Sunday, 27 January 2013

Red Velvet Valentine Springerles

One of the things I am aiming for this year is, that when I am making something for an occasion or Holiday, I want to publish what I have made before we get there. As I write this, I am on track to achieve this with my Red Velvet Valentine Springerles.

There seems to be bit of a trend lately for very red, red velvet cakes, I have to say that I am not fond of these. The red velvet cake is supposed to be chocolate and I don't think those bright red cakes have much chocolate in them? Traditionally, the red colour was revealed when the acids in the vinegar and buttermilk react with the cocoa powder so that a compound called anthocyanin, that is in the cocoa, becomes more red. Additional red colour seems to have been added since about the 1970s and now many modern bakers have seemingly dropped the chocolate for an entirely red cake

That said, I have cheated a bit here, as I don't have a cookie recipe using buttermilk, so I have used a colouring and flavouring by LorAnn which adds both a red colour and the buttermilk flavour of red velvet.

I love the look of a springerle cookie, but, rarely have time to make the proper recipe. I have found that if I adapt my sugar cookie recipe by using icing / confectioners sugar and freezing the cookies before I bake them that I get a pretty good impression on my cookie.

I also baked some plain hearts out of the red velvet mix and used the springerle to mould some fondant to decorate them with


200g icing sugar / confectioners sugar
200g butter or block margarine
1 tablespoon Red Velvet Bakery Emulsion by LorAnn
1 egg
30g cocoa powder (sift the cocoa powder if it is lumpy)
370g plain flour

I make these in my stand mixer.
  1. Beat the icing / confectioners sugar with the butter or margarine and the Red Velvet Emulsion till just blended, but the colour is well mixed through. (The smell is amazing)
  2. Add the egg and beat again until just mixed
  3. Mix the flour and cocoa powder together lightly
  4. Beat the flour mix into the butter and sugar mix. Your mixer might rubble a bit, keep it on a low speed, the mixture will go bread crumby and then will start to come together. When the mix forms into larger balls, you are ready to begin.

Rolling and making the cookies


Rolling pin (a wooden one is fine)
Marzipan spacers (optional)
Springerle mould (I used "Heart and Rose", "Amo Te" and "Cupid in Heart"
Cookie cutter that matches your mould or a good knife
Dry pastry brush

Prepare some baking trays / cookie sheets with a non stick liner.

Pre-heat your oven. I use a fan oven and bake them at 155C. For a conventional over you might need to experiment at about 165C or 170C
  1. Take out a couple of good handfuls of the mixture and press / knead together until you have a smooth ball.
  2. Roll out about 5mm thick (I use marzipan spacers to help)
  3. Sprinkle and spread a very thin layer of flour over to stop the mould from sticking
  4. Take your Springerle Mould press down really firmly on top of you dough. Carefully lift off using the little ring on top
  5. Check the impression if happy, cut out with your cutter or knife, otherwise, knead together and re-roll
  6. Place carefully on baking tray and use a dry pastry brush to gently brush off as much of the flour as you can
  7. Place the tray in the freezer and leave for about 20 to 25 minutes.
  8. Bake for around 10 to 15 minutes (check regularly)
The picture below is the cookie as baked above. I like this, but it was a little dark for what I wanted. Dark in mood that is, rather than colour, so I decided to add a little lustre and some experimentation ensued. (I picked the best cookies for lustre-ing, so this one is a little misshapen)

This first one (below) I tried was using a sparkly pink lustre. It gave the cookie a bit of a metallic look, which I quite like, but, it's not the sophisticated look I was after.

One of the things that I didn't like about this cookie was that the colour looks a bit grainy. I then remembered that I had a product called Gildesol which helps lustre adhere to surfaces and look better, as I fetched my gildesol I saw in the box, a pot of burnt copper lustre by Squires Kitchen and knew this was going to give just the colour I was looking for.

I brushed a thin layer of Gildesol all over the cookie with a flat brush and then brushed over a thin layer of lustre

To mould the fondant with the springerle mould, I use pretty much the same technique as for moulding the cookies, rolling the fondant out between spacers and then impressing it. As long as the fondant isn't warm and sticky, it doesn't usually stick to the mould, if it does, smear on a little vegetable fat (Trex / Crisco) after rolling. I rolled and pushed a pea sized piece of fondant into the rose part of the mould, before making an impression, to ensure I got a good impression as this part of the mould is so deep.

Really love this, hope you do to?

