Yesterday I was delighted to attend a gluten free cakes and tea loaves course at Peterborough City College, hosted by Paul White aka Paul the Baker. This whole GF thing is still very new to me, I was diagnosed as intolerant at the start of the year and am still trying to find my feet a little. Luckily it’s not a complete ‘no’ to gluten, so if I do still fancy a slice of normal cake (or pizza!), I can still have one every now and then, and keep on cooking and baking as I love. The courses at Peterborough are really very reasonable (as they’re subsidised), so when I saw this one advertised at just £20 for 4 hours, it was too good to miss. The course took place at the college’s training kitchen, all industrial ovens and stainless steel, a little intimidating to start with! It was only a small group of us and Paul soon put us all at ease, it was to be a relaxed day and certainly no bake-off style competitions. He had 3 recipes for us, with all ingredients and equipment included in the cost of the course. First up, a gluten free swiss roll. Now I already love swiss roll as is (my original gluten-filled post is still one of the most popular on the blog); it’s simple, straight-forward and fat-free. But this gluten free version takes things to a new level! Amazingly it uses exactly the same quantities, method and ingredients as a normal swiss roll, just substituting regular flour for a gluten free blend (we used Doves Farm throughout the day). My swiss roll before, and after baking (note the light and fluffiness!)… … and then rolled and filled with raspberry jam. The result? Soft, fluffy and sweet swiss roll. Amazing! Back home I finished it with a sprinkle of icing sugar and of course had a few more big slices :-) Next on the course, a gluten-free tea bread. Again the recipe is quite similar to a ‘regular’ one – flour, milk, yeast, pre-soaked dried fruit, and a little sugar and butter. Due to the limited time we had in the kitchen, Paul recommended baking these in muffin cases so they’d cook a little easier. The mixture went on for seemingly ever, I ended up with two whole trays full! I added some extra dates to the second batch to fruit them up a little. The one thing I really did learn from the day is that gluten free baking doesn’t look the same when it’s done. Whilst you’d expect normal bread rolls to go a lovely golden brown on top, when they are gluten free they only just start to colour. It’s a bit of a fine art making sure they are cooked inside but not over-done. Nevertheless I was really pleased with the way they turned out – sweet and fruity and perfectly snack size. These bad boys will keep me going for breakfast for the next few weeks! They are great on their own and even better with a smidge of butter :-) One slight downside however, I really struggled to get the muffin cases off, even when they were cool. Next time I make these I will just grease the tin and cook them straight in there. Last on our recipe list were gluten free brownies. Even more unusually, these are majority made with sweet potatoes – no butter, no sugar, just a sweet potatoes, GF flour, a little maple syrup, cocoa powder and some chopped dates for added texture. The mix was simple to make and went straight into the oven. Again it was a little tricky to tell when these were done, although the top went crispy they seemed to take forever to cook inside! Finally they came out and had a lovely brownie crust on top. As we were running short on time I finished mine off with a twist at home, cutting into small squares and drizzling with a little dark chocolate. At the college I was a little unsold on these, the texture and taste is not what I’d expected from a brownie, but once they’d cooled and had the chocolate topping my mind was definitely made up. For a cake that’s both gluten free and vegetable based they are amazing! Fudgy and sweet, easy to make and great little treat bites. So overall my day at the college was a pretty big success! Three yummy bakes, some great new acquaintances, and a new zest to go out and try some more GF recipes. Whilst I’ve decided that Peterborough is perhaps a little far to go (200 mile round trip), I’ll definitely be keeping my eye out for some more courses soon. A day in someone else’s kitchen is always great fun!
Last week was Rob’s birthday, and as I was going away with work I wanted to leave him a big sticky cake to devour. He asked if I’d make him a Marshall amp stack, to follow up where his Guitar Cake left off a few years ago. After my initial bewilderment, a quick Google image search later and it was an enthusiastic yes! Two square cakes? Simples :-)
I started off by making two rectangular cakes – one in a larger long tray, cut into 3 and stacked to make the base cake, and one in a smaller, thinner square, which I cut in 2 for the smaller top cake.
