Thursday, 22 December 2011

Tiny fruit cakes

You may have seen my earlier Tiny Christmas Cakes post, well they're all decorated and ready for eating on Sunday.

There's such a variety of ways to decorate a Christmas Cake and doing them this way I got to do them all!

You could leave plain and just have a decorative glace fruit topping and a little cellophane:

Or traditional Royal Icing:

Some fondant icing for those who prefer their teeth intact:

Beyond the simple by taking a plain iced white cake, indenting some lines to resemble brickwork and and arch you get an igloo. So simple by with a great effect. Finish off with some sugarpaste penguins to complete:

As not everyone likes fruit cake, a small amount of chocolate madeira batter and some chocolate flavoured teddy-bear coloured icing makes these little puddings:

The smaller cakes are harder to cover in fondant, and finger prints more noticeable but a good way to practice skills. I'm definately doing this next year, not loads of cake left over and plently of scope for my imagination!

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Christmas Goodies

Phew, so I got carried away this Christmas and got into a baking frenzy, some new things, some old favourites. I'll be blogging the new ones so stay tuned!

Anyway here is just a sample of the

-2 Gingerbread Christmas Trees

-6 Tiny fruit cakes

-2 Tiny chocolate Madeira cakes

-Chocolate covered ginger shortbread

-2 batches of mince pies

I used my standard gingerbread recipe to make two gingerbread christmas trees. This used different sizes of star cutter and stacked. I iced them individually then used a small blob of icing to stick them together. It'll probably be quite messy to eat but looks nice. The silver dragees finish it off though they are tricky to stick on. I used the end of a knife to put icing on each star tip, it would be a much cleaner finish to pipe it.

There's a lot of variety with this idea, I've seen green ones with coloured sprinkles etc, or you could use licorice laces as tinsel and decorate it, all it needs is a bit of imagination.

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Paris Buns

Another Home Bakery favourite it seems old-fashioned bakeries are the only places that still make these. One Saturday and 4 bakeries later the only one that sold them had sold out. Most looked at me bemusedly, another told me to come back at Easter.

Anyway if you're still in the dark Paris Buns are decidedly not French and apparently a sweet bread popular in Ireland and Scotland, especially with the poor!

The recipe is actually the same as for snowballs.

9oz sr flour
4oz butter/margarine
4oz caster sugar
2oz raisins/sultanas
3 eggs
1tsp baking powder

To decorate:
Rock sugar
Chocolate (optional)

1) Mix the sugar and butter together until pale and fluffy
2) Add the eggs, one at a time until well combined
3) Stir in the flour, baking powder and sultanas
4) Drop spoonfulls of the mixture onto a greased baking sheet, leaving room to spread
5) Sprinkle the rock salt on the top in the centre
6) Bake for 10-15 min at 220C
7) When completely cool dip the bases in chocolate and leave to dry

I've put the chocolate in as optional as persoanlly I think it takes away from the bun and always preferred a plain one. You also get variants without sulatana which I always remember my mum thinking she had been lucky enough to get before having to pick them all out.

No pics unfortunately, I'll have to update next time I mak them

Saturday, 29 October 2011


I have a feeling these are called something else everywhere else as finding a recipe online came up with lots of interesting but completely different recipes. This is a family one and produces quite a similar result to the shop bought ones. If you've never had them they're light, drier sponge, sandwiched with jam and with an icing and coconut covering. Sounds weird but is lovely. A drink (tea being perfect) is reccommended due to the dryness and coconut.

9oz flour

4oz butter/margarine

4oz caster sugar

3 eggs

1tsp baking powder

To decorate:

Jam (around 1/2 jar)

Icing sugar

Dessicated coconut

Makes around 16

1) Mix the butter and sugar together until pale

2) Add the eggs in one at a time until combined

3) Stir in the flour and baking powder until well mixed

4) Draw 2in circles onto baking paper, turn drawn on side down onto a baking sheet and pipe within the circles. The circles should be well spaced as the batter will spread and if they're too close will end up joined and square. (I used a star tip as it was handy but it doesn't matter as they sort themselves out in the oven anyway)

5) Bake for 10 min at 220C until well risen and golden brown

6) Put onto a baking tray and leave to cool completely

7) Match similar 'tops' and 'bottoms' and sandwich with 1 tbsp jam each

8) Make up icing as instructed on the packet for 12 buns. Add 2 tbsp water to make it runnier as it needs to go on without tearing the cake. Dip or use a spoon to complely cover the sandwiched cake (a thin layer is enough)

9) Immediately roll in some coconut to cover

I will warn you, this gets messy! Look at the state of my kitchen, you can only imagine what my hands looked like! I can't even remember what the scissors were for.

