke cakes cost what they do.

If you’re a cake maker, have a read and nod in agreement and if you’re not, sorry if it sounds a bit ‘ranty’ but sometimes these things just need verbalising.

You can read the post by clicking here.

Thanks to all my family and friends who have encouraged me to start this new little venture. I’ll pay you all in cake…




Get your Bake On: Rainbow Swirl Buttercream Icing

Here’s a little ‘How to’ YouTube vid I made showing how to make, and pipe, rainbow coloured buttercream swirls.

Rainbow swirl icing

This icing technique is a really easy way of creating an eyecatching topping for celebration cakes and cupcakes. It’s so easy, even I managed it – and that’s saying something! Piping is not my strong point!

I don’t include the basic vanilla buttercream icing recipe in my video because everyone has their own way of making it, but my go to recipe (which makes enough buttercream to top about 16 cupcakes or fill and crumb coat a celebration cake) is;

2 tsp – Vanilla extract

500g – Sifted Icing Sugar

160g – Unsalted, softened butter

20ml – Milk

You can adapt the recipe to use any colours you wish and I always use gel colours rather than liquid ones because the colour is more vibrant and it doesn’t change the consistency of the icing.

Happy Baking!




Get your Bake On: Swirl Meringues

Meringues.

Fluffy, chewy, crispy little morsels of deliciousness. I love the things…possibly a bit too much!

I made these swirled meringues the other day to adorn the top of a birthday cake I made for a friend and everyone seemed to respond well to them and said they looked pretty good. So, I thought I would share my ‘how to’ with you in the form of a video tutorial.

I kid you not folks, this recipe is idiot proof. So idiot proof even I have managed to make them look acceptable.

If you have a bake sale coming up, why not give these bad boys a whirl. They’ll catch everyones eye and they taste great too!

Happy swirling!

(Oh, and if you like what you see and you fancy giving my YouTube channel a like, I would really appreciate it!)


Recipe notes

Ingredients:

4 egg whites

115g Caster Sugar

115g Icing Sugar

Cook/Prep time:

20 minutes prep.

1hr 30min bake.

2hr cooling.

Oven temperature: 100’c (fan)

Yield:

Approximately 12 large meringue cookies, or a mixture of large round ones and small droplet ones.




Did someone say Cake?! (Review of Cake app which will change the way you pay for dinner!)

Myself and Mr Knutts don’t get the chance to eat out, just the two of us, all that often anymore. Don’t get me wrong, we are still very lucky and my lovely parents do have the sproglets an awful lot for us so we can get out and about to see friends or make appointments, but 3 kids is hard work for me, let alone my lovely mum and dad, so we try to not take the piddle and we also make the most of any opportunity we get to be ‘kid free’ and just the two of us.

Friday last week was one of those occasions.

We managed to get tickets to go and see the newly reformed, Guns ‘n’ Roses, at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Stadium. I was so bloomin’ excited! I love this band so much but because I was only 7/8 when they toured back in 1991, I have never seen the original lineup. Seen as we had childcare sorted for the day already, we decided to make a day of it, head up to London a little early and grab some food beforehand too. A real treat of a day!

A few days before the gig, I was contacted by a lovely lady called Annie to see if I would like to review a new app called Cake.

What is Cake?

Cake is an app which allows you to find and book a place to eat or drink, setup and see your meal tab in real time and pay for your meal, all in the app. If your friends also have the Cake app, you can all pick up the same tab, and use it to pay your part of it when you are finished meaning no more calling the waiter over to pay and no more awkward scrabbles to split the bill at the end!

The Cake app is summarised below;

1. Plan your night.

Tap explore and check out places nearby.

Use the filter in the top right corner to find something you like.

Hit ‘BOOK’ to request a table.

2. Settle up smartly.

When you’re seated, open a tab and invite anyone who has the app to join your table.

Let your waiter know your tab number

Choose how you want to split your bill

Everyone pays their share

3. Earn credit.

Filter by “Earn CAKE credit”

Browse all the places with great credit offers on

When you pay instantly earn a percentage back when you pay

Spend your credit at any place on CAKE, no restrictions

Even if your fellow diners don’t have the Cake app, you can choose to pay your portion using it and the remainder of the bill can be paid by your friends normally by using their card or cash and calling the waiter over. Simple!


