Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Chocolate Orange Cake

I hope everyone had a really lovely Christmas! Karl and I packed our bags and headed down South to spend Christmas with my parents. I had promised my Mum I would make a cake to have as dessert on Christmas Eve. Originally I was going to make a big chocolate cake and ice it properly and make some models for the top...but after the problems I had last time I really didn't need the hassle right before travelling!

In the end I decided to make a Chocolate Orange Cake. This is one of my favourite recipes to make and I'm sure I made it last year for my Mum as well but I jazzed it up a bit this year.

The recipe is out of an old asda magazine that my friend passed onto me. I don't normally like chocolate and orange but for some reason love this cake. The cake is nice and chocolatey and although you can taste the orange its not over powering. The texture of the cake looks like its going to be very heavy but is actually very moist and light. Its also wheat free!

Chocolate and Orange Cake
100g butter
150g plain chocolate
150g ground almonds
finely grated zest of 2 oranges
2tbsp freshly squeezed orange juice
6 large eggs, seperated
100g caster sugar
3tbsp cocoa powder

Preheat the oven to 160C/140C fan/Gas 3. Greased a 23cm round deep cake tin with butter and line the base.
Break the chocolate into squares and put in a bowl with the butter. Stand the bowl over a pan of simmering water and leave until the chocolate and butter have melted. Remove from the pan and set aside for 5 minutes to cool slightly.
Stir in the ground almonds, orange zest and juice and the egg yolks.
Whisk the egg whites until stiff. Add 1tbsp caster sugar and whisk until stiff again. Repeat with the rest of the sugar, whisking after each addition.
Add a quarter of the whisked egg whites to the chocolate mixture and fold in. Then fold in the rest.
Turn into a prepared cake tin and bake for 35-40 mins. Leave to cool in the tin for 15 minutes then turn out on a wire rack to finish cooking. Serve dusted with cocoa powder.
I decorated mine with a little bit of chocolate orange butter cream round the edge of the cake and piped onto the top and then made some sparkly holly leaves out of sugar paste.
It you have a go at making this cake, please be careful when removing the cake from the tin...its so soft and very easy to break!

Sorry for the poor quality of pics...I took them with my new ipod and can't quite get to grips with the touch screen!

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Christmas Themed Cake

I am a terrible blogger...I cant believe that my last post was the 25th November. Doesnt time fly! Unfortunately, I just have not had the time (or money!) to bake much throughout December.
Christmas is almost upon us and as part of my cake class I had to make a Christmas themed cake with a model on the top.

This cake was a teensy bit of a disaster in all honesty!! It was the first cake where I was left completely to my own devices to ice and decorate it. At first I was really excited and had loads of extravagant ideas...which of course all went out of the window after struggling with the fondant icing for hours!

I used a Nigella chocolate cake recipe which I really love but I made the big mistake of trying to ice it the day I made it...well as soon as I tried to level the top the whole cake just crumbled leaving me with an un-level cake! If I had tried to level it out anymore I think I would have ended up with no cake at in the end I had the to make the best out of a bad situation and take Karls advice...prop it up with a bit of chocolate butter cream!!

It sounded ingenious at the time to my stressed out brain until I realised actually how much butter cream it would take to prop it up...nevermind I thought I dont have a choice!

I then put the icing on which that took aaages..I could not get it to roll out properly and by this point was seriously losing my temper with my cake...I really just wanted to throw it in the bin! To top it off by the time I had the fondant on and the snowman the extra weight squished all the butter cream out of the cake which created a bulge around the middle of the cake!!

It wasn't one of my best looking creations but it tasted pretty good and I guess practice makes perfect which is why I've signed up to another 10 cake classes!

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Sugar Roses

Oooo it has been a long time since I last posted hasn't it?! I just don't know where this month has gone. It'll be Christmas before we know it!

A couple of months ago myself and my lovely friend Pauline signed up to a cake decorating class. It has been something that I've been wanting to learn for a while and as the class was only £25 (what a bargain!) we signed up straight away.

The first few weeks were spent learning how to make roses and how to put them together to display on a cake. I then got to ice a cake with fondant icing - something that I have never done before. Below are the piccies...i am so proud of my cake!!

We are now working on decorating a christmas themed cakes so Im sure i will be posting some more piccies in a few weeks :)

Saturday, 6 November 2010

Chocolate and Berry Puddings

Sadly, a few months ago my lovely Gran passed away. She did leave me some money, however. Although I did want to save some of the money, I decided I wanted to buy something special that I could keep and use and remember my Gran by. After much thought and deliberation I decided on buying some products from the Le Creuset range of cookware. My Gran had always been into cooking and baking and I knew she would approve of this purchase and I knew it would be something that I would enjoy using over and over again in my kitchen.

I have always adored Le Creuset and on many an occasion have stopped to gaze over it in my local Debenhams. There were so many different pots and pans to choose from in so many beautiful colours. In the end I went for a cast iron casserole dish, a large pie dish and 4 ramekins in the gorgeous volcanic orange colour.

I found this recipe in the Waitrose magazine a few months ago and thought at the time that this would be the first recipe I'd make to go in my new little ramekins. This recipe was so simple to make and hardly took me anytime at all. The pudding rose perfectly and I loved the combination of the chocolate pudding with the raspberries at the bottom. My Gran would have loved these little puddings too...she always was a chocaholic!!

Chocolate and Berry Puddings

45g butter plus extra for greasing
120g frozen summer fruits (I used all raspberries)
150g plain chocolate, broken into small pieces
75g caster sugar
2 eggs, seperated
1/2 tsp vanilla essence
2 tbsp icing sugar, optional

Preheat oven to 200c
Butter the sides of 4 x 175ml ramekins, divide the berries between them.
Melt the chocolate with the butter in a bowl over a pan of water.
Whisk the sugar and egg yolks with an electric whisk until light and creamy, then stir in the vanilla.
In another bowl whisk the egg whites into soft peaks.
Fold the chocolate mixture into the whisked egg yolks, then fold in the egg whites with a large metal spoon.
Spoon the mixture into the ramekins and bake on a baking sheet for 12-14 minutes until risen but still slightly wobbly. Dust with icing sugar.

