Hello and welcome to my Little Willow blog, well welcome to those who might stumble across it anyway as I have yet to give this address to anyone :) I thought I might try and see how I get along with just writing in it first. It's all a lot of random stuff, but hey, hopefully there'll be something interesting for people

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Commissioned cakes

Wow, how time flies! Can't believe how long it's been since I did my last blog post, especially considering it was meant to be a two-parter - so I'm sure you've all been biting your fingernails just waiting for the conclusion to the cliffhanger :)

The reason for my lack of posting has a lot to do with cake. I've had quite a lot of orders and have been busy after work and on a weekend. On a positive note though I have had a visit from Environmental Health (at my request I hasten to add!) so that I can potentially set up a business from home. Luckily I passed with 4 stars! So I can now advertise properly and sell my cakes to people I don't know! I'll definitely be taking the food safety exam, though surprisingly this isn't a requirement! My brother will be doing a website for me which is great - I just need to fully decide and commit to a name I want to stick with. At the moment I'm Kate's Cakes (to go to my Facebook page, click here).

Anyway on to some pictures of my latest commissions: (I only have 2 different cake order pictures at the moment as I'm on the work computer - I'll upload more later)

The cake order above was for an 18th Birthday party. The birthday girl had received a Cath Kidston bag for her birthday so her sister thought it'd be a nice idea to do her a cake in the shape/design of one with 'stuff' spilling out of it and so the cake above was born. The 'stuff' spilling out includes an iPod, purse, makeup brush, lipstick, credit card, a key and a keyring (the G just poking out the bag).


The cupcakes above were for my friend's son's jungle themed 1st birthday party. I made monkeys, lions and elephants. A fun idea for a child's birthday.

My latest cake commission was for the parents of a new baby - apparently they had lots of practical gifts but not enough cake :)

Monday, 27 June 2011

More cake updates - Part One

Things have continued to be hectic and time consuming, hence my continued lack of posts. I have been busy with cake making though - it does take up quite a bit of free time!

I've had a few orders since I last posted and of course my continued decorating classes which I'll start with as that'll be easier. In cake class we have made calla lilies, 'star/flower bursts', we have decorated cupcakes and we have practiced some writing with royal icing.

I enjoyed making the calla lilies but I found them quite difficult and time consuming to make and not sure I'll be purchasing the necessary tools, not right now anyway.

 The star/flower bursts that we did are designed to add a nice effect to the top of a cake. The 'burst' is placed inside posey picks which then go inside the cake. Numbers can also be used if the cake is for a special birthday or anniversary, as well as other designs such as hearts or butterflies; anything as long as the cut out isn't too big or thick as it needs to be supported on a thin wire. I especially liked the one below where we made the flower red and sparkly!

 One of my favourite classes that we did was the week we had to bring in some cupcakes to decorate in whatever way we liked. I had recently purchased 'Planet Cake', a cake decorating book which incorporates birthday cakes and cupcakes. I decided to use these for inspiration and managed to make a few different varieties; a bumblebee (didn't turn out brilliantly but I did rush that one at the end of class), ladybirds, dragonflies, babies. Although I enjoyed making these, I found that the shape of my cupcakes wasn't always conducive to the design I wanted to use - I need a more dome shape than I had achieved and I'm not entirely sure how to go about getting a better shape - maybe more research for another time.

 Our last class was about writing using royal icing. I don't think I took any pictures of this as it mostly just looked like white squiggles. We had a look at various ways of getting different styles of script onto a cake which was really useful.

Our last class is on tomorrow and we are going to be going through costings and varying quantities, two things I'm very interested to learn properly, and we'll also be attempting to model a person out of sugarpaste.

Anyway that's it for the classes. I'll do another blog post covering cakes I've done recently :)

Tuesday, 14 June 2011


Hello stranger I hear you say!

Apologies for my absence, I can't believe it's been (just) over a month since my last post! But my life has been overtaken, which can so often happen - funny that isn't it?

Everything seems to be happening in such a short space of time, it's been a whirlwind, but it's gone by in a blur that I'm not even sure I could fully explain what's been going on. My work and social life seem to have both exploded over the last month and a fair chunk of my social life has been taken up with cake orders, which is exciting, but also rather stressful juggling it all - but I've managed it (I think!) without too many mishaps.

I do feel like I need a nice calm week at some point - maybe I could just take a week off from work and completely disappear, no one would know where I'd gone. It would be peaceful, but I imagine I'd soon be bored because for all I complain about being super busy, I'm busy doing lots of things I want to do, like the cinema, book club, quiz night, writing group, baking cakes/cupcakes/cookies, decorating cakes, games nights, DVD nights, bowling, dancing, cake class, meals out (occasionally), weddings, author events/chats/signings etc etc etc :) to name a...lot lol. Yet on the other hand...just one week???

I'm hoping to do a few catch up blog posts in the near future, but who knows when that will be lol :)
In the meantime though if you want to see any cakes I'm doing, check out my facebook page

Anyway I'd better get going, starting to fall asleep :D

Night night!

