Monday, October 01, 2012

What a masquerade?! A cupcake tower & more!!!

Firstly, let me introduce myself...

... My name is Lynda, I'm a wife, mother of 3 adorable little cherubs, I'm from the UK, I'm a hobby baker, a blogger, very amateur photographer & to top it off I suffer with epilepsy! Don't let that put you off though - I try not to let it bother me too much, so it shouldn't bother you either.

Little ole me in the kitchen
Adorning a portable EEG for my epilepsy
I blog in my own unique way, often I ramble (well, I think I do) a bit - but not today, I have lots to fit in & hardly any time to write. To be invited to guest blog here at 'Cupcakes Take The Cake' is a HUGE honour for me, so I'll make it count - I hope?!

Where to begin??? I s'pose Wednesday is the best place as that's when it all started for me this week, by that I mean the start of 5 days constantly in the kitchen baking, making, caking, creating!

There's only little old me, unless you count my kitchen angels: Lopsy, La La & Looby Blu - they can't really assist me, but they give me support & keep a smile on my face! I've added a picture of these 3 cutesy mascots, they're with 1 of my Guru's books & a great tin sign I picked up from Next earlier this year.

La La, Lopsy & Looby Blu with Mary Berry my Guru :0)

So anyway (enough digressing about my cutsey lil kitchen angels), you may have gathered that my baking Guru is non other than Mary Berry - I have used her books since before my children, mainly just the odd cake here & there with a cheesecake thrown in too!

On Wednesday is where the baking fun began in my lil kitchen this week, I had no less than 3 large celebration/birthday cakes to knock out by Saturday   a total of 75 mini cuppiecakes & 96 large cuppiecakes... Wowzers, would I manage this all & keep to time schedules for collection/delivery of these most delicious cakey moments?!

Oh & before I forget, to not make timings more restrictive for me (why would I be so foolish?! Guess I'm a little crazy, eh?!) - I decided to trial a new cake pan - just to add to the mix! So anyway, on Wednesday I got to work preparing some of the sponges in advance: an 8" Lemon that was baked, cooled, then frozen, an 8" Victoria that was baked, cooled then wrapped to be decorated & iced on Thursday & a 3D Skull (my new pan trial) in Lemon which was baked, cooled, crumb coated & supported with 3 drinking straws!!!

My new Wilton 3D Skull pan!
3D Skull baked beautifully
Joined & crumb coated
Thursday was a day of baking, crumb coating, regal icing & decorating.  I first had the 8" Victoria to fill, crumb coat & regal ice, add a photo topper I designed & then do some piping work... I also had the 3D Skull to cover with regal ice & then hand paint some designs, make some fondant decorations & add some metallic dragées too - I also had the 9" Victoria sponge to mix & bake & cool on top of the decorating session!

Please remember I have 3 adorable little children that I have to work around in the day, my eldest finishes early on a Wednesday so I have from 9am until 2.40pm & Thursday/Friday I have between 9am & 3pm... That's it, time is tight & I have to fit household chores in & around my baking too!!!

8" Victoria, fresh out the oven & then boarded n filled with buttercream & best raspberry jam

8" Victoria filled n topped, then fully iced & decorated

So I knocked out the 8" Victoria as a Birthday cake for my friends mother-in-law, I've made Teresa a fair few cakes in the past... Cupcakes for a girlie get together, her Wedding cake & a matching Cupcake tower, her hubby's 40th Birthday, her son's 18th Birthday, her hubby Pete got me to make Teresa's 40th Birthday cake too & now I created a special cake for his mum's 65th - it's sure nice that they like my cakes so much & I really love creating toppers for these lovely people.

I then whipped up 12 Vanilla cupcakes that my friend had asked me to do at school in the morning, she was doing a MacMillan 'Worlds BIGGEST Coffee Morning' at her work on the Friday & had a nice stand to display them on, now I couldn't say no could I?!  After all it was for a good cause, so a dozen Vanilla cuppies were mixed in Kitty (my beloved KitchenAid Artisan) then measured with my Pampered Chef large scoop into GREEN cases (MacMillan uses green in their logo so they had to match) & then into the oven to bake...

... I then had a 9" Victoria sponge to mix & bake, but I also had to regal icing my 3D Skull that I had now named 'Yorick' - it seemed quite apt while it was just a plain white 3D Skull!!!  The cuppies were cooling, while the 9" was baking, 'Yorick' was being covered with fondant (regal icing) but I had to roll this out first.

Now covering a 3D Skull in fondant (regal icing) is not an easy task when you have never attempted this in your life ever I can tell you (I had enough trouble with the filling/joining & crumb coat, as the front kept sliding down the back - hence I had to support using 3 drinking straws impaled in his temples & his chin, lol) - the top of the skull was fairly simple, smoothing down the back, in the eye sockets, around the cheek bones (yes, that was all relatively stress free) but then doing the base & chin was where it started being quite frankly a 'biatch' of a job!

I bodged the base, but I s'pose the cracks & few creases add to the aged effect of the skull?! After 'Yorick' was covered in fondant I quickly piped buttercream frosting onto the dozen cupcakes & then sprinkled with edible green glitter (I'm hoping Tamsin got a picture of these displayed on her stand) they look pretty sweet I think & hope her event raised loads for this charity.

