Saturday, 22 December 2012

Happy Christmas 2012 !

Just a brief note to say Happy Christmas and Happy Holidays! Although I've baked a small traditional cake for us this year, my other favourite bake is the gingerbread house and the wonderful sweet aroma it gives around the dining room. 

Grand Floridian Resort's Gingerbread House
If you happened to be in or near Walt Disney World this time of year, then make a visit to the Beach Club Resort to see the gingerbread carousel there and at the Grand Floridian Resort; their gingerbread house puts my little house to shame. Plus it smells fantastic too, one of my favourite sweet holiday memories ! 

WDW Beach Club Resort Gingerbread Carousel

You'll find lots of gingerbread inspiration on the TV and net with more grand designs. My other favourites have been the gingerbread Colosseum baked by John Thwaite and James Morton's Gingerbread Barn in the Great British Bake Off.  Fabulous as they are they haven't got the sweeties stuck on the outside which is sort of essential in this household. However, I am now going to eat my gingerbread hat  and say I love this Gingerbread TARDIS. LiveJournal users therru and pnr created this gingerbread design and you can even follow the link to find the recipe and detailed instructions for building your own. Anyway, perhaps the jelly babies were inside ?

"I left my jelly babies in the TARDIS.... They're a delicacy I discovered on Earth."

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Pirate Pudding ! Landlubber's Date and Rum Cake

Arrgghh it be me cookin' with me best grog - Captain Morgan's Spiced Rum. Back long ago in a landlubber's galley I'd bagged me a sticky toffee date ration spiced to the main sail by vanilla and cassia rum  an' set it sailin' on a rum'd toffee sauce.

So the story goes anyway but I can't keep this pirate talk up for the whole blog, sorry! Pirates avast 'ere 'Pirate/English Translator'. Meanwhile, back in a bar on dry land, I tried this lovely spiced rum which I thought would work well in a cake. For me Captain Morgan's Spiced Rum  has a sweet creamy vanilla aroma and an undertone of light cinnamon but it doesn't taste sweet at all.  The official site states that Captain Morgan 'rocked' the Caribbean defending British Interests which is possibly how he felt after a special rum mix!

I had a hankering to add this delicious rum to something sweet other than cola or a cocktail mix. My family loves a traditional sticky toffee pudding cake which I find almost too sweet but would make a good foil for the rum.      So the principal steal is....

Take one sticky toffee date cake recipe and replace the cold tea which is used to soak the dates in with the rum.     
Then  add a good measure of rum into the toffee sauce. Use your favourite recipe and adapt or use the one on my printable recipe page here.

Sounds easy but what if you really like rum ?And what if you wanted to really taste it in your pudding  ? Then we must use the PMI principal ie Pour More In than the recipe calls for ; add  an extra bottle cap full per pudding or person so you can actually taste it. So before it is served add you dessert spoon full of rum over the pudding. 

You can serve this cake cut into slices as a traditional pudding and pour the toffee over or.......

You can get the Jolly Roger onto a pick and cut out an island shape - I used a large ice-cream scoop - add waves of cream and a sea of sauce.

I'm not sure that Pirates would approve so here's the famous Captain Jack Sparrow in a mix from Why is the rum always gone? Enjoy!

Saturday, 3 November 2012

Pop Rocks Fizzing Firework Cupcakes

Pop Rocks and Wizz Fizz sherbet fun in a knock-out cupcake for fireworks night or any other celebration for that matter. I took some to market today and asked my panel of testers for the pop rocks popping candy count and we had a 99% success  rate for the pops staying in the chocolate so I'll definitely make these again. In fact, we wanted some girlie pink ones for a baby shower and a little girl's birthday so we were fizzing all week thanks to Cybercandy sweetie shop samples.  These are really easy to make and the challenge is to keep your hands dry when handling Pop Rocks and not to eat too many while baking! Here's how:

Bake or take some cupcakes . I used buttercream* on the Strawberry Pink ones and Black fondant and buttercream on the Dark Chocolate version. For the Firework Decoration; cocktail sticks or lollipop sticks, edible colouring, cooking chocolate and/or candy melts, glitter, fondant stars and Pop Rocks

*We went an extra fizzy mile and added sherbet Wizz Fizz to the buttercream. This is the strawberry one which coloured and flavoured the buttercream a nice pink too.

