Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Leftovers: Gingerbread Men vs. Yeti's

I have never in my life made gingerbread before. Unless you count a large quantity made out of foam board and my own less than edible icing recipe. So having spent weeks researching gingerbread houses online, I wanted to try and make some, and fearing I might have to resort to a hot glue gun to get a house to stick together, I settled on making gingerbread men. I also decided to use Martha Stewart's Gingerbread Snowflake recipe because Smitten Kitchen, a blog I've successfully used recipes from before, recommended it. But for the love of ninja-bread men, if you make this recipe, make half! Make a quarter even! I didn't... which was a mistake.

Gingerbread adapted from Martha Stewart Gingerbread Snowflake Recipe

  • 750g (6 cups) all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 227g (1 cup/2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 200g (1 cup) packed dark-brown sugar
  • 4 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon finely ground pepper
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 345g (1 cup) unsulfured molasses (or treacle if you're in the UK)


  1. Sift together the flour, baking soda, and baking powder into a large bowl. Set aside.
  2. Put butter and brown sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment; mix on medium speed until fluffy. 
  3. Mix in spices and salt, then eggs and molasses/treacle. Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture and mix until just combined. 
  4. Divide dough into thirds; wrap each in plastic. Refrigerate until cold, about 1 hour.
  5. Preheat oven to 180 C (350 F/Gas Mark 4). 
  6. Roll out dough on a lightly floured work surface to about half a centimetre thick. Cut into your shape of choice. Space a couple of centimetres apart (they don't spread much) on baking sheets lined with parchment paper, and refrigerate until firm, about 15 minutes.
  7. Bake biscuits until crisp but not dark, 12 to 14 minutes. Let the biscuits cool on sheets on wire racks.

Lemon Royal Icing from Martha Stewart

  • 2 large egg whites, or more to thin icing
  • 500g (4 cups) sifted confectioners' sugar, or more to thicken icing
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 3 drops glycerin
  1. Beat the egg whites until fluffy and stiff (but not dry). 
  2. Add sugar, lemon juice and glycerine; beat for 1 minute more. If icing is too thick, add more egg whites; if it is too thin, add more sugar. The icing may be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
  3. Put into an icing bag or squeezy bottle with a small tip.
  4. Decorate as you wish...
  5. ... allow sisters to help. End up with vampires. 

Who wouldn't like a blood sucking gingerbread vampire in their biscuit tin at Christmas?

In hindsight, this recipe, while really good and easy to make, wasn't really what I'd been wanting. It was too treacly (I don't like treacle), too clovey (I don't like cloves, especially in sweet food), I slightly under baked them so they were soft rather than crunchy and most importantly, I didn't read the recipe quantities properly. It's measurements were based on making sixteen, seven inch snowflake decorations and so I ended up making enough dough to actually make my giant gingerbread house a reality.

Shame, but then there were Yeti's...

Marks and Spencer's were selling Gingerbread Men Yeti's before Christmas and they were so good I wanted to make my own. Which was actually the main reason I wanted to make gingerbread other than having spent weeks looking at houses made of it. So using the same - slightly more naked - gingerbread men, I dipped them in melted white chocolate (a good one with vanilla seeds in it) and then covered them in dessicated coconut. I set them in the fridge and there you go, gingerbread yeti's. 

Actually, with the white chocolate and the coconut, the gingerbread was quite nice. It sweetened and mellowed the spices, but again it would have been nice if the biscuits were crunchy.

So, not an overall success, but I may try Mary Berry's recipe next year. She uses golden syrup and fewer spices, which should make the biscuits taste more of how I expect gingerbread to taste. But, that's months and months away, plenty of time to research.

Link | Martha Stewart Lemon Royal Icing Recipe via Martha Stewart
Link | Spicy Gingerbread Cookies via Smitten Kitchen

Listening: Ball and Biscuit - The White Stripes

Leftovers: Christmas Window 2014

For Christmas, I'd had a plan, which again my sister and I had been talking about for a few years, but it was only with the removal of a set of shelves that actually gave me the opportunity to do it.

