The Best North East Outdoor Events this Summer.

I am proud to be a Northern Lass, and our local area has so many wonderful places to explore and some great events going on throughout the summer months. Here, I have collated what I think to be some of the best outdoor events in the North East this summer. From festivals, to outdoor theatre, whether you are looking for a day out for the whole family, or a day out with friends our region has some amazing events going on this summer!

A perfect addition to an outdoor event this summer is an Afternoon Tea from Sweet Art Cakes. All homemade, with quality ingredients, all you need to do is add the Prosecco.

 Enjoy freshly prepared dainty finger sandwiches, mini quiche; alongside plenty of sweet treats including scone with jam and clotted cream, cupcakes from my own pudding inspired range and macarons.

All will come to you packed beautifully in picnic baskets, complete with cool packs to ensure that your treats stay cool.

Find the full menu selections at the bottom of this blog post.

PRIDE – 19th – 21st July 2019

ONE OF the UK’s leading LGBT+ festivals returns to the North East this summer, with its most ambitious event to date.

Organisers of the Northern Pride Festival, formerly known as Newcastle Pride, have revealed that this year’s weekend event will be spread across two locations for the very first time.

The Town Moor will be home to the Festival Arena, which will host the big name acts still to be announced on the main stage, as well as the fun fair and platinum bar and garden.

And across the moor, Exhibition Park will house the Community Village, which includes the Family and Youth Zone, Health and Wellbeing Zone and the Rainbow Village, with more still to be added.

The change in site location aims to accommodate the growing festival, which was attended by more than 78,000 visitors last year – with 20,000 marching in the parade – and which has been selected as the host for UK Pride in 2020.

The festival is free to attend but Platinum Passes, which have replaced last year’s VIP and Golden Circle tickets – are on sale at www.northern-pride.com/tickets for those who want to secure a prime viewing spot and access to a private bar, marquee and posh toilets.

https://www.northern-pride.com/pridefestival/

SIRF – Stockton International Riverside Festival – 1st – 4th August

The Stockton International Riverside Festival (SIRF) is an annual free outdoor arts and street theatre festival in Stockton-on-Tees.  In 2017 the festival celebrated its 30th year, helping to cement its position as one of the world’s oldest and best international outdoor art festivals.

Taking place over 4 days in early August, it attracts international artists performing to thousands of spectators each year. It showcases outstanding international street theatre, dance, circus and music acts with a packed programme of shows for all the family.

SIRF is a mainly free festival, although some shows are ticketed and pre booking is recommended.

https://sirf.co.uk/

Theatre in the Park: David Walliams Gangsta Granny or Quentin Blakes Mister Magnolia – 15th and 16th August

Head down to Preston Park this summer for an outdoor theatre festival in the Bandstand Garden.

Folksy Theatre presents Quentin Blakes Mister Magnolia with bold characters, live music, puppetry and audience interaction

Heartbreak Productions presents David Walliams, Gangsta Granny.

Heartbreak Productions invites you to share in this exciting escapade, a David Walliams’ best seller adapted for the outdoor stage. Join us, Ben, and his Gangsta Granny on their grandest adventure full of forbidden fun. It could be very hungry work so come prepared with picnics and appropriate outdoor gear.

Booking Information:

Tickets must be pre-booked online.

Adult £16 | Concession £11 | Family (2A+2C) £46

Festival of Thrift – 14th and 15th September

Festival of Thrift – 14th and 15th September

The first Festival took place in 2013 at Lingfield Point in Darlington, making a big impact regionally and nationally, with 27,000 visitors, 17,000 more than expected.

We have won a multitude of awards since starting out, including Best Event Teesside (in 2015 and 2017), Gold as North East Tourism Event of the Year and the Observer Ethical Awards for Arts and Culture, recognising the fact that artists are embedded in the programme as agents for social change.

The Festival’s ethos:

Build a unique and distinctive, fun, sustainable national event which draws positive media attention to our partners, Tees Valley and the North East.

Celebrate the heritage and contribute to the future prosperity of Tees Valley and its industry.

Ensure wider economic benefit through encouraging extended visitor spend on travel, accommodation, restaurants and businesses.

Contribute to community cohesion through targeting communities with less access to culture.

