Frosted Fashion Fun – The Dior Cake & A Rainbow Extravaganza

I know it’s something only wrinklies are meant to say as they pick their teeth out of their tea and try not to wee themselves, but the months and years seem to be flying by these days and I just do not know where the time goes. One minute you’re decking halls and drinking too much, the next your watching tennis. And drinking too much.

Yes, it’s summer, sort of – we’ve had one glorious day and now we’re all in socks and sandals with knotted hankies on our heads preparing for a lasting heatwave that I’m not convinced is really here… But June to me means one thing – ‘BIRTHDAY!’ Mine. I won’t tell you how old, but I’m older than Daniel Radcliffe and younger than Daniel Craig (and hotter, obvs).

This year, I was having a bunch of chums over for a garden party/BBQ and I decided to bake a fashion-themed cake, being as I do some scribbling about all things sartorial. So I baked something not unlike the Princess Cake I made previously, only this one was based on one of Raf Simons’ designs for Spring/Summer ’13 at Dior. Here’s the dress…

And here’s the cake…

Yes, I reckon I out-gayed myself with this one. And just when I thought the cake area of the buffet couldn’t get any more camp, my lovely friend Alex arrived with the most amazing rose-iced cake I had ever seen.

As if it wasn’t special enough on the outside, inside was a full on technicolour rainbow situation! It also tasted incredible, which is part of the reason it was only on the table for a nanosecond before being scoffed.

The rest of the day is a sunny, hazy, Cava-fuelled blur, but it was hands down one of the best birthdays I’ve ever had – gorgeous weather, even gorgeous-er people and plenty of amazing cake!

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off

Making Cookies with my… Husband? Gay Marriage and Brilliant Biscuits.

The last seven days have been pretty full on, haven’t they? We’ve had the BAFTAs and the Grammys, we’ve apparently been eating horses and foxes have been eating us. Right now, it’s snowing again and the Pope has just retired. Of course, he’s probably flicking through my old posts right now, figuring out what to bake first, in between sorting out his garden and finding a local Bridge club. Hi, ex-Pope!

Of course, one of the biggest and most important news stories of the last seven days, for some of us at least, was last Tuesday’s vote by the House of Commons in favour of the legalisation of gay marriage. ‘Hurrah,’ cried gays everywhere! ‘In your FACE!’ yelled Adams who love Steves and Steves who love Adams from Canal Street to Old Compton (srsly, we need to find these couples and make them get married as soon as it becomes possible, no?). On the surface of it, it’s pretty clear why this is a big deal: equality – the absolute belief that all men are born equal and the understanding that being gay is not a ‘choice’, which means that we must all have the same rights if we are to live as equals. Imagine a situation in which it was decreed by law that a white man couldn’t marry a black woman, or that a disabled woman couldn’t marry an able-bodied man. There would be outrage, and quite rightly. So yes, this is an important issue.

(I promise there’s some baking stuff coming in a minute – bear with me and, in the meantime, check out these bad boys…)

In practice, as a gay man, getting married as opposed to entering a civil partnership doesn’t feel like a vital distinction that will change the basic meaning of the situation. What matters to me is that I am able to publicly and legally declare that my partner and I have made a commitment to one another, a lasting and real commitment that gives us the same rights as a husband and wife. And this is a commitment we will be making next summer (WOOP WOOP!) whether it’s called a marriage by then or remains a civil partnership.

No, what matters to me about the gay marriage bill is not the effect on the gays, funnily enough, but the effect on straights all over the land, specifically their young offspring, who hold our country’s future in their sticky little paws. Let me explain – a few weeks ago, when my partner and I were discussing our wedding plans (and I’m calling it a wedding, regardless – I’M A BRIDE, DAMMIT) with my brother and sister-in-law, my 4 year-old niece started giggling, so we asked her what was funny. ‘Two boys can’t get MARRIED!’ she said, laughing her adorable head off. It was sweet and funny – after all, she’s a typical little girl, obsessed with pink and very used to seeing cleft-chinned Disney princes with perfect hair rescue impossibly proportioned princesses from naughty stepmothers. To her, the concept of this guy giving the princess the slip and running off with the burly stablehand is completely alien. And there it is – if the bill goes through and gay marriage becomes a Real Thing, the kiddies will grow up realising that Adam and Steve are just like mummy and daddy and that of course they’ll get married – after all, that’s what couples in love do, isn’t it?

Well, that and THIS –

Yes, it took me a while, but here as promised is some actual baking stuff on this baking blog. Yesterday, my other half and I decided to whip up something sweet, so we pottered around the kitchen for an hour or so making a batch of peanut butter cookies and a batch of white chocolate and granola cookies from the Primrose Bakery cookbook, which you can buy here. I love peanut butter and anything peanut-flavoured, so they were a no-brainer for me. The granola and white choccy batch were delish, too, and I can highly recommend them for Sunday scoffing with your intended, whatever combination of chromosomes you have!

