Saturday, 31 August 2013

A Wedding Feast

Apologies for being so absent recently, I have been rather busy getting married! I am also in the middle of changing jobs and moving but I will be back to baking and blogging soon I promise! In the mean time I thought I would share some photos of the baked goods we had on offer for our 'big day'.

Our wedding was very much a DIY affair, I called in a lot of favours to make bunting, chutney, cake stands, flower arrangements, cookies - the list goes on! For food we opted for a hog roast instead of a traditional 3 course meal and then a table of cheese, bread, crackers and chutney later in the evening. Pudding was a tables of cakes, biscuits and other sweet treats made my myself, my friends and family.

Thursday, 25 July 2013

Garlic Bread

I've had this post all ready to publish for a while but it hasn't seemed appropriate in this heat! However this week I am all about comfort food and it doesn't get much more comforting than this! It's a relatively quick and easy recipe so no slaving away in the kitchen and I think it makes a great addition to a summer salad.

I love garlic. I love garlic WAY too much! My housemate and I used to roast whole bulbs and eat it as a snack (probably a good job that out boyfriends lived about 150 miles away at the time!)

Garlic bread is a great way to jazz up and bulk out a regular meal. I realise that you can buy a garlic bread sticks cheaply and chuck them in the oven but let's face it, nothing beats freshly baked bread. This recipe really doesn't take long and you can easily mix it up and leave to rise and you prepare your lasagne or cottage pie).

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Cake Decorating

A few more photos of my cake decorating and proof that I have no idea what I'm doing....

A year ago I didn't know how to cover a cake with sugarpaste. I had never really worked with it at all apart from an extremely poor attempt at making a football themed 21st birthday cake for my boyfriend! So I've very much taught myself as I go along, as much out of necessity as anything. This process occasionally involves me discovering that I'm 'doing it all wrong'!

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Gluten-free Red Velvet

My baby sister turned 18 last month - something that was very scary and made me feel rather old! I wanted to make her a special birthday cake so decided to attempt my first tiered cake. It needed to be gluten free so I turned to my trusty red velvet recipe - a wheat-free variation of the Hummingbird classic. This recipe made a deep 8" cake, a regular 6" and mini cupcakes.
Gluten-free Red Velvet Cake Batter:

375g caster sugar
950g margarine
6 eggs
1 tbsp vanilla essence
3 tbsp red food colouring
65g cocoa powder
950g gluten free flour
1 tsp xantham gum
1 tbsp bicarbomate of soda
1 tbsp salt
3 tbsp white wine vinegar

Cream the sugar and margarine until light and fluffy. Beat in three eggs until well mixed and then add the other three and mix well. Mix in the vanilla, red food colouring and cocoa powder and scraoe the sidesto make sure you don't ose any cocoa powder! Alternate adding the milk and flour until it is all mixed in. Add the bicarb, salt, xantham gum and white wine vinegar and beat the btter until smoot, making sure there are no lumps stuck to the bottom of the bowl.

Cream Cheese Frosting:

900g icing sugar
150g butter
350g cream cheese

Beat the ingredients together until smooth and will spread easily.

In terms of the decoration, there was no obvious theme so I wanted to work with the colour of the cake and use bright colours to create a fun and slightly kitsch look.

Baked and decorated, the main challenge with this cake was the transportation from St. Albans to Brixton, keeping it safe and away from 'tasters' overnight and then up to North London. But after two trains, two tubes and two very achey arms the cake arrived safely at my parents house in time for a birthday barbecue.

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Happy Birthday!

I have a few blog posts in the pipeline but have been far too busy eating, drinking and generally enjoying being the birthday girl to do anything productive!

So for now I will leave you with a guest blog post over at Cakes for Dorothy, another baking blog which is written by Emma...

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Let them eat brioche!

I love baking bread. I also love eating bread. To be honest I'm an all round bread lover!
Despite this I am definitely a beginner when it comes to bread baking mainly due to time constraints - I may have time to whack together a dough but leave it to prove, knock it back, prove again and THEN bake...?

When I do get the time however, I love to organise a day around baking (and then eating) some doughy treats. So with a lazy Monday ahead of me, out came my baking hat and Paul Hollywood's '100 Great Breads'. I decided to make Brioche Tetes mainly to see whether I could and the prospect of freshly baked brioche was very exciting!