Highlight the skills and creativity of the region’s artists and craftspeople, to inspire people of all ages to learn old ways, and find new ways to be creative in their ever y day lives.

Promote the concept of sustainable living and being a voice for sustainable issues.

The Festival of Thrift is a free festival, although there is a small charge for car parking. There are lots of workshops going on throughout the weekend to give you the opportunity to learn a new skill – workshops are paid.

https://www.festivalofthrift.co.uk/

Hardwick Live – 17th -18th August

The aim of Hardwick Live is to give everyone a fantastic weekend out appealing to The whole family, something for everyone, a melting pot of Live music over 2 stages, Children’s area within the woods full of great entertainment, face painting, magic shows, Ventriloquist shows, Punch & Judy, pottery making, Comedy stage, Vintage fairground attractions also celebrity pop up kitchens, a huge choice of Culinary delights on our food stalls and an extensive range of refreshments from Champagne cocktails to Hot chocolate on our various bars.

Hardwick Live is where you might stand alongside Superstars, urbanites, farmers, fashionistas and families.

Glorious days out at Hardwick Live, Entertainment for a Friendly crowd from all walks of life.

Artists this year include, James, Manic Street Preacher, Stiff Little Fingers, Lisa Stansfield.

https://www.hardwicklive.co.uk/

Kynren – June- September

With performances in June, July, August and into September, the critically acclaimed Kynren returns

Take your seat as dusk settles over the vast, still lake and the expectant audience of 8,000 falls silent and the epic show begins.

Suddenly the lake’s deceptively placid waters erupt as a Viking longship, teeming with marauding invaders, bursts from its depths. Their dramatic attack on a fishing village leaves a trail of destruction and fire. The Vikings have arrived!

Before the show experience the more peaceful side of Viking life in the brand new Viking Village. Visit the cookhouse complete with its own vegetable patch and the woodworker’s cottage built into the hillside.

Take a stroll along the stream and watch the past come to life at the working blacksmith’s forge where you’ll be able to see real chainmail being made.

Don’t miss the village’s animal inhabitants like the impressive Highland cattle and the curly haired Wensleydale sheep.

Reviews have included “Awesome” The Independent “ Brilliant” The Sunday Times, “Stunning” The Northern Echo

https://www.kynren.com/

Middlesbrough Mela – Albert Park – 17th and 18th August 2019

Middlesbrough Mela brings communities together to celebrate and promote the diverse cultures within our region. The festival offers a vibrant celebration of world class music covering a rich mix of hip hop, Bhangra and traditional Asian sounds; a global arts village; food court; bazaar; street theatre, and family fun entertainment.https://www.lovemiddlesbrough.com/mela/

Romeo and Juliet at Brancepeth Castle – 3rd July

A unique outdoor theatre experience by Heartbreak productions.  Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare, directed by Alan Atkins.  Doors open at (18.00) for picnics on the lawn – bring your own or there will be a range of refreshments on sale.   Bring your own seat

Please contact Brancepeth Castle for ticket details on 0191 378 9670 or www.brancepethcastle.org.uk. Bring your own seat or rug for comfort!

South Tyneside Festival – Events throughout June, July and August

There are a huge selection of events going on at the Amiptheatre on South Shields sea front throughout the summer. Most of the events are also free, from brass bands, live music and lots of activities for the kids there is something for everyone going on. The highlight of the festival is the summer Parade at Bents Park on the 16th July.

Afternoon Teas Menu.

Adults – £15.95 pp (minimum of 2 per booking)

Finger sandwiches with choice of four fillings – fillings include ham and mustard, free range egg mayonnaise, tuna and sweetcorn, cheddar and onion chutney, brie and grape

Three cheese rustic quiche

Scones with jam and clotted cream

A choice of cupcake from my Pudding Inspired Range (Please find flavours below)

Macarons

Luxury chocolate brownie

Children’s – £9.95pp

Finger sandwiches with choice of four fillings

Scones with jam and clotted cream

A choice of cupcake from my Pudding Inspired Range

Cookie

Luxury chocolate brownie

Milkshake in mini retro milk bottles

(Choice to upgrade to iced cookies and bespoke cupcakes available)

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Afternoon Teas come presented to you in beautiful wicker baskets.

