Monday, 31 July 2017

Stripe Cupcakes & Decorating Biscuits Three Ways with Cake Decor - PLUS WIN A Fabulous Cake Decor Bundle...

Today I'm bringing you a super fun collaboration post. 

Recently I've been working with the fabulous people at Cake Decor - who sell an amazing range of baking decoration supplies. You may have already come across their products on the shelves of major supermarkets like Waitrose, Sainsbury's, Asda, Tesco, Morrisons, The Range & Wilkos. Each of the fabulous products in the range is designed to require minimum effort but produce maximum effect. 

Included in their current range is:


The folks at Cake Decor sent me an awesome selection of their bestsellers and asked me to put them through their paces. So with the summer holidays ahead and teachers gifts to sort out for the end of July - over the past few months Bert and I have been getting our bake on, and enjoying experimenting with new to us products. 

Cake Decor Products
Amazing collection of Cake Decor goodies to keep us busy! 

The first product Bert was desperate to try was the two colour stripes cupcake frosting - this really appealed to me as I know how much work, time and how many ingredients go into making coloured/flavoured buttercream, especially when you have to spoon into piping bags - it can all get very messy and certainly isn't a very child-centred baking activity. These ready-to-squeeze tubes make two tone buttercream an absolute dream, and Bert really loved having a go at doing it himself.

We baked up a batch of our favourite super simple vanilla fairy cakes and once they were cool we got to work piping the striped frosting straight from the tube. 

Bert with his fairy cake batter ready for baking
Bert with his fairy cake batter ready for baking

our fairy cakes fresh from the oven
our fairy cakes fresh from the oven

Cake Decor Two Colour Stripes Cupcake Frosting: Strawberry & Vanilla
Cake Decor Two Colour Stripes Cupcake Frosting: Strawberry & Vanilla

Don't they look fabulous? Not only was the final result aesthetically really impressive, but the frosting was truly delicious too - it had such a nice texture and a real depth of flavour without seeming artificially over-sweet. 

The only slight negative I found with this product is that at almost 4 years old, Bert found this a little tricky to squeeze out - you do need to be fairly strong and have good coordination to be able to pipe the frosting out successfully.  He gave it a good go though, and was more than happy to watch me make them look pretty and scoff them as soon as I was done. Kids eh? 

After creating strawberry and chocolate versions of our stripe cupcakes we moved on to decorating biscuits. 

Here are three different ways you can use Cake Decor products to decorate biscuits. 

Firstly, here's a truly child-centred activity which is a perfect way to entertain bored children...

Simple biscuit decorating for Children using Cake Decor goodies

Firstly, choose a pre-made/supermarket bought plain biscuit if choice - we chose Rich Tea, but a Digestive or any other plain biscuit with large surface area would work well. 

Next, create a batch of simple runny icing by mixing icing sugar with either a little water, or lemon juice depending on preferences. You want the icing to be a spreadable consistency. 

Finally, pop a selection of exciting Cake Decor decorations such as Hundreds and Thousands, sugar balls, micro marshmallows and glitter sugar into separate bowls easy for little hands to access. 

I found it best to show Bert and his friend Lucy (who had come round to play) the decorating process first, before letting them loose on all the goodies. Spread your plain biscuit with icing, then sprinkle/arrange your Cake Decor goodies all over the icing until you're happy with your design. 

Let the biscuits set slightly (if you can wait) before eating them. 

Bert and Lucy had so much fun doing this, and it kept them amused for well over half an hour - not including the peace and quiet we got while they ate some too! 

Biscuit decorating heaven with Cake Decor
Biscuit decorating heaven with Cake Decor
Biscuit decorating heaven with Cake Decor
Biscuit decorating heaven with Cake Decor
Bert's Cake Decor Biscuit
Bert's Cake Decor Biscuit
Lucy's Cake Decor Biscuit
Lucy's Cake Decor Biscuit
Bert & Lucy's Cake Decor Biscuits
Bert & Lucy's Cake Decor Biscuits
We had two super-happy children who both got a whole plate of uber-fun biscuits to take home with them after the activity and depending on what decorations you choose you can definitely get this whole activity in for under £5 - making it very budget friendly. 

Next, I was eager to get in some grown up baking time, so one afternoon while Connie slept and Bert was at school I decided to put Cake Decor's Cake Artist Pens to the test and get super creative decorating some handmade vanilla biscuits. 


