Paul Hollywood’s Apricot Couronne

apricot couronne plaited sweet enriched bread crown paul hollywood recipe great bloggers bake off gbbo 2013

Over halfway through this years Great British Bake Off, and time to tackle my first ever technical challenge!

This week the bakers tackled one of Paul Hollywood’s formidable recipes – a sweet enriched dough Apricot Couronne – or crown. With two rises, a sweet filling, and a tricky, sticky plait to master, things weren’t going to be easy. Thankfully the full recipe is up online so there was no guess work for me – Paul Hollywood’s Apricot Couronne Technical Challenge.

10 minutes of kneading (my arms didn’t thank me for it in the morning!) and a good hours rise in the airing cupboard, the filling went in and twisted plait tackled.

sweet dough apricot couronne crown plait great bloggers bake off gbbo method

I had a little chuckle to myself at the “transfer to a baking sheet stage” – sounded so simple but was incredibly sticky! A quick bit of coercing back into shape and the crown went in for its second rise – coming out beautifully puffed up.

sweet bread enriched dough plait with apricot and raisin filling paul hollywood recipe

And a surprisingly quick bake later (25 minutes, after 2 hours of prep!) – a lovely golden crown, topped with an apricot jam glaze.

golden glazed apricot couronne crown paul hollywood recipe from great british bake off

Finally a quick drizzle of white icing and the couronne was complete!

freshly baked golden brown apricot couronne crown with white icing great bloggers bake off british

apricot couronne golden glazed and iced topping with sweet fruit filling enriched bread recipe

I’m so happy with the way it turned out, it was great fun to make and some good tips picked up on sweet dough making.

freshly iced sweet enriched douch apricot couronne from great british bake off paul hollywood recipe

apricot couronne plaited sweet enriched dough with fruit filling and iced topping

And the all-important inside? A good bake! Well risen, great swirls of filling, light, fluffy and sooo tasty 🙂

well risen inside of sweet enriched dough apricot couronne plaited crown bread

For more on this weeks challenges head over to The Great Blogger Bake Off on The Crazy Kitchen and Mummy Mishaps.


Banoffee Millionaires’ Flapjack

banoffee millionaires flapjack recipe creation for great bloggers bake off banana dulce de leche dark chocolate cornflake and oats

Another week, another amazing episode of The Great British Bake Off, and another edition of The Great Bloggers Bake Off! Following my trifling with Orange and Mango Trifle a couple of weeks back, by the time this weeks episode had finished I was literally itching to get into the kitchen and do my own traybake!

Now as we’re only partly unpacked and have yet to do a food shop (we moved house across last weekend. There are boxes, lots of them. Enough said.), my options were a little limited and to be honest I was quite happy to go with something simple.

I’d been wanting to make the Be-Ro flapjack recipe again for a long time; my brother and I always used to make it as children and everyone seemed to love it! For some reasons it’s not on their list of recipes on the website, but thankfully I have my trusty, if somewhat sticky, Be-Ro book at home to consult.

Rob was watching the program with me; I was telling him my idea, and when one of the contestants started on some banoffee for their traybake – I didn’t end up with much of a choice really!


100g butter
100g sugar
1 tbsp golden syrup
50g oats
50g flour (plain or self-raising, it doesn’t really matter)
75g crushed cornflakes – I used Frosties as they were easy to hand!

Banoffee Layer
1 tin sweetened condensed milk (397g)
20g butter
50g light brown sugar
2 banana

To Top
100g chocolate – dark or milk works best


– Mix together the dry ingredients in a bowl
– Melt the butter and syrup on the hob or in the microwave
– Add to the dry ingredients and mix thoroughly
– Use your fingers to press well and evenly into your lined tin – anything from 6-8 inches square is fine for this recipe, depending on the thickness you want
– Bake at 180 degrees for 15-20 minutes until just firm and golden brown

bero flapjack recipe gbbo traybake

freshly baked golden tray of flapjack for millionaire banoffee recipe great bloggers bake off gbbo british