I painted the cocktail sticks and for our youngest customers ; some less sharp lollipop sticks with edible colouring. Just choose the colour to match your main chocolate explosion! 

Next melt your cooking chocolate or candy melts and make swirly blobs on some baking/parchment paper. I didn't oil the paper first and it still peeled off fine but it was good  grease proof paper. Then place you stick in the centre of each. Leave this to set or put in fridge to speed things up.

Now dry your hands thoroughly or wear protective catering gloves if you want to give you Pop Rocks longer 'life'. As soon as they get in touch with water they will pop. Put the Pop Rocks on top of the chocolate and then cover them with more melted chocolate.

I made strawberry and dark chocolate versions. Why do Pop Rocks make you laugh so much? And why do we insist on getting people to listen to them exploding in our mouths? There are no age limits to this either!

Now the other fun bit to decorate with stars and glitter for your fireworks explosions. You can buy gold stars  and you can make lots of mini fondant ones really cheaply. 

However, I love glitter and it depends on how you feel about digesting small amounts of the stuff. Technically catering glitter is a decorative product rather than a edible product but it's not poisonous either. Look out for the edible sugar based 'glitters' if you are really worried but you only need a tiny bit for a fun effect.

Add some of the decoration to the top of you cupcake for 'falling' fireworks.

Strawberry 'pink' was voted the favourite of the day using Strawberry Pop Rocks but I've already had requests to do Cola versions. If you haven't heard of Cybercandy yet, they have got real sweet shops but if you are like me and live out in the sticks then go online. You can check out my previous purchases  here for Cactus Coconut Cake and my very favourite Harry Potter inspired recipe ;The Big Butterbeer Cake and Butter Beer Fizz - Cracking the Recipe. And what am I going to buy next ? I really fancy a Baby Ruth Bar.....and..Pretzel M&M's...and..

Friday, 5 October 2012

Walnut, Plum and Maple Cake

Autumn is well and truly here now and what better to feel warm and cosy than with some warm drinks and an Autumny Walnut, Plum and Maple Cake. Crunchy walnuts in a delicately flavoured  maple and cinnamon sponge with a good tart plum jam in the layers, wakes up the taste buds. All topped with maple flavoured buttercream, walnuts and fondant maple leaves. Maybe a little golden glow from the shimmer spray again !

The maple frosting sweetness is held in check by using yoghurt or cream cheese to balance the sweetness. For a change I made this in a ring mould or you could use a bundt tin. However, I forgot the pleasure of trying to slice through walnuts so you may prefer to do it in two or three separate sandwich tins. 

Text Only Printable Recipe


250g   Butter
250g   Golden Caster sugar 
4 Large eggs
270g   Self raising flour
125g  Walnut pieces
2 tbsp Maple Syrup 
2 tbsp Milk
2 tsp Ground Cinnamon

1 Jar Plum Conserve

500g Icing sugar
250g Butter 
3 tbsp Maple Syrup
1 tbsp Milk  
1 tbsp yogurt or cream cheese

Decorations as desired eg walnuts  & fondant maple leaves


Preheat oven 160c/140c Fan/325F/Gas Mark 3.

Grease a ring mould or use two sandwich tins and line bottom with baking paper. Quantities are for a deep ring mould 22 cm or  two 18cm cake tins.

Cream the sugar and butter together. Beat in the syrup. Whisk in the eggs one at a time. Fold in the flour and cinnamon. Add milk  to improve consistency.

Place in the centre of the oven. Check after 20 minutes. Cook until risen and a skewer comes cleanly out. Allow to cool.