You could reduce this a little by rolling the 'halves' in icing and coconut first then assembling once hardened, but then the jam will be more obvious and I like an as much as possible uniform look. I made a few lemon curd ones as I ran out of strawberry jam and they were nicer I think. Raspberry would be nice too.

I used a cupcake stand to display, looks cool I think and the recipe conveniently made 13 good ones and a few ...taster ones.

Tiny Christmas Cakes

Hello all, yes I know it is still October and normally I refuse all mention of the C-word until at least 1st December but some things just have to be done in advance.

In the past few years I've made an 6 or 8in cake which I've shared out between family once I could bear cutting it. That said there's always enough that people get a bit fed up so this year I have made 3 small 8oz cakes from Mary Berry's book. It seems to be here normal cake scaled down so you could divide a 6in recipe by about 8 I think.

The recipe reccommends using half tins of baked beans: exhibit A

Hmm, never thought I would be putting pictures of baked beans on a cake blog!

Careful of ring pull ones though. I forgot with all of mine and had to use the tin opener anyway as they leave a ridge inside. It was quite awkward so I'd suggest using a tin opener on the bottom to get a clean edge. Also I found the Heinz tins easier as others don't seem as sturdy and they have straight as opposed to rigded sides. You prep them as normal, I used 2 layers of baking paper.The cake recipe was fairly standard. I put some dried cranberries in to give it a Christmassy feel.

And voila, 3 8oz fruit cakes

I did like only having to wait 1 1/4 hrs and not the usual 3hrs+. They also came out really easily by pulling gently on the paper cuffs. I had had visions of taking the bottoms off with a tin opener.

I'll probably make some little madeira ones in these tins for the fruit cake haters. Now just to decide how to decorate? Do I do them matching or different, I can't decide. Any ideas?

Toffee Apple Cupcakes

Oh dear, I have been neglectful! Unfortunately trying to eat healthily and baking son't always go hand in hand. I have been in the kitchen though so will try and back date my posts over the next week.

First off to put us in the Halloween mood: Toffee apple cupcakes. I got the recipe from the book 'Eat Me' by Xanthe Milton, also where the ice cream cones came from. The book has some nice simple recipes with a twist though I find them a bit style over substance they do look impressive. It's a lovely book to flick through too.

On to business. The recipe can be found here: Essentially it is standard cupcake mixture with diced apple for the sponge. I grated my apple in to be faster. I had been a bit worried about putting the mixture into muffin cases as I normally use these quantities for buns but the apple really bulks it up and they rise beautifully.

With the toffee topping I found it hard to get hold of plain toffees and not mixed flavoured ones in supermarkets. My corner shop though had loads of these more old fashioned sweets. The trick here is not to get too impatient and to keep the temperature low. About 1 tbsp of suace for each one covered the cake, then I topped up once needed afterwards. Also get the pot cleaned while it's still warm or it'll harden on and be a nightmare to get off!

Finally pop the stick in before the toffee sets. You can put them in before you put it on, but the sticks tend to get a bit messy. I also had trouble finding lolly sticks anywhere, even my local specialist cake suppliers. I decided in the end to use wooden dowells. A 30cm dowell gives 2 lolly sized sticks and I think it looks better.

To finish off and give a little authenticity I put them in cellophane bags and twisted to seal with some sellotape. It also stops everything getting sticky if they need transported.


Sunday, 29 May 2011

Ice cream buns

I seen these in a magazine and had to give them a try. They were so easy, barely more tricky than standard buns with a buttercream swirl and look great! I took them to a barbecue which seemed the perfect venue.

I used my usual bun recipe with a slight twist. It made 10 cones.

4oz caster sugar
4oz self raising flour
4oz margarine
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla flavouring
10 flat based ice cream cones
1 quantity buttercream
hundreds and thousands
4 flakes each cut into 3

1) Take each of the cones and set in a cupcake/muffin tin. Use strips of foil and scrunch around the base of the cone to help keep the cones upright.
2) Cream the sugar, vanilla and margarine until light and fluffy
3) Mix in the eggs one at a time
4) Mix in the flour
5) Fill each of the cones with batter until they are about one inch from the top

6) Bake at 180 C for around 20 minutes until well risen and springy to the touch

7) Allow to cool and decorate with swirls of buttercream, sprinkles and of course a flake.

Transporting them was a bit difficult as they're top heavy but I settled for wedging them into the tin and hoping for the best. A bit of cardboard with holes cut in it would be perfect but not sure if they exist...

