Chocolate Yule Log – Christmas in June!

christmas in june half year recipe for dessert baking chocolate yule log traditional recipe

Do not adjust your screen, you did read it correctly! A very good friend of mine recently compiled a list of thirty things she’d like to do before she turns 30 next year – and for reasons unknown to the majority of us, Christmas in June made the list.

Not that I’m one to complain – Christmas is my absolute favourite time of year, the sparkles, the presents, the games, the friends, and of course the FOOD! The original plan was to have a Christmas barbecue – turkey burgers, full-sized pigs-in-blankets (forever more known as hogs-in-duvets), and of course some great festive desserts. But, the great British summer being what it is, we looked out of the window and had a bit of a rethink, so a full Christmas roast dinner was had instead.

Dessert was going to be the same either way – a big, sticky, chocolatey, Christmas yule log.

The recipe follows exactly the same method as the swiss roll recipe I posted earlier in the year – more pictures can be found over there if you’re struggling!

And when I saw this Tala swiss roll tin on offer in Hobbycraft earlier in the week, well, it was just fate and I just needed to have it in my kitchen…

tala swiss roll time christmas chocolate yule log recipe festive baking

Recipe

4 medium eggs
125g caster sugar
30g cocoa powder
95g self raising flour

To ice:

150g butter
75g cocoa powder
225g icing sugar

Method

– Whisk the eggs and sugar together until light, pale, fluffy, and about double their original volume (this can take up to 10 minutes, even with an electric mixer)
– Sieve the cocoa powder and flour, and gently fold into the egg mixture
– Take a swiss roll tin (or ordinary baking tray with ridged sides), line, grease, and coat with a layer of sugar and flour
– Pour in the batter, and smooth out very carefully using a spatula, making sure to get into all the corners, and flatten out
– Bake in a hot oven (220 degrees) for 7-8 minutes, until the sponge is light springy to the touch
– Whilst the cake is baking, prepare another sheet of greaseproof paper, a little bigger than your tray. Lay it on a damp tea towel, and cover all over with a good sprinkling of caster sugar
– As soon as the cake is cooked, run a knife lightly round the edges, and flip out onto the sugared greaseproof paper
– Keeping the original sheet of greaseproof paper on top (the one it was baked with), quickly but carefully, start at one end and roll the whole tea towel, cake and paper stack up tightly.
– Tuck the end underneath so the roll is held tightly, and allow to cool
– Once cool, beat together the butter, cocoa and icing sugar to form a smooth buttercream
– Gently unroll the cake, and spread all over with around 1/3 of the buttercream. Re-roll, and place on a plate, ensuring the loose ‘end’ is at the bottom, so it doesn’t come undone
– If desired, cut off a small piece from the end of the log, and place by the side to form a branch
– Cover the whole cake in the remaining buttercream, and decorate!

I decorated my cake with some tree bark effects in the buttercream – simply using a cocktail stick to create lines and knots.

wooden trunk pattern on chocolate christmas swiss roll yule log recipe

And t0 finish, a little robin:

christmas in june chocolate yule log with robin decoration and chocolate wood effect butter icing

… and some leaves and a Christmas sign!

a merry christmas cake decoration chocolate yule log recipe wooden tree trunk pattern in butter cream

One last finishing touch – a sprinkling of festive ‘snow’ – well with the summer we’re having it wouldn’t be a surprise! This snow was actually a mixture of icing sugar, and some white edible glitter.

icing and edible glitter snow on christmas chocolate yule log holly leaves and robin cake decoration

One very festive dessert! It’s amazing just how easy it is to get into Christmas in June…

merry christmas chocolate yule log  easy baking recipe made in june

One epic Christmas roast dinner later, and a table full of hungry revellers, the cake was quite quickly devoured!

half eaten chocolate yule log merry christmas dinnner

So here it is – Merry Christmas everyone! 😉

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Mini Victoria Sponge Sandwiches

mini victoria sponge sandwiches bitesize simple perfect for afternoon tea recipe cakes

How cute are these bite-sized little sponges? The perfect treat for afternoon tea (or morning, or evening…), simple to make and easy to transport and assemble too.

For an after-work afternoon tea this evening (how nice is it to be able to do things outside post-5pm), I wanted something that was simple to make, but wouldn’t get spoilt in the sticky heat of my car all day. I made the sponges last night, carefully packed them in an airtight container, layered with greaseproof paper, and took little pots of strawberry jam and pre-made buttercream to snappily assemble on arrival at my friend’s house.

The recipe is a basic Victoria sponge, but eked out with a little milk, instead of using 2 eggs and ending up with too much mixture.

 

Ingredients makes 5 mini sandwiches

75g butter
75g sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla paste (or equivalent vanilla essence)
1 large egg
15ml milk
75g self-raising flour
1/2 tsp baking powder

Strawberry jam and a small amount of vanilla buttercream to fill (15g butter + 30g icing sugar should be plenty)


Method

Cream together the butter, sugar and vanilla. Beat in the egg and milk, before folding in the sieved flour and baking powder.

