Photo story: Squires Baking Exhibition – part 1 – wedding cakes

A couple of weeks ago I went to the Squires Baking exhibition in Farnham with @MissV1ss and we had a fabulous time wandering round seeing beautiful wedding cakes, cake competition entries and watching demonstrations like macaroon making by Mark Tilling. The pics speak for themselves so check out the wedding cakes below. There will be more tips and photo stories to come from the exhibition so watch this space! We also purchased a load of goodies from the Squires shop up the road from the exhibition.

hearts and love wedding cake by The Pretty Cake Company, photo by Naomi Longworth

Wedding cake with purple background and white petals - photo by Naomi Longworth

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Afternoon tea review: Wyndham Grand Hotel, Chelsea Harbour

On Saturday, I went to afternoon tea at the recently refurbished Wyndham Grand Hotel in Chelsea Harbour. It was a lovely sunny day and the Harbour was a great setting. My friend had found a special deal on the Afternoon Tea website for a champagne afternoon tea for £20 which was a bargain. The afternoon tea was themed and because of the Chelsea Flower Show currently being on, it included flowers and herbs being subtly woven into the menu. You can read the menu here.

Wyndham Grand Hotel London

First up, we were ravenous and ate all the sandwiches, though if you want an extra plate, it’s £6.50. I liked the salmon and cream cheese one and it was nice and fresh. I’m not a personal fan of lavender so the honey and ham sandwich with lavender bread was not to my taste. The next layer was some lovely warm scones which were wrapped in a linen napkin to keep in the heat. We managed a scone each but there was another scone still to go at! The scones were fresh and came apart easily in two pieces and we smeared on plenty of clotted cream and strawberry jam.

Next up were the smaller cake delights and everyone had their own favourites. The one I enjoyed the most was the flourless chocolate cake with chilli. The chilli was mild enough not to be too overpowering and there was a lovely treacly gooey taste at the end of your mouthful. I also enjoyed the lemon drizzle cake and the rose and raspberry chibouste (looks like a shotglass in the pic) but you did have to dig a little deeper to get the lovely creamy filling so that the raspberries weren’t too sweet with it. The lavender shortbread wasn’t for me but it was nicely done and I did love the idea of the violet and blackberry eclairs although they were too dry. There was limitless tea and coffee and my friends chose mint and breakfast tea and a cafetiere of coffee whilst I went for a cappuccino.

The hotel has been done in a modern style and the seats were comfortable although I’m not sure the lounge bar had the right furnishings for afternoon tea. If it had been warmer we would have ventured on the terrace for the great Chelsea Harbour views. Overall it was a fantastic afternoon out and after the champagne we all felt very pampered and relaxed. I felt thoroughly stuffed from the afternoon tea so went for a long bike ride and did my fastest ever lap of the park so it must have been down to all that sugar!

Top 10 Baking Tips from Cakes4Fun Cupcake Course

Here is my top ten list of tips which I learnt from the Cakes4Fun Ultimate Cupcakes Baking Course. I hope these tips help and you can read more about the courses on offer here.

  • Use margarine not butter so that you get a flat top for your cupcake; butter makes them dome
  • Weigh your eggs so that you get the same weight ratio to your flour, sugar and butter – 125g of each for 10 cupcakes
  • Pipe your sponge mixture into the cupcake cases (half full) so this leaves a little gap at the top for your icing
  • Use disposable piping bags to pipe your mixture and buttercream – this is much faster than spooning the mixture into the cases
  • When using sugar glue, ensure you make it the night before – see this video for instructions. I didn’t know this before!
  • Divide your sugar paste into small sections, wrap well and store in the freezer. Defrost the night before you bake. This way your sugar paste won’t dry out as one large bundle and will last longer
  • Use a non-stick board and non-stick mini rolling pin to roll out your sugar paste or flower paste – I had very swift delivery from Windsor Cake Craft
  • When using sugar paste, warm it in your hands and work quickly to make butterflies and flowers (Lakeland stock them) so the paste doesn’t dry and crack when you roll it out
  • Roll out your sugar paste thinly and flip over. For flowers add a shimmer with a cake brush (looks like a paintbrush). For butterflies, add sugar glue, then tap the cake brush with edible glitter on to the butterfly
  • When using liquid fondant, ice the cupcake, then put it back in the cupcake tin for a really even finish
  • Happy cupcake baking and decorating!

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