Meringue Kisses

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So I have been a huge fan of The Meringue Girls for quite some time now, and having mastered my French Macarons, you can read my tutorial blog here, I decided to give their signature desert a go!!

I googled their recipe and I was brought to Bakerella.com‘s website where I found the recipe and method for these little sweet beauties. In her blog post, she explains that she used The Meringue girls cookbook and that she found them very easy to make- I was chuffed to read this as I had been quite nervous about giving them a go for ages now.

So to get started, here’s exactly what you need:

Ingredients:

Equipment:

  • Hand Mixer and large mixing bowl (optional)
  • Food Mixer with whisk attachment
  • Baking tray
  • Non stick baking paper/parchment paper
  • Disposable piping bag
  • Scissors
  • Food safe paintbrush

Method:

  1. Line the baking tray with greaseproof paper and pour in the caster sugar. Bake for 3-5 minutes at 200C until the edges just begin to melt. In my oven its fan assisted so it only took 3 minutes for this to happen, so please note ovens do vary.
  2. In the meantime, pour the egg whites into a large mixing bowl and using your hand mixer with a whisk attachment, begin whisking on a low speed until bubbles begin to form. Of course, you may do this in your food mixer too using the whisk attachment. Then increasing to high speed gradually, continue to whisk the egg whites until stiff peaks form and you can turn the bowl upside down without the egg whites falling out. I talk about this in my blog on making French Macarons which is linked above.
  3. Take the sugar out of the oven and turn the oven temperature down to 100C. Then with the mixer still on high speed, begin to add one heaped tablespoon of the sugar at a time, making sure that the egg whites come back to stiff peaks after each tablespoon of sugar. When you have added all the sugar, continue to whisk for 5 – 7 minutes. The mixture will be ready when it has formed a high gloss and when rubbed between your finger tips it is completely smooth, with no “gritty” feeling of sugar.
  4. Prepare the baking tray again with fresh Parchment paper. To do this, use your finger tip and dab the meringue mixture on the four corners of the tray and press paper on top to hold it down in place. This prevents the parchment paper from moving whilst piping the meringues.
  5. To achieve the striped kisses, turn a piping bag inside out and paint on 4-5 stripes of your food coloring. Then roll the bag so the painted side is inside and carefully spoon the meringue mixture into the piping bag and fill it 2/3 of the way full. I find this makes it easier to manage the bag and to be more precise when piping the kisses. As you don’t need a piping tip, just cut off the tip of the piping bag about an inch in diameter to give good sized meringues.
  6. To pipe the kisses, hold the bag upright and allow the tip to touch the paper. Then squeezing the bag, pipe onto the sheet and pull upwards to get the little flick at the top. (my husband calls them gnome hats)
  7. Bake them in the centre of the oven at 100C for 30-40 minutes until they can easily be lifted off the parchment paper with the bases in tact. In my oven I used the regular setting ensuring not to use the fan. Allow them to cool completely and store them in an airtight container will keep for up to two weeks., or you may freeze them as they hold up really well in the freezer.

Here are my Meringue Kisses,

So happy that the #meringues worked out. Absolutely ❤️ these. Tried and tested using the @meringuegirls #recipe #jenscouturecakes #meringuelove #meringuekisses #meringuekisses #foodphoto #foodphotography #foodbloggers #foodblog #foodblogger #foodie #foodies #foodiegram #foodieblog #meringuegram #newproject #ideas #newproduct #desert #desertlove #desertlove
 meringue kisses
Its safe to say, I will be making these little sweet beauties a lot from now on, they went down a treat in my house and they’re definitely something I will be adding to my production list.
Let me know how you get on with yours and post your pics in the comments, I would love to see them!!
Have a great day,
Jen ♥ xx

 

 

 

 

JensCoutureCakes at The Gossies Awards…

 

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Hey everyone, I hope you’re all having fab week! It’s been a busy one here at JensCoutureCakes HQ but we’re finally getting to sit down and show you all the fabulous display we put on for the Goss.ie Gossies Awards 2016. When Ali, the CEO and Managing Director of Goss.ie, got in touch with me to do the display I was thrilled. I absolutely love following Goss so it was an absolute pleasure to be a sponsor for the awards. Ali left the design and display completely up to me and advised me the colour scheme was pink and grey, with a Hollywood touch for the awards.

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For the cake, which was to be the main centrepiece, I decided to go with a marbled effect. I had been wanting to do it for some time and I decided now was the perfect timing- its classy, its elegant and when done right it can make any cake a showstopper!!! I also dressed it with pearls and diamonds, and a massive diamanté brooch on the side with a huge satin bow. I feel the diamonds and pearls added some Hollywood style, remembering the beautiful Marilyn Monroe and the fabulous Grace Kelly. What do you think of the marbled effect?

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As it was a classy event, we also went with French macaroons and cupcakes to sweeten the Irish celebs. French macaroons are quite an elegant treat, not too big , not too small, just enough to enjoy something sweet. And what would the display be without some glitter? We sprinkled them with edible glitter to add a touch of glitz and glam for the Hollywood effect. They were loved by all who attended the awards. I have a tutorial on how to make these heavenly treats which you can read here.

