Secret Garden Inspiration Shoot

I had the pleasure of being invited to collaborate on a photo shoot last July designed and planned by the talented Grace and Saviour Styling and photographed by Paula O’Hara Photography.  I am in love with this one and thrilled to see the full shoot now published on prestigious wedding blog Green Wedding Shoes.  In this blog post I wanted to give a little insight into the inspiration for the shoot and corresponding brief for the cakes…with a sneak peak of the result!

The inspiration for the shoot was ‘ vintage botanical illustrations from the 18th century’. The brief was dreamy,  ‘..to convey the wedding of a cool, relaxed, slightly bohemian couple who get married in a beautifully ramshackle glass house in a country pile…overgrown gardens and slightly too warm, glistening skin’.  The shoot was to feel earthy and relaxed so I created a mood board for the cakes, drawing on pretty, informal and delicious looking cakes as inspiration, with natural florals for decoration.

Mood board:

 

The ‘country pile’ was Carncairn Lodge in Northern Ireland, an Irish Manor house with a beautiful garden and rambling greenhouse.  It was a glorious July day, creating the perfect atmosphere to convey a relaxed summer garden wedding. The shoot was centred around the greenhouse which was styled by Grace for an informal wedding lunch with draped linen, relaxed flowers, candles and fruits.

 

For the cakes, I opted for a trio for an informal sweet table concept. A main textured iced cake adorned with oversized garden blooms styled by Grace was accompanied by un-iced Chocolate Salted Caramel and Prosecco Peach Thyme cakes (for more of our delectable cake flavours check our our menu!). Purposefully oozing peach and thyme jam, a cake slice, and the exposed chocolate cake layers were chosen to convey delicious homemade and summery sweet treats. 

 

This gives a little taste of what’s to come in this gorgeous summery shoot which features signature informal flowers by Petal and Twine,  exquisite gowns by Ivory and Pearl, stationary by Lenka Calligraphy, hair by Lynette Murray, and make up by Jennifer Ireland. To swoon over the full shoot head on over to Green Wedding Shoes!

Lemon Balm Shortbread

I love to bake with herbs either in savoury recipes themselves or to add a savoury twist to sweet recipes. My herb garden is currently abundant with beautiful leaves, from flowering thyme and sage to chives and rosemary. A new addition to my herbs this year was lemon balm. Being a member of the mint family, lemon balm is also known as balm mint, and indeed has similar leaves and vigorous growing properties to mint. The leaves have a mild lemony scent and I have been using it on fish and in salads for an alternative citrus flavour. Last weekend I used it to add a herby twist to a traditional lemon shortbread. (If you don’t have lemon balm however just add a little extra lemon zest to this recipe). Decorated with some dried edible flowers these would make a pretty edible gift, or a lovely summery teatime treat!

Lemon Balm Shortbread

Ingredients for the Shortbread (makes 12):

  • 170g plain flour
  • 50g caster sugar
  • 110g room temperature butter
  • 1tbsp finely chopped lemon balm leaves
  • Finely grated zest 1/2 lemon
  • Dried flower petals (optional, to decorate)
  • Icing sugar (optional, to decorate)

Method

  • To make the shortbread, preheat the oven to 180°C/356F.
  • Place the flour, caster sugar, butter and lemon zest in a food processor and pulse until the mixture has almost come together.
  • Add the chopped lemon balm and pulse a few more times until mixed in.
  • Roll the dough out on a lightly floured surface to between 0.5-1cm thick. If you are using edible flowers, sprinkle over the rolled dough at this point and give a further roll to press the petals lightly into the dough.
  • Cut out biscuit rounds using a 6cm round cutter (or any size or shape you prefer!).
  • Place the biscuits on a baking tray and bake for 8-10mins (turning half-way through if required) until lightly golden.
  • Leave to cool on the tray for a few minutes before gently transferring to a wire wrack to cool completely.
  • Once cool, dust with a little icing sugar.
  • Store in an airtight container.

