Under the Sea Cupcake Course with La Dulce Ambar

 At the end of November,I took part in a cupcake course given by La Dulce Ambar here in Ciudad Real....yes,I´ve only just got round to blogging about my experience. It was held in a house in the country,en route to Carrión de Calatrava, the worst thing about this was the fact that it was very cold in the house (and I´m a real frigolerá!!) and despite the fire, my feet were freezing the whole time.Also,because of the fire it was pretty smoky and my clothes and hair really smelt of smoke afterwards.

There were four of us on the cupcake course and everyone was really friendly.It´s great to meet other people who have the same interests as you and to make new friends. La Dulce Ambar aka María was very informative and helpful and  gave us lots of useful hints and tips. She showed us how to make fondant from scratch although I doubt I´ll be doing this very often, due to the lack of time I have to bake and decorate cakes.I´ll probably stick to bought readymade fondant or sugarpaste.
 She then showed us how to colour fondant. I coloured mine a light purple colour as purple is my favourite colour and it seemed fitting for an octopus.She then showed us how to form the octopus´s head by making a teardrop,elongated shape and then using sugarcraft tools how to shape the mouth and make two tiny nostrils and impressions where the eyes were going to be. We then got two balls of white fondant which we flattened and stuck on to the head, then did the same with two black balls and then an arch shape in blue for the iris of the eye. I did my quite small as I prefer it to look small and delicate although the smaller the fondant you are working with,the tricker it is to work with and handle. A lot of patience is definitely needed in these cases as it can easily break!
We then rolled out 8 even strips of fondant and bent them to form the octopus´s legs, then let them dry before assembling the octopus on top of the cupcake. It probably took us about 1hour at least just to make the octopus but it looked pretty impressive when it was finished so was well worth it! I nicknamed him Ollie the Octopus!                  
We were then shown how to make various buttercream flavours including cream cheese,lemon and Nutella or Nocilla buttercreams.We then turned to piping,not my best skill and one which definitely needs honing. I can´t remember what nozzle we used but I think it was supposed to turn out looking like waves but mine was  more like frills or ruffles:
   We then had a go at piping the cream cheese buttercream.The course lasted about 41/2 hours, from 10-2.30pm and time was fast running out,plus I had to dash as had booked to eat at La Cabina for my birthday. I had to rush putting my octopus together and then María cut a fondant fish and a starfish out to decorate my other cupcakes with but it was great fun and I learnt a lot. We were also presented with a very professional-looking booklet with the fondant, buttercream and cupcake recipes so it was definitely worth the time and money. I look forward to taking part in more of La Dulce Ambar´s cupcake decorating courses!


My third Christmas Cake

 Life with a toddler is certainly hectic-I hardly have time to cook or bake,let alone blog. I think I may be starting to sound like a broken record though!! I had to make this year´s Christmas Cake while my mum was visiting so she could look after Chloe while I got on with the cake. I decided to try out this Delia Smith Christmas Cake recipe this year, modifying it slightly as I couldn´t get any currants so added more of the other dried fruits plus apricots.

I thought I had dried the cake out a little but over the next couple of weeks until Christmas, it got a liberal soaking in brandy. I didn´t get round to decorating it until Christmas Eve,when we were at my parents´house and my mum could once again take care of Chloe, so I could finish off the cake! The day before Christmas Eve I marzipanned the cake using Dr. Oekter´s ready-to-roll marzipan-no time to make it from scratch just at the moment!- and apricot jam to stick it on.

 After leaving it to dry overnight,the following day I made the royal icing and iced the cake, as smoothly as possible! I then cut out some fondant stars with the leftover fondant from my cupcake course and some biscuit cutters and stuck them on the top with a little bit of water.I then decorated the stars and the cake with silver balls. I also stuck a pretty Christmassy ribbon around the cake (I think I added the ribbon directly after icing the cake before adding the stars and silver balls). I think it´s my prettiest Christmas Cake yet and am pleased with the result. i just wish I had more time to practice and make more elaborately decorated cakes!
As for the taste of the cake itself, it was a little dry at the ends (my fault or that of my oven!) but lovely and moist in the middle, fruity but not too heavy! I have to say that I think I enjoyed last year´s cake more so I´ll be sticking to that recipe in the future.


Stars & Moon Cupcakes

December has been a hectic month, what with preparations for Christmas etc,leaving me with little or no time to blog or even to make mince pies and my Christmas cake!!
I just about managed to squeeze in these cupcakes,which I made for a friend´s little boy´s first birthday. The cupcake was a raspberry jammy cupcake, a recipe taken from Hannah Miles´s Big Book of Cakes and Biscuits, with a chocolate buttercream which I found a little too sweet, maybe owing to having run out of Tate and Lyle icing sugar and having to buy a different brand that was actually flavoured with vanilla and not noticing till it was too late! I then coloured some left-over fondant from my cupcake course(this is an upcoming post!) yellow and using my star and moon biscuit cutters,cut out the fondant shapes and placed them on top of the cupcakes and ta-da!!! star and moon cupcakes....made fairly quickly and easily!
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