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I also created some macaroons pops (as I don’t have a love for cake pops). And look at the fabulous macaroon wrappers that were so kindly given to me by the lovely Tatiana of Floribelle Ireland. Have a look at her fabulous page here. Tatiana makes laser cut and personalised sweet favour boxes which add an elegant touch to any event, especially weddings! Have a look at our macaroon pops below……….what do you think? Wouldn’t they be perfect for any event or occasion? From corporate events to baby showers, personalised gifts to wedding favours, these macaroon pops are sure to impress your guests.

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Tatiana also gave us some fabulous cupcake wrappers…..

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Aren’t they fab? I just love all things classy and elegant, and the detail in the cupcake wrappers are amazing….

And of course I added some sweets to the display including our meringue kisses, marshmallows and mints to finish off the cake and candy display.

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What do you all think of these massive lights from Lovin Letters ? Aren’t these just so cool…..having your name in lights……now that’s a thought 🙂 Absolute amazeballs.

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We also sponsored the Goss 1st Birthday Bash last year, and I created this fabulous cake display for them with some macaroons and mini cupcakes. Have a look below…..

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I was thrilled at the response from our display, Ali absolutely loved it and its safe to say that when we returned to take it down, the celebs had loved it too…. there wasn’t a crumb left 🙂 And to my absolute amazement, lots of the celebs shared the display on their snapchats, including FACES BY GRACE who won the award for Best Blogger, the gorgeous Marissa Carter of COCOA BROWN who won Best Girl Boss of The Year and the fabulous Joanne Larby of THE MAKEUP FAIRY even shared it onto her Instagram account!!! Yikes!!!

Here are some of the photos from Goss.ie Behind the scenes, pop over and have a look. Theres a snap of our display in here too.

To view the list of award winners, have a look here. and you can also watch The Gossies  Awards from UTV The Pulse here. I got to meet the lovely Jenny of Utv The Pulse, didn’t she do an amazing job?

If you were at the awards or have been following them on social media’s, pop by and say hello and let me know what you think or thought of our display….

Jen ♥ XX

Our top tips on choosing your Wedding Cake!

jens 2015 wedding cakes

If you are already looking at wedding cake designers, ideally by now its safe to presume you have your wedding venue booked and the dress ordered. With those two hugely important details arranged, I would recommend the cake to be next, and let me explain why…….

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1) Deadline

Most cake decorators can be booked up for at least a year in advance, so it is best to give them as much notice as possible to book in your cake. They’re not like your typical grocery store, lots of cake designers provide beautiful, bespoke wedding cakes and their skills are so much sought after that they book up pretty quick. If you have your eye on a specific designer, and you love their typical cake designs then pre-book the date with them, and the details can follow suit. But be sure to BOOK YOUR DATE! Most cake decorators will do this with a small deposit to secure the date for you.

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2) Design

If you haven’t already, then now is the time to get researching cake designs. Like I said previously, if you have your eye on a specific designer, most of the time they will have a specific type of design they stick with- be it vintage or couture, and you will most likely want one of their typical designs. But if it is more of a bespoke cake you want, for example the cake above, then you need to research designers to make sure they can create the design for you. Have a look at their work to see the cakes they’ve made before.

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3) Colour scheme/Theme

Once you have the date secured, if you don’t already have a chosen colour scheme and wedding theme then now is the time to hit Google and Pinterst hard!!! Google until your eyes are sore and cant bare to look at a computer screen no more, because your colour scheme and theme is very important. It is incorporated into every part of your big day, especially your cake (most of the time)and you want to make sure its just PERFECT! Bare in mind the time of year you’re getting married, for example if its spring/summer lots of brides go for the pastel colour range along with a vintage theme, in winter you can go for richer, deeper colours with a winter theme. But like I said, really research colours to make sure its exactly what you want……..those photos are here forever!! Once you have your colours and theme chosen, let your cake decorator know! This will help them begin to plan your cake, down to purchasing ribbon for the cake, coloured fondant or food colourings and any other coloured materials they will need for your bespoke cake along with creating the design and incorporating the theme. For example, if a pastel colour range with a vintage theme, the cake will more than likely have some hand made vintage roses/flowers with light and airy colours like pastel pinks, peaches, etc.

 

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4) Flavours

For wedding cakes, traditional is totally gone out the window! Fruit is no longer the typical cake for wedding cakes. For me here at JensCoutureCakes, the most popular is chocolate biscuit cake, followed by red velvet, and then Victoria sponge. I always ask brides and grooms what their favourite cake is and to go with that for their wedding cake, because it is their cake after all and what’s the point in having a full tier of fruit cake, for example, and it going to waste!

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5) Size/Servings

For this, you really need to decide when you want to cut the cake. The newest tradition with weddings is a second day affair, and lot’s of brides choose to keep their cake until the following day. It’s quite a clever idea to be honest, as the wedding day itself is full of food for guests and most of the time the cake goes to waste. Usually, with the second day, your guest list will be cut in half, at least, and you need to decide first of all if this is what you want to do with your cake, and if so, do you only want cake for the guest numbers that will be there or do you want some cake to take home also. Don’t let this put you off the wow factor sized cake if that’s what you want, as you can have a cake that is made up of edible cake and non edible stryofoam cakes to give you added size to your cake.