Thursday, 12 May 2011

Birthday Cake and Eeyore!

Last week I made a birthday cake for my sister in law, Kirsten, who requested a cake that looked the same as one I'd made for a work colleague earlier in the year. I like it when people ask me this, it's so much easier than trying to think of a design myself as that's not really my strong point!!

Anyway I made a 9" victoria sponge cake, filled with buttercream and jam, covered in white icing and decorated with lots of sugarpaste flowers in a variety of colours, with painted vines intertwining everything.

I still need to perfect cutting the cake in half and remembering to put it back together at the exact same point. This cake did have a little slant to it, but I managed to avoid using those photos haha. To be honest, it wasn't that obvious, I didn't even notice it until I looked at the photographs. But it's all a learning curve and I'm sure it's something I'll improve on (fingers crossed!).

Also just wanted to give a quick update on the cake class. We did cartoon modelling the other week and we made an Eeyore figure! I was so excited when I knew we'd be doing Eeyore - he's such a cute character that I feel sorry for, he just needs a hug. We also learned all about copyright and how when copying a character we need to change some small detail on it so that the owners of the character won't sue us! Good to know! Lol. We didn't have to change anything in the class though as it wasn't being sold. but i changed the colour of the inside bit of his ears to lilac from pink just to be sure! lol. He was quite difficult to make but hopefully should I make another one or another character, I've at least got a grounding in it now.

Sunday, 1 May 2011

Cake decorating update

 I have been rushed off my feet for the last couple of weeks with barely any time to breathe, let alone update my blogs :-( But on the upside, all this rushing around has been because of cake-y things which I suppose can never be bad.

My last post stated that I had 11 orders for those Easter egg novelties with 10 to do over that weekend. Well between that blog post and Easter itself, the number shot up to 26! How amazing is that? Not sure how, but I managed to get them all done and dusted for when everyone needed them (luckily a couple weren't needed until after Easter).

Once they had been completed, I had a fruit cake to decorate which I'd made in February for Easter. I covered the cake in marzipan and yellow icing (a nice Easterish colour) and then decorated it with marzipan flowers and a chick - oh and some mini eggs! Yum!

I have also been lucky enough to have had more cake requests - the first one I received was for a 21st birthday cake for a work colleague's daughter, which luckily will involve copying a cake rather than designing one! This cake isn't needed until July however. Another work colleague who sits next to me then asked me if I could do her a 2 tier mock up of a wedding cake as she was having a Royal Wedding party at her house. I was shocked that she asked me and it sounded extremely daunting, especially as we hadn't done anything in class yet on tiers - but it just so happened that our class the following day was going to be about assembling tiered cakes!

Once I'd been along and had seen how it was done, I felt a bit better and she found a picture of a cake she wanted me to do, which had a nice simple design of white daisies on it - but she wanted red, white and blue patriotic daisies :) She also wanted the bottom layer to be chocolate cake and the top layer to be a victoria sponge cake.

I spent much time beforehand gathering all the supplies I needed (and even took a jaunt to Windsors cake shop in Warrington, which has everything you could want! Quite dangerous to shop there lol. and then I spent all of Tuesday baking and decorating (with a viewing of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 while the cakes cooled!). I'm pretty happy with how the cakes turned out and even happier that it was my first paid cake job! In honour of my excitement regarding this, I have created a Facebook page called Catherine's Cakes - just do a search on there and you should find me.

My next task is a birthday cake for my sister in law who liked a previous design I have done, and this is needed for next Saturday. Following on from that I've been asked to do 12 cupcakes (6 lemon and 6 vanilla) for my friend's daughter's communion on 14th May, and then I have another one to do which I won't mention on here in case the recipient reads it, followed then by a request for a retirement/60th birthday cake for October. It's all very exciting.

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Easter novelties


I started on my mammoth task last night of making a number of Easter novelties requested by my work colleagues for friends and family members as a bit of a different Easter gift. I only made one last night as this one is for a work mate who's last day before Easter is tomorrow - I will hopefully complete the rest over the weekend. I have a total of 11 orders plus an additional one I'll be making for my niece Ella. All of these customers are paying me as well so that's very exciting!
I offered everyone the choice of the decoration being made of icing or marzipan, choice of a duck or a rabbit, choice of sweets to go into the egg (something small like buttons, dolly mixtures, maltesers etc), choice of colours for the 'duvet and pillow' (usually pink for a girl and blue for a boy if they're for children) and whether you want the recipients name put on it. The finished product will then be wrapped in cellophane to make it look more of a present.