I had been a bit worried that these would be more style than substance, as the base would only be cake and cone, but they got good reviews. They did confuse people a bit though :) Next time I'd maybe put a little batter, some jam and then the rest. I think if I but it right at the bottom it would burn.

I do fancy trying a few variations, maybe mint choc chip, with peppermint flavouring and chocolate chips. Also some honeycomb in the cake mix would give a crunchy texture. Any suggestions?


Sometimes the easiest things are just what you need. Fifteens aren't even baking, simply mixing and chilling but everyone seems to love them. I suppose it's the nostalgia from school dinners!

The recipe is quite simple:

15 Mashmallows cut into quarters
or 30g mini mashamllows
15 glace cherries halved
15 digestive biscuits
175g tube condensed milk
75g dessicated coconut

1) Crush the biscuits in the food processor or with a rolling pin
2) Add the mashmallows and glace cherries along with the biscuits to a large mixing bowl
3) Stir in the condensed milk, mixing well and adding a little milk if it's too dry
4) Form the dough into a log shape and roll in the cocunut. Your hands will get messy!
5) Wrap in cling film and chill for a few hours before slicing

Sunday, 20 March 2011

Jammy coconut buns

I made these recently as they are family favourites. Very easy and they look great. They're simply normal buns with jam spread on the bottom and dipped in dessicated coconut.
I made a dozen buns in silicone moulds, as you end up removing the wrapper anyway. Warming up some jam in the microwave for around 20 seconds makes it easier to spread. I have tried dipping these into jam, but it's much easier to use a knife. You will get jam on your fingers by the way! Turn the bun upside down and cover the sides and base, then dip into a bowl of coconut. I used about 20g of coconut, but if you have more it makes it easier to get on the bun. Mine are strawberry and lemon curd but you could use anything: blueberry, marmalade or blackcurrent for example.
Looking at these I couldn't work out what was missing, before I realised that if I can be bothered I pipe a small swirl of buttercream on the top and add a small sweetie. It enhances the pyramid shape and is sweeter to.

Monday, 14 March 2011

Mateser traybake

I made these as a special request, but it was torture as I'm off biscuits and chocolate for Lent. No licking the bowl or eating the crumbs. I'll maybe make them again for Easter though...

The recipe is from my friend Ruths page over on Ruth's Kitchen Experiments. It made around 24 traybakes.

400g milk chocolate

250g unsalted butter

5 tbsp golden syrup

250g digestive biscuits

250g maltesers

250g white chocolate

1) Crush the digestive biscuits in a food processor or put them in a plastic food bag and crush with a rolling pin.

2) Melt the milk chocolate in a bain marie. I started it off in the microwave and then put the bowl over another bowl of boiling water. It's a lot of chocolate so break up into small pieces and be patient,

3) Melt 200g of butter and 4 tbsp of golden syrup into the chocloate.

4) Stir in the biscuits and 175g of the maltesers mixing well.

5) Spread into a swiss roll tin lined with baking paper (it'll look like it's too small but it's not) and squash down into the corners. Pop in the fridge while doing the topping.

6) Melt the white chocolate, 50g of butter and 1tbsp of golden syrup, stir well and spread onto the base. It'll be a bit tricky to spread, so is better to put on in small spoonfuls and join them up.

7) Crush the maltesers with a rolling pin, or pulse in a food processor and spread over the top, squashing slightly into the white chocolate topping.

8) Pop in the fridge for a few hours to set.

9) When cutting lift out of the tin and use a sharp knife to cut long straight lines. Make sure you get right through to the base or they'll stick together. I tried to cut mine in the tin but the bits at the corner stuck toegether and I had enough left over to make another bun!

***Edit, if you take them out of the fridge about an hour before you cut them they are softer and easier to cut. Any trimmings can be pressed onto the bases again***

I love the cross-section of the Malteser!

Lemon Meringue Pielets

Making a proper sized lemon meringue pie recently I wondered what to do with the offcuts of the pastry (I never seem to roll in the right shape!) Remembering my contemplations on using my mini muffin pan I decided to combine the two. I made mini lemon meringue pies in a muffin tin and a mini muffin tin and named them pielets. I'm sure these exist somewhere, but I'm keeping it for now. The tiny ones are perfectly bite sized!

As these were an extra I'm not sure how the pastry/custard/meringue quantites would work out, and from what I can see you get a bit more pastry and a bit less lemon but the overall combo is still there.

