30 January 2011

Poppy's strawberry jam cupcakes

My friend LOVES cupcakes with strawberry jam in so we made some this evening from the Primrose Bakery cookbook with jam mixed through the sponge before baking.  I topped them with white chocolate swiss merringue buttercream coloured pink to make them pretty!

The jam in the batter was kind of marbled when the cake was cooked and cut open.
I am a fan.

29 January 2011

Jumbles again

I wanted to try making the jumbles again that I made last weekend but using different bits and pieces, so this time I used dark chcolate chunks, dried apricots and dessicated coconut.  The last few just came out the oven and I've already eaten 2 (burning my tongue in the process); the flavours work really nicely together.

This time I carefully worked out quantities so I made 16 biscuits that came out all the same size, flat across like they should be and cooked them for 10 minutes so no more over cooked biscuits like last weekend!

Blueberry muffins take 2

After the epic failure that was my attempt at making Hummingbird's blueberry muffins (and their quick response via Twitter offering me help which didn't really help..) I tried a different recipe this orning.  Its from the BBC Good Food site http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/1572/banana-and-blueberry-muffins-.

They look so much better than my last try!  The recipe is very light, theres non butter, it uses buttermilk and oil instead and 2 egg whites so the mixture was very fluffy and airy when I put it into the cases.  They've risen very nicely and having already eaten one they taste very nice!

They're not too sweet which is good for breakfast but are a little heavy, but this is thanks to the banana.  I'll definitely make these again.

25 January 2011

Scripture Cake

I made this Biblical fruit cake to give as a birthday cake to a friend, I used the recipe in the 'Great British Book of Baking' which gave translations of the bible verses so I didn't have to go find them!

I'll have to find out what it tasted like, but it was a very heavy dense feeling cake but fruit cake usually is (I think, I don't make them very often).  The recipe said to bake for 'around 2 hours' which was nice and vague!  Mine was in for about an hour and 40 minutes so I really hope it didn't dry out masses, but it was just coming away from the edges of the tin when I took it out so I figure it was ok.  Fingers crossed.

23 January 2011

Chocolate Cream Cheese Hearts

I made these little cakes for my parents when they get back from a weekend away tomorrow.  They're from a little book I have (and don't use enough) called 'Cupcake Heaven' by Susannah Blake.  The recipes make small English-size cupcakes so I tend to not make them as people always want the massive American ones instead.

For these I used a greased heart baking tray and used half the quantities to make 3 large hearts; in the past I've used the quantities for 12 small cakes to make 6 large ones succesfully as well.

They're made with cream cheese in the mix and in the icing (I used the lowest fat I could find being a girl) and should be made with potato flour but as I couldn't find any in Tesco I just used the same quanity of plain flour and they seem ok, I haven't tasted them, I'll have to wait and see what my parents think.

My first bread....

...could be a total disaster as I had to leave it out of the oven rising for too long thanks to my horse pulling his own shoe off this afternoon!

This is what they looked like before they went in...

They're just a plain white loaf made using a recipe from the 'Great British Book of Baking' and I've put sesame seeds on the one on the left and pumpkin seeds on the right hand one.

And this is them baked...

 Monday 24th - Made sandwhiches with the pumpkin topped loaf today for lunch, the bread was lovely and soft but I think it was a bit too densely packed.  I think the loaf collapsed as I left it for long before putting it in the oven and also, I don't think the slit down the centre of the loaves was deep enough either.

Hummingbird ham & mushroom (mini) muffins

After the disaster that was my attempt at Hummingbird's blueberry muffins I had a go at making their ham and mushroom ones today.  I only wanted a half batch anyway, and in preparation for them rising massively and exploding like the blueberry ones did before collapsing I filled 9 muffin cases just under 2/3 full with mixture and baked them for 30 minutes.

They've come out pretty teeny so I could have got away with making 6 as per the recipe.  I tried one, obviously, and they're a bit bland but I could have used stronger ham and more seasoning when I fried the mushrooms and onion so I'll bare that in mind next time.

22 January 2011


I made these 'jumbles' biscuits (named as you add whatever you have in the cupboards to the basic biscuit) using a recipe from the 'Great British Book of Baking' - the recipe said it made 16, as usual I made them too big I think so only got 12 from it.

I blob them up too big too so they end up over cooked on the edges in the time its taken the thick middle to cook, must remember this next time as I made the same mistake when I made the Hummingbird oat and raisin cookies a few weeks ago.

All the same, they taste good, I've managed to eat 3 despite being on a no-carb diet.  Nice work.

17 January 2011

Mariposa Cupcakes

These mariposa cakes (butterfly in Spanish) were made using the vanilla cupcake recipe from the Primrose bakery book - its the first time I've used it and I'm impressed, the cakes rose to a good dome and are still very light and fluffy inside.

I used their white chocolate buttercream though and its' far too sweet for me, it made my teeth ache!!  I think I'll stick to my swiss merignue next time.  When I cut into the cakes to make the wings I stuck a (massive) blob of strawberry jam in them just for because I could!

