Fresh flowers & bees; a 1st birthday cake

 

First birthday cake - fresh flowers, modelling chocolate bees

 
A few weeks ago we celebrated Munchkin’s first birthday with two splendid parties. For the first I made a Miffy themed birthday cake and for the second, we went with a fresh flowers and bees theme. For each cake, I made up a gluten-free vanilla butter-cake with a swiss meringue buttercream. Once you taste Swiss meringue buttercream, no frosting will ever taste as good! It’s silky smooth and, due to the addition of the egg white, is not as heavy or sweet as a traditional buttercream frosting.

I figured, if Munchkin was going to have her first cake, it should be a good one!
 

First birthday cake - fresh flowers, modelling chocolate bees

 
For the bee themed party, I made a naked cake decorated with a wild array of flowers. All designed to be perfectly imperfect! This went against the grain a little, as I love a perfect, smooth finish. At one point, just as the urge to ‘fix’ the cake became overwhelming, my husband took it away from me and demanded I not touch it again! At the time, I found this extremely frustrating. But looking back at the photos, I love it. It was just what I wanted.
 

First birthday cake - fresh flowers, modelling chocolate bees

 
I made up a whole heap of little bees with modelling chocolate and put them on floristry wire, then nestled them in amongst the cake and the flower arrangements.

To arrange the flowers, I wrapped each stem in multiple layers of floristry tape and pushed them into a 1cm thick disk of modelling chocolate that was set on top of the frosted cake.

Then, I added on simple little white candle. And it was finished! I adore the result. What do you think?
 

First birthday cake - fresh flowers, modelling chocolate bees

 

BASIC BUTTER CAKE

For Munchkin’s birthday cake, I made three batches of the butter cake (and the swiss meringue buttercream). One for each tier, and baked it in a 28cm diameter tin.

 

Ingredients

 

  • 125 grams of unsalted butter
  • 150 grams of caster sugar
  • 1/2 a teaspoon of vanilla essence
  • 2 eggs
  • 210 grams of Schar Patisserie mix C or your preferred gluten-free flour mix
  • 1 teaspoon of xanthan gum
  • 2 teaspoons of baking powder
  • 130 ml of milk

 

Method
  1. Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees celsius. Lightly butter and flour baking tin.
  2. Cream butter, sugar and until light and fluffy.
  3. Add eggs one at at time, beating well after each.
  4. Add sifted flour alternatively with milk until just combined.
  5. Spread into a prepared pan. This quantity fills: 2x 18cm shallow cake pans or one deep.
  6. When skewer comes out of cake clean, it’s cooked (approximately 40 minutes). If you’re cooking your cake in a thin layer like I did, it will only take about 12 minutes.
  7. Allow to cool in tin for 10 minutes before turning out on wire rack to cool completely.

 

First birthday cake - fresh flowers, modelling chocolate bees

 

SWISS MERINGUE BUTTERCREAM

 

Ingredients
  • 3 large egg whites
  • 150 grams of caster sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 260 grams of unsalted butter, at room temperature and cut into cubes

 

Method
      1. Place egg whites, sugar and a pinch of salt into a heat proof bowl and place it over a saucepan of simmering water. Ensure that the water doesn’t touch the  bottom of the bowl. Whisk the mixture over the simmering water until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is hot to the touch.
      2. Remove the bowl from heat and using an electric mixer, beat until the mixture is cool, fluffy and glossy. At this point your mixture should be able to form stiff peaks. This takes about 10 minutes.
      3. Add the butter a few tablespoons at a time. Mixing well after each addition until all of the butter has been added and your buttercream is smooth.

 

First birthday cake - fresh flowers, modelling chocolate bees

 

Munchkin’s year on Instagram – in a box

Polabox

 

I very rarely do product posts. But I just received our first Polabox in the mail and I love it!

There’s something just so satisfying about holding physical copies of my Instagram photographs. We ordered a test box of thirty, containing photos of Munchkin’s first year to send to her Great-Grandmother in Australia. We’re so happy with the result, we’re in the process of ordering a whole heap more for her Nana, other Great-Grandmother, Aunt who struggles with things technical, Nono and a copy for us.

You can either download the app to your phone or select your photos etc online. You’re not limited to Instagram, any photo you can access on your device can be used.

Thirty photo’s in a cute and very sturdy box are 16.95 euro. They’re created in Paris and shipped toute de suite. Ours took just 5 days to arrive (over a weekend).

The box they arrive in is sturdy and wrapped in a bubble wrap package. But you could easily tape the box shut, add a shipping label and a stamp and send it on. The contents would be perfectly safe. And as the box is just 2cm high, this is a great option for those of us who live in Switzerland and are trying to cut down on shipping charges, 2cm is classified as a letter, not a parcel.

For those of you who want to try the service – here’s a promocode that will give you 5 euros off - NICPRN 

I’m now looking at printing photobooks. I really love the look of My Little Photobook, have you tried them? If so what do you think of the results?