Chill cake before cutting out  to reduce crumbing.

For cake using the ring mould; the cake was cut into three layers. Cover the two layers with the plum jam, reassemble and chill cake again.

Simple butter cream – whisk butter, and icing sugar and maple together. Add  milk and yoghurt  or cream cheese until smooth enough to be spreadable. Spread on a crumb coat , chill and then spread final layer of buttercream. Decorate as desired. Leave for the buttercream to firm slightly before cutting. Cut into large slices !!

Monday, 30 July 2012

Sunset Layer Cake, So Long Foodbuzz and Awards

Sunset Layer Cake - layers of strawberry, orange and lemon sandwiched together with tart orange curd and strawberry conserve all enveloped in a white cloud of meringue frosting. It's dedicated to the team at Foodbuzz ; herding in worldwide foodbloggers for fun and feasting......... you did didn't you?
 But now no more, they are reforming as DailyBuzz Food.  

It will be just as good, maybe better but some of us have only just got the hang of the old site ><  Well, it's for the best and there's no digger of progress to lay down in front of, more a scramble to follow some of my fellow food buddies via twitter, rss feeds and fb instead. Thank you to those who have found me already! We weren't really that lazy, it's just Foodbuzz used to have all our posts laid out so neatly for everyone to find and comment on. Like your Ma laying your school clothes out ready in the morning but now we've got to be all grown up and do it ourselves.  Mini sulk. We got awards too and got to make friends and feel good. So long and thank you; Rufus, Beth, Eva, Ben and team Foodbuzz. 

So here's your cake which is light and fruity and tangy and sweet and you get to make 2. Yes 2, one for now and one for the freezer, friend or frosting challenge.  If you didn't like my frosting idea you can cover it in simple buttercream or even simpler just put cream on the top. Now for the important actual cake bit:

The secret in this cake is that each layer really has it's own enhanced individual flavour not simply a colour. The orange layer has been enhanced with orange oil as well as juice and zest. I didn't bother with the lemon oil but will use it next time in the lemon layer too, it was definitely outclassed by the orange layer. The strawberry layer was my favourite made with real fruit purée and two spoonfuls of caramel syrup. You can experiment with your own flavours; banana would also work on the yellow layer and mango on the orange. I have used a traditional pound/victoria cake as a base recipe as it freezes and keeps really well. Please use your favourite recipe if you feel inspired and let me know if you've tried lemon/orange oil or the bakery emulsions.

BUT before the recipe I must say  a belated THANKYOU for my blog awards from the following bloggers. 

Plus a quick confession about the first time I received one of these, a couple of years ago, I didn't know how to play and I may have said, in an Austin Power's voice; ' It's not my bag, Baby'. I don't remember what I did with them but now I what to do and so, 'It is my bag Baby, honestly, pick me, pick me......

And thank you Ashima for picking me for the above;

Was I afraid of the random 7 things about myself that I have to tell the world and will my identity be irrevocably stolen ?  No, apparently not, I do not have to spill the beans and tell you 7 random things that will shock and astound you  or something like that...Well I can't put people off their cake so for now, 7 random loves :

  1. I love to daydream far too much ; I dream of food, dance and travel.
  2. I have loved to cook since I was a child but at school I was forced to drop the subject in favour of...........Latin, ergo sum ><
  3. I love to dance traditional Argentine Tango. Do you know you can dream while your dancing tango in close embrace in someone’s arms? Mmmmmm!
  4. I love naughty jokes, I want to be cool and sophisticated but I was bought up on Carry On Films, Monty Python and worse.
  5. I love to dress up and still have a dressing up box ;-) Give me a themed party and I’ll be there!
  6. I love the history of food and have cooked Roman recipes and onwards. Although I really favour the history of sweets and candy as meat history is a bit grisly, literally!
  7. I love 'meeting' people from other countries on the internet so I can do more of no.1, know about your culture from your viewpoint and meet real people I never knew about before, like you ;-) Happy Blogging !
Now the rules say I have to nominate 15 other bloggers to receive the awards but I'm going to do this in a separate post because of I have cunning plan......meanwhile a cake;

Ingredients :

The following ingredients make two Sunset Cakes. Also due to the added fruit puree you will have left over batter if you weigh your cake batter to keep each cake even. These were made in 7 inch (18 cm) cake tins and I put any remaining batter in a few muffin cases.