That is it for today. Thanks for popping by, please call again soon

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Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Perfume Bottle Cupcakes

It really is true that inspiration can come from anywhere, as I was wandering through my local department store recently, I saw this lovely perfume bottle and my first thought that would make a lovely cupcake. Now, it maybe that this says something about my current state of mind and looking back it seems that a more appropriate thought might have been, "I wonder what that smells like" Obsessed? Me? I have since been back for a sniff and unsurprisingly it smells, erm, floral.

These cupcakes also let me get some more practice with my fondant domes. I have always had trouble getting these to look right, but I found a little something at Cake International (a sugar craft exhibition) at this year's NEC that seems to have sorted them out for me. I'll be sharing this little secret later.

I was originally going to decorate these with a seal (the sort that they used to put on deeds and letters, not the one that barks) made with a flower cookie cutter and a letter embosser, but the letters I had to hand, made the resultant seal way, way to big for a cupcake. Might make an interesting bigger cake one day though.

These are vanilla cupcakes with a vanilla cream cheese frosting and a fondant top. For this decoration I used


Vanilla cupcakes and buttercream / frosting
Fondant (Regal Ice Shell Pink)
Black Petal Paste / Sugar Flower Paste / Gum Paste. I got some ready coloured from my local sugar craft shop.


A Rose Mould (I used the rose mould above from Alphabet Moulds.) 
Small rolling pin
A ribbon strip cutter (optional)
Round Cookie Cuuters
A little vegetable fat / shortening (Trex/Crisco)
Edible Glue
Confectioners Glaze*

* Don't ever buy confectioners glaze without buying confectioners glaze remover or dipping solution. It is impossible to wash the glaze off your paintbrush without it.

Moulding the Rose

Knead a hazelnut size piece of the black petal paste until it is soft and pliable. Rub a little Trex between you palms and then roll the ball of petal paste between your palms so that it is lightly covered in the Trex. Push the ball of petal paste firmly in to the mould. I like to remove any excess petal paste using a cocktail stick and rolling it outwards from the middle, one way and then the other way. Then use you finger to smooth any rough areas around the edges. Once you have done the first one you can probably dispense with the Trex for the second one as there will be enough left in the mould.
You can get away with moulding these with regular fondant, if you are lucky, they may just pop out, otherwise put the mould with the fondant in, in the freezer for 10 or 15 minutes before un moulding. This is the rose freshly popped out of the mould. This is a great mould to use, the rose turns out with a lovely petal "footprint".
Paint the rose using a paint brush and confectioners glaze to give it a super glossy look. Amazing what a difference a little glaze makes?

The Secret of the Dome

I have always had trouble with my fondant domes, despite practising, I could never quite get them to look right. As mentioned, at this year's Cake International at Birmingham NEC, I discovered these purple balls. There was actually a bit of a scrum (massive understatement) on the Purple Cupcakes stand and I think I was lucky to secure one of the last packs. You can get hold of some from their website here.

If you want to have a go at hand moulding the domes (without the ball), check out Carina's Cupcakes picture tutorial here

The Company that sells these balls recommends that you cut them in half for use. I prefer to balance mine on a cookie cutter, I don't know why, just like to be different, I suppose.

Making the Domes

  1. Roll out the fondant using a little vegetable fat underneath to stop it sticking
  2. Cut out the fondant (you may need to experiment to get the right size cutter - usually one size bigger than you think) and gently drape it over the mould.
  3. Use the palm of your hand to gently cup the fondant and shape it over the dome.
  4. Leave it there for a while whilst you make some ribbons

Make the Ribbon

  1. Roll out some black petal paste very thin using vegetable fat to stop it sticking to your work surface
  2. Cut into strips using a knife or a ribbon cutter

  1. Lay and arrange the ribbon strips over the dome, sticking them down with a little edible glue.
  2. After attaching the ribbon strips carefully paint on some edible glaze
  3. Position the rose on top too using a little edible glue

You now need to fill your fondant dome with buttercream or whatever frosting or topping you want to use. You can either pip or spoon it onto the cake or pipe or spoon it into the dome. I usually spoon it in to the dome. You need a little less that you think.
Then carefully invert the dome over the cupcake and gently press the sides down to meet the cake
Don't press on the top of the dome.

Ta da!