The recipe was very easy to follow and I was pleased with the results (I have had mixed success with bread so I had my fingers crossed!). They didn't rise as much as I expected in the proving stage and turned out rather wonky but they smelt amazing when they came out of the oven and tasted delicious.

Although the dough does need to be left overnight, the first stage doesn't take long at all so I mixed the dough in the evening and finished it off the next day so it needn't take up too much time. Just try it. Go on...!


375g strong white bread flour
40g caster sugar
15g yeast
1 tsp salt
75ml milk
3 eggs
185g softened butter

Mix the flour, sugar, yeast, salt, milk and eggs by hand for about 8 minutes until it's a smooth dough (or 5 minutes in a food processor). Add the butter to the dough and mix for a further 10 minutes (or 5 minutes in a food processor). Put the dough in a bowl, cover and leave in the fridge overnight. 

In the morning the dough is easy to work with, break it into 75g pieces and shape each pieces into a larger and a smaller ball. Put the larger balls in the muffin case and push the smaller balls onto them. Leave to rise in a warm place or 1 hour. 

Preheat the oven to 200C, brush the dough with eggwash and bake for 15 minutes until golden. Leave to cool on a wire rack.

Monday, 6 May 2013

A beginners attempt at sugarpaste modelling

I've said it many times but cake decorating does not come naturally to me.
However and am trying and recently I have done a bit more modelling which I thought i'd share with you. I have never been taught any sugarpaste work so I am working it all out as I go - tips are always welcome!

'The Gruffalo' cakes seem to be popular at the moment - I must admit that I'm not familiar with the Gruffalo although it reminds me of Where the Wild this are which I loved as a child. The brown sugarpaste I used chocolate flavoured and it didn't seem to harden as well as regular sugar paste, even with the help of quite a lot of CMC. However, it definitely tastes better :)

This one I was really pleased with as when I saw the order I really wasn't sure I could do it! In the end I became rather attached to my little old organist :)

I've also just made my first tiered cake which I'll be blogging about very soon so watch this space :)

What are your top cake decorating tips?

Saturday, 27 April 2013

Thai Cakes

Where to begin? It feels like so much has happened since I last blogged; I have been desperate to write about it but my laptop is in the computer hospital :(

My boyfriend and I had an amazing trip to visit our friends in Thailand. Having never been to Asia before, everything was new to me and all my senses were in for a treat! I won't bore you all with the day by day account that my family had to endure but I will share a few photos with you and a bit about my food adventure....

The food was amazing - definitely some of the best I've ever tasted. Everything was just so full of flavour; we tried something different each night and (with the exception of a big smelly fruit!) there was nothing I didn't love! The Thai way of eating is to each have a small plate/bowl of rice and share meat and vegetable dishes which you add a small amount at a time to your rice. I think this is perfect as you get to try several dishes and go back for more of your favourite!

They're not big into desserts/cake (why would you be with so much fresh pineapple and mango available?!) but we did find a cupcakery in Bangkok. I tried a white chocolate and macadamia cupcake which was topped with whipped cream instead of buttercream. Despite the fact that I'm not a huge fan of cream, I loved the cupcake (the cream had definitely been sweetened!).  This kind of thing is fairly exclusive to the Thai 'high society' but I did also try some more authentic Thai cakes...

These are local to Nakon Sawan, the town where our friends had been living for the past two and a half years. I can't say that they are cake as we know it; one is very dry and the other is very soft and elastic like uncooked bread dough! They both come in very bright colours and a variety of flavours (I could identify coconut, chocolate and strawberry - the rest were a mystery to me!) - I can't say that I'll be getting the recipe!

I do however have a Thai recipe book and a collection of pastes and spices - ready and raring to poorly recreate some amazing dishes!

In a other news, on arriving back in the UK we announced that we are getting married in August so our lives are now a whirlwind of venue bookings, flower arrangements, big smiles and moments of 'I just can't believe it' !

For more on Thailand and travelling as well as some stunning photography, please visit

Friday, 22 March 2013

A little adventure......

I will be disappearing from here and twitter for a couple of weeks as myself and my boyfriend visit our very good friends in Thailand. It will be the first time either of us has visited Thailand or even Asia and no doubt we will try done new and exciting foods and flavours which I will endeavour to capture in photographs and memory.