Preheat oven 160c/140c Fan/325F/Gas Mark 3.

Strawberry Cake Base:

250g   Butter
250g   Caster sugar
4 Large eggs
260g   Self raising flour
200g  Fresh Strawberries Pureed
2 tbsp Caramel Syrup
(Red colouring if desired)

Orange Cake Base:

250g   Butter
250g   Caster sugar
4 Large eggs
2 tbsp milk
260g   Self raising flour
2 tbsp Orange juice
Zest of two Oranges
A few drops of Orange Oil
(Orange colouring if desired)

Lemon Cake Base:

250g   Butter
250g   Caster sugar
4 Large eggs
2 tbsp milk
260g   Self raising flour
2 tbsp Lemon juice
Zest of two Lemons
A few drops of  Lemon Oil
(Yellow colouring if desired)

Curds and Jelly/Conserve to sandwich layers together
2 tbsp for each cake layer x2
4 tbsp Orange Curd,
2 tbsp Seedless Strawberry Jam mixed with 2 tbsp Raspberry Jelly/conserve

Meringue Frosting:

2 Egg whites
15oz (425g) caster or granulated sugar
3 ½ fl oz (100ml) water
2 tsp lemon juice


Makes 2 cakes at a time.

Grease two tins and line bottom with baking paper. Do this for each cake flavour.
Cream the sugar and butter together.  Whisk in the eggs one at a time, add milk if recipe states. Fold in the flour.  Flavour and colour each cake according to type. Divide into two. You can weigh each one to make sure you have the same weight of mixture in both, for two even bakes.

Note: Strawberries vary with the amount of liquid they produce for a puree. If you feel your batter is too runny then put in an extra 10 to 20 g of flour or reduce the amount of puree in the mix. The fruit makes a slightly denser texture to the batter compared to the layers just made with flavouring but I didn’t feel that it detracted from the overall effect.

Place in the centre of the oven. Check after 20 minutes. Cook until risen and a skewer comes cleanly out. Allow to cool.

Layer the cakes with your choice of curds and jelly/conserves.

Cover and freeze one of your cakes at this point.

To decorate your first cake place it on your serving plate/ stand..

Place sugar and water in a heavy based saucepan and allow water to start to dissolve the sugar. In another bowl whisk both egg whites until stiff. Heat the sugar and water syrup until 240°, or to the soft-ball stage. Pour the syrup slowly into the egg whites whisking all the time. The mixture will start to thicken like a thick glossy meringue. If the mixture doesn’t thicken, continue to whisk over a bowl of boiling water. Whisk in the lemon juice and spread over the cake. Leave the icing to dry for a couple of hours, ideally overnight.

Your hidden layers would be ? What would you reveal? 

    Thursday, 21 June 2012

    Butterscotch, Caramel and Chocolate Checkerboard Cake

    My love affair with checkerboard cakes continues and I got the pleasure of making this one again last week. Three of my favourite flavours; butterscotch in the golden layer, caramel in the light brown layer and the chocolate in the chocolate brown layer.
    The cake rings are joined with a delicious butter caramel sauce and all wrapped in a whipped butterscotch buttercream. Let me just repeat my favourite bit there; whipped butterscotch buttercream !
    Also, just to show that you don't need any special equipment to make this fun cake. Directions for this are below or you can go to the Knickerboker Glory Cake - Checkerboard Style for Strawberry, Chocolate and Vanilla version made in June last year. 