I'm not very good at asking people for money for what I make so two of my friends at work decided the pricing for me and they are £4 for 1,
£7 for 2 and £10 for 3. I have a huge task ahead of me this weekend to get 10 done, but I'm sure I will succeed. I'm just really nervous that it will all go wrong or I'll write someone's name incorrectly or mix up sweets and colours and even worse, break bits off it as I try and wrap it up!
:-( Please all have your fingers crossed for me :-)

Here is a picture of the first of many I have completed:

Monday, 4 April 2011

Ella's 3rd Birthday

Hello everybody

Iggle Piggle and Upsy Daisy
Wow it's been quite a while since my last post - cannot believe how fast time is going - it's just slipping past me! I've been very busy lately and haven't had a chance to update either of my blogs. I will start this post then with a big Happy 3rd Birthday to my niece Ella. Her birthday was just over a week ago now but we only had her party on Saturday just gone.

Upsy Daisy 
It wasn't a big party, it was a nice celebration meal with the family - there was Mike and Kirsten with Ella and Isabelle, my mum and dad and Kirsten's dad, step mum, grandma and sister so there was a good crowd of us at the Carvery in Widnes.

Ella looked very pretty in her red dress with white spots on (I'm sure it belonged to Minnie Mouse lol) and she even had sparkly shoes (I was jealous) and a tiara - no mistaking the birthday girl!

In honour of Ella's birthday and also my newfound skills in cake decorating - skills might be taking it too far, maybe let's say because I have been attending cake decorating classes, I thought I should try and be a little adventurous.

The finished cake
We had learned how to make teddy bears out of marzipan and I had originally decided to make use of this new knowledge and attempt a teddy bear's picnic birthday cake. I'd drawn it out and everything - do 2 teddy bears on a picnic rug with a variety of picnic goodies. The icing would be green - for grass of course and there's be lots of nice flowers etc surrounding them. Then Michael started sending me pictures of really difficult cakes, mostly In the Night Garden, saying how much Ella would like them. At first I was very much against trying - far too advanced for me - but I slowly started to come around to the idea of giving it a go. It wasn't so much Iggle Piggle (apologies for those who don't speak child) that was worrying me, it was Upsy Daisy. Now those of you who have seen the programme (I sympathise) then you will realise just how colourful she is with stripes everywhere and all sorts of interesting clashing colours and stupid things sticking out of her head!
In the Night Garden

I did my best on this cake and I think it came out ok (though I am still of the opinion that In the Night Garden is too advanced for me lol) and Ella recognised who the characters were so I was happy about that and that was all that really mattered anyway. Half the cake was devoured by the time we left the carvery so I'm hoping that means they enjoyed the taste of it! All the characters were made of marzipan and the cake was covered in sparkles so that's not surprising really :p I do feel there are still plenty of things I need a lot of practice at such as symmetrical writing, making characters sit up properly on the cake without looking like they're about to topple off and also I can see some issues with how I covered the cake, but all in all I was happy with the overall look of the cake.

So anyway, I hope you like the look of this cake and take a good long look at Upsy Daisy as I don't intend on making her again!

The finished article!

Sunday, 20 March 2011

Cake Decorating Class update

Hello all

I can't actually remember what my last post was on this and whether I'll miss any weeks out but I'm going to tell you about the last 2 weeks.

The week before last we made a little novelty, ideal for Mother's Day or as a little gift to give someone for their birthday. This didn't actually involve cake in any way. We made a Pot of Primula's. I had to google what Primula's were - I mean I guessed they were flowers but I'd not heard of them before. Apparently they are from the same family as primroses and come in all kinds of colours.

This little novelty was quite simple to make and looked pretty effective. We were instructed to bring a walnut whip and sugarpaste, along with a bright colour, green colour and terracotta colour. I could do the first 3 things but I don't have the colours to make terracotta but the teacher had these available on the night.

Here are a couple of pictures of the finished product.

Last week we made an Easter novelty - a duck in bed :)

For this we were required to bring in an Easter egg, a creme egg, some buttons and plenty of sugarpaste with yellow and green colours and also another colour for the duvet cover. I really enjoyed making this novelty gift and feel there was much scope for differing the design.
It did take a fair while to make this but there was quite a long session where we sat and watched the teacher make it and then we had to go and follow her instructions. We used one half of the Easter egg for the 'bed' and the creme egg was used as the duck's 'body' beneath the duvet. The egg was filled up with buttons and then the duvet cover was placed over most of the egg and covered the creme egg and buttons. A pillow was also made to place the duck's head on, all of which were created with sugarpaste. Although I imagine should someone prefer, marzipan could be used in place of this.

I decorated my (too large) cake board with the moon and stars but there's so much more that could be done - slippers, book, anything really. Also I think a rabbit would be a cute change to make and also Easter-y.
I took my novelty into work and gave it to Karen for her daughter Emily and used this "prototype" to send an email around work to ask if anyone would like one for any friends or family etc and to date I have 7 to make for Easter, for 3 orders and I also have one to make for Ella also! Lots to do, I'll be busy that weekend before Easter. To do this though, I still have a few bits to buy - I need the smaller cake boards and also a roll of cellophane, both of which I've sourced on Ebay, I'm just waiting for pay day now lol.

Next week we'll be making another Easter novelty, possibly two so that'll be fun :)