Stencilled cupcakes

Cupcakes are so popular these days, here are a couple of very pretty design ideas for you – butterfly stencilled cupcakes and a sweet embossed and painted cupcake. 

I have used the ‘Butterfly A6 Stencil Starter Kit’ which you can buy from our website. This provides everything you need apart from the cupcakes and fondant!

Ingredients

  • Cupcakes (any of your choice) – homemade or cheat and buy some!
  • Butter-cream icing
  • Coloured Fondant Icing
  • Butterfly Stencil Kit
  • Round cutter (roughly the same size as the cake tops)

Method

Put a small amount of butter-cream onto the top of each cupcake and smooth, this will ensure the fondant will stay put and will smooth out any bumps on the cake.

Roll out the fondant to about 3-5mm thick. Take the stencil and press down lightly, then  brush over the surface with the brush and powder provided in the kit, try not to leave too much residue on the stencil. Carefully peel off the stencil, then use the round cutter and place the finished discs on the cupcakes, being careful not to touch the stencilled surface too much. 

Katy Sue Designs Cupcake Mould

Ingredients

  • Cupcakes
  • Small amount of butter cream
  • Corn flour
  • Floral Meadow Cupcake Mould
  • Fondant
  • Edible food pens (Dusky Pink/Grape Violet/Yellow/Holly Ivy Green)

Method

Take a cupcake and smooth a little butter cream onto it – this will stop the fondant slipping or falling off. Rub a little corn flour into the mould to prevent the fondant sticking. Take the fondant and make a ball, then flatten until the same size as the Floral Meadow mould, press the fondant into the mould, ensuring it does not move about once pushed in. Carefully peel the mould away from the fondant and place this on to the cupcake, leave fondant to harden a little before colouring in with the edible food pens.

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My top 10 films

Choosing your favourite films is a thankless task! No sooner have you picked 10 than another 10 pop into your mind. What makes a good film for me is usually romance (see my comments re Pierce Brosnan!) but equally it could be Colin Firth or Hugh Grant – but I like to be pulled into the story – no unnecessary torturing, violence or really excessive swearing. I suspect if I had to, I could limit myself to all PG films, not that I don’t enjoy fast paced action movies occasionally but a gentle tale is so much more relaxing in my view!

1. Mama Mia – and Richard really isn’t keen, but he stuck with me through three visits to the cinema… but refused to take me to the singalong version!

2. Madagascar 2 – very picky here 1 and 3 are nothing like as good – my favourite character is Will-i-am as the hippo.

3. Out of Africa – my brother was in a crowd scene in this one which made me go and see it at the cinema – wonderful photography and Meryl Streep was great.

4. Little Women– the 1933 version with Katherine Hepburn – OK, getting a bit vintage here, but…

5. Lord of the Rings (all of it) – but so much better seen on the big screen than on TV!

6. Harry Potter – and again yes all of them! If I absolutely had to single one out – then definitely the first one.

7. The Thomas Crown Affair – 1968 version – love that chess match with Steve McQueen.

8. James Bond – the four films that featured Pierce Brosnan – see choice number one – maybe there’s a pattern here!

9. Shrek 1 – just the first one they went downhill after that I feel…

10. Mrs Miniver – 1942 with Greer Garson – Another vintage choice, so romantic

So, come on what would be your choices?

 

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Chocolate strawberries

Chocolate dipped strawberries are a special favourite of mine – we had a big pile of them instead of a cake at our wedding reception which was great fun! I think they look lovely and they are very simple and easy to make. In this photo I have displayed them on little tiny doilys which I made by using a Cheery Lynn die through my Grand Calibur – it’s the one called Sophia’s Heart – very sweet!

To make the strawberries, choose the chocolate you like best – plain, milk, white whatever and melt in a bowl over a pan of simmering water. Take this stage slowly and you will get a better result. It is quicker to melt in the microwave if you are in a hurry but do be endlessly careful and not overheat/overcook the chocolate or it will be ruined.

Once you have the chocolate just melted (not too runny) then using a cocktail stick pressed in through the centre of the strawberry top, dip and swirl in the chocolate. Keep twirling slowly to give the chocolate a chance to stop dripping and then lay gently on greaseproof paper or a non stick baking sheet (very handy). Once they are set, place them in the fridge until needed.