Why not complete the look with vintage china, cake stands, and table linens available to hire.

Bespoke celebration cakes are also available to order.

Pudding Inspired Cupcake Range

  • Lemon Meringue Pie – Zesty lemon sponge, sandwiched with homemade lemon curd, Italian meringue frosting and meringue pieces.
  • Apple Crumble and Custard – Vanilla sponge, filled with a homemade apple compote, topped with custard buttercream and a crunchy crumble topping.
  • Tiramisu – Coffee sponge, soaked with coffee liqueur, with a mascarpone cream and dusted with cocoa.
  • Peach Cobbler – Vanilla sponge, filled with homemade fresh peach compote, custard buttercream and crunchy crumble topping.
  • Black Forest Gateaux – Rich chocolate sponge filled with cherry compote topped with chocolate buttercream and fresh cream
  • Banoffee Pie – Banana sponge with fresh cream and homemade toffee sauce.
  • After Dinner Mint – Mint chocolate sponge, with mint chocolate buttercream, topped with after dinner mint chocolate.
  • Pecan Pie – A brown sugar sponge with toffee sauce, crushed pecans and brown sugar Italian meringue buttercream.
  • Strawberry Cheesecake – A strawberry sponge with a mascarpone cheesecake filling and a crumbly biscuit topping.
  • Eton Mess – Strawberry sponge topped with fresh cream, raspberries and meringue pieces.
  • Sticky Toffee Pudding – A traditional sticky toffee sponge filled with homemade toffee sauce and a toffee buttercream

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Edible Wedding Favours

There are so many ideas for wedding favours out there, and of course here at Sweet Art Cakes, we’re massive fans of edible wedding favours. Here are some of my favourite ideas out there, including treats and favours you can find at Sweet Art Cakes.

Cookies

Iced cookies are bang on trend at the moment and pretty iced cookies are a fantastic edible wedding favour. Here at Sweet Art Cakes we make beautiful iced cookies to match any theme, and can even ice them with your guests names to that your favours double up as name cards!

And why should only the adults get a welcome drink? We also make these super cute little milkshakes, with an iced ring cookie for your little guests!

Cake pops

These cute little bite sized treats show no sign of slowing down in there popularity and can easily be made in colours to match your theme.

Macarons.

Another treat that are bang on trend at the moment are Macarons. They can be made in some many different flavours, in colours that match your theme, and, lets face it, are little bites of heaven. Here are Sweet Art Cakes our favourites are our White Chocolate and Raspberry Macarons.

Jam’s, chutney’s and infused oils.

This is a fantastic wedding favour to DIY, as it can be made in bulk batches and well in advance. Pop it in cute little jars with printed labels and ribbons and they will look stunning too.

Cupcakes

Cupcakes can make great favours and you can also have them in place of your usual wedding cake. Here at Sweet Art Cakes we can create stunning cupcakes that match your theme, and have many different flavours, including my very own Pudding Inspired Range of cupcakes. (see the flavours section of my website)  

Alcohol

Who doesn’t love a little tipple? Treat your guests to a drink on the house with a miniature bottle of booze. You could go for a local micro brewery to support local business, or even make something yourself like a fruit infused gin! Add your own labels, and ribbons – you can find many DIY label resources online. Be sure to check your venue to see if you would need to pay corkage on them though.

Sweets

One of the easiest DIY favours are sweets, pop them in a jar, pretty box or bag, decorating them with ribbons and lace to match your theme. Sweets can easily be bought in bulk, and whether you go for the traditional sugared almonds, retro sweets or chocolates you can be sure they will go down well.

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Easter Bunny Butt Cake!

It’s been so busy over these last few weeks here at Sweet Art Cakes that I feel I have neglected you all, so, to say sorry I am giving you this free tutorial to make this Easter Bunny Butt Cake along with the recipe I use for my chocolate cakes!

