Sunday, 26 February 2017

Disney The Little Mermaid Birthday Cake

Having 25, 22 and 18 year old children I thought I was well passed doing any sort of birthday cake creations, but, alas, no my 22 year old daughter decided three days before her birthday that she wanted a Disney cake.

I couldn't rely on any of the supermarkets for a cake that I wanted so it had to be done at home.  I am a trained chef and have done home cakes before but I would not call myself a master baker however I do know some techniques and You Tube is fab.

Roll forward to 26th February and this is what I achieved.


The impossible can be done.  Four layers of coloured lemon sponge with a buttercream topping.  Ombre layers of aqua blue going from dark to light to make the waves.  Cake decoration mermaid on top and three fish tank ornaments from the local pet shop (boiled, washed, boiled again, ok so I have OCD for clean!!)


Fondant modelling paste, coloured and rolled out flat (good in a pasta machine, but I just used my rolling pin).  I then cut out holes of various sizes using icing nozzles and lay the sheet in different angles over the rolling pin and leave to dry.  


Press embossing tips into mounds of fondant paste for a different coral and also roll and shape tubes of fondant paste for a greater variety.  To make the reeds, just cut long lengths of triangular fondant and twist.  The sand is Unicorn mix from the local cake craft store.

The letters were store bought and I used a little bit of vodka brushed over the top and then dipped in the edible glitter.

Total cost - OMG, just don't ask, it wasn't cheap, the ornaments themselves came in at over twenty pounds along with the cake board and unicorn mix, lettering and fondant modelling paste at more than twenty five.  If you can do the models yourself then you can keep the costs low but I reckoned out at about 85.00 for everything with plenty left over for next time.

What next time I hear myself ask...

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Grimsby Beer Battered Haddock

Beer Batter Recipe

100 grams Plain Flour
Salt and Pepper
300 mls Beer

Vegetable or Sunflower oil for cooking in a high sided pan.

Kitchen paper to place the fish on after cooking.

Extra plain flour for coating the fish, which you can also season if you like.  

Put the flour, salt and pepper in a large bowl and gradually add the beer whisking all the time until the consistency is that of double cream.

I had two very large Grimsby Haddock, each of which I cut into three smaller pieces.

Coat each piece with the flour coating mix.  I trimmed the tails of both of them for test pieces to make sure the fat was hot enough.

Heat the oil to 190 C or 370 F if you have a thermometer, if not, use the test piece method.

Dip one of the small pieces in the batter and slowly place in the oil.  Do not drop it in as the oil will splash up.  Also by placing the fish in carefully it starts cooking straight away and doesn't stick to the bottom of the pan.  If the fish starts to brown immediately with the fat bubbling, then it is hot enough, if it takes a while to brown turn the heat up and test again with the second piece.

Take each piece, coat with flour, dip into the batter mix making sure you coat all of it and gently place into the hot oil.  Cook for a few minutes until golden brown, turning occasionally if you need to with two metal spatulas, again, being careful not to let the oil splash.  Remove once you are happy with the depth of colour and place on the kitchen paper.

Repeat the process for all the pieces.

Enjoy with homemade chips, peas, bread and butter or be lazy and send someone else to the chip shop for chips and peas while you cook the fish.



Sunday, 19 February 2017

Homemade Sewing Weights

A dozen homemade sewing weights, ideal for dressmaking so you don't have to break your back with all the pinning etc.



I used a sewing themed fabric.  You can cut any size for your weights that you like as long as it is a rectangle with the long side exactly double the short side.  So ideal sizes are as follows:-

7cm x 14cm - ideal for collar pattern pieces as they are small
8cm x 16cm - ideal for pockets and children's clothing
9cm x 18cm - a good size for most pattern pieces
10cm x 20cm - useful for larger pattern pieces
12cm x 24cm - one of these in the middle of your pattern piece while checking your pattern placement lines

I used dried rice for fillings and Aurifil thread for both machine sewing and handstitching.

Press your fabric pieces, fold them in half right sides together and stitch along one side and bottom on wrong side of fabric leaving one side open. Clip the corners (not too close).  Turn to the right side.  Fold in 1cm on open edge and press.  Fill with the rice, the more you put in the better the weight.  I filled them to the point that you can just pinch the edges together to sew the seam.  When you are ready to close the opening make sure you close the edge opposite to the bottom so that you get the triangle shape.  

Sew the seam together from middle out, then back along to the middle and across again so that it is secure with very small invisible stitches, mine were 1 to 2 mm apart, this reduces the chances of them splitting.

Think about what colours you mostly sew with before making them.  I used light colours as I am working with bridal fabrics and laces.  

Total cost of the project was 1.20 for the bag of rice (budget will do), as I used scraps of fabric I already had and cotton I already had. 

I took about four hours to make the 12 weights, this included pressing time, setting up the sewing machine and the hand stitching.