A real house. Bricks and Mortar. With the boyfriend.
Good god. And my mother is jumping for joy after effectively kicking be out the nest – charming.
Not only are we buying a house but we are moving an hour and a half away from our friends. and family. and most importantly, the dogs….. But ya know we all have to get on the ladder and to be honest the earlier the better. Right?
It sounds like I hate the place but it’s actually a really pretty, 1 (soon to be 2) bedroom, tiny period cottage in the middle of Midhurst, complete with a courtyard. Sounds idyllic right? Except one rather large change is that “I HAVE TO LIVE WITH A BOY!” (Monica Gellar, 1999)
So naturally I have been pinteresting like crazy, trying to create some sort of vision of what our first home should be. Now I know it needs more than a lick of paint, Nathan (the boyfriend) on the other hand has created a full plan and budget for an attic and kitchen extension, bathroom and kitchen refit, hardwood floors, fitted wardrobes, new doors and windows, and wood burning fireplace (if im lucky) all to be completed by September 2018!
I may now find part of this blog dedicated to DIY, interior design, conflict of tastes and how not to spend your money!
So these are super yummy and so easy to make! I actually cheated and have used the M&S Percy Pigs and friends sweets, as well as the Phizzy Pig Tails. However they were very much a crowd pleaser regardless!
I started by whipping up a normal Victoria sponge recipe:
6oz – Caster Sugar
6oz – Butter
3 Free Range Eggs
6oz – Self Rising Flour
1 pack of Oreos (I LOVE Oreo bottom cupcakes)
Cream the butter and sugar together until smooth, then add the flour and the eggs.
Place an Oreo in the bottom of each cupcake case
Fill each cupcake case 2/3’s full and bake for about 20-30 minutes until golden on top. Be sure to test they are baked all the way through by inserting a skewer into a cupcake- if it comes out clean they are ready!
Remove the cupcakes from the oven and leave to cool for a few minutes in their tray, then leave them on a wire rack to cool. Super Simple!
For these cupcakes I used three types of icing:
Butter and icing sugar – For the Sheep and Cows
Coco powder, butter and icing sugar – The mud for the Pigs
Water and icing sugar – The back grounds for the Pigs and Cows
Separate the Percy pigs and friends into animal sections so you can see how many cupcakes you can make of each animal.
I started with the sheep first- Make a batch of butter cream using:
10oz Icing sugar (sieved)
5oz butter (room temperature)
1-2 tablespoons milk
Cream the butter and then add half the icing sugar, and beat until smooth. Then add the second half of the icing sugar and one table-spoon of milk and again beat until smooth.
Fit a small star icing nozzle onto a piping bag and pipe little dots of icing closely together onto the cupcake to create the wool of the sheep. Once you have used enough for all of the sheep set the remaining icing aside as we will be using this again later.
This part is for the background of the Pigs and Cows
250g icing sugar
A few drops lemon juice
A few drops of green and red food colouring
Mix all the ingredients together but don’t add the food colouring
Separate the mixture into two bowls and colour one pink and one green
Distribute these colours on the remaining cupcakes in accordance to the number of Pigs and Cows you have
Mud for the Pigs
2.5 oz icing sugar
2.5 oz coco powder (sieved)
2.5 oz butter
1 tablespoon of Milk
Mix all of the ingredients together and place a nice blob (about the size of a bottle lid) on top of the pink cupcakes
Stick a Phizzy Pig Tail into the back of the cupcake and a Pig face on the front and VOILA Pigs in mud!
Grass for the Sheep and Cows
Add a few drops of green food colouring to the remaining butter cream icing
Fit the grass icing nozzle to an icing bag
Ice little tufts of grass onto the Sheep bodies so they look like they are munching on grass, then place the Sheep faces onto the cupcake
Ice tufts of grass onto the remaining green cupcakes and then place the Cow faces on top.
So as the title suggests I created (and successfully may I add – If I do say so myself) a three-tier, triple layered, Victoria Sponge cake, filled with fresh Strawberries and Mascarpone Icing, decorated with fresh summer fruit and flowers. It was a very very proud moment.
I enlisted my sister and her batty best friend (aka the next generation of AbFab) to help decorate, and thankfully they did not disappoint!
Thankfully I did a test run which wasn’t overly successful. But we did learn a couple of lessons.
Lesson 1: Bake each layer of each cake individually. This results in a higher cake overall, no sinkage and essentially a perfect layer. It may take a little longer, but it also means you don’t have the daunting task of having to cut the cake into three equal layers.
Lesson 2: Brush each layer with sugar syrup – top, bottom and all the way around the edges. No one likes a dry cake, so moist cakes all the way please!
Lesson 3: Don’t add Vanilla Essence to the Mascarpone icing, or over whip. This results in curdled icing, and you have to try to rescue it! Emphasis on the try. Instead just add two table spoons of icing sugar to a pot of 250g of Mascarpone cheese and stir through.
Lesson 4: A rather obvious one but don’t snack on the Strawberries that you are using for the filling and decoration of your cake. I ran out and the cake ended up looking some Raspberry and Blueberry chess board theme – not what we were going for.
Lesson 5: Do “borrow” flowers from the florist at the venue, to ensure the cake is in keeping with the colour scheme. I used 3 big roses for the top of the cake and finished it off with lots of different flowers from the arrangements.
Lesson 6: Do use doweling and cake boards for stacking the cake. Once each layer was iced and stacked, I placed it onto its cake board and inserted the dowels and cut them to the correct height. Each layer was then wrapped in clingfilm and placed in the freezer overnight. Freezing the cake overnight helps with the delivery as it minimizes the risk of the cake collapsing in the car (this has happened to me before). It then defrosts on the way to the venue where the cakes are then stacked and decorated.
Lesson 7: Make sure each cake board is the correct size for each tin, except for the bottom board. The bottom board should be big enough for decorating the base of the cake.
My tin sizes were 15cm, 20cm and 28cm
I used a Mary Berry recipe and increased the quantities for each tin size. The measurements below were used for the 15cm tin.
8oz caster sugar
6oz self rising flour
2 tsp of baking powder
Grease the tins and line the base with baking paper
Combine the butter, sugar, flour and baking powder. Then add the eggs one at a time
Divide the mixture evenly between 3
Bake for about 20 minutes until golden and firm
Turn out onto a wire rack to cool and brush with sugar syrup
Once the cake is cool, it is now ready to ice, freeze and decorate… Good Luck!