Monday, 25 November 2013

Gingerbread Houses . . . Not just for Christmas!

This has been a most exciting week!  I have had requests for all kinds of makes and bakes to be made.  Hannah's custom projects :) ... Loving that people are asking me to get creative for them, getting me to design and make specific things for their family, friends and businesses!
First up was one of my hand-sewn name and date of birth onesies that I first made in May... I made a 2nd for a friend's baby, and through Instagram somebody else made a request for one!  Yey!  I have been thinking about putting them on Etsy for a while now so it was a great feeling to have somebody ask for one ahead of this.  I guess it is time to put them on now!!  
2nd on the books this week was an incredibly cool request that I'll be talking about today...
And then thirdly, you'll get to read about some festive mini cupcakes I got to bake for a great cause :)  Stay tuned for that one!  And follow me on Instagram for some sneak peeks!
So the full reveal of..............
Gingerbread houses... Not just for Christmas!  No way.  This particular request came from a genius little boy's brain, who had asked for not just any old regular cake for his 6th birthday party, but a gingerbread house!
What an amazing idea!  So earlier in the week I got an email from a friend, whose boss was the Mom of the birthday boy asking me, as the person she thought might be able to do this if I would be up for creating this!
I of course said yes and my brain started whirring with ideas...  I asked the Mom what her son liked, the kinds of candy he enjoyed and his name and age.  I hoped to incorporate as many things as I could. 
Mainly, when she told me her son liked Lego and Star Wars my brain totally tuned in to the Lego idea.  So many colours to choose from, the Lego candy bricks I had always seen but never used and just a lot of fun to be had with this idea.... So that's what I went with :)
I had been told that the birthday boy was a big candy fan, not so much about the chocolate but definitely loved any kind of candy.  This worked for me!  I started with these supplies (way too many in the end but I didn't know, and hate being stuck without something I need at the last minute)... I didn't use all of these for the final product, but they were available for me to choose from! 
With it being the week of the party already, and a full week at work going on as well I offered two options to choose from... The family chose for me to customise and decorate a pre-baked gingerbread house.  I used a Wilton house from Michaels because it was a plain house, without the pre-etched windows and doors.  I was really happy with this kit, all the pieces were great and it even came with bonus candy, fondant and icing (which I personally didn't use, but can see it would be useful for a fun holiday activity!). 
I actually chose to use my own royal icing using a recipe I have used in the past, and knew that it would set up nice and hard, meaning the house would stay built... The wise man built his house upon the rocks after all!  Royal icing is like a baker's glue and this one sure did keep everything rock solid!
2 egg whites whisked together with a teaspoon lemon juice and 3 cups icing sugar did the trick and I used almost all of it, with a little left for the emergency repair kit I gave along with the house!  I hope they didn't have to use it!!
So the building began.. Saturday morning I spent at work, so after lunch I got right to building so the structure would have time to set before decorating.  I also chose not to use the cardboard square that came with the kit, instead sticking the house to a square silver cake board with room around the edges for more design and decoration.

I added a secret message on the inside of the house hehe!

So once the house was built I gave it a couple of hours to dry up.  Meanwhile, I started laying bricks!
One stretch across the top of the roof... and then walls around the side of the house.  This was SUPER fun to build!  Using a palette knife (a cake version not an actual bricklayers tool!) and royal icing, I stuck the edges and the bottoms of each brick to one another, and made a Lego brick wall of varying heights.   

I love how this came together, and I think it definitely made the gingerbread house identifiable as a Lego house :) 
Next up was all the piping... I chose to write 'Foster' (the birthday boy's name) and a 6 on each side of the roof.   
I used lots of colourful round sprinkles in the 6 to make it really bright and fun, and had chosen these particular sprinkles as they totally reminded me of the small circle dots on the top of every Lego piece.  But I chose to leave the name totally white, I thought it contrasted really well with the brown of the gingerbread and really 'popped' :)

So you can see I also chose these mini M+Ms for the outline of the roof.  Again, I loved the bright colours of these and the round dots again reminiscent of Lego piece circles.   Using a thick layer of royal icing I did each length of the roof at a time and then followed a pattern of the M+Ms.  I don't know how it happened, but the order of colours fit perfectly!  Yey colour patterns!!

