Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Toffee Apple Cupcakes

With Halloween done and dusted my attention has turned towards Bonfire Night and of course the cakes that I want to make to celebrate. For this little project, I could have gone down the decoration route with firework inspired icing, but what I really wanted was to make some really tasty seasonal cakes. Toffee apples are synonymous with the 5th November and I just happen to love the flavour combination so my theme was set.
The cake I made is a dark brown sugar victoria sponge with grated bramley apple stirred through. I added some cinnamon and nutmeg to the batter also. The frosting is a buttercream with toffee sauce beaten through it, I reduced the amount of icing sugar to avoid sugar overload (well kind of). The bramleys work so well, you need that sharpness to offset the sweetness of the icing. To finish the cakes I made some little sugarpaste apples, I think a wafer thin apple crisp would look lovely too!

Monday, 1 November 2010

Floral Birthday Cupcakes

I love making sugar roses and it's a good job! They are by far the most requested decoration, daisies coming a close second. I can see why, they're my personal favourite too and I love the fact that they're ageless, these cakes are for a four year old's birthday party. The barbie pink and lilac colour scheme is so girly and of course I couldn't resist a little (lol) glitter, well four year old girls love glitter.
The frangipani flowers are a new edition, I think they work quite well with the roses and daisies. My next cake will also include roses, but with a new decorating style for me to try out. I'm really excited and hope I get some good photos to add to my blog.

Monday, 11 October 2010

Pretty Pastel Christening Cakes

It was my nieces Christening yesterday, I not only had the honour of being her Godmother but also of making the Christening cakes. For me it's a huge honour to be able to make the cakes for such an important day in my nieces life. My sister in law wanted a stand full of pretty pastel cupcakes but as a surprise I made a double victoria sponge topped with vanilla frosting to go along side. I decorated the cake to match the cupcakes but made the flowers that little bit larger. The cake was finished with a name plaque featuring a pearl encrusted cross.
The Christening was a gorgeous day filled with family fun and great sunny weather. We spent the afternoon watching the children play as we sat by the lakeside setting.

Monday, 27 September 2010

Pumpkin Cupcakes with Orange & Cinnamon Cooked Frosting

Autumn has really set in. The weather has grown colder, the evenings darker and the trees are turning to gorgeous russet and amber colours.
I love autumn, the weather and food really suit me. Meals get heartier and more comforting and are enjoyed all cosied up in the warm.
As I'm feeling autumnal I decided to bake something to reflect my mood. Pumpkins are a big favourite of mine and every year I try new ways of cooking with them. To me, they scream autumn at full volume, how could they not with  Jack o' lanterns being such a huge part of the halloween celebrations.
For this recipe I also tried a cooked frosting for the first time. I'm so pleased with the result, the mildly spiced cupcakes, moist but light go beautifully with the ultra light and whippy frosting (a must for anyone who doesn't like oversweet frosting).
I created this cake recipe by adapting various other recipes.
From this mixture I made 12 cupcakes and a small slab cake which I left uniced to have warm with cream or icecream.
Happy autumn blogland! xxx


4 eggs

1 cups caster sugar
2/3 cup dark brown soft sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
12oz pumpkin puree
2 cups self raising flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
pinch salt
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
good grating fresh nutmeg

Preheat the oven to 160oc.
Put the eggs, sugars, oil and pumpkin puree into a food processor and blitz until all mixed and well combined.
Mix the flour, baking powder, bicarb, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg in a bowl.
Pour the pumpkin mixture from the processor bowl into a large mixing bowl. Sift the flour mixture into the pumpkin mixture. Whisk the mixture in gently until smooth and combined (don't over mix).
Spoon the mixture into your cake cases and bake in the oven for about 15 minutes. The cakes should be golden, spring back to the touch and a cake tester should come out clean.
Leave in the tin for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool.

Cooked frosting Ingredients
5 Tablespoons flour
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup butter (2 sticks)
1 cup caster sugar

grated zest of 1 orange
1 teaspoon cinnamon


In a small saucepan, whisk flour into milk and heat, stirring constantly, until it thickens. It took me around 5 minutes. Be careful not to burn it. Remove from heat and let it cool to room temperature. You can place the saucepan over ice in the sink for about 10 minutes or so until the mixture cools if you are in a hurry. Stir in vanilla. This mixture must be completely cooled in order for the frosting to work.

