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.