I also chose the M+Ms for the outline of the door, and piped the window and door handle with the same white royal icing.
Once the brick walls were stuck against the house walls I put in the candy standing in each corner.  Mini sour gummies standing on top of each other like a column.  Who doesn't want more candy?!  This was for a 6 year old's birthday party after all =)

Now to tell you about the final touch I added to the house. Chocolate Lego men!!  I actually bought a Lego ice cube tray for my husband's stocking (oh wait, I mean "Santa" brought him this!!) a couple of years ago... and whilst it hasn't been used a tonne for actual ice cubes I thought this would be a perfect chance to try it more of a silicone mold and melting some chocolate wafers and letting them set up in the Lego man shape! 
They worked pretty well, and I'd definitely try this again, probably with different colours next time too!
And here's where I give my genius husband lots of credit for this particular idea... He suggested, what if I chop off a Lego man's legs and then reattach them to make them sitting down!  I loved it, and it worked pretty well, so I stuck a couple of sitting down guys on top of each side of the house, just hiding out, chilling on the wall, and a few standing on the back wall :)
So, Lego brick walls done... Candy columns done... Roof decorations and all the piping work done... I just doubled up on some of the piping, making things a little neater and, although it was hard to believe, I think it was done!!!
Photo time of course... sadly it was evening by then and the photos aren't as bright as I would have liked, but I couldn't magic the daylight back, and it was going to be an early delivery Sunday morning and I wanted it all packed up and safe by then!


So don't get me wrong, I love the traditional Winter gingerbread house designs, but big respect and credit to the birthday boy's imagination here to have a gingerbread house for a birthday cake!

Happy Birthday to Foster, hope you and your friends had a great party and enjoyed the Lego gingerbread house :-D

Sunday, 17 November 2013

Eggsterminate! Eggsterminate!

Saturday 23rd November is nearly here!  Which means a night in, watching the 50th Anniversary Doctor Who special!  I am so excited for this episode, bringing back past doctors, getting a little Billie Piper in my life again, as well as more adventures with our current favourites :)

In preparation for next Saturday's big episode (check out the trailer here and get excited!), I thought this would be a perfect time to blog a quick post about my Christmas present I made for my Dad last year.

A Doctor Who inspired TARDIS Egg Cosy!!

I decided to make the boys of my family each an egg cosy out of felt, and for my Dad, the correct choice was a TARDIS :)  He is a big Doctor Who fan and has been for like, well... forever... And he's the reason I love it so much as well, so thanks Dad!!

He really loved it!  And then our Christmas, spent with my family in England got even more Doctor Who-y when we took a trip to Sheffield and found this Dalek and TARDIS outside the City Hall in the Peace Gardens!  So cool :-D

So, pre-Christmas 2012 I started off with a quick template on paper to gauge the size of the egg cosy.  I had to make sure that once the sides of the felt were stitched together that the cosy would still go around an egg!  I used staples to just quickly check this out and then used this as an idea for sizing when I cut out the felt.
I used a dark navy blue shade of felt for the TARDIS general shape and got to work cutting 2 pieces of this out.  I worked on the front side first, adding the other shades of blue and white before stitching the two sides of the TARDIS together.  However, I did stitch a general outline for the window squares on the sewing machine.

I hand stitched the window frame for the top two windows, the door handles and also the
Police Public Call Box' sign on the top before hot glueing all the pieces down.

To finish everything off I stitched the two sides together and checked it still fit over an egg!!