While the mixture is cooling, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Then add the cooled milk/flour/vanilla mixture, orange zest and cinnamon (if using) and beat until it all combines and resembles whipped cream. Make sure you scrape down the sides every so often so that it all gets incorporated and whipped. If it's not looking like whipped cream, keep on whipping. This frosting is great for piping. Best served the same day.

Source: The Pioneer Woman

Friday, 24 September 2010

Chocolate Orange Cake

When my lovely friend Brenda from Tea and Wheaten Bread suggested this recipe to her forum buddies I knew it had to be good. The original cake is a slab cake but I decided to make it in a round tin this time. The cake is so very orangey and has a rich quite grown up taste. For me, this cake would be fantastic warm with cream as a pudding, but to be honest it's going to taste great any way it's served.
We're a family of chocolate orange lovers. To make it more fun for the kids, I have in mind to make this recipe with bright orange frosting (using another new recipe that I just discovered) and decorated with chocolate orange segments. Would look great for Halloween too!

Brenda's Chocolate Orange Cake


250g Butter or Margarine
250g Dark brown sugar
200g S.R Flour or plain flour with 2 teaspoons of baking powder (sifted)
50 g cocoa powder
3 Eggs (beaten)
2 large tablespoons marmalade
Rind of two oranges and juice of one

2-3 tablespoons orange juice
2oz icing sugar

A few squares of chocolate melted with a little oil or butter (optional)


Pre Heat your oven to 180.C/160.C Fan/400.F/Gas 6

Grease and line a shallow baking tray 24 cms x 33 cms/ 13 inches x 9 1/2 inches.

Leave an over hang lengthwise of your lining paper so the cake can be removed from the tin easily.

Melt butter and marmalade in microwave on 50% power or in a large saucepan on the hob.

Stir in sugar, then the flour and cocoa powder, add the eggs, orange zest and juice from the oranges (reserving about three tablespoons of juice for drizzle icing.) stirring well. A whisk is good.

Pour into your prepared tin and bake for approx 20 - 30 minutes until the cake is springy to touch.

Leave in the tin until cold before removing

Sieve the icing sugar and mix with the juice giving a fairly runny icing.

Drizzle over the cake

Melt the chocolate and oil if using and drizzle over.

Cut into squares/fingers

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Baking with Mum

My little girl is as baking crazy as I am. We bake cakes together every week, I try to introduce a little variety but week in week out her favourite recipe is vanilla cupcakes. For a girl who used to turn her nose up at frosting she certainly makes up for that now! We don't get much variation in the colour scheme either but I suppose I should embrace her love of all things pink and pretty before she grows out of this lovely phase.
When baking with the kids, I try to let them do all aspects of the cooking. This normally means ditching the stand mixer or processor and going back to a large bowl and wooden spoon. They (my little boy joins in too) sit up on the work top along side a bowl that is nearly as big as them and armed with their favourite wooden spoons they get stuck in.
For these cakes we made a victoria sponge mix covered in a cream cheese frosting. The piping of the icing is the trickiest bit for a four year old so we both do it together. The decoration is left completely up to the kids. My daughter is surprisingly neat and very artistic. I think she's going to make a fantastic baker, my son on the other hand is definitely going to be more of a taster!

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

A busy month of baking

It's been far too long since I last blogged. The reason is that I've been busy baking and selling cakes. After lots and lots of requests I finally decided to make cakes for friends and friends of friends. I still want to keep it small, fearing that I'll lose my love of baking if it becomes a chore. What's emerging from these orders is an unexpected ability to create sugarpaste models and decorations. Who knew! I started by buying ready coloured sugarpaste but have since moved on to colouring my own. I'm going to venture into making my own marshmallow fondant in the coming weeks, keep an eye out for a post showing the outcome- fingers and toes crossed!
Here are a few pictures of my creations. As ever there's work to be done and skills to be learned, but this is me now.

Monday, 16 August 2010

Vanilla Cupcakes

I think I've gone cupcake crazy! I can't stop thinking about how to flavour and decorate these gorgeous little treats.
Growing up, cupcakes were just for the kids, something our mums whipped up for a birthday party, topped with some water and icing sugar paste and a sprinkle of hundreds and thousands if you were lucky. Until recently it was still quite daring to use cupcakes solely as your celebration centre piece (especially for weddings). How times change, a wedding today that doesn't include beautifully iced cupcakes is a rare and less adorned event.
This was a fun project without instruction, it's like play time to have freedom of design. These cakes are for a 6 year old's birthday party, I think they'll look really pretty in their cake stand and daringly there will be no main birthday cake!