Enjoy – see Recipes for the info! x

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Comments Off

The Trouble with January (plus some Nigellissima choccy cake)

Hello, hello – Happy New Year and all of that. I hope you had a suitably fabu Christmas and that you’re all as fat and jolly as I am right about now. I and I’m sure many others have repeated the following so often in the last 30 days or so that Michael McIntyre is probably about to fold it into one of his ‘hilarious’ comedy routines, but I don’t remember a December as busy as that for several years. I mean, they’re normally fun and a bit too much, with the odd Christmas party and festive face-stuffing session, but this was something else. And we did not one, but two trips away over the festive fortnight – Ireland for a week with the in-laws AND Scotland for Hogmanay with my parentals. It was fabulous and we had a brilliant time, but the result is that I am fat and knackered. Add to this the fact that I am, as ever, doing Sober January (or ‘Dryathlon’ as *everyone* seems to be calling it this year) and the next few weeks stand to be pretty dull on the food and beverage front. No cake for me. Sad face.

BUT, what you can do in January which adds nothing to your ever-expanding bust size (man boobs, officially the Curse of Christmas) is drool longingly over pictures of YUMMY CAAAAAAKE. So that’s what we’ll do, folks.

This is a chocolate & olive oil cake from Nigellissima, the latest finger-licking-at-midnight-in-your-silk-slip tome from my hero, Nigella Lawson. It is served with her absolutely naughty coffee ice cream (if you like coffee and are, like me, a fat pig, you will DIE).

Nigella likes to stuff a ball of this in a brioche bun – I’ll give that a go at some point too, natch – but I went for the choccywoccy instead. If I designed the menus for Pizza Express, this would be called something ridic like Mocha Madness.

So have a good look, Christmas fatties, because that’s all we can do for the next 26 days.

YES I AM COUNTING.

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off

When Life Gives You Lemons, Part II

“When life gives you lemons, make lemonade” – I’ve always quite liked that phrase, although I prefer “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade… let the cat do wee wees in it and serve it up to life.” It has more of a ring to it… or something.

This weekend, life gave me a whole bag of lemons. On Sunday, two of my oldest friends were coming round for lunch and they were both bringing their two year-old boys. Fun, right? Yes, in theory, but on Saturday afternoon, I went to lunch at my friend Paul’s house. Paul who is on first name terms with the woman who runs the local wine merchant… (can you see where this is going?). Several bottles of fizz and vin rouge later, via some yummy Ottolenghi luncheon, we were all pretty well oiled. So of course we went to a 30th birthday party in the evening and drank even more, had deep-and-not-very meaningfuls with some friends (#oops) and sniffed other friends’ necks a lot (who knew that a fragrance from Abercrombie and Fitch could smell that good?!) The combination of the above – well, OK, the booze – made Sunday morning pretty grim, I can tell you, but I had to get up and get on – the lunch guests were coming and I, idiot that I am, had committed to making not only a whole roast lunch, but Mary Berry’s Tarte au Citron from the GBBO cookbook. Simples. Not.

But after quite a lot of coffee and quite a lot of swearing, a tarte I did make – look!

I’m here to tell you, it was a bit of a faff. I mean, I find making pastry a bit of a faff anyway, but add in a bitch of a hangover and it really all feels a bit much. At 11am, when I knew Sainsbury’s was opening round corner, I nearly threw the towel in completely, but in hindsight (and having just scoffed another slice – shhh!), I am glad I didn’t, as it really did taste pretty scrummy, especially when paired with Nigella’s homemade ice cream, which is basically whipped, frozen double cream and rum (hurrah!). And after lunch, some hair of the dog and a good catch up with old friends and their gorgeous (noisy) offspring, everything was right with the world again.

So there you have it – now, when life gives you lemons (or wine flu), you know what to do with them. See ‘Recipes’ for the info…

Enjoy!

x

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off

The Triathlon Cake

Entering a triathlon – it’s always been my belief that, like running over hot coals, drinking cod liver oil or eating at Chicken Cottage, you’d have to be mad to do it. But there are some nutters out there who think that swimming a couple of kilometres in a dirty lake, then drip-drying over a 40km bike ride before finishing up with an easy ten-or-so kilometre jog is actually a fun day out. Luckily for me, those nutters still eat CAKE.

This, my bake-loving chums, is The Triathlon Cake…

I made this bad boy on Saturday morning for returning customers Kristian and Mark – the former commissioned the cake for the latter’s birthday (the latter being one such aforementioned ‘triathlon-racing nutter’). It’s a Vitoria sponge with vanilla frosting and strawberry jam in the middle, then a whole lot of fondant icing on top.