(I spread the recipe over the 3 ramekins as mine were of a slightly larger size than the recipe called for. Having now made this recipe I think it would probably work just as well with 4 of my ramekins!)

I really wanted to get a picture of the inside of the puddings and as I ate 2 out of the 3 puddings there was every opportunity to do this. But for some reason I'd tuck into the pudding and completely forget about taking a picture until it was too late and I was on the last spoonful..sorry!

Sunday, 31 October 2010

Blog Award

The lovely Sweetums from the gorgeous blog My Little Sweet House brought a big smile to my face last week when she gave me an award for my blog. When I first set my blog up a few months ago I didn't think anyone would even be interested in reading it so to be given a little award for it by a fellow blogger really does make me happy!

Now the only thing left for me to do is pass it onto 15 blogs that I love. I do love all the blogs that I follow and will often be found on my lunch hour at work having a good read of everyones latest posts, so this has been a really hard task to pick just 15 but I guess those are the rules so here they are....

1. Miss Jones Talks Make Up - not a baking blog but every girl needs tips on make up and all things related and Miss Jones is the girl to do this :)

2. Katiecakes - the first ever blog I came across many many months ago and have been following ever since.

3. MessyCarla - A fashion Blog in Size 16 - again not a baking blog but have recently found this blog and adore it!

4. The Goddess's Kitchen - lovely yummy recipes..both sweet and savoury :)

5. The Little House of Cupcakes - the blog of a cupcake shop not far from me. Love their cupcakes and love looking at all the creations on their blog.

6. I Heart Cupcakes - I love this girls obsession with anything to do with cupcakes

7. Chocolate Log Blog - A blog all about chocolate recipes...yum yum yum

8. Chocolate Teapot - I love love love this blog - always a fantastic read with lots of lovely piccies

9. Corner Cottage Bakery - Always enjoy reading this blog...take a look at the halloween ginger bread skeletons..soo cute!

10. Cupcake Crazy Gem - Again another girl with an obsession for cupcakes and baking. Fantastic tropical piccies too!

11. Eat My Cupcake - fantastic little blog - great photos of perfect looking cupcakes.

12. Got to Love Cupcakes - some really cute little ideas on this blog and the cakes look so yum in the pics

13. The Voice of Joyce - fairly simple posts but always enjoy reading and scrummy pictures!

14. The More Than Occasional Baker - a newish find for me but some lovely recipes :)

15. Fairy Cakes and Sprinkles - one of my first followers on here! I love this girls blog - she's not posted in a little while but hopefully she will soon :)

I'm sorry I couldn't choose you all..I honestly do enjoy reading everyones blog that I follow!

Ginger Cupcakes

Happy Halloween Everyone!!

I couldn't resist baking something halloween related this year so here they are...lovely ginger cupcakes from the Primrose Bakery book with scary sprinkles on the top. I was gonna go all out and buy some cutters and make some large halloween decorations for the top but as I haven't been too well lately these pumpkin and bat sprinkles had to make do.

I love anything with ginger in and these cupcakes taste amazing. There is stem ginger, ground ginger and treacle in the cake mixture and the syrup from the stem ginger mixed into the butter cream..yum. I've just been snacking on one for my breakfast and am comtemplating the possibility of having another..mmmm! My friend suggested I give these out to trick or treaters calling at my house tonight. I think I may have to switch the lights off and pretend I'm not in..these are far too good to give away!

PS Apologies for the slightly blurry piccies at the camera seems to be having problems focusing. Maybe I'll have to ask father christmas for a shiny new one :)

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Lady Grey Cupcakes

Cupcakes are back on my blog...hooray! It's been aaaage since I made a batch of cupcakes and I've really missed these tasty little treats!

This is a recipe I've been wanting to make for awhile be fair, more out of curiosity then for a love of tea. I'm not a massive tea drinker...I'll maybe have the odd cup of green tea every so often but I don't think I've ever really bought 'proper' teabags!

This recipe is from the Primrose Bakery cupcake book and calls for Earl Grey teabags. Now call me stingy if you want but I really didn't want to waste my pennies on 40 tea bags, 4 of which I would use for these cakes and the remainder of which would be shoved to the back of my cupboard never to be seen again, so my lovely friend at work who is a lover of tea donated 4 of her Lady Grey tea bags instead.

The tea bags are put into hot milk for half an hour to infuse and then this milk is added to a vanilla cupcake mixture along with some almond extract. I didn't really know what Lady Grey tea tasted like but as soon as I put the bags into the hot milk I could smell a lovely citrus aroma..I couldn't wait to try these cupcakes! The cupcakes were then iced with vanilla butter cream.

I didn't think I would like these cupcakes as much as I did. I thought they would either taste too much of tea or be too bland. They were neither of these...the taste of tea was very subtle and you could really taste the almond extract - this combined with the vanilla buttercream made for a lovely cupcake. A nice change to plain vanilla!

Monday, 18 October 2010

Toffee Apple Tart

A few months ago when Karl and I went to visit my parents we had a lovely lunch out at their local pub where Karl has the best dessert apparently he had ever tasted...sticky toffee apple crumble...ever since then I have been looking for a similar recipe to recreate at home. In the Sainsburys magazine this month there was a recipe for Toffee Apple Tart. I couldn't resist trying it to see how it would compare!

This recipe was so simple to make and didn't require a certain tin size etc. It tasted gorgeous...the toffee sauce was to die for! It was that good I'm sat here eating another big serving off it for my tea...yes thats main course for me..I jumped straight to dessert...perfect!!!

