Showing posts from 2011

2011 - Top Five

Blogging has taken a backseat recently with all the Christmas stress festivities, but I'm back now with a clear Google reader and ready for 2012!

I've really enjoyed 2011 baking and blog-wise, I have been on a couple of brilliant baking courses, tried lots of new recipes and discovered lots of yummy and lovely blogs and bloggers.

Just to round off the year, with an idea stolen from the Hungry Hinny, here are my top 5 most popular posts of 2011:

5. Marbled Mocha Cake:

4. Spiced Toffee Apple Cake:

3. Toblerone Cupcakes:

2. Sausage Dog Cake (I would have pitched a fit if this hadn't been in the list given the blood, sweat and tears that went into it!):

1. Bakewell Tart Cupcakes:

Hope you all have a fab New Year's Eve whatever you're up to, and wishing you all lots of love, luck and happiness for 2012!

Food Bloggers Unplugged

Woo hooo! I was recently tagged for Food Bloggers Unplugged by the Hungry Hinny and Jo from What do you make of my cake? - thanks ladies, I was seeing more and more entries popping up and hoping to be able to join in!

1. What, or who inspired you to start a blog? When I started baking I was taking pictures of the stuff I'd made anyway, and had started a Baking album on Facebook already to keep a record. I'd dabbled with blogging a bit in the past and after I finished uni I was out of work for a while and had the idea to start up a blog about it just to pass some time really and keep a more detailed record, then it just kind of grew from there!

2. Who is your foodie inspiration?
I'm not sure - I don't even know what kickstarted my desire to learn to bake (although I suspect 3rd year procrastination)! I'm still building up my collection of cookbooks and trying new things so there isn't anybody in particular I can pinpoint (other than BBC Good Food!). I love readin…

Ice cream cupcakes

OK so I know these are completely unseasonal, but I wanted to make something for Mike's sister Louise's birthday that was a little bit different to your standard cake or cupcake. I had seen ice cream cupcakes on a few blogs in the past and thought it was a really good effect so decided to try them out. For some reason I had it in my head that I would have to bake them normally then just place the cupcakes in the cornets... but after a quick google I found a recipe that was actually in a book that was sitting on my bookshelf - the WI Celebration Cupcake book. Turns out you can just bake them in the cones!

I followed the recipe given in the book and have to say it wasn't one of the best tasting cupcakes (but whether or not that was because it was in a cornet, I don't know!) - so I think next time I will try it with my usual cupcake recipe. It was pretty difficult getting the mixture into the cornets as they were quite tight - I used a teaspoon, which took a lot of patie…

Sugarpaste and my new Wilton 1M

Ever since my courses in cake and cupcake decorating I have been slowly building up an arsenal of cake decorating weaponry (this could be an expensive hobby!) and a few weeks ago I was finally ready to try out some of my newly acquired skills.

I had to keep it simple as I had the bare minimum of equipment! So I coloured some white sugarpaste pink and then stamped out some flowers. After a few head-scratching moments I remembered how to make roses and made some of them too. I was the most excited about using my new piping nozzle, the Wilton 1M that we had used on the cupcake course, and was even more excited that I actually remembered how to pipe properly - especially the rose swirl as I love the effect.

I know that cupcakes like these are as basic as you get, but I'm so proud of them and making them felt like a huge achievement. When I started baking I didn't really think I'd be able to make anything beyond some runny icing slopped onto a fairy cake! Art and creativity ha…

Apple & Walnut Cake: The Pink Whisk's October Baking Challenge

I've been going apple crazy this month and so when I read about The Pink Whisk's October baking challenge it was great to have another excuse to try out an apple based recipe! I thought about making something involving chunky apples but then thought I would have a stab at an actual appley cake - I don't have the best track record with fruit in cakes so this was a bit of a risk!

I found a recipe for Apple & Walnut cake with treacle icing on the BBC Good Food website (where else?!) and thought it sounded interesting - I wasn't sure how I felt about treacle/cream cheese frosting but decided to give it a whirl.

The cake....
300g plain flour
1tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
140g dark brown soft sugar
50g golden caster sugar
250ml rapeseed or sunflower oil
4 eggs
3 apples
100g walnuts, chopped

1. Preheat the oven to 150c / gas mark 2, and grease/line two 20cm cake tins.
2. Put the flour, cinnamon, bicarb, and sugars into a bowl, and stir together.
3. Grate the app…

Spiced Toffee Apple Cake: What Kate Baked Autumnal Baking Challenge and Giveaway

As soon as I saw the Autumnal Baking Challenge & Giveaway at What Kate Baked's new bloggy home I knew I had to enter! Autumn and winter are my favourite times to bake, because of the weather and also because the bakes and flavours of these seasons are what I like to eat the most!