Let’s Talk Waste

Much attention has been focused of late on the scourge of plastics in our oceans and environment, with dire consequences for future generations unless we take action. Living beside the sea, we see at first hand the waste that is routinely washed up on our little stretch of coast. Since last year my family has worked to take one small step at a time to reduce plastic use, and waste in general, in our home, each thing we eliminate is one less piece of plastic or waste in our environment.

It was inspiring to learn of the recent launch of a Green initiative in my local villages of Glasthule and Sandycove (the latter after which my own business is named!) aimed at tackling waste.  ‘Glasthule Sandycove Going Green’ sees businesses aiming to reduce waste, focusing on plastics first. Businesses signed up to the initiative are pledging to replace at least three of their single use plastic items with biodegradable alternatives in 2018. To coincide with this I have taken a look at my own business to see if I can further reduce waste.

Cove Cake Design is a small home based business who supplies clients directly. The direct delivery of the majority of my products, wedding cakes, to a venue means there is thankfully little to no packaging involved in these orders…I take back my transport box to use again. Cakes that are collected are packaged in cardboard boxes which can be recycled. In terms of my supplies, I try to shop for ingredients locally and seasonally (and in small quantities to avoid potential food waste), choosing products not in plastic where possible. Any food waste is composted (and I keep this to a minimum, carefully quantifying recipes so that there isn’t an excess) and anything that can be recycled is.

There is always room for improvement though and I have been taking further steps to reduce waste (even though some only small I think even saving one item from waste is an achievement!)

  • I am in the process of sourcing biodegradable cellophane for my cake samples in my sample boxes. This is one area of my business where I do us packaging and I hence need to minimise waste from this.
  • I have started using a washing up liquid that comes in a container which is made from 100% recycled plastic and can be recycled again itself.
  • I switched from antibacterial soap in a plastic pump bottle in my kitchen to an antibacterial soap bar that comes packaged in a box.
  • I have switched from purchasing plastic milk containers to tetra pak cartons which have a better water and carbon footprint than plastic.
  • I have discovered a farmer in my local market who takes my old egg box cartons to re-use to sell his eggs…even though I always recycled them before to have them re-used is a much better circular system!
  • I have reduced the amount of paperwork that I print, backing up certain files electronically that I used to print a hard copy of too.
  • I am determined to work with suppliers and make complaints where excess packaging is used in my orders, shopping elsewhere if necessary! (Anyone who follows me on Instagram knows how much this upsets me!)

I have been inspired by others and I hope this little post can inspire too. I also want my clients to have confidence in knowing that when they buy a cake from Cove Cake Design I am conscious of doing my best to minimise any waste produced in the process!

Suzanne x

 

Cake Tasting Box Service

 

Wedding cake tasting must be up there amongst the most enjoyable aspects of planning your big day. What is not to love about sampling delicious cake and deciding what flavours would be most enjoyed by you and your guests?! At Cove Cake Design wedding cake tastings are operated via a sample box service which has been hugely popular with clients. Obviating the need for yet another appointment sample boxes are delivered to your door, allowing for tasting and discussion in the comfort of your own home.

Here are some FAQs about the service:

  • I have booked my wedding cake with Cove Cake Design, how to I order a tasting box?
    • Once you have reserved your date your name will be put on the next available tasting box list which suits your diary. The tasting service operates every 2-3 months. Tasting boxes are complimentary for clients who have booked their wedding cake.
  • I am not getting married but would love a tasting box! Is this possible?
    • Unfortunately due to limited availablility only wedding cake clients can be accommodated on the tasting box service.
  • I would like to taste some of Cove Cake Design’s flavours before booking my cake, is this possible?
    • Due to limited availability priority on our tasting box service is given to those who have already reserved their wedding date with Cove Cake Design. However if you wish to try samples prior to booking and a box is available on a particular dispatch then I would be delighted to send one to you! Prior to payment of booking deposit there is a €40 charge for tasting boxes which can be redeemed against your wedding cake deposit should you choose to proceed with an order.
  • How many flavours are in the box?
    • The boxes contain 6 delicious samples from the menu.
  • Can I choose which flavours I would like to sample?
    • Flavours are chosen by Cove Cake Design depending on a number of criteria including seasonality and availability of ingredients. However if you see particular favourites on the menu which you would like to try please do let me know and I will do my utmost to include as many of these as possible!
  • How are the boxes dispatched?
    • Boxes are sent via overnight registered delivery.
  • Will the samples stay fresh?
    • The samples are wrapped tightly and well-packaged. Once you receive your samples it is recommended that they are consumed within 24 hours
  • Do you ship tasting boxes overseas?
    • Samples can be shipped to the UK but unfortunately shipping further afield would not be advisable as we could not guarantee freshness of the samples. Should you live overseas please let me know if you plan to visit Ireland in advance of your wedding day and I can arrange samples for that date. Alternatively if you have friends or family in Ireland they may (!) be willing to do the tasting for you.
  • I couldn’t decide which flavours I would like, can I have a second box?
    • Additional boxes can be dispatched at a cost of €15, subject to availability. This is not redeemable against your wedding cake cost.