....And Karl's verdict...apparently not quite as good as the pub's but still a very yummy effort that he wouldn't mind me making again!

Toffee Apple Tart
Serves 8 ( and Karl must just be greedy!)

250g plain flour
pinch of salt
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon (I added extra as I absolutely love cinnamon and apples)
100g caster sugar
125g unsalted butter
1tsp finely grated lemon zest
1 large egg, beaten

For the sauce and filling
100g unsalted butter
150g soft brown sugar
3/4 vanilla extract
1 x 150ml tub of double cream
juice of one small lemon
6 medium eating apple - such as coxs, peeled, cored and cut into wedges
50g almonds

Preheat the oven to 190C, 170C fan, gas 5. Sift the flour into a mixing bowl, then stir in the salt, cinnamon and caster sugar.
Add the butter, cut into chunks and quickly rub the butter into the flour using your fingertips. Keep the rubbing in light and airyso that flakes of butter are left rather than totally mixed in.
Stir in the lemon zest. Make a well in the centre and add all but 1-2 teaspoons of the egg to the bowl.
Bring the pastry together using your fingers. If more liquid is needed use a squeeze of lemon juice. Chill whilst you make the filling but don't let it get too firm.
Put the unsalted butter, 120g of the brown sugar and the vanilla extract in a pan and heat gently until the butter melts. Turn up the heat and let it bubble, then pour in the cream - it will bubble but keep stirring and cooking until it makes a smooth toffee-ish sauce. Add a squeeze of lemon juice.
Toss the apples with another squeeze of lemon and the remaining sugar, followed by half the toffee sauce.
Place a piece of non stick baking paper on a baking sheet and roll out the dough into a 35cm circle. Neaten the edge as you shape the dough.
Sprinkle the centre of the disc of dough with the ground almonds. Pile the apples on top leaving 4-5cm border all around.
Then using a palette knife and your fingers flip the edges of the pastry over the apples to form a shell - it will be a little uneven and home made looking but that's how its supposed to be.
Brush the pastry with the left over egg and sprinkle with a little caster sugar.
Bake for 40 minutes or until the apple is tender and bubbling.
To serve gently reheat the remaining toffee sauce and drizzle over the warm tart.

Saturday, 2 October 2010

Devil's Food Cake/A Big Chocolate Birthday Cake!

I love birthdays and September was most definitely a month of birthdays! As soon as my Mum's birthday was over, it was onto Karl's. I decided months ago I was going to make Karl a proper birthday cake rather than cupcakes. I had it straight in my mind that I was going to make the chocolate cake recipe out of the Primrose Bakery book. However, a week before his birthday Karl bought me the new Nigella book Kitchen and on the first flick through the book I saw what looked like the yummiest, stickiest, chocolatiest cake and decided that this was the cake my boy would be getting for his birthday!

I've never made a chocolate cake before in the way that this recipe tells you to do. Most chocolate cake recipes I have made tell you to sieve the cocoa powder into the rest of the dry ingredients. However with this one, you make the cake mix as if its just going to be a plain cake and mix the cocoa and dark muscovado sugar with boiling water which is then added right at the end. I was concerned this wasn't going to work due to the large amount of folding in it required, however once the cake came out of the oven I was happy with the result.

The next job once the cake was made was to make the frosting. This was a mixture of water, muscovado sugar, butter and chocolate. Nigella said at the start of the recipe don't worry if it looks too watery, once it is cool the consistancy would be perfect for spreading on the cake. That wasn't what I was worried about though. The recipe said to heat butter, water and sugar together and then add the chocolate. I just couldnt understand in my head how on earth the butter and water would mix together. I gave it a good go...followed everything Nigella said in the recipe but there was no way this was going to work and as the mixture started to cool it just seperated..leaving a huge amount of chocolate gunk in the bottom of my pan with a layer of water on top..yuck!

Luckily, I had bought extra chocolate and I made a batch of chocolate butter cream from the Primrose Bakery book which I used to fill the cake and then put on the top of it. I then decorated the cake with huuuge amounts of white and milk chocolate curls and chocolate stars.

Despite the disaster with Nigella's icing the cake was one of the best chocolate cake recipes I have made. The cake was very chocolatey but not overpowering and very moist the middle. I served it with cream which made it taste even better!

Devil's Food Cake

50g cocoa powder
100g dark muscovado sugar
250ml boiling water
125g butter
150g caster sugar
225 plain flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 180C. Line the bottom of 2 20cm sandwich tins with baking parchment and butter the sides.

Put the cocoa and muscovado sugar in a bowl and pour in the boiling water. Whisk to mix and then set aside.

Cream the butter and caster sugar together, beating well until pale and fluffy.

Sift the flour, baking powder and bicarb together in another bowl.

Put the vanilla extract into the creamed butter and sugar - mixing all the time- then drop one egg in followed by a spoonful of flour and then the second egg.

Keep mixing and incorporate the rest of the dried ingredients for the cake then finally mix and fold in the cocoa mixture.

Divide the batter between the two tins and put in the oven for about 30 minutes. Allow the cake to cool in the tine for 10 mins or so before turning out.

Ice with chocolate butter cream (sorry I've not got time to type the recipe out but I'm sure you all know how to make chocolate butter cream!).

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Lemon Layer Cake

My blogging has been terrible recently. I've logged on just now and my last post was the 11th September....aaages ago! There has been good reason for it was my Mum's birthday, Karls birthday (more on that later!), I've been off work, I've been ill and I've been away for a few nights all in all I've been quite a busy girly!

Back to my Mum's birthday though...I had been thinking for awhile about what I could bake my Mum for her birthday and in the end, knowing how much she loves Lemon Cupcakes, I thought I would attempt a Lemon Layer Cake for her.

