Hi! Welcome to my blog. I am a major foodie, with a haphazard cooking philosophy, currently making that transition from cooking and baking for friends and family to 'wonder if I could make this my career'. Follow me for recipes, the outcomes of a few experiments, and general lovely foodiness. Opinions, reviews and recommendations are all my own.

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

The Renshaw Birthday Cake Challenge

Recently I was contacted by Renshaw Baking to take part in their new Birthday Cake Challenge - to create and decorate a birthday cake using Renshaw products. Renshaw have a brilliant range of colours available now, you can see them for yourselves over at their online store.
For the challenge, I personally chose to use their white ready to roll icing, simply because I like to colour the fondant myself to get the exact shade for my designs. One of the designs I had planned needed shades of the same colour too, so this was a better option. I use Sugarflair gel-based colours, and they colour white fondant really easily, simply by kneading the colour through the paste, you need very little to get the desired colour, and the gels don't alter the consistency of the fondant.
Renshaw also sent me some of their new Flower and Modelling Paste, a stiffer more mailable paste that is perfect for creating delicate sugar flowers. It is also great to use with silicone moulds, as it holds it's shape when taken out of the mould, and sets nice and hard too.
To demonstrate the versatility of these products, I created two cakes using them. The first was a fun Tropical Beach Cake, based specifically on a Goan Beach, and the second a pretty floral 30th Birthday Cake.
Tropical Goan Beach Cake

This cake was so much fun to make! The recipient loves tropical beach holidays, and in particular holidays in Goa. One of the special requests from her daughter was to include a cow, as Goa is quite renowned for it's 'Beach Cows'!
I used the fondant to cover the cake and create the ombre effect waves around the edges. I also used fondant to model the cow. The modelling paste helped to create the stiffer bark and leaves of the palm tree, and the smaller details, including using a silicone mould to create the shells that decorated the edges of the cake. A little light muscavado sugar to act as sand, and voila! Tropical Beach fun!
Pretty Floral 30th Birthday Cake

The joy of this design was in the simplicity, and the Flower and Modelling Paste is a great staple for creating thinner more delicate petals for flowers. Like fondant, it can be coloured with gels to any shade, and by adding petal dust you can get a really pretty petal-like effect. We based the colour pallet on the hydrangea-type flowers that adorn the centre of the 30. I really like this design, and can see it adapted for different ages, flowers and colour pallets - the possibilities are endless!

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

The Pantry Door Update - 11th June

... This **** Just Got Real... 

That's pretty much the thought that has occupied my mind the last two weeks, as I've juggled work, sales targets, housework, baking cakes, decorating cakes, not to mention all those little day to day things that pop up. It has suddenly occurred to me (forgive me I can be a little slow on the uptake sometimes) that I am now running a business. Yikes! A business no less that is taking off at something of a pace, and I'm am equal parts thrilled and terrified. Ok, maybe more on the side of thrilled, however I am very aware that my customers are no longer just my friends, but people I have never met before. Anxiety about letting people down is creeping in, and I have had to give myself a few stern talkings-to lately, as has Gary. 

May 2014 brought in 18 orders, against a forecasted 6 - June looks set to equal that, despite being on holiday for 10 days of the month. Last week I delivered my first 5 tier wedding cake, amongst several other projects, and after a hard week, seeing the bride and groom cut the cake (I was invited to the evening party) reaffirmed all the hard work, and cemented that fact that wedding cakes is where I wanted to be. I think I really needed that. 

We have some fun cakes lined up this week before we hit the sun and sand of Majorca, here's a recap of what's been happening the last few weeks...