All done and that was a handmade gift of 2012 already made, about to travel in time and space for the Christmas holidays!... As in, travelling 8 hours across the Atlantic Ocean in a plane only to arrive to a 5 hour difference in time zone :-P

These handmade gifts last year were before I even began blogging.  So while I've been crafting all my life, taking nice photos and writing step-by-step photo tutorials as I go hasn't always been in my thoughts!  These photos today show that... as in fact, I didn't take any photos (that I can find) of these gifts.. BOO!  So these are my Dad's he took for me after Christmas, when I started my blog in January and realised I should probably have them for a post one day....... and today's the day! 
Enjoy Doctor Who this weekend :) 
Let me know if you watched it and what you thought!

Monday, 11 November 2013

Bridal Shower Cupcakes ♥

I am super happy today to be blogging about 52 cupcakes I made this weekend for a special lady's bridal shower yesterday!  I'm a little late with the post, but was busy busy making and decorating these cupcakes, and then of course celebrating at the shower itself ♥
 But here it is, and I'm so happy with how they all turned out!
I was asked by my friend (sister and maid of honour to the bride) to make cupcakes for the brunch which would be a vintage, tea party type brunch at an amazing venue - perfect for this shower.  She and the other bridesmaids did an amazing job putting together all of the decorations, games and food which made it a really, really pretty and fun bridal shower!  I think the bride-to-be had a great time!
Mostly I am so happy to be asked to make these for the shower.  It is the first time I have had the chance to bake SO many cupcakes for one event and was given a little inspiration from this picture which the sister and maid-of-honour showed me, giving me the idea of how the event would look and the ideas that they were having!
Cupcakes in Lace
So of course, I got to work in my brain, planning out lots of different ideas, thinking about how I could make this work - in a Sew Lah Tea Dough way!  I didn't want to fully recreate these cupcakes, but instead, put a personal spin on these as well as matching the bride, the party itself and everything I could to tie in my cupcakes to the shower.
The bridesmaids had made some really amazing brown paper invitations with ribbon and button embellishments, so that was a personal inspiration that I knew would be used in the shower itself. 
So two different designs were born... 1, a pretty in pink look with similar tags stuck in, with lace and pearl inspirations.  2, a button inspired vintage feel design.

At the family Summer bash in July I made this cake - a nautical themed Earl Grey Tea cake with Orange Buttercream.  This flavour was a hit with young and old and so this was the requested flavour for the bridal shower too :)  Super happy to get the chance to make this cake again but I changed it up just a little bit.  But how perfect, a tea flavoured cake for a Sunday Bridal Shower Brunch with pretty tea cups and saucers!  I chose to do a lemon buttercream this time to match the citrus flavours you can taste in Earl Grey tea.  I chose orange buttercream last time to tie the earl grey to the marzipan to the buttercream but this time there would be no marzipan, only the cake, fondant decorations on top of the buttercream, so I chose a slightly different flavour.  (Just happens to be my favourite hehe!).

Now you know the inspiration for the designs, and the flavour it's time for the photos :-)

Fondant day was first!  I wanted to get the cupcake decorations made and ready so that on baking day they would have hardened up, meaning they (hopefully) wouldn't go soft once they were placed on the buttercream.  (*It worked!*) ... and it also meant that they were made and done ahead of time, giving me the afternoon before the party to really work on getting them baked and decorated already knowing what would be placed on top ... all I had to decide was the colour combinations.

Here are my supplies for fondant day!  I was excited to use my new Wilton fabric silicone mould which included great button shapes.  I coloured the fondant with a variety of colours, some bright, some more muted, generally going for blues, teals, browns, purples and pinks trying to match the vintagey-feel.  I also used my heart punch for some little love accents which I used on a few of the cupcakes.

I really LOVE working with fondant, creating new shapes, colours and generally just playing around with it all :-)

And for the other design I had been busy working during the week before to create the tags to go on top of the pretty in pink pearl cupcake. 

I used the 'Love Letter TW' - typewriter font and printed out various text on pink card stock that I would use to cut out with my tag cutter!  I chose to use 'I do', 'bride-to-be', 'love' and 'l&r' (the bride and groom's initials).  I also cut out brown paper tags in the same size that I would back the pink ones with.

I used a toothpick in the middle, and glued the two together.  I also then used stick on pearls to decorate the tags.  I had edible pearls for the cakes so thought this would match well. 

