December, 2018

September, 2018

August, 2018

  • Cracking the code on cheffy terms

    28 August, 2018 Cracking the code on cheffy terms

    Sometimes fine-dining menus can seem like more of a maze than a relaxing pre-dining experience. Here, we breakdown some of the cheffy terms you’re likely to come across and include recipes so you can test them out at home.
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  • Cooking the classics

    27 August, 2018 Cooking the classics

    We consider those classic recipes we go back to time and time again.
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  • IGNI: The first year

    06 August, 2018 IGNI: The first year

    VIDEO: Acclaimed chef Aaron Turner's stirring account of love, loss and starting again.
    Read more…

May, 2018

February, 2018

  • How a chef cooks for those he loves

    13 February, 2018 How a chef cooks for those he loves

    Skipping the crowds in favour of a lovingly prepared meal at home is your best bet for a romantic Valentine’s Day. This is chef Jock Zonfrillo's idea of a nice night in.
    Read more…

January, 2018

December, 2017

October, 2017

September, 2017

  • Win a pro toastie pack

    18 September, 2017 Win a pro toastie pack

    Indulge in the ultimate comfort food with this kit, including a no-mess Breville press, a copy of Darren Purchese's Chefs Eat Toasties Too and a subscription to Cooked.
    Read more…

August, 2017

July, 2017

June, 2017

  • Winter entertaining with Gill Meller

    08 June, 2017 Winter entertaining with Gill Meller

    Gill Meller is in the country, his first time to Australia, showcasing his beautiful book Gather with a series of dinners and classes. We caught up with him to find out what's on the menu for his Aussie guests.
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May, 2017

April, 2017

February, 2017

January, 2017

December, 2016

October, 2016

September, 2016

August, 2016

July, 2016

June, 2016

May, 2016

April, 2016

March, 2016

February, 2016

January, 2016

December, 2015

November, 2015

  • Christmas basics: the perfect custard

    27 November, 2015 Christmas basics: the perfect custard

    We're looking at those staple recipes that can make or break your Christmas spread. First up, the much-misunderstood sweet seductress, custard.
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  • Halfway Home

    16 November, 2015 Halfway Home

    I’ve been sugar-free for a total of two weeks, and things are going surprisingly well...
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  • Bubbles or nothing

    11 November, 2015 Bubbles or nothing

    Out to impress this party season? To take your entertaining game to the next level, we’ve teamed up with our friends at Halliday Wine Companion to share tips on matching sparkling wines to a range of show-stopping canapes.
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  • The anatomy of the perfect burger

    11 November, 2015 The anatomy of the perfect burger

    Looking for your next weekend challenge? Why not have a crack at making your own cheeseburgers from scratch? Chef Daniel Wilson shares the secret recipe to recreating his famed Huxtaburger, from bun to patty and everything in between.
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  • No Sugar November

    04 November, 2015 No Sugar November

    This month while the boys are growing staches, I’ll be growing a conscience about all the confectionary I consume.
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October, 2015

September, 2015

May, 2015

April, 2015

March, 2015

February, 2015

January, 2015

December, 2014

November, 2014

October, 2014

September, 2014

August, 2014

July, 2014

June, 2014

May, 2014

April, 2014

March, 2014

February, 2014

  • Margaret Fulton's expert guide to preserves

    27 February, 2014 Margaret Fulton's expert guide to preserves

    Jams, pickles, chutneys, sauces, compotes and conserves are the best way to preserve abundant produce so you can enjoy your fruit and veg all year round. Margaret Fulton shares her guide to the art of preserving.
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  • Melbourne Food & Wine Festival 2014 | Our picks

    27 February, 2014 Melbourne Food & Wine Festival 2014 | Our picks

    The Melbourne Food & Wine Festival, running from February 28 to March 16, begins in just over a week. We’ve put together our picks of the fest.
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  • Philippa Sibley's expert guide to sweet pastry

    24 February, 2014 Philippa Sibley's expert guide to sweet pastry

    Master of the dough Philippa Sibley shares her step-by-step guide to making sweet shortcrust pastry, taking you through everything you need to know to perfect the art of peerless pâte.
    Read more…

  • In season | Eggplant

    21 February, 2014 In season | Eggplant

    The unsung hero of the nightshade family, eggplant is found in cuisines the world over. From Sicily to South East Asia, the Middle East to the Mediterranean, many signature dishes feature the versatile aubergine. We sing the praises of the humble eggplant.
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  • Everything you need to know about cuts of pork

    17 February, 2014 Everything you need to know about cuts of pork

    Meat expert and chef Adrian Richardson explains the different cuts of pork, and what you should use them for.
    Read more…

  • Sticky business | A guide to meat on sticks

    14 February, 2014 Sticky business | A guide to meat on sticks

    Skewers, kebabs, shaslicks, yakitori … Whatever you call them, meat just tastes better when cooked on a stick. We share our tips to help you ace the skewers at your next barbecue.
    Read more…

  • In season | Figs

    06 February, 2014 In season | Figs

    Figs evoke the flavours of exotic decadence. Sweet and visually striking, figs make for a decadent tart topper, a sumptuous sticky jam or a delightful savoury venture with cold meats. We share some of our favourite fig recipes.
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  • Guide to styling handmade edible gifts

    05 February, 2014 Guide to styling handmade edible gifts

    There's nothing more thoughtful than a handmade edible gift. April Carter shares her tips and tricks for making beautiful and delicious treats for those you love.
    Read more…

January, 2014

December, 2013

November, 2013

How to make perfect buttercream icing and other baking essentials, with cake genius April Carter

By
Jane Willson
Added
21 October, 2014

London-based baker and blogger April Carter’s stunning creations offer serious wow factor, but she balances that with a natural, flavour-driven approach to decorating. The results rock.