Cheese straws

My friends going travelling and I went to say goodbye to her tonight so I took her some cheese straws because she's always asking me to make some for her and she loves cheese!

First time I've made them, and the first time I've made puff pastry so a well thought through choice all round - according to the recipe I followed for the pastry, it never works out the first time....pretty sure mine worked out fine despite me not reading the instructions properly, tipping it all in together then panicking and deconstructing what I'd already made.....

I also used chedder cheese not parmesan and chilli powder not flakes and was potentially a little too liberal with the chilli but they tasted really really good and went down a treat with Vicky and her mum!!

15 January 2011

Carrot Cake

As we went out for my friends' birthdays last night I decided a cake was absolutely necessary so took it upon myself to make one - I made the Hummingbird carrot cake as its 'healthy' and they're 'athletes' (both terms used loosely).  Its the first time I've made it, but not the first time the boys had eaten one but they were very complimentary!

I think I messed up the icing a bit - I decided using full-fat cream cheese was just wrong so used reduced fat but I think it might have made the icing thinner; I had to leave it to set a bit in the fridge before I iced with it to get it  to hold its' shape.  I also added orange zest to it to give it a bit extra and it worked really well.

8 January 2011

Chicken Pie

I've been reading my Great British Book of Baking from cover to cover for weeks now and have had my eye on the chicken pie recipe so managed to find an excuse to make it last night for dinner, although my friend did most of the 'cooking' part whilst I made pastry and helped assemble it!

It was soo good I'm so pleased I have nothing else to say about it!!


After making some Hummingbird chocolate cookies as Christmas presents I decided to have a go at making their oat and raisin cookies to give to a friend for a journey/because I wanted an excuse to make them!

They turned out really good - the recipe says 12 minutes in the oven but I put mine in for closer to 15 after over cooking a few by convincing myself they were still raw, at 15 minutes they came out pretty much perfect I was really pleased!  I made masses as I must have made them slightly smaller than Hummingbird do.

6 January 2011

I hate muffins.....

I've just tried to make a batch of the blueberry muffins from my Hummingbird cookbook and they were a total disaster!  For a start my cases were too small which I didn't realise until googling the muffins and finding the Hummingbird 'hints and tips' pdf on their website - helpful if I'd seen it before but not really as it isn't part of the book!!
Secondly, why do all my blueberries sink?!  I've tried to put chocolate chips into their cupcakes before and they always always sink, as does jam, which I just assumed was because the sponge is so much lighter than a 'traditional' cupcake sponge, so why do my blueberries sink?  What am I doing wrong?!
And why don't they crack on the top like the ones in their photo??  It makes me cross that I can bake everything I've tried so easily, I've had cupcakes from their bakery before and mine were the same but with nicer icing (I don't like the American buttercream widely used), I HATE MUFFINS!!! 

I don't even want to put a photo of them up its too sad, I hate them, they have flat tops and the bottom is just a gooey blue mess.  What a let down. 

4 January 2011


It turns out that spending an entire day (3 hours) in the library is conducive to hard work....just perhaps not the kind relevant to my degree...I baked an experimental cake when I got home.
I had a chocolate and apple cake at a little cafe near the house during the summer and have wanted to replicate the flavours since – but, it being a late evening in January, the fruit bowl was barren, all but a pear.  I now know that using super moist fruit in a cake makes it dense, delicious, but a heavy sponge, so what I made was closer to a brownie in texture.
The substitution of 2oz of caster sugar for 2ox of soft brown sugar aided in the caramel taste, but heavier texture.  I think I thought I was being more healthy/clever by using the brown sugar.

Served in squares, the cake was lovely warm with vanilla ice cream.

Chocolate pear brownie cake
6oz self-raising flour - 1tbsp
1tbsp cocoa powder
4oz caster sugar
2oz soft brown sugar
3 eggs
dash of milk
juicy pear

1) Preheat the oven to 180C and grease and line an 8" square cake tin.
2) Cream together the butter and sugars until light and fluffy.
3) Beat in the eggs, one at a time.
4) Fold in the flour and cocoa powder - remember to replace 1 tbsp flour for the tbsp of cocoa powder.
5) Add the milk and pear and fold until combined.
6) Pour into the tin and bake for 20-25 minutes.
7) Allow to cool before serving otherwise you will burn your mouth.

3 January 2011

Christmas Cupcakes

I always take cupcakes to my friend Vicky's house when she has parties (quite a lot!) and her mum always takes a few for herself and her husband so when she held her annual Christmas party she asked if I would make some cupcakes for her and I was perfectly happy to oblige!

I'm sorry I didn't take a better photo of them but I was in a rush to get home (I had my final exam the next day) but this is them boxed up to be taken over by my mum.

