Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Easy Easter Cupcakes

Easy easter cupcakes

If you've read my blog for a while you may know that I absolutely love to make, and decorate, cupcakes. I will happily spend all day on a batch, doing sugar craft and pipping icing, only to sit down and have a munch. As Easter is approaching, I thought it would be fun to show you how to create cute cup cakaes with seasonal sugar craft decorations. 

Those of you with a keen eye will note that my paper case's are Christmas themed. I couldn't find my none festive ones so made do with some sprigs of holly. 

Stage 1: Baking

You can make any cupcake you want, however I find it's best to stick to a simple flavor if you are topping it with butter cream AND sugar craft. Sadly, there is such a thing as sugar overload. I opted for a very quick, basic vanilla cupcake.

Ingredients for 12 cupcakes

  • 110g sifted self-raising flour.
  • 110g superfine caster sugar
  • 110g of softened butter
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

Before you begin, preheat you oven to 190°C. Once you've done this, pop all the ingredients into a bowl and mix until smooth. 

When it looks like cake mixture, divide it between the paper cases and put them in the oven to bake for 15-20 minutes. If you're unsure if the cakes are baked, push a wooden toothpick into a cake, then remove it. If the toothpick is clean once removed, your cakes are ready.

If you try to decorate your cakes whilst hot, the icing will just melt and you'll be left with a hot, albeit delicious, mess. Leave your cakes to cool to one side, and focus on making your sugar craft decorations.

Stage 2: Sugar craft

For my sugar craft I used the following tools and ingredients:

  • 1 pack 250g White Renshaw modelling/flower paste (available from cake supply shops & here)
    It's important not to use normal cake icing. You need your decorations to be hard to the bite, otherwise they will just fall apart.
  • Some icing dye. I use Wilton 8 Icing Colours.
  • Some circular cutters like these.
  • Cornflour. I place some into a pop sock with a knot in, and use it as a dusting bag.
  • A small paint brush.
  • Toothpicks
  • A freezer bag.
  • Easter mould. I got mine from ebay here.
  • Rolling pin. For sugar craft it's best to use a plastic one. 

First warm up the modelling paste with your hands whilst it's in the packet. It's important to keep it in the packet to start with as over-handling will dry it out. At first it will feel solid, but if you keep bending it, it will eventually becoming softer. Once it's become more like paste, open your packet. Take 1/3 of the paste off the block. Place the 1/3 to one side, and put the rest in the freezer bag. Make sure you tie the freezer bag tight, and get any air out so your paste doesn't harden!

Dust some cornflower on your work surface and rolling pin to stop your paste from sticking. Now roll out the paste that you have separated into a flat sheet, 1 cm thick. Place a circle cutter which is smaller than your cupcake on the icing and press down. To get a clean cut, wiggle the cutter around in a clockwise then anti-clockwise motion to separate it from the rest of your paste. Repeat this another 11 times so you have 12 discs in total. These discs will form the base of your decorations.

Remove 1/3 of your remaining paste from the freezer bag and wrap it up again. Push a tooth pick into your chosen colour of dye and wrap it into your modelling paste. You need hardly any dye, and this is the best way of not using too much. Too much dye will make your modelling paste overly sticky, and hard to work with. Using more dye will not deepen the shade. Once it's reached it's final shade, that's it. 

Work the paste in your hands, almost like kneading bread, to dye the entire piece of paste. At first it will take on a marbleized effect and will be mildly sticky. Keep doing this until you get one block colour. A word of warning, this will stain your hands for a couple of hours, so you may want to wear disposable gloves if you plan on going straight out. 

Once you have a block colour, place your Easter mold on your work surface, and decide what shape you want to do first. Dust some cornflower into your mold. Tear off a small piece of paste, and push it into your mold. Ensure the space is completely filled. Gently remove the paste by slowly pulling pack the mold. Don't push the mold completely in on itself, as this will cause it to crack over time. If any part has gone slightly wrong, just gently press it into shape. Worst case scenario, ball that piece up and try again. Repeat another 11 times until you have 12 decorations.