30th Birthday and 2nd Birthday Cupcakes

Birthday Boy Cupcakes

Defibrillator Cake - for an Office party 

Elvis Cake

Frozen Cake - all characters were handmade

Marmite Jar Cake

Mickey Mouse Cake

Peppa Pig and Friends Cake

Pigs In Mud Cake

Vintage Styled Cake

Wakeboarding Cake - the only direction I was given was the photo on the left...
And last but by no means least - here are a few snaps of the wedding cake delivered to the Sandpiper Hotel on Saturday....
There were 100 vanilla cupcakes, marbled to match the colour and pattern on the bridesmaid dresses. Both the frosting and the cake inside had the marble effect

The 5 Tier Wedding Cake

The toppers were handmade, to represent the bride and groom in their day jobs, him with his overalls, and her with marigolds and an apron

The second to top tier had an monogrammed panel with the bride and grooms initials

The inside of the cake was also marbled to match the bridesmaid dresses

Monday, 26 May 2014

The Pantry Door Update - 26th May

Just a quick post from me tonight to share the latest goings-on from our kitchen - it's been a really busy week, so lots to share, and I'm in the middle of prepping toppers and flowers for the next two weeks to get a jump on orders. Here's what we've done recently...

Cookie Monster Cake

F.R.I.E.N.D.S Themed Cupcakes

More F.R.I.E.N.D.S Themed Cupcakes

Minion Cake

Minion Cupcakes

Monster High Cake with Clawdeen Wolf

New York New York Cake

Tatty Teddy Christening Cake

Vintage Style Mini Cupcakes - 72 in total!
Hope you have all had a lovely Bank Holiday! x

Sunday, 11 May 2014

The Pantry Door Sunday Update - 11th May

Well! That was a busy two weeks! Cakes, weddings, visitors, bank holidays, and a whole lot of day job too! The biggest news this weekend however is this - on Friday, the local council came out to assess my home kitchen for running the business, and I am pleased to say not only did we pass the inspection, but were awarded the full 5 stars! Phew, that's another hurdle overcome!

I must say, this is one of the reasons that I put off setting up for so long - having been told by so many people I can't do this or I can't have that - there were so many reasons given to me as why my beautiful kitchen would not be suitable. And they were all wrong. In truth, the local environmental health team are more concerned with your procedures for managing hygiene, and CBC have been great from my first enquiry, offering both advice and reassurance throughout. If anyone else is in a similar position and not sure about taking the next step, my advice is pick up the phone, and talk to the experts - you'll be surprised how supportive they can be. 

So now everything is 100% in place, the council, the tax man, and the customers! Here's the fun bit, this is what we have been making in the kitchen these past two weeks... 

iPhone Cake - complete with apps and the birthday girl taking a 'selfie'

Damask Print 50th Birthday Cupcakes

Metallic Gold and Ivory Wedding Cake with Gold Edged Sugar Roses

Mixed Cupcakes for a Mechanic

Dirty Dancing Movie Reel Cake - with Edible Pictures

Dairy Free 'In The Night Garden' Cake

Star Trek 'Enterprise in the Galaxy' Cake

Subaru Cake

Sunday, 27 April 2014

The Pantry Door Sunday Update - April 27th

As promised, here is a glimpse of what we've been up to this week! As our first official month of trading draws to a close, I am feeling really positive about the progress we have made. Gary and I have had a lot of discussions about the best way to approach turning this cake decorating malarkey into a business. The two key objectives for our first year are to test whether people are prepared to pay the full price for our product (it seems that yes they are!) and to see how it fits in and around my day job, which to be fair, has to take priority as it is what pays the bills. To this end we agreed not to advertise or seek out business, but just to build a reputation and customer base built on recommendation. 

We have forecast a modest 6 cakes per month - roughly what I'd been doing for friends before we turned into a business. This month we surpassed that and delivered 8 cakes. For May we have 16 booked. Yikes! We are already taking orders 6 - 8 months in advance, people I've never heard of are contacting me to order cakes, so the recommendation plan must be working! This next month will be really testing, as not only do we have so many cake orders, but my day job commitments this month are pretty huge and require a lot of travel too. That being said, some of the requests are epic, and there are going to be some really great designs to share! 

And talking of sharing, here is this week's offering... a chocolate Mini Cooper, and an Oreo flavoured Oreo cake for a lover of - you guessed it - Oreos! 