Tools required:

Hand or stand mixer

Piping bags

Sharp Knife

Grass piping nozzle

10” cake board

Ovenproof bowl

Ramekin or small 4” cake tin

Cooling rack

Ingredients

For the grass covered cake board

150g Desiccated coconut

Green food colouring

100g Mini chocolate eggs

For the rabbit ears and feet

 100g white fondant

50g pink fondant

For the rabbit chocolate cake

230g fair trade chocolate (minimum 70% cocoa solids)

170g unsalted butter, softened

350g light brown sugar

3 large free range eggs separated

370g plain flour

1 ½ teaspoons baking powder

1 ½ teaspoons bicarbonate of soda

½ teaspoon salt

500ml whole milk

For the white chocolate buttercream

175g fair trade white chocolate

225g unsalted butter softened at room temperature

1 tablespoon whole milk

1 teaspoon quality fair trade vanilla extract

200g icing sugar

Method

To begin make the rabbit ears and feet and set these aside to dry at least overnight.

To make the ears, knead the whit fondant for a few minutes and then roll out to around 2mm thickness. Using a sharp knife, and using the template below cut out the ear shapes. Roll out the pink fondant and cut out the inside part of the ear using the template. Set these aside to dry at least overnight.

Using the remaining fondant make two feet shapes by rolling into balls and then pinching thinner along one end to make the feet shape. With the remaining pink fondant cut out the feet features on toes and pads, stick these to the fondant feet using edible glue if you have it or a little water. Set these aside with the ears.

Whilst these are drying make the buttercream and covered board.

White Chocolate Buttercream

Melt the chocolate in a Bane Marie or in the microwave, set aside to cool slightly.

Beat together the butter, icing sugar and vanilla extract, once slightly cooled, add the white chocolate and continue beating until soft and light (for around 5 minutes). Set your buttercream to one side.

Next make the grass for the board (this is optional, you can leave your cake board uncovered if you wish)

Add the green food colouring a little at a time to the desiccated coconut until you are happy with the colour. Take a little of the white chocolate buttercream and smear this over the cake board. Sprinkle over the green desiccated coconut and press down slightly to help it to adhere to the board. Set board aside in the fridge.

Now make the chocolate sponge.

Chocolate sponge cake

Lightly grease your ovenproof bowl and ramekin or small cake tin and set aside

Melt the chocolate in a Bane Marie or in the microwave, set aside to cool slightly.

Beat together the butter and sugar, until light and fluffy.

Add the egg yolks and beat together well. Add the cooled chocolate and continue to beat for a few minutes.

Reduce speed of mixer to low and gradually add the flour, vanilla extract and milk, alternating between a few spoonful’s of flour and then a little milk. Take care not to overmix.

In a separate bowl beat the egg whites until they form peaks and then fold these gently into the cake batter.

Pour the batter into the prepared bowl and ramekin and bake at 180. You may have left over batter – just make some cupcakes with any leftover, which can easily be frozen for later!

 The small cake should only take around 10 minutes, the larger around 30 minutes. Check the sponge is baked by inserting a skewer into the middle of the cake. Once it comes out clean, your sponge is done.

Set aside on a cooling rack to cool

Next is time for the fun part and to decorate your cake!

Use a little of the buttercream to carefully place your larger cake, upside down on the centre of your prepared cake board. Add the small cake the middle back of the cake to make the tail.

Place you #r white chocolate buttercream into a piping bag with the grass nozzle. (You may wish to beat your buttercream again to make it nice and soft and easy to pipe).

Pipe to fur of the rabbit by putting the nozzle near to the cake as you begin to squeeze the bag, then quickly pull up as you stop squeezing. Continue this process all over the body and tail of your rabbit.

Once it is fully covered, add the tail and ears.

Add a few of the mini eggs to the board to decorate if you so desire.

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Packaging, transporting, storing and cutting your cake.

Here at Sweet Art Cakes, I spend a lot of time on your cake to ensure that it is perfect; and I want to ensure that it arrives home in the same way!

All of my cakes will come to you in the correct sized box, so that it doesn’t move around, protected either with the box lid, or film, if the cake is too tall. Each cake will come with Cake Care Instruction – which will either be messaged over to you or sent with your cake – please read these carefully as to how to care for your cake!

But (and I know from transporting wedding cakes!) that drive home with your beautiful cake can be very stressful!

So here is my advice for transporting your cake home.

The best place in the car to get your cake home is in the footwell of the passenger seat, as this stops the cake from being able to slide around too much.

If you can’t use the footwell, the next best place would be on a passenger’s careful knee, or in the boot of your car – perhaps also trying to ‘box in’ the cake on all sides so it doesn’t slide around too much!