I used the recipe in the Primrose Bakery book for the cake and butter cream, however I decided it needed something more so I made a batch of Lemon Curd from the Rachel Allen book Bake and put that along with the butter cream in the cake. I have never made Lemon Curd before but the fresh home made version was so much better than any of the stuff I've bought from the supermarket before!

The last few recipes I have attempted from the Primrose Bakery, although weren't huge disasters, didn't quite go to plan, so I was really nervous about making this cake for my mum. I had visions of her cutting into it and it being as solid as a brick or not cooked! Luckily, the recipe worked...the cake rose perfectly and was really moist. The butter cream was sweet and lemony and the lemon curd gave that little extra lemony flavour to the cake. This is a recipe I will most definitely be making again.

Lemon Layer Cake
Makes two 20cm cakes which can be sandwiched together

225g golden caster sugar
225g self raising flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
25g cornflour
225g unsalted butter at room temperature
4 large eggs
Grated zest and juice of 2 large lemons (otherwise use 3 lemons)

Preheat the over to 170C. Grease and baseline the two tins.
Cream the butter and sugar in a bowl until the mixture is pale and smooth.
Combine the dry ingredients in a seperate bowl.

Add the eggs to the creamed mixture one at a time mixing for a few minutes after each addition, alternating with the dry ingredients, and finally the grated lemon zest and lemon juice. Beat well after each addition but do not over beat.

Divide the mixture evenly between the two tins and bake in the oven for about 25 minutes until raised and golden brown. Remove from the oven and leave to cool for 10 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack.

Once cool, sandwich the layers together with lemon butter cream icing and lemon curd and ice the top with more lemon butter cream.

Lemon Butter Cream
110g unsalted butter
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
Grated zest of 1-2 unwaxed lemons
500g icing sugar

In a large mixing bowl beat the butter, lemon juice, lemon zest and half the icing sugar until smooth. Gradually add the remainder of the icing sugar and beat again until smooth and creamy.

Lemon Curd
75g butter
150g caster sugar
Finely grated zest and juice of 3 lemons
2 eggs
1 egg yolk

Place the butter, sugar, lemon zest and juice in a saucepan and heat very gently until the butter is melted.
Put the eggs and egg yolk in a bowl and beat thoroughly.
Pour the beaten eggs into the melted butter mixture and stir carefully over a low heat until the mixture has thickened and will coat the back of a spoon.
If the heat is too high the mixture will scramble. If this happens quickly push it through a sive.
Remove the pan from the heat and pour into a bowl.

Saturday, 11 September 2010

Pear and Raspberry Crumble

I've been meaning to blog about this recipe for a little while. I got it out of last months Sainsburys Magazine. I love this magazine..there's always at least one recipe I want to make in every copy I buy and its only £1.40..what a bargain!

I made this recipe a few weekends ago as a simple dessert on a sunday night. I love crumbles - so quick and easy to make and they always taste so so good...proper comfort food for me!

Pear and Raspberry Crumble Recipe
Serves 4

3 large slightly unripe pears - 700g cored and thickly sliced
300g fresh raspberries (or blackberries..whichever you prefer)
60g caster sugar

For the crumble
100g cold butter, diced
225g plain flour
50g caster sugar

Preheat the over to 180C, fan 160C, gas 4. To make the crumble topping, in a large bowl, rub the butter into the flour with your fingertips, or pulse them together in a food processor, until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Stir in the sugar.

Butter a 1.2 litre oven proof dish and arrange the pears in it. Sprinkle over the raspberries and then the sugar.

With a large spoon, scatter the crumble mixture evenly over the fruit. Bake in the centre of the oven for about an hour. The crumble should just be turning golden and there will be some raspberry juice bubbling up around the sides.

Sprinkle with a little extra sugar and serve with ice cream like me...or custard or cream...all equally yummy!

Monday, 6 September 2010

Mars Bar Cupcakes

Last minute this weekend I decided I would bake some cupcakes. I've been wanting to try making Mars Bar Cupcakes for ages. I don't particularly like Mars Bars but I thought in cupcake form I would like them much better...and I did....these cupcakes are seriously yum!

I didn't actually have a recipe for these cupcakes. They are made up of a basic chocolate cupcake recipe with a chunk of Mars Bar baked into the centre. I then topped them with chocolate butter cream, caramel sauce, another chunk of Mars Bar and chocolate curls.

I so wanted home made caramel/toffee sauce on the top of these cupcakes and I set about making it using the recipe from the Primrose Bakery Cupcake. Toffee sauce just wasn't to be this weekend though. I made the recipe 4 times in total and used nearly a whole packet of sugar and every time it turned out wrong! Either I accidently boiled it too long and it turned back to sugar, or it was too runny or it was all grainy like sand..eugh...I don't know what was going wrong but it was a total disappointment and Karl was sent out on a mission at half 4 on Sunday to Tesco to find a decent toffee sauce! He succeeded and the cakes got coated in Tesco Finest Toffee Sauce. A bit of a cheat but tastes very good anyway!

Saturday, 4 September 2010

We Should Cocoa!

I have decided to enter the cupcakes mentioned in my last post (White Chocolate and Raspberry Cupcakes) for the September 'We Should Cocoa'

Now, I really should have mentioned this in my last post....but after the whole disappointment of the cupcakes I really really wasn't wanting to enter them into anything and decided against the whole thing. However, after having a few days to think about it and hearing the positive feedback from Karl and Karl's family I have changed my mind..yet again.. and am going to enter them.

We Should Cocoa is the fab idea of Chele at Chocolate Teapot and Choclette at Chocolate Log Blog. The idea is to bake something with chocolate in it each month, incorporating the special ingredient that is suggested by the host. September's ingredient is raspberries and has been set by Chele.
Entries have to be received by the 25th of the what are you waiting for?? Get baking!

