Wednesday, November 30, 2011

A Birthday Cake for Horse Lovers...

Need a cake for a young horse riding fan? This could be the one for you!

It's a sponge cake with buttercream and jam which was then covered in Regal Ice Celebration. The horse and the board are covered in celebration which was coloured with Dark Brown and Chestnut pastes. The mane is Teddy Bear Brown and the reins are M&B Dark Brown.

To make the picket fence around the side I used a fab wood grain effect impression mat (below). Once you've rolled your paste out pop the mat on top and then roll over leaves a great wood grain effect, complete with knots!! You can use the wood grain for all sorts of things from garden sheds to pirate ships! Finally, I used the lower case Tappits set to add the writing. Result, a cute cake that is not too difficult to make.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Orange & Cranberry Torte

After some consideration and a good search through the recipes in Delicious magazine I decided that I would make this Orange & Cranberry Torte to email in for their Winter Bakes feature. The recipe is by Eric Lanlard and the brief for the entry was any wintery bake... their favourite pictures will be featured in the magazine...although tasty I'm not sure this one will make the cut as it's a bit... well...errr...brown! It definitely won't be winning any style awards but it did taste good with a dob of cream!!

  • 350g almonds
  • 350g caster sugar
  • 3 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 8 large free-range eggs, beaten
  • 400ml sunflower oil
  • Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • Grated zest and juice of 1 orange
  • 200g dried cranberries plus a handful to decorate
  • 3 cloves
Heat the oven to 180c/fan 160c/gas 4. Butter and line a 23cm springform cake tin. Measure out the ground almonds, 300g of caster sugar, 2 tsp of cinnamon and the baking powder in to a large bowl.

Make a well and add the sunflower oil and eggs before mixing. Then add in the zests and dried cranberries. I used my new microplane grater (below) for finely zesting and it worked a treat! Once combined bake for 50 minutes - 1 hour. However, beware mine took a look longer... probably about an extra 20 minutes.

With about 5 minutes to go, gently heat the citrus juices in a saucepan with the remaining sugar, cinnamon and cloves. Dissolve the sugar and then simmer and cook for 3 minutes. When the cake is done remove it from the oven and pierce it with a skewer. Then pour the citrus syrup over the top. It then cools in the tin for an hour before turning out. Finally, decorate with a handful of dried cranberries and serve with pouring cream. Result... a tasty winter bake!

* Adapted from Eric Lanlard's Orange and Cranberry Torte recipe on the Delicious Magazine website.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Afternoon Tea: Fortnum & Mason

Mmmmmm.... afternoon tea at Fortnum & Mason! This afternoon I visited this fine London establishment with some lovely friends to enjoy delicious cakes... and just a little bit of gossip!!
So what did we eat? Well for starters we were served a gruyere and mustard profiterole canape which was delicious. This was closely followed by a selection of sandwiches and a smoked salmon and caviar blini. Finally, what a good afternoon tea is all about... the cakes!! There were plenty on offer including berry financiers, mini gingerbread loaves, cassis mousse cake, meringues with lemon curd, caramel and chocolate cake, mandarin tartlets and of course the afternoon tea classic... scones!! All were absolutely delicious and washed down with Rose Pouchong tea... a new one on me but maybe destined to be a favourite... a bit like rose turkish delight!!

Fortnum & Mason is all decked out for Christmas at the moment too which made it extra special. I would highly recommend a visit as out of all the places that I've visited for afternoon tea, this must be the most relaxed. The staff are very friendly and there is no rush... you can while away the afteroon with copious amounts of tea and cake...what could be better!!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Cake Club: Glitz & Glamour...

This evening was the inaugral Cakes4Fun cake club which is to be a monthly get together... each month has a theme and all participants must bring an appropriately baked and decorated cake. It's a great excuse to try new ideas, eat cake and discuss all things baking!!

The theme this month was Glitz & Glamour... this was a tough start... thinking of a cake to bake to meet the theme took a while. The general consensus seemed to be chocolate and glitter... with 6 out of the 7 cakes being chocolate... including mine!

I decided to go for a White & Dark Chocolate Cake from BBC GoodFood which looks really good visually when you cut in to it. I did however, double the recipe to give more height to the cake. To make the chocolate stars you can either make your own or Dr Oetker now do good chocolate stars in the supermarket. The ones I decorated my cake with are covered in edible gold leaf and gold star transfer paper.

All the cakes were delicious... for the record the only non-chocolate one was a lovely hummingbird cake which was very moreish!! I'm now full of cake and am already looking forward to the next cake club meeting!!

Why not set up your own cake club with friends or follow this link to the Clandestine Cake Club where you can either find a club near you or start one up!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Star in Delicious Magazine...Winter Cakes

Delicious magazine want your pictures of winter cakes... the best ones will then be featured in the magazine.

