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Real Weddings – Three of my favourites from 2018

It is always a delight to receive wedding photos from clients! So many months are spent working closely on their wedding cake design, it is exciting to finally see those plans come to fruition but also to see the cake in the context of a beautiful wedding day. Today I am sharing three of many stunning real weddings from 2018!

Sharon and James

This wedding was close to my heart as Sharon is actually my sister-in-law and my little girl was one of the flower girls. Sharon was the most relaxed bride and it showed, she glowed with happiness! The venue was Harvey’s Point hotel on the shores of Lough Eske which allowed for stunning photos by Ghorm Studio Photography in the surrounding mountains. The all-important cake was inspired by Sharon’s gorgeous dress, with applique lace and sugar flowers.  Family weddings are always exciting and I can testify that Sharon and James’ was an incredible weekend of celebration!

Rebecca and Fred

Rebecca, along with her mother, runs Hedgeroe Home, a Dublin-based interiors and lifestyle store. It was no surprise then to see Rebecca’s unique sense of style translate into her stunning wedding which was held in a marquee in the grounds of her family home. I mean look at her dress…divine! Ferns were the theme of the day, and the inspiration for the cake design, which featured a modern geometric pattern juxtaposed with fern moulding. Stunning photography by Paula McManus.

I was delighted to see Rebecca and Fred’s wedding featured in Social and Personal Magazine…what a lovely feature!

Suzanne and Eamon

Suzanne and Eamon traveled from America to celebrate their wedding with 400 guests at one of Ireland’s finest venues, the gorgeous Adare Manor. Living in America the bride and groom enlisted talented wedding planner, Alise Taggart, to coordinate their day. I worked with Alise in the design of their cake which drew inspiration from the elegant surroundings of the venue, with a gold leaf tier and soft sugar flowers in shades of blush, reflecting the wedding flowers by The Informal Florist. A monogram featured on their invitations was also incorporated into their cake design.

With photography by renowned photographer Taylor and Porter, it was no surprise that this  beautiful wedding was featured on prestigious wedding blog, US Brides

Thank you to all my wonderful 2018 clients, it has been a pleasure to work with each and every one! Looking forward to all of 2019’s orders!

Suzanne, x

Autumn Cake Design

 

For many cake decorators Autumn and Winter mark the end of a busy wedding season and allow for time to be creative in designing new cakes and experimenting in new forms and techniques. With time for a new cake design over the last few weeks I wanted to experiment with different colour tones in my sugar flowers and also embrace a more natural approach to their composition on a cake.

I was in love with the autumn hues this year: copper, burnt orange and light browns filled trees and then carpeted the ground….these colours are a departure from my usual in sugar flowers and hence a perfect palette to experiment with. I have also recently been drawn to more natural and organic floral arrangements by floral artists such as The Blue Carrot and this bowl arrangement by American Florist Kelly Lenard.

My take on this palette and inspiration was a loose arrangement of a blush O’Hara rose, yellow garden roses, and sweet pea for softness. Completing the arrangement were sparse withering leaves in shades of copper, rust and light brown and I also added in my version of my latest obsession, lunaria! I set the flowers atop a tall modern square cake, not the easiest to ice but quite striking I think once done! The cake needed a little texture for which I took inspiration from botanical artist Rachel DeinRachel Dein is a London-based artist who creates intricate botanical art in plaster and concrete in the form of tiles and larger pieces. The detail and texture is incredible!My texture was certainly a more simplified version of Rachel’s beautiful detail but it is something I would love to explore more…if I have the opportunity!I hope you like the finished piece!

Suzanne x

 

 

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!

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.

 

Hazelnut Chocolate Orange Macarons

I made these macarons as my edible Christmas gifts last year. The combination of chocolate and hazelnut is a well renowned match made famous of course by Nutella! The addition of orange zest adds a fresh twist and the decoration of dipped chocolate coated in crunchy hazelnut praline adds an additional layer of flavour and luxury….the perfect gift and indeed luxurious teatime treat! Enjoy!

