Birthday Afternoon Tea Party

Ah yes, the week of my birthday, where, once again, friends and family gather to eat their own body weight in cake. There is a definite theme to all my birthday presents and the respective celebrations at which they are received – cake, cake, and more CAKE! Take for example this amazing 3d patisserie card – will definitely be finding a permanent home for this little lovely in my kitchen.

patisserie 3d birthday card cake lover

This year Rob and I hosted a birthday afternoon tea at home; we moved house in September and still love our new bolthole, as today proved it’s perfect for parties!

A windy Sunday afternoon in Derbyshire didn’t deter the party goers, and we made sure the house was well decked out for an afternoon tea party – balloons, banners, and of course bunting, zig-zagging across the hallway. I’m wondering how long I can get away with having this up for, the cats seem to have designs on pulling it down though…

pastel bunting and cats hosting traditional afternoon tea party at home

Starting with sandwiches, served with champagne, we tucked in to the veritable feast in front of us.

birthday afternoon tea champagne sandwiches and cake

afternoon tea party at home derbyshire happy birthday

Enjoyed freshly baked from the oven, delicious fruit scones made by Al…

afternoon tea party freshly baked scones

… and topped with home-made (by t’other Jen) blackcurrant jam, and whipped cream. Yum!

afternoon tea party fresh scones with homemade blackcurrant jam and whipped cream

Offerings from my kitchen included strawberry swirl meringues, and gluten-free brownie bites (both recipes now posted & linked up!) home afternoon tea birthday party chocolate brownie bites strawberry swirl meringues finger sandwiches

And and experiment with one of my brilliant birthday presents, a cake pop maker, little white kitty cat cake pops! They are not my finest work of art but not a bad testament to my battle with the evil that is candy melts.

kitty cat cake pops white chocolate candy melt birthday party ideas pink glitter sugar ears

cat cake pop white chocolate in place of a nose birthday party fun

And what else could you finish a birthday party with, other than a big sticky birthday cake?!

birthday girl blowing out candles afternoon tea party

Made by the lovely Jen this was one brilliant birthday cake:

chocolate swirl birthday cake with candles

– that just got better and better when I cut inside. Look at the chocolate checkerboard!

checkerboard chocolate happy birthday cake

Some more fun and games…

fun and games birthday afternoon tea party host at home derbyshire

… before waving guests off with full tummies and little party bags! Who doesn’t love a party bag, at any age?

mini afternoon tea party bags chocolate freddo cat toy

Thanks to all my lovely guests for a great afternoon, helping to make (and demolish) all the yummy food, and of course my fabulous presents! All that remains now is for me to get baking and start using some of them…

Banana and Salted Caramel Birthday Cupcakes

salted caramel and banana cupcakes swirl buttercream orange and yellow flower toppers recipe

Happy Birthday to me! Well, yesterday actually, but who’s counting 😉

Continuing the brilliant tradition of taking cakes into the office for my birthday, these bad boys are my offering for 2014. Having just eaten one with compliments from colleagues ringing in my ears, I cannot help but rave about them. They are so good. And, made with real bananas, good for you as well. Wins all round.

They also make use of the final product from my Sugar and Crumbs trial pack. As much as I enjoyed using the Chocolate Cherry Cocoa Powder and Coffee Icing Sugar, this Salted Caramel Icing Sugar was always going to be my favourite, and it certainly didn’t disappoint.

At £2.99 for a 250g bag from Sugar and Crumbs, it is a fair price (if you use the whole pack for one batch like I did), so one to use for special occasions, of which my birthday is definitely one!

sugar and crumbs salted caramel natural flavoured icing sugar review and recipe

Ingredients (Makes 8-10 cupcakes)
90g butter
90g light brown sugar
1 large or 2 small eggs
Approx 180g banana (2 small or 1 large bananas)
1 tablespoon milk
120g self raising flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

To ice
75g butter
1 tablespoon milk
250g Salted Caramel icing sugar

– Beat together the butter and sugar
– Add the mashed banana, and eggs, plus 1 tablespoon of flour, and beat until well combined
– Sieve in the remainder of the flour and baking powder, and fold in
– Spoon into cupcake cases, about 2/3 full, bake at 180 degrees for 15-18 minutes. The tops should be firm to the touch and golden brown. The cake will still feel a bit squishy, due to the banana, if unsure, insert a small skewer or cocktail stick to check it’s completely cooked.
– Once cool, beat together the butter, milk and icing sugar until light and airy but thick in texture. Spoon or pipe onto the top of the cupcakes.

cupcake buttercream perfect swirl star nozzle salted caramel and banana

The cupcakes come out light and beautifully moist, the banana flavour comes through perfectly. And combined with the sweet tang of the salted caramel buttercream – perfection!