I dyed Dr. Oetker white icing blue using a gel dye – you knead the icing until it’s soft, then dip a skewer or toothpick into the dye and scratch and poke it into the icing, then knead again until the colour is evenly spread. If you want more colour, you just repeat the process.

I then used ready-coloured black, yellow and red icing to make the road and the banner and more white icing to make the trainers and the bike. For the mini-Mark, I dyed white icing pink as above. The writing I did with icing pens and the grass is desiccated coconut dyed green (a Tupperware box, some green dye and a good shake).

Just like threading a needle, going to the dentist, or listening to Tulisa’s solo single, handling fondant icing gets easier with practice – when I made the Harry Potter cake, my first foray into fondant that was also for these gents, I was still at it come 6pm, but this time I was done by mid-afternoon, which left plenty of time for sitting on my fat arse with a well deserved drink and wishing I’d made some cake for myself, too. Mind you, I know what went into this cake, and how many triathlons it’ll take to work it off, so perhaps best I didn’t…

x

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off

Back… with Bananas

Hello there, cake fans. Remember me? Sure you do – I know it’s been a couple of months, but weren’t we all too busy with our New Year fitness regimes to really need cake? I know I was and I’m here to tell you the results were questionable at best. Top tip, diet try-hards: don’t go to New York City in February if you want to lose weight.

Yes, that’s right, I went to New York AGAIN, but this time with a purpose – I was attending some shows at New York Fashion Week. If you don’t already know (and how could you not, given how much I shout about it?), when I’m not baking cakes or being a writers’ agent, I also do this –

www.stylebarron.com

So that’s kept me busy since February when the back-to-back fashion weeks happen and there’s lots to see and write about. But I’m back now and, with a bowl full of overripe bananas staring at me yesterday, I rolled up my sleeves, plugged in the KitchenAid and made… BANANA BREAD!

I used Mary Berry’s recipe from her ‘Baking Bible’ and I can tell you the results were pretty good – although I’m not sure about leaving it in the oven for an hour as Mary suggested. Mine was in for about 30 minutes and came out great.

We poured Ben & Jerry’s Cookie Dough ice cream on top of our doorstop slices of this cake and it was pretty much like eating the essence of all that is good in the world. Try it!

See ‘Recipes’ for the details!

x

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off

Happy Pie

It’s a bit rubbish, this ‘being back at work’ lark, isn’t it? No more lying in bed or on the sofa all day, stuffing your face with rubbish whilst you wait for the lunch to be ready, throwing back about four-too-many glasses of bubbly as you watch some trashy Heather Locklear TV movie on ITV…

YES DON’T WORRY, IT’S NOT JUST YOU!

So anyways, to combat a bit of January misery (and to properly break that ridiculous detox, one week in) you could do a lot worse than a lemon meringue pie. This was my first attempt at one of these (hence the far from perfect finish on top!) – and I used a slightly adapted version of the very good Hummingbird recipe.

My Mum used to make these pies very regularly when I was little and I’ve done a complete turnaround on this dessert. I used to hate it (I far preferred crumble week, or the rare but bloody brilliant steamed pudding week) but now that I am old[er], I love it. I don’t think I appreciated the tartness of the lemon, or how amazing meringue was in general. But ohhhhh, I do now.

See ‘Recipes’ for all the info.

x

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off

Some New Inspiration…

I got a couple of baking books for Christmas (among other things – thank you, Santa)

The Lola’s cupcake book is a beautifully presented book and seems to be packed full of things I really, REALLY want to eat, like Chocolate Baileys cupcakes and Butterscotch Pie cupcakes… YUMMY TIME!

And this one, well, pretty much speaks for itself. I didn’t get it when the show was on – I went for Mary Berry’s Baking Bible instead, but I probably should have gone straight for this one, since it has a lot of the same recipes inside and generally is a lovely, lovely book. It’s full of gorgeous things like this…

And this…

And THIS…

Ahhhhhhh… What was I talking about before?!

x

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off

Fabulous Festive Boy

Today, after a five mile walk in country (I kid you not – KNACKERED), I iced and decorated the family Christmas cake. It went a little something like this -

Technically, you’re meant to allow the marzipan 24hrs to dry, but this cake’s not going to be around long enough for anything bad to happen to it!

Obvs it’s a cake from an odd land where Santa is a giant and the robins have been affected by radioactivity, but what of it?

x

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off

LOVE Love Your Larder

Look at these gorgeous Baruzzo choccies from the ‘Love Your Larder’ web site!

The lovely Tristan, who runs the web store, sent them as a thank you for a hotel recommendation I gave him. He’s pretty awesome. You can follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/tristanwatson and you can and should check out www.loveyourlarder.com

x

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off