And lastly…………….

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6) Don’t be afraid to ask questions!!!!

You can ask as many questions as you like. We are always here to help, we have lots of ideas and your questions are never deemed stupid or silly. We love what we do, ad more importantly, we want you to love what we do, so always feel free to discuss your cake in depth to make choosing your wedding cake enjoyable and also to ensure you have chosen the right design for you!

If you have any questions you would like to ask us, feel free to get I’m touch via our facebook page JensCoutureCakes. You can also get in touch via the following social media links:

Instagram: https://twitter.com/JensCoutureCakes

Twitter: https://twitter.com/JensCoutureCake

Snapchat: jenscouturecake

or by email: JensCoutureCakes@hotmail.com

Also feel free to comment below. I hope you enjoyed the blog,

Jen ♥ xx

 

 

 

 

 

 

How to include loved ones we’ve lost on our special day!x

Being a cake designer, I come across all kinds of brides and grooms with such amazing stories of how they met, their story, the proposal and of course their plans for their big day. The reason I chose this topic to talk about is because I always come across a very similar topic among our conversations during our consultation and one of the things they all have in common is the question – “Do you have any ideas on how we can include those that can’t be with us on our special day?”. Nearly all of us have lost someone we love and special to us and of course we want to include them on our special day, afterall a wedding is one of the most important events in our lives and of course we would want to remember them on our wedding day.

So to answer this question, there are many different ways to include those who have passed. The most popular way at the moment is to have a framed photo of them:

  • on the top table among the bridal party
  • on a separate table with memorial candles
  • on the table beside the cake
  • or on canvases around the room.

For one bride though, Rose, she had something in mind that was very different and unique to anything we have seen at JensCoutureCakes. Rose, and her now husband, came to me with an idea they found on Google (who doesn’t love google?!?) and asked for a consultation for me to create their wedding cake. This one in particular had such a heart wrenching reason behind the design, that during the consultation, the bride brought me to tears. She chose this design with her fiancé to remember all of those special people that belonged to both of them that couldn’t be with them to celebrate their special day. For the design, I had to hand cut the silhouette of the bride and groom and make the balloons to place on the cake. For the names, I had my very good supplier Miriam of Sweet Creations print them using her edible printer on edible icing sheets so I could transfer them onto the balloon. If you are ever looking for edible prints, Miriam is your go to person. She will always get the prints done in the quickest of time and post them out to you, but more importantly, as cake decorators we sometimes get last minute requests and she is always happy to oblige. The edible sheets were the best method for this design, as hand writing them onto the balloons using an edible marker just didn’t make the names visible enough.

rose's balloon wedding cake

As you can see from the design, the bride and groom are releasing the balloons and they’re floating up the tiers of the wedding cake. Thus giving the illusion the balloons are floating upwards.To top the cake off, we decided a teddy’s silhouette was a beautiful choice as the groom had a very special little person he wanted included on the cake- his sister. She had passed away as a young child and the teddy added that bit more of a special touch for her. We chose to have the teddy holding the final balloon with her name on it and the bride and groom described it as her holding the balloon floating up to heaven with the rest of those special people. What made it even more meaningful was the fact that they were going to do this very act at their wedding. They had balloons they were releasing themselves at the wedding so it was very thoughtful, and how amazing was it to have the cake incorporated in this theme!!! I was so touched and honoured to have been asked to make such a beautiful cake for them and I was so happy to receive the following feedback from Rose after the wedding …….

“Hi Jen, the cake went down a treat. The cake reduced many to tears and it tasted delicious. The day was better than we could have ever dreamed of. “

SIOBHANS BOUQUET

Another beautiful way to include a loved one on your special day is to have them included within your bouquet. Here a very special girl Siobhan that I know years came to me and asked me if I could make a bouquet using her mums jewellery. Straight away I jumped at the opportunity as I also knew her mum and it felt almost like a tribute to her to make it.I met with Siobhan and yet again another teary eyed consultation. Siobhan is the only girl of three children, so getting to have all of her mums jewellery for her bouquet was very special. She handed it to me and asked me to come up with some kind of design that included most, if not all, of the jewellery she had. So I played around with it and finalised on a design and called Siobhan for a follow up consultation. She cried, I cried, it was very emotional, but they were good tears, as she didn’t know what to expect and had no idea how to envisage the bouquet. She left it totally in my hands and I was thrilled to see her face when she came to see it. Needless to say on her wedding day, she was beaming and of course her bouquet meant so much to her, as she found her own personal way to include her mum on her special day.

I make these bouquets along with many other designs with my sister. We have other ways to include our loved ones in bouquets and buttonholes. We are known as All Things Couture, and you can view all of our creations here.

I hope this blog has given you some ideas to help you with ur planning and if you have any questions, leave a comment below or get in touch with us on the links above. I would love to see any ideas you used for your special day too so please feel free to comment them below too.

Goodnight,

Jen ♥ xx

 

 

Decobake meets The Caketress

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Hey everyone I’m finally getting some spare time to write this promised blog about my experience in Decobake Bachelors Walk, Dublin with the gorgeous Lori Hutchinson of The Caketress. To say I was a little star-struck would be an understatement. I’ve been following Lori on her Instagram account for a long time now and I finally got to meet her and work with her, learning some of her amazing skills and techniques was a dream come true.