Easter Sugar craft decorations

Use a dry paintbrush to dust off any cornflower which is on your colored decorations. Very slightly wet your paintbrush and use it to dampen the underside of the colored decoration, and a flat side of your plain disk. Gently press your colored decoration into place, and move to one side. This will act as a sort of glue, and hold it together. If you find it hasn't stuck, try adding slightly more water and pressing a tiny bit firmer.

Whilst your decorations are setting, it's time to make your butter cream and pipe.

Stage 3: Buttercream Icing

Ingredients and tools needed:

  • 250g butter (Don't use margarine or tub spreadable butter as it won't be *ahem* stiff enough)
  • 500g icing sugar
  • Piping bag, disposable or reusable.
  • 1M Nozzle, otherwise known as an open star nozzle.

To make the buttercream, simply pop the butter and icing into a mixing bowl and beat until smooth. The consistency should be thick enough that a fork can stand up in it. Unless you have a Kitchen Aid, which I am extremely jealous of, I recommend mixing this is 1/2 batches and cutting up your butter into small pieces. It makes life a lot easier, and cleaner.

Rose Swirl

Slip your 1M nozzle into your piping bag and place it in a jug. Roll the bag over so you can see the inside clearly. Now scoop buttercream into your piping back, so it's filled about 50%. Once it's filled, Twist the top of your piping bag to push your buttercream down. Squirt a couple of inches of buttercream back into your mixing bowl to make sure the pressures right. If your new to piping, it might be an idea to full empty your bag to get used to the best way to grip it.

Piping wise, I've opted for my all-time favorite, the rose swirl. Think of your cupcake as a clock face. Start from 12 O'clock, and pipe in a clockwise manner. When you get back to the top, carry on piping, but this time next to your first circle of buttercream. It should be a short of swirl. Don't worry about if it ends up a little messy, especially in the middle, as this will be covered by your decorations.

Duck Cupcakes

Finally place a disk in the middle of your cupcake and slightly press down. Now enjoy your hard work, and maybe take a few instagram photos to brag ;)

I hope you've enjoying this baking post. I want to try and do things like this more regularly. Let me know if you give them a go, and don't forget to tag me in any pictures!

Monday, 23 March 2015

British Beauty Blogger Dream Box III

British Beauty Blogger Dream Box III British Beauty Blogger Dream Box III

Since I started blogging, beauty boxes seem to have got bigger and better. I try and avoiding subscribing to them all, as quite frankly, I don't need everything that's in them. I'm a long-time subscriber of Birchbox, but it's nice to try out a different one now and again. Whenever Jane from BBB announces her beauty box collab with Latest In Beauty, I always have a peak. This time, I just couldn't resist snapping one up.

So this is what was inside ...

British Beauty Blogger Dream Box III
I've been lucky enough to try Vita Liberata Phenomenal 2-3 Week Tan Lotion before, and I have to admit, it's a good one. Coming with the ever so cute mini mitt, it's the perfect size for travel. I'm off to Crete in 6 weeks, and thanks to my Irish genes, don't tan very well. This will definitely be making the journey with me so I can blend in by the pool. My inner beauty blogger squealed with delight when I saw Nuxe Creme Faiche De Beaute Mask. A soothing and hydrating face mask, it's a must have for summer and I can't wait to see how this lives up to my expectations. If I'm honest, I really neglect my hands. I find hand creams a bit of a chore, and don't do anything. I'm quite intrigued to try the Deciem Hand Chemistry as it's Jane's favorite. Maybe this will be the start of a new obsession.

