So it was my birthday yesterday…. And this song is more than a little appropriate….
I’m definitely feeling 22!
Anyway, birthdays only mean one thing, baking and eating lots and lots and lots and lots of cakes. I’m currently carrying around about 6lb of birthday weight. But that’s okay, because I have thoroughly enjoyed myself. Gavin bought me a big Mason Cash bowl and a spiralizer, Mom and Dad bought me box sets of Hawaii 5.0 and NCIS, my brothers bought me vouchers, recipe books and a doughnut pan (how cool?!), and my aunties all pitched in to buy me a waffle maker.
I CAN’T WAIT TO TEST OUT ALL MY GOODIES!
Before all the craziness started and the huge family BBQ began, Gavin and I sat for hours making a million and one cake pops. I didn’t even think to take pictures, I think my hands would have been too sticky anyway, but they went down an absolute treat!! I’d say around a third of the birthday weight is from carrot cake pops and chocolate fudge cake pops…. Oops!
I also baked probably one of the best yet most simple recipes I’ve come across. Whenever I bake a Victoria Sponge I sometimes find it can be a little egg-y or too vanilla-y. This recipe calls for a little zest of orange and it just creates such a deliciously light flavour – you can’t really go wrong.
After this recipe I will be posting an interesting piece about extracting and harvesting honey as well as making Blackcurrant, Strawberry & Raspberry Jam. Our field is really thriving at the moment and we’ve had such a blast harvesting the honey from our bees, as well as picking fruit for jam!
So this queen of sponges uses homemade jam, as well as freshly picked raspberries left over from when George visited (also used in my Raspberry, Almond & White Chocolate Blondies)
Spot the conveniently placed homemade jam in the background 😉
*recipe inspired by Jamie Oliver*
Queen Victoria Sponge (serves 8)
250g softened unsalted butter
250g self-raising flour
250g caster sugar
zest of 1 orange
Handful of fresh raspberries
icing sugar, for dusting
For the Jam:
a few drops of rosewater, to taste
4 tbsp raspberry jam (or homemade blackcurrant, raspberry & strawberry jam!)
For the crystallized rose petals:
1 egg white
Handful of rose petals
Sprinkle of caster sugar
For the vanilla cream:
150ml double cream
½ a vanilla pod, split lengthways and seeds scraped out
2 tsp caster sugar
- Preheat oven to 190 degrees and grease/line your cake tins
- Cream the butter and sugar together until very light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, ensuring you beat well after each addition. Now fold in the orange zest and flour
- Divide the mixture between your prepared tins and smooth with a spatula. Bake for around 20 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean. Allow to cool a little then transfer to a wire rack to completely cool (if the cake is still warm when you assemble the jam and cream with fly off!)
- Mix a few drops of rosewater into your jam, but make sure you don’t overpower it, it’s simply to get that light flowery taste!
- For the crystallized petals: Turn the oven right down to 110°C and whisk the egg white to stiff peaks. Using a pastry brush, coat the petals on both sides and then sprinkle over your caster sugar. Shake any excess sugar off and place on a lined baking tray. Cook for around 4 minutes, until they are nice and crispy!
- Whip your cream with the vanilla seeds and sugar until you get soft peaks
- To assemble the cake: Spread the jam and then the vanilla cream over one of the cakes, throwing in some raspberries before you place the second cake on top
- Dust with icing sugar and decorate with your crystallized rose petals
It’s the weekend guys!
Yesterday was a day of small celebrations – my Grandad has finally made it home after a batch of visits in the hospital…. we aren’t in the clear but it’s just so so good to have him home and spend time with him.
So of course I had to bake a cake – back to my favourite recipe and all time classic – the CAPPUCCINO CAKE!
It has to be in capitals to emphasis just how much I love it along with everyone else, but most importantly, my Grandad.
(here’s a snippet of the old post – click the link at the bottom to go back to my first ever blog post – wow it seems so long ago!) (don’t worry it’s not spam or anything – I promise it goes to the recipe and original post)
“It only seems right to start off my new blog with a special family favourite I’ve been baking since goodness knows when: the CAPPUCCINO CAKE.