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The class itself was held in Decobake’s sister shop, Sweet Republic, you can check out their facebook page here. The shop is absolutely fab with amazing treats , such as waffles, icecreams, hot chocolates, sandwiches, etc. The food looks and tastes amazing. Luckily for me, on arrival I was treated to a hot chocolate, my favourite!! Just look at that photo, doesn’t the food look amazing?!?!?!?!?!!!

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We then were brought downstairs, where they had put on a little breakfast spread for us all. There was fresh croissants, scones, granola, yoghurt and strawberries, along with fresh juice and water. The food was fabulous and little did we know it was much needed fuel for the start of the day!

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Lori then arrived into the room, bringing with her a great atmosphere and a friendly face, which I find very important in classes. It’s a great first impression that the teacher will be friendly and patient, but more importantly, that a fun experience lies ahead. To begin the class, Lori introduced herself and gave us some information on her background, where she was from, when and how she began cake decorating and where she has been teaching around the world. As I explained in my last blog, which you can read here, Lori’s first love was fashion, she dreamt of being a fashion designer but when it didn’t work out, she decided “why not bring fashion to cakes?!?!?”. And such a clever idea indeed, as she watched the catwalks and began to impress designs from huge fashion designers such as Chanel and D&G, Lori fast became a much sought after cake designer. She is loved worldwide, especially in Dubai, with their expensive taste for design and fashion, she is a huge hit!

We then introduced ourselves, giving a brief history on why, when and how we also became cake decorators and it was fun listening to everyone. some with similar stories such as myself, where we began cake decorating for our little ones birthday cakes, there was one girl in particular who was there to learn as she wanted to create and design her own wedding cake for next year (kudo’s to you), but which struck me the most was the one thing in each and every one of our stories was our love and passion for cake decorating. Everyone with the same love for cakes in the one room was fantastic to hear and see everyone at work.

To begin, we were given our supplies which are covered in the cost of the class. There was 3 dummy cakes also known as stryofoam cakes – in some classes we’ve used real edible cake but as this one was organised at last minute, and we were there to learn Lori’s decorating techniques, there wasn’t any point in using real cake! We were given a cake board, a pack of the IceWise Premium Sugarpaste in white, and we were given a box of food colourings to share among the class for everyone to choose what colour they wanted to use. For me, I decided to go with an Ivory colour from the Progel range made by Rainbow Dust Food Colours I did a blog post on them a few weeks ago on my thoughts of their food colouring range which you can read here. So we covered our dummies, placed them on the board and got them ready for the best part of the class – THE SEQUINS!!!

caketress cake created by jenscouturecakes

As agreed with Lori, we were all sworn to secrecy on how to create this stunning effect on  a cake, but we were encouraged by her to use it freely ourselves on our own future cake designs. This design stole my heart the moment I saw it and I cannot wait to use it on cakes in the future. I have  wedding cake coming up in February and I am so excited about it. After we created the sequins effect, we were then given the choice of food paint colour to use. As you can see here in my photo’s I chose the gold paint. This one is called Imperial Gold Dust and it is not edible, but the effect it gives is spectacular. When using on a cake, it is recommended to use it on a stryofoam tier so it can be removed from the cake and not eaten. It is pricey but well worth the splurge!! You can buy it here from Decobake online store or instore too at any of their branches. My local is Bachelor’s Walk, Dublin.

 

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When we finished the painting, we were called for  lunch. The spread was amazing. We were given sandwiches, pizza, nachos, and of course some lovely treats from SweetRepublic. I’m hungry even looking at these pics again!! Ha Ha the plates were cleared!!!

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We went back downstairs then where we were then given wafer paper to create our floral design on our cake. What I loved about Lori, was that she encouraged us to do our own floral design and make it our own, so needless to say everyone did just that and the results were fab!! After some tutorials from Lori, we got on it and I created a huge flower for the front of mine. It was my second time using wafer paper to create flowers so I was still quite nervous but I enjoyed it. Little did I know, wafer paper comes in different grades so you are better off getting the thinnest one to create real looking flowers as you can get the petals very thin making it more realistic looking!! She then showed us how to create wafer paper leaves and how to wire them. Again we painted these with the gold imperial dust and needless to say, the cake was stunning when finished.

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All of the other cakers there created beautiful designs have a look at them below…

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So if you’re interested in creating beautiful cakes and either becoming a cake decorator or advancing your skills, Decobake is the place to go!! This is the cake I left with, and I was absolutely chuffed that I had created such a beauty.

caketress cake made by jenscouturecakes

 

The Caketress!!!!!!!!

loris cakesFor those of you who call yourselves a true “caker”, you will know exactly who I am talking about, but for all my followers who don’t, Lori is known as The Caketress. Her name The Caketress comes from her background of fashion designing. She absolutely loves fashion and when things didn’t work out for her in the industry, she decided to create cakes reflecting the designs she wanted for clothes- Seamstress meets Cakes – The Caketress!!! Such a clever, inventive name for her and she has lived up to that name ever since.  With her love for the catwalk, Lori updates her designs to be on point with the latest fashion statements, keeping a close eye on designers such as Dolce & Gabbana, Valentino and Chanel to name a few. She can turn any dress design into a cake, adding specific detailing including sequins, studs and diamonds which she makes edible (how amazing is that?) and also feathers, ruffles and flowers!