Q: You're young and releasing your third book. How does that happen?

I'm 33 and the last few years have flown by, I still can’t believe that Decorated is my third book! It all started with my blog, Rhubarb & Rose. I was really into cake pops when they came over from the US and had lots of photos of them on my blog. Kate Pollard from Hardie Grant happened to be looking for an author for a cake pop book that she had in mind and got in touch.  

Q: Tell us about your blog Rhubarb & Rose? You started it in 2010?

I have always had a thing for baking but I really got interested in blogs, food photography and writing recipes when I was planning my wedding five years ago. I was inspired by American and Australian wedding and design blogs like Design Sponge with their fresh DIY approach to styling and wedding cakes, and the beautiful photography that they featured. I started Rhubarb & Rose after the wedding and found that I really enjoyed the process of documenting what I'd baked and why. 


April Carter is the author of Top of the Cake Pops, trEATs, and her latest book, Decorated.


Q: And by extension, your food journey? Did you grow up among food lovers or cooks? Are you self taught, or a bit of both?

My mum and grandmother both cooked a lot when I was growing up and when I was little I loved to bake simple things like scones and chocolate crispy cakes. I was fascinated by the spice rack and the glacé cherries and angelica that my grandmother kept in her baking cupboard for decorating her famous Christmas trifle. 

My mum has always had a good eye for aesthetics and attention to detail when it comes to food and our birthday cakes ranged from '80s Walkmans to pirate ships. Up until last year, I was mostly self taught but since then I've trained at Leiths School of Food & Wine and completed a pastry internship at Sketch [in Mayfair], where I learned how to fill eclairs and decorate macarons.

Q: And blogs: do you have a latest favourite? And maybe one you keep returning to?

I love Top with Cinnamon from fellow Hardie Grant author Izy Hossack for the gorgeous photography and I always go back to Cup of Jo for fun articles on life, style and food in New York.  

Q: What do you love about Decorated – and what sets it apart from other books about baking?

I prefer a more natural and flavour-driven approach to cake decoration, which is why I'm so proud of the projects in Decorated. I want my cakes to look as delicious as they taste and I love to show off the ingredients inside the cake as well as using elements like fresh flowers. In the book you'll see candied hazelnuts topping my burnt butter hazelnut cake, glittering blackberries all lined up on top of the dark chocolate and blackberry cake and a crown of crystallised rosemary on my apple, parsnip and rosemary cake. When I do use colouring for things like the citrus confetti cake, I like to bring out the colours of the fruits to hint at the flavours inside. I also love the beautiful photography by Danielle Wood and the fact that you can mix and match the cakes, buttercreams and decorating techniques. 


Burnt butter hazelnut cake | Dark chocolate and blackberry cake


Q: What recipe do you most often return to?

The chocolate and sea-salted caramel is always a favourite and I've made lots of cakes with this flavour combination. Caramel looks so beautiful dripping down the side of a cake too. 

Q: What do you say to people like me who are competent enough bakers but intimidated by the decorating bit!?

Keep it simple and take your time. I think lots of people underestimate how long it takes to bake and decorate a cake and it can be a stressful process if you feel rushed. If you're baking for a special occasion, I would recommend doing as much as possible the day before, whether it's making some decorative cake flags or getting your ingredients gathered together. When it comes to the decoration, choosing a cake that's maybe a smaller size but has height and nice even layers will give you impact. Once you have that, all you need is some fresh flowers, lots of birthday candles or a single sparkler to make it really special. 

Q: Where is the best place to start?

When I'm planning a cake I think about the season, who the cake is for and where I need to transport it to. For cosy birthday drinks at the pub I might go for a chocolate chip cookie layer cake decorated with a single candle, which is easy to transport and share. For a summer party in my garden I'll make a fig and almond cake with honey vanilla cream on a nice cake stand as I don't need to worry about transporting everything.


Chocolate chip cookie layer cake | Fig and almond cake with honey vanilla cream


Q: How important is it to master a good buttercream icing? And what is the key?

It's essential and not too tricky to get right. A creamy, smooth buttercream that keeps its shape makes covering your cake and piping designs a lot easier, as well as tasting delicious. Always use an electric mixer (I love my stand mixer but a hand held one works too) and beat your sugar and butter together for at least five minutes to incorporate air for a pale colour and light texture. Turn your mixer down to its lowest setting for a couple of minutes before using your buttercream to eliminate big air bubbles. Temperature is important too. Try covering and chilling your buttercream for 15 minutes if it's too soft and not keeping its shape.  

Q: What else do you consider to be foundations for the aspiring baker?

Being organised and reading the recipe all the way through before you start. Also, get creative and don't be afraid to experiment with different flavours and decorations. 

Q: The stacked Victoria sandwich that also appears on the cover of Decorated is a serious wow cake. Is there a story behind this?

Thank you! The first time I made this cake was for a Diamond Jubilee party as part of an afternoon tea hosted by Betty Blythe. It was covered in glittering strawberries and I ended up being interviewed about it for Japanese TV. I recently made it for a close friend's wedding covered in seasonal berries and her favourite flowers. It's such a versatile cake and much quicker to put together than a covered version, I'd love to try a raspberry red velvet version next. 

Q: If we were to cook one cake from your book, which would you recommend?

It's so hard to choose, but you can't go wrong with the simple store cupboard chocolate cake. Follow the step-by-step instructions for foolproof even layers and impressively smooth buttercream covering and top with a simple sparkler. 


April Carter is the author of Decorated: Sublimely crafted cakes for every occasion. Check out her beautiful cakes here.

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