Thanks for reading - next week's projects include a classic sci-fi series, an even more classic movie, and my forth wedding cake! 

Happy Sunday! xx

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

A Kick At The Pantry Door and the Feel Good Food Challenge

For those of you that follow this blog (and if you are still following in spite of my sporadic posting of late I am ever thankful!) you will be aware of some pretty big changes happening here. I blogged a few weeks ago that the time demands of holding down a full time job whilst setting up my own business had left me with some pretty hard choices to make about the direction of this blog. One of those was the decision for the time being not to be involved in product reviews, as last minute cake orders have compromised review deadlines of late. Once the business is a little more established this may be something I pursue again in the future.
I am working on getting back into a routine for blogging recipes, and I will be sharing updates from the business every Sunday afternoon.
The one aspect of the blog that I have umm-ed and arr-ed over for the past few month's is the Feel Good Food blogging challenge. I have been so reluctant to call time on the challenge, but as I'm sure you have noticed, I simply have not been able to keep up with the administration each month. I have appealed for guest hosts to take up the mantel for a few months to keep the spirit alive, however as none are forthcoming sadly I have to say that the challenge will no longer be taking place.
I will leave the challenge page pinned to the menu at the top of the blog, so any previous challenges and link ups will still be available to read. I thank each and every person that has supported the challenge in the past and taken the time to link up.

Sunday, 20 April 2014

The Pantry Door Update - April 20th 2014

The Pantry Door is officially open for business! Orders are coming in, cakes are going out. So far our customers have been incredibly positive about both the look and even more importantly about the taste of our cakes. We have surpassed our forecast for April, and already have more orders in for May and June than anticipated. I am so excited about this venture, and have decided to share the work we do each week with a little description of the cakes leaving our doors. (This is the first 2 weeks...)

Mechanic and Rally Car Cake

The cake was for a friend's husband. We discussed a few ideas based on his love of rugby, formula one and rallying, but in the end decided on something a little more personal. The little Peugeot 205 is his own rally car, the fact that he is fixing it rather than driving it was an in-joke! 

Superheroes Cake

This cake was for a little boy who loves all things superhero. We managed to incorporate seven different superheroes into the design; Superman, Batman, Spiderman, Thor, Iron Man, The Hulk and Captain America. His Mum messaged me the day after the party to say her little boy thought eating the cake had given him superpowers! 

Orchid Pot Cake

I made this cake last weekend for my Mum's birthday. I really enjoy making cakes as gifts for people, as it gives me the chance to try new skills and push the boundaries. I made a series of sugar orchid flowers and buds, forming them together to make the typical stem of an orchid plant, and bedded it in a small carrot cake covered to look like a flowerpot. The double take from my Mum and Grandparents was worth the hard work on this one! 

Japanese Sushimi Cake

Making food look like other food is all a little bit Heston, but I think it really worked in this replica of the birthday girl's favourite dish from her favourite restaurant! The salmon and squid sushimi pieces were modelled from white modelling chocolate (I make the modelling chocolate myself, and will share the recipe and method one day soon) whilst the wasabi was actually a thickened buttercream. 

iPhone Cake

I found out after I had made this cake, that the birthday girl had asked for an iPhone for her birthday, and would be getting this cake instead. Personally, I think a chocolate cake version is the far better option anyway! 

Honda CBR Motorbike Cake

This cake tested everything I've learned to date about cake sculpting and 3-D cakes. The very nature of the shape and dynamics of a motorbike defy the weight and balance of a cake, and I have not yet made the move into making bespoke boards and hidden support structures for cake, but I think I figured out a way to do this, and I can honestly say this is 100% edible, with no support structure at all...

Chesterfield F.C Football Shirt Cake

Last but not least, a football shirt cake for my home town team. The puma and CFC logo are hand piped from royal icing, and the club itself re-tweeted a picture of the cake sent in by the birthday boy! 

As you can see it's been a busy couple of weeks! Next week is quieter, but I will have a Mini Cooper and an Oreo themed cake to share with you all! 

Happy Sunday! x