Seems silly, that extra meter by thirty centimetres or so, shouldn't make that much difference, but it's actually great. It's allowed me to make something big for Christmas. So of course, it was gingerbread house* time! I even piped the whole house with icing made of a concoction of glue, flour and shaving foam.

I even roped Sarah (the self confessed least crafty person in the house) into helping me make felt balls to make into garlands for removable decorations. Annoying things was, she was really quick and apart from making them bigger than mine, really quite good at it.
I made little window boxes, with felt poinsettia in them, with little beaded centres and paper foliage Then I lit it all from the inside, with a load of LED fairy lights so that my Dad's brilliant idea of using old, damaged colorimetry sheeting as stain glass, would be bring a little colour to the house. Colorimetry sheets, just as a side note, are used as a reading aid for people with visual distortions and dyslexia related reading difficulties. The patient tries a dozen or so colours, which are laid over pieces of text and each individual will find a different one, which help to make reading them easier.

Did actually think he was mad for that one (though how appropriate for an opticians), I thought they were too sheer and would show all the writing and mess I always leave on the inside walls, but once it was lit from inside it was perfect. Not a scribble to be seen.
 All of the icing was done freehand bar the sides, which I marked up first. Thus why it's all wonky and every batch of the 'icing' I made, had a slightly different texture and colour. Some really holding their shape and others flattening out. Not bad for an odd mixture of ingredients. Then, as a final bit of decoration, I made wreaths for both the front and back doors (painted blue to match the practice logo), hand sewing hundreds of punched paper flowers to a base... don't do it. It takes hours! Plus, I had no red beads, so had to paint old plastic karma beads from the nineties with nail varnish. Don't for the love of small furry animals, follow my lead with that one! It's impossible and messy and just go to the craft shop!
So, that's it, Christmas window 2014. I think it's one of my favourites. It kind of felt proper if you know what I mean. Plus, I got to continue using my trees and a few sheep wandered back in.

I'm so mad at myself though, and I have to apologise. I thought I'd taken so many photographs of the window, but half of them are blurred or really low resolution because I didn't put on HDR. The other half are dark because, well, I worked from one, when I finished work and the practice closed, until around six getting it all set up. So it was dark when I got around to photos.

Why didn't I go back before the Christmassy parts of the windows (garlands, lights, wreaths and stars) were removed? Well, Christmas, then exhaustion, then illness, then not going back to work at the same time as everyone else. Plus it was the holidays and I'm lazy.

What it does make me realise is how I have to stop relying on my phone to take photographs. It takes great photos if you have good lighting and a relatively close subject matter, but it isn't good enough quality for window photos. I have to start using my digital camera for again.

And you know what's doubly annoying? I had it with me.

* The whole house comes to pieces and can be stored flat. It's very sad to be proud of that fact, but I am. Storing work isn't always easy and it's really important to try and get things to store flat to keep them good for another year. Or for taking home. Never know, maybe one day I'll have somewhere to use it of my own. Also, do you think I could make doll houses like this? I don't know if there's a market for foam board gingerbread doll houses, but if I or my sisters ever have kids, they're not getting the choice. 
Listening: Anyone Who Knows What Love Is (Will Understand) - Irma Thomas

Monday, 19 January 2015

Leftovers: "Off To See The Wizard" Autumn Window 2014

More leftovers from Christmas, as you know, 2014 was the Centenary of the First World War, so I made hundreds of poppies to fill our window at work to mark this. However, around about Halloween, people always ask what we'll be putting in the window.

Now, I actually don't see a huge point in Halloween windows. It's like doing a window for Valentines day. It's one day of the year, which given how long it takes me to make the windows, is an idiotic idea for me to try and do. However, when I put the Poppy window in, I left a gap and put down a yellow brick road. See, I'm not daft, Everyone else was watching the Wimbledon final and I was thinking about Halloween.