A few extra pointers about these. Do not make more than 24 hours in advance and don’t get the chocolate too runny or it all gets very messy, just melt the chocolate enough and no more. Finally you can dip in melted chocolate as above and then as an extra, dip into finely chopped nuts – which makes an interesting change.

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Cod, basil & tomato with a potato thatch

What is it about fish pie that is so warming? I don’t know the answer, I only know it is! With a green salad, this makes an ideal dish for lunch or a family supper.

Serves 8

You will need:           

  • 1kg/2lb smoked cod
  • 1kg/2lb white cod
  • 600ml/1 pint milk
  • 2 sprigs basil
  • 1 sprig lemon thyme
  • 75g/3oz butter
  • 1 onion peeled and chopped
  • 75g/3oz flour
  • 2 tbsp tomato purée
  • 2 tbsp chopped basil

For the thatch

  • 12 medium sized old potatoes
  • 50g/2oz butter
  • 300ml/2 pint milk
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 tbsp chopped parsley 
  1. Place both kinds of fish in a roasting pan with the milk, 1.2 litres/1 pint water and the herbs. Simmer for about 3-4 minutes. Leave to cool in the liquid for about 20 minutes. Drain the fish, reserving the liquid for use in the sauce. Flake the fish, taking care to remove any skin and bone.
  2. Melt the butter in a pan, add the onion and cook for about 5 minutes until tender but not browned. Add the flour, tomato pure and half the basil. Gradually add the reserved fish stock, adding a little more milk if necessary to make a fairly thin sauce. Bring this to the boil, season with salt and pepper and add the remaining basil. Add the fish carefully, and stir gently. Pour into an ovenproof dish.
  3. Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF/gas 4. Boil the potatoes until tender. Add the butter and milk and mash well. Add salt and pepper to taste and cover the fish, forking it up to create a pattern. If you like, you can freeze the pie at this stage.
  4. Bake for 30 minutes. Serve with chopped parsley.

 

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Wine in the Westcountry…

I am fortunate to live in a county rich in locally grown and produced foods. Devon is unique in England in having a coastline on both its northern and southern edges and it’s an area where farming livestock is still an important part of the economy. We are also blessed with lots of artisan cheese makers, bakers and vintners, our climate being suited to all sorts of exciting foody businesses. Through my blog I’m going to take the opportunity to introduce you to some of our local producers and I hope you will be inspired to try their produce and their recipes!

I introduced you to the rather exotic Devon Chilli Farm a few weeks ago and now, equally surprising, I’m going to talk about Devon vineyards. There are no less than NINE in the county and some of the wines they produce are winning awards worldwide.

Internationally, I think Britain is probably more famous for producing gin and beer than wine but in fact, we have been producing wine since Roman times. Historically though, English wines were seen as a bit of a joke, with people making their own peculiar brews such a potato or parsnip wine (remember Reggie Perrin?) while commercially the quality and consistency was very variable. But, since about 1970 – and particularly at the beginning of the 21st Century – things have improved dramatically.

It seems that Devon, and Cornwall too, enjoys an ideal mix of soil and climate making them suitable areas for growing vines. The latitude and longitude are very similar to the well-known wine growing regions of France so it’s not too hard to see why this area is proving successful.

There’s a vineyard just down the road from our village that produces four types of wine, a white, red, rosé and sparkling. Rather unromantically, these days there are no peasants trampling round in great vats of grapes pressing out the juice with their feet (actually, that always put me off a bit!), today it is all stainless steel tanks and white coats, but the wine they produce is excellent.

The best-known vineyard in this part of the world is Sharpham. They also happen to make excellent cheeses, but that’s another blog altogether! Their Sharpham Sparkling Reserve NV recently won the ‘Best International’ trophy at the World Sparkling Wine Competition, beating French champagnes in the process!

If you are in this neck of the woods, the Sharpham estate is well worth a visit. There’s a lovely café on site for lunch before you walk through the vineyards that go right down to the banks of the river Dart and the wine tastings are inexpensive and very enjoyable!!

For more information, do have a look at the Sharpham wine website at www.sharpham.com

 

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