Friday, 21 December 2012

Christmas Cakes 2012

For the past three years I've been making Delia's classic Christmas Cake. This year I did the same, only I made 4 individual ones instead of one big one. The intention being to put them in some hampers I've made this year.

As usual, all the ingredients for this sturdy cake are quite costly. Lots of bags of dried fruits, spices and sugars doesn't actually come that cheap (and that's before you add in the good brandy) but it's totally worth it. Every year I've done these they've never failed to impressed and the homemade element of something at Christmas is something you can't buy.

I will say though, this year didn't quite go to plan, as this cakes relies heavily on a trust worthy oven and lots of faith, given my very un-reliable beast of an oven I had a few complications... The first cake I made, I placed in the oven for the specified 4 hours at the temp Delia suggested - burnt to an absolute crisp. She suggests not even looking at it until at least 3 and a half hours have passed, I would certainly suggest otherwise and perhaps taking a wee peek at about 2.5 hours in. Also, I can't stress enough how important wrapping your cake in brown paper before it goes into the oven is, especially on the top of the cake. This protects it from the prolonged heat.
Anyway, after disaster no.1 (very annoying when you consider I havent changed my method with this the past three times!) I made the cake again and only cooked it for 3 hours. It was a lot lighter in colour than previous years but I found that actually, the taste of the fruit it much nicer this way so it's something I may continue.

So, I used a large square tin, baked, fed it brandy for 4 weeks then divided into four individual cakes. Covered in marzipan (mmmmm) and then royal icing. Wrapped in brown paper with a pretty bow.
(also, with the remains of the previous burnt cake I managed to use the very middle to make a couple of mini mini ones too)

Then I put them into some mini hampers :)

Sunday, 28 October 2012

Halloween Cheesecake

I made this for a Halloween party yesterday (a daytime, lunch thing for the kids mainly!). It's a basic vanilla cheesecake with some dark chocolate on top made to look like a spiderweb (?). Not sure it's exactly my best work but tasted gooood!
Also, this recipe contains gelatin, something I find a little hard to gauge. The recipe stated to use 4 'sheets' but all I had were packets. I did as the packet said and dissolved the packet in 1pint of water and used about a quarter of this, think in hindsight could have made it a little more concentrated though to help make the cheesecake a bit more stable. Will put the recipe up on here shorty with this fact added!

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Monday, 22 October 2012

Anniversary Three Tier Coffee and Walnut Cake

I went to my Aunt and Uncle's 50th wedding anniversary at the weekend, 50th!! Hadn't a clue what to buy though and certainly couldn't afford anything gold related, so decided to make my aunts favourite, coffee cake, instead!

I only have one picture if it in it's tin as she didn't want to cut into it at the party. In her words 'I'm having this cake to myself at home!'. So I'm hoping it all worked out and she like it :)
I did an adaptation of a Nigella coffee cake which I've done before. It's great, though you might want to lower the caffeine if you intend to give this one to the kids!

The Recipe:


For the sponge
75 gram(s) walnuts (pieces)
337 gram(s) caster sugar
337 gram(s) unsalted butter (soft (plus some for greasing))
300 gram(s) plain flour
6 teaspoon(s) espresso coffee
3 1/4 teaspoon(s) baking powder
1/4 teaspoon(s) bicarbonate of soda
6 medium eggs
3 tablespoon(s) milk
For the buttercream frosting
525 gram(s) icing sugar
260 gram(s) unsalted butter (softened)
3 1/4 teaspoon(s) espresso coffee
1 1/2 tablespoon(s) water (boiling)
40 gram(s) walnuts (crushed)
20g dark chocolate shavings


Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas mark 4.
Butter the 3 sandwich tins and line the base of each with baking parchment.
Put the walnut pieces and sugar into a food processor and blitz to a fine nutty powder.
Add the 337g butter, flour, 6 teaspoons espresso powder, baking powder, bicarb and eggs and process to a smooth batter.
Add the milk, while still mixing to loosen the cake mixture: it should be a soft, dropping consistency. (If you are making this by hand, bash the nuts to a coarse powder with a rolling pin and mix with the dry ingredients; then cream the butter and sugar together, and beat in the dry ingredients and eggs alternately and, finally, the milk.)
Divide the mixture between the 3 lined tins and bake in the oven for 25 minutes, or until the sponge has risen and feels springy to the touch.
Cool the cakes in their tins on a wire rack for about 10 minutes, before turning them out onto the rack and peeling off the baking parchment.
When the sponges are cool, you can make the buttercream.
I find this best to do using a hand-held mixer rather than a food processor, though you can obviously do both or even by hand. Place the icing sugar in a large mixing bowl and add the soft butter, mix with thoroughly with the electric mixer until smooth and lump free.
Dissolve the instant espresso powder in 2 tablespoons boiling water and add it while still hot to the bowl, mixing to blend into the buttercream. Mix for a good 5 minutes at least to get it nice and fluffy.
Place 1 sponge upside down on your cake stand or serving plate.
Spread with some of the icing; then place on it the second sponge, right side up and cover the top with more icing placing the last sponge on top. Now carefully spatula the remaining icing onto the sides of the cake and on top. This can be a little tricky, especially if you're cake is quite crumbly (which mine was) but don't worry if you gets crumbs of cake in the mix, your chopped walnuts and chocolate will hopefully cover this.
Now sprinkle with the chopped walnuts and chocolate.