 My experience of using the Cake app

After downloading the app and adding my bank card details onto it, myself and the hubster browsed the app and found somewhere near us to go for lunch. We decided on a lovely looking place that we have walked past once before with the kids but have never been in called, The Rum Kitchen. They have 2/3 restaurants in London but we chose to go to the one just off Carnaby Street in Kingley Court. It’s such a gorgeous little hub of a courtyard with loads of cool places to eat.

Kingley Court, Carnaby

The Rum Kitchen, Kingley Court, London

You simply hit ‘book’ once you have found somewhere to eat or, if you haven’t made a booking, just head on in, get seated by a waiter as you normally do and inform them when you place your order that you’ll be paying with Cake. You then give them your tab number that the app generates and they sync your order up to the app from their till.

We were shown to our table upon arrival and we sat and browsed the menu. It’s all Jamaican inspired food at The Rum Kitchen so if Jerk spice is your thing, you’ll love this place! The cocktail list was pretty exciting too. Chris chose a Dark and Stormy (a strong rum and ginger concoction which was punchy but yummy) and I had a Rumbustion which was Pineapple, rum and coconut milk. It was almost like a dessert! Really delicious and I’d thoroughly recommend it.

the Rum Kitchen cocktail

After quite a long wait (30 minutes even to take drinks orders – this was the only let down) we placed our food order and I told the waiter I was going to be paying using the Cake app. He knew what it was, said that was fine and placed our order. I was expecting to then see the order/tab appear on my app but it didn’t. I thought it was a bit odd, it just said ‘pending’ so I left it and assumed it would appear soon.

We ate our lunch, which was really delicious; sweet potato fries, chilli fries, spicy chicken burgers, spicy squid, jerk chicken wings…utter gluttony but we were making the most of things!

I checked the app again but the tab still hadn’t appeared. We had finished our meal so I called the waiter over and asked if we could settle the bill. I reminded him then that I was going to be paying with the Cake app and he remembered and within 2 minutes the tab was in the app on my phone. I could see everything we had ordered, check it and pay for it in an instant. I had kindly been given £40 credit in my app so I used this to pay for a portion of the meal and then I selected to use my card in the app to pay for the remainder. I was also able to add a tip in the app too. The app then informed me I had earned £5.45 in credit which I could use when I next eat using the app. Winner!

 

I’m not 100% sure that is how the app should have worked, I think the waiter should have enabled me to see the tab in my app for the duration of the meal so that if we had someone else with us who wanted to leave before we did, they could have paid their portion of the bill without having to call the waiter over. This is absolutely not a reflection on the app but on the staff at The Rum Kitchen –  I suppose it was an easy mistake to make and it didn’t really affect our meal but I was left a bit confused because it wasn’t working as I had expected.

That said, using the Cake app was brilliant and I would absolutely use it again. Some places you can choose to eat at in the app earn you rewards and cashback so you can then earn credit and use that to pay for a future meal. I think that is a great idea and would certainly mean I consider using the app again and again, especially if I ate out in London on a regular basis.


 There are a huge amount of places available to eat and drink in the app. If you have location services on your phone turned on, the app will find the places nearest to you that allow you to pay with Cake – this makes the whole process of finding somewhere to go really easy.

You can find out more about the Cake app by visiting their website or by heading to the app store to download the Cake app!

I would honestly recommend the app to anyone who eats out a lot, it’s a great way of earning rewards as you eat and it just takes all the stress away at the end of the meal. No waiting for the chip and pin machine, no scrabbling for cash, it doesn’t even matter if you’ve forgotten your wallet because your card is safely linked up to the app! I think it’s truly brilliant – thanks very much to the guys at Cake for letting me review it. I am now a Cake convert!

Oh, and Guns ‘n’ Roses blew my mind. A night I’ll treasure forever.


 Disclosure: I was gifted £40 credit in order to review the Cake app. All words, thoughts and opinions are my own.