So, (slightly later than intended) I started making the characters from The Wizard of Oz. In sheep form...
The Wizard of Oz was a theme my sister, my mum and I had been talking about doing for years. And Annie at work had only been slightly cursing me for never doing it, as this is one of her favourite films/stories. It had always just been a little tricky to work around. But the idea of making Dorothy Gale, the Scarecrow, Cowardly Lion and Tin Man in sheep form... how could I resist?*

It was still a lot of work for only - in the end - a few weeks but it was worth it, I love them. So did Annie, who made me take her photo with them for her daughter, before I took them out for Christmas. She also spent all of the time they were in, pulling down Dorothy's skirt, so she wasn't exposing her bum.**

Have you ever tried making a dress for a papier-mâché sheep***? No. Don't. It's impossible... then again shirt and trousers is harder! Especially when a piece of dusty fabric means you can't breathe because of an allergic reaction.
A little breathing difficulty was definitely worth it. What do you think?

* Sorry there aren't more pictures! I've been lousy at taking enough/good enough photos of the windows this year. Add that to the ill-fated resolutions list.
** Must make her some bloomers!
*** If you're making a dress for a real sheep, I may have to ask you to leave the blog.
Listening: Somewhere Over The Rainbow  - Israel Kamakawiwo'ole

Sunday, 18 January 2015

Musical Interlude: "Bunny In a Bunny Suit"

I got a film for Christmas called The Pretty One, starring Zoe Kazan and Jake Johnson. This was one of the last songs of this lovely film, and since I heard it, it's been stuck in my head.

Listening: Bunny In a Bunny Suit - Simone White

Dulux Colour of the Year 2015: Copper Blush II


Dulux Colour of the Year is Copper Blush... did you expect anything less than copper overload?

Especially coming from a (failed) jeweller? You're really lucky I didn't just put up a picture of a sheet of copper and some wire! That would have done me, but instead I've ended up with fifteen Copper Blush items I would not be unhappy with. Then again, a reel of thick electrical cable to strip down into huge coils of lovely new copper wire would make me happy too, especially as I used the last/most of my old one making crocheted flowers.

As I said in my last post, I actually think that this is a great colour for fashion and objects, it's got a really great rose gold quality to it and skirts between really quite an orange copper, right back to being very pink in hue.

Plus, nude colours have been big the last few years, so, let's face it, this is just another nude to add to your palette.

  1. Bleach Super Cool Colours in 'Rosé' and 'Awkward Orange' from Bleach London | Link How-To
  2. Frends 'Layla' Headphones in Rose Gold and White from Frends | Link | Image
  3. Rose Gold Fox Earrings Stud Simple Earrings by Petitformal on Etsy | Link
  4. Folded Copper Light by David Derkse from Vij5 | Link | David Derksen 
  5. Stila Magnificent Metals Foil Finish Eye Shadow in 'Rose Gold' from Stila | Link
  6. Blush with Copper Accents Scarf by Francesca's via Allwomenstalk | Link
  7. Maybelline Eye Studio Color Tattoo Metal Eyeshadow in '65 Pink Gold' via ASOS | Link Image
  8. Sexy Mother Pucker Gloss Stick in Nudist from Soap and Glory | Link Image
  9. Moscow Mule Mug from Anthropologie US | Link
  10. Lucia Mirrored Plexi Clutch from Stella McCartney via Pinterest | Link | Stella McCartney
  11. Madden Girl Treble Chunky Sequin Pumps via Pinterest | Link
  12. O.P.I Nail Lacquer in 'Hands Off My Kielbasa' from O.P.I. | Link
  13. Essie Nail Lacquer in 'Penny Talk' from Essie | Link
  14. Tricolour Gold & Platinum Wedding Rings by Niessing  from Orro Glasgow | Link
  15. 'Dinner and Romance' Dress from Modcloth | Link
But alas, I don't think Copper Blush is my colour, too pale for me. I can wear bright yellow, bright red, bright pink or greens and feel no dent in my, albeit tiny amount of confidence, but put me in white or a nude colour and I feel really self concious.