Monday, 30 August 2010

White Chocolate and Raspberry Cupcakes

As promised I have finally used a recipe out of a book other than the Hummingbird Bakery book...hooray! This recipe is courtesy of the Primrose Bakery Book...another favourite of mine!

It was Karl's Mum's birthday this weekend and we were heading round for Sunday Roast. I couldn't resist taking some lovely cupcakes with me. After much deliberation I went for the White Chocolate and Raspberry Cupcakes from the above book. Karl had no idea what sort of cupcakes his Mum would like so as a change to plain old vanilla and chocolate I thought I'd try white chocolate instead mixed with the summery flavour of raspberry...yum!

I decided to make these cakes on the morning that we were going round...probably not a good idea. My thoughts were that if I made them on the morning then they would be all lovely and fresh for Karl's Mum. Possibly not the best idea when I hadn't made the recipe before.

Up I got at half 7 on Sunday morning...yes yes I know...utter madness! But it was all in the name of yummy cupcakes! The actual cupcake recipe was easy to make and all went to plan. However, the icing/butter cream was a different story! By the time I had made the cupcakes and let them cool time was getting on a bit and I still had to make the icing, ice the cupcakes and get changed out of my baking clothes, into something half decent and do my hair and make up...argghh!

The icing/butter cream was made from vanilla butter cream with double cream and melted white chocolate mixed in. Now in the picture in the book it made it look like the icing was of quite a stiff consistency so I had it in my head I was going to pipe the icing onto the cakes as I normally do and they'd look all pretty. However after adding all the chocolate and cream to the butter cream there was no way this stuff was gonna pipe (I did try...but it kinda just went straight through the piping bag leaving a mess on my work top..argghh!) So at half 10 on saturday morning I start panicking...wondering what on earth to do. In the end I put the icing in the fridge to see if that would help...unfortunately in the short amount of time I had left it didn't. I ended up having to just spread the icing on the tops of the cake and put fresh raspberries on top.

I was very disappointed and when Karl came wandering sleepily through to the kitchen having just woken up he was met with an upset and stressed out girlfriend. On the positive side though he did get cupcakes for breakfast so I guess that made up for it! He kept telling me they were good and tasted lovely and his mum would love them etc etc but I had just got this picture in my head of what they would look like and well they didn't look a thing like it.

After much persuasion I did end up taking them round to Karl's Mum's. Earlier on in the week we had taken a trip to Sainsburys who have just improved their home baking range. I managed to buy some very cute cupcake boxes so I popped 4 of the cupcakes in one of these pretty boxes and took them round. She seemed impressed and I got a text from her today saying she had had one and she had loved it. Maybe they weren't so bad after all!

I think maybe the icing would have hardened up eventually in the fridge so it could have been piped onto the cake, as by the time we got back from Karl's mum's the icing was rock solid on the cakes we had kept for ourselves...on the downside the cakes had also suffered a bit from being kept in the fridge. They definitely need removing from the fridge 10-15 mins before eating.

All in all a bit disappointing for me...although everyone else seemed to like them. Maybe if I had had a little more time to perfect them I would have been happier...the actual cupcake sponge was lovely with raspberry jam mixed into the sponge mix and also popped into the cupcake after baking too, although for me I'd have to work on improving the icing. At least they look cute in the little box though...

P.S I am in a major rush to get to yoga so haven't got time to type the recipe out. I'm sure alot of you keen bakers have the Primrose Bakery book anyway. For those that don't..I can always send it you xx

Monday, 16 August 2010

Banana and Chocolate Cupcakes

I realised last week that I hadn't baked a batch of cupcakes in some time and I was missing it. It also turns out that Karl's work mates were also missing my sweet cupcake shaped treats... apparently requests had been put in.

I really tried so hard to use a recipe from a book other than the Hummingbird Bakery one..but as I started to flick through my recipes books I ended up deciding on this recipe to get me back into the swing of cupcake baking. I promise promise promise I will have a change next baking session and use a recipe from elsewhere!

These cupcakes were seriously scrummy...the mixture had cinnamon and ginger added to it which you could really taste and really made a change to plain old banana cupcakes. And anything with chocolate butter cream is a winner in my book!

120g plain flour
140g caster sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder (i think it may have meant 1 tea spoon...i added a teaspoon and a half!)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
pinch of salt
80g unsalted butter
120ml whole milk
2 eggs
120g peeled banana
40g dark chocolate, made into shavings

Preheat the oven to 170C
Put the flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, salt and butter in a bowl and beat with an electric whisk on a slow speed until you get a sandy consistancy and everything is combined.
Slowly pour the milk into the flour mixture, beating well until all ingredients are well mixed. Add the eggs and beat well.
Stir in the mashed banana until evenly dispersed
Spoon the mixture into paper cases until 2/3's full and bake in th preheated oven for about 20 minutes or until light golden and the sponge bounces back when touched. Leave to cool.
When the cupcakes are cook decorate with chocolate frosting and chocolate shavings.

Sunday, 15 August 2010

Didsbury Farmers Market and Macaroons!

We were so impressed with the Farmers Market in Didsbury last month we decided we would go back again this month. The market is held every 2nd Saturday of the month in the grounds of Didsbury library. Its quite a small affair but is lovely to look round with a good selection of stalls...there were even some different ones this time too.

This Saturday I headed straight to the stall of The Dish Ran Away with the Spoon...I love their cakes very much and was very impressed with them last time...(see Oreo blog post!). This month we went for a banoffee cupcake, chocolate brownie, a nutty raspberry brownie...I cant quite remember what was in but it was lovely and buttery...yum, and a snickers rocky road. All very good and were eaten pretty much straight away...oops! I was even more excited to hear that they are due to open a shop in Didsbury in the very near future. Me and karl will definitely be taking a few trips there!

