Hey my guys. I’m going to be honest with you. I am SO relieved that 2018 is done. And I KNOW I’m not the only one. I just feel like it was one of my more trying years. Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad it happened. There were a LOT of lessons to be learned. A LOT of self discovery and a lot of GOOD times too. It was a new beginning for Kyle and I. We moved to Inverness and had to adapt and adjust…and so far so good. We’re learning to appreciate each other more, not to take each other for granted, and to communicate!!! And I have high hopes for us.
I still struggle every day with my feelings. I struggle with my depression daily, but most days, I’m doing pretty good. I’m watching my children grow in to amazing human beings. And realising that however much I doubt my parenting abilities, I think we’re doing a pretty alright job of it.
I got my businesswoman pants on and had some interviews and landed a job at Starbucks!!! ☕️
I work there now part time as a shift supervisor and oh my goodness I am LOVING IT! I’ve met some incredible people and made some great connections. It gives me some breathing space from my hectic home life with cakes, candles and kids…and it’s a sort of refuge. And free coffee…we can’t forget that! 🤪 I even made a sweet little Starbucks charm bracelet that is available to buy on my Donut Eat Bakery page 😍☕️
I made the solo driving journey to Cake International in Birmingham to promote my candles from Donut Eat Bakery (Buy One Get One Free at the moment) and the response was soooo fantastic! I learned so much about myself and my abilities on that trip, and I realised my capabilities. A 12 hour drive one way will do that to a gal 😬😅
I got to spend some quality time with my best friend in Vancouver and we have been talking about our future plans and business ideas…and she’s planning a visit here soon too!! 🙌🏻
So now that I’m writing it all down…I’m realising that 2018 really wasn’t such a bad year. Emotionally and mentally, hell yes! But I’m done with that. I’m putting me first. I’m walking away from the pain and hurt and senseless conversations. I’m going to grow as a person, as a mother, a wife, a friend and just a soul in general. I have so much more of myself to give. And my loves, I’m going to dream. I’m going to make things happen.
This year I haven’t made any resolutions. Not any fitness ones, or even business ones for that matter. I have decided though, that I’m not going to let myself stress and worry about the things that I have no control over. I’m going to live in the now. I’ve got goals in mind of course, but I’m not going to beat myself up if I miss a deadline.
I’m not going to sweat the small stuff. Because my guys, it really is all small stuff. I wholeheartedly believe that we need to ALL live in the now.
I’m going to be the best version of myself that I can be…and all I ask is that you guys do the same. In my opinion, that’s the most important thing. Do everything with love and kindness. Give where you can. Ask for help when you need it, and to quote the Dalai Llama… ‘Our purpose in life is to help others, and if we can’t help them, at least don’t hurt them’. And that really resonates with me.
This year I’ve also gone vegan. My love of animals and of our planet and what we’re doing to our home saddens me so so much. I’ve been vegetarian for over a year…that was the easy part. Veganism is tough when you start out…and I’ve fallen off the wagon a few times! BUT I’m doing the best I can…and that’s all I can do. So I’m starting again. I’m researching recipes, and I’m finding some fantastic sites that promote all that plant based goodness…which means I’ll be bringing you some gorgeous recipes to try too. Trust me…majority of the time, you wouldn’t even know!
So for my cake business, I have an idea I’ve been toying with. I’m thinking of starting a YouTube series making tutorials for absolute beginners. How to properly bake a cake, how to make fillings, assemble the cakes, and some simple decorations. I mean for the ABSOLUTE beginner. Because cakes are expensive and I understand not everyone can afford them. But I also know that I can’t afford to make them for any less than I do. Soooo I’m willing to give you the tools you’ll need to create your own great tasting cakes. With tips and tricks from the trade starting with the very basics. I think cake artists forget (myself included) that we all had to start somewhere, and that we ALL went through the not knowing how, relying on YouTube (which is a GREAT source), and lots and lots of trial and error. So I’m starting with my very favourite Vanilla Cake Recipe. I’ll have y’all make it by following my instructions…and then using that exact recipe. I’ll make a video on how to fill and stack a perfectly perfect round cake. Ya with me? And what’s more… it’s free. So all you have to do, is subscribe to my blog, my YouTube channel, and we’ll go from there. Sound good?! 🥰
I’m looking forward to this my loves! How about you? X
My Vanilla Cake recipe will be published in my next update….so subscribe today so you’re notified as soon as it comes out!
Wooop! Finally after months of waiting and some minor (they felt major at the time) setbacks, we’re back on course! We’ve moved in to our new home in Inverness and things are looking up. Moving has definitely taken my mind off of things, especially matters of the heart, and it helps that I’m loving our new home. It’s MUCH smaller than our old place, but I prefer that. It just means trying to be much more creative in finding room to store ALL my cake stuff, and making it more of a home.