Chocolate cake simply calls out for chocolate icing, so I filled and crumb-coated both cakes with a sticky buttercream.
Leaving the cakes in the fridge to cool and harden, I set about making the front pieces for the amps. Starting with a base of black fondant, I used a blunt straight edge to mark out the grid of the mesh, before using some white piped icing to line the edges and add the iconic ‘Marshall’ script in the centre.
For the top section I used a similar approach, adding a strip of cream fondant (white chocolate flavour!) with some added ‘buttons’.
Leaving the fondant pieces to set overnight, I covered both cakes in black fondant, adding a matching handle onto the smaller one.
Assembling the cakes was just a small matter of sticking the front pieces onto each cake, before stacking one on top of the other. Easier said than done when the front pieces of fondant started to crack!
A little gentle persuasion and sticking later, the cake was ready!
And as no birthday is complete without them – an added inferno of candles to finish.
Inside the cake was deliciously sticky, with chocolate oozing from the layers! The birthday boy certainly was happy, as was I – it was a fun cake to make and even more so to eat :-)
A delicious dessert perfect for Sunday dinner, or any day of the week in fact! For some reason malteasers make me think of Easter, not sure why? I actually made this as dessert for Mother’s Day dinner; it’s special enough to be treat but really quite simple and hassle-free. It’s sweet and creamy in the centre, with a lovely tang and crunch added by the biscuit and chocolate. And everyone likes Malteasers!
125g malt biscuits (it’s not essential that they’re malt but I like the added flavour these give)
120g pack of malteasers
25g chocolate chips (optional)
250g cream cheese
250g natural yoghurt
150g icing sugar (you could use caster if needed, the cheesecake would have a slightly heavier texture)
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 medium eggs
50g milk chocolate
– crush the biscuits into fine crumbs, and mix in the melted butter
– tip the biscuit mixture into the bottom of a 6-8 inch springform / loose-bottomed tin
– take a handful of the malteasers (30g or so is fine), and lightly crush them so they break into chunks. Sprinkle these over the top of the biscuit mixture, and press everything down firmly to a thick, even layer across the top of the tin
– if using, press the chocolate chips into the top of the biscuit mixture
– put the base to chill in the fridge while you make the vanilla layer
– in a large bowl, put the cream cheese, yoghurt, vanilla and icing sugar
– beat until smooth and creamy
– add the eggs and beat again until mixed through
– pour over the top of the biscuit base
– bake in the oven at 180 degrees until the middle is fully set (it doesn’t move like liquid when you jiggle the tin – a bit of wobble is fine!) This should take 30-45 minutes depending on your oven; the edges may start to colour a little, if they start to catch too much, pop a piece of foil over the tin for the remainder of the cooking time
– remove from the oven and run a thin knife or spatula carefully around the outside, to separate the cheesecake from the tin. It will shrink a little as it cools, so this will ensure it can do so freely without sticking
– allow to cool before making the topping
To Finish (the ganache is optional but oh-so-easy and amazingly good)
50g dark chocolate
30ml milk (semi skimmed works absolutely fine)
Remainder of the pack of malteasers (minus a few for taste testing, of course!)
– put the chocolate, milk and butter in a saucepan and heat on low for a minute or two until the chocolate starts to melt slightly
– turn off the heat and stir until the rest of the chocolate melts – there should be enough heat to finish it off
– allow to cool until tepid (test with your finger, it shouldn’t take too long), before smothering over the top of the cheesecake
– spread over the remainder of the malteasers however you like – some crushed, some whole, use your creativity!
– keep refrigerated until ready to serve
It’s a really easy but impressive dessert – and great for chocaholics!
The ingredients and recipe for this cake came in one of the most amazing Christmas presents ever – a baking package all the way from my brother and sister-in-law in New Zealand! You may remember a couple of years ago now, my post on Cakes with the Kiwis, when we were lucky enough over travelling round for a couple of weeks. Of course lolly cake featured – and they were so amazing to remember how much I loved it and send me the kit over.
The name might be a bit confusing to UK readers – it doesn’t have anything to do with lollipops on sticks, or even ice lollies. Over on the other side of the world, ‘lolly’ is the kiwi word for sweets, much as the US call it candy. The lollies in question, the main part of the cake, are these Eskimos.