Happy Easter, I hope you all eat a silly amount of chocolate and have fun baking :)

Monday, 18 March 2013

Gluten-free cherry and Amaretto cake

Mothers Day weekend this year managed to coincide with my Mum's birthday and my Grandmas's 80th birthday celebrations.As they are both wheat intolerant I decided that a gluten free celebration cake was in order. I have had mixed success with gluten free cake and I needed this cake to have a good structure (no sinking of the middle or crumbling away at the sides!) as I was covering it with sugarpaste. So I wanted to keep the recipe fairly simple but gluten-free flour can have a distinctive taste so I wanted to use a strong flavour. Knowing that my Grandma is a fan of amaretti biscuits I decided on Amaretto and cherry.

I would have loved to use fresh cherries but I couldn't get hold of them (and they tend to be horrendously expensive)so I used natural coloured glace cherries. The night before I baked the cake I soaked the cherries in Amaretto which worked well and the cherries really took on the flavour of the Amaretto.
300g butter/stork 
300g caster sugar 
4 eggs 
2 tsp gluten free baking powder 
300g gluten free flour (I used Doves Farm self-raising flour) 
90ml amaretto 
2 tsp xantham gum 
300g glace cherries that have been soaked in Amaretto overnight (I put cherries in between the two layers as well as inside the sponge so if you just wanted them in the sponge you would only need 200g glace cherries) 
raspberry jam 
  • Preheat the oven to 160 C and grease and line a cake tin (I used a 9" tin but you could definitely use an 8" or 10").  
  • Cream together butter and sugar until creamy and fluffy. 
  • Mix in the eggs on a high speed. 
  • Mix in half the four and then stir in the Amaretto. Mix in the rest of the flour along with the baking powder and xantham gum. 
  • Once well mixted, lightly coat 200g cherries in flour and stir in. 
  • Bake for 20 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean when inserted into the centre of the sponge. 
Amaretto Buttercream: 
500g icing sugar 
150g butter at room temperature 
1 tablespoon milk 
1.5 tablespoons Amaretto 
  • (Ideally you want to use an electric hand mixer or stand mixer for this. If you are mixing it by hand, get those muscles ready!) 
  • Cream together the butter and icing sugar. If you're using an electric mixer,  use a low speed until the icing sugar is mixed in to avoid a sugary cloud in your kitchen! Then way the speed up to full and get that butter nice and fluffy!
  • Once they are well mixed and start to gradually add the milk and Amaretto until you are happy with the taste and consistency.

Sandwich the two cakes together with jam, amaretto buttercream and the remaining cherries. I covered the cake in sugarpaste but you could simply top with the buttercream or even a dusting of icing sugar for a perfect teatime treat :)

I was very happy with the cake which held together well and was tasty and moist - you definitely couldn't tell that it was gluten free at all!

Happy Baking everyone! x

Monday, 11 March 2013

My Little Paris Kitchen

I love Paris. I first visited four years and fell in love from the first moment I turned a corner and saw the Eiffel Tower. Then it snowed and that was it!

I took my boyfriend for a birthday weekend away last week. We were lucky enough to be able to stay in a flat and so could cook for ourselves to keep the weekend both cheaper and slightly healthier (not that we managed to stay away from the wine and pastries!) Our flatmate is a veggie so we took advantage of the opportunity to enjoy some meaty dishes.

Eggy bread (my favourite breakfast!) with ham and poached egg

Chicken with roasted sweet potatoes and a lentil salad

Rare steak with mushrooms. tomatpes and sweet potato chips

We visited the largest organic food market in Europe to put together a picnic to eat in Luxembourg Gardens. The smell of cheese, chicken and sauteed potatoes were enough to make anyone hungry! We gathered together some cheese, bread, ham, salad and tarts to enjoy despite the Parisian frost.

We visited a little bakery where three years ago we discovered what we now refer to as 'the best tart in the world' (others might call it tart au citron with Italian meringue). Unfortunately they didn't have it this time but we chose two delicious tarts to enjoy under in the shadows of the Sacre Coeur.