In the interest of full disclosure, when you use this code, I also receive a credit on my next order. Otherwise this post is unsponsored.

Kawaii Halloween Frankenstein Gift Box

 

Kawaii Halloween Boxes- Frankenstiny

 
As promised, here is the 2nd in my kawaii Halloween series. This time a cute little kawaii Frankenstein to go along with kawaii Ghosty! They make really cute little gift boxes.
 

Kawaii Halloween Boxes- Frankenstiny

 
The boxes go together just like Kawaii Ghosty but are a bit simpler as they’re a traditional rectangle.

You’ll need 3 pieces of A4 card stock, the thickest you can get through your printer (I used 200 gsm) and your choice of adhesive (I used a Pritt stick)

Then just print and cut out each of the pieces in the PDF template at the bottom of this post. Scoring and/or folding along the dotted lines.
 

Kawaii Halloween Boxes- Frankenstiny

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Kawaii Halloween Ghosty Giftboxes

 

Kawaii Halloween Boxes- Ghosty

 
As I’ve mentioned in posts before, we don’t really celebrate Halloween beyond making sure I have a packet of something to give to the one or two children who might turn up with their parents.

But I know that a large number of you lovely readers, and quite a few of my friends here in Switzerland, do celebrate it! So I decided to revisit my Kawaii Halloween Cupcake Toppers and to play with the design a little! I’ve come up with two designs (the other I’ll share with you next week) to make some easy gift boxes.

This gift box template could be used for Halloween, for a Ghoulish Birthday Party, or just as a gift box for your favourite Goth or Kawaii fan.
 

Kawaii Halloween Boxes- Ghosty

 
Each box comes to 130mm x 115mm and is 40mm deep. The inside compartment is (at it’s widest) 115mm x 80mm. They’re fairly large, but you can easily scale them down if you want something smaller. Just make sure to scale all the templates the same percentage.

To make this little Kawaii Ghosty, you just need to print out the three templates in the PDF file attached onto A4 card stock. Use the thickest you can get through your printer. I used 200gsm.
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Gluten-free Vanilla Sugar Cookies

Gluten-free Vanilla Sugar Cookies

 

One of the most talked about parts of Munchkin’s birthday party were the cookies we gave away as gifts. My wonderfully talented friend Nikki from Toute Sweet took some time out with her friend Summer from The Sweet Life, who is also a very talented cookie decorator, to make these stunning cookies.

I adapted Nikki’s sugar cookie recipe (gifted to me at Christmas with a bottle of her delicious homemade vanilla essence) and baked a batch of cookies. She then took my gift box template design (more info on those in the next few weeks) and garnered inspiration from this amazing cookie design to come up with these!  They fit the theme, invitations and gift boxes perfectly.

 

Munchkin's first birthday

 

Unfortunately I couldn’t get them wrapped and into the boxes without damaging some of the wings as they sit up from the cookie; and so decided to wrap them loosely in cellophane bags and to gift them separately. But this worked splendidly as it gave everyone ample opportunity to have a good look at them. They’re just beautiful!

Here’s the adapted recipe, for those of you who like me, love sugar cookies but can’t eat them due to health reasons. The cookies are slightly more crumbly than a normal glutenous sugar cookie, but when they were fresh out of the oven had a lovely snap! Just keep them in an air tight container and they should maintain their crispness.

 

Gluten-free Vanilla Sugar Cookies

 

Gluten-free Vanilla Sugar Cookies

 

Ingredients
  • 500 grams of unsalted butter
  • 40 grams of caster sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 15ml of vanilla essence
  • 700 grams of Schaer patisserie mix C or your preferred gluten-free flour mix
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons of xanthan gum
  • 1 teaspoon of baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon of salt

 

Method
  • Cream the butter and sugar together.
  • Add eggs and vanilla, beating well after each addition.
  • Sift all of the dry ingredients together.
  • Add the flour mixture slowly, until well combined. But try to avoid over-mixing.
  • Wrap the dough in cling film and place in the fridge for half an hour.
  • Roll cooled dough between pieces of baking paper. I used 3mm rolling guides to ensure an even thickness.
  • Place in the freezer for half an hour, ensuring it’s flat.
  • Pre-heat your oven to 180 degrees celsius.
  • Taking the rolled from the freezer, quickly cut out into the shapes you want, lying out on new pieces of baking paper. And place cookies back into the freezer for ten minutes.
  • Take cookies directly from the freezer and place in the oven. The baking of frozen cookies ensures that they keep their shape and don’t spread. The batch I didn’t freeze spread more than I was happy with.
  • Bake for 8 to 12 minutes or until edges are a light golden brown.
  • Take the cookies from the oven and allow to cool on the baking tray, don’t try to remove them from the baking paper until cooled or they’ll crumble. The cookies become much firmer as they cool.
  • Decorate to your hearts desire!

 

 

Gift box photo by Hayley Hay