A few notes on adjusting the recipe:

- The pastry was cooked for 10 minutes, not 20
- The meringue stayed in for the full time of the normal sized pie.
- I used a fluted cutter to givea nice curly edge
- Make sure the meringue touches the edge of the pastry the whole way round otherwise the top comes off. Still tastes good though.

I might try making a full set of either size to sort out the recipe and numbers. Someone suggested these would be good for a dinner party, having a trio of desserts like in a restaurant but they're a bit fiddly and time consuming only to make 4 odd of plus 2 other desserts!

Sunday, 27 February 2011

Bread and butter pudding

Feeling in the mood for baking but not wanting to have to spend the next week eating a whole cake I looked for some individual recipes. On Delia Smith's website I found an individual bread and butter pudding which looked lovely. Below is my slightly ammended recipe.

1 slice bread
½ oz (10 g)) maragrine
1 level teaspoon chopped candied peel
¾ oz (20 g) currants
2½ fl oz (60 ml) milk
2 tablespoons fat free fromage frais
¾ oz (20 g) caster sugar
1 tsp lemon juice
1 small egg
ground cinnamon

1) Grease the inside of the tin
2) Butter the bread and cut to fit the dish, kitchen scissors are handy. If presentation is important, you can cut the centres from 2 slices of bread, but the crusts give it a nice texture.
3) Put one layer of bread, then half the currants/peel, the second layer of bread and the rest of the fruit
4) Combine the milk, cream, sugar and lemon juice and mix in a whisked egg before pouring over the bread. Sprinkle over the cinnamon
5) Bake for about 35 minutes at 180C

I don't have any ramekin dishes but had some mini heart shaped springform cake tins which were about the right size. Note to self, don't use these again as they leak! The milk mixture seeped out the bottom but I just poured a little milk over occasionally. It might not have been as moist as it should have been but serving it with custard helped I'm sure. I fancy trying it with brown sugar to give a more caramelised taste too. Definatley one to make again though.

Banana and chocolate chip muffins

After my experiment beyond my usual banana bread recipe I fancied trying some muffins, that way I could make smaller amounts rather than have to eat a whole loaf in a few days.

On a search of the internet I found a lot of recipes that used vegetable oil, but the idea of putting this in cake seemed a bit odd to me, though I know it can be a good ingredient. The BBC food website came up with one that sounded promising, so I gave it a go. It's a very useful website, where you can search by ingredient, and there are reviews etc... but personally I find the options and links a bit overwhelming. Worth a look though.

Anyway, you will need

1 large ripe banana mashed
240ml milk
1 egg

60g melted margarine*
180g self-raising flour

125g caster
125g chocolate chips

* Make sure the margarine is fully melted without being burnt, mine had lumps which I had to smooth out later

1) Mix the banana, milk, egg and margarine and mix well.
2) Stir in the dry ingredients mixing as little as possible, sieving the dry ingredients helps as there are less lumps. The mixture will be quite runny.
3) Bake in a muffin tin for 20 min at 190 C

The result was a dense moist muffin with a chocolate kick. I only made half a dozen to try out the recipe and while they were tasty I might keep trying for a less stodgy recipe.

Sunday, 20 February 2011

New Blog

Searching for a particular recipe I came across a fantastic blog, The Godesses's Kitchen. The look is bright and colourful and the food looks so yummy. The loaf cakes, like lemon curd and blueberry and the chocolate orange look tasty and in particular I can't wait to try the plum cake. Head on over and take a look for so inspiration

Monday, 14 February 2011

Coffee and walnut muffins

I've been trying to make things outside my usual repertoire, which basically is making things I like myself. I'm odd in that I don't like coffee the drink but I do like the flavour in food, so I thought the classic coffee and walnut combo would be good.
I based the recipe on my standard bun recipe, with a bit more flour to counter the added liquid. It makes 12 buns or fills 8 muffin cases.
4 1/2 oz Self raising flour
4 oz margarine
4 oz caster sugar
2 eggs
50g walnuts halves
1 tsp baking powder
2 tbsp instant coffee
1) Set the oven to 180 C and line a cupcake/muffin in with cases
2) Beat the margarine and sugar until pale and fluffy
3) Beat in the eggs one at a time
4) Mix in the flour
5) Add just enough boiling water to the coffee to make a paste and stir half of it into the main mixture
6) Crush the walnuts into small pieces with a rolling pin and stir in ***This part can be left out for those who don't like nuts***
7) Spoon into the baking cases and bake for 20 min for cupcakes or 30 min for muffins
For the decoration sieve 200g of icing sugar into a bowl. Add a little of the coffee mixture to colour the icing and add boiling water a teaspoon at a time until it makes a thick enough paste to cover the back of a spoon. Dip the cupcakes into the mixture and spread evenly. Leave to dry.
For the buttercream whip 75g of margarine with 150g of sieved icing sugar and the rest of the coffee mixture. Pipe the buttercream into rosettes and top with a piece of walnut.

