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Hey there Amblers! This month I’ve been messing about with sweet and savoury flavours (bacon cupcakes anyone?) and creating an elaborate anti-gravity cake.

As this was my first attempt at an anti-gravity cake, there was a lot of trial and error, but my pain is your gain. Here’s what I learned:

  • Save your packets – I snipped the corner off one of the bags of sweets and used it as the decoration for the top of the cake. By glueing the short end of a straw inside it I created a frame for my design.
  • Buttercream is best – you can use fondant icing instead, but it’s easier to achieve a flawless finish with buttercream and any mistakes are easier to smooth out.
  • Work from the bottom up – I found it easiest to start from the base of my cake (I wanted the sweets to flow down the side as well) and work up from there to the point where the straw would emerge. Once you start adding up the straw start from the bottom to build a strong base.

  • Camo is key – To allow things to blend seamlessly, especially on a coloured cake, save some of your buttercream and use tiny amounts to stick on the individual sweets. If using a fondant covered cake, try to colour match a royal icing to the fondant.
  • Reinforce – I used a couple of bamboo skewers inside my straw to strengthen it, otherwise, you may find that it can’t take the weight.

  • Create a base – I used a royal icing to attach the sweets to the straw, as it provides a stronger bond than buttercream, tempered chocolate would also work well. I first coated the straw in the royal icing to create a good base layer to stick to.
  • Be patient – It’s tempting when you start working upwards to add a lot of sweets at a time, but the weight will be too much and it will just push the lower layers off. Add one or two at a time, allowing them to dry fully before proceeding.

I’ve recently come across a great baking blog: SprinkleBakes. Heather, a self-taught baker with an artist background, creates an impressive range of treats, from jaw-droppingly beautiful cactus cakes to mouth-watering bacon, smoked gouda and beer bread muffins. It seems as though everything she touches has an air of magic to it and she’s a real source of inspiration.

I’ve also been out sampling some of the cakes on offer at Marmalade. The staff were all very friendly and helpful (they found us a table and moved us in out of the rain just in time). The service felt personal, despite the place being full with the lunchtime rush. We’d popped in for a sandwich (and a very generous portion of salad) and just couldn’t say no to the cakes. We ordered the elderflower drizzle loaf and a slab of the caramel cheesecake.

The portion sizes were generous, although it would have been nice to see a little more decoration on the loaf, maybe even a few fresh flowers. The elderflower drizzle was fruity and flavourful where the syrup hit, but was a little dry towards the bottom of the slice. To get a nice even drizzle, it’s important to pour the syrup on while the sponge is still warm or, failing that, to slice it and brush each slice liberally with it. The caramel cheesecake was a light and creamy set cheesecake. The creamy vanilla flavour was good with the caramel on top, but it would have been even better with a bit more caramel swirled throughout it. A little room for improvement in my opinion, but definitely a good place to start.

I’ve recently been discussing the trend of naked wedding cakes and the use of fresh flowers and plants in food. It seems to be ever more popular to include flowers in food, but you’ve got to do your research. As you can’t wash them, make sure the flowers and plants you’re buying are organic and food safe. If they weren’t grown specifically for food use, chances are they’re not safe to use and potentially harbouring pesticides and other chemicals. Similarly, you’ve got to make sure they’re actually edible. I’ve recently been asked to match the flowers on a cake to the bride’s bouquet; a nice idea, but not so much when the flowers and stems are poisonous. There are plenty of edible, food safe flowers out there, so it’s easy to find an alternative that looks just as pretty without poisoning the entire wedding party.

That’s all for now, keep an eye out next month for ombre cakes and Nutella!