I think moving house especially somewhat long distances is stressful at the best of times, but Kyle and I worked as a team…a pretty good one at that, and we got everything packed and unpacked in what felt like far too long…and we’re still working on the unpacking bit. And although we closed a very big chapter in our life story..the next one is going to be even more exciting, I’m sure of it. I’m smiling now just thinking of the move itself. Story time!
I don’t know about you guys, but I have a weakness for chocolate brownies…that’s a bit redundant isn’t it? Aren’t all brownies chocolate?! 🤷🏻♀️ Brownies seem to be the quintessential North American treat so growing up in South Africa, we never really had Brownies. I grew up with Chocolate Crunchies (an Oats and golden syrup type concoction) which are to DIE FOR… *making a mental note to add these to my list of postables* Coconut Ice, Sugary Tablet, Stormjaers (fried doughnuts with raisins, rolled in sugar), oh hell, now I’m having an oil flashback from my youth and I’m gonna share with y’all.
The past few weeks have been emotionally taxing to say the least. Kyle has been working down south and coming up to see the babies as much as he can…but because life can get in the way, and he’s trying his best to take care of us, he’s had to stay down for a couple of weeks at a time. And they’re missing him. And I know he’s missing them. I just want to stop right now and say a little shout out to ALL those single mamas. Doing this parenting stuff alone for weeks on end is NOT for the faint hearted. It’s crazy! And working from home doesn’t make it any easier. Right now, because we’re having such AMAZING weather (I’m NOT complaining, I swear!) they’ve been soaking up the sun shine….A LOT..and as fabulous as that sounds, it’s taking its toll on all of us.
This particular blog has very little, actually NOTHING to do with cake…or charms, or candles…I just feel quite passionate about this subject 😆 Today we woke up to GLORIOUS weather. I mean, warm from the get go, a very mild breeze and in the north of Scotland…that’s definitely something to blog about. So, I have a wedding cake to do this weekend, and I was planning on starting my buttercream flowers but then remembered it was sports day…and I’m not gonna lie…sports day for me, has got to be HANDS DOWN the WORST school event ever. It’s mind numbingly boring to be watching hours and hours worth of kids you don’t know even know running from one end of the field to another whether it be egg and spoon, three legged or some sort of obstacle course. And guys I KNOW how much effort the teachers put in and I TOTALLY appreciate their efforts, I do. But just no. Nope, it’s not my cup of tea.
Hey my loves, this is kinda a tough blog to write. Tough in that what I came here to say is more than likely going to have quite a few opinions. And y’all are entitled to your opinions, of course. But to be SO SO respectful and in the kindest way possible… I don’t really want to know them. Because what I’m here to say isn’t to create drama or obtain sympathy. I think it’s important. Important because I…WE need to show other couples going through similar situations….that divorce and separation is TOTALLY doable in a non toxic, beautiful, loving and respectful manner. Not just for the kids…but for EVERYONE involved. Do you guys remember when Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin went through what they called a ‘conscious uncoupling’? I do. And I remember thinking ‘what the HECK is that all about?!’ Turns out, I’m just as hippy ish and New Age as I thought I was 😬😅
It’s been ages my friends, and I apologise…my life has been very crazy with the move from Thurso to little old Kingussie….you’re gonna have to google it. It’s quaint and just gorgeous…. so so beautiful. It’s been quite a big transformation for my babies as well. They’re settling in with new friends, new surroundings and they’re doing alright….a few hiccups here and there, but that’s to be expected and I’m just so proud of them. While myself and husband are settling in I’m feeling a little lost. Don’t get me wrong, my extended family is amazing! I’m enjoying the frivolous coffee mornings and not having to be any place at a given time….as long as I’m there to collect the kids from school but also, I’m not one to remain idle for too long. I’m a born dreamer, I’m curious and I’m always learning. So this break, as chaotic as it started, is giving me the chance to hone my skills as a Cake decorator.
Those of you who know me well enough….know I like simple. I was always that girl who had to do everything by the book, follow all the rules, the people pleaser. Even if it meant sacrificing my own happiness. Alllll my recipes were made from scratch, god forbid I ever used a cake mix from a box and every bit of lemon curd, caramel or even jam was made fresh.
Gone are those days. Because I’m a mom, because I’m older and dare I say wiser. And also. It doesn’t matter! What matters is that I create a cake that tastes spectacular and my clients keep coming back for more. Am I right? Now as a rule, I don’t generally use cake mixes, only because in my humble opinion….they taste a tad too chemical-ey to me. But if you’re a cake mix kinda baker…you’ve got to choose the RIGHT buttercream. It will make or break your cake! (Wooop, I just rhymed!) I only make Swiss Meringue Buttercream. Yes, it’s more time consuming, yes, you have to mix over a hot stove….I’m all out of cons…see?! Now the pro’s!
It’s an incredibly tasty buttercream. It’s smooth, it melts in your mouth in a way no other buttercream can, it’s very stable when it comes to stacking wedding cakes as well as carving cakes. It’s not as sweet as your typical buttercream, and it’s just so more-ish (I guess that could be seen as a con)….Anyway
This recipe came in to my life about 8 years ago. The only time I use any other frosting or filling is when a) a client requests it or b) a client is vegan or cannot have dairy.