banana cupcake recipe deconstructed method inside moist and fluffy

To top my cupcakes I embraced the first throes of spring with some orange and yellow flower toppers. Cut out of coloured flower paste, I finished them with a contrasting centre before sticking onto the buttercream with a little white icing.

homemade icing toppers yellow and orange flower paste spring bakes

salted caramel and banana cupcake recipe review and method easy how to

The cupcakes disappeared in mere seconds at work, with a few more left for a birthday dinner tonight, I can’t imagine they’ll be around for long!

banana and salted caramel birthday cupcakes with spring orange and yellow flowers recipe

banan cupcake with salted caramel buttercream swirl frosting and flower past fondant orange and yello

Coffee Biscuit Bites

coffee biscuit bites butter sable recipe using coffee flavoured icing sugar

Last night I donned my apron to whip up these little biscuit bites, for a number of very good reasons. Firstly, I need to start saving egg whites to make meringues at the weekend. Secondly, I wanted to try out another of the lovely products that Sugar and Crumbs sent me to review, and thirdly, probably most importantly, we need some sugar in the office to get us through the week.

The Coffee Icing Sugar for Sugar and Crumbs was lovely to work with, a silky white powder and perfect for this adapted Sable biscuit recipe. The 125g pack was the ideal size to make both this biscuits and icing.

sugar and crumbs natural flavoured coffee icing sugar recipe and review


75g coffee icing sugar
100g plain flour
100g butter
1 egg yolk

To ice
50g coffee icing sugar
Warm water

– Mix together the icing sugar and flour, and rub in the butter until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs
– Add the egg yolk, and knead together to form a smooth paste. If the mixture is too sticky don’t be afraid to add some more flour, you want to be able to roll it without sticking
– Roll the mixture into small balls, spread out evenly on baking sheet. They do not need to be space too far apart, as the biscuits won’t spread much during cooking
– Using a fork dipped in boiling water, gently flatten the top of each biscuit
– Bake at 180 degrees for 10-12 minutes until firm to touch and golden brown
– When cool, mix the remaining icing sugar with a little water, to form a thick paste. Cover the top of each biscuit using a pastry brush, and leave to set.- Enjoy with your favourite cup of Joe! Or, as we did in the office – dipped into a cup of tea!

sable biscuit dough balls coffee butter recipe

flattening biscuit dough with fork dipped in hot water method and tips

cup of coffee with bite sized butter sable biscuits recipe and easy method

And how did the coffee flavour come out? Well it was a lovely subtle tone in the icing sugar that really came through in the combination of the biscuit and icing. And aesthetically pleasing to have a coffee flavoured treat without the normally associated rather dark brown colour!

sugar and crumbs coffee icing sugar natural flavourings sable biscuit recipe

Disclaimer – Products were provided by Sugar and Crumbs for review. However the opinions are entirely my own.

Valentine’s Day Hidden Heart Design Red Velvet Bundt Cake

red roses with velvet bundt cake hidden heart design

Valentine’s Day in our house always has one thing on the menu – red velvet cake. Since the first Red Velvet Cake I made for Rob 3 years ago when we’d just started dating, we’ve evolved through a chocolate-layered Love Cake 2 years back, and last years Red Velvet Ombre Cake. It’s clear then that no ordinary cake is going to cut it!

This year I wanted to embrace one of my own loves – bundt cakes – with something new I’ve been wanting to try for a while, a hidden design.

The basic bundt batter is quite simple, I mixed it up as a whole, using what I needed to create the vanilla hearts, before adding the red colouring and cocoa for the red velvet outer.


225g butter
325g white sugar
6 eggs
380g plain flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
325 ml buttermilk (or 315ml normal milk mixed with 10ml lemon juice)
2 teaspoons of vanilla essence

25g cocoa powder
Red gel food colouring
10ml milk


– Cream together the butter and sugar
– Beat in the eggs one at a time, with a little flour, then stir in the buttermilk and vanilla essence.
– Sieve the flour and baking powder and fold into the mixture
– Use as much mixture as needed and bake the hidden design centre first
– Add the cocoa, remaining milk and sufficient food colouring to the remaining batter for the red velvet outer

I made my hearts in a silicon mould – you could bake a sheet cake and cut them from this if you don’t have a tin of the shape you want to use as your design. Baking time is dependent on what shape and size of mould you use, mine took about 20 minutes at 180. They should be slightly under-baked as opposed to over-done. Wait until nearly cool before continuing.

heart shape sponge cake for hidden design cake

I then trimmed off the edges of the heart cakes, to make them fit into the round design of the bundt.

hidden heart shape bundt cake trimming csskes for centre

Making sure the bundt tin was well greased, I put in a bottom layer of the red velvet mixture, before carefully layering in the heart cakes.

valentines hidden heart bundt cake layering up shapes into red velvet batter

A final layer of red velvet covered up the hidden design, before baking at 180 for around 45 minutes, until cooked through.

red velvet batter in bundt tin hidden heart design cake for valentines day

Fresh out of the oven and a beautiful red colour!

freshly baked red velvet bundt secret hidden heart design for valentines day recipe

To top a red velvet cake there really is only one choice in my book – cream cheese frosting!