Have a look at them below……………

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Dolce and Gabanna inspired cake by Lori Hutchinson

lori valentino

Valentino inspired cake by Lori Hutchinson

Look at those designs and the attention to detail, its absolutely mind blowing how she creates cakes that are perfect art, edible art, only how incredibly sinful would it be to cut them?!?!?!?!?!? I mean come on, if this cake was at the top of the table for my wedding, it would be treasured forever in a glass case and all my guests would of course be given slab cake to eat, who eats cake at weddings anyways?!?!?! Especially an Irish wedding, need I say anymore?

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Lori is currently worldwide teaching cake decorating classes and has been primarily based in Dubai,where their love for extravagant, extraordinary enormous cakes is ever growing. Her cakes have been going down a treat over there. Have a look at some of the cakes below!

Lori’s website, which you can go and swoon over here is filled with couture, classy, chic designs fit for a princess.  I fell in love with cakes designed by her when I first spotted that there was a class on in Decobake Bachelors Walk, Dublin a good while back-it may be a year or even 2 years ago. I fell in love with her cakes straight away but as her classes fill up in minutes, I wasn’t lucky enough to nab myself a spot on her class, so low and behold a few weeks ago it was advertised again that Lori was coming, but again spots filled up and I missed out.

lori decobake class

To my surprise, they announced another date- a one day class with The Caketress herself and I rang immediately to pay for a place to work alongside this amazing cake decorator. I was absolutely thrilled that I managed to get to meet Lori, never mind getting the opportunity to work with her and learn some of her incredible techniques and of course, her signature design- CAKE SEQUINS!!!!!! I will be doing a blog post on my experience with Lori in Decobake over the next few days, so be sure to keep your eyes peeled!!!!

Have any of you met The Caketress or been so lucky to work alongside her?

Let me know in the comments below!

Jen ♥ xx

Decobake…………..A Caker’s paradise!!!!

In the “hearth” of Dublin’s fair city, there’s a beacon of light for all of us cakers. It’s colourful reflection shines throughout the city, beckoning bakers, cakers and decorators alike, where all who have a love for cake have one place they can go and feel a little “poolish” about their love for all things cake! Whether it’s to “scale” the shelves and grab what’s new, with no time to “simmer” over our choice of purchases, or “proof” to ourselves that we “knead” it, I don’t know of one person who doesn’t enjoy their “thyme” in there. Everytime I go into decobake, I feel a little fruity, mainly because of the immediate joy I feel when I walk in (it must be the colour scheme) and the overwhelming rush at the thoughts of discovering a new product to mix things up a bit in the kitchen!! As the shop alone gives you a feeling no sugar rush could, you literally cannot say no to anything in there. When I first began cake decorating, I googled and searched for cake suppliers in Dublin, and  Decobake Bachelors Walk, Dublin was my first find and boy am I glad I found these guys!!! Have any of you guys been to this store? If you haven’t, you literally don’t know what you’re missing out on!!!! Let me roll it out for you…….

decobake inside store

First of all let’s talk about their choice of design for the store. OMG look at those colours……. It’s so pretty and inviting, reminds me of what cakes are like – quirky and colourful, a real feel good factor!!  What do you think? For me, its like walking into a cakers paradise, where all my senses are out of sorts and without holding back, I dig a “well” in my purse and splurge like its Christmas, whether it be a new product that’s just arrived or seeing something new that I’ve never seen before instore. Shopping in Decobake is like feeding a fruit cake, (yes I am a bit fruity), I love spotting anything that can help me develop and mature as a cake decorator, to feel good about what I create and design.

The most recent purchase I made in here included a pack of Squires Kitchen Flower Paste, which you can buy here! I used this to create these Vintage Roses, which are 100% edible but 100% disgusting to eat lol.

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I’m not gonna “crumb coat” it for you, everytime I go in, yes I spend an absolute fortune but i’m more than happy to do this because with my line of work, thank God he has put so many talented people on this earth and very creative ones who come up with new and improved products to make my cake decorating easier, less time consuming and of course and very importantly, give it a more aesthetic appeal. Cake decorating back in the day was quite limited because the equipment was limited, along with the products and ideas. Don’t get me wrong, a very classic looking wedding cake from cake decorators years ago are completely timeless. My great aunt was a magnificent cake decorator, EVERYTHING was royal iced, the only fondant they used was poured fondant, which is the beautiful glaze on the little Mr.Kipling fancies (yum), but obviously shes older now and feels her time is done in the kitchen!! Royal iced cakes took (and still do take) some amount of time, patience and talent, but that’s where the designs ended. To learn this beautiful classical look, Decobake regularly advertise a PME Royal Icing Class which runs over a couple of weeks. This class is on my to do list for definite, I just need to “mustard” up the courage to “rise” to the challenge. Back in the day, nobody heard of novelty cakes, or even newer now to the cake scene – gravity defying cakes, and with thanks to companies like Decobake, they have made cake decorating more achievable, universal and more accessible for us cakers. Have a look here at one of the Gravity Defyoing cakes I made in a class in Decobake, with the amazing couple of Pirikos Cake Design. I will be doing a full blog post on my experience with the cake decorating classes over the coming weeks!!! But the cake classes aren’t just for us experienced cakers, they have beginners classes too which is great if you fancy giving decorating a go.