On the far left are chocolate sponge topped with orange swiss merringue buttercream and dusted (quite badly!) with cocoa powder; the middle are ginger cupcakes topped with a light lemon swiss merringue buttercream and sprinkled with cinnamon (I'm told these were the most popular and went very quickly) and on the right are a fruit sponge topped with brandy butter swiss merringue buttercream with little silver balls on and some glitter which you can't really see.

I felt quite proud of myself when I sent them off and Amanda said she loved them!

Stress cake

During my end of term exams I thought my head was going to explode so I packed my work up and took myself off to my parent's house to put their oven to good use to relieve my stress.

iced in a hurry so not looking great!!

I used the recipe from the Primrose Bakery book I was given for my birthday, which itself is an adpation of Delia's coffee cake which my mum made me for my birthday, so it was interesting to compare.  This one used a drizzle of a coffee and sugar syrup over the baked sponges which left the cake looking marbled inside; I was very pleased with the sponge as it was very little and soft and moist and the syrup gave the marbled sponge a strong coffee taste.


We had a bit of a home-made Christmas in our house so I went the obvious route for my presents and made sweets for my family.  I was given the Hope & Greenwood book when I left my internship in the summer and its the first time I've made anything from it and I had so much fun!

The book itself is lovely, I've never been to a store but the website has lots of pictures of the sweets and you can buy from there too http://www.hopeandgreenwood.co.uk/

You're probably not supposed to put them in the fridge to help them set but I was late (as usual)!

At the top is lemon sherbet marshmallow, the remenants of which I've found splattered up my kitchen wall today!

Then there's vanilla fudge, tasted so sweet but just right very moreish.

And finally coconut ice, which I mustn't have made right because it never fully set so the slices kept merging together, nevertheless I managed to give myself a sugar headache sampling it because it was so good!

I put them in plastic bags and tied them with a ribbon to give them as presents.
In the middle is a bag of grasmere gingerbread made for my gran from a recipe from the Great British Book of Baking.  They turned out beautifully with a crumbly top and a strong gingery taste from the fresh ginger in them.
Very succesful!

Little chocolate horse!!

I’ve never been a massive fan of New Year’s Eve, but when a friend invited me to stay in Edinburgh and go to the big event they have on, I couldn’t say no!  Hogmanay was so much fun – so busy and so cold but so many pretty lights and delicious traditional Scottish food and the city of Edinburgh is beautiful.
Whilst feeling a little sorry for ourselves on New Year’s Day I made a little cake to have with our cups of tea.  Lindsay has a tin shaped like a little horse so I couldn’t not make a cake, it was too cute!!  Lack of a whisk left me to cream the butter and sugar by hand, not something I’ve done before, or want to do again!

Cute isn't he!

Chocolate Horse
4oz self-raising flour - minus 1 tbsp
1tbsp cocoa powder
4oz caster sugar
4oz butter
2 eggs
dash of milk

Continue as for chocolate cake here, but without the pear!

Mince Pies

Its been so hectic over Christmas that I haven't had a chance to blog about the baking I did over the holiday - not much it has to be said, I seemed to spend most of my time making mince pies!  I'm glad they're only made at Christmas time as I'm sick of looking at them now after having made so many.

I used the recipe from 'The Great British Book of Baking', the book to accompany the Great British Bake-off series from the BBC that I got obsessed with.  The heart top is quite cute, but not as festive as the usual star, but my star cutter has gone wandering off....

Mince Pies

a large jar of mincemeant; a 400g jar will suffice
 + 8-9 cm round cutter
    star-shaped cutter, or heart-shaped if you wish to buck tradition
    small bun tin

Almond Pastry
250g plain flour
pinch of salt
50g ground almonds
85g icing sugar or caster sugar
175g unsalted butter, chilled and diced
1 medium free-range egg yolk

1) If you are lucky/clever/lazy, combine flour, salt, and sugar in a food processor and give them a quick blitz before adding the butter and pulsing until the mixture looks like fine bread crumbs.
To make by hand, combine the dry ingredients in a bowl and mix, then add the butter and use the rubbing-in method to produce bread crumbs - see here for tips on making shortcrust pastry by hand.
2) Add the egg yolk and mix until the pastry makes a ball of soft dough; wrap in clingfilm and allow to chill before use.

To make the mince pies:
1) Preheat the oven to 180C and have your Christmas assistant grease the bun tin.
2) Lightly sprinkle the work surface, surrounding flour, curtains, dog and yourself with flour to prevent the pastry from sticking; roll out to about 4mm thick and cut away!
   - you can re-roll scraps to make more mince pies, just do some gently to avoid too much handling of the       pastry.
3) Gently press the rounds into the bun tins and top with 1 1/4 teaspoon of mincemeant - avoid the desire to overfill as the mincemeant will burst out when cooking and your pie will be covered in sticky, gooey, VERY HOT mincemeat.
4) Top with your choice of lid, round or shaped, and bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown; rich pastry like this tends to cook faster so be aware, nobody wants a burnt mince pie.

When cool, dust with icing sugar to make them look delicious.