Another stall that impressed me this weekend was The English Rose Bakery stall which specialises in making gorgeous macaroons. The stall wasn’t there the last time we visited the market but their display of different brightly coloured macaroons in big glass jars really caught my eye as I walked past. I had to go back for another look! And when Karl offered to buy me a box as a treat..well how could I say no?? Although at first I did think these little macaroons were slightly pricey at £7 for 6 macaroons by the time I had polished the lot off later I was left wanting more...definitely worth every penny!

Flavours available included the signature English rose, caramel, vanilla, elderflower, lemon, chocolate, blackcurrant and cinnamon but after much deliberation I went for chocolate, lemon, vanilla, cinnamon, caramel and rose. The macaroons came in a lovely little cream box with the bakery’s logo printed on it....very cute. I managed to wait until I got home to have a peek inside the box...see the piccy below for the cuteness that greeted me when I opened the box.. dont they just look so tempting!

I decided to try the caramel one first. I had never had a macaroon before ... only those cheapo ones from supermarkets when I was little and well they dont count..they’re not even in the same league as this type of macaroon! The English Rose Bakery gives a description of what the macaroons should be like....

“The delicate, crisp outer shell of the macaroon protects a soft inner core of gooey almond meringue and to add to the pleasure two halves are sandwiched together with a sumptuous ganache, cream or jam”

Never had a description been so spot on...from the first bite of the caramel macaroon I was hooked..I had to have another. I went for the chocolate one...again...gorgeous! Over the course of about an hour and a half I worked my way through all 6 and not one flavour disappointed. I think my favourites were the caramel and the lemon. ..the lemon one tasted just like lemon curd..mmmm!

I just hope the stall is there next month..I need my macaroon fix. Until then..I may have to order a book from good ol' amazon to have a go at making these tasty little morsels for myself!

Sunday, 8 August 2010

Chocolate Chip Cookies

I wanted a lazy Sunday this weekend and what better recipe to make to nibble on whilst chilling out watching a film than chocolate chip cookies. I mean...who doesn't love home made cookies? There is nothing quite like the aroma of freshly baked cookies wafting through your home for bringing back all those childhood memories.

I remember as a child my mum would always, without fail use the recipe from her Be-ro flour cook book but for a change and because I absolutely love this book (if you hadn't noticed!) I decided to try the Hummingbird Bakery recipe.

I have baked some cookies from this book before (before I started blogging my baking adventures) and they were just how a cookie should be...crisp on the outside and chewy and soft on the inside. Well, this recipe did not disappoint either...again it produced the perfect cookie consistancy and lots of them! The recipe said it made around 24....I ended up with a lot more than this!

To make....

225g unsalted butter
350g soft light brown sugar
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
400g plain flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
225g dark chocolate

baking trays lined with grease proof paper

Preheat the overn to 170C
Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy
Add the eggs one at a time mixing well and scaraping any unmixed ingredients from the side of the bowl.
Mix in the vanilla extract
Add the flour, salt and bicarbonate of soda and mix until a smooth dough is formed. Stir in the chopped chocolate until evenly dispersed.
Arranged 6 equal amounts of cookie dough on each prepared baking tray (I must have small baking trays cos I found I could only make 3 cookies at a time)
Bake in the preheated over for about 10 mins or until golden brown around the edges and quite flat.
Leave the cookies to cool slightly before turning out onto a wire cooling rack to cool completely.

Saturday, 31 July 2010

Chocolate Brownies

I wanted something simple to make this friday evening and so I settled on chocolate brownies from the Hummingbird bakery cookbook. I've never made brownies before but they are always a popular choice for me for dessert when I eat out... and so the time had come for me to attempt to make some of my own.

The recipe was relatively simple:

200g dark choc
175g unsalted butter
325g caster sugar
130g plain flour
3 eggs
a 33 x 23 x 5 cm baking tray lined with greaseproof paper

Preheat oven to 170C.
Put chocolate and butter in a heat proof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Leave until melted and smooth.
Remove from heat. Add the sugar and stir well until well incorporated.
Add the flour and stir until well incorporated (I had a taste at this stage and well, I could have eaten the whole bowl of mixture even before it went in the oven!!)
Finally stir in the eggs and mix until thick and smooth.
Pour the mixture into the prepared baking tray and bake in the preheated over for about 30-35 minutes or until flaky on the top but still soft in the centre. Be careful not to over cook otherwise the edges become hard and crunchy.
Leave to cool and dust with icing sugar.

I also added pecans to my recipe as I do like a few nuts dotted throughout. The texture of the brownies was perfect - really moist in the centre..just how a brownie should be! I have tried one this morning and I think they are actually better now they have cooled down!

I was going to pretty them up as the book suggests and dust with icing sugar...but they smelt so good when they came out the oven and I had just bought a tub of lovely Kelly's cornish clotted cream ice cream (yum) sooooo I just couldnt resist serving my brownies hot with lashings of ice cream.

What a lovely treat for a friday night...

Sunday, 18 July 2010

Banoffee Cupcakes

I wasn’t actually planning on doing any baking today. I had the best intentions on Thursday night of baking on Sunday. I planned what I was going to bake and I went to the supermarket to get the ingredients. And then later that night I got the terrible news from my parents that my Gran had sadly passed away.

Although she had been ill with dementia for some time it was still such a shock. At the age of 18 I moved out from my parents house and went to live in Preston, where my gran lived, to go to uni. Over the last 7 years I became very close to my Gran...she helped and supported me when I left home, doing anything she could to make life easier for me. We could often be found having lunch out in preston and wandering round the shops. I would share all my gossip with her and she would give me advice on any dilemmas I had! She really was an amazing Gran and I am going to miss her so much.

I have therefore spent a huge part of the weekend feeling sad, not sleeping and bursting into tears at random and totally inappropriate momemts..i.e. the middle of the suit shop whilst trying to find a suit to wear to the funeral. It all got a bit too much...