One of the things that I have discovered on my journey through sugar land, is that whilst people love the look of the fondant domes, they tend to prefer to eat a buttercream topped cupcake. With this in mind, I developed the version below, with a visible buttercream swirl

I really like this cupcake, I think it looks quite sophisticated. One of the things that I love about sugar craft, well, all crafts really, is that just changing something as simple as the colour can result in something that has a completely different look and feel. As you can see in the picture of the soft green and pink version of this cake.

In my show them to the world tests, the green and pink version seems to be more popular, which do you like best?

That is it for today. Thanks for popping by, please call again soon

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Sunday, 13 January 2013

Cameo Cookie Journey

My journey through the world of sugarcraft, began when I picked up this book by Peggy Porschen. I don't know what drew me to the book, perhaps the amazing pictures on the cover, or the equally amazing projects inside. Whatever it was, I was inspired to begin a new hobby.

Inspide the book are some sweet mini cakes with a cameo on top, wanting to recreate something like this, I purchased my first sugar craft mould, this cameo mould by first impressions.

Today's post is a bit different from normal, about how I developed the design above, from my first attempt below, I'm swallowing my pride and showing you some outtakes and some things that didn't go so well along the way. Not everything )maybe not anything?) comes out the way I want first time, I keep trying and practising until, hopefully, things look the way I want. This is why I reverse into my parking space at work every morning, but that is another story for another day.

April 2012

I am going to show you my first attempt at the Cameo Cookie, I'm quite nervous about it actually, but, here it is. I made these in April 2012. I don't think they look too bad. These were rose flavoured cookies so I wanted to make them pink, but overdid the pink in the cookie mix and also had not yet learnt the trick yet about using violet colouring to take the yellow out to get a true pink. The cookies are slightly misshapen and those piped royal icing dots need a bit more practise.

Pink cameo cookies

September 2012

So, a while after, in September, I decided to have another go, wanting to avoid the piping I decided to use fluted oval cutouts of fondant to try to create the effect. Here one is. I couldn't get the brand of silver paint that I wanted. The one I used looked OK when it was wet, but dried looking too matt and a bit grainy. Then, even worse, all of my photos came out really badly, so I didn't feel I could show you. This is actually quite a pretty cookie with a lovely domed effect

Lavender Lady 1

Dissapointed, I tried a few other paint and colour combinations. Two were dreadful, the paint was all grainy and yucky, but this one didn't look too bad and this is what I developed into the cookies you see at the top of the page and below

Today's Version

Equipment and Materials

Cameo Silicone Mould (First Impressions)
Small bow mould (Sunflower Sugarart)
A "pokey stick" (See below)
A batch of sugar cookies cur with a fluted oval cutter (My recipe here)
Sugar pearls 
Sugar Paste coloured with dusky pink gel colour (sugar flair)
White Sugar Florist Paste / Petal Paste / Gum Paste
Small paintbrush
Edible glue


Take a small amount of Petal Paste / Gum Paste and knead until very soft and stretchy. Start to press this into the centre of the mould and use a "pokey stick" like the one shown in the picture  to work the past into all the parts of the Lady, her hair and clothes. This can be quite tricky as the petal paste / gum paste doesn't always want to stick and may keep springing back. You just have to  keep at it.
Next take a small amount of the dusky pink fondant and fill the rest of the mould with this to make the background. Pop the mould out.

That is the tricky part done. All you have to do now is assemble the cookie.
  1. Roll out the dusky pink fondant about 5mm thick. Cut out ovals using the same cutter you used for the cookie and stick these on with edible glue or piping gel
  2. Position your moulded cameo in the centre of the cookie.
  3. Mould a bow in white petal paste / gum paste and position this at the base of the cameo.
  4. Use a small paint brush to paint a ring of edible glue around the cameo for the sugar pearls.
  5. Stick on the sugar pearls around the cameo. A pair of clean tweezers can help. The pearls look best with small gaps between them.

That's all for today
Thanks for popping by and please call again soon

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Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Your Top Ten of 2012

A slightly belated Happy New Year to you all! Where do all the days (weeks, months, years) go?

New Year is a time for looking over our shoulders and contemplating  the year that has gone and making plans for the new year that is beginning. This time last year I have barely even heard of a Blog, let alone contemplated writing or publishing one. And when I did, I had no idea that anyone else would be interested in looking at it.

I started my blog when one of my friends told me about her favourite cake that I had made, a chocolate cupcake as it happens. Do you know, I couldn't even remember making the cake never mind maybe recalling what recipe I had used and I realised I needed to keep a record. So in April last year, my Web Log, Adventures in Sugarland took its first tentative steps into the blogosphere and by the end of this year has had almost 10,000 visitors. For me that is quite a serious WOW! A big thank you to all those of you who have popped by to share my journey.