Bar, when my hair went that peachy colour when it was bleached and the pink was all but gone, I loved that. And I would very much like those headphones, so when I'm drinking my favourite cocktail, the Moscow Mule*, in a copper mug, I can listen to some good music and quietly get drunk in my own little world**.

Unexpectedly good colour choice Dulux!

* If you fancy a Moscow Mule, mix two shots of vodka with the juice of half a lime and your favourite ginger beer to taste. Serve in a copper mug if you can, but if not, just over lots of ice. Plus, if you're feeling fancy, add some raspberries for a Raspberry Moscow Mule, which is the drink I had when I got my degree results in the beer garden of one of the uni locals.

** Yep, drinking alone is kinda the mood I'm feeling for today.

Link | Dulux Colour of the Year 2015
Link | Colour Futures 2015
Listening: Copperline - James Taylor

Pantone Colour of the Year 2015: Marsala II

As always, the fun part now of the Pantone Colour of the Year posts, finding Marsala inspired objet d'art.

And like I said on my first post, a bit like last year, this was actually a really hard colour to find close matches too because of that muted quality this particular red has. But, I have done my best and my board has the fifteen most muted wine shades I could find for you.

  1. Essie Nail Lacquer in 'In Stitches' from Essie | Link
  2. 3 in 1 Colour Block Gloves in Red (Burgundy) from Accessorize | Link
  3. Pomegranate Necklace (Ruby and Oxidized Silver) by Artesserae on Etsy | Link
  4. Maybelline Color Drama Intense Velvet Lip Pencil in '210 Keep It Classy' from Maybelline | Link
  5. Julianne Hough Suede Oxfords in Burgundy via Pinterest | Link
  6. Ombre Herringbone Cashmink Scarf in Navy/Burgundy from John Lewis | Link
  7. Manic Panic Classic Semi-Permanent Hair Dye in 'Vampire's Kiss' from Manic Panic | Link
  8. 'Props To Your Panache' Heels in Cranberry from Modcloth  | Link
  9. 'Cavendish Clutch' by Stella McCartney | Link
  10. 'Garnet Cluster Ring' (Oxidised silver ring with moving briolette garnet beads and 18ct gold) by Marianne Anderson | Link
  11. Converse Chuck Taylor All Star Washed in 'Oxheart' from Converse | Link
  12. Bourjois Color Edition Cream Eye Shadow in '05 Prune Nocturne' from Superdrug | Link | Image
  13. Butter London Nail Lacquer in 'Tramp Stamp' from Butter London | Link
  14. Stila Magnificent Metals Foil Finish Eye Shadow in 'Metallic Merlot' | Link
  15. Chi Chi Beaded Sleeveless Skater Dress from Dorothy Perkins | Link

I don't know about you, but I would wear/use pretty much everything on this board (I even have four and twelve). Bar possibly the dress. I like it a lot, but I'd look like... well... I wouldn't look good in it. I'd look pretty appalling in it. But someone else would look lovely...

... I'm starting to wish I'd picked another dress now. But my little sister let me down on her assistance for the great dress hunt. Damn her and her skinny britches!

One of the items I'd really like to pick up on is the ring, which is by Marianne Anderson, who is a wonderful Glaswegian jeweller, who I don't know personally, but have said hello too from time to time on Pinterest. I really wanted to give one of her rings pride of place as part of the 5th Day of Christmas, but the ring I picked, alongside the other designs, didn't suit the collection. I was going to save her until next year, but Pantone, has let me post it early because she uses a lot of those beautiful wine coloured garnets in her work. I just love the juxtaposition between simply set garnets and then quite chunky, oxidised and textured silver bands. It's a hard balance to walk between a good chunky ring and a bad chunky ring, Marianne's are definitely good chunky.