This morning when I woke up I really didn’t know what to do with myself. I didn’t feel like I really wanted to go out anywhere but I didn’t want to just sit infront of the tv either. So I decided that I would do as I planned to do and bake! My Gran definitely wouldn't have wanted me sat around the house feeling upset thats for sure!

As I still had a packet of Oreos left and last weeks Oreo cupcakes went down so well with Karl's work mates I decided I would make these again. I also wanted to try something new and decided this was the weekend I'd make Banoffee Cupcakes out of the Eat Me book. I absolutely adore banoffee pie..(this is my mums fault as she has got a slight addiction to it and its obviously rubbed off on me) so the thought of a banoffee pie cupcake seemed very interesting indeed!

The first thing I had to do to make these cupcakes was make the toffee sauce which would go in the centre...apparently you could buy it ready made but me being me decided I would do it ‘properly’ and make it myself! The recipe said to use a can of condensed milk and boil it for 3 hard could that be? Well not hard at all really...but throughout the whole 3 hours I was sure that the can was going to explode at any didn’t..luckily!

Anyway, once the toffee sauce was done I set about making the banana cupcakes. It was a vanilla cupcake recipe with mashed up banana in it to flavour smelt gorgeous even before cooking. A few months ago i tried a banana cupcake from a bakery near me and the cake was really heavy, so I was a little worried my cupcakes would turn out in similar state...luckily they didn’t and the banana flavoured the cakes perfectly. Unfortunately they didn’t rise quite as much as I’d have liked. I used different cupcake cases for these - they seemed very thin and wider than my usual ones so I'm wondering if this had anything to do with it...but I will definitely be going back to my usual ones next time!

Once the cakes were cool I hollowed out the centre and put toffee sauce into the cupcakes and also on the tops. I then piped swirls of vanilla butter creams onto the tops of the cakes and decorated with a dried banana piece. The recipe in the Eat Me booked recommended to use whipped cream and real bananas on the top of the cake...a lovely combination if the cakes were to be eaten right away, however the majority of these will probably be eaten tomorrow by which time the toppings may be a little past their best!

I possibly made the butter cream for these cakes a bit too thin and I don’t think my decorating was as tidy as I would have liked but I guess this can be forgiven due to how upset I have been and the baking definitely did what I wanted it to do... cheered me up a little this afternoon and took my mind off things.

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Peach and Blueberry Soured Cream Cobbler

Now...normally I'm not one for seeing a recipe and making it straight away. However, I saw this recipe on Chocolate Teapot and I couldn't resist. It just looked soooo good and also so simple to make. So, during my lunch hour last Friday I quickly printed the recipe and stashed it in my bag to take home to make over the weekend!

I've never really made anything like this before so was a bit unsure when I set about making it on Sunday evening for dessert but it turned out perfectly and tasted even better than it looked. I served it with vanilla ice cream as I love that combination of the hot pudding with the cold melting ice cream..mmmmm! It was that good both me and Karl went back for seconds. This will definitely be a dessert that will be made again and again in my kitchen!

Sunday, 11 July 2010

Oreo Cupcakes

Today has been another lovely sunday of baking cupcakes! Infact, the whole weekend has been cupcake related. Yesterday morning, Karl and I swapped our usual lie in for a trip to the farmers market in Didsbury, Manchester which is there on the second saturday of every month. Karl wasnt quite as enthusiastic as me at the prospect of getting out of bed early on a saturday morning but once we got there and he saw all the yummy food treats on offer he was already talking about going back next month! The main reason for our trip to the farmers market was to visit the stall of 'and the dish ran away with the spoon' .

I have been following them on twitter and drooling over the lovely piccies on their website for far too long and decided it was time to go and sample some of their cakes. Well...we definately weren't disappointed! Karl and I chose 2 cupcakes - Very Berry (vanilla sponge packed with raspberries and topped with vanilla butter cream) and Jaffa (chocolate and orange sponge topped with creamy orange butter cream). Both were lovely and the orange butter cream on the Jaffa cupcake was gorgeous. Karl also tried a chocolate brownie which he said was one of the best he'd ever had - very moist in the centre apparently and I had a bakewell slice which was fantastic. I would love to have had some piccies to post of the lovely cakes but unfortunately I forgot my camera. My was too early on a saturday morning for me to be able to remember everything i needed for the day!

Anyway, back to today..I have noticed when reading people's blogs that quite a few people are making Oreo cupcakes. I love these little biscuits and decided I wanted to have a go at making these into cupcakes too. There seems to be alot of variation in the recipes people are using - with some people baking full size oreos into the cupcake, some using chocolate sponges, some using vanilla sponge with broken oreos mixed in, some people using cream in the icing and some using butter cream.

As I couldn't find just one recipe that I was happy with, I kinda incorporated lots of different recipes into one. Due to my lack of a recipe I didnt have any idea how many Oreos I would need. I had two packets in my cupboard already that I bought a few weeks ago but so concerned I was that I would need more, I decided to buy one more packet whilst we were at the supermarket this morning. I think Karl thought I had gone mad and it turns out I had, as I still have one and a half packets left in the cupboard! Oh well..just gives me a good excuse to make some more!
For the cupcakes I used the chocolate cupcake recipe from the Hummingbird Bakery book. In half of the cupcakes I also baked a mini Oreo into the centre to experiment. I then used the Rachel Allen recipe from Bake for butter cream but added vanilla essence and alot of broken up Oreo's. I spent aaaages bashing them up with my rolling pin so that they were small enough to pipe onto the cakes! I then decorated each cake with a mini Oreo. The butter cream on these cakes was so gooood! I will definitely be making these again!

Friday, 2 July 2010

Ice Cream Cone Cupcakes

All my revision paid off and I passed my driving theory last week..hooray! I'm halfway there to be being able to drive..just gotta do the scary driving part next...eek!