So after a wonderful, food filled weekend we sank into our Eurostar seats, rested our aching feet and slept our way across the channel.
I'll be back soon with cakes and recipes :)

Thursday, 28 February 2013

Food of Love

I don't celebrate Valentines day. It's not that I hate it, it usually doesn't even register to be honest. At least not until my facebook timeline is full of picture of flowers and champagne. Perhaps we are a scrooge of a couple but we're pretty happy whatever we are and V-day happens to fall a couple of days after my boyfriends birthday so it's still a social week :)

This year however, I was distinctly aware of Valentines day as I have been making Valentines cakes for about a month. And I must admit it was fun - I enjoy coming up with ideas for themed cakes. However when it came to getting back to my baking I was sick of all the pink hearts and sickly buttercream. So I decided that what truly spreads love is bread. Everyone loves bread, even if they pretend not to or, like me, try to avoid it for the sake of an expanding waistline, deep down we all want bread and we want it fresh and warm form the oven. And the best way to share the bread love is clearly a tear and share loaf.

I found this on which a great little blog written by Amy Jones (@jimsyjampots) and you can find the recipe here. It was originally made by Jason (@itschefjae) from the second series of the Great British Bake Off who I believe now works in Brixton Village so I am mega jealous of him!

Jason recipe called for each roll to be filled with fried red onion and grated cheddar. We rarely have cheese in the fridge but had just had enough to sprinkle on the top, so inside the rolls I used cream cheese with garlic and herbs. This provided a lovely creamy centre to the rolls.

When proving for the second time the bread didn't rise nearly as much as it should have which was disappointing. I'm not sure whether this was because our flat is so cold or because I had knocked it back to much/kneaded it too much or not enough. I put the dough in a warmer places and it rose a bit more. The bread was tasty but I think the bake was too close. I really need to read up more about bread-making and would absolutely love to do some kind of course in it so that I am able to make the perfect loaf!

But the most important part of this recipe is to enjoy with friends and loved ones :)

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Salted Caramel Cupcake Recipe

A while ago my boyfriend posted a guest blog about making salted caramel cupcakes and I promised you the recipe (you can find his post HERE). I then proceeded to forget about this promise so apologies and here is it, finally:

200g caster sugar                                                          200g softened butter 
2 eggs                                                                             200g self-raising flour 
2 tsp baking powder                                                       a tin of caramel 
salt                                                                                  533g icing sugar 
166g butter                                                                     40 ml milk 

  • Cream together the caster sugar and butter. Whisk in the eggs one at a time.  
  • Fold in the self-raising flour and baking powder until well combined (but be careful not to overmix, especially is using an electric mixer. 
  • Gently stir in 1 tablespoon of caramel (I use the Carnation tinned stuff) and about 1/4 teaspoon of salt. 
*You can add the caramel and salt to taste but be careful of adding too much caramel as it will affect the consistency of the cake and how it bakes.
  • Divide the mixture between 12 cupcake cases. I use an ice cream scoop so that all the cakes are even bt otherwise just fill to case to about 2/3 full. 
  • Bake for 20 minutes then remove from the oven and allow to cool. 
  • Once the cakes are completely cool, remove the center and fill with the caramel. I have a little device to remove the centers but you can also use a small circle cutter. 
  • The buttercream is best made with some kind of electric mixer. You can of course do it by hand and I used to but you just can't get it as fluffy. Mix the icing sugar, butter and milk for about 5 minutes and then add the caramel and salt to taste. 
  • Pipe the buttercream onto the cakes and decorate with some glitter and either a piece of dime bar or a shard of caramel. 
**When I make these in the shop I use dime bars as they are quicker and easier but I really like the effective of the shards of caramel. To make this heat 250g caster sugar and 1 tablespoon of water in a heavy based pan over a low heat. Do not stir and heat until it turns to a dark amber colour and reaches the hard crack stage. Pour on to a greased baking paper and allow to cool. Once cool you can break into pieces to decorate the cupcakes.

Saturday, 16 February 2013

Farewell Brixton

I am a bad blogger. I haven't blogged properly in two months now and that makes me sad. I have really missed it but a combination of my commute, working hours and moving house left me exhausted and with little time to bake outside of work - let alone blog about it. I am not a natural writer (as you can probably tell!) so sitting down to blog takes me a while .