Grease a muffin tin well (I used cake release spray), and spoon 1 1/2 – 2 teaspoons into each hole. Bake at 180 degrees for 7-8 minutes until the sponge is springy, and starts to come away a little from the sides.

sponge cake baking in tin mini victoria sandwiches recipe

How cute are those little sponges!

mini victoria sponge individual cakes round sandwich recpie

Once cool, layer up half of the sponges with vanilla buttercream and strawberry jam…

mini victoria sponge sandwich cakes topped with vanilla buttercream and strawberry jam

…before carefully sandwiching together with the other halves:

sandwiching mini victoria sponges with vanilla buttercream and jam recipe

Perfect for a summer’s evening afternoon tea!

mini victoria sponge sandwiches perfect for afternoon tea cake stand oozing with jam and buttercream

mini victoria sponge sandwich cakes for afternoon recipe oozing with strawberry jame and vanilla buttercream7

 

The Simpsons Cupcakes for Father’s Day

father's day the simpsons cupcakes present gift made from coloyred fondant icing

Happy Father’s day to all the dads out there! I couldn’t let the occasion pass without baking something for my lovely dad, and this year I decided to create one of his favourite TV programs in fondant-form – The Simpsons!

My mum gets a lot of brownie points for asking if I had some new stencils to make the characters – but no! I printed an image off and used the outlines as templates, from there on in everything was created with just a sharp knife, a cocktail stick, and some edible glue.  I used a vanilla cupcake with a big cloud of vanilla frosting to create a blank canvas for the characters to sit on.

First up – the brat of the bunch! Bart Simpson – his extra spiky hair proved a bit of a challenge as my fondant wasn’t happy in such tiny points, but a bit of coaxing with the cocktail stick and it got there in the end.

bart simpson cupcake fondant work had cut no stencil

The first of the sisters – Lisa Simpson. The pearl necklace was so simple to create but I love how perfect it looks! Her eyelashes were painted on using the end of a cocktail stick dipped in black gel food colouring. My only gripe is that she looks a little grumpy though…

lisa simpson cupcake with pearls necklace black eyelashes painted on

The baby of the bunch, little Maggie Simpson. I had a lot of fun making her blue bow and red dummy (or pacifier if you will!) Although a bit fiddly as it was so small, I think the results are super-cute:

maggie simpson cupcake pacifier dummy red and blue bow in hair

Next up – Marge Simpson. I’m not going to lie, that big blue perm was somewhat of a challenge! I made the fondant quite thick on this part, so it wouldn’t crack up too much.

marge simpson hand crafted fondant cupcake on white icing background red pearl necklace

And last but certainly not least, the dad himself! I am thankful to Matt Groening for designing Homer Simpson as such the simple character that he is and therefore very easy to make – a big oval head, 5 o’clock shadow, and then a few sprigs of hair painted on with edible food colouring.

homer simpson cupcake hand cut father day dad

I’m impressed myself with the way they turned out – although very surprised that I couldn’t find any Simpsons cupcake cases to put them. There’s clearly a gap in the market!

the simpsons family cupcakes gift cartoon for fathers day hand crafted from fondant icing

Happy Father’s Day dad! x

Mint Chocolate Cupcakes

mint chocolate cupcakes recipe how to fondant flower and leaf cutter decorations with edible glitter and chocolate sprinkles

By the wonder that is Facebook, I found out a couple of weeks ago, that there was a charity bake sale taking place in Toton, mere minutes drive away from us. I’m not really that great at giving money to charity, but am always happy to give my time or skills (Christmas present wrapping I just love!) for a worthy cause. This particular cause was Little Hearts Matter, and the event the brilliantly titled Big Hearted Bake, raising money for children born with heart conditions.

I wanted to bake something fun and family friendly, chocolate was definitely on the menu! I’d initially planned to make a big show-stopping cake to serve slices of, but time really wasn’t on my side last week, so I stuck with what I knew would work best – cute little cupcakes.

These lovely little cases jumped right out of my baking box, pretty black and white ivy designs from The Cake Decorating Company, based right here in Nottingham (more on this amazing shop to come in due course, I’m sure).

floral vine black and white cupcake cases cake decorating company nottingham

The recipe I used was a simple chocolate sponge from my Be-Ro book. It occurred to me that we used to make these exact cakes at home when I was little, but back then (about 20 years ago, eek!), we would never have called them cupcakes, they would have been chocolate buns through and through, as the book calls them. Funny how even baking has its trends that change!

chocolate victoria sponge cupcakes oven tray freshly baked white and black cases

When the cakes were cool, I topped them with a big swirl of mint buttercream – just butter and icing sugar, with a few drops of peppermint essence, and a tiny dab of green gel food colouring.