This is a celebration of winter baking and any type of wintery goodies are allowed from Christmas Cake to Yule log from Mince Pies to Brownies. The only stipulation is that you have to follow a Delicious magazine recipe, then once baked take a picture of it, send it in and you could be featured in the magazine. Send entries to For inspiration why not take a look at the baking recipes on the Delicious magazine website.

Good luck!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Pudsey Bear Cupcakes...

As it's Children in Need tomorrow I thought I'd try some Pudsey Bear Cupcakes, they look very cute and hopefully my generous colleagues will donate to a good cause! To make them I used Dr Oetker's Ready to Roll Icing which was extremely handy as it comes in a box with a small packet of each colour featured (except white).

Making the spotty bandana was also easy. I rolled out some white icing which was slightly thicker than needed. I then cut out lots of small circles in blue, green and red using a Wilton No.12 nozzle, these circles were then arranged on the white icing (as below) before lightly rolling over the top which blends the pastes together. This is a great technique which can be used in a variety of ways in your cake designs. Further instructions can be found in Lindy Smith's Contemporary Cake Decorating Bible.

Enjoy Children in Need tomorrow!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Iced Buns: Technical Challenge One

Well, as promised here is my first attempt at a technical challenge from the Great British Bake Off. I followed the exact recipe from the accompanying series cookbook and was rather pleased that they actually turned out quite well...which I was not expecting...obviously I should have more faith!!

Overall, the recipe was fairly easy to follow, however once you have mixed the ingredients you are then instructed to add water and if you add it all at once the dough can become very sticky, so if you are going to attempt these iced buns then I would advise adding the water slowly a bit at a time. When shaping the buns I didn't have a ruler to hand... the recipe stipulates that each should be 12cms long... turns out mine were only 10cms(!) but my theory is that my rounded buns gave more room for icing on top, although Paul Hollywood may not have approved!!

Once the cream was piped in I added the thin line of jam... I did cut little too much off the end of the piping bag so the lines ended up a little wonky but ultimately they actually looked quite tasty... and they tasted delicious!!! I'd definitely recommend having a go at iced buns and you can find the recipe here...definitely an old-fashioned favourite. I will be attempting another technical challenge next month and will post the results for you to see.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Cake International

This weekend I made my way up to the NEC in Birmingham for my first visit to Cake International! If you've never been then I'd highly recommend it...although your purse may come back quite a lot lighter!! There were a great range of stalls offering all manner of cake decorating equipment. In addition, there were cake decorating demonstrations, a baking theatre, cake competition entries, a live competition, as well as some hands on areas to learn new skills. During the day I watched two demonstrations including Lisa Slatter from PME demonstrating their dove cutters amongst others and also a demonstration of the Cricut Cake machine. If you've never seen a Cricut machine before it cuts patterns and designs out of does produce lovely uniform designs but it's a bit of a faff, relatively expensive and is it cheating...I'm not quite sure! ;-)

I also managed to spend far too much money on an array of cutters including a Scottie Dog from Cakes4Fun, flowers from Patchwork Cutters and a Babouska Doll from Cakes by Bien.

The pictures I've included here show only a fraction of the cakes that were on display and some were truly amazing...a great source of design inspiration!! I better get decorating now to use all my new cake tools!! If you fancy a visit then Cake International at the NEC will be back next year...and they're now planning a show in London next June if that's closer to home...this may become an annual trip!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Bonfire Night Cake...

I made this Spiced Toffee Apple Cake for Bonfire night...and it was the perfect combination...fireworks and a lovely spicy, toffee covered cake. The recipe is below, the original was in the BBC Goodfood magazine last month. I followed the recipe with no problems but it seemed to cook a little quicker than anticipated and the apples started to catch on top so I covered it in foil for the last 10 minutes. I also added rather more toffee sauce than can never have too much!! A slice of this would be perfect with a cup of tea of an afternoon.

200g dates, chopped
200ml milk
250g butter, softened
280g self-raising flour
200g light soft brown sugar
½ tsp baking powder
4 large eggs
1 tbsp mixed spice
2 tsp vanilla extract
3 small red apples
Lemon juice
Icing sugar

Line a 20x30cm tin with greaseproof paper and heat the oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4.

Put the dates and milk in a saucepan and bring to a simmer and then set aside for 15 minutes to cool. Once cool put the mixture in a food processor and whizz until smooth. Then put the mixture in a bowl and add the butter, flour, sugar, baking powder, eggs, mixed spice and vanilla extract.

Then thinly slice the apples and toss in apple juice.  Beat the cake mixture together with an electric whisk and then pour into the prepared tin, before arranging the apples in three rows. The cake should then be cooked for 45-50 minutes. Once cooked, put to one side and cool in the tray. Finally, melt the toffees in a small saucepan with a splash of milk until they melt down to a smooth sauce. Then to finish off, dust the cake with the icing sugar and then drizzle over the toffee sauce. Then enjoy!