Attempting Macarons

Practice, practice, practice.

I have tried making macarons in the past with varying results, but I wanted to try again as it is something that I have far from mastered. Practice is the only way to get better, so I gave it a go.

I decided to make some lemon macarons, following this recipe from Chelsweets. In my first attempt, all was going well until I added my sugar and food colouring. The eggs suddenly went too liquidy to use so I gave up and started again.

The second attempt went better. This time I added the sugar a spoonful at a time, and omitted the food colouring to be on the safe side.

I piped three trays of macarons in various sizes, choosing not to use a template as it was all practice. I baked the first tray at 155c (Chelsweets recipe says to bake at 315f which is 157c) but they browned too much and didn’t have the chewy texture at all – I assume they were over-baked. I still filled them though as I didn’t want to waste more ingredients.

The second tray I attempted were larger shells, and this time I baked at 140c. The shells still browned, but this time around kept the chewy texture you’d associate with macarons. I think I should have piped these thicker though.

My third tray were mini ones again, this time I baked at 130c and took them out before they were too brown. These were the best of the 3 – crisp shell and chewy insides. I’d say this bodes well for future attempts.

No doubt I’ll try again in the coming months, but for now these are going in the freezer until I find people to give them to. Next time I’ll try colouring the mixture again.

UPDATE!!

I’m pleased to report that the “overbaked” shells are actually pretty decent now they’ve been filled and in the freezer a few days. They have softened up so you can’t actually tell they were crisp to start off.

I’ve boxed up some of the better ones with a cake puck and cake heart to give to people this weekend.

50th Birthday Cake

I got asked to make a 50th Birthday cake that was maybe lemon flavour as it’s for a spring / summery birthday. Aside from that, it was creative licensing all around. I had an idea in mind that I roughly doodled using instagram stickers and the end result was this:

Bottom tier (coloured yellow):
– Lemon sponge cake
– Lemon curd
– Lemon buttercream
– White chocolate mock ganache coating

Top tier (left white):
– Vanilla sponge cake
– Strawberry jam
– Vanilla buttercream
– White chocolate mock ganache coating

The Process

This was the original “doodle” against what I actually made – pretty much as I imagined it!

I made the cake tiers in advance, cling wrapped them and kept them in the freezer for nearly 2 weeks. When it was time to make the cake, I took them out of the freezer 24 hours before & moved them to the fridge to defrost.

To ensure that they lasted as long as possible after being picked up, I stacked the cakes using a variety of strong straws to act as cake dowels to keep the cake sturdy.

The finishing touches were store-bought decorations:
– Yellow, white, gold & cream decorative balls
– Fake sunflowers
– “Happy Birthday” cake topper
– “50” number for front of cake

As with all my cakes, once it was decorated, I gave it a quick photoshoot in my photo box so that it really stands out againg the black background:

I did laugh at my creativity for making the cake box taller. The cake itself would have fit OK, but once the toppers were added the box was not tall enough. In came the kebab sticks & clingfilm…

Added Extras:

To go with the main cake, there was also 2 boxes of vegan cupcakes so that I had catered for as many people as I could. These were made with chia seeds instead of egg, vegan “butter” instead of butter, and oatmilk in place of dairy milk. I did 6 each:

  • Lemon Cupcakes with homemade lemon curd & vegan lemon “buttercream”.
  • Vanilla Cupcakes with strawberry jam & vegan vanilla “buttercream”.

I used this recipe for the lemon curd if you wanted to make your own.

The finishing touch:

I decided for this cake to also provide some “cake care cards” to advise how best to transport and store the cakes, along with cutting instructions and information on ingredients for anyone who needed to know.

I like the idea of these cards & will likely do them again in future for other cake events.

Happy Birthday to Me

I don’t usually make myself a birthdy cake, but I had an idea for a cake and decided to use my birthday as an excuse to make it:

It started by making 4 x 4″ layers of “brown butter” sponges:

They were then filled with a biscoff buttercream and caramel:

I stacked them using a kebab stick to hold them central (and then added more when chilling):

After allowing to chill / set up a bit, I coated in a ganache made from White chocolate, White chocolate hazelnut spread, and cinnamon:

the cake was then coated with crumbled Biscoff biscuits, drizzled with melted Biscoff spread, and topped with more buttercream and crumbled cookies.

Because the cake was so soft, it had started to lean when I had stacked it and to counter this I ended up coating it in extra thick ganache – this shows on the cut through picture above!

I cut the cake into as many portions as I could and have been giving it out to friends and family the last couple of days.

I tried to be sensible and have limited myself to one BIG slice, but honestly that’s the most I think I can manage 🤤

Free Cakes for Kids

I’ve posted before about baking for “Free Cakes for Kids” and this is the most recent one I made.

The request was simply for “Baby pink cake with cute bows” so this was what I came up with.

Mum’s birthday cake

I thought I had posted this last month, but it was still in drafts!