 

Chocolate Raspberry and Pink Peppercorn Cupcakes

February is synonymous with Valentine’s Day which calls for some romantic baking! Dark chocolate and raspberry are a match made in heaven…here I have spiced up the combination in a cupcake recipe with the addition of some pink peppercorns. The spice adds an interesting little kick we well as being a pretty decorative flourish!

This recipe makes approx 16-20 cupcakes. Feel free to half the recipe if you don’t wish to devour this many between you and your loved one!

Dark Chocolate Cupcakes with Raspberry and Pink Peppercorn

Ingredients for the Dark Chocolate Cupcakes:

  • 100g unsalted butter,
  • 280g caster sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 180g plain flour
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • ½  tsp bicarbonate soda
  • 8g cocoa powder
  • 120g good quality 70% dark chocolate
  • 160ml whole milk

Ingredients for the Raspberry Buttercream

  • 100g raspberries (fresh or frozen)
  • 500g icing sugar
  • 300g unsalted butter
  • Handful of pink peppercorns

Method

  • To make the cupcakes, preheat the oven to 160°C/315F and line two 12-hole muffin tins with 16-20 paper cases.
  • Place the chocolate, milk and half the sugar in a small saucepan and heat gently, stirring until all the chocolate and sugar have dissolved.
  • Meanwhile beat the butter and remaining sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer until light and creamy. Beat in the eggs one at a time, beating well between each addition. Scrape down the mixture from the sides if necessary.
  • Sift the flour, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda into the butter and sugar mixture and mix gently until just combined.
  • Pour in the melted chocolate mixture and mix again, scraping any mixture down from the sides if necessary.
  • Divide the mixture between the cases and bake in the oven for approximately 20 minutes or until the top of the cupcakes are springy to the touch.
  • Leave to rest in the tray for a few minutes before moving to a wire rack to cool completely (note: tops of the cupcakes sink slighltly on cooling which is normal)
  • To make the buttercream, place the raspberries in a small saucepan with a small splash of water and heat gently until soft. Remove from the heat and mash. Strain through a sieve into a clean bowl, scraping the sieve to get as much of the juice as possible. Return the raspberry puree to the saucepan and simmer gently until the juice has thickened and reduced by about half. Leave to cool and thicken further.
  • Meanwhile, beat the butter and icing sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer for approximately 10mins until light and fluffy. A little at a time, add the concentrated raspberry puree to the buttercream, mixing between each addition, until the desired strength of flavour is achieved. Take care not to add too much such that icing is too runny.
  • To finish the cupcakes, pipe the raspberry buttercream on each cupcake and sprinkle with crushed pink peppercorns!

January Baking – Mincemeat Scones

I always make a batch of homemade mincemeat in December, ready to make mince pies or other festive goods throughout the month. My version is vegetarian and sweetened only with the dried fruit itself so I feel it is a tiny bit healthier (!). This year I made these scones for Christmas morning but with a spare jar of two of mincemeat in the fridge come January I thought they are also a great bake to use up leftover mincemeat after the festive season. With a hint of spice and the sweetness of the fruit they are deliciously comforting straight from the oven with a cup of tea on a dark and cold January day!