Banoffee Layer
With a tin of condensed milk in the cupboard, I set about making my own dulce de leche. Not having 2 hours spare to boil the caramel in its tin, I set about the making it on the hob method. Zero kudos to the website I used for this, it failed to mention that you need to stir like crazy to stop it burning! Once I’d figured this out things went much more smoothly, and the addition of the extra butter and sugar makes it sure to firm up

– Put the condensed milk, butter and sugar in a heavy bottomed pan
– Heat on medium-low for 10-15 minutes, stirring continuously– When the caramel mixture has nearly thickened, mash or chop the bananas and add them, heating for another few minutes so they break down
(to test the thickness, get some of the dulce de leche on a tea-spoon, let it cool for a minute, and turn upside down. If it drips off, not done. If it stays, well done!)
– If you’re after a really smooth banoffee then blitz or food-process to remove the banana lumps, before letting it cool

making caramel from condensed milk how to banoffee flavour thicken for traybake banana

banoffee dulce de leche caramel blender how to recipe saucepan quick method from condensed milk can

Once the flapjack is completely cool, spoon the caramel over the top and spread evenly.

spooning banoffe dulce de leche onto flapjack base trayback millionaires gbbo great bloggers british bake off

Finally, melt the chocolate and spread liberally on top.

chocolate layer on top of banoffee millionaires flapjack recipe gbbo

I cooled mine in the fridge overnight which I’d highly recommend, it’s hard to tell when the caramel is set otherwise.

Heavens were praised when it turned out of the tin in one piece, my biggest worry, that the caramel wouldn’t set, was happily quashed!

full traybake turned out millionaires banoffee flapjacks recipe

And then to cut into squares – you’d think this would be the easy bit! Unfortunately I think my traybake was a bit too cold, and the chocolate was not happy with being cut.

slicing up millionaires banoffee flapjack chocolate topping dulce de leche caramel layer cornflake oat base bero recipe

Maybe the abstract look was what I was going for…?!

abstract cracked chocolate millionaires banoffee flapjack recipe great bloggers bake off

Some of the pieces turned out better than others (and some didn’t even make it to the photo stage…)

traybake square millionaires banoffee flapjack recipe dulce de leche dark chocolate

So this weeks results for The Great Bloggers Bake Off (head over to The Crazy Kitchen and Mummy Mishaps for more) – taste: great, style points: not so much!

Who knows what next week will hold…


Treacle, Ginger and Mango Bollywood Nights Cake

bollywood nights themed cake treacle ginger mango clandestine club nottingham 2013 edible pearls print stencil

Oddly timed on the last day I actually lived in the city, yesterday marked the first event of the new Nottingham City Clandestine Cake Club, of which I am a proud co-organiser! More on the move to follow in due course I’m sure…

As our first event was to be held in a private room at an Indian Restaurant, the very hospitable Mogal E Azam, we decided a Bollywood Nights theme would spark up everyone’s imagination, and give way to some great flavours, colours, and of course plenty of glitter.

Not being too great on spices and what to do with them, I kept the cake quite simple but vamped up the outside. Sorry for the lack of step-by-step pictures, but in the midst of packing I was a little rushed, and the kitchen wasn’t really in a fit state to be photographed either!

The recipe I used was Woman & Home’s Sticky Ginger and Treacle cake – as I followed it exactly (obviously omitting the praline and cream cheese icing steps) and in the interest of moving-house-constricted time, I won’t retype the recipe but leave you to click through. It was incredibly easy to make and baked like a dream, giving me a firm but so deliciously moist base for my Bollywood decorations.

To fill I simply sliced in half, and filled with copious amounts of mango buttercream, tinted orange to contrast with the dark treacle colour of the cake. I also covered the sides and top to give a good base for the red fondant to stick to.