The last cake made in my small South London kitchen was rather a stressful affair. For some reason I agreed to make a birthday cake for someone the day before we moved so once again I worked away into the early hours of the morning this time in a kitchen that had been packed away into cardboard boxes! I was clearly suffering from sleep deprivation as I even managed to forget about one of the layers of cake but I think I got away with it being a two rather than three layer cake!

The cake was for a horse riding party so, perhaps inadvisable, I attempted to model a horse from sugarpaste. As I think I have mentioned before, modelling and cake decorating in general are not really my 'thing' and what I ended up with was a rather stocky creature! The brown sugarpaste I used was actually chocolate flavoured and it didn't seem to dry out as well as normal sugarpaste so I think I might avoid it in future.

I was relatively happy with how it turned out although in my sleepy state I forgot to take any decent photos of it. However there are a few things I would do differently if I was to make the cake again..... At first I thought I would cover the board in white and then the cake in green but as I was covering a 12" board I decided to cover the cake and board together to save sugarpaste. And as I could buy white sugarpaste in larger quantities (and therefore cheaper) I decided to opt for covering the whole thing in white. In retrospect I wish I had gone for green. I also would have made a jump and piped grass with royal icing (I actually tried this but I was without a stand mixer and had broken my decent hand whisk so was using a cheap and frankly useless replacement which would not do the job and ended up in the bin!)

Inside the cake was this simple and moist chocolate cake. I use this so often now that I now the recipe off by heart and the addition of melted chocolate in the buttercream really makes the difference.

500g plain flour
100g cocoa powder
700g caster sugar
7.5 tsp baking powder
200g butter/margarine
5 eggs
600ml whole milk

Mix together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder and margarine. If using a stand mixer, make sure it is mixed well through to the bottom - it may even be worth getting stuck in with your hands! Whisk together the eggs and milk and add very gradually to the flour mixture whilst mixing constantly. Once it is all well mixed pour into a lined tin (I used a 10" round but actually think that 8" would be ideal) and bake at 150C. Check the cake after an hour but it may need a bit longer...

Once it is cooked, leave to cool and then cut in half and fill with this buttercream:

625g icing sugar
80g cocoa powder
200g softened butter
80ml whole milk
100g plain chocolate

Heat up the milk and melt the chocolate in it. Whisk it together with the rest of the ingredients for about 5 minutes until well mixed and fluffy. Fill and cover the cake and enjoy

So that was my 'so long for now' bake to the little corner of South London which I have come to love - Brixton, I will be back. But for now I have a pretty new kitchen complete with digital scales, a stand mixer, lots more baking tins and an live-in baking buddy so 2013 promises to be a pretty good year!

Monday, 7 January 2013

Goodbye 2012....

I have neglected this poor blog over the last month. Christmas crept up on me and I was spectacularly unprepared for it. My decision to make a lot of my Christmas presents and all of the tree decorations and cards proved to be a time consuming one! So when I wasn't making Christmas cupcakes at work I was baking, sewing, cutting and sticking - it was very great fun but I certainly never felt on top of things!

So although I had a wonderful Christmas, my resolution this year is to be better prepared for the next festive period. Here's just a little bit of what I got up to:

Amongst all this mayhem I agreed to make a birthday cake for my boyfriends younger cousin. She was having a 'Water Walkerz' pary and wanted a swimming pool birthday cake. ( I hasn't heard to water walkerz but it turns out to be an amazing place where you go in a giant hamster ball on water!). Cake decorating is not so much my 'thing' and I've not done modelling before, certainly not people so this was a challenge! Due my schedule of going back home to my parents for Christmas the cake (chocolate) was baked at my flat and then transported to my parents. It suffered somewhat from the journey so the cake wasn't as structurally sound as I would have liked.

The decorating process then started at about midnight; never a good omen when you have to leave to deliver it on your way to work at 5.30am! I made my usual chocolate buttercream and then melted 100g of dark chocolate and 100g of milk chocolate with a little milk and whisked it in. This created a really gooey chocolate cake without being too rich for children.

This was also the first time I had covered a cake and board all in one as opposed to covering the board first. Things were made difficult by the fact that I had forgotten My rolling pin, letters cutters and food colours amongst other things! But eventually, and with a little help from my mum, it got finished and I got a few hours sleep!

Happy 2013!