Sunday, April 23, 2017

3 Interesting Christmas Pudding Traditions

Christmas Pudding Traditions As we’ve discussed in previous posts on this blog, the origin of the christmas or plum pudding goes back centuries and is steeped in tradition. In fact, this delicious sweet has evolved in many ways here in Australia and the ways we serve and enjoy it are quite different than in Europe for instance. Through its history, many different traditions and customs have emerged, some of which we still observe today. Let’s take a look at some of the most memorable and well-known christmas pudding traditions.

Stir up Sunday

Most of pudding traditions find their origins a few hundred years ago, where cooking up a plum pudding became an important part of the Christmas season.
Much like today, Christmas puddings were enjoyed in the lead up to Christmas as well as on the day of Christmas itself. ‘Stir up Sunday’ as it came to be known, was a day a few weeks before Christmas on which many families would prepare their puddings for the festive season.

This was something of a special day of togetherness for families who would gathered in their kitchens and were actively involved in the pudding-making process.


Stir up Sunday itself had some traditions as well.

For instance, everyone in the family - including the servants - would stir the pudding mixture for good luck throughout the day. Stirring the pudding was actually quite hard work, which probably explains how the tradition originated as everyone invariably shared the load.

Each person would make three wishes while stirring up the batter and according to the custom, one of the three would come true in the coming year.

Coins and other items in the pudding

There were a number of traditions pertaining to puddings that centered around the notion of good fortune. Small items would frequently be added to the mixture - from coins to chicken wishbones - with the idea being that whoever’s portion of pudding contained them would receive good luck or wealth for the coming year.

Other items would symbolize something else. For instance, a thimble - generally used for sewing - would be a sign of thrift (or good use of money) for the finder. A ring would foretell of an upcoming marriage in the year ahead and an anchor charm meant that the finder would be safe and protected.

Interestingly, the remnants of these traditions remain to this day. While most people don’t put coins in the pudding itself, some will place sterilised coins under servings of pudding to symbolise good luck. However, nowadays people will often prefer ready-made traditional plum puddings rather than mixing up the batch themselves. There are plenty of great plum pudding options available for order online!

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

5 Ways to Give your Homemade Cakes a Gourmet Edge

Ever wondered how to give your cakes a professional finish? Creating gourmet cakes at home is easier than you think. We’ve rounded up five of the best techniques for creating cakes that look like they’re straight out of an award-winning bakery.

Whether you’re new to cake decorating, or a seasoned pro - our tips are perfect for giving you something new to challenge yourself with. So roll up those sleeves, and get stuck into five simple ways to give your cakes a gourmet edge.

Use the dripping technique


You know when you sit down for a meal in a fancy restaurant and your plate is decorated with creatively drizzled sauce? Think of the drip technique as an extension of that - but with cake.

The trick to the drip technique is to get it to look casual, yet intentional. To create this technique, make a white chocolate ganache and add the colouring of your choice. You’ll want to keep the ganache at the right temperature so it’s runny, but not liquid. Giving it short, sharp blasts in the microwave as you decorate each section can help.

Use the dripping technique to create interesting colour combinations, with both contrasting and complementary colours. Chocolate drip cakes are immensely popular, although you could try out metallic drips of gold, silver or bronze by using cake dust in your ganache mixture.

Go to the dark side


Black icing is big news this year, so give it a try. You can choose to either make the entire cake covered in black icing, or cover sections. Black and white cakes, with one additional accent colour - such as, pink, blue or gold - work really well. Or go all black, with bright, multi-coloured detail.

Top it with a sugar flower


You don’t have to be a cake decorating expert to create a realistic flower using molds, cutters and modelling paste. Cakes with foliage are very trendy for wedding cakes at the moment, and you can even look to your own garden for inspiration.

Flowers can be as simple or as complicated as you dare! Studying a real flower is the best way to get an authentic looking result. A good tip is - the thinner you roll the modelling paste, the more realistic your flowers will look. Once you’ve created your flower, use some luster to give it a professional pearly sheen.

Try out edible painting


Turn your homemade cake into a work of art. Edible painting is all the rage right now in the professional cake decorating world, and can add a beautiful edge to any cake. If you aren’t confident at painting freehand, then a great tip is to sketch out your design on tracing paper, then use a pencil to indent the icing so you’ll have a guide for the pattern you want to create.

Make it square


Move away from round cakes if you want to give your cakes a truly gourmet edge. While square cakes may look fancy, they are actually reasonably straightforward to make. First off, make sure you measure out the dimensions of your cake before cutting, to ensure you get it just right. Then use a large metal scraper when you apply the ganache to get straight edges, and acetate smoothes over the icing to give every edge a straight ‘finished’ look.

We hope you’ve got plenty of inspiration and ideas for adding a gourmet edge to your homemade cakes. You can find out how to master all these techniques and more with the online cake decorating tutorials available at Paul Bradford Sugarcraft School.

Thanks for reading!