British Beauty Blogger Dream Box III

Next up is Salon Science Reglosse Smoothing Serum. Hair care is something I'm very eager to learn more about. I have a bit of an obsession with smooth serums as I'm a blow dry addict so this is a welcome addition to my collection. When I heard soap was included in the box I felt a bit meh, but as soon as I saw the Sea Kelp Luxury Soap from The Scottish Fine Soaps Company my attitude changed. I love that this is a 40 year old family run business. The cute tin really does appeal to me, and I think I may save this for when I'm travelling round California in September. Since January I have forced myself to use body lotion at least every other night, and the difference it has made to unwanted bumps is crazy. The Crabtree & Evelyn Pear & Magnolia Body Lotion smells amazing and is something I know I will enjoy using. The Dr. Organic Lip Balm in Cherry is something I actually need. My current lip balm has just run out, and surprisingly, I don't even have a back up.  Now for the product that completely swayed me to purchase the entire box; Ole Henriksen's Pure Truth Melting Cleanser. I have read so many reviews praising this cleanser and have been so close to buying it countless times. I'm so happy to try a sample of this so I can actually see if it's worth the hype.

British Beauty Blogger Dream Box III
I have been itching to try an Eye of Horus eye pencil for the longest time. Their supposed to be the softest and most bendable pencils around. I got a lovely charcoal shade which is perfect for S/S as it's a lot softer than my usual black. When I'm finally ready to remove my liner, Benefit's They're Real Remover will gently melt any trace away. No panda eyes for me. Essence are very quickly taking over the high street and these Nail Polishes are such perfect shades for me. They go perfectly with the Makeup Revloution The One Fluid Blusher in Desire and the Bourjois Rouge Velvet in Don't Pink of It too! I know some people hate perfume samples in beauty boxes, but I quite like them as it gives you a chance to road test it without any pressure or commitment. Roger & Gallet's Fleur De Figuier is very summery whilst remaining light and fresh. Lastly, a sheet of Orelia Gold Tattoos have been included. I think these are quite a nice touch and would be great for a party, holiday or festival. I got the peacock feather ones, and am saving these for summer BBQ's and local music festivals.

Did you pick up the BBB Box? Have you tried any of these products?

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Project Life Haul

Project Life UK

Project Life UK Dreamy Core Kit
Project Life UK
Project Life UK Floral Binder
This year I made a resolution to enjoy every opportunity that came my way, and this plan is actually going really well. I've done quite a few nice things, but have some very exciting times ahead with a holiday to Crete and a trip to USA planned. Needless to say, I don't want to forget any of the amazing moments I get to experience, so when I saw Lily Pebble's video about Project Life, I took note.

For those of you who haven't heard of Project Life, it's a sort of easy scrapbook. You simply print off your photos and slot them in to clear wallets between patterned journal cards. It really does make it a lot easier for people who don't want the intricacy of traditional scrap booking. The one downside is that it is rather expensive to start. But after weighing up the alternatives, I decided the cost was worth the beautiful record I would create so made a few purchases to get me going.

One essential purchase was my Project Life Binder. I opted for the the Magie Holmes Floral Binder as I fell in love with the print. The bind is extremely well made, and I love that it has metal corners to help protect it. One of the reasons I liked Project Life was that it operated on a binder system, meaning you could rearrange your pages or edit them without having to start all over again. I also picked up a large assortment pack of the clear wallet inserts. I chose the Big Variety Pack 2 as it had the insert types I liked the most. To start me off, I decided to invest in a core kit. The core kits have all the journal cards you need to start a Project Life, all you need to do is choose the theme you like the best. Settling on a theme was so hard, and I could have easily bought 5 or more! In the end, I got the Dreamy Core Kit which is soft whimsical pastels as I thought it would go well with my binder. Now it's time to think about any embellishments. Whilst at the Hobby show I picked up quite a few bits including some alphabet sticks, a rubber stamp and these pearl stickers. Adding a couple to a page really helps personalise your Project Life and inject your own personality into it. The beauty of project life is that you can do as much or as little as you want.

I would definitely recommend using Craftie Charlie for all your Project Life supplies if your from the UK. It has the biggest collection I've been able to find and delivers it super fast!

Have you started a Project Life? Do you have any tips for beginners like me?