Mincemeat Scones

Ingredients for the Mincemeat Scones:

  • 500g self-raising flour
  • 100g unsalted butter, cool but not cold
  • Good pinch baking powder
  • Pinch salt
  • 1tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1tbsp caster sugar
  • Grated zest 1 small orange
  • 250ml full-fat milk
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/2 jar mincemeat (homemade or shop bought), approx 200g
  • 1 egg mixed with a little milk to glaze
  • Handful flaked almond (optional)

Step 1: Preheat the oven to 170°C/315F.

Step 2: Sift the flour, baking powder and cinnamon into a large bowl. Add the salt and stir to combine

Step 3: Add the butter and rub into the flour until it looks like fine breadcrumbs.

Step 4: Add the caster sugar and stir to combine.

Step 5: Add the mincemeat and orange zest and stir again until just combined.

Step 6: Mix together the egg and milk before adding to the flour mixture. Stir until just combined. If a little dry add some more milk to make a moist dough.

Step 7: Turn the dough onto a floured surface and roll lightly with a rolling pin until approx 3cm thick.

Step 8: Cut out scones using a round cutter. Place scone on a lightly greased or lined baking tray and brush with the  egg/milk wash. Sprinkle with flaked almonds if using.

Step 9: Bake for 15-20mins until golden.

Step 10: Remove from the oven and place on a warm rack to cool.

Step 11: Enjoy as soon as possible with a little melted butter or some jam!

Storage: Scones are best enjoyed on the same day but can be stored in an airtight container. They can also be frozen for up to 3 months.

Rose Butter Madeleines with White Chocolate and Pistachio Praline

 

I recently received the most amazingly fragrant organic roses from Bumblebee Flower Farm in West Cork. The scent was something that you would never get from a standard shop-bought rose…these roses were those that you just wish to close your eyes and breathe for. My purpose was to try out some of the beautiful summer blooms from Bumblebee Farm for use as decoration in some of my cake designs, but I couldn’t pass the smell of these roses without thinking that I had to incorporate that scent into a cake too!

Madeleines are small French butter cakes baked in pretty scalloped-shaped madeleine moulds. I had only made them once before but thought that making a delicate rose-scented version would be perfect for these dainty teatime treats. To capture the scent of the rose petals, I infused the butter in the recipe first which resulted in a deliciously subtle sweet and fragrant flavour. If you can’t get your hands on rose petals feel free of course to add a little rosewater for a similar taste. This base recipe would also work with other flowers such as lavender.

Normally my recipes are self-explanatory but much like other French baked goods (macarons spring immediately to mind!), I have found that making madeleines is not quite as straightforward as it seems and a few little tricks are essential! In my first attempt at this recipe I only buttered the tin, resulting in cakes that stuck tight. A dust of flour is essential. Recipes vary greatly and I initially didn’t chill my batter but they subsequently rose and spread hugely outside the moulds, tasting delicious but losing their pretty shape. I found chilling the batter in the tin for about 30 mins solved this. I have also found that the light sponge doesn’t stay fresh for long, so feel no guilt in devouring these tiny treats on the day they are made!

Rose Butter Madeleines with White Chocolate and Pistachio Praline

Ingredients for the Rose Butter Madeleines:

  • 60g unsalted butter
  • Handful fragrant edible rose petals (or use 1/4 tsp of rosewater or other flavouring)
  • 50g caster sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 50g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder

For the Pistachio Praline:

  • 50g caster sugar
  • 50g shelled pistachios

To decorate (optional):

  • 100g white chocolate
  • Pistachio Praline
  • Dried rose petals

Step 1: To make the rose butter madeleines, preheat the oven to 170°C/315F.

Step 2: Melt the butter in a small saucepan over a low heat. Add the rose petals and leave to infuse, swirling now and then. The butter should become fragrant with the rose petals. Have a small taste to check and if not leave for a little longer or add more petals.

Step 3: Use a little of the butter to brush over the moulds of a madeleine tin. Then dust the moulds with a little flour, tapping out any excess.