Anyways....due to my success with my test and the glorious weather we have been having lately I am in a very happy and summery mood! I finished work tonight and thought I'd try making a batch of ice cream cone cupcakes. I saw these cupcakes in the Eat Me cookbook when I first got it and thought they looked interesting. I was a little bit skeptical about how well they would work...I had visions of the cone going soggy, falling over or breaking during cooking.. but decided I would give them a go anyway!

After reading a bad review on Amazon about this recipe I decided to use the trusty fairy cake recipe from Rachel Allen's Bake and ice them with vanilla buttercream. I was also a bit unsure about how tasty a cupcake would actually be eating it out of a wafer cone but have just tried one and its surprisingly nice! Definitely a success, although I will let Karl be the final judge of that when he tries one!

Sunday, 20 June 2010

Strawberries and Cream Cupcakes

As the sun has been shining quite alot recently making it feel like summer time may actually be here I thought I'd make something with a summery feel to it! After much thought and much flicking through my baking books I decided to go for Strawberries and Cream Cupcakes. Lovely British strawberries are now in season and I can't get enough of them at this time of year so
couldn't wait to try baking with them.

I used the recipe from the Primrose Bakery cupcake book and it turned out perfectly. The cake mixture has crushed strawberries mixed into it. I've never used real strawberries in a cake mixture before and was quite pleased with the result. The cupcake is then filled with a teaspoon of strawberry jam in the centre, iced with vanilla butter cream and finished with a whole strawberry on the top...yum!

Don't they just look so cute in my cake tin?! As it was Father's Day today and we were off for a roast at Karl's Dads I took some round with me which seemed to go down well!

Monday, 14 June 2010

A break from revision...

There is nothing I hate more than revision...and at the moment thats all I seem to be doing. I am booked in for my driving theory test next tuesday and therefore every spare minute of every day has been spent swotting up on my highway code...very very boring but I am determined I am not going to waste the 30 quid I've paid to take the test!

Well this weekend I decided a break from revision was necessary and as I hadnt done any baking for aaages and I had a whole tub of butter in my fridge due to go off in a week and a half I decided it was time to swap my boring old highway code for a couple of baking books instead.

Well what an enjoyable sunday I had! I sent my boyfriend karl off to sit and watch sport all afternoon (he couldnt believe his luck!) while I whipped up several batches of cupcakes and cookies.

The first batch I decided to make were my favourite lemon cupcakes taken from Rachel Allen's book 'Bake'....although I'm not usually a fan of lemon-y cakes I absolutely adore this recipe. It works perfectly every single time and is always a hit with whoever I make them for.

Next up were Chocolate and Hazelnut cupcakes courtesy of the Hummingbird Bakery book. Again, another recipe I have made before but couldnt resist making again...anything that is chocolate and includes nutella and butter cream is most definately a favourite of mine!

And finally, I thought I'd make some Butterscotch Cookies too. This was a new recipe for me out of a new book that my lovely boyfriend karl bought for me called 'Eat Me' by Xanthe Milton. I've had this book a good few weeks now and have frequently sat pondering over what to make from it...everything just looks so good. As a little something extra to the cupcakes I thought I'd make a few cookies..I picked the Butterscotch cookies as I couldnt resist the thought of cookies with chunks of Caramac in them...seriously yum! Unfortunately I was a tad disappointed with these..the recipe said to use an ungreased baking tray. I did think this was a little unusual but as the recipe said to not grease the tray..I didnt grease the tray. Well, the first batch came out of the oven and no matter how hard I tried I could not get them off the baking tray...unfortunately these cookies turned into cookie crumbs and were swiftly given to karl for a snack whilst he watched the formula 1! Not put off by this minor disaster I persevered and put baking parchment on my trays which did enable me to keep my cookies in one piece...hurrah! Although the cookies were good..they werent the best...they were very very sugary and as you can see from the picture went very thin when baked. They did have that lovely chewy texture though that I love in cookies so not all bad! I think if I was making them again I would add more Caramac too...I love that stuff!!

Well, enough blogging for now...I must get some revision done.

Thursday, 27 May 2010

Cupcakes on Junior Apprentice

Did anyone see Junior Apprentice last night???

The 3rd task that Lord Sugar set for the teams was a cupcake related task! Well....everyone knows i love all things cupcake related so this was the perfect episode for me. It was also the first episode i actually got to enjoy in full due to Jamie Oliver's series sadly finishing last week. On previous weeks i could be found with remote in hand flicking between channel 4 during the adverts and bbc 1 to catch snippets of Junior Apprentice.

Anyway...back to last night.... the teams were asked to decorate and sell cupcakes from stalls in Selfridges in London. Each team had to come up with a theme for their cupcakes and then decorate their cupcakes in the style of these themes. Team Instinct went for a fashion theme using decorations to look like pearls etc on the cupcakes....i must admit...a rather difficult theme to pull off with simple decorations and this was shown in the result as Instinct were unfortunately the losing team...although this could also be put down to a lack of support and enthusiam for the team leader.

Team Revolution went for an I Heart theme which was fab. Although the icing skills of the team werent amazing the I Heart theme worked really well on the cupcakes and the simple, red, black, white and pink colours of the decorations looked really good!

There were also plenty of shots of several cupcake shops in and around London and prettily decorated cupcakes while the teams were doing their market research. I dont know about you but it definately made me want to get my mixing bowls and my icing bag out and get creative...but sadly at 10pm at night and with a lack of eggs in my fridge I had to accept it was sadly time for bed and not baking!

Wednesday, 26 May 2010


Well I've finally gone and got a blog for welcome!

After months of being nosey at other people's baking blogs and baking and icing numerous batches of cupcakes I decided it was well and truly time to get my own blog to show you all what I get up to in my kitchen :)