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Decobake have so many shops nationwide, including Athlone, Galway and Limerick, with each store stocking an array of supplies for us cakers, with the everyday essentials of cake tins (of course nobody can start out without these!) Here is a link to buy some of their PME round tins which range from 3″-14″, every caker needs these, also they come in square shape and there are random shaped tins on here too.

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From fondant icing to food colours, including the Rainbow Dust Progel food colours, which I have already spoken about my love for in my previous blog on French Macaroons. You can read it HERE!!!!! They also stock edible glitters to modelling chocolate, cake boards to boxes, and everything else you can possibly imagine you would need starting off and also to constantly top yourself up.

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My love affair with Decobake will last forever, and I keep going back obviously for stock, but also because they put on so many classes to learn lots of techniques, and also, not to mention how friendly the staff and managament are. The girls are so so friendly, more than happy to help with any queries or recommendations that you need, and also with getting you the stock they want. IF THEY DONT HAVE IT THEY WILL GET IT FOR YOU and for me that goes a long way, especially because you never know what requests you may get for cakes and to know that you can rely on them to help is priceless for me!!So if you are now like I was not so long ago starting out, why not call into the girls in Decobake and have a chat with them about which supplies you need. Fear not, we all start somewhere and this is the place I would recommend to anyone wanting to give cake decorating a go and looking for some guidance.

I hope you enjoyed this blog post and let me know in the comments below if you have been to decobake or intend to after this post……………

Jen ♥ xx

An Artistic Expression or a Ghoulish Creation?!?!?!?!

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by JensCoutureCakes

Spooktacular wedding cakes are becoming more and more popular over the last few wedding seasons and what more of a suitable topic to blog about than these, after all it’s almost Halloween. With cake decorators seeing more and more of these designs being requested by brides and grooms alike, I want to know would it be a design you would have for your special day?!?!?

jodie balfe cake

by JensCoutureCakes

I absolutely loved designing this cake for a recent bride and groom, as it was literally them in a cake version lol. They both love all things skulls, tattoos, each other (more importantly) and when they approached me to to create their wedding cake, we sat and discussed designs and ideas, but ultimately, the design was left for me to comprehend on their cake. Even up to the day before the wedding, myself and the bride discussed the layout and design, but it wasn’t until I actually started it, did it come to life. When they got in touch the day after the wedding to thank me for the cake, I knew I had slam dunked the design for them (phew…..it’s always a nervous time, not because I’m not confident in cakes that leave my cakery, but because people can tend to have an idea in their mind, but when it actually comes to life it can sometimes not be what they wanted afterall!)

Personally, I’m more of a vintage/classic kinda gal but I have warmed (a little) to these designs, and let me explain why. Skulls generally freak me out, I’m kind of screamish that way, but when given free reign to design them, I like to think of it as more of an artistic expression rather than a ghoulish creation. With Sugar Skulls increasingly being incorporated on cakes, whether it be birthday celebrations or wedding cakes, there is a pretty side to them, as the artist behind them really gets to enjoy free hand designing with food grade colours (c’mon what’s more cool to us decorators) knowing that when its done and dusted, it can be eaten and enjoyed just as much as the designing itself.

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by JensCoutureCakes

There is alot of history on Sugar Skulls, relating to All Hallowes Eve, All Soul’s Day, or Halloween as we call it. But for me, that’s not what they’re about on cakes. They are an expressive art where I can use any colours I wish, any designs and pretty much free hand it the whole design. Between swirly swirls and hand painted flowers, I love getting to free hand paint. For years, as a child, I would sit and hand draw all the Disney characters from Ariel to the Seven Dwarfs, and everyone in between, so getting to free hand draw is like being a child again lol.

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by JensCoutureCakes

So whether you’re into Sugar Skulls or not, embrace your inner personality and never be afraid to have it reflected on your cake, (birthday, wedding, etc.,) after all, a cake is to celebrate you and nobody else!!

What do you think about them?!?

Jen ♥ xx

French Macaroons….Swiss Meringue Style

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Hi everyone, I hope you’re all having a great week so far…….

As today is Wednesday (obviously lol) it is one of my busiest days of the week. I supply cakes to two very well established cafes in Dublin, one of which has many branches across Dublin which I supply to also, and one of their must haves from us here at JensCoutureCakes are my macaroons. They sell exceptionally well and thankfully they’re one of many favourites that I bake.

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So let’s get straight to it………French macaroons!?!?!?!?!?!?! What baking genius actually came up with these tough little buggars and where do they origin from? Well, I think their name gives the latter away, but let’s explore the first question- WHO came up with these beautiful, delicate, scrumptious little treats? Anyone know the answer? If you do, you are very inquisitive indeed, as most bakers like myself simply follow recipes and don’t look that far down the gene pool to see who created the recipes they follow. But for me, as I had such a Love/Hate relationship with them for so long, I was actually that annoyed one evening at the result of many batches after batches failing, that I felt the absolute NEED to find this out for myself. I’m not gonna lie, at that moment in time I fantasised about hurting this person because of the sheer mental and physical stress they (macarons) had inflicted on me.

