If cake be the food of love…

If you’re wanting a truly bespoke gift for someone then how about creating a hamper for them?  A wicker basket, a bottle of port and some smelly cheese may be lovely for some but thinking outside the box lwh (or wicker basket) can mean you end up with a more personal gift which you’ll have a great deal of fun creating!

Like this pretty baking hamper (pictured below). Just perfect for someone with a passion for baking and a thing for pink! (That’ll be my friend Jenny then!). Indeed, tried and tested and the results were good…She was thrilled to pieces when I gave it to her for her birthday and I knew that the baking tin I’d used as the container would come to good use over the years! Now that’s a bonus…Time for tea and cake anyone? Jenny does make the most gorgeous cake (Do I get lots of ‘friend points’ and an extra slice of cake for pointing this out?)

So, as it’s good to share, should you fancy a go at creating one or something similar and need a helping hand, you can find our tips below. Enjoy!

hamper-and-mixer

Our tips to creating a perfectly pretty baking hamper!

  1. The first thing  you’ll need is a container for your products. Remember that it needs to be large enough to fit a variety of products in so have a think about what you’ll be putting in and ensure it’s the right size, not just in length or width but height too! We chose a baking tin but you could use an open cake tin (with the lid sitting underneath), a mixing bowl or something else that fits with your baking theme.
  2. Once you have your container, it’s time to get the products to go inside. As well as baking ingredients what about a cookery magazine/book, tea towel, wooden spoon or baking accessories? Do take time to think about the size, colour and shape of the items you’ll be adding as this can make a big difference to how the finished hamper will look. A variety of items that are tall, smaller, wider, thinner etc will all help to create interest. If you can pick products with colors that co-ordinate with one another (as we did for ours) that works best but don’t worry if not…There are ways you can tie colors together!
  3. Before you add your items its a good idea to line your container with some paper or tissue paper is it will help to prevent any damage to the base from the products you place inside.  Add your products creating height at the back and then coming lower to the front. If something isn’t tall enough or you need it to be more angled, use scrunched up paper underneath or to the side to create the desired look and when you’re happy with it all, fill in any gaps with paper to hold the products securely before adding your decorative top layer. We’ve used paper straw but you could use shredded tissue etc but do pick wisely, as the right color can really help to tie your products together and show them off at their best!
  4. Now it’s time to wrap it all up in cellophane, securing underneath with sticky tape and add a ribbon/bow/decorative touch. Again, use something that will co-ordinate and tie all the colors together. We’ve used some gorgeous  Julie Dodsworth Ribbon and to complete the look we’ve tied in a little wooden heart keepsake from our own collection at moreprettythings.co.uk which says ‘If cake be the food of love bake on’.
  5.  Voila! You’ve created a perfectly pretty baking hamper just perfect for that special someone!

Now, even with hampers I like to give the element of surprise by wrapping it up …So, the question is, how do you attractively wrap an oddly shaped hamper?  That’s easy ……

hamper-wrapped-up

Find out more about our Gift Wrapping Workshops at http://www.moreprettythings.co.uk

Baking days

 

I often dream of having time to bake, to try new recipes and potter in the kitchen on a Saturday morning……baking polenta cake 2

Just  me, no make up, my comfy slippers, baggy jumper and Graham Norton on radio two. Recently instead of dreaming, I actually got the chance…… Not that it all went totally to plan of course!

With a group of very lovely ladies due to arrive the next day (Sunday) for a gift wrapping class, it was a great excuse to live the dream and bake lots of goodies I could serve them on our break at the class. Like many, I have a signature cake that always turns out well and I know that whenever I bake it there’ll only be crumbs left of it the next day. For me that’s my mothers traditional chocolate cake recipe with real cadbury’s chocolate on top and buttercream icing in between. However, whilst I don’t bake often I do like to try my hand at something different every now and again. It’s that thrill you get when you do something new and it actually turns out really well. In this case it was Lemon, honey and polenta cake (served with creme fraiche mixed with lemon rind) and almond and honey biscuits.  I found it (like you do) while  just flicking through a magazine with no baking agenda and there it was…shouting ‘try me, try me’.  So, decision made, the day before ‘baking day’ I checked my cupboards for ingredients I’d need and set off shopping for those I didn’t have.

So Saturday morning it was like Christmas…Up early and all excited. I turned on the radio, donned a rather fab ‘Mrs Madden Makes’ Pinny, made a pot of tea and went to line the cake tins. So, baking paper…. Ah…Now…where could it be? I scrabbled through the drawer. Nope, not there.  Had it gone to its hiding place down the back and into the cupboard perhaps? Nope. It seems the greaseproof paper fairy had been and borrowed it. So, only one thing to do….off I jumped in my car (well after taking off the slippers) and down to the nearest shop.  Let me see….Baking paper, baking paper…..I scoured the shelves up and down but could you believe it, no paper!! So back in the car to the next shop a few miles away and voila…loads of it. So after purchasing two packs of it (for good measure), I headed back for home.

Right pinny back on, hands washed ,..Off we go! Tins lined, time to weigh the plain flour for the biscuits…Plain Flour, yes I have plain flour I saw two packs of it yesterday …mmn but what’s this? One is near on empty and the other….well, the sell by date fairy has also visited and it appears I’m out by a year….What were the chances of that? (note to self… better stock rotation required!)   Oh hey,  back in the car I went…. Not even bothering to go to  the most local shop this time in case it didn’t have any, I headed back to the shop furthest away again where once again, they came through for me and had mountains of it. On leaving with a large bag of flour the Shop assistant did one of those knowing nods …I smiled one of those knowing smiles and off I went. Once again, all sorted, back home, pinny on, hands washed ready to proceed and….

Phone rang. Door bell chimed. Dog needed walking (actually I don’t have a dog but if I had, it would have surely have needed a walk) It was bedlam . You have to smile don’t you. So, a little longer than expected, with more interruptions, delays, unstocked shops and bad fairies than I’d ever imagined, I did, in the end make it. (with the help of Graham Norton and a good shop).

Graphic1

And it all turned out swimmingly too ….There’s nothing like the feeling of when you bake something new and its a hit with your guests. Thank you ladies…Lemon, honey and Polenta cake recipe on its way to you as promised!

baking final picbaking polenta cake 4