Fondant toppers made and drying out... Tags all put together... Doilies cut and made to make the lace-look cupcake wrappers and I was ready to...... BAKE!

52 cupcakes were baked, and I had bought 2 huge cupcake boxes from the amazing Golda's Kitchen which would fit 48 (so I guess that left over a few for the boys happily watching football until clean up time :-P).

I used almost the same recipe as last time I baked these cupcakes and so you can find the step-by-step picture tutorial there, but I've also included the recipe at the end of this post - it is so delicious, hope you get to try it!

I used a 1A large open decorating tip for the button cupcakes which I decorated first.  I wanted to make sure the colour combinations were working and they would sit well on the buttercream before the evening got too late!  I chose to use three buttons on each in complementing colours.  Here they are - feeling happy at least half of the cupcakes had worked out and looked good!

Next up was a 1M star tip for a swirl of peach coloured buttercream, three edible pearls dropped into the swirl and then the tag stuck in the middle.  I LOVE how the doily cupcake wrap matched the pink pearl feel and can't wait to make more cupcakes that will need a pretty lacey doily wrap :)

By the end of the night, I was tired and hungry so there's a lack of pictures here, but I knew I had to wait for daylight to get some good photos of the cupcakes so I packed them away for the night!

Until the morning... photo shoot time ♥


Lacey love cupcakes photographed and back in their box...

Time for the buttons! 

Everything packed up ... 2 huge boxes full of cupcakes!  Time for a quick drive up to the shower keeping fingers crossed that no sudden stops had to be made!  It was the first time transporting so many, so I got scared and sat in the back seat with them... All was good (*phew*) and they arrived at the PRETTY bridal shower!  There were some really beautiful platters to put them on, and they sat beside scones, sandwiches, croissants, yummy quiche, kringel, other sweets and an awesome donut tower!
So happy to be a part of this special bridal shower ♥  Can't wait for the big day!

* Keep reading for the recipe below *
For the cake... I'll give you a recipe that will make 16 normal sized cupcakes.  I don't think everyone making this will always want to do 52!


1/2 cup unsalted buter
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 cup flour
2 1/4 baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 eggs
1/2 cup whole milk
3 tbsp loose Earl Grey tea


1.  Preheat oven to 350°F and line cupcake tray with cupcake cases.
2.  Grind the loose leaf tea (using coffee grinder, food processor or by hand) until it is in smaller pieces, but not quite a powder. 
3.  In a small saucepan heat the milk and 1 tbsp of the ground tea - warm slightly.
4.  Remove the saucepan from the heat before it simmers and let it cool, allowing the tea to steep.
5.  While the milk cools, cream the butter and sugar together in a mixer until it is light and fluffy.
6.  Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well between each one.
7.  In a bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, salt and rest of the tea.
8.  Add half of the dry mixture to the batter and stir until combined.
9.  Strain the milk from the saucepan (leaving the loose steeped tea) and add to the mixture.
10.  Add the remaining dry mixture and mix until all combined. 
11.  Divide the batter between the cupcake cases - I found that using a small OXO cookie scoop it took 3 scoops to make a perfect size of cupcake, just to a similar height as the edge of the cupcake liner.
12.  Bake for 20 minutes (until light and springy to the touch, and when a cake tester comes out clean).
13.  Leave to cool completely before frosting/decorating.

For the buttercream frosting, with enough to pipe at least 16-24 depending on the type of piping (and the rest will always keep a little while in the fridge if there are leftovers... just another excuse to bake more cupcakes!!)


18oz icing sugar
12oz unsalted butter
1 tsp lemon extract
2 tbsp whole milk


1.  Beat sugar with the mixer until it is a little soft.
2.  Add icing sugar, extract and milk.
3.  Beat together until combined, soft and creamy.
4.  Pipe with a tip of your choice and decorate as desired!
Enjoy baking these delicious Earl Grey Tea cupcakes ♥
Let me know if you have any questions about the recipe :)