No-Bake Strawberry Cheesecake Pots

no bake strawberry cheesecake layered pots gbbo

One of my twitter followers thoughtfully asked last week if I was doing the Great Bloggers Bake Off this year – and sadly my answer was no, as I don’t have the time at the moment (which may be evident from the distinct slowdown in blog posts!)

However – it got me thinking, I have got some posts waiting to be uploaded that tie in with some of the GBBO weeks… so why not tie them in? Better to part-partake than not at all!

So the first of my posts is for Desserts Week. I loved last nights show – would love to have a go at a Windtorte at some point, and baked cheesecakes? Hello! Nadiya’s fizzy pop cheesecake stack was absolutely inspired.

This recipe is great for the summer as there are absolutely no ovens involved. That’s right, no overheating the kitchen when you’re already struggling to maintain a normal body temperature. And who doesn’t love their own little pot portion? Although one is never enough!

The glass ramekins you may recognise from a popular brand of rather amazing desserts, but any small bowls would be suitable. The recipe will make 6 of this size, adjust up or down if your containers are bigger/smaller.

gu glass ramekins re-use ideas easy no bake strawberry cheesecake

Ingredients

100g biscuits – digestive or anything else you fancy
150g cream cheese
125g greek yoghurt50g caster or granulated sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
1 pack strawberry jelly
Strawberries – I used 2 medium ones per pot

Method

  • Crush the biscuits and press firmly into the base of the ramekins. Cover with clingfilm and refrigerate while you prepare the middle layer.
  • Beat together the cream cheese, yoghurt, sugar, lemon and vanilla until well combined.
  • Remove the ramekins from the fridge and carefully spoon the cheese mixture onto the biscuit base. Try and avoid it splashing up the sides, especially if you have glass bowls/ramekins, as it will spoil the finished look.
  • Return to the fridge for another 30 minutes.
  • Make up the jelly according to the instructions on the packet, and set aside to cool slightly.
  • Remove any stalks from the strawberries and slice in half. Carefully press into on top of the cheese mixture, before pouring the jelly over the top.
  • Refrigerate until the jelly has set and serve as soon as you’re ready – I wouldn’t recommend making more than a day in advance as the layers will start to merge together and go a bit sticky.

pressing biscuit base into cheesecake ramekin individual pot dessert spooning cream cheese mixture into ramekin for cheesecake pots

cheesecake layer individual pots no bake strawberries set into cheesecake easy no bake recipe individal dessert pots hartleys strawberry jelly recipe idea cheesecake pots action shot pouring jelly topping onto strawberry cheesecake individual pots no bake recipe strawberry topping on easy no bake cheesecake great bloggers bake off layered strawberry cheesecake pots easy no bake recipe

Inside… crunchy, creamy, sweet and fruity all in one mouthful. I told you one wasn’t enough!

inside strawberry chesecake pots biscuit base cream cheese yoghurt fruit jelly easy recipe

You can find more about Great Bloggers Bake Off by clicking here – scroll down and there are weekly links to all the yumminess that has been made!

Mummy Mishaps

Super Strawberry Swiss Roll

decorated strawberry swiss roll homemade jam recipe greatbloggersbakeoff gbbo

This week saw the return of the much-loved Great British Bake-Off, and with it, the amazing celebration of all things cake that is #GreatBloggersBakeOff2014, which you can find more details on here.

greatbloggersbakeoff2014

My first swiss roll recipe – Simple Strawberry Jam Swiss Roll , is without a doubt the most popular post on this blog. For why, I simply don’t know, but am certainly not complaining!

However simple is not always sufficient – and for this GBBO I wanted to ramp things up a bit. I’ve wanted to try a piped design roll for a while, and this seemed like the perfect opportunity. Add to this homemade strawberry jam – why do things by half – and you can see why this really is a super swiss roll!

To start with – the jam, so it has time to cool. We are right in the middle of British strawberry season and there are lots of brilliant juicy fruits in the shops at the moment.

fresh british strawberries

Strawberry jam
300g fresh strawberries, hulled
100g sugar
2 tablespoons lemon juice

– Chop the strawberries – I found quartering gave good chunky pieces in the jam, without them being too overbearing in the sponge

fresh british quartered strawberries jam recipe
– Mix the strawberries, lemon juice, and sugar in a heavy bottomed pan, and put on a low heat until the sugar has melted
– Turn the heat up to medium/high, and set the timer for 10 minutes. The mixture should foam and bubble up; stir often and monitor the heat so it doesn’t boil over

fresh strawberry jam recipe great british summer bake off
– When the ten minutes is nearly up, start testing to see if the jam has reached setting point. This is 105 degrees C on a jam/sugar thermometer, or you can use the wrinkle-test , using pre-frozen saucers to test if it sets.
– If it’s not setting, boil for a couple more minutes and test again. As a last resort you can some more lemon juice to boost the pectin levels.
– Once at setting point, take off the heat and pour into a bowl. Leave to cool whilst you make the sponge.

Swiss roll sponge (with piped strawberry decorations)
3 large eggs
125g sugar
125g plain flour

– Put the eggs and sugar into a large bowl and beat on high for up to 10 minutes, until the mixture goes from pale and yellow to light, white, and about double in size
(KitchenAid optional… but it really does help!)

kitchenaid swiss roll recipe whisking eggs and sugar

kitchenaid whisked eggs and sugar light and fluffy for swiss roll recipe greatbloggersbakeoff

– Whilst the eggs are beating, prepare your tray. An ordinary baking tray (with sides) is more than sufficient.
– Brush the edges and bottom of the tin with oil or melted butter.
– Cut baking or greaseproof paper precisely to size, it should be completely flat
– Brush the paper with more oil/butter, and sprinkle well with flour and sugar, to prevent any sticking

greased lined floured sugared baking tin for swiss roll no special pan needed

– Sieve the flour and gently fold into the egg mixture.

folding flour into swiss roll recipe

– To make the strawberry decorations, take 3 teaspoons of the mixture, and colour one orange, one red, and one green.
– Using small piping bags, pipe green leaves, orange seeds and fill round with red strawberry shapes

piped strawberrries for swiss roll recipe

– Bake for 2 minutes at 180 degrees, so the strawberries set and don’t mix with the rest of the batter

baked strawberries from swiss roll mixture decorated recipe

– Take the tray out of the oven and let it cool for a couple of minutes.
– Spread the rest of the batter evenly across the tray, and return to the oven, for 8-10 minutes, at 180 degrees

swiss roll batter in flat tray recipe and how to step by step easy dessert

– After 8 minutes, test to see if the sponge is done by lightly pressing with your fingers. If it springs back, it’s done; if your fingerprints remain indented, return to the oven for another minute

– When it’s ready, run a knife around the edge of the tin, before flipping out onto another baking sheet, sprinkled with a good layer of sugar. I put my baking sheet on top of a damp tea towel which helps stop the swiss roll from cracking

swiss roll tray bake ready to roll with hand piped strawberry decorations

– Using another baking sheet (and I used a chopping board for support), flip the swiss roll over so the decorated side is face down
– Working quickly, whilst it’s still hot, spread the jam all across the cake

homemade strawberry jam spread on swiss roll recipe for greatbloggersbakeoff

– Using the greaseproof paper to help, carefully, and as tightly as possible, roll up the cake

rolling super strawberry jam swiss roll recipe and how to

– Once all rolled up, wrap the greaseproof paper around and tuck in the ends. Leave to cool for at least half an hour before unwrapping and tucking in!

wrapped up swiss roll homemade cooling and setting gbbo super strawberry swiss roll recipe and hand piped decorations

I was really happy with the way the strawberries turned out!

decorated strawberry swiss roll with homemade jam gbbo

super strawberry swiss roll

And the roll itself – Paul and Mary would be impressed – a good swirl, even filling…

strawberry swiss roll tightly rolled homemade jam gbbo

Certainly not simple but stunning and delicious – a good first show-stopper to start the series!
And the best