Building sandcastles out of cake

Sandcastle cake

I loved making this cake for a little girl who was celebrating her 1st birthday.

The cake is made from strawberry sponge with vanilla frosting and decorated with handmade shells and bunting. A spray (or 2) of perl luster made the cake sparkle.

I am really pleased with this cake and especially the strawberry sponge. I did a test run to see how using real strawberries would work and I have to say it tasted great. The vivid pink of the cake batter did fade a bit during cooking, but all in all I was happy and most importantly so was the birthday girl!

How to make cupcakes

I love making cupcakes. They are so easy and quick to make and heres how.

Equipment

1 set of scales
1 mixing bowl
1 sieve
Whisk (hand or electric)
Cupcake tin
Paper or silicon cupcakes cases
1 teaspoon (tsp)

The ingredients

150g self-raising flour
150g caster sugar
150g butter
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla essence

The frosting

125g unsalted butter at room temperature
250g icing sugar
1 teaspoons hot milk
1 teaspoon vanilla essence

The baking bit

Place 12 cupcake cakes into a cupcake tin and put the oven on to 170C/325F/gas mark 3 to preheat

Sieve the flour into a large mixing bowl then add the caster sugar, butter, eggs and vanilla.

Give the whole thing a good mix with a whisk until everything is combined and the mixture has gone a lovely pale colour.

Divide the mixture between 12 cupcakes cases and then give the tray a small shake and a couple of taps on the work surface. This levels and removes any trapped air in the mixture.

Place the cake tray into the oven on the middle self and close the door.

Your cupcakes will take between 15 and 20 minutes to cook.

Once the 15 minutes is up it’s time to check if the cakes are cooked. The easiest way is to gently press the top of a cupcake and if it springs bake then it’s done. The other method is to take a skewer and insert it into the cake. If it comes out clean then it’s done. If the cakes don’t spring back or the skewer still come out with cake mix on, then pop them back into the oven for a few minutes.

Remember to keep your eye on them as cupcakes can over back really easily.

Once you are happy that your cakes are cooked, take them out of the oven and leave them to cool for about 10 minutes. Then place them on to a wire cake rack to cool completely.

While you’re waiting for the cakes to cool you can make the frosting.

The frosting bit

Place the butter into a bowl and whisk until is it soft and pale in colour

Sieve about a quarter of the icing sugar into a bowl and whisk until smooth. Keep doing this until all of the icing sugar has been added.

Add the milk and vanilla and mix until smooth.

If the frosting seems a bit too thin you can pop it into the fridge for a bit to stiffen up or add some more icing sugar.

The decorating bit

Place your frosting into a piping bag with a star nozzle attached. If you have stored your frosting in the fridge leave it for a bit to get back to room temperature.

Starting from the outside of your cupcake gently squeeze the piping bag and follow the outline of the cupcake coming into the middle.

If you want to add a bit of height then do another layer of frosting, but move in a bit of the outside.

You can add whatever you like to the top of your frosting, hundreds of thousands, smarties, chocolate chips… 

The best bit

 Now that you have baked and decorated your cupcake the final thing to do is gently peel back the paper case on the cupcake and take a big bite.

 YUM!