Handpainted Biscuits using Cake Decor Artist Pens and Wilton Gel Colours


To make 12 biscuits you will need:

Ingredients:

175g plain flour
50 self raising flour
75g granulated sugar
75g salted butter, diced
75g golden syrup
1 egg, lightly beaten 

To decorate (consumables):

250g white ready to roll fondant icing
1/2 tsp Tylo Powder
Cake Decor Cake Artist Pens
Food colour
Alchohol (I used vodka)

To decorare (tools/equipment):

Acyrlic rolling pin
Alphabet stamp set
Icing tool set (cutting wheel, stitch effect, round head)
Artists palette
Fine paintbrushes
Gel food colour set (I use Wilton)
Round cutters
Cake Decor Cake Artist Pens
Pipettes
Edible Glue


Firstly, I prepared my fondant icing using tylo powder to create modelling paste which works brilliantly for decorating biscuits in this manner. I bought my Tylo powder online from Amazon, it lasts absolutely ages as you only really use 1/2 tsp at a time. If you've never used Tylo powder before I suggest using this you tube tutorial, it's how I learnt and it worked perfectly for me. You won't use all of the 250g of modelling paste, but you wrap/store the icing in smaller pieces as part of this tutorial which will mean you can keep whatever's leftover for future baking sessions. 

To bake the biscuits combine the flours and granulated sugar, rub in the diced butter then once light breadcrumbs have formed add the egg and golden syrup to form a dough. I usually roll the dough out between two sheets of baking paper - and then once about 1.5 - 2cm thick I pop the rolled dough into the fridge for half an hour (this firms up the dough making it easier to cut and transfer to a baking tray). 

Mrs Bishop's Biscuit Dough

After half an hour, cut your biscuits into whichever shapes you prefer, the simpler the better for these biscuits, so I went for rounds. Transfer to a baking paper lined tray and bake in a preheated oven at 170℃ for 14-18 minutes until lightly golden. 

Transfer to a wire rack after 5 minutes and leave to cool completely. 

To decorate...

Roll out a piece of your modelling fondant to as thin as you prefer, mine was around 5mm. Use the same size or slightly smaller cutter to cut out round discs with or without fluted/frilled edges. 

In your artists palette using a pipette (if these don't make you feel like a teenager in your Science classroom then I don't know what will!) I bought mine as a job lot on amazon and find them useful for all sorts of baking/craft/parent-y things (!) drop small amounts of vodka into each partition of your palette - then using a cocktail stick mix up some gel colour with the vodka - the more colour you put in the more vibrant the shade, water down with vodka - use them like you would water colour paints for the best effect. 

I used a mixture of painting using these gel/vodka paints, stamping lightly into the icing using alphabet stamps, and stronger colour in the form of Cake Decor Cake Artist Pens. 

I loved playing and just being able to let my artistic streak shine through - there was a lot of experimenting and some of the designs I liked more than others but all in all I was so pleased with the final results. 

I found the Cake Artist pens so fun to use - they provide a very bold colour and are good for simple designs such as stripes, flowers and dots...I'm sure if I played with them for a bit longer I would get the hang of producing more refined artwork, but on this occasion I left that up to my edible watercolours...

The final stage is to attach your decorated icing discs to the biscuits - I just paint on a tiny bit of edible glue (found online or in Lakeland) and press down lightly - the disc will stick fairly quickly and the glue is absolutely edible and has no flavour at all. 

decorating biscuits with edible watercolour

decorating biscuits with edible watercolour
work in progress...

And so here are some of the final results... what do you think? 

hand decorated biscuits

using cake decor cake artist pens

cake decor cake artist pens

cake decor cake artist pens

watercolour biscuits

They were just so fun to make and I think they would make the most amazing gifts - I especially like the fact that you can make them so bespoke and personal depending on the designs and words you use. 

Which was your favourite one? Mine was the flamingo and cactus! 

Teacher Biscuits using Edible Felt Tip Pens by Cake Decor

The final piece of Cake Decor kit I wanted to put through its paces were the edible cake pens - these TOTALLY blew my mind and are by far my favourite decoration effect so far from the Cake Decor collection. 

Not only are these AMAZING for children to use, but they also work brilliantly for adults looking to create a no fuss decoration. 

Our aim for this baking session was to create end of year teacher gifts for Bert's (8!) Pre-School teachers. I used the same biscuit recipe as above (and just doubled it) and luckily I still had plenty of modelling fondant left over to use. 