I sort of ended up baking two different things for this challenge... both of which I will include in this post but the second one is the real entry! I will explain... I started to get my thinking cap on and thought of what a truly autumnal bake would be to me. I thought of apples, toffee, and warming spices like cinnamon. I thought of something chunky to get stuck into while curled up on the sofa with a cup of tea. So this recipe on BBC Good Food for Caramel Apple Loaf Cake seemed perfect and I set about making it. Everything was going to plan and I was so smug and confident that I had found the perfect Autumnal bake that I took it into the back yard in the drizzle and took some photos of it with the…

September Bake It! - Jam Roly Poly

September sees a welcome return of the Bake It! Club - hosted by Amy over at Cooking, Cakes and Children

This month there was a theme of school dinners, but as soon as I saw the suggested recipe I knew I had to make it! It was 'proper' jam roly poly as my Mum would call it - her all-time favourite! (School dinners must have gone down the pan since she was at school, we never had anything so advanced, it was tray baked sponges and congealed custard for us... although weirdly I did quite enjoy it).

Due to an innate fear of making a roulade I was a bit apprehensive about the rolling element, plus I've not really done must in the way of pastry yet so this was a definite challenge! However I was pleasantly surprised at how simple it was to make. I had a few jam issues - when I spread it out I thought it looked stingy but then when I rolled it up it was spilling out and I had to mop some of it up. Looking back at Amy's now I think mine is definitely lacking in jam, maybe I …

Double chocolate loaf cake

I'm a bit obsessed with loaf cakes at the moment, since I finally got a loaf tin I just seem to see lots of lovely recipes, even though this is actually only the second one I've done.

 I made this because Mike was having to go to a work meeting that he was dreading and I thought I would make him something insanely chocolately to cheer him up for when he got back. After a quick peruse on the trusty BBC Good Food website I found a recipe for a Double Chocolate Loaf Cake that I thought would fit the bill perfectly.

It was pretty simple to make - yes yes, despite the recipe commanding me to use an electric mixer I shunned this and went for the usual wooden spoon! This took what seemed like hours to bake (although hours is probably actually accurate) - after the allotted time it seemed barely cooked and I was thinking it was just going to be Brownie Gate all over again, but after leaving it in for an age the skewer test seemed acceptable.

Unfortunately, due to all this I was too an…

Toblerone Cupcakes

Huge thanks to everyone who shared their brownie tips/recipes with me in response to my last post (please keep 'em coming!) - I will definitely give them another go at some point, and now I have lots more recipes to try.

This is another bake that I have the blogosphere to thank for. I saw this recipe for Toblerone Cupcakes on the Caked Crusader's blog a few months ago and immediately earmarked it for Mike's Dad's birthday as he is a Toblerone fiend!

These little cakes went down a storm with Mike's Dad, and I would definitely recommend the ganache in particular for other cupcakes aswell! It took a fair bit of whisking (I very nearly gave up) but it was well worth the wait - it was so light, but at the same time full of that rich chocolately goodness.

Thank you Caked Crusader! Be sure to check out the Caked Crusader for yourself for this recipe and other beauts - the recent cheesecake spectacular will probably be making it's way onto this blog in future too!


Best ever brownies....?

I have decided that brownies are my nemesis. For a start, I don't even really like them that much! But also, I'm just not really comfortable baking things that I can't use the trusty skewer test on. Undercooked food is one of my issues - I'm sure that nobody wants to eat things that aren't cooked properly, but I can get a bit unhinged about it. I think most of my cakes end up being overdone because I have to blast them a bit longer "just to be safe..."

So you can see why something containing eggs that is actually meant to be a bit squidgy could be a bit of a problem for me. But I had some eggs that needed using and my cousin coming to stay and I thought that brownies would be the perfect thing to have in a tin to be offered alongside cups of tea.

I picked a 'best ever brownies' recipe from a BBC Good Food book, thinking, well they're the best ever, so they've got to be good right?

200g butter
200g plain chocolate
175g dark muscovado sugar

Cupcake Decorating!

Way back when in July, I headed up to Liverpool with Nicola and Bec to learn how to decorate cupcakes. This was through a bargain Groupon offer with Create, which was another birthday present from my lovely boyfriend (although I am sure he has some ulterior motive for sending me on all these cake courses... hmm wonder what it could be?!).

