Thursday, 17 April 2014

Tutorial: Hyacinth spring cake pops

Hyacinth cake pop, as made by EJ
Spring is a wonderfully transformative time of year - a beautiful adjustment of season which seems to have a positive affect on all of our moods. You'll know from my spring woodland cake that this is one of my favourite seasons (and is fast becoming a favourite source of bake-spiration), so when the lovely folk over at Renshaw Baking contacted me to take part in their spring cake pop challenge I jumped at the chance. They kindly sent me a fab pack of their colour melts, some flower paste and sprinkles to get me started.

Having lived in a house with an actual garden for a year now, we have been busy propagating lots of exciting things to plant out when the weather gets a tad warmer. Unfortunately, as relatively hard-working and time-poor people, developing our garden from a blank space into a beautifully fruitful environment is going to take us years. I keep finding myself making mental lists of flowers, plants and shrubs to eventually plant in. I'm a big fan of spring flowers and I love the fragrance of hyacinths, although as a new outdoor-gardener, I'm  still more likely to associate them with the beautiful interior-dwelling gift baskets popping up in M&S around Mother's Day and Easter each spring.

So here I bring you a tutorial for your very own grape hyacinth cake pops. Quite time-consuming and a little fiddly, but really quite a simple process with an impressive result. I wouldn't say I ever go for a realistic finish with my baking (everything ends up looking too cute and a little cartoonish, I kind of like it that way), but in his tired-at-the-end-of-a-long-day state, this cake pop did genuinely trick Owen - who walked straight past it to ask me where the cake pops were.

It didn't stay pretty for long
Renshaw's colour melts were a pleasant surprise, they melted to a smooth, practical consistency in just 30 seconds in the microwave (with a fair amount of stirring) and remained in a usable state for quite some afterwards. A 10 second blast in the microwave instantly returned slightly-solidifying colours to their usable consistency. 

I used this cake pop recipe to make the pops themselves. Be careful when adding the buttercream - be sure to do this gradually, as I found I had far more buttercream than was actually needed (if I'd added the whole lot it would have ruined the structural integrity of the pops, sending me back to the drawing board). So just introduce small spoonfuls at a time and mix until fully combined before adding more. Follow the instructions for chilling the balls and then you're ready for some decoration...

You will need:

Cake pop balls (as per the recipe linked to above)
Cake pop sticks (half the number of the cake pop balls)
Renshaw blue colour melts
Renshaw pink colour melts
Renshaw green colour melts
Renshaw flower paste
Purple gel food colouring


Cocktail sticks (approximately 75)
Something to stick the cocktail sticks into / support the cake pops as they set (I used an old polystyrene cake drum, but you could use florist foam)
A 15mm flower cutter
A small icing modelling ball tool
A food-safe paint brush

1) Mix a drop of purple food colouring with the flower paste and knead until the colour is even.

2) Prepare each cocktail stick with a tiny ball of purple flower paste and stand them up in your florist foam.

Cocktail sticks to support sugar paste flowers

3) Roll out the purple-tinted flower paste to be approximately 1mm thick and cut out approximately 75 flowers (you'll need 75 flowers for each cake pop). Cup each flower around a flower paste-topped cocktail stick and leave to set.

Sugar paste flowers setting
4) While the flowers are drying, melt the pot of blue colour melts. Dip a cake pop stick approximately 2cm into the colour melts and slide two cake pop balls on. Make sure the stick only goes about halfway into the second cake pop ball, leave to set for a moment.

5) Dip the double-cake pop into the blue colour melts to coat. Tap the stick gently on the side of the pot to remove excess candy and support the base of the stick with the florist foam to allow the candy to set upright.

Dipped cake pop

6) Melt the pink colour melts (and refresh the blue ones, if necessary). Mix 3tsp melted pink colour melts with 1tsp melted blue colour melts - this will act as a glue to stick the flowers onto the cake pop.

7) Use the paintbrush to add blobs of your colour melts glue onto the cake pop. Starting at the top, fix the flowers on, rest them closely together so you can't really see the colour beneath. If you need to, give the colour melts glue a 10 second refresher in the microwave to avoid clumps. Fixing the flowers on is a fiddly process - you might find the small ball tool helpful to manoeuvre the fragile little flowers here.

Adding the flowers to the cake pop

8) When the flowers are all set in place, prepare the green colour melts and paint onto the cake pop stick.

Leave the colour melts 'glue' to set for a moment before moving the
cake pop

Repeat for each cake pop.

I arranged my cake pops in (clean) plant pots, surrounded by sugar-paste soil and leaves. I think these cake pops would make great cake-toppers, or fab gifts for Mother's Day or Easter.

Many thanks to Renshaw for sending me more of their wonderful products to try.

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