We made each teacher three biscuits - one with a simple 'Thank You' design, one with the name of their animal work group and a doodle of said animal (E.g. Terrific Tigers, Energetic Elephants etc.) and one with their first name initial. I did a black dotted line of their initial on the fondant, which Bert then traced over (all with the edible pens), much like he does when he's working on his letters at school. 


Cake Decor Cake Pens (Edible)

We used the edible cake pens for all of the decoration and I think the effect is brilliant. Bert managed to use them really well - they work in exactly the same way as a felt tip - so they're totally uncomplicated. I loved the 'colouring in book' look to the designs we created - I think it was especially cute because of the recipients of the biscuits in question.

Thankfully Bert's teachers were very touched by the effort we'd gone to to thank them. 

Bert was SO EXCITED to give them out on his last day of Pre-School; seeing his happy little face made all the work totally worth it. 


Cake Decor Edible Felt Tip Pens
A little 'Thank You' using Cake Decor Edible Cake Pens- icing discs ready to be attached to biscuits. 
Cake Decor Edible Felt Tip Pens on biscuits
Which is your favourite? 
teacher gifts - decorated biscuits
Bert's writing!! *ADORABLE*
teacher gifts - decorated biscuits
A big 'Thank You' in biscuit-form.  

sprinkle bags from HomeSense - teacher gifts
Teacher biscuits all bagged up and ready to give out. (Bags found for £5 in HomeSense)
There you have it - three very fun and very different ways to decorate biscuits from uber-simple to a little more time-consuming but with fab results every time thanks to Cake Decors brill products. 

I have lots more bakes in mind to work my way through the rest of my Cake Decor goodies - including a show stopper 4th Birthday cake for Bert in a few weeks time, so watch this space for a cake post to follow soon. 

GIVEAWAY TIME!

In the meantime, if you'd like to get your hands on a fabulous set of Cake Decor goodies so you too can get creative in the kitchen then please enter my giveaway below via the Gleam app. 

Good luck & happy baking lovely people... 

Mrs B

xxx


Cake Decor Bundle Giveaway from Mrs Bishop's Bakes and Banter

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Monday, 24 July 2017

Introducing Baby and Play: Bedford's Independent Toy Shop PLUS 10% off online and in-store for my readers



Baby and Play is a brand new independent toy shop located in Bedford's Town Centre, just tucked away in Castle Lane behind the High Street (opposite Spaghetti Johns). It's been trading for about 10 weeks, but owners (and parents of 5!) Kirstie Williams and her partner Adam Share are in the midst of exciting shop renovations which will result in a much bigger shop floor come the autumn. While renovations happen the shop will still be trading, but be prepared for an even more exciting place to shop with your kids later this year...!

As it stands currently Baby and Play is still absolutely the most child-centred, fun and parent-friendly toy shop I've ever visited. Usually, visiting a toy shop with the kids in tow is an absolute nightmare - they want to touch/lick/buy everything and I want a glass of wine two minutes after stepping over the threshold! Usually, I end up rushing in, making a super-swift decision and then attempting to get out without bankrupting myself. 

This wasn't an issue at Baby and Play - here the focus is on the kids playing and exploring without being told "don't touch" there are a range of toys out on the shop floor specifically meant for the kids to enjoy playing with, plus there's a colouring table for them to sit at and a magnetic easel and magnets for them to explore. Soon there will be a wider range of toys to play with and even free snacks on offer. Long term they also plan to hold little activities and classes to amuse your wee ones while you shop. Genius!

Adam and Kirstie clearly know what parents want and kids need, as parents to five children it's no surprise they've managed to create such a brilliant space. 


Baby and Play Bedford Toy Shop
Connie loved exploring all the toys!

The range of toys available is pretty impressive too - everything you'd need for a baby right through to older kids. Stunning ranges from soft, wooden and construction toys, through to recognisable characters such as Mr Tumble, Peter Rabbit, In The Night Garden etc. 


Baby and Play Bedford Toy Shop
And she got stuck in playing with all the toys they had available for little ones to enjoy!

One of my favourite parts of the shop was the concept of the 'pocket money range' - lots of very reasonably priced small items perfect for little treats or pocket money spending such as 8 small animal figures for £1.00, individual wooden (Breo-style) trains for £2.50 each, sticker sheets etc. As a parent there's nothing more frustrating than heading to a toy shop/toy department to find there's nothing for under £5...we all know it's hard to get out the door without a little treat for your mini people, so hooray for affordable little items and CHOICE! 