In the best Blogosphere tradition, in reverse order (what else) here are your top 10 posts from 2012.

Number 10. Pina Colada Cupcake

Tasted even better than they looked and made with a new product - I-Zing, a tangy pineapple icing. Photographed on vintage pressed glass cake stands

Number 9. Vintage Brooch Champagne Celebration Cookies

One of my favourites. Lovely champagne flavoured Sugar Cookies topped with hand painted moulded fondant. These beautiful old-fashioned roses were picked from my garden. The pedestal the cookies sit on is a miniature vintage Shelley tea cup with its saucer on the top.

Number 8. Hope-Lace Romantic Brownies

Simple but effective sugar-lace topped Brownies with a David Austin rose also picked from my garden. 

Number 7. Pink Peppermint Cupcakes

The cupcakes underneath this icing are green in colour and I remember putting in too much green!. A surprise Oreo cookie nestles in the bottom of this cupcake's case. A friend at work, kindly gave me these glass cups, she had bought a set on EBay and only wanted one, so donated the rest to me. Underneath, a selection of early hydrangea flowers from my garden, making great cupcake stands.

Number 6. Old Rose Cookies

One of the first cookies, I ever decorated. I did loads of colour combinations, this one being my favourite. This is my most attention grabbing and commented on cookie. When I look at it now, I can't quite believe I made it.

Number 5. Lavender Chrysanthemum Cookies

So simple. I love the way this cookie seems to glow. Lavender flavour as well as colour.

Number 4. Dahlia Cookies

One of my really early cookies and very much an experiment. I am amazed by the popularity of this cookie, the post topping my chart for months and months, only recently being overtaken

Number 3. Green Tea Springerle Cookie

Another experiment. I was astounded at how well the impression survived being baked. Presented with a vintage tea cup and saucer by Aynsley and a Quercifolia Hydrangea flower from my garden. The almost glowing green tea in the tea cup is made from the same matcha powder as the cookies and allegedly brimming over with good stuff

Number 2. Dark Chocolate Rose Cake

This cake was made for a cake sale at work and never intended for the blog. I posted a picture on Cake Central and the response was such that I thought it deserved its own post and here it is at number 2! People tell me it's allure is to do with that icing, a Dark Chocolate Fudge. Underneath is a four layer banana and chocolate cake. Indulgent.

 Number 1. Lavender and Lace Cookies 

Another lavender flavour as well as colour cookie. This is such a simple cookie made with a rather special lace mould from Karen Davies, to me this looks more like lace than fondant. If you have never decorated a cookie before and want to have a go, these are a great place to start. The post also includes an indulgent shot of this gorgeous vintage plate without the cookies

Publishing a blog involves a lot of work and more than a little luck, so I thought I would share with you a few of my cakes and cookies that didn't quite go according to plan, or I just couldn't take (enough) successful photos.


First up this berry butter cream cake, based on a beautiful cake from Peggy Porschen's Boutique Baking book, I may have overdone the icing sugar with my stencil just a teensy weensy bit

The cookie below is part of a batch I made in pastel colours, but I didn't quite get enough good photos to share and this one, I think I had a little "overdecoratitis" with the silver. I still like the idea so this one may well be about to get a pre-valentines make over

This is an Earl Grey Tea cupcake I baked for a bake sale at work. I spent ages making and painting tiny cups saucers and teapots to decorate them (although I think, maybe, this looks more like a coffee pot), but just didn't have enough time to get decent photographs. And that butter cream and piping is, erm, not to my usual standard. Another one due a re-make soon

This cookie below was my second attempt at making Cameo Cookies and the cookies themselves were really rather lovely. Unfortunately, however, hard I tried, I just couldn't get a decent photograph. The silver just looks grainy, the colours would not come out right and I couldn't get my camera to focus how I wanted it. I have recently had another go at these and if you  are one of the lovely people that has "liked" my Facebook Page, you may have seen a sneak preview of the made-over version recently.

If you want a sneak peek, check them out on my flickr here

So, if you like what you have seen so far, please keep popping back, I was lucky enough to get a load of sugar flower making equipment for Christmas and there will be Adventures with sugar flowers coming up along with bigger and better cakes and cookies throughout 2013. You ain't seen nothing yet!

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