I put this in capital letters, of course to emphasise just how AMAZING it is. It’s a classic. My mom and dad love their coffee. We recently joined the Tassimo club and it has been full steam ahead ever since. My dad is semi-retired and still seems to have a lot of work on the go; what with consultation work, being part of boards and committees, owning a field to maintain, growing an extraordinary beard and being a professor and all that, he needs his coffee. Mom runs around helping everyone and doing everything, so she needs her energy boosts when she can get them……”
The sun finally decided to say hello again today, so what else was there to do, other than throw the windows open and make a yummy batch of classic scones?!
This is my go-to recipe whenever I need to make something relatively quick but more than satisfying. If I’m feeling particularly fancy, I might throw in some sultanas or raspberries – but today I was feeling very lazy and very peckish.
For those of you who don’t live in England, or haven’t visited, or have somehow managed to go through life without experiencing a good ol’ afternoon cream tea….. well you haven’t experienced life to the full…. Seriously…. Go bake these now, you won’t be disappointed. And if you have experienced the joy of smothering your scone with strawberry jam and clotted cream, well then I hope this inspires you to take a break and go bake some – similar to bread, nothing beats the smell of fresh scones or pastries in the oven, on a sunny spring day!
I also took some time today to explore my garden as I feel as though I’ve missed a lot of the blossom and flowers which seemed to have bloomed ever so quickly this past month. I picked some bluebells, forget-me-nots, wallflowers, aquilegias, rosemary and buttercups. I also photographed (using my super fancy camera) my beautiful Maigold Rose, and various other colours that caught my eye.
Classic Scones (makes around 10)
75g unsalted butter, chilled and cut into cubes
350g self-raising flour
1 ½ tsp baking powder
30g caster sugar
2 large eggs
- Preheat the oven to 220 degrees and lightly grease your baking trays
- Mix the flour and baking powder, then rub (using your fingertips) the butter in, until it resembles fine breadcrumbs
- Stir in the sugar and pour in 100ml of milk along with the eggs (saving a little for later). Mix together, adding more milk if necessary
- Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, lightly kneading for 1 minute until gathers together
- Roll and pat out, cutting as many rounds as possible from the first rolling (I used a 2 inch cutter) Keep rolling out until you have used the dough
- Brush the tops of the scones with the reserved egg and bake for around 10 minutes or until golden
- Remove and cool on a wire rack – serve with clotted cream and jam, with a cup of Yorkshire tea!
Here are some lovely flowers in the garden:
Hi guys! I’ve been super super SUPER busy this past week…. what with work in Manchester and a job interview, house-sitting for my parents whilst they are living it up in Madeira, spending a lovely week with Gavin and having my two aunties and two cousins visit at the weekend.
I feel as if Wilfy and I can now breathe and relax after all this hard work, and what better way to do that, than by baking and munching on some banana bread. I totally forgot about half the stuff I bought in my shop this past week, thus I have loads of bananas left over! (YAY for me I loooooove baking with ripe bananas)
I actually turned this into my pudding by warming up some vanilla custard and smothering a huge slice.
The crumb topping is so simple, and yet manages to completely transform this banana bread. The crunchy cinnamon crust and moist banana are a match made in heaven.
Seriously, this is a good one!
Cinnamon Crumb Banana Loaf
160g caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla essence
115g unsalted butter, softened
120ml evaporated milk
2 overripe bananas, mashed
300g plain flour
Pinch of salt
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
For the crumb topping:
115g icing sugar
150g plain flour
60g unsalted butter, melted
1/2 tsp cinnamon
Pinch of salt
- Preheat the oven to 180 degrees and spray your loaf tin
- In a large bowl, beat together the sugar, egg and vanilla together. .Add the butter and beat until smooth
- Add the evaporated milk and mashed bananas
- In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, salt, bicarbonate of soda, baking powder and cinnamon. Slowly combine the dry ingredients with the wet, making sure not to over-mix (you will end up with a dense loaf!)
- To make the crumb topping, combine the icing sugar, flour, cinnamon, salt and melted butter. Use your hands to create a bread crumb
- Spoon the loaf mixture into your loaf tin and sprinkle over the crumb topping
- Finely grate dark chocolate over the top and place in the oven for around 50 minutes
Gavin is staying this week so his choice of cake to munch on (I persuaded him not to make me bake yet another Cappuccino Cake – his favourite) was to be the all-time-classic Chocolate Fudge Cake. We used dark chocolate rather than milk (lactose-free) and although it gave it a rich taste, I must say this cake is delicious.