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Monday, 15 October 2012

Chocolate & Peanut Butter Whoopie Pies

As part of pregnancy number three (omg) I've occasionally craved salty sweet things. (See the post from the other week about the Snickers cupcakes!!) So, I saw the recipe for these, with their heaps of cocoa and peanut butter and thought these seemed about right!

They included some interesting ingredients too, like marshmallow 'Fluff'. Weird stuff... Tastes nice but really couldn't think of what you'd use it for generally!

Mmm bad bad ingredients...

The 'pie' bit was a mix of egg, melted butter, flour, cocoa, natural yoghurt, bicarbonate and peanut butter. The filling was butter, icing sugar, marshmallow 'fluff' and peanut butter. Naughty? Much?

The recipe is from a certain book I like, can you guess? If not, pm for it!

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Sunday, 14 October 2012

Breakfast bars

I've just made these ready for a week of, as Nigella puts it, breakfast on the hoof. And for William's lunch boxes too :)

They couldn't be simpler, you just mix a warmed tin of condensed milk with 250g rolled oats, and lots of your favourite berries, nuts and seeds. Bake for one hour, et voila!

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Location:Home sweet home

Sunday, 7 October 2012

Lucy's Christening

It was my little girls Christening today so I made 22 (should have been 24...!) cupcakes to place on the table at dinner. I plumped for the same as my little boy's Christening, vanilla and jam. They turned out well, and looked soo pretty.

The recipe:
Was a basic vanilla sponge recipe but using lots of rapeseed oil as opposed to butter (see recipes).
Filled with smooth strawberry jam, topped with basic butter cream (a la Hummingbird) whipped for aaaages! Topped with a pre-bought rice paper rose (was going for speed here!)


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Friday, 5 October 2012

Cake trip!

So I was working from London today. On the way down this morning I saw my favourite bakery post a link to their 'daily special' on Twitter. It was a Snickers peanut butter cupcake. YUM. (have a massive thing for salty sweetness at the min) So on my way back to Euston I made a mad dash to grab a couple! I'm blaming the pregnancy hormones... :P

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Location:London, Wardour Street, Soho

Monday, 24 September 2012

Carrot cake

Here's what's left of a carrot cake I made last week for a colleague's birthday at work. It was an absolutely massive affair but still got devoured in it's entirety. So guess it must've been good! I've made this one a lot before and it never fails (so long as you get the frosting right and whip it enough), it's from you guessed it... The Hummingbird bakery cookbook.

Sorry this is the only pic I have!

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Location:BBC Media City

Saturday, 8 September 2012

Rainford Show 2012

Last year I chose the Victoria sponge class; I didn't get placed. :( This year I did Millionaires shortbread... and came... 2nd! Wahoo! (was out of 5 entries like...but still) :D

For the shortbread, it was just flour, caster sugar and butter. For the 'caramel' I used a can of condensed milk and brown sugar heated together. V sweet but amazingly simple and tasty.
The topping was 3 big bars!!? of Green and Blacks milk chocolate with melted white chocolate swirled in.

Mine were by far the biggest, why do I always make things so big?? Think I might have even got 1st if they were just a little more 'dainty'.

There was one more entry than this honest!

I used a milky bar to add the swirls to the milk chocolate, sooo easy and looked/tasted good.

"really scrummy" lolol! :D

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A couple of bakes I completely forgot to post!

As presumably already stated on here, I am not great at keeping this blog updated, I doubt it matters too much either...
But for the ones of you that do drop by, here's a couple of things I've baked and forgot to post about! :)

Lavender Cupcakes
Really amazing, wasn't expecting them to be so nice! Recipe from The Hummingbird bakery cookbook (as per).

Plain old fruited scones
Could have been a bit taller? Tasted good though!

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