I don’t recommend using the back seat and the seat belt as if you do have to brake suddenly, the seat belt will squash in the side of the cake box, which would be disaster for the sides of your cake!

When you arrive home the best place for fondant cakes is in a cool room. Unless you fridge has very low humidity, storing fondant cakes in the fridge will cause them to sweat. Buttercream only cakes need to go in the fridge.

So, what about cutting the cake ready to serve?? Normally, when tackling cutting a cake, we all just go for the ‘pizza cut’ cutting the cake into wedges as you would find in a coffee shop. But, how I would recommend cutting your cake in this way. This way will give you more portions and is better to keep your leftover cake moist, stopping those bare edges of cake from drying out, and also allows you to get more equal and better shaped slices to serve. This is how you will find staff at wedding venues will cut a wedding cake.

  1. Cut ONE large slice from the very middle of your cake, as thus.

Instagram/Katherine_Sabbath

2.) Now cut this slice into smaller, portion sized pieces, as thus.


Instagram/Katherine_Sabbath


3.) Keep cutting portions as thus until you have served your guests.

4.) When you have finished serving your cake, gently push the two pieces together, to bring the cake back into a circle. Voila! The edges of the cut cake will now keep moist and fresh!

See you next time!

Vicki.

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A Guide to Choosing Your Wedding Cake

Wedding planning can be one of the most exciting things you can do, creating a day, that says so much yourself and your husband or wife to be. But it can also be hectic, stressful and tiring, however, choosing your wedding cake can certainly be the tastiest part of your planning!

Cake decorating and trends have certainly developed over the year’s and gone are the days of every wedding cake needing to fit within the traditional idea of a wedding cake. Today wedding cakes can truly reflect you as a couple, the theme or feel of your day, and even tell your story as a couple!

But how do you manage cut through the mountain of ideas you can now find in magazines, on social media, or at wedding fayres, to find the cake that matches you and your day?

Here, I would recommend going for a consultation with your cake designer, who can manage to guide you through the process and help create a cake that is perfect for you, and that will have your guests wowing and returning for second helpings – because, lets face it, that gorgeous cake needs to taste good too. So book in a taster session also.

So, what do you need to know before your consultation?

My advice would be that going for your cake consultation should be one of the last decisions you make – book when you know or are pretty sure of the following:

  • What is the style of your wedding?  Is it small and intimate, or is it a large affair at a large venue? Is your wedding going to be traditional, modern, quirky, rustic, or romantic? Do you have a theme?
  • Choose your dress and bridesmaids dresses and your colour palette for the day – there may be elements of your dress that you would like within your cake such as edible lace, pearls or gems
  •  Have your flowers decided upon – you may want the same flowers on your cake.

A great next step is to have a look online at different styles of wedding cakes to get a feel of what you like – Pinterest is great for this. Take these along to your consultation so your designer has an idea of what you like, elements from your designs can be brought together in order to create an original design for you.

A designer can also talk through with you what you like and what your wedding will be like in order to create a design for your cake that will be a real centrepiece of your wedding.

You may have a quirky theme for your wedding such as something from your favourite book, film, or even TV series! Some themes weddings like this that I have seen are Alice in Wonderland, Hunger Games, Harry Potter, or Peaky Blinders! A talented cake designer can take these themes and from them create a stunning, sophisticated design.   Or it could be a steampunk theme wedding, boho, fairytale, vintage…

And whilst I Iove to create wedding cakes that are modern, romantic and floral; what I most like to do are cakes that are a little bit different and stand out from the norm – (as I’m a little bit quirky too).

So, what would your consultations and taster sessions be like with Sweet Art Cakes?

I like to spend time with all my clients in order to get a real feel for you, and your day. My tasting sessions include complementary tea and coffee, along with your selection of cake flavours.

You will also receive a box of your tasters for you to take home. These can be shared with other people, such as bridesmaids, or parents, to help you to choose final flavours, (or you can just eat them yourselves – I wont judge!)

Here at Sweet Art Cakes I believe that your cake should taste as good as it looks, I offer a wide range of flavours, some of which I have not found with other bespoke cake makers. These include my own “Pudding Inspired” range of cakes which include flavours such as Lemon Meringue Pie.