Baby and Play Bedford Toy Shop
Bert found a new friend in the toy shop! 

Bert, Connie and I happily spent a whole hour in there last week - Bert came away with some gorgeous re-usable sticker sets from Melissa & Doug (one of our favourite toy brands) and Connie bagged herself a brilliant set of B.Toys One Two Squeeze Blocks, which quiet frankly couldn't be a better toy for her at almost 14 months. The 10 blocks are stackable, squeezable, floatable, squeakable and chewable...they're perfect for her chubby little hands and her ever-increasing collection of toothy pegs (teething SUCKS doesn't it?). The blocks are all different colours with lovely little pictures of animals and numbers from 1-10. They retail at £12.95 and would make the best first birthday present if you have any coming up...


B. Toys One Two Squeeze Blocks - in their own little zip up carry case with handle! 

A little handle making this the perfect little toy for travelling! 


A very happy baby with her new blocks! 

Life is tiring when you're 14 months and have lots of toys to enjoy! 

Retrieving a block from under the chair - playing with the cat because (of course!) the cat loves them too! 

Mid block chuck! We love an action shot at Chez Bishop

The Melissa and Doug Puffy Sticker Activity books (£4.99 for the Safari set & £5.99 for the Equestrian set - Bert's choices, but there is a massive variety available) make the most amazing summer holiday activities. I love the fact that the stickers are re-usable, meaning they'll definitely last the whole of the holidays, and they're a completely portable activity - making them great for travelling and holidays too. 

Melissa and Doug Reusable Puffy Sticker Books

Melissa and Doug Reusable Puffy Sticker Books

Melissa and Doug Reusable Puffy Sticker Books

Melissa and Doug Reusable Puffy Sticker Books

Since getting them last week Bert has probably spent about 3 solid hours playing with the reusable sticker sets. He's totally got the hang of creating little scenes and making up little stories with them. I'll be carting them out on a daily basis now the holidays are here - Melissa and Doug toys are always pennies very well spent in our book.
Melissa and Doug Reusable Puffy Sticker Books

Melissa and Doug Reusable Puffy Sticker Books
Bert's re-usable sticker handiwork - he got the hang of it straight away!

Melissa and Doug Reusable Puffy Sticker Books

Melissa and Doug Reusable Puffy Sticker Books
Busy Bert with his new sticker books

As well as their brilliant bricks and mortar store, you can also shop online with Baby and Play, meaning that my readers who aren't local to Bedford can still shop with this fab independent store with their marvellous range of toys, baby items and bags.

GRAB YOURSELF A BARGAIN...

Even better than that you can use this unique code and get 10% off your purchases both in store and online - just quote 'LUCY10%'. 


10% off at baby and play Bedford in store and online

You're welcome! 

We can't wait for our next visit and we're especially excited to see the all new shop interior come the autumn! 

Mrs B

x

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Breton Maxi Dresses and Summer Sandals from JD Williams *REVIEW*

SUMMER IS HERE!!! Gosh aren't we being blessed by the weather gods right now? I'm LOVING it - sunshine makes everything better, right? Long walks, picnics, barbecues, trips to the beach, weddings...they're all ten times more amazing when the sun pops on his hat and comes out to play.

Of course, with great summer weather also comes icky (but essential) suncream, hay fever, mozzies and midges, wasps, sleepless sticky nights and the need for a whole re-think when it comes to your wardrobe.

If like me, you live in the UK and are used to mostly rubbish overcast, slightly cold summers, then you may have also found yourself with exactly 2.5 items of actual summer clothing in your wardrobe - one of those a swimming costume and the other a kaftan! It was time to get shopping and give my summer wardrobe a much needed boost.

As a very fair skinned and curvy size 12/14, I like to feel supported, well covered (so as not to burn) and confident in my summer clothing - skimpy t-shirts and barely there shorts just don't cut the mustard for me, so I often struggle to find cool and comfortable summer clothing that I actually like and feel confident in. 


I'm a big fan of maxi dresses as they provide good coverage, but are cool and easy to wear either casually or dressed up. However, at only 5ft 5" I sometimes struggle to find maxi dresses that aren't so long I need to wear 8" heels with them. When the people at JD Williams asked if they could send me some pieces from their summer collection I jumped at the chance of trying some of their summer maxi dresses on for size as well as a GORGEOUS pair of tan wedges from their summer sandals collection, which I knew would match both dresses perfectly!