The red fondant was pre-coloured, luckily I had a couple of packs left over from my Speed Sign cake, as the vibrancy and depth of colour would have been quite hard to achieve using white fondant and colouring it up.

And to decorate – would you believe it was incredibly simple! As you may know from previous posts, I’m a subscriber to My Cake Decorating Magazine. There is a free gift with every issue, so I’m slowly building a large stash of decorating items, some of which I’m not sure when I’ll ever use – until now!

First up was the pearl mould – I mixed a little tylose powder with some fondant so it would set firm, dusted the mould with corn flour, and carefully pressed in.

pearl silicon mould from my cake decorating magazine use with fondant icing  bollywood theme edible pearls

Because the mould is made of silicon, it’s really easy to bend back on itself to pop out and reveal a super-cute string of edible pearls!

edible fake pearls red fondant icing my cake decorating magazine silicon mould how to

Using a little edible glue I put them all round the bottom edge of the cake, and finished with some edible glitter for true Bollywood glamour.

edible glitter pearls red fondant icing bollywood theme cake for clandestine club ccc nottingham

For the top – another great free gift – this intricate circular pattern stencil.

my cake decorating magazine large circular stencil intricate pattern used for bollywood themes

I simply mixed up some orange royal icing (royal is much better as it sets hard), and, holding the stencil firm, smoothed the icing all across with a cake smoother, ensuring all the gaps were filled, before carefully peeling away to reveal the pattern.

bright colours orange indian print ethnic stencil my cake decorating magazine on red fondant cake spiced bollywood nights

And of course, finished with another generous sprinkling of edible glitter!

orange royal icing and edible glitter detail on bollywood nights treacle ginger and mango spiced cake recipe

clandestine cake club nottingham red bollywood nights spiced treacle and ginger cake

True to the Bollywood theme of bright colours, intricate details, and lots of sparkles – I was very happy!

red fondant iced bollywood nights treacle ginger and mango cake stencilled decoration

And inside – a beautiful contrast of the red fondant, orange mango buttercream, and brilliantly moist, sticky and spicy treacle ginger cake.

dark treacle and ginger cake with mango filling and red fondant bollywood decoration clandestine cake club

And I’m pleased to report that our first Nottingham City CCC was a huge success! The bakers completely rose to the challenge with a great range of cakes (yes that one does have fairy lights), and we had such a lovely evening eating and chatting.

nottingham city clandestine cake club first meeting bollywood theme five cakes with fairy lights

Where will the next cake club take us? Well, watch this space… (or sign up to the club page to join in: )

Orange & Mango Trifle and The Great Bloggers Bake Off

orange and mango layered trifle great blogger bake off british dessert recipe layered fruit jelly cake custard and cream

Last week whilst at cake club, I got to talking with someone involved in the Great Bloggers Bake Off. What was this I asked? (and how could I not know about it!)

Set up by Helen and Jenny, the idea revolves around that rather marvellous television programme that is the Great British Bake Off. Like many a budding baker, I am absolutely glued to the screen every Tuesday evening at 8pm, but can’t help but have an itch in my hands to what to get into the kitchen and try for myself. Which is where the Blogger part comes in – as every week the baker blog collective try their hand at one of the challenges featured on the show, and all link up into the Great Blogger Bake Off. Like the show itself, it’s great to see the variety of different things that bakers come up with in the challenges.


Busy as I am it’s something I’ll have to hop in and out of, so yes I’m starting at week 3 (but rather glad to have missed bread week!)
This weeks challenges were trifle, floating islands, or petit fours. As much as I love minature desserts, trifle has always been a big favourite of mine as my dad makes THE best, and I always got to eat the leftovers when we’d had friend over for tea 🙂 I’ll start by saying that mine wasn’t a patch on his, but I had fun nonetheless.
Rob had been watching this weeks GBBO with me and his eyes had positively lit up at the trifles containing mango as he absolutely loves it, and from there my recipe was sprung.