Hazelnut Macarons with Chocolate Orange Ganache and Hazelnut Praline

Ingredients for the Hazelnut Macarons:

  • 50g hazelnuts
  • 50g ground almonds
  • 100g icing sugar
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 2 x 40g egg white

Ingredients for the Chocolate Orange Ganache:

  • 110g 70% dark chocolate
  • 100ml pouring cream
  • 10g caster sugar
  • 25g unsalted butter
  • finely grated zest 1 orange

Ingredients for the Hazelnut Praline Decoration:

  • 100g 70% dark chocolate, melted
  • 75g caster sugar
  • 75g skinned toasted hazelnuts, chopped

Step 1: To make the hazelnut macarons, preheat the oven to 170°C/315F.  .

Step 2: Place the hazelnuts on a baking tray and place in the oven for approx 10-15mins, shaking every few minutes to turn. Take care  not to burn. Remove from the oven and leave to cool slightly before placing in a clean tea towel and rubbing to remove the skin.

Step 3: Place the skinned hazelnuts, ground almonds and icing sugar into a blender and grind to a fine powder. Sieve into a clean metal bowl, discarding any large particles. Add 1 x 40g egg white and mix to form a paste (called the tant pour tant). Set aside.

Step 4: Clean the inside of the metal bowl of a food mixer and the whisk attachment with lemon juice or boiling water to remove all traces of grease. Wipe with paper towel. Place the second 40g egg white into the bowl.

Step 5: Place the caster sugar and water into a small saucepan and bring to the boil, swirling now and then to ensure even heating.

Step 6: Meanwhile whisk the egg white to soft peaks. When the temperature of the sugar syrup reaches 105°C, increase the speed and whisk to stiff peaks. When the syrup reaches 115°C, remove from the heat and pour the syrup in a thin stream into the egg whites. Whisk for approximately 10mins until thick and glossy.

Step 7: Add about a third of the meringue mixture to the hazelnut/almond mixture and fold in to loosen. Then add the rest of the meringue mixture, folding in until it has a ‘flow’ similar to consistency of lava.

Step 8:  Fit a piping bag with an 8mm round nozzle and pour in the batter. Pipe small well-spaced rounds of batter approximately the size of  a walnut onto a silicone baking mat on a baking sheet (if you don’t have a silicone mat use baking parchment and attach the corners to the tray with a small blob of the batter). Tap the trays on the counter 3-4 times to remove air bubbles. If any fail to pop use a cocktail stick to do so. Leave to form a ‘skin’ for approx 25-45mins depending on ambient temperature and humidity (test by touching gently with the tip of your finger, if skin has formed your finger should come away clean).

Step 9: Bake in the oven for 12-15mins, turning the tray half-way through. Leave to cool completely on the tray before removing.

Step 10: To make the chocolate orange ganache, place the orange zest and cream in a saucepan and heat gently until warm. Remove from the heat and allow the orange to infuse for 1hr. Pass through a fine sieve to remove the orange zest.

Step 11: Add the sugar to the cream and reheat.

Step 12: Meanwhile place the chocolate into a mixing bowl.

Step 13: Pour the cream over the chocolate and stir until chocolate is melted.

Step 14: Finally add the butter and stir to combine. Allow to cool and refrigerate for approximately one hour before filling the macarons

Step 15: To make the hazelnut praline, heat the caster sugar in a small saucepan until dissolved. Swirl gently to ensure even heating. When the syrup is a golden brown colour, remove from the heat and add the chopped hazelnuts. Stir with a spatula before transferring to a piece of baking parchment to cool. When cool, break into a food processor and pulse gently to form a medium coarse powder.

Step 16: To finish the macarons, dip half the macaron shells in the melted chocolate and place on a piece of baking parchment. Sprinkle with the hazelnut praline and leave to set.

Step 17: Using a piping bag fitted with an 8mm nozzle, fill the other half of the macaron shells with the chocolate orange ganache and place the chocolate praline coated shells on top. Place the macarons in the refrigerator. They are best eaten after 24 hours and within 72 hours of filling.

Five of our Favourites from 2016!