They’re not readily available in the UK, I understand there is a similar version called Fruit Puffs, also not available here! The closest thing I would describe them too are foam fruits – you know the pink shrimps, yellow bananas etc? I’ll be sure to try a version with these soon and post the results, watch this space.
Once you’ve got hold of the sweets, the most difficult bit is out of the way! Other ingredients are simply crushed biscuits, melted butter, condensed milk, and a little desiccated coconut to roll on the edges. This would be a great recipe to make with kids – supervising the lolly cutting of course, the rest is all hands-on stickiness with no baking required.
The original recipe (as sent to me) can be found on the Griffin’s website. They make an amazing malt biscuit which adds that certain something to the cake. I’m hoping the same effect can be made with a malted milk biscuit or similar over here when I attempt a UK version….
The cake is made as simply as crushing the biscuits, cutting up the lollies, then mixing with condensed milk and butter.
The mixture needs to be rolled into a log shape and chilled for several hours before I eating, which was a bit sticky to start with but made infinitely easier using a big sheet of greaseproof paper.
Likewise, to coat the edges in coconut, another roll around in the greaseproof paper saved my kitchen from an otherwise nutty mess!
Once chilled the log is inconspicuously ordinary as a cake…
… until you cut in and reveal the amazing brightly coloured lollies!
This is one seriously addictive cake, I just cannot describe. The malty warmth of the biscuits melts into the creamy condensed milk, and the lollies come through with a squishy tangy marshmallow like texture. Sooo good!
Unsurprisingly this batch didn’t last long at all in our house, and hence the hunt begins to track down an Eskimo lolly alternative in the UK. More here as it happens!
I’m going to come right out and say it. This is one of my proudest makes to date. I am SO pleased with how the fondant toppers turned out for these cupcakes – and so they should, god only knows how many hours they took!
This was my first ever baby shower, and I was so pleased to be able to make some cupcakes for the lovely mother-to-be. She and the rest of the party were delighted, as was I when they went down a treat.
The base was a light lemon cupcake, with whipped lemon buttercream, but of course the pièce de résistance are the fondant baby-themed toppers. You may guess from the colour palette that it’s a boy!
All the toppers are hand-made of course. Although one of the party asked if I’d bought them – what a compliment! I tend to get an idea for my projects then spend a bit of time on google looking at images for further inspiration and to figure out how I’m going to make the idea a reality. That was exactly the case with these – I sat with google image search open on my iPad with all my fondant and tools in front on the table, colouring and shaping the pieces and fixing together with a little edible glue.
I had 18 cupcakes in total, so decided to make 3 of each of 6 different varieties of topper.
First up – and probably taking the longest to make, smiley happy teddy bears.
Teeny tiny baby footprints – blue for a boy, of course.
Three little ducks; these were great fun to make. Can someone please have a fowl-themed party, so I can do some more?!
Baby dummies (pacifiers) – I used a pastel green so the colour palette was not overwhelmingly blue.
Teat-topped milk bottles, with hand-painted markers, using a little gel food colour and a very fine brush.
And finally – what every baby needs, a first set of wheels! Turquoise prams complete with little white cushions inside.
The finished set – absolutely love them!
And because I’m so pleased with the result – more pictures, just because…
I took my Cath Kidston blue floral cake stand to the shower – a perfect display piece for these little babies.
HOW cute are these baby shower napkins?
The only problem I have? That I can’t pick a favourite! What do you think?
Continuing in what has become an annual tradition, what would valentine’s day be without a red velvet cake?
This year I decided to mix it up (no pun intended) and try a different recipe – red velvet cake made with… beetroot! The colour is a great natural alternative to the normally used red food colouring, and the texture of the beetroot makes the cake lovely and moist. The recipe I used is this one from All Recipes.
I’ll be honest I’m not a massive beetroot fan, so have never cooked with it before. So I nearly fell at the first hurdle, the ingredients list, of boiled and grated beetroot! A few googles later and I gave it about 20 minutes boiling, before cooling and grating. It was easier than it sounded although a little messy :-)
The rest of the recipe was really easy to follow, and filled up by bundt tin perfectly.
