So a huge sigh of relief (from me at least, I can't speak for the rest of the PlayPennies office) accompanied the various Lakeland Homebakes parcel that we sent to PlayPennies mum, Tanya, to test on our behalf.
Now, I know this might sound a little unkind but we sent the Lakeland Homebakes to Tanya, specifically, because she's no Nigella Lawson; if she can create cupcake magic with Lakeland then anyone can!
Lakeland Garden Fete Collection
The Lakeland Garden Fete Collection is a comprehensive cupcake set of various bits and pieces, priced between £2.29 and £6.99.
It contains cupcake cases, food flags, doilies, petit fours, a cake stand, plus cake toppers.
"I've yet to break my cupcake curse," laments Tanya, "but at least they looked lovely in the various cupcake holders and bits and pieces included in this Lakeland Garden Fete collection."
Tanya tells us that the quality is superb and that she wishes she had a huge garden party to cater for, "The garden fete collection is really, really good - it just seems such a shame that it's almost wasted on me!"
The two-tier cupcake stand is easy to assemble; Tanya reports that it's really firm and, I quote, "utterly gorgeous and made my horrible creations look beautiful!"
Tanya's reused it several times and tells us it's still looking fabulous; she's nothing if not dogged in her quest to perfect the baking of cupcakes.
Tanya also tells us that the cupcake cases and toppers are well made and not useless and flimsy.
"I love the Lakeland Garden Fete collection," she concludes, "It would make someone an incredible gift. Truly fantastic. I think the prices, for the quality of the items, are perfect too. Not too expensive and yet great quality."
Silverwood Victoria Surprise Cake Set
I was rather intrigued by this Silverwood Victoria Surprise cake set (£19.99).
A Victoria Sponge is about as simple as cakes get, right?
Two sponges with a layer of jam in the middle; so quite how you incorporate any sort of surprise into this basic cake piqued my curiosity.
Tanya reveals all...
"Amazing!" she enthuses, "Seriously amazing! You can either bake a standard Victoria Sponge that has all the cream and filling showing, or you can make a SECRET one using the specially designed bases."
The specially designed bases Tanya refers to are shaped in such a way that sponges baked in them come out of the oven with a dip/dent/well (whichever term makes sense to you) in the middle.
"I may not be able to think in 3D and maybe I did hold it upside down for a bit and look confused, until my husband took it away from me with an expression of utter shame, but I still baked a rather excellent Victoria sponge with a secret filling!"
The secret part comes from the filling being hidden from view, inside the baked-in-well, until the cake is cut open.
"I've made banana cake, Victoria Sponge, chocolate cake and nut cake using the secret tins and I LOVE IT!" exclaims Tanya, "I think it's worth every penny and the expression on people's faces when they cut into banana bread and hit a cream chese filling...AWESOME!"
I think it's safe to say that Tanya gives the Silverwood Victoria Suprise cake set a resounding 10 out of 10.
Sweet Treats Decorating Set
Tanya says she's always dreamed of owning silicone cupcake cases; now she does, in the guise of this Sweet Treats Decorating Set (£12.99).
"I have always wanted something that would enable me to ice cupcakes with amazing style; now I do," she adds. "I have always wanted to make frosty lovely dreamy cakes, now I can."
Tanya feels that the Sweet Treats decorating set is an absolute bargain for its price and tells us that it's also very robust and easy to use.
"It's genius, handy, awesome AND simply INSPIRED for baking with the kids; an absolute WINNER!"
Tanya believe this is a 'kitchen something' you can buy someone for Christmas, for a birthday or just because without fear for your life.
"The Sweet Treats decorating set ROCKS!" she concludes, "I amazed myself with some of the confections I created."
Hello Kitty Baking Mix
According to Tanya, if you're looking for baking Christmas present for a budding Nigela or Delia, then this Hello Kitty Baking Mix (£9.99) set is IT.
"This was such a hit that I had to hide behind the sofa to escape rampaging kids!" Tanya exclaims.
Included in the Hello Kitty Baking Mix set is everything you need to bake LOADS, according to Tanya, of cookies that can be cut into either Hello Kitty or bow shapes, along with the necessary icing and biscuit toppers.
"The biscuits are super easy to make," explains Tanya, "the kids had so much fun they could barely contain themselves."
Apparently the Hello Kitty biscuits were super tasty to eat, "Not my usual cardboard creations at all!" confesses Tanya.
Along with everything else, you also get a Hello Kitty tin to store all your scrummy biscuits in.
"The Hello Kitty baking set is superb value for money," concludes Tanya. "It has huge entertainment value that makes it ideal for whipping out during playdates and sleepovers. Just FABULOUS!"
Mason Cash Gingerbread Man Gift Set
This Mason Cash Gingerbread Man gift set (£14.99) includes a 21cm diameter mixing bowl embossed with gingerbread men, a cookie cutter, child-sized rolling pin, a wooden spoon and a recipe.
Poor Tanya, she never really got a chance to get to grips with this gingerbread man gift set.
"The first time I took it out I thought it included the ingredients; it didn't, no gingerbread men. The second time I took it out I was two items short.; no gingerbread men," she explains. "The third time I took it out I had everything, then I dislocated my shoulder; STILL no gingerbread men!"
Despite not being able to use the Mason Cash GingerBread Man gift set, Tanya tells us that's it's a really wonderful set.
"It's awesome, really. The items are superb and the idea is genius," she says.
"The price maybe a bit high really even though the bowl and pin etc are really, really high quality; it would make a great gift for someone who loves to bake and make things," concludes Tanya.
I was surprised, to be honest, that only the Hello Kitty Baking Mix set included all the necessary ingredients to bake up a storm.
However, thinking about it, most people have the necessary ingredients for basic cakes and biscuits loitering in the depths of their kitchen cupboards, but how many of us have cupcake stands, fancy cake cases and suprise Victoria Sponge tins to hand?
Adding all the necessary ingredients would simply add to the price and we never like that!
Tanya was clearly very impressed with everything we sent her from Lakeland; whilst she's still not a cupcake queen, she did rustle up some fabulous Hello Kitty biscuits and wowed friends and family with cakes containing surprise fillings.
Price wise, there's nothing outrageous or exorbitant here and the non-consumable items like the Gingerbread Man mixing bowl and surprise cake tins will last you for years to come; marvellous.