I will put you under no pressure to book within my consultations. In fact, I encourage you to go home and consider all options carefully, including your chosen cake designer. My priority is to help to ensure you have a beautiful cake, that speaks of you and your day, and not just to secure an order.

All set up for one of my wedding tasters

Following your consultation, I will create a sketch of your cake, giving you time to decide your final flavours, and I will then provide a quote for your cake. This will then be sent for you to check over all the details making sure you are happy with every element before you decide to book. I am always on hand for you to check anything over before you go ahead and book.

So, congratulations, good luck in your planning, enjoy every minute and I look forward to seeing some of you for a consult!

Victoria

Owner and Cake Artist at Sweet Art Cakes.

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The Life of Pie – National Pie Week

The 4th of March is the start of Britain’s National Pie Week, to celebrate our humble British Pie.

But pie certainly does not have to be humble! Indeed, to celebrate National Pie Week I decided to create a not so humble Apple Pie…

But before mine, lets look into the life of pie.

Pie has a rich history actually dating back far further than you would originally guess. Pie like dishes have actually been around since the ancient Egyptians! The earliest pies were usually meat pies, created to solve the need for long lasting food that was easy to carry for travellers, working men, and sailors.

Pie has a strong history with the working man, from Egyptian sailors, to, of course, our well loved Cornish pasty, which was created for miners to take a nourishing meal into the mines without their food becoming contaminated. The pastry around the Cornish pasty was actually not often eaten, just used to protect the meat and veg inside from dirty hands, the traditional ridge along the top of the pasty used to hold onto the pie as it was eaten.

In medieval times people had restricted access to ovens due to their costs of construction and need for abundant supplies of fuel. Therefore, in villages there would be one large fire, which many families would use to cook their meals.  Pies could be easily cooked over an open fire, and families would encase their fillings in their own defined pie casing, so that when the pies were cooked, each family would know whose meal was whose.

The first sweet fruit pies were not seen until the 16th century, and the first recorded recipe for apple pie was found in the UK, which also called for figs, raisins, pear and saffron.

There are now over 100 different types of savoury and sweet pies, originating from as far as Trinidad and Serbia, to our own home shores here in the UK. Some are, more strictly pies, but we also have others, not containing the traditional pastry, such as shepherds pie.

So, what better pie to celebrate National Pie Week, than our much loved Apple Pie, and as I said before, my Apple Pie, is far from humble, with this rich history, why can pie not be Art? I wanted my pie to truly be a celebration of pie.

For my pie, I decided to go a little less traditional and the crust is actually cookie crust rather than pastry. It’s really delicious but as the cookie crust is sweeter than pastry, I added less sugar to my fruit filling.

So, here it is, my Mother and Child Cookie Crust Apple Pie.

Mother and Child Cookie Crust Apple Pie

Rather than pastry my pie was made with a cookie crust. I lined and baked my pie tin with the cookie crust, and was baked as you would a normal pastry lining. My pie was then gerneously filled with a cinammon and apple filling.

Each piece of the cookie crust was hand cut and baked to make all the pieces of this mother and child image, they were then layered onto the pie and hand painted using gel food colours and petal dusts. The flowers were cut from fondant to create further dimension to the finished effect.

I really enjoyed doing something a little different, to my usual cakes, and I think the finished piece was certainly worth the time and effort as a celebration as pie. Although my sons reaction to it was just “So, how do I cut it mum?”  But, cut it we did, as pie is meant to be eaten and it tasted damn good too!

So, what’s your favourite pie that will be on your menu this week to celebrate National Pie Week?

See you next time! Victoria

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What’s in a cake? Shop bought versus bespoke cake.

Yes, bespoke cakes are expensive. “But why so!?” I hear some cry – it’s only butter eggs and flour how can it be so pricy!

Now, don’t get me wrong, despite being a cake maker I am not simply going to write that a bespoke cake is the only cake, supermarket cakes do have their place, they are convenient (you do not have to order sometimes months in advance) AND cheap, let’s face it; you may not want to pay for a bespoke cake to take into the office to celebrate a colleagues birthday… but for milestone birthdays you may want something a little more special. 