chocolate cupcake with mint swirl butter cream icing frosting light turquoise looks like ice cream

To decorate the tops, I followed the ivy theme from the cases, and used a flower and leaf plunger cutter, to cut shapes out of chocolate fondant. I worked a little tylose powder into the fondant before rolling it out, so the shapes would set nice and firm.

chocolate fondant flower and leaf shapes press cutters tylose powder to harden cupcake decorating

Then, it was simply a case of squishing the fondant topper straight onto the top of the mint buttercream…

chocolate and mint cupcake with flower and leaf fondant topper

… before finishing with some chocolate chunk sprinkles and some iridescent edible glitter (they’re for children, excess of glitter is a necessity, honest!)

mint chocolate cupcakes with edible glitter and chocolate sprinkle chunks swirl icing

The finished cupcakes – it took every inch of willpower not to eat one before they got dropped off at the bake sale.

mint chocolate cupcakes with fondant leaf and flower toppers edible hologram glitter

And the best news by far – the event raised nearly £1,800 for this lovely charity. If you want to see more details on Facebook, or follow their page so you can be a part next year, you can find the Toton bake here.

Mango Star Cupcakes

mango star cupcakes recipe foil baking cases summertime light fresh cakes

So it looks like summer might finally be here! I won’t say more in case of jinxing the beautiful sunshine away, but safe to say I have had a pasty limb or four out in the rays at every possible opportunity 🙂

Earlier this evening, inspired by the fresh summer weather, I picked up some mango in the supermarket. Being Rob’s favourite, I thought it would be gone in a flash. But, he was out, I happened upon a mango yoghurt in the fridge, and a little baking plan formed in my head…

mango cupcakes recipe ingredients fresh juicy fruit tesco activia yoghurt

I couldn’t find a recipe that exactly matched up what I wanted to make, so with some inspiration from chocablog, I concocted these little beauties:

Mango Cupcakes (makes 8 – 10)

100g fresh mango
125g mango yoghurt (or another fruity flavour if you can’t find mango)
75g butter
75g caster or granulated sugar
1 large egg
125g self raising flour
1/2 tsp baking powder

Fruity Vanilla Buttercream

50g butter
1 tsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp vanilla bean extract
120g icing sugar

Mango Coulis Icing

100g fresh mango
1 tablespoon water
30g icing sugar

In the absence of any yellow or orange cupcake cases (seriously, and my baking cupboard is like a rainbow! I must go shopping more…), I sprung upon these amazing star foil cases from dotcomgiftshop. I bought them months ago and have been waiting for an opportunity to use them ever since – well no time like the present. They were super easy to bake with, no change in time or temperature from normal cupcakes, and didn’t require a shaped tin as the foil completely holds it’s shape.

foil star baking cases from dotcomgiftshop review and how to use

Method

– Blend the yoghurt and chopped mango to form a paste
– Cream the butter and sugar, beat in the egg and the mango mixture
– Sieve the flour and baking powder, and fold into the mixture
– Spoon into cases, and bake for 10-15 minutes at 180 degrees C until golden, well-risen and springy to the touch

mango star cupcakes foil baking cup dotcomgiftshop freshly baked just risen

For the buttercream, I simply beat the ingredients together, and piped onto the cool cupcakes using a wide star nozzle. First I piped each point of the star, trailing the icing off as I got to the edge:

star cupcakes foil case icing pointed star vanilla buttercream sugar

icing star instructions on mango cupcakes foil casing from dotcomgiftshop

…finishing on the top with a final piped star centre:

buttercream star iced mango cupcake vanilla icing recipe ingredients

Have a quick google and you’ll see coulis can be made in endless ways – blending the mango straight from cold, boiling for a while, cooking up with sugar, or really however you please! I chopped mine into small pieces, and simmered in the water for about 5 minutes until it was extra juicy and soft. Then, it simply went into the blender with the icing sugar, and blitzed to form a smooth paste.
Quite honestly it nearly didn’t make it to the cakes – I could have just eaten the whole lot with a spoon! Finally I conceded and poured it into a thin-nozzled piping bag, creating contrasting star shapes over the top of the buttercream.

mango star cupcake recipe ingredients and instructions foil baking cases cups buttercream icing and orange mango coulis

Just look at that mango… how could you resist? I just love all the fresh juicy fruits we get in summer!

mango coulis on star iced cupcake vanilla buttercream orange summer fruit recipes

And inside is a similarly yummy story – moist, springy cake, light smooth buttercream, and that striking tangy mango topping. Mmhmmm!

inside cut open cupcake mango recipe vanilla buttercream and mango coulis moist spong cake

As with all cake (surely?) they are best eaten straight away (no problem there!). They will keep for a day or so in the fridge but the mango coulis might get a little sticky in storage. Not the worst problem ever 🙂 Here’s to a long, hot, fresh & fruity summer!