Saturday, 1 October 2011

A year of cake poppery - how the Cake Pop Princess got started

Well, it's fast approaching my first anniversary of making a cake pop and I thought I'd share the story and the recipe that first got me started. You'll see my very first makes, and my transition from rank amateur to seasoned professional - hee hee!

What to know something interesting? I'd never heard of Bakerella when I first made cake pops. My very first time was making these from a program I watched and that's why I don't use frosting in any of my pops - I completely changed the recipe to suit my own needs and to create the other flavours I do. My 'Rich Chocolate' doesn't really look like this any more, but it most definitely was the basis for it. It's worth a try as it's so delicious. VERY rich though! 

So, I made some pops for my son and daughter's Christening. If we're being completely honest, they were ugly as hell and a far cry from the pops I make now, but everyone has to start somewhere, right? =D

First ever pops (before I knew how to take good cake pop photos!)

I uploaded a picture onto Facebook, and my friends suggested that I go into business. I was skeptical at first, but a friend asked if I could make them look like ponies and I said I'd try. My very first order! It was then I discovered the amazingly creative world of character cake pops and I was well and truly hooked.  

Well, the ponies didn't come out too badly, they're not perfect but I was well on my way. I couldn't possibly use the recipe below for the toddler-recipients as it's just so rich, so I had to work on a new version. When I look back at them now, I have to admit that they were a little dry and probably not that flavoursome. The kids loved them but they weren't quite ready for the masses. 

Pony Pops - trial run

Pony pops - final version!

When I first started I was using white chocolate, as that's what the original recipe had called for. Let me tell you something: white chocolate (from a supermarket) is a NIGHTMARE to work with compared to candy melts or coating wafers such as Merckens! It's really runny, it drips a lot, it takes a lot of colouring to make bright and bold colours (and when you first try to colour it you don't realise you need oil-based colours so you inevitably waste a whole bowl of chocolate using normal food colourings!). It was December when I first got to try Wilton's Candy Melts, and I knew they were the right way to go. My first time was very frustrating, as they were just SO DAMN THICK. I hadn't realised that you were supposed to thin them with vegetable oil or paramount crystals, but a google soon sorted that one out for me. 

You'll notice from the very first pony picture that their painted features aren't very good. I was using powdered colours and rejuvenator spirit, and they were watery and they smeared on the bag. For the second attempt, I mixed the powdered colour with the white chocolate and did them that way. After a few months of using very expensive Confectioners Glaze aerosol spray, I wondered if there might not be a better way. I found some leaf glaze on Ebay and asked if I could paint with it. As far as the seller and the manufacturer were aware, the answer was a resounding 'no'. I decided to experiment and bought a bottle - the best decision I've ever made. Suddenly, it was possible to paint in the entire rainbow of colours, with no smearing on the bag! 

Edible Leaf Glaze to paint with

In case you're wondering what the difference between Leaf Glaze and Confectioner's Glaze is, I think the leaf glaze is a bit more watered down. You can add IsoPropyl Alcohol (rejuvenator spirit) to Confectioner's Glaze to get the same thing.

From there, it was just a question of practice makes perfect. I've made hundreds of different designs since then, some most definitely better than others! I put a lot of love into my pops and I always try to be original. Sometimes I might do my own version of someone elses creation, but I always try to credit the original artist and put my own spin onto things. I don't want to be the same as anyone else. I just want to be me. 

And in case you ever wondered what I look like - here's me at the christening last year, shortly before serving up those very first cake pops. I probably look 100 years older now, cake popping does that to a person - hahahah!


So, there you have it: my cake popping story. If you'd like to start on a cake popping journey of your own - why not start with the same recipe that got the ball rolling for me? 

Cake pops (by Simon Rimmer from 'Something for the Weekend')
Recipe taken from the BBC website. 

100g/3½oz dark chocolate
125g/4½oz fruit cake
125g/4½oz Madeira cake
2 tbsp desiccated coconut
2 tbsp chopped hazelnuts

To decorate
300g/10½oz white chocolate
few drops food colouring
multi-coloured sugar ball sprinkles

Preparation method
1. Melt the chocolate in a bowl set over a pan of simmering water. (Do
not let the base of the bowl touch the water.)
2. Crumble the fruit cake and Madeira cake into a bowl, then stir in the
melted chocolate, desiccated coconut and hazelnuts until well
3. Roll golf ball sized pieces of the mixture into balls. Stick a lollipop
stick into each ball and set aside in the fridge for 20-30 minutes, or
until firm.
4. Meanwhile, melt the white chocolate in a bowl set over a pan of
simmering water. (Do not let the base of the bowl touch the water.)
Stir in the food colouring.
5. Line a baking tray with greaseproof paper. Sprinkle the sugar
sprinkles onto a plate.
6. Remove the balls from the fridge, dip them into the chocolate, then
coat in the sugar sprinkles and place onto the baking tray. Set aside
in the fridge for 20-30 minutes, or until the chocolate has set.