Thursday, 5 August 2010

'Oh So Sweet' ladybug cake

This cake is for my niece's first birthday. I offered to make a cake for her birthday a few months ago, so this one has been a long time in the planning. My sister in law bought some party items in the 'Oh So Sweet' range, importing them in from the states. She really wanted a cake to match the theme especially using the barbie pink, black and mint green colour scheme. This is my interpretation, I hope they like it when I deliver it later on ready for the party tomorrow.

Friday, 30 July 2010

Fairy Princess Cake

After seeing the Tinkerbell cake, a good friend of mine asked me to make a birthday cake for her daughter's 3rd birthday. My instructions were pink and princessy. These are my favourite kind of cakes to make and I was really pleased with how this cake turned out. The cake again was marbled with pink and white vanilla sponge.

Tinkerbell Cake

This cake was made for a very special 4 year old. A simple cake with lots of fun decorations, that was also really enjoyable to make. The inside cake was vanilla and I marbled the mix with pink coloured swirls, this was a lovely surprise for the party guests when it was cut.

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Lemon Swirl Cake

I'm a woman on a mission (sings song in head), a mission to lose 10lbs. I've had a great Easter, probably a bit too great and my waistline is showing the strain! I've always used Weight Watchers to lose the excess pounds and I love their magazine for great recipes and meal ideas. This cake comes from one of their magazines. It's a really pretty cake, it's particularly seasonal, easy to make and low fat to boot. It might just make the diet a little easier to struggle through too!

4 points per serving, serves 6. 247 calories per serving.


110g margarine
75g golden caster sugar
2 eggs beaten
110g self raising flour, sifted
1tsp baking powder
Finely grated zest 1 lemon
150g pot 0% fat Greek yogurt
1tsp icing sugar, sifted
2 tbsp lemon curd
6 sugared violets to decorate


Preheat the oven to 190oc, fan oven 170oc.

Line a 20cm square cake tin with baking parchment.

Place the margarine and sugar in a large bowl and beat until pale and soft. Add the beaten egg a little at a time, beating well in between each addition. Fold in the sifted flour, lemon zest and baking powder. Spoon into the tin and level the surface.

Bake for 25 minutes until golden and springy to the touch. Remove from the oven. Cool for 5 minutes in the tin, then lift out, remove the paper and cool on a wire rack.

To serve cut the cake in half vertically to make two rectangles. Mix together the yogurt and icing sugar, and spread over the top of both halves. Swirl the lemon curd through the yogurt, then sandwich the halves together and decorate the top with the violets.

Thursday, 1 April 2010

Chocolate Fudge Cake - A birthday surprise

I decided to make a surprise cake for my friend's birthday. Milly loves chocolate and all things sweet and gorgeous, so I chose Nigella's chocolate fudge cake. I have to say that this is the chocolate cake recipe I rely on the most. It's deliciously moist, rich enough without being over the top and has the most amazing fudgy chocolate icing that covers the whole cake. It makes quite a tall cake with just two layers, so it looks grand on it's cake plate too.
Another of my friend's loves is Ferrero Rocher chocolates so I topped the cake with some of these nuggety truffles and finished off with gold stamped chocolate stars and gold glitter.
I love giving presents, probably more than receiving them and it's even more special to me when I get to make the gift too.

Chocolate Fudge Cake:


400g plain flour
250g golden caster sugar
100g light muscovado sugar
50g best quality cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 eggs
142ml/small tub sour cream
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
175g unsalted butter, melted and cooled
125ml corn oil
300ml chilled water


175g dark chocolate, minimum 70% cocoa solids
250g unsalted butter, softened
275g icing sugar, sifted
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas mark 4.

Butter and line the bottom of two 20cm sandwich tins.