It is hard to believe that another year has passed! We have had a wonderful year of baking and creating cakes and are incredibly grateful for having the opportunity to work with our amazing clients. A big thank you to all who have supported us in 2016 and wishing you all a lovely festive period!

For our last post of the year we decided to have a look back at five of our favourite cakes from 2016.

1. Opulence

What started as a delicious towering blank canvas became a rich and sumptuous cake with the help of some beautiful deep blooms from Appassionata Flowers, gilded fruits and a splash of gold leaf. Set up in one of Virginia Park Lodge‘s cosy rooms, this cake formed the centrepiece for a delicious evening wedding buffet.

2. Blush Buttercream Roses

Sometimes simplicity speaks for itself. Classic smooth blush buttercream adorned with the most gorgeous of avalanche roses by Unique Flowers became one of our summer wedding favourites!

3. Dark and Decadent

Our client had a wonderful vision for this wedding cake, dark and rich to reflect the wild wintery surroundings of Connemara where the wedding took place. Three tiers of Guinness Chocolate cake coated in chocolate ganache, trimmed with gold leaf and adorned with dark winter fruits. This one begged to be eaten!

4. Rustic White and Green

This cake epitomises the effectiveness of a simple palette, a perfect setting and beautiful styling. A rustic white iced cake adorned with fresh greenery and accompanied by marshmallows and macarons, was surrounded by foliage and soft candlelight. Set against a rustic stone backdrop with those amazing floral hoops by the Wedding Festival, this cake table formed a classically beautiful centrepiece for the wedding reception.

5. Floral Monogram

I may be displaying a little bias in choosing this one, as this cake was made for my brother-in-law and his beautiful bride who were married in 2016. Designed around the monogram of their wedding invitations, I loved how the floral semi-wreath turned out. And I got to eat some of this one..!!!

Image Brides Alchemy Editorial Shoot

Having always been a fan of the chic Irish fashion and lifestyle magazine, Image, it is no surprise that it’s sister magazine, Image Brides, has become my go-to read for following trends and finding inspiration in the wedding industry. It was hence a delight to have been invited to design a cake for an editorial in their current Winter/Spring edition.

The shoot took place at one of Ireland’s most exclusive wedding venues, Clonwilliam House, a gorgeous country house set amongst wooded hills in the Vale of Avoca in Co. Wicklow. Meticulously renovated and decorated, Clonwilliam exudes contemporary glamour in stunning period surroundings…I had serious house envy! (Image courtesy of One Fab Day).

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The theme of the shoot was ‘Alchemy’, with styling by Ciara O’Halloran of Style Serendipity, who specialises in beautiful wedding, interior and food styling.  Her brief and mood board were tantalising.  With inspiration taken from the earthy magic of crystal and mineral stones, the look was about capturing the simplicity and beauty of natural elements, with delicate jewellery , large blooming flowers and bohemian gowns in shades of ‘rose quartz, rich cream, shimmering gold and crystal grey’ creating an ‘effortlessly luxe’, romantic, mysterious and enchanting mood.

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The photographer for the shoot was the talented Christina of Brosnan Photographic. Having admired her light, relaxed photography for some time I was thrilled to finally get the opportunity to work with her. It was a delight to watch Ciara and Christina at work throughout the morning and the final photos from the shoot were undoubtedly stunning!….

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Love the colours and relaxed style of this flower arrangement by The French Touch!

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Beautiful amethyst rings by Juvi Designs

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And for the cake….Ciara briefed on a ‘luxe bohemian’ style, suggesting dripping caramel, fruits and blooms with additional elements such as gold leaf and macarons for added decadence. We opted for a natural blush buttercream finish, contrasting a smooth base tier with semi-naked upper tiers. A luscious caramel drip was complimented with simple yet elegant styling: gorgeous roses by The French Touch Flowers offset by contrasting blackberries..and of course those gold macarons for some luxury!

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Top cake view! Some detail of those roses, that drip and our macarons…

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It is always nice to see the different elements of the shoot come together and I think all credit to a great team who created this contemporary, romantic luxe beauty!