So low and behold, like many of us earth creatures, I decided sure what the heck? Google is the way forward and the only method I need. As I typed, I entered into the Pandora’s box (a.k.a. the search bar) WHO INVENTED FRENCH MACARONS. And yes, I typed it in all capslock as I was so annoyed. Straight away, I went to Wikipedia as they know absolutely everything and they have to be right, right? Well according to them, Macarons, or Macaroons as most people pronounce them, were first created in the 8th century in Venetian monasteries, and then during the Renaissance Catherine de’ Medici (if ever I wanted to change my name, its now! From now on my new name is Jennifer de’ Medici- it screams sophistication doesn’t it?). She brought them with her to France in 1533 via her pastry chefs when she married Henry II of France. In 1792, two Carmelite nuns seeking asylum in Nancy during the French Revolution baked them and used the money they made to pay for their housing. If only they made me that much money nowadays I would be up to my ears in them!! But however, it was only in the 1830’s that the idea of sandwiching these beauties together with a scrumptious filling inside came to light, when they were originally called “Gerbet” or the “Paris Macaron”. Pierre Desfontaines, of the French patisserie Lauduree, has been known to have created it along with another baker, Claude Gerbet. So to my distaste, there was absolutely no way I could punish these people for creating these complicated creations, however, little did I know that later in the future I would wish to have been alive back then to meet these sweet geniuses and thank them for creating such a mouth watering confection, that melt on your tongue and literally create an addiction you will never satisfy!

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French macarons, when made right, can literally be the show stopper at any party or event. They can be coloured almost any colour and filled with any filling of your choice, the most popular being dark ganache’s, buttercreams or jams. When colouring my macarons, I will only ever use Progel Food Colours from Rainbow Dust. They have 37 Progel colours, and I have tried most of them, if not all. As one of my clients have Lime Green as their company brand colour, this is by far one of the more popular colours for me but, the red, pink, orange, etc are amazing too. The colours are so vivid, and the beauty with this range is you literally only need a small amount, especially to get a pastel colour range. If you want a deeper colour, obviously you need to use more as the colours do tend to fade when the macarons are baking in the oven, but as the saying goes a little can go a long way. Also, the gel consistency is perfect as it doesn’t affect the macarons one bit. Liquid food colours have a tendency to affect the consistency a lot more making the macarons more difficult to make.  When I’m asked, or when I see others having trouble with other food colours, this is the one I recommend and only recommend. And just to be clear, I am not and have not been linked with Rainbow Dust, so I am not pushing this product on you in no way, shape, or form, it is just the only fact that I have found this range to be the best one to use for my own personal use. I have tried so many others and have never had the results I’ve wanted, but other bakers may have different preferences, but for me, this is my go to brand for any food colouring, whether it be macarons, buttercream or fondant.

Here is a pic of their colour range I took from their site. Isn’t it so pretty???? Its like a rainbow! Now it makes sense where they got the name Rainbow Dust for their company name, lol.

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OK, so lets get down to the nitty gritty’s. My JensCoutureCakes foolproof method for making and creating beautiful French Macarons! This recipe will make approx. 30-40 macarons, depending on how big you pipe your them.

For the Macarons, you will need

Ingredients:

300g Ground Almonds (also known as almond flour or almond meal)

300g Icing sugar (also known as confectioners sugar)

125g egg whites (at room temp)

300g Caster sugar (fine white sugar)

100g egg whites (for the meringue)

food colouring of your choice (here I have used Progel Lime Green)

Equipment:

Weighing scales

Large mixing bowl

Sieve (optional)

4-5 Baking trays

Greaseproof paper (parchment paper)

Spatula

Electric hand blender

Thermometer (ikea have great ones)

Piping bags

Large round decorating nozzle

Bain Marie (basically its a pot of water with a metal bowl sitting on top)

It is important to have your egg whites at room temperature. Many people swear by egg whites that have been separated and stored for a few days but I have never tried that. I have always just taken my eggs from the fridge a couple of hours before I need them to bring them to room temp.

Now that we have the ingredients, lets get down to the step by step!

Method:

  1. Preheat your oven to 150°C. In a large mixing bowl, blend together the ground almonds and the icing sugar until they’re well combined. You may use a sieve for this but I prefer to use my hands to do this. My great aunt showed me a trick they used to use in convents with the nuns. To do this, dig your hand to the bottom of the bowl and have your fingers on both hands touching each other at the tips.Bring up the almonds and icing sugar upwards above the rest of the mix and allow it to sieve through your fingers (I hope this makes sense?!?) basically use your hands as the sieve and let the flour/icing sugar fall between your fingers allowing it to fall into the bowl. This helps to create air and is a perfect method for making a classic Victoria Sponge Cake- I wlll do a post on this method very soon! On the other hand, Just use the sieve to combine both ingredients together.
  2. When you have it evenly combined, push the mixture to one side in the bowl using your hand and leave a deep well to the opposite side. This is for egg whites! Scared yet?
  3. Pour in the first batch of egg whites weighing at 125g into the well.
  4. This is the part for the food colouring. Depending on how deep you want the colour to be, squeeze in or add in drops of the food colouring. Using a tooth pick or skewer, mix the food colouring into the egg whites until fully combined but be careful not to “whisk” it, do it slowly and gently. Put the bowl to one side.
  5. Using your Bain Marie (put a pot of water under your stainless steel mixing bowl) and put it onto the cooker on a low heat. We are going to use the steam from the water in the pot to “cook” the swiss meringue.
  6. Place your second batch of egg whites (100g) into the bowl, and using your electric hand mixer, whisk away on a low speed. When you see the egg whites turning frothy, now is the time to start adding your caster sugar. Add it in, very slowly making sure that each time you add it you mix it well before adding some more.
  7. This is where it gets a little tricky and I’ve often wished I had an extra limb to help me…… At this point, you need to use your thermometer. To do this, hold the thermometer in one hand stuck into the meringue mixture. Make sure it isn’t touching the bowl as the metal will be hotter than the actual meringue. And in the other hand keep the blender going on a low speed for approximately 5-8mins.
  8. You will be looking out for a thick glossy mixture and you want it to reach 50°C. As soon as it does, take the thermometer out and take the bowl off the heat straight away and place to one side. Please be careful doing this as it is quite tricky holding everything in your two hands and remember to turn off the cooker!!
  9. Then using a spatula, empty out the meringue mixture into your large mixing bowl with the ground almonds,etc.
  10. With the spatula, using it clockwise, mix the mixture together. This will of course take a good few turns, approximately 20 but be sure not to over mix. As soon as the food colouring is completey combined, now is the time to stop!
  11. Grab your piping bag, and snip the top of it off if you’re using a disposable one. If not, use a regular piping bag with a large round decorating nozzle, and fill your piping bag. The easiest way I find to do this is to use a tall glass/tumbler and put your piping bag into it. Then fold down the bag around the glass, almost like youre turning it inside out over the glass and use your spatula to place the mixture into it. This will take a few times especially if your piping bag is small but in my opinion you have better control over a smaller amount of mixture so the smaller the bag the better.
  12. Cut and measure your greaseproof paper to the size of your baking trays and then, use a tiny amount of the macaron mixture on each corner of the trays to secure the greaseproof paper to the tray. This prevents it from moving around.
  13. Now using your filled piping bag, squeeze out a small amount of the mixture onto the lined trays, but don’t have the nozzle touching the lined tray keep it about 2-3mm up away from the tray. To pipe, apply pressure to the piping bag and just as you can see the size of the macaron you want, release the pressure and using a circular motion, pull the bag to one side to ensure you don’t get a “peak” on your macaron. If you have a peak , dip the tip of your finger (anyine will do) into warm water and ever so gently place your finger onto the raised area and gently push it down. Be extremely gentle here and dont have your finger dripping with water literally just have the tip of your finger damp. When all your macarons are piped, bang each tray at least 3 times pretty hard off the counter. This pops out any air from the mixture and then place them to one side to set for about 30 minutes or until a film has formed on the tops of the macarons. The time may vary depending on humidity, so usually if its quite warm in your area, the film will form a lot earlier than this. To test for this, again ever so gently touch the top of the macaron and if its not sticky and none of the mixture leaves a residue on your finger then they’re ready to go into the oven. The reason we do this is because this film traps all the air inside the macaron only allowing air to escape out of the bottom of them and this is where the “foot” of the macaron is formed and the macaron is forced to raise upwards giving it it’s height (such an amazing process really!!).
  14. When ready, place the trays in the oven. Personally, because my oven is ever so temperamental, I only ever bake one tray at a time on the top slot in my oven, and I bake them from 8-12 minutes. Let me explain why. Sometimes when mixing the meringue into the ground almonds and we over-mix it ever so slightly, the mixture becomes “wet” and therefore more of a runnier mixture and can take longer to bake in the oven. However, when I know myself how much ive mixed it I can then decide myself how long to bake them for. This is something you can only gain through experience with baking macarons. So for you guys, whether first timers or not the easiest way for you to know when your macaron is baked is to check them after 8mins and using your spatula, see if you can slide it in underneath one of the macarons and lift it from the greaseproof paper. If it lifts, its ready. If not, leave for another 2 minutes and try again. But again, personally, after at least 10 minutes I already know that my macarons are baked and can be removed from the oven and initially they may not lift off the paper but once theyre out from the oven and let cool for a few moments, they lift off easily and perfectly.
  15. Allow them to cool. Approx 5mins. Then to sandwich them together, use a tiny amount of the filling of your choice and stick one of the macarons to another one the same size and voila……………you have some French Macarons,
  16. Next………………………….USING THE TIPS OF YOUR FINGERS, PICK ONE UP, OPEN YOUR MOUTH AND PUT ONE IN…..LOL WELCOME TO FRENCH MACARON HEAVEN!!!!!
Here is a picollage of photos I took specifically to show you the steps. I hope this helps.
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I really hope this blog posts gives you some insight into the macaron world and I would love to know how you got on with your macarons after this blog post. If you have any questions at all, please feel free to comment below or email me, I would be more than happy to help as I once lived in macron hell and know exactly how frustrating they can be.
Looking forward to hearing about and seeing your beautiful creations,
Jen ♥ xx