In a large bowl, mix together the flour, sugars, cocoa, baking powder, bicarb and salt. In another bowl or wide-necked measuring jug whisk together the eggs, sour cream and vanilla until blended. Using a freestanding or handheld electric mixer, beat together the melted butter and corn oil until just blended (you’ll need another large bowl for this if using the hand whisk; the freestanding mixer comes with its own bowl), then beat in the water. Add the dry ingredients all at once and mix together on a slow speed. Add the egg mixture, and mix again until everything is blended and then pour into the prepared tins. And actually, you could easily do this manually; I just like my toys and find the KitchenAid a comforting presence in itself.

Bake the cakes for 50–55 minutes, or until a cake-tester comes out clean. Cool the cakes in their tins on a wire rack for 15 minutes, and then turn the cakes out onto the rack to cool completely.

To make the icing, melt the chocolate in the microwave – 2–3 minutes on medium should do it – or in a bowl sitting over a pan of simmering water, and let cool slightly.

In another bowl beat the butter until it’s soft and creamy (again, I use the KitchenAid here) and then add the sieved icing sugar and beat again until everything’s light and fluffy. I know sieving is a pain, the one job in the kitchen I really hate, but you have to do it or the icing will be unsoothingly lumpy. Then gently add the vanilla and chocolate and mix together until everything is glossy and smooth.

Sandwich the middle of the cake with about a quarter of the icing, and then ice the top and sides too, spreading and smoothing with a rubber spatula.

Decorate as much or as little as you like.

Wednesday, 31 March 2010


This recipe for shortbread (hardly a recipe, it's so simple) is my kids absolute favourite. I make it week in, week out and they devour it. They prefer it plain but you can add so many different flavourings to the mix. I like chopped nuts and a bit of cinnamon.
The children love rolling out the mix and cutting their favourite shapes. I really enjoy watching their little faces full of concentration and glee at each shape they produce. Some of the dough never makes the oven, it gets pulled, squished and thrown about, but that's all part of their fun!

Plain Shortbread:

125g cold butter cubed (I'm a big fan of Sainsbury's Unsalted English Butter at the moment)
55g caster sugar
180g plain flour
pinch salt

Preheat your oven to 170oc, 150oc fan oven.

Throw all the ingredients in the food processor and let your machine do the hard work. When the dough has come together into a ball you are ready to roll.

Roll out the dough onto a floured surface until it is about 1.5/2cms thick and then cut out whatever shapes you like.

Place the shapes on baking sheets lined with parchment paper and bake in the oven for 5-10 mins depending on your oven. The biscuits should be just turning golden around the edges.

Leave to cool for a few minutes on their trays and then carefully remove to wire racks to cool completely.

Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Chocolate Mayonnaise Cake

A friend of mine gave me this recipe and I had to make it purely out of curiosity. My little girl is a mayonnaise-aholic, very much like myself so the idea of a mayonnaise cake was certainly appealing.
The cake does have a different texture to any other that I have made, and to me it's best served like a pudding with some cream or icecream.

Chocolate Mayonnaise Cake:

250 g self-raising flour
50 g cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
200 g golden caster sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
150 ml water
200 g mayonnaise
1 medium egg

Preheat oven to 180 C/350 F/Gas 4, butter and flour a 24 cm springform tin.

Sift the flour, cocoa and baking powder into a large bowl., then stir in the sugar and make a well in the centre. Add the vanilla, 150ml cold water, the mayo and egg. Mix until smooth.

Spoon into the prepared tin and bake for about 30 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.

Serve warm with berries and cream/crème fraîche for pudding, or allow the cake to cool completely and ice with fudge frosting and serve with tea.

Monday, 29 March 2010

Red Velvet Cupcakes

My husband bought me Jamie Oliver's America as a valentine's gift this year after listening to me ooing and ahhing over the tv series. I love the book, it's beautiful to look at without being over dressed which I love. The food is honest and beautiful in it's own rustic way.
I've always wanted to make red velvet cake so was really happy to see these cupcakes included in the book. The recipe is a very different way of making cakes to my norm and the method had me intrigued. They worked beautifully and I was struck by how light and airy the sponge was once baked.
My daughter decorated them with the frosting and coloured balls and she loved the colour of the sponge.
I'm going to have to graduate to a full size cake. Rachel Allen has included one in Bake or I might go searching the net for different recipes. I've been bitten by the velvet cake bug!
There's something really exciting about making recipes that are staples from a different country. Like dressing up, it's fun to try out a new style and even more fun when it suits you!