Orange madeira cake
60g butter
60g sugar
1 egg
85g self raising flour
Rind of 1 orange
2 tablespoons of orange juice

For the trifle layers
1 pint of orange jelly
1 pint of custard
1 pint of cream, either thick or whipped
1 orange, peeled and split into segments
1 mango, peeled and sliced

First up I made the cake – as you would with any sponge/madeira – beating the butter and sugar, adding the egg and flavouring, then folding in the flour. I baked mine in a loaf tin to give a long flat sponge; it took about 15-20 minutes to bake, at 180 degrees.

orange madeira cake recipe half loaf tin peel and juice

Despite the wealth of dishes, tins, stands and plates in my kitchen, a beautifully decorated, large trifle dish as featured on the TV is sadly not in my possession. Instead, I had to make to with a pyrex dish. Pah.
First layer was the orange segments; I de-pithed them using a cocktail stick to get off the tiny bits so they wouldn’t interfere with the smooth texture of the trifle. As they were quite moist they stuck well to the edge of the glass and stayed in place even when the jelly was added.

orange segments in glass bowl trifle recipe bottom

I added enough jelly to just cover the segments, and put into the fridge until nearly set.

With the cake cool it was time to slice – I love the flecks of orange peel running through.

orange madeira cake recipe cut into slices for trifle

Again pressing into the sides of the bowl, I layered this on top of the now-set orange layer, before covering with more jelly:

action shot photography pouring jelly onto madeira cake slices in pyrex glass bowl for trifle

Back into the fridge the bowl went, giving me some time to contend with Rob’s favourite, the mango. This was beautifully dark green, plump and squishy, just as a mango should be.

fresh dark green juicy mango for trifle

For peeling and slicing… juicy is the word I’d use. You’ll notice there are no pictures of this stage, it was rather sticky, to say the least! Slices just about intact, they too were layered up and covered in the last of the jelly.

mango slices layered in trifle orange recipe using jelly

I then gave the whole jelly, cake and fruit layer a good couple of hours in the fridge to set, before layering on the custard, another hour to set, the cream, and last but absolutely essential for any good trifle, the sprinkles!

custard and cream layers on top of orange and mango trifle complete with sugar sprinkles

You’ll notice there are no steps on my custard making. As per my previous trifle recipe I’ll be honest that I inherited some bad genes from my mum in this area and am absolutely hands down rubbish at it. But resourcefully, well let’s just say it turned out ok this time around (thanks Ambrosia, sssshh!)

orange and mango trifle for great blogger bake off cake jelly custard cream sprinkles on top

And as for the judging criteria that the contestants on the programme obsess themselves with – well the layers were certainly well-defined (although next time I’d do a thinner layer of cake to look better), and the taste – safe to say I started digging in with a large spoon and struggled to stop. No pictures of this either, it wasn’t pretty!

visible layers in orange and mango trifle for great blogger bake off 2013 segments in jelly madeira cake mange slices custard and cream

Belgian Waffles at the GingerBread Tea Room, Bruges

A couple of weeks ago we finally managed a summer break, albeit a short one, and took a mini-cruise around Europe. We stopped at Le Havre in France, Bruges, and then Amsterdam – I love travelling so waking up in a different place each morning is my idea of heaven!

When in Bruges I had to get Rob to try some of the local cuisine. Having spent a fair bit of time in Brussels with work I was already au fait on their delicacies, but he was in for a real treat. We had to take a coach in from the port at Zeebrugge, and on the way the guide advised us that for the best waffles, we should go to one of the many Tea Houses that scatter the streets of Bruges. I didn’t have to be told twice!