It is so so simple to make – and who doesn’t love a layered cake spread with yummy icing?!
Perfect with a cup of tea or coffee…
Chocolate Fudge Cake (serves 8)
150g milk chocolate (I used dark i.e. milk-free and this turned out lovely – just a little rich)
3 tbsp milk (I use soya)
150g butter (soya again – with a sunflower base)
150g light muscovado sugar
200g self raising flour (gluten free)
1 tbsp cocoa powder
1 tbsp golden syrup
50g fudge pieces
For the icing:
300g dark chocolate
100g icing sugar
1 tbsp cocoa powder
- Preheat the oven to 180 degrees and line/grease your sandwich cake tins
- Melt the chocolate with the milk over a low heat and then set aside
- Cream the butter and sugar and then add one egg at a time, beating well after each
- Stir in the melted chocolate and mix thoroughly
- Sift the flour and cocoa powder over the mixture and fold in with a metal spoon
- Finally add the golden syrup and fudge pieces
- Divide the mixture between your tins and bake for around 30 minutes
- Turn out onto wire racks and allow to cool completely before icing
- To make the icing, melt the chocolate and butter. Sift the icing sugar and cocoa powder in a separate bowl and gradually add the melted mixture. Add a drop of milk if needed
- Spread the icing thinly over each layer and finally use generously over the top and sides. Decorate with strawberries, chocolate sprinkles and dust with icing
Here is a brilliant find… inspired by Nigella’s classic chocolate cake which drops a little in the middle – a ‘crater cake’.
Seriously……. This is AMAZING. I didn’t just enjoy baking it, I enjoyed eating slice after slice after slice.
It’s flourless, which is perfect for Gavin (I.e. Gluten free) and infused with dark chocolate (I.e. Dairy free). I used soya butter with an olive base rather than unsalted butter which worked wonderfully and of course soya cream rather than ordinary cream.
Apart from the fussy egg bit (splitting the egg yolk/whites) this has fast become one of my favourite things to bake and my boyfriend Gavin is already raving about it to his housemates who are apparently going to have a go soon!
I keep it refrigerated, just to keep it extra moist and fresh; the icing firms up nicely as well. Don’t expect a light and fluffy thing, it’s definitely more of a pudding type of cake, it’s heaviness and packed texture creates a smooth bite – almost similar to a cheesecake or soufflé.
So Flourless Dark Easter Egg Nest Cake…… Welcome to the family, you are officially one of my favourites.
Flourless Dark Easter Egg Nest Cake (serves 8)
200g dark chocolate
100g dark chocolate chips
125g unsalted butter (softened)
6 medium eggs (2 whole, 4 separated)
175g caster sugar (75g for yolk mixture, 100g for whites)
1 tsp vanilla extract
For The Topping
100g dark chocolate
250ml double cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
Mini eggs and flakes to decorate
- Preheat the oven to 180 degrees and line a 23cm cake tin
- Melt the chocolate with the butter in a small saucepan and then set aside to cool slightly
- Whisk the 4 egg whites until firm, then gradually add the 100g of sugar and whisk until the whites are holding their shape and peak (but not quite stiff)
- In another bowl, whisk the 2 whole eggs and 4 yolks with the 75g of sugar and the vanilla extract, and then gently fold in the chocolate mixture
- Lighten the mixture with a large dollop of the egg whites, stirring briskly. Fold in the rest of the whisked whites gently, in about three goes
- Pour into the prepared tin and bake for around 35 minutes or until the cake is risen and cracked and the centre is no longer wobbly on the surface – don’t worry if the middle sinks as it cools as you want it to have a crater like middle!
- For the topping, melt the chocolate and leave it to cool a little. Whip the cream until it is firming up but still soft, and then add the vanilla and fold in the melted chocolate
- Spread the icing across the cake and decorate with mini eggs and broken up bits of flake
I had a little extra icing left over, so made these little pots with raspberries and maltesers – after a day in the fridge these mousse like pots are heavenly!