Step 4: Whisk together the egg and caster sugar using a handheld or stand whisk until the mixture is pale and mousse like and has increased in volume.

Step 5: Sift the flour and baking powder into the egg and sugar mixture and fold in gently until just combined

Step 6: Strain the butter into the mixture, discarding the rose petals, and fold in gently until combined.

Step 7: Place a heaped teaspoon of the mixture into each of the moulds of the madeleine tray and place in the fridge for 30 mins.

Step 8: To make the pistachio praline, roughly chop the pistachios and place a square of baking paper on a tray.

Step 9: Heat the sugar in a small saucepan over a medium heat, swirling regularly until dissolved.

Step 10: Continue to heat the sugar until it caramelises, taking care not to burn.

Step 11: Remove from the heat, add the chopped pistachios and quickly stir to coat in the caramel. Pour out onto the baking parchment and leave to cool.

Step 12: Place the praline in a chopper or pestle and mortar and grind to a rough consistency.

Step 13: To finish the madeleines, remove the madeleine tray from the fridge and bake for approximately 12-15 mins until risen and springy to the touch. Remove from the oven and leave to cool for a few minutes before gently removing each madeleine from its mould using a palette knife. Leave to cool on a wire wrack.

Step 14; Melt the white chocolate in a cup or small bowl in the microwave. Dip the tip of each madeleine in the white chocolate and place on a sheet of baking paper. Sprinkle some pistachio praline and rose petals over the top. Enjoy immediately!

Lemon Raspberry Hibiscus Loaf Cake Recipe

 

I recently came across dried Hibiscus flowers on one of my many compulsive deli wanderings. Ruby red in colour, it is consumed as a tea, with a tart berry-like flavour, often requiring the addition of sugar to counteract this. I love using teas to flavour cakes and decided to try Hibiscus in a loaf cake, paired with the classic combination of lemon and raspberry. This cake recipe is deliciously moist due to the addition of natural yogurt, and the hibiscus flavour is introduced as a drizzle syrup, and in a tangy cream cheese icing. I decorated with candied hibiscus flowers, pistachio praline crumb (I do like to add pistcachio to all things possible!) and thyme flowers, but would be equally as good just with a smattering of fresh raspberries. Enjoy with a cup of your favourite brew!

(Note: If hibiscus flowers are hard to find this recipe is delicious as a simple lemon raspberry loaf cake. Simply substitute lemon juice for the hibiscus water in the syrup and omit the hibiscus syrup in the icing. Or ice with a simple mix of icing sugar and lemon juice!).

Lemon Raspberry Hibiscus Loaf Cake

Ingredients for the Lemon Rasberry Cake:

  • 190g unsalted butter
  • 190g caster sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 190g plain flour
  • 1tsp baking powder
  • Finely grated zest 2 lemons
  • 25g natural yogurt
  • Handful of frozen raspberries

Ingredients for the Hibiscus Syrup:

  • 75g caster sugar
  • 75g boiling water
  • Handful dried hibiscus flowers

Ingredients for the Hibiscus Lemon Cream Cheese Icing :

  • 100g cream cheese
  • 2tbsp natural yogurt
  • 1tbsp icing sugar
  • 2tbsp hibiscus syrup
  • Finely grated zest 1 lemon

To decorate (optional):

  • Candied Hibiscus flowers (you can buy these in a syrup in some good delis)
  • Thyme flowers
  • Pistachio crumb
  • Other options include fresh raspberries, candied lemon peel and edible flowers!

Step 1: To make the lemon raspberry cake, preheat the oven to 170°C/315F.  Grease and line a loaf tin.

Step 2: Cream together the butter, sugar and lemon zest with an electric mixer (or hand mixer) until pale. Scrape down sides regularly.

Step 3: Beat in the eggs one at a time.

Step 4: Sift together the flour and baking powder into a large bowl.

Step 5: Add the flour to the butter and sugar mixture and mix on slow speed until just combined.

Step 6: Add the natural yogurt and mix again until combined.

Step 7: Pour the batter into the lined tin. Push the raspberries about half way down into the cake so they are dispersed throughout the loaf. Smooth over the top and bake in the preheated oven for approximately 50 mins or until the top is springy to the touch and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.