MacMillan charity cuppiecakes
I had a bit of time (before the school run) to crack on with hand painting some pretty coloured patterns, I used some cake stencils for some of the designs (although this didn't work as nicely as I had wanted with liquid gels (thinned with Vodka), a few smudges here & there, but it looked ok), I then made some fondant masquerade masks with a silicon mould & a button for one eye socket (I've never used these moulds before & I am sure I wasn't doing it correctly, but it worked all the same), I cut out a couple of different sized butterflies which were to go in the remaining eye socket, a few hearts & a few ovals - while I left the butterflies to dry a little, I started to attach the other fondant pieces & 'Yorick' was now looking rather feminine so a name change was needed & 'Yorickina' was chosen! I literally finished just before school ended - Close call, but managed it... Just!

That was Thursday... Then on Friday I still had the 9" Victoria to fill, crumb coat, regal ice, top & pipe but I also had the mass of cupcakes for the cupcake tower to mix, bake & cool: This was... 75 mini cuppiecakes & 72 large cuppiecakes, fortunately all Vanilla, so that was a bit easier - although I wasn't using my regular recipe, I was using the Primrose Bakery recipe from their book: Cupcakes From the Primrose Bakery

I bet you might be wondering why I didn't use my regular recipe?! Simple really, the recipe I normally use is memorised in my head but it is old school in ounces - to get the right ingredients for this many cupcakes I would've had to convert to grams & that just seemed like a lot of hassle/effort when time was so short, so I grabbed my copy of the book from my shelf as I knew it was all metric weights... job done simples!  But, making a different cupcake recipe is not just as simple as working out the quantities of ingredients when it comes to this book (oh, no... never THAT simple) but along with metric weights, this had a completely different method than my standard recipe so it actually took longer to knock all the cuppiecakes out.

36 Large cupcakes fresh from the oven

36 Large cuppiecakes cooling

Still I managed to get them all mixed & baked by school pick up, but I had the 9" cake to board up, fill, crumb coat, fondant & pipe yet - before 7pm! 

Fortunately my children were being picked up by their grandparents & having a mini break for 2 nights away, although this was great it did delay me a little...  But by way of a miracle I managed to get the 9" Victoria finished in time & get freshened up to go out too!

So Saturday comes around the big day, I have the mass of cuppiecakes to frost n decorate ready for a Charity Masquerade Ball & I also have the 8" Lemon to board, fill, crumb coat, fondant, pipe, a friend is coming over at 1pm to discuss her Wedding cake for next year (she also wants a cupcake tower too) we need to be done by 3pm really as gotta go set up the cupcake tower at the venue then come home get showered & changed to get back just before 7pm! It was a mission & a half, didn't get finished with it all till 3.45pm - we rushed over & I carefully set up my round acrylic 7 tier stand (but I only used 5 tiers & omitted the top 2), please note I have OCD not badly but it does affect the things I do & setting up a cupcake tower is one of them, it has to be right & this takes some time!

My friend Lesley (who had organised the event) came over, as I was unpacking the stand from it's box... I paused & showed her the 8" Lemon as it was for her daughters 16th Birthday & she was delighted with it, then I showed her 'Yorickina' & Lesley was most definitely amazed with her (she was to top the cupcake tower, a real focal point) - I then got on with the setting up of all the cupcakes on the tower large & mini, it took a fair amount of time but looked absolutely stunning by the end: What do you think?!


The Masquerade ball was fantastic, lovely food, great band 'Brass Roots', a fabulous Disco, marvellous Opera singer, fun raffle & auction - Just wonderful all round, here's a few piccies I took while there...

It was a glamorous evening, albeit a long night after 4 solid days in the kitchen for me!
The guests seemed to like the cupcakes too, as by the end of the night (2am) only a handful remained, but 'Yorickina' was left uncut so I brought her home (which would please the children on the return on Sunday).  I didn't stop there though... When we got home I still had a dozen Chocolate Orange cupcakes to bake as these were being picked up by the lovely Lisa on Sunday morning at 10am - Who else bakes cupcakes at 3am I ask you???

Still, I baked them while I was just getting everything ready so I could frost them at 9am hubby went off to bed... I actually started writing this blog then too & it was 5am before I hit the pillow (absolute madness)!  Well, before I knew it 9am came round & back in the kitchen, a 1M swirl of Chocolate buttercream frosting was swirled onto each cuppiecake & they were then to be adorned with a chocolate star that was piped with the number 60 in white chocolate - disaster struck me, due to lack of sleep I had forgotten I had some Wilton candy pens & set about melting white chocolate, filling a piping bag with my PME writing tips & then the tip either flooding the stars or clogging up!

I actually drowned 4 stars in the process & started to panic as I only had exactly 12 left at that point, Lisa turned up when I had just managed to pipe 4 stars & hubby said to her we would drop them off shortly to save her waiting - what a lovely lady & so friendly, but the remaining 12 stars turned out great when I used the Wilton candy pen.  I lovingly boxed them up, tied with my printed ribbon & delivered them to Lisa to surprise her boss with... I do hope they liked them!



That was my busy, busy, baking week last week & this blog has taken almost as long to write (but I couldn't leave anything out & wanted to share so many pictures with you all) - I am now taking a week off, as I started medication for my epilepsy 10 days ago & last week has taken it's toll on me (hence the reason I have struggled to write this, my brain can't cope) but I do hope you enjoy my blog?

If you like what you see here you can follow my baking adventures on:
Twitter: @Lady_Cupcakez
Instagram: princess_lyndypops

or you can check out my personal blogs here:

Here's a couple more photo collage collections for you to enjoy before I go!!!

Not bad for a first attempt at a 3D Skull eh?! 
9" Victoria, 8" Lemon & 8" Victoria celebration cakes

Cupcakes... Need I say more?!

Thank you for allowing me to guest blog, it really has been an honour & a pleasure for me... Happy Baking y'all xXx