Friday, 31 December 2010

Happy New Year!

Goodbye 2010, hello 2011! 

It's been a year of tremendous highs and lows chez Pretty Scrumptious. It started with me being a hermit who barely left the house to wandering around with my eyes out on stalks, taking in the world again as life got back to normal. 

My husband and I celebrated our 2nd wedding anniversary, we went on holiday {abroad! something which seemed an impossibility earlier in the year} and I discovered cakes and Pretty Scrumptious made its first tentative steps.

Here's to 2011 being a super year, far better than the last, bursting with health, happiness and exquisite, delicious cakes for all of us. 

Happy 2011 everyone! 

Lizzie x

PS It would make my day if you could leave a comment!

Thursday, 30 December 2010

Networking - cake style

Yesterday I had the pleasure of meeting Dianne, a trained patisserie chef and the owner and lead cake designer at Kika's Cakes

It's amazing meeting someone who's also so passionate about cake. We talked about anything and everything related to cakes! Cake designers we admire Lindy SmithZoe Clark and Peggy Porschen...

Zoe Clark Cakes - Pink Vintage Lace Wedding Cake
Peggy Porschen - Dainty Dots Wedding Cake

...cake television programmes we love (The Great British Bake Off, Ace of Cakes)

...cake courses we've either been on or want to go on: Lindy Smith's wonky cake course and Fair Cake's "run your own cupcake classes"

Lindy Smith wonky cake
...inspiring websites such as Wilton which has loads of tips and ideas and Amy Atlas for her incredible styling and dessert tables.

I'd like to wish Dianne the best of luck for Kika's Cakes and her cake ventures in 2011 and thank you to Sarah from Ginger for introducing us in the first place :-)

Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Cake-inspired Christmas presents

I've been spoilt over Christmas with some wonderful cake-related presents.

Firstly, a true design classic, described by The Good Housekeeping Institute as an "iconic product that has stood the test of time". It's a Kenwood KMC560 Premier Silver Chef mixer and it will take pride of place in our kitchen, if I can find room for it. 

Then I love this cake apron, a present from my lovely hubby...from

And finally the Primrose Bakery's book on cupcakes. The story of how Martha Swift and Lisa Thomas built their business from their kitchen at home, eventually becoming suppliers to Selfridges and Fortnum and Mason is inspiring.

Tuesday, 28 December 2010

Season's greetings!

I hope everyone had a very happy Christmas? After a few days of holiday with my family in extremely chilly Worcestershire I wanted to share a festive pic of Dad's cake just before the birthday boy blew out his candles...

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Icing on the cake

I've spent this morning merrily putting the finishing touches to Dad's birthday cake, oblivious to the snow-fueled disruption on the Midlands trains...I won't be travelling back today, that's for sure!

I'm keeping my fingers crossed for balmy weather over the next day or two so I can get back to my parents for Christmas.

So my cake is finished, but will it ever reach Bewdley?

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Selling like hot cakes

I know, I know.... it's the week before Christmas and there are SO many things to do other than plan ahead, especially as far as March...but tickets for the Squires Kitchen's Annual Cake Decorating, Chocolate and Sugarcraft Exhibition sell quite literally like hot cakes.

The three day event (March 11-13th 2011) is one of only two hot tickets in the world of cakes (the other being the Cake International show at the NEC every November).

Thousands of cake enthusiasts will be descending on the Farnham Maltings in Surrey for cake demonstrations, book launches and the chance to meet the authors, innovative exhibitors and mini classes.

I can't wait - cake heaven!

Monday, 20 December 2010

Blank canvas

Over the last couple of days I have been butter-creaming, marzipanning and finally sugar pasting the birthday cake. It's been smoothed, buffed and polished to within an inch of its life and now...TA-DA!! is my blank canvas ready for decoration:

I currently have two designs in my head. One, a Portobello inspired cake, taking a few geographical liberties, complete with some local favourites - Melt, Tom's, St Peter's Church

The other cake is more wild and extravagant with a garden theme, using a combination of painting, piped royal icing and leaves and flowers made with flower-paste.

Saturday, 18 December 2010

What's cooking good looking?

I have been dreaming up designs for a belated birthday cake for my dad...I'm feeling inspired by the beautiful snowy conditions and am going to create a Portobello-in-the-snow inspired cake...

I've tried out a new recipe - Little Venice Cake Company's {} carrot cake, which uses rum soaked raisins as well as pouring a lemon and orange sugar syrup over the hot cake as soon as it comes out of the oven.

Will share the finished cake as soon as it's well as feedback from the tasting committee ie dad!

The Great British Bake Off - series 2

Spotted on The Pink Whisk (ie the amazingly inspiring Ruth Clemens - winner of  TGBBO 2010) contestants are wanted for the second series of The Great British Bake Off. BBC 2 are looking for amateur bakers across the UK to take part. To find out more email or call 0207 067 4876.

Friday, 17 December 2010

Unseasonally spring-like cake

It is blowing a blizzard in Bayswater this afternoon but today's cake is positively spring-like.

Before I embarked on my cake-making journey, I had never found the time for a hobby or evening classes. So Floodlight was a complete revelation - it is a listing of all manner of courses in London:

I enrolled on a course at Hammersmith and Fulham College:

And today's cake is the result of six evenings being taught by the wonderful Julia Francis.

This {deceptively} simple design allowed us to master a number of techniques - how to marzipan a cake, to cover the cake and board in sugarpaste, piping with royal icing, making a mould, making and using modelling paste and flowerpaste, wired flowers and leaves...

Underneath the pink icing is actually a rich fruit cake, which has been fed for several weeks with cognac. Mmm!

Thursday, 16 December 2010

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Welcome to Pretty Scrumptious

I am passionate about food and have always loved to bake, but recently my cake-making has turned into something of an obsession. So much so that I am wondering if this could, one day, be a new career path. I love elegant, romantic, simple, pretty, colourful, whimsical, stylish designs. I also love natural, fair-trade, organic, home-made, seasonal, do-it-yourself, vintage, second-hand, local and good quality - so wherever possible I am going to use ingredients that are true to these values. There will be times when I cannot resist a purchase from my favourite cake shop, but I'll also be combing my parents' attic, using Freecycle and Ebay and begging and borrowing from friends when it comes to adding to my collection of cake equipment. 
I plan to share fabulous discoveries and inspirational ideas, my own cakes, delicious recipes, book reviews, tips and do-it-yourself ideas for entertaining friends and family that will bring sparkle to any celebration or gathering...
There is no better way to start as I mean to go on, so I am sharing my latest cake - a festive rich fruit cake for Christmas, covered with wintry blue sugarpaste and decorated with shimmering snow-covered Christmas trees and piles of colourful presents in pastel pinks, yellows, greens and blues.