The main square, the Markt, or Market Square, has cafes and tea rooms all along two sides. An amazing spot for sightseeing, the downside is that you pay for it. A lot. A couple of drinks on the square cost us over 10 Euros. For food… well, we took a wander.

markt market square bruges brugge panoramic photo sunny summer 2013

And we didn’t have to go very far! Mere steps away, down the pedestrian street of Sint-Amandstraat, we stumbled across this lovely little place.

ginger bread tea room bruges frontage Sint Amandstraat off markt outside seating waffles traditional belgian

Complete with outdoor setting perfect for people-watching, we chose to head inside and received a warm greeting from the owners.

ginger bread tea room bruges Sint Amandstraat off markt market square outside seating for waffles

I do just love the Belgian hospitality. All the members of staff served us at some point and they were all so friendly, laughing and joking with us. And giving us the time we needed to chose from the vast menu…

gingerbred tea room bruges home made with love pink menu front

…. was it really ever going to be anything other than waffles!

waffle menu tea time gingerbread tearoom bruges

Other than the service one thing I absolutely loved about this place was the decor. Perhaps because it was pink! But quite subtly so – lots of kitsch patterns, cute knickknacks, all very well done, creating a lovely ambiance in the tea room.

gereserveerd reserved belgian sign waffles in bruges pot plant gingerbread tea room

pink decor ginger bread tea room bruges quaint wooden tables review recommendation for waffles

pink decor and chandelier library bookcase cute vintage tea room bruges

And then came the waffles… Safe to say we weren’t disappointed! I opted for cream and chocolate, whilst Rob had ice cream and chocolate. And plenty of chocolate there was too. When in Belgium…

belgian waffles with chocolate cream and ice cream ginger bread tea room bruges

Everything was served on a beautiful matching vintage tea set. How lovely are the plates?!

belgian waffles at ginger bread tea room bruges review recommendation

authentic belgian waffles in bruge cream and chocolate vintage decor

A ludicrously short amount of time later…

empty plate vintage design pink decor belgian waffles devoured bruges

If I’d been able to get away with it there would have been some plate-licking… but on a thriving Sunday afternoon I just about managed to restrain myself 🙂

Safe to say Ginger Bread Tea Room gets a hearty thumbs up from us – Rob certainly enjoyed his first Belgian waffles, and if we’re ever back in Bruges a return trip will definitely be on the cards.

You can find them on facebook – GingerBread Tea Room –  – they don’t open every day of the week so be sure to check before you go to avoid disappointment.

Mojito Marble Bundt Cake

mojito marble bundt cake recipe clandestine cake club derby summer cocktails party green and white lime rum mint

This weekend marked the marvellous return of cake club, after its all-too-long summer break. The event on Sunday was part of Derby Clandestine Cake Club, themed as ‘Summer’s Last Cocktail Party’. Well, where to start with a cocktail cake!

I’d been thinking about a marble cake for a while, and the different ingredients of a cocktail seemed like the perfect opportunity to do this. A little light research later (and a rather sore head), I settled on a mojito. A simple mix of rum, lime, and mint – the drink version (recipe here) is muddled with sugar and topped up with soda, but obviously these are not required in the cocktail version. A couple of friends had suggested carving it into a cocktail glass shape, but there was a new bundt tin in my kitchen awaiting its first use…

morrisons five pound silicon bundt cake tin four pint bakeware bargain

As I’ve not made a bundt cake before, I wanted to stick with quite a basic recipe to ensure the consistency and bake was right, and Nigella’s vanilla bundt recipe seemed to fit the bill perfectly, minus the vanilla of course. I was dubious when it wanted a four pint bundt tin, but after a quick check with some pints of water that’s what mine held! It’s a lot of cake mixture but is padded out a lot and lightened by the addition of the yoghurt, so it’s not as bad as it sounds 🙂 I added a little extra flour and sugar to balance out the flavour and texture of the mint, rum and lime.