Shop bought cakes will be more affordable due to production methods and types of designs that are selected for retail. But, a bespoke cake is a one-off creation, designed with you and your requirements in mind without the limits of an off-the-shelf cake. Each cake has their place.

SO, let me explain the differences a little further…

Comparing bespoke cakes and shop bought cakes is like comparing apples and pears; they’re both cake, but they’re both very different. Firstly, lets talk size, because when it comes to cake, size does matter! For example the depth of a shop bought cake is typically 2-2.5” whereas, a bespoke is anywhere from 3”- 5”. So, both may say that they serve 14, but when it comes to a bespoke made cake, that’s a lot more cake for your money!

Now, lets talk about ingredients and taste…

 My cakes ingredients

butter, sugar, flour, free range eggs, milk, vanilla extract1.

Now lets compare….

Supermarket cakes ingredients

Madeira Sponge (45%) [Sugar, Fortified Wheat Flour [Wheat Flour, Calcium Carbonate, Iron, Niacin (B3), Thiamin (B1)], Pasteurised Whole Egg, Rapeseed Oil, Water, Humectant (Glycerol), Dried Skimmed Milk, Modified Tapioca Starch, Raising Agents, (Diphosphates, Sodium Carbonates), Maize Starch, Dried Glucose Syrup, Emulsifier (Sodium Stearoyl-2-Lactylate), Preservative (Potassium Sorbate), Flavouring, Acidity Regulator (Citric Acid)] , Soft Icing (40%) [Sugar, Invert Sugar Syrup, Glucose Syrup, Water, Spirulina Concentrate, Rapeseed Oil, Palm Oil, Stabiliser (Tragacanth), Palm Stearin, Safflower Concentrate, Salt] , Vanilla Flavour Frosting2 (6.2%) [Sugar, Unsalted Butter (from Milk), Palm Oil, Palm Kernel Oil, Rapeseed Oil, Water, Dried Glucose Syrup, Palm Stearin, Humectant (Glycerol), Emulsifier (Mono- and Diglycerides of Fatty Acids), Flavouring3, Preservative (Potassium Sorbate), Colour (Carotenes)]

Looking at the list of ingredients is pretty daunting. This cake is packed full of scary chemicals.

Even if we ignore the additives and stabilisers (which we NEVER use in our cake), basic ingredients like milk are cast aside for cheap powders, for supermarkets, it’s often about the cheapest ingredients, for the biggest profit margins.

Take the challenge, try two different cakes (a supermarket bought and handmade) and I guarantee you will taste the difference. For example, lets just take one VERY important ingredient for a good tasting vanilla sponge – a good quality vanilla extract. Note the highlighted areas 1,2,and 3 – in the ingredient lists. Vanilla extract in a bespoke cake….. vanilla FLAVOURING in the supermarket.

Believe me, this one single ingredient, (ignoring all the additives and stabilisers) will make all the difference.

Lastly, lets talk about design…. What is a ‘bespoke’ cake?

The word bespoke itself is derived from the verb to be speak, to “speak for something”, in the specialized meaning “to give order for it to be made to a particular specification. … Therefore in my eyes, when talking about bespoke cakes, it is a unique product, designed and created specifically for the client.

When I design a cake for a customer, they will often come with a photo of something they like and we can go from there for the design. But often, customers come not really knowing what they want the cake to be like, just wanting it to speak for the celebration or person. I will then work closely with the customer to create a bespoke design that catches your unique qualities. Now, you can’t get that with a shop bought cake.

 For important celebrations a bespoke cake can be the centrepiece show stopper to the celebrations, will leave such an impression and memories and photos to wow. Plus, if stored properly, often the toppers from bespoke cakes can be kept for years, so you can go away with a memento of the day too.

And, for me certainly, the most important difference between a shop bought and a bespoke cake is one ingredient – LOVE!

I genuinely love what I do, I love working with my customers to create their dream cake, I love to make a cake that tastes as good as it looks, and every cake is a labour of love..

It can be difficult to appreciate the amount of work that has gone into a bespoke cake.

Handmade roses on cakes take hours to make them, each petal made and placed by hand….

Let’s take this ruffle cake…. Looks simple yeah?

Each ruffle has been made and applied to the cake individually – just the ruffles alone took my 3 hours to do!