    Magical Fairy Dust in the Kitchen? or Overuse of Gold Shimmer Spray!
    Word of warning on the gold shimmer spray, I got a bit carried away and sprayed it from a distance onto the cake and the particles hung in the air for some time before hitting the floor. ( Yes I have used it before.... ) Whether it was due to the warmth that the shimmer suspended in the air for some time, I'm not sure but I took a quick picture.
    However, it was only later in the evening as we got ready with the reflection of the artificial light, I realised that we were all sparkling on our hair and clothes! I'm not sure that it was a good idea to breathe that in either. The cake on the other hand has only a very slight coating of gold....

    Ingredients :

    Butterscotch and Caramel Cakes :

    225g   Butter
    225g   Soft brown sugar
    1 tbsp golden/corn syrup
    4 Large eggs
    225g   Self raising flour
    2 tbsp Milk

    2 tbsp Caramel Syrup for one half
    2 tsp Butterscotch flavouring for the other half

    Chocolate Cake :

    110g  Butter
    110g  Caster sugar
    1 tbsp golden/corn syrup
    2 Eggs
    55g Self raising flour
    55g  Cocoa powder (light cocoa such as Cadburys)
    1 tbsp Milk

    6-8 tbsp Caramel Sauce for joining cake rings

    Butterscotch Buttercream for inside and outside decoration:

    440g Icing sugar
    110g Butter
    3+ tbsp Milk
    A few drops of butterscotch essence to taste


    Preheat oven 160c/140c Fan/325F/Gas Mark 3.

    Grease three tins and line bottom with baking paper. Quantities are for three 7 inch /18cm cake tins.

    Cream the sugar and butter together. Beat in the syrup. Whisk in the eggs one at a time. Fold in the flour.  Divide into two. You can weigh each one to make sure you have the same weight of mixture in both, for two even bakes.
    Add butterscotch and 1 tbsp milk to one and add the caramel syrup and 1 tbsp milk to the other.
    Make up the chocolate cake batter using the same method but  fold in the flour and cocoa. Add milk to soften batter.

    Place in the centre of the oven. Check after 20 minutes. Cook until risen and a skewer comes cleanly out. Allow to cool.

    Chill cakes before cutting out circles to reduce crumbing. You can use a special tin or simply use a glass for the centre circles, score with a knife and then cut out. For the outer circle use a saucer  or small bowl to draw around and cut out. Do the same for all three.

    Put the colour circles into three different colour sets before you begin to assemble. In the past I have got the wrong combo and not got 3 different colours in each layer and it is very, very messy to take apart.

    Put circles onto a wire rack.

    Warm the caramel sauce lightly and brush or spoon onto the cut surfaces. Compared to using jam or jelly this was quite a sticky operation. 

    Insert circles back into cakes making three layers. If you don't have much room in the fridge use grease proof paper between finished layers before stacking on top of each other to stop them sticky together.

      Chill for 10  minutes.

    Make simple butter cream – whisk butter, and icing sugar and flavouring together. Add tbsp of the milk at a time until smooth enough to spreadable.  Spread the icing on top of the first and second layers and place the final layer on top. Spread on a crumb coat of icing. Return to fridge and chill until firm. Finish with final layer of buttercream. The cake was finished with a gold shimmer spray and some gold stars. Leave for the buttercream to firm slightly before cutting. This cake also freezes well. Magic!

    Monday, 28 May 2012

    Let's Celebrate with Jubilee Sprinkles!

    All these lovely red, white and blue sprinkles, chocolate crowns and cake. But looking back at the photos maybe I should have tried to get the Queen's profile in the sprinkles too? I don't know know how much Jubilee fever I can stand but anyone who can do a job for 60 years needs an accolade. I'm sure Her Majesty is just fine with her profile on a postage stamp. After all how much time do I have?

    Not enough as I need to get ready for another bake sale and the additional Jubilee work on top. However, I thought you may like this almond based lemon cake which I have used for some gluten free jubilee cakes and a friend's birthday cake. I'm not keen on the texture of gluten free flour in a plain cake but the addition of the almonds and yogurt really improves the texture . It is a slightly denser batter but it's useful for holding it's shape and cut outs.