Step 8: To make the hibiscus syrup, add the hibiscus flowers to the boiling water and leave to steep for 10-15 mins.

Step 9: Drain the hibiscus water into a small saucepan and add the sugar. Heat until the sugar is dissolved and a syrup formed.

Step 10: To make the hibiscus cream cheese icing, mix together the cream cheese, yogurt and lemon zest until combined. Add the hibiscus syrup a little at a time until the desired consistency and taste is achieved (you don’t want it to be too runny).

Step 11: To assemble the cake. When the cake is cooked remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tin for 10mins before turning out onto a wire wrack to cool further.

Step 12: While the cake is still warm, poke holes in the top with a skewer and pour the warm hibiscus syrup over the top.

Step 13: When the cake has cooled completely, cover with the icing and decorate as you see fit! I used candied hibiscus flowers, pistachio praline crumb and thyme flowers. Some fresh raspberries would work equally well!

Storage: Due to the cream cheese icing this cake needs to be stored in the fridge. Bring to room temperature before serving and consume within 1-2 days.

Sharing the love-A Few of My Favourite Instagram Accounts

Instagram has to be the one social media outlet that I truly love. More than a social media channel or advertising domain, it can be a source of unending inspiration. From recipe writers to artists, food stylists to interior designers, not to mention fellow cake makers, I love to see beautiful imagery popping up in my feed. Today I thought I would share a few of my favourites with less than 5,000 followers.

@cakeatelieramsterdam

I only recently stumbled across the feed of Natasja Sadi (@cakeatelieramsterdam), a wedding dress designer turned cake decorator. Her Instagram feed is filled with beautiful images of her stunning lifelike sugar flowers, artistic cakes as well as little glimpses of her carefully curated interior style. Add to this pretty photos of one of my favourite cities, Amsterdam, and Natasja’s Instagram feed is a firm favourite!

@pippa_cakery

@pippa_cakery, based in Utah, is run by Tauri Tucker. Her Instagram feed showcases her seemingly effortlessly styled cakes, which are characterised by decadent touches such as caramel drips, gold leaf and fresh flowers. Most importantly however is how delicious they look..sure to spark a cake craving!

@designology.ie

Designology is an inspirational interiors and lifestyle blog by Moya Farrell. Her Instagram feed @designology.ie is a carefully curated collection of casually styled interiors, delicious food and everyday beauty…all in a serene and pretty colour palette…sure to calm and inspire, it is always a delight to see her photography in my feed   !

@marcylamont

Marcy Lamont of Cotton & Cream Studio makes THE cutest cake toppers! With the most intricate of details they always elicit an ‘aww how cute’ from both myself and my children when I show her images to them. A peek through her Instagram feed is sure to bring a smile to anyone’s face!

@cavistons

@cavistons is my amazing family-run local delicatessen. Providing me with much of my fresh fruit as well as more unusual ingredients for my cakes and recipe experiments, no matter how often I visit I always love to browse the heavily stocked shelves of artisan produce. But their Instagram feed is also worth more than a mere mention…with beautifully styled deli products and ingredients, as well as tips and recipes on how to use them, I always love to see their imagery pop up in my feed!

Custom Flavours for Chinese New Year

I adore Asian food and flavours, having visited various parts of the region over the last 10 years while my husband worked there. So I was thrilled to be asked to create custom flavours with a nod to Asia for a Chinese New Year event that took place here this week. The clients requested an assortment of macarons as well as a small dessert-style sweet to include flavours of lychee, green tea, rose and raspberry. The colour palette for the event was one of red, gold, green and deep pinks.

For the dessert option we made white chocolate mud cake bites, with green tea buttercream, toasted black sesame, raspberry curd and rose meringue kisses.

Topped with gold leaf of course!…

The macaron flavours were Green Tea and Chocolate, Lychee, and Raspberry and Rose…with decorative flourishes of chocolate drizzle, gold  and rose petals!

We are always happy to customize flavours to suit your wedding or event….simply contact us with your ideas!