To top this cake I used 75g cream cheese, 25g butter and 200g icing sugar, well-mixed and lavished over the top:

dripping cream cheese icing on red velvet cake

And to finish – a little hint to the inside – I used plunger cutters to create red heart sprinkles from some coloured fondant icing, letting them air-dry before use so the colour didn’t run into the icing.

red fondant heart sprinkles plunger cutter valentines recipe

valentines day love cake heart fondant sprinkles on cream cheese icing

All finished and ready to cut!

valentines day red velvet hidden heart design bundt cake with fondant shapes and cream cheese icing

Rob was out when I finished baking, so I left the cake out on the table with suitable embellishment – like he wouldn’t know it was for him!

red velvet bundt love cake and rose hidden heart design valentines day gift ideas love you chalkboard sign gift message valentines day red velvet hidden heart design bundt cake recipe

I asked Rob the next morning if he’d tried the cake when he got in. Yes he said. A big slice he said. And the inside…? Erm, just red and white cake, he said? What! Surely not! All that hard work wasted?

On closer inspection it was very clear he’d just been too keen to eat it. And the heart shape looked just perfect running through ❤ Mission accomplished!

hidden heart design red velvet and vanilla bundt cake valentines day recipe cream cheese icing


Black Forest Chocolate and Cherry Cupcakes

black forest chocolate and cherry cupcakes fruit flavoured cocoa powder from sugar and crumbs review uk natural ingredients

Last week, the lovely folk over at Sugar and Crumbs sent me over a selection of their products to try. Expecting just a couple of packets in a jiffy bag, imagine my delight when I opened this lovely goodie bag!

sugar and crumbs natural icing sugar cocoa powder bloggers goodie bag test and review

If you haven’t heard of Sugar and Crumbs, they are a UK based company, offer all-natural flavoured icings sugars and cocoa powders. The selection they sent me are some of their newest – salted caramel, and coffee icing sugars, and a cherry cocoa powder. Their range of products is already flavour-tastically diverse, and seems to be growing all the time.

sugar and crumbs uk natural ingredients company icing sugar and flavoured cocoa powder

As much as I wanted to just get a spoon and eat the salted caramel sugar, lack of time meant I stuck with a good old-fashioned chocolate cake as my first test, using the chocolate cherry cocoa powder.

sugar and crumbs natural icing sugar coffee salted caramel and chocolate cherry cocoa powder

It looks and bakes exactly like a normal cocoa powder, but with the addition of a sweet cherry tang.

sugar and crumbs chocolate cherry cocoa powder review

To get the most out of the flavour, the recipe enclosed suggested using a standard sponge recipe, substituting one quarter of the flour for cocoa powder. The result – a light, intense chocolate mixture, which baked into rich and fluffy cupcakes.

Once cool, I wanted to keep the topping for the cupcakes sweet and simple. What could complement the chocolate cherry flavour better than chocolate… and a cherry!

I melted down a big bar of dark chocolate, then carefully dipped in each cherry about halfway, holding by its stalk. This is such a satisfying process!

dipping red cherry into dark chocolate food porn

Carefully placing the chocolate cherries onto some greaseproof paper, they went into the fridge for a little while to set.

chocolate dipped cherries with stalks baking ideas black forest cupcakes

Once the cherries were set, I topped the cupcakes with a couple of layers of chocolate. Leaving the first layer to set for about a minute, before spooning on the second, gave it just that little time to set and create the ripple effect. And to finish – a cherry on top!

black forest chocolate and cherry flavoured cupcakes with dark chocolate icing and fresh fruit

The finished cupcakes, simple but very yummy! And the taste? Well the cherry flavour is subtly sweet against the rich chocolate. All in all a great easy twist on a standard cherry cupcake. I look forward to trying more of the Sugar and Crumbs range soon!

dark chocolate and cherry black forest cupcakes flavoured cocoa powder from sugar and crumbs review

Disclaimer – the products in this post were provided by Sugar and Crumbs for review. However all opinions are entirely my own.