As for the rest, I am aware that they're very female-centric boards, with dresses and makeup and jewellery, but, hey, I'm a girl. And I look for things I like, I like jewellery, I like nail varnish, I like makeup, I like scarves and Converse and dying my hair bright colours. 

I also like that a deep red might get a bit more usage this year, I'm not a pale colour person, I like the deep, the dark and the jewels... three things which as soon as Christmas passes seem to be ignored.

Maybe Marsala will prove me wrong, if not, get the bottle out and get pouring.

Link | Pantone Colour of the Year 2015: Marsala
Listening: Get Over It - Guillemots

Saturday, 17 January 2015

Dulux Colour of the Year 2015: Copper Blush

 'Copper Vases' via The Jungalow
Dulux Colour of the Year 'Copper Blush' Pans via Colour Futures
'Untitled' by Unknown via Pinterest

Pantone and Dulux have been teaming up again I suspect, the latter following the former in their choice for a muted tone over last years jewel tone, Teal.

Part of me, is so unsure about this years Colour of the Year, from Dulux, because Copper Blush brings up two distinct sets of memories for me. First is my grans living room and the pink terracotta she's had in both houses and the textured wall paper which lay beneath the paint of one of them. It works in her house, but I'm not a fan of that colour in interior design. The other is long hot days in the workshop at university, and that strange matte plume that covers the surface of a piece of copper when you'd abused it with a blowtorch, then submerged it into a vat of pickle*.

It's one of those metals, that you push aside after a while as a jeweller, leaving it for experimentation or mock ups, before you tackle using precious metals. It's not a material you often go too when making fine jewellery, but highly polished or discoloured with age, you can't deny how attractive copperware is.

Hit a piece of copper with just enough heat and before the metal blackens, you get a rainbow coloured patina grows across the metal. Expose it to the old chip shop staples, salt and vinegar, and you get verdigris. But polish it and the blush of pink Dulux has focused on develops.

As I've looked for images, looked for products with this colour, I can't say I've changed my mind to ever painting a room in it, but my opinion is most definitely swaying towards this being a very good colour of the year for almost everything else. Which is kind of their intention:

"Replacing the cool blues and greens of recent years, a warmer spectrum of pinks, reds and oranges is emerging, reflecting a more positive global outlook. As a paint translation of this trend, our research all points to this orangey copper tone. Great on its own, the colour also combines perfectly with pinks, neutrals, whites and other orange hues, as well as metallic colours such as gold.

It reflects and complements all of the major trends that we have identified for 2015: a warmth in attitude and a renewed emphasis on sharing; the natural palette of the earth, from clay tones to sunlit highlights of yellow; the skin tones that reflect human interaction and the sepia hues of the past.

It is a colour of depth and currency that combines wonderfully with the everyday." (Souce)

Just, please, no copper tone foundations in the make up aisle.

*Pickle being a slightly noxious heated chemical bath, which you place your metalwork in after soldering to get rid of the discolouration and staining, deposited on your metal while heating. There are various types, but basically it's an acid bath and will leave pretty much every item of clothing warn near it with tiny holes. The one for copper at uni was at waist height, thus most of the holes from splashes were on sleeves and across stomachs. Should have worn an apron more often.

Link | Dulux Colour of the Year 2015
Link | Colour Futures 2015
Listening: Bunny in a Bunny Suit - Simone White

Pantone Colour of the Year 2015: Marsala

"Untitled" by Louis Stilling via Serial Thriller
"Papered Pom Poms" from BHDL
'Flower Series' by Christine Enos via Pinterest
"Ballet Slippers' by Unknown via Pinterest

I'm a little late this year, bringing you a post about the colour Pantone has announced as their Colour of the Year and I would have had it to you a week ago, except I have been finding it incredibly hard to find images and items which are the right tone.