Naturally, both dresses are variations on the Breton stripe (come on, you wouldn't expect anything else from me, surely?) and I absolutely LOVE them. I think I've worn them about 5 times already in just a few weeks and I'm thrilled with these classic additions to my summer wardrobe.


My first choice was this uber floaty Bardot style navy and white Breton stripe number, with tie waist and off the shoulder neckline. It's currently priced at £45, which is a steal considering its quality and never-go-out-of-fashion summer wardrobe staple status!

Navy/Ivory Stripe Bardot Dress JD Williams

I love how pretty and floaty this dress is, it's uber feminine without being pink and floral, but also has a very classy/chic vibe thanks to the Breton stripe. The dress length is perfect on me...hallelujah! I can wear it with both heels or flats which is unheard of for me when it comes to a maxi dress. The fact that I can team it with heels or flats means its an even more versatile piece for me, so well worth the £45 price tag. 


Navy/Ivory Stripe Bardot Dress £45.00 from JD Williams

It's so easy and comfortable to wear and brilliant to dress up or down with flip flops for a more casual daytime bbq vibe, or jazzed up a bit with wedges or heels for a more glamorous look. I'm thinking add heels and a fascinator for a relaxed summer wedding or dress it down with flip flops and a flower crown for that boho chic festival look. 

Navy/Ivory Stripe Bardot Dress JD Williams
Garden bbq fun with my wingman

I'm wearing a size 14 here and I find it a great, comfortable fit - it is loose and floaty which is just how I wanted it, but the elasticated Bardot-style top section keeps it firmly in place, and the tie on the waist cinches you in for a more fitted and flattering look. 

The second dress is this navy stripe jersey maxi t-shirt dress which is currently priced at £25. I instantly loved this dress firstly, for it's Breton stripes, and secondly, for the sleeve length: so often maxi dresses have no sleeve at all - just spaghetti straps which I tend to avoid at all costs due to a strong dislike of the tops of my arms. As my main "problem area" I feel much more body confident and relaxed with a decent sleeve, so this dress was a real win for me. 


Just like the Bardot dress it is a great length for me - the hem sits about 3 inches above the ankle in a heel and just grazes the bottom of my ankle in flats - that's maxi dress perfection right there! 

I wear a size 12 in the picture and found it to be a true-to-size fit. 

It is made from a heavy jersey material which makes the dress sit really nicely - it is worth noting that it is a very figure hugging dress so you need to embrace your fabulous curves and enjoy flaunting them to the world when wearing this number. The stretch in the fabric makes it crazy comfy and a major plus is I've found it needs no ironing at all, making it the perfect holiday dress - anything that can be folded in a suitcase and still look half decent when you're on your holiday is a winner in my book. 


I teamed this dress with my Boo Chew Suzie Wild Flower Meadow teething necklace (I LOVE this necklace - pretty, bold AND Connie can chew on it to her hearts content, amazing!) and tan wedges for a relaxed day with the kids. 

The uber-stretchy fabric makes it a perfect mum staple as I can easily manoeuvre up and down off the floor in it, and its length means theres no worries about flashing my undergarments to all and sundry when chasing about like a madman in it. I even ran races against Bert in the park in it yesterday... 

Cracking up at the awkwardness of posing for an outfit shot when you're just a random blogger from Bedford, ha ha ha! 

Last, but by no means least, JD Williams sent me these stunning Sole Diva Willow Wedges in Tan. I adore a tan shoe for its versatility - tan literally goes with absolutely EVERYTHING! I wear a size 8 shoe and have very wide feet, which usually makes shoe shopping a veritable nightmare, however the Sole Diva range are available in a variety of width fittings so I went for the EE wide fit option and they fit absolutely perfectly. 

Sole Diva Willow Wedges in Tan


I love the gold buckle and stud detailing and pretty but chunky straps - they feel solid and supportive but look pretty and stylish. The cork wedge gives that relaxed summer feel and so far they have been a very comfortable wear. What more could you want?


Sole Diva Willow Wedges in Tan


The willow wedges are currently on sale at a reduced price of £25 - what an absolute bargain! 

I have to say that before JD Williams got in touch I had a huge preconception that their clothes would be more suitable for women of my mums generation, I had no idea that there would be so many items I would love at 30 - it just goes to show that it is always worth a look, because you just never know where you might find that next perfect wardrobe addition!

What's your favourite outfit this summer?

Mrs B

x

I was sent both maxi dresses and the wedge sandals in exchange for my honest review.
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