After a brief panic, we found the Cupcake Workshop tucked away among the back streets of Liverpool, a little bit of cake heaven beautifully decorated with gorgeous crockery, bunting and lots of PINK! Our instructor, Gill was friendly and approachable and not to mention knowledgeable about all things cupcakes! She shared her expertise on how to bake the perfect cupcake before some tutorials on sugarpaste including stamping out decorations, making bows and flowers, and then let us loose with her equipment. Everything was provided for us including all the tools, cutters, and colours of sugarpaste and glitter that you could possible need.

After a quick bre…

July Baking

Where on earth is the summer going? I was just thinking the other day it feels like it hasn't even got started yet, and then realised it's almost August Bank Holiday, which means that it's actually nearly over! I've been rather quiet on the blogging front lately, because I've been doing some overtime at work to pay off some of the car that I just bought. But I've still had time for baking, and so I'm just going to round up July in one fell swoop!

I think these were actually all done in the space of a week, when I went on a bit of a baking frenzy. I ended up taking most of them to work to palm off, along with the last of the fruit cake from my Pink Whisk cake decorating course.

1. Chocolate Orange Muffins

I've had this recipe kicking around for a while, I LOVE orange chocolate and it had felt like a while since I'd make anything a bit simpler as I'd been wrestling with birthday cakes and cake decorating, so it was nice to go back to basics. The r…

Cake Decorating course

One of my birthday presents from my lovely boyfriend was a cake decorating course. I've been wanting to learn how to do this properly for ages now but I was really nervous as the decorating part is always something I've struggled with, so clearly some expert tuition was needed!

On 29th June Nicola and I spent the day being taught by Ruth Clemens of Great British Bake Off fame and author of one of my favourite baking blogs, The Pink Whisk! The course was run by Seasoned and was in a beautiful farmhouse where we were fed lots of tea and brownies and a very yummy lunch too.

We took our own cakes to decorate and even though I hate fruit cake with a fiery passion I thought it would be a good opportunity to try one out and would also stop me from stuffing my face too! I made this Easy Apple Fruit Cake from BBC Good Food. It was indeed easy and I am told it was very nice, although a few people were disappointed that the fruit was not alcohol soaked! They were reassured that the Christm…

Chocolate & Caramel Layer Cake (minus a layer)

After the Sausage Dog Cake I felt like I didn't want to bake again for about 6 months! But the week after it was Mike's birthday and so I couldn't not make him a birthday cake, and I had already selected this Chocolate & Caramel Layer Cake from BBC Good Food ages ago to make for his birthday - at just over 1,000 calories a slice I thought it really could only be justified on a special occasion! So I was doomed to spend another Friday night immersed in the sickly sweet smell of chocolate cake.

I had high hopes for this, and although I was happy with how it looked all assembled, but really, it just went a bit wrong. I was a bit skeptical about the recipe as I have tried cakes before that include yoghurt and somehow they just never seem to come out normal. Sadly this was no exception, after almost double the time in the oven the vanilla layer was burnt on the outside and wobbly in the middle, and in any case, collapsed completely when I tried to take it out of the tin! So …

A visit from the Fairy Hobmother!

I've watched green eyed with envy over the past couple of months as I've seen various bloggers have their kitchen-related wishes granted by the Fairy Hobmother from Appliances Online, and I'm pleased to say that after recently making a wish on The Glutton's blog, I've now had a visit, too!

I wished for a griddle pan, because it's something I've been after for a while now because I've been wanting to make some nice steaks - and if I've got money to spend on kitchen stuff, it normally goes on baking paraphernalia so I had a feeling this griddle pan was never going to get bought. My wish was granted and my griddle pan arrived today!

Thank you Fairy Hobmother for granting my wish!

I am told that if you leave a comment on this post and make a wish, that you might be lucky enough to get a visit too! Also, I would love to hear any of your griddle pan recipe ideas, as so far I haven't thought beyond steaks...

Sausage Dog Cake

It's well known by now among friends and family that I love to bake, and so when my step-brother asked me a few months ago to make the cake for his daughter Franchesca's 5th birthday, I was really chuffed. That is, until when asked what sort of cake she wanted, she said 'a dog cake'. ARGH! Novelty cakes are not something I've ever done before and I have absolutely no confidence when it comes to decoration anyway (although I'm not sure what I was expecting her to say; I doubt that pineapple upside down cakes or victoria sponges are really the thing for 5 year olds!)

After much deliberation I decided to try a cake in the shape of a sausage dog, with the idea that I could make it comically large to hopefully detract from the fact that it would have to be iced quite simply. Also my step-brother used to have a sausage dog that he doted on, so that was quite a nice link too!

Everything started off well - I used a simple choc sponge recipe, baking 3 large square cakes, …