The Colour of the Year for 2015, is Marsala 18-1438, a red which is almost a muted burgundy or maroon, but with a slightly brown or even a pink/purple hue to it. However there's also a slight orange tone which is reminiscent of a brick red. I like it, but it's been an awkward one.

It's a really earthy tone in comparison to last year's Radiant Orchid, which was practically luminous, but in the end, how much of it did you see around? Very little. A good muted red will always have a place in fashion and interiors, it's an old faithful which will suit the matte lipstick fashion of the last few years and be used for whole rooms and feature walls alike. My parents living room has been painted a muted wine shade for years, and while it could be too dark or intense in a small space, is actually really warm, rich and comforting. Something I suspect a room painted Radiant Orchid, would not be.

It's an old favourite, the fortified wine shade. "Old wine, is good wine", as Bernard and Manny of Black Books would remind us drunkenly...

Bernard: Old wine is good wine.

Manny: Yes. But… expensive wine is good wine also.

Bernard: Yes. But the older the wine is, the gooder it is.

Manny: Ah. But by the same token, the more expensive the wine is, then the gooder it is also. 
(Black Books, Series One, Episode Three: 'Grapes of Wrath')

Let's see if Pantone's prediction for 2015, is gooder than last years, in its application to the world of trends.

Link | Pantone Colour of the Year 2015: Marsala
Listening: Under The Blacklight - Rilo Kiley

Saturday, 10 January 2015

Je Suis Charlie

This is how illustrators responded to the fatal attack on their peers, at the French satirical magazine, Charlie Hebdo. (07/01/2015)

Link | Charlie Hebdo
Link | Lucille Clerc
Link | Rafael Mantesso
Link | James Walmesley
Link | Martin Rowson
Listening: Stronger Than Ever - Raleigh Ritchie

Leftovers: Slightly Salted Caramel Brown Sugar Buttermilk Cake

Well it's four days since the festive season abandoned us for another year, but I have a few things which I should/could have posted just before or just after the twelve days, which means, as most of us do at Christmas, there are leftover...

First up, so that I can finally work out and write down the mad combination of recipes I used and changes in measurements from cups to grams, is my big sisters birthday cake from back in November. No it's not a cat cake, like my little sisters, and it looks a little less than beautiful, but the picture was taken two or three pieces before it was finished, so actually you're lucky there was a picture at all because it was yummy!

Plus I disobeyed my own rule about sticking to a recipe my sister and I know and just altering the icing flavouring. Instead I was using one recipe for the cake, another for timings and about twelve trying to work out I made the most terrible salted caramel sauce. I burnt it and over salted it and then I made up for by doing my first ever attempt at sugar spirals which kind of melted in the fridge...

(Did I mention seeing Sarah and I normal share birthday baking drama, seeing it was her birthday, I was alone on this one!)

But in the end, I made her a Salted Caramel Brown Sugar Buttermilk Cake based on a recipe from Java Cupcake, with slightly drooping sugar spirals and without burning down the kitchen or using the grill*.