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Stylist: Ciara O’Halloran

Photographer: Christina Brosnan

Model: Sarah Tansey at Andrea Roche Model Agency

Hair: Inch Hair Design

Make-up: Elysian Brows

Jewellry: Juvi Designs

Flowers: The French Touch

Stationary: Kerry Harvey Designs

Cake: ME!

See more of this shoot and indeed lots more inspiration, supplier guides and real weddings in the gorgeous Winter/Spring edition of Image Brides, on shelves now!

 

Book Review-Clean Cakes

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I am a bit of a hoarder of cookbooks, finding it difficult to pass by the aisle in the bookshop. My mantra is you can never have too many, and since the start of my cake business I have now amassed cake books in equal measure to my general cooking books. I am particularly drawn to those that have something a little bit different, be it in style or in particular, flavours.

I discovered Henrietta Inman through her Instagram account, which showcases her cakes and desserts decorated in a colourful array of pretty flowers and berries. All of her cakes and bakes are made free from wheat, dairy and refined sugar. Her book ‘Clean Cakes’ was released earlier this year and while the name initially held me back (I don’t believe in classifying food as ‘clean’ or otherwise!), the delicious flavour combinations showcased on her blog left me too tempted!

The book gives an excellent introduction into alternative ingredients to make your bakes ‘free-from’ and is subsequently divided into chapters on cakes; muffins, loaves and breads; biscuits, brownies and bars; tarts and pies; raw desserts; and finally, chocolates and little treats.

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I was most tempted by the Courgette, Basil, Lime and Pistachio Cake with Avocado Lime Cream and Raspberry Jam. Yes, you did read all those ingredients together! It was an unusual combination which I tested on some dinner party guests. Although the recipe denotes making layers I made a single larger cake for simplicity.  Made with coconut flour and sugar, the cake was deliciously moist and incredibly nutty from the ground pistachio. The icing was a combination of avocado, lime juice, coconut yogurt and coconut sugar. Underneath the icing was a layer of raspberry jam. This was an unusual addition I thought, but actually added an amazing dimension to the final flavour.  To say the cake tasted divine was an understatement…it got a resounding thumbs up from my dinner party guests and the flavours and ingredients became a lovely talking point too! img_4231

Other recipes in the book which caught my eye were the savoury Roasted Root Vegetable Tarts with Spiced Sesame Crust, Purple Haze Loaf with Super-Berry Cashew Yogurt, and the Chocolate Hazelnut Torte with Honey Praline Ganache.

I did find that some recipes in the book had ingredients that were not readily available (despite me living in a capital city well-served by delis and speciality shops). Items such as palmyra nectar (which I had never heard of before!) and teff flour were not available in my local health food shop. However I did substitute honey for the coconut sugar in the icing of the Courgette cake and I imagine other simple substitutions are also possible.

For a baker interested in free-from cakes and treats and who likes to source and experiment with different ingredients I would highly recommend this book!

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Marshmallow Love

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Deliciously light and fluffy, and with endless flavour possibilities, homemade marshmallows make perfect additions to a wedding cake table  as well as beautiful guest favours. We have been having some fun experimenting with flavours and are delighted to share some of our favourites.  With so many options we would as always be delighted to customise flavours as required!

Champagne or Raspberry Rose

Our favourite flavours which taste so good independently or combined. We couldn’t decide which to choose so will leave it up to you! Here we have layered fresh raspberry and rose with deliciously decadent real champagne mallow. Flecks of freeze-dried raspberry between the layers add a little surprise!

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Bourbon Vanilla Bean, Roasted White Chocolate

Sweet and caramel-like, our roasted Belgian white chocolate is delicious swirled through vanilla bean marshmallow.

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Cinnamon Spiced Irish Apple

Made with pure local Irish apple juice, this lightly spiced marshmallow is a real taste of Autumn.

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Pure Coconut

Fragrant Malibu marshmallow coated in textural dessicated coconut.

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Fresh Blueberry Swirl

Visually beautiful and equally delicious, this blueberry swirl marshmallow can also be made with other summer fruits.

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Earl Grey Chocolate

Belgian chocolate marshmallow infused with the subtle Bergamot fragrance of Earl Grey Tea

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