It’s just so incredibly versatile and suits ANY cake. It’s so light that it’s perfect for red velvet, and carrot cake…MINUS the cream cheese. I use it for cupcakes, piping flowers, writing on cakes. I flavour it with jam, extracts, curds, chocolate, fresh fruit, freeze dried fruit. The options are endless. (More pro’s)
Do you remember the scene in Willy Wonka (the old version) where Mr. Wonka is discussing with Charlie about inventing an ice cream that would never melt?! Well I think this is as close to that unmeltable ice cream that we’ll get. It literally tastes like vanilla ice-cream.
I have never tried making Swiss Meringue Buttercream with a butter substitute. So if anyone has, I would love to hear your thoughts.
So here goes
10oz egg whites (8 large eggs)
21oz granulated or caster sugar (you can even substitute brown sugar for a more caramel flavour. This WILL affect the colour of your Buttercream)
625g unsalted butter (2 1/2 British blocks)
1tbsp vanilla extract or flavouring of your choice
pinch of salt
Boil some water in a saucepan in order to make a Bain Marie.
Combine your egg whites and Sugar in a heatproof bowl and give it a good mix. I use my trusty rubber spatula for this. Be sure to scrape down the sides of your bowl. You don’t want ANY Sugar clinging to the sides.
Set the bowl over your boiling water and continue to mix being sure to scrape down the sides regularly.
At this point you really want to watch the mixture as you don’t want your eggs to curdle. This will start at the sides of the bowl. If it does start to curdle continue mixing in and remove any clumps that you may have. This won’t affect the outcome of your buttercream but it can be a pain when piping and you get the cooked eggs clogging the piping tip 🙄
You can absolutely use a thermometer here….I don’t. I just dip 2 fingers in the mixture, rub them together and if the mixture is very smooth I take it off the heat. If I can still feel any granules of sugar keep mixing until all the sugar is dissolved.
Take the mixture off the heat and allow to sit for a few minutes. I do this so that when I add my butter later it’s not all going to melt at once which will just take longer to get to the whipped stage.
Using a stand mixer (whisk attachment) or even a hand held, whip the meringue until medium peaks form. This will take about 8-10 minutes.
Add your chunks of butter, vanilla and salt. Technically you’re supposed to add your butter slowly, incorporating each bit by bit. But y’all I DO NOT have time for such nonsense.
If you’re using your stand mixer, change to your paddle attachment. Whip your mixture until all the butter is incorporated. At this point it might look a bit soupy. The secret to Swiss Meringue Buttercream? Just keep mixing! (Dory’s ‘just keep swimming’ totally went through your mind didn’t it?)
Your mixture will start to look like it’s curdling. Yay!! That’s normal. Then all of a sudden, right before your eyes, it will all start coming together and start looking like whipped cream. PERFECT! And that, my loves, is how you make Easy Fool Proof Swiss Meringue Buttercream 👌❤️
This makes enough to fill and cover 2 8inch cakes. You can absolutely half the recipe or even better, freeze what you don’t need. All you do to reconstitute it is to throw it in the microwave until it starts to melt slightly or if you don’t have a microwave, simply heat it over a bain marie. Don’t melt ALL the buttercream, because then you’ll have to cool it down again in order to whisk it up.
Let me know if you have any questions in the comments below!
Banana bread was always a staple in my house growing up. Whenever there was a ripe banana in sight my mom would make her gorgeous banana bread. Over the years she’s changed her recipe, but it still tastes the same. Beautifully moist, dense and extremely moreish. We’d eat it with lashings of butter and it always, always tasted better when it was a few days old wrapped in tin foil to let the flavours develop.
My husband also loves banana bread and when we first met I used to make it at every opportunity. He complains now that I never make it any more, but there is a reason for this. Our 4 year old has a huge love of bananas and along with his dad…they must go through at least 15 bananas a week! If and when I remember to hide them, there will be a noticeable shortage of banana bread in the house.
Every so often, we do get a few bananas going a little ripe. When this happens I quickly freeze them, so as to have then on hand when the need arises. Here’s a take on my mom’s delicious banana bread. Check out her other recipes on her Facebook page. You’ll find more home comforts and traditional South African recipes. 🇿🇦 ❤️
3 very ripe bananas, mashed (the ripe the better!!!)
100mls vegetable oil
200g brown sugar (the recipe calls for white, but brown sugar gives the banana bread a denser more flavourful loaf….sorry mama)
175g all purpose flour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
Using a mixer, wooden spoon or simply a fork, mix together the brown sugar and oil.
Add the eggs and mix until incorporated. Throw in the flour, bicarb. Give it a mix until there are no lumps, then add the mashed banana.
Pour into a lined loaf pan (I use a silicon mould, no greasing required) and bake at 180 degrees C for an hour.
Let cool, unmold and serve with butter….my husband enjoys it slathered with peanut butter too x