225g butter
325g white sugar
6 eggs
380g plain flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
250ml low-fat natural yoghurt
75ml white rum or 1 1/2 teaspoons rum flavouring
Grated rind & juice of 2 limes or 1 tablespoon of lime juice
Good handful of fresh mint leaves of 1 1/2 teaspoons of mint flavouring
Gel food colours as required

Icing as desired – I used 250g icing sugar mixed with a pack of mojito flavouring

Beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy
Add the eggs, one at a time, followed by the yoghurt, and beat in with a tablespoon of flour each to prevent curdling
Sieve and fold in the remainder of the flour and baking powder
Divide the mixture into three parts, ready for flavouring and colouring

splitting cake batter into 3 bundt cake recipe bowls

For the mint section, I’d ended up with a whole mint plant as it was the same price in the supermarket as a few sprigs! In just a week it’s grown like wildfire, I’ll have to find it a bigger pot and some recipes to use it in.

fresh mint plant from asda cheap mojito cake recipe

Using a good handful of leaves, I put them through the blender so they were finely chopped, and mixed in with some green and black gel food colourings.

fresh mint leaves glass bowl for mojito cake recipe

freshly ground mint leaves for mojito cake mini food processor

mixing green and black gel food colour into cake batter for mojito bundt recipe

For the lime batter, I was quite uninspired by the size and quality of limes in the supermarket, so ended up using just the juice and zest of one, substituted with some bottled lime juice. I coloured this part using a mixture of green and yellow gels, to give it a really zingy lime colour.

lime for mojito cake fresh versus bottled juice asda

And last but by absolutely no means least – the alcohol! I had a couple of bacardi miniatures in the cupboard and these were perfect, about 1 1/2 bottles (5cl each) gave a great rum kick to the batter. There was no colour in this part as I wanted to keep it white like the rum.

bacardi miniatures for mojito cake recipe rum lime and mint

The three batters ready:

lime rum and mint flavoured and coloured cake batter for mojito marble bundt cake recipe

With the bundt tin well-greased, simply spoon in alternate mixes in and around. I used a mixture of spoonful dollops and some swirls and drizzles; don’t actually mix the cakes together as it’ll do this well enough and marble itself. I wish I’d taken more pictures of this stage but it was getting a little sticky!

mojito marble bundt cake batter swirl mint lime and rum

Bake at 180 degrees for 45 – 60 minutes, until an inserted skewer comes out clean, i.e. there’s no raw cake mix on it.

Allow to cool in the tin and carefully turn out:

mojito marble bundt cake freshly baked lime rum and mint recipe swirl mixture

I wanted to keep the icing simple and white to offset the marble of the cake. To keep up the flavour I used some pre-mixed mojito mixer – the Funkin brand is quite new to me but you can find them in most supermarkets now, they really are a great idea and all the ones I’ve tried really do taste like the cocktails (even if you don’t add the alochol!)

funkin mojito mixer lime and mint flavour to have with bacardi marble cake recipe baking ideas

I added the mixer to some white icing sugar to get a good thick paste, and simply drizzled this all around the top of the cake, topping with a good layer of mixed green and white non-pareils (sugar sprinkles), and a little edible glitter.

clenadestine cake club summer cocktails event derby mojito bundt cake marble batter recipe drizzle icing

mojito marble bundt cake clandestine club recipe method instructions lime mint and rum alcoholic

I’m totally in love with bundt cakes now and want to make more already! The shape lends itself to such easy decoration but looks stunning with little effort.

mojito marble bundt cake with green sprinkles and white flavoured icing rum lime and mint recipe alcoholic

Onto cake club I trotted, and the selection of cakes was fab! One of the things I love about CCC (Clandestine Cake Club) is that the themes can be anything and everything, and all the bakers come up with such different ideas. From a Rusty Nail to a Shirley Temple – we had such a great afternoon devouring all of these 🙂

clandestine cake club summer cocktails buffet derby

And I was so happy to see the marble effect when my cake was cut into! The mojito flavours came out brilliant and I was absolutely delighted with the colours:

swirl effect inside mojito marble bundt cake recipe for clandestine cake club green lime mint and rum flavour

In some parts the batter had curled itself down and then risen into a swirl during baking – entirely intentional of course!

inside mojito marble cake swirled effect green white lime mint and rum icing and sugar sprinkles

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