It was my Mum’s 65th birthday, so I used the excuse to make her a birthday cake. 4″ layers, coated in a white chocolate ganache:

It had my usual cake filling of vanilla buttercream with strawberry jam. The geometric hearts were filled with a cake truffle made from the offcuts of the cake layers.

Happy birthday Mama!!

Retirement Cake

I definitely feel that this is the most professional-looking cake I’ve made to date .

It’s a retirement cake for my mum’s work-friend and I didn’t have any spec other than that.

There some holes in the cake when I removed the wrapping, but these were easily filled in and smoothed over.

the inside of the cake is vanilla cake layers with strawberry jam and buttercream. The outside coating is a white chocolate ganache, gold leaf and cake hearts. The balls and fans are none edible.

I’ve put the finished cake in one of my new fancy cake display boxes too as I had struggled the other week to get my normal cake boxes. I am tempted to just stock up on these for future as they’re so pretty

Bluey Cake

This cake was for a family friend and they sent an inspiration picture of a blue and pink cake. They only asked me to do the cake as they’d got custom topper off of Ebay which made thinsg far easier for me!

This one was buttercream outside, with vanilly and strawberry jam inside. The drip is white chocolate.

Geometrc Heart Cake Truffles

Since I bought my ganache kit, I’ve started to trim my cake layers using a cake ring which is something that I never used to do. This results in cake offcuts that I don’t just want to eat, nor do I want to waste them. I’ve taken to making cake-pops and cake truffles with these off-cuts, and recently I’ve been trying to make filled geometric hearts.

The first go of these was practice for a cake I’m making later this week, but I also made some this weekend for a birthday. The image below were some of the practice ones I made then used for Mother’s day

I turn the cake into crumbs and then mix it with buttercream to get the consistency that I want. Once this is done, I’ll coat the silicon mold with melted chocolate or candy melts. I fill the shells, and finish by adding a layer of chocolate to “seal” them.

This week, I tried to do some patterned designs: Blue with daisies, white with gold leaf, and a marble design with gold accents.

“Cookie Monster” Inspired Cake

My husband asked if I’d make a cake for his workmate’s birthday this weekend. He asked me if I could do a cookies and cream cake like my last post, but I had some blue buttercream left over so I asked if I could go rogue and make it Cookie Monster themed. He had no objections.

I think that this is the best go yet with the kit I got from Brigid’s Cake room – only a slight gap in the ganache where I missed an air bubble: which you can see just below the drip on this picture

This time around, I built the cake “upside down” – layering ganache at the bottom of the pan to give it a flat top once it was set and flipped around. I alternated layers of vanilla and Oreo cake with vanilla buttercream. I chose to add the ganache as I added each layer of cake:

I was over the moon with how shiny the ganache was on this one when I took the liner off the cake:

I finished this cake with remaining buttercream, and a combination of Oreos, mini Oreos, and Maryland mini cookies.

As they say, “Practice makes perfect” and I’ve been enjoying my opportunities to practice.

Ganaching Kit / Cookies and Cream Cake

I have been eyeing up the Frost Form Kit for a while now, but I just couldn’t spend that much money for it as a novice / home baker. The 6” kit is currently selling for £66 which for me is a lot. That’s not saying it’s not worth it, just that it wasn’t something I was willing to invest in.

Last month, I stumbled across a similar product called “Brigid’s Ganaching Kit” which to me looked very similar. The 6” kit was on offer on Cake Cabinet for £19, so I took a punt and ordered one last month. I realised you can order direct from the company who make them though, so check out Brigid’s Cake Room

 Frost FormBrigid’s Ganaching Kit
Clear Form / TinYESNO
BaseYESNO
Base linerYESYES
Crumb CutterYESNO
LinerYESYES
BottleNOYES

You don’t get as much in the Brigid’s kit, but the things I was missing I already had – I have a 6” cake pan with detachable base. I have a 5” crumb cutter to trim my cake layers, so I figured I’d have everything I need.

I made a cake yesterday with no purpose other than testing the kit out. I baked 5 layers of vanilla cake with Oreo crumb, allowed them to cool, then trimmed them with my crumb cutter. I set up the Ganaching kit as per instructions, and began to build my cake*

I had 5 layers of cake, with vanilla buttercream and Oreo crumbles in each layer.

Once it was stacked, I made a white chocolate butter ganache mixed with Oreo powder. I added it to the bottle, then realised it wouldn’t come out of the spout due to the crumbs inside, so I just poured it over the cake instead.

I put the cake in the freezer for an hour to set, and then came the reveal

There was a tear in the ganache, but this was entirely my fault as the cake was pretty much touching the liner at this part & I hadn’t realised. I was ecstatic with the result though for a first go!

What you can see when I cut the cake is that the ganache is a lot thicker on some slices than others. Again, this was entirely down to me stacking the cakes slanted without realising.

*I should have been more careful in building the cake as it ended up leaning to the side. This was entirely my fault and I reckon I could have added ganache around the edging as I added each layer to keep it more in line.

My next test will be a buttercream coated cake.