    So lets get  a little more English and add some real English strawberries. We have wild strawberries growing in our garden but now strawberries from the county of Sussex have arrived in the stores and wow! they are wonderful; bursting with sweet intense  flavour. You may find cheaper Spanish ones in the supermarket but you won't get the best taste. 

    I also used this lemon and almond cake as a decorated sheet cake for my friend's birthday cake; a single layer cake with a lime buttercream top and white chocolate buttercream finish. I also own an edible image printer which meant I could find a lovely picture to eat as well! However, it was the refreshing strawberries on the side that we enjoyed just a much. Then again it's hard to improve on the strawberry that nature gives us I find it creeping into my designs all the time! 

    Text Only Printable Recipe

    Strawberries with Lemon and Almond Gluten Free Cake and Cupcakes


    225g  (8oz) Butter
    225g  (8oz) Caster sugar 
    4 Large eggs
    225g  (8oz) Self raising flour (Gluten free)
    90g  (3oz) Ground Almonds

    150g Natural Yogurt (small pot)
    Zest of 2 lemons
    Juice of one lemon

    For lemon drizzle*;
    Juice of 1 lemon
    1 tbsp caster sugar
    * you can double this if you like more zing on your cake

    Icing for decorations

    White chocolate icing*
    110g  (4oz) Icing sugar
    60g (2 oz)  Butter
    110g  (4oz) White chocolate or white candy melts
    1 tsp chocolate extract
    * For large cupcake swirls double icing quantities

    Large  cake icing top
    110g  (4oz) Icing sugar

    60g (2 oz) Butter
    Tinted with Lime Green flavouring and colour
    Strawberries for decoration

    For cupcakes
    Strawberry Jam/Jelly for centre of cupcakes
    Fresh strawberries for centres


    Preheat oven 160c/140c Fan/325F/Gas Mark 3.

    Grease and line a cake tin - makes one sheet cake -1 oblong tin size 30cm x 23cm or
    it makes 18 - 20 cupcakes. Deep cupcake cases and pans work best for this recipe.

    Cream the sugar and butter together. Add the zest of both lemons, then the eggs, one at a time. Fold in half the flour and the almonds. Stir in the lemon juice. Fold in the rest of the flour and almonds . Add yogurt to the mix. Put into your chosen baking container.

    Place in the centre of the oven. Check after 20 minutes. Cook until risen and a skewer comes cleanly out. Dissolve sugar and lemon juice together and brush over cake/s. Allow to cool and make icings. 

    Make simple buttercream first if making sheet cake. Gently whisk butter, and icing sugar together. Add flavouring and colour of choice  and whisk until it forms a light whipped cream texture. Add enough water for this to be a spreadable consistency.  Spread over top of cake. Make white chocolate buttercream icing, pipe round sides and decorate with strawberries.
    If making cupcakes take out the centre of the cupcake so a strawberry fits in the hole snugly.  ( You will have a bag full of cake centres at the end of this or you will have eaten a lots of cake - save if you can for cake pops maybe!) First line the hole with strawberry jam/jelly, pop the strawberry in and brush strawberry jam on the top. 

    Chocolate extract
     a worthwhile investment! *
    Make white chocolate buttercream icing next  for the cupcakes, make double quantity for the cupcakes to get big swirls. This is a nice firm buttercream ideal for holding strawberries on the top of cakes too. I've had good results using chocolate melts as well as ordinary white chocolate. Make buttercream in the usual way plus 1 tsp of chocolate extract and add melted chocolate gradually, allow to stiffen slightly before piping especially if using candy melts. The real depth of flavour comes with adding the chocolate extract* to the buttercream mix. Pipe swirls on top of cupcake and add your sprinkles. Cupcakes will be wearing crowns on Saturday!

    Shhhh ........Don't they look like Fourth of July Sprinkles in that jar?