Salted Caramel Brown Sugar Buttermilk Cake

Brown Sugar Buttermilk Cake from Java Cupcake:
  • Unsalted butter, softened - 113g (1/2 cup)
  • Caster Sugar - 225g (1 cup)
  • Dark Brown Sugar (firmly packed) - 150g (3/4 cup)
  • Large Eggs, room temperature - 3
  • Vanilla Bean Paste - 1 tsp
  • Plain Flour - 250g (2 cups)
  • Buttermilk, room temperature - 245g (236 ml or 1 cup)
  • Baking Soda (Bicarbonate of Soda) - 1 tsp
  • White Vinegar - 1 tsp
  1. Prepare an 8 inch loose bottom cake tin by buttering and lining with baking paper.
  2. Preheat your oven to 180 C (350 F / Gas Mark 4)
  3. In a bowl or stand mixer cream together the butter and brown and caster sugars until light and fluffy.
  4. Add the eggs, one at a time and continue to mix until they're incorporated (don't panic if it becomes lumpy, just keep beating and it will come back together and keep scraping down the sides to make sure everything is incorporated.)
  5. Mix in the Vanilla Bean Paste (you can use extract or essence too, but I like the paste's flavour and speckles from the seeds - adjust the quantity to the vanilla you choose)
  6. Alternate between adding the flour and the buttermilk until you combined.
  7. In a separate container mix together the baking soda and vinegar together, then add this to the cake batter and mix to incorporate. Don't over mix! (No I had no real idea what this meant either, but just give it a good quick stir together and keep your fingers crossed!)
  8. Put the batter into the lined cake pan, smooth the top and pop it in the oven for 40 minutes or until the top of the cake is golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean when pushed into the middle of the cake (I use a metal skewer as I never have toothpicks and keep an eye of the cake for this reason - the original recipe uses three separate tins and it takes 20 minutes, I did it in one tin and sliced it, so it takes longer).
  9. Cool in the pans for 5 minutes before removing and placing on a wire rack to cool completely.

Caramel Buttercream Icing (with a confession).
I totally messed up making caramel sauce, so I used a tin of Carnations Caramel Sauce, then just added a little salt to it to make it salted. I'm not ashamed of this cheat, mine was bogging!
  • Unsalted Butter - 226g
  • Icing Sugar - 375g
  • Caramel Sauce - 1/2 Cup (I can't remember! I think I panicked and just added it bit by bit until it tasted right!)
  • Pinch or two of Salt
  1. In a bowl or a stand mixer, cream the butter and slowly and gradually add the icing sugar.
  2. Once the mix starts to stiffen start mixing in the caramel sauce to slacken the mixture and keep mixing until all of the icing sugar are incorporated. 
  3. Taste it! Seriously, the best way to know if it's right is to try it. Especially as I can't remember how much caramel sauce I added. But if it's not caramelly enough, add some more (or some lovely caramel syrup you can buy for your coffee - om nom), like it a little saltier, add more salt, if it's too loose add a little more sugar, too stiff some more caramel, or even a little milk to slacken it.
  4. Split your cake into two or three layers.
  5. Spread the inside layer of your cake with a generous amount of icing.
  6. Spread the remaining caramel sauce over the layer of icing and either place the next layer and repeat, or replace the top onto your cake.
  7. Crumb coating. The quantity for icing is for the centre, side and top of the cake but crumb coating is where you put a thin layer of the icing around the sides and top of the cake, place it in the fridge and allow it to set hard before putting your final thicker outer coating of icing on. This captures any crumbs and stops you getting those annoying crumbs from appearing on the outside of your cake and stopping it looking crumby. Pun absolutely intended.
So that's it, decorate it however you like, like I said, I attempted spun sugar spirals, which half worked but left four pans around the kitchen with various amounts and colours of melted sugar at the bottom of them and a load of spoons and stringy bits of sugar around worktop. It was a mess, but it was a really yummy cake. And while the Java Cupcake recipe suggests it's really decadent, it wasn't teeth tingly sweet. The sponge was lovely and moist and again not too sweet (it also wasn't dense which my photo might suggest, but it was cold in the fridge and it had performance issues) and the icing, which while my sister could have been saltier given I'd advertised it as a Salted Caramel Cake, was actually quite delicate.

Definitely a successful birthday cake.

Now I have to make the little sister monster, a caramel apple cake and try and make it taste like one we used to get at a café, in a garden centre, well over a decade ago. That was good cake.

* I grilled a cake once in college. I couldn't understand why it wasn't rising and then realised I'd switched our top oven to grill instead of oven. My sisters have never let me forget that and it entertained my friend Kevin, from college, no end when he asked how my weekend was and I explained why I needed to make two birthday cakes... bugger teased me for that until the day we graduated! 

Link | Salted Caramel Layer Cake by Java Cupcake 

Listening: Sexx Laws - Beck
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