Items for your bespoke cake can often be started days before you need your cake, characters need to be made, step by step, and each bit left to dry, hours alone can be spent covering and painstakingly create each piece on the cake. Take a look at this guitar cake I made to look like the birthday boys own guitar.

So, to sum up; yes, supermarket cakes do have their place, but for a milestone birthday, a special someone or celebration… the differences speak for themselves.

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Welcome to Sweet Art Cakes new blog.

Hi and welcome to my brand new blog.  I will be blogging here about all things cakey, sharing stories, tips, recipes, tutorials…..

But first, to introduce myself, I’m Vicki, owner and cake artist at Sweet Art Cakes. And I’ve been caking for over 15 years now!

In my happy place bringing a (sweary) cake to a friend!

It all started out baking to raise money for a charity that was very close to my heart, it was around this time of year, all those years ago I was baking Valentines cupcakes to sell to raise money for Bliss, the premature baby charity. It went so well, I made so much money for the charity, and I had some great feedback, and people asking for more! As I became more involved with fundraising, and as my cakes had gone down so well, I continued to bake to raise funds, amongst other fundraising activities.

( Bliss still continue to run a Bake for Bliss fundraising event every year, if you fancy learning more about the charity, or helping with a future bake, here’s the link:  www.bliss.org.uk)

I then decided to try my hand at making birthday cakes for my children.  This UFO cake for my son was my first ever birthday cake!

My first ever cake!

Although all I could see were areas for improvement (I am my own worst critic) I was really impressed at what I had managed to achieve! And obviously others did to, as friends and colleagues started to approach me to make birthday cakes, and eventually even entrusting me to make their wedding cakes!

SO, my little business came into being! As I then mainly did cupcakes, I decided to call my little business The Muffin Top, I loved the cheeky play on words!

I have always loved creating in the kitchen, and feel a little like it is in my blood, my Grandma was a cook, and once cooked in the royal kitchens! Her recipe books that were handed down to me are some of my most treasured possessions, they are falling apart, full of her own recipes, scribblings, and even shopping lists in both my grandmas and my mums handwriting, I am still using some of her recipes within them, indeed my Christmas cake recipe is her own!

Treasured possessions, my Grandma’s own recipe’s

 I started to experiment and came up with my Pudding Inspired Range of cupcakes, inspired by some of our favourite pudding’s including Lemon Meringue Pie, Black Forest Gateaux and Tiramisu, which today you can also order in flavours for bespoke cakes. So now, when it comes to pass down recipe books, my children will receive both my grandmas and my own recipes in the hopes that they will keep on baking!

Over the years I have spent so many hours watching, practicing, and learning new cake decorating skills, from flood icing to sugarpaste flowers, and my skills have developed from there. I toyed with the idea of taking the business fulltime many times, but never really had the guts to take the leap and The Muffin Top continued as a side-line hobby business for many years, until a health diagnosis two years ago made me stop and think; working my previous career with my diagnosis was certainly proving difficult, and life was certainly going to have it’s challenges going forward so I decided to take the plunge and take the business fulltime. It’s certainly been a steep learning curve going from nurse to business woman, but I am loving every minute and all the new business skills I am learning.

I felt that a re brand and change was needed in order to mark my taking the business fulltime and also felt that, although I loved to cheeky memorable name of The Muffin Top, it didn’t really do my bespoke cakes justice anymore, so Sweet Art Cakes was born!

I’m still learning lots everyday, but I love the new adventure. I love that I am doing something different everyday, the creative side and the business side, and seeing the smiles on my customers faces when they see their cake is such a joyous feeling.

I would like to sign off my thanking all my customers who have enjoyed my cakes and for supporting my venture, and also, of course, my friends and family who have believed in me, loved me, and supported me.

See you next time,

Vicki, Owner and Cake Artist at Sweet Art Cakes.

Over the coming weeks and months I will be sharing cakey stories, recipes, and even tutorials – have a question you would like to ask, or something you would like to see – leave a comment!

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Valentine’s Day idea for men!

Calling all men!
Still not sorted a gift for your sweet? Don’t worry, there’s still time to order these iced cookies which can also personalised. £1.50 each or 4 for £5. Just drop me a message.

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