Sunday, 13 February 2011

Lemon yougurt cake

Choosing a cake for a family celebration can be tricky. Some people don't like nuts, some aren't fond of chocolate (incredible I know!) and some don't like fresh cream. Lemon does seem to be a winner though and this lemon yougurt cake went down well at a recent gathering.

It's from my Australian Women's Weekly cakes book. It is a fantastic book with everyday and special occasion recipes using normal ingredients. I'm working my way through them! This recipe is posted here.
It's a lovely lemon cake with yougurt and coconut in it, moist in the middle and quite fluffy. The syrup poured over the cake at the end is worth making, it gives the crust a lemon kick. I only used half the recipe as I was worried about the cake ending up 'wet' but I think it could take it if left for a few hours to soak in. A lemon zester makes the decoration a lot easier too. It's also a good idea to use full fat yougurt, as most recipe books I've come across say the low fat versions affect the chemistry of the ingredients.

The baba ring tin makes the cake a bit more special I think.

Banana and Honey Loaf

I do have a fondness for banana bread, it feels almost healthy because it's a bread, but I suppose I have to accept it's really cake.

Anyway, I ended up with a few over-ripe bananas and felt like being a bit more adventurous than my usual banana bread recipe. So I turned to my mentor Marry Berry, the recipe can be found here. The picture in the link makes it look really stodgy but they used 3 bananas and I used 2, so don't let this put you off. (The book recipe says 225g which I took to be unpeeled.) One important tip, squeezy honey is a lot less messy, I only managed to get it on the kettle, my sleeve and the scales for once.
The centre is nice and banana-y with the honey coming out more in the crust which is lovely and sweet. I had mine plain with a nice cup of tea, but it would go well with some butter too. Well worth a bit more effort, it might become my new standby. It smells amazing when it comes out of the oven too!

Monday, 7 February 2011


I have been pondering lately what exactly is baking? Watching 'Baking Made Easy' on BBC2 I have some issues with Lorraine Pascal's definition of 'anything that goes in the oven'. This means on her show she's made chocolate cake, mille feuille but also gammon and macaroni cheese. This just seems wrong to me, but I can't quite say why. Loads of recipes are for, say, baked fish, but I wouldn't call this baking. I wouldn't limit it to sweet things eaither, as bread is sometimes savoury. The dictionary defines baking as cooking in a dry heat in an oven so I suppose she's right. I can't help feeling cheated though when she makes something meaty!

The show itself has some lovely recipes and ideas and is usually what it says on the tin: easy. The presenter is an ex-model, who having done a baking diploma and worked in restaurants now has her own shop. She is a good teacher giving hints and tips but when I watch I just don't feel she's a pro. For example when she made chocolate cake by adding chocolate to a vanilla batter she poured it into the pan without mixing it using a flexible spatula first, so it had an unmixed vanilla bit on the top. She supplies Selfridges, so her usual quaility must be high, but when I watch Delia or someone I usually think, wow I couldn't do it as good as that, but with her I think I could. Hmm

If you're interested the page is here:

and you can find all the past episodes on iPlayer.

Saturday, 22 January 2011

Mini cakes

I was lucky enought to get a mini cake tin for Christmas, and some bun cakes to use in them.

The pink ones are lovely and bright and I adore the sweet flowery ones. You can see them here beside a normal case.

I decided to keep my first attempt simple, using normal bun mixture. I made enough batter to do a dozen 'normal' sized buns, and ended up with 30 mini ones! So next time I'll cut the recipe down. Also I might overfill them slightly to make just 12 so I don't have to wait for one set to finish to make the last 3.

1 egg
2 oz caster sugar
2 oz self raising flour
2 oz margarine

1) Cream sugar and margarine until well mixed and lighter in colour
2) Beat in the egg
3) Mix in the flour
4) Spoon in to bun cases
5) Bake for 15 min at 180 C

I kept the decorations colourful with some chocolate and Smarties.

I also made some almond petit fours. As usual you had to lick them off the bun cases as they stick to the paper but I quite like them that way now.

The end result looked like a kids party :)

I'm trying to think of other things to do with my cake tin now. Mini cheesecakes maybe. Any suggestions?