Once baked, the cake smelt amazing although I was a little disappointed by the lack of, well, red-ness! Maybe it could have done with less cocoa?
But if you can’t paint a cake red on valentine’s day, then when can you? I applied a light glaze all over, using a couple of drops of red food colouring, 2 tablespoons of icing sugar, and enough water to make a light paste. Much more satisfyingly red!
To ice, there really was no question. Red velvet cake without cream cheese icing is like… valentine’s day without red velvet cake :-)
I made my cream cheese icing thick and plentiful, drizzling it all over the top of the bundt.
To finish, I used a thin silicon mould to create some hearts out of dark chocolate and red candy melts. These ones were actually Renshaw Colour Melts – I like these ones as they don’t taste as artificial as some of the others.
Adorned with hearts – et voila, my red velvet cake masterpiece!
Happy valentine’s day <3 x
A few weeks ago, the lovely ladies at Sugar and Crumbs got in touch to ask if I’d like to try some of their new flavoured icing sugars in my recipe. I’m pretty sure you can guess my answer!
First up is their mochalicious icing sugar, which does exactly what it does on the tin. A chocolate icing sugar with a hint of coffee, not too overpowering and subtle enough to use in a cake.
My inspiration for the recipe came from this BBC post, and adapted to be both gluten-free and icing sugar friendly! It’s one of those cakes that looks more complicated to make than it is, so is a great showstopper-dessert to serve to friends.
175g dark chocolate
75g mochalicious icing sugar
75g caster sugar
2 large eggs
85g ground almonds
3 large egg whites
175g mochalicious icing sugar
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
200ml cream, whipped
20g icing sugar
20g cocoa powder
– start by greasing and lining 2x 6 inch sandwich tins. They will be baked twice so it’s worth doing this well!
– melt the chocolate and set aside to cool slightly
– beat together the butter, icing and caster and sugars. Add the eggs and almonds and beat again until well combined.
– once the chocolate has cooled to room temperature, fold it into the rest of the mixture
– divide between the two tins, smoothing the top for a flat bake.
– bake at 180 degrees C for 12-15 minutes, until the top is turning crisp, and the middle does not wobble when you move the tin
– set aside to cool while you make the meringue (leave the brownie in the tin, as the meringue will be baked on top of it!)
– whisk the egg whites and cream of tartar to soft peaks (I highly recommend using a stand mixed for this)
– add the icing sugar a spoonful at a time, continuing to whisk after each addition
– continue whisking until the mixture is smooth and glossy, and holds its shape
– spoon on top of the two brownie bases, making one with a smooth top, (so it will hold the top layer), and one with a decorative pattern (to top the cake)
– bake at 150 degrees C for 30 minutes, until the meringue is crispy and starting to brown
– allow to cool completely before carefully removing from the tin
– make the chocolate drizzle for filling and decorating, by mixing the cocoa powder and icing sugar with enough water to make a thick sauce
– layer the cake up when you are nearly ready to serve. Start with the flat-topped brownie/meringue base, then the whipped cream, drizzled with some chocolate sauce, and finally top with the decorative meringue/brownie layer, and finish with a final drizzle of chocolate
As long as the cream is well-whipped, the cake will hold shape well until you are ready to serve. Don’t leave it too long though – or the cream will start making the meringue soft.
The cake is best cut with a large knife and served in thick wedges, too thin and the cream will ooze out from the middle as you slice.
Disclaimer: Icing sugar was provided to me by Sugar and Crumbs for the creation of this post. Recipe and reviews are all my own!
Happy New Year! Hope your festive period was as fun-filled as ours… it says something when it’s taken over 2 weeks to upload this post :-)
I was tasked (as per usual!) with providing dessert for a pre-Christmas meal with friends. You may remember last year’s Chocolate Christmas Pudding cake – well this was devoured equally as quickly. It’s not necessarily just a festive recipe either; I’d happily have a big slice of this at any time of the year.
As I was trying to think of what to make, a little lightbulb pinged in the back of my mind – I’d bought this gingerbread man silicon mould about 2 years ago, and as you can see had not yet used it.
I’d decided to try another gluten-free cake, and chocolate seemed like a safer option than a more complicated ginger one. I used this recipe from This Cotswold Girl – adding a couple of teaspoons of ground ginger to live up to the name. The mix was actually a little too much for the mould, so I made a few small muffins as well. You can never have too much chocolate cake!
The cake came out rich and fudgy, I’ll definitely be using this recipe again.
However the pièce de résistance for me was the amazing (if I may say so myself) salted caramel icing. It did catch a bit in the pan, but I think the caramelised sugar flecks give it an even more authentic gingerbread man look.
It’s a thick, fudgy icing that goes amazingly with the chocolate cake. The above recipe gives a very generous quantity, but I didn’t struggle to use it all up!
I let the icing set a little, putting the cake in the fridge for half an hour, before finishing with some red and white royal icing decorations – sleeves and a belt:
And a wonderfully wonky little face! Well, nobody likes their gingerbread men perfect, do they?
The finished gingerbread man (or Gingy if you prefer!) – a perfect post dinner treat.
I can’t believe this is my first festive post of the year and we’re only just over a week away from the big day – where does the time go?
These little chocolate cupcakes were baked for a charity cake sale that my local Free Cakes for Kids rep sent over the details for. If there’s one thing guaranteed to get me in the kitchen, then a charity cake sale is just that!
The cupcakes were a rich chocolate base, with added white chocolate chunks and candied orange peel. You could easily vary the recipe and add more dried fruit, nuts, or more chocolate.
Ingredients (Makes 12 cupcakes)
3 medium eggs
100g plain flour
50g cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
75g candied orange peel (make your own using the guide here)
100g white chocolate, broken into small chunks
150-200g chocolate fondant
2 tablespoons marmalade or apricot jam
100g white fondant
Red, green and black food colouring
– Beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy
– Add the eggs and a tablespoon of flour, and beat again
– Sieve in the remaining flour, baking powder and cocoa powder, and add the chocolate and candied peel pieces
– Fold the mixture together with a metal spoon, until all combined
– Spoon into cupcake cases, and bake at 180 degrees C for 14 – 20 minutes, until the cake springs back when pressed lightly with a finger
– Remove from the tin and allow to cool completely before decorating
– Heat the marmalade / apricot jam until runny, and using a pastry brush lightly coat the top of each cake
– Cut circles of chocolate fondant (using a pastry cutter), and place over the top of the cupcake, pressing the sides down
– Cut a second circle, of white fondant, and either freehand (using a knife), or with a way shaped cutter, cut about a third off the circle with a wavy edge, to look like dripping icing. Stick this onto the chocolate fondant using a little dab of water.
– Stick or paint on small circles in a dark colour, to replicate the fruit in the Christmas pudding
– Finish with a green sprig leaf and holly berries – and a little edible glitter if you feel the need!
All packaged up and ready to go. I don’t like Christmas Pudding but could happily devour a big plate of these after dinner!
This weekend just gone, Rob’s parents, John and Claire, had a celebratory lunch for their upcoming ruby wedding anniversary. 40 years – what an achievement!
Claire had asked me months ago to make a cake, and specifically the Tropical Fruit Cake with coconut icing that I made for CCC last Christmas. Coincidentally it was exactly a year since I last made this cake!
I used 1 1/2 times the recipe to make a huge square cake, and a good thick layer of coconut icing, which set in the fridge before I started decorating.
Using red fondant throughout, I personalised the cake with a sparkly name plate, and ‘Ruby Wedding Anniversary’ lettering on the edge of the plate. To finish – some sparkly ruby-red flowers.
Rob had mentioned that his parents wanted to give some of the cake to friends who couldn’t be at the lunch – so | made some matching cupcakes to ensure there was plenty to go around. Sticking with the theme, they were a (ruby) red velvet chocolate cake base, topped with a swirl of vanilla butter cream, and coordinating red flowers.
It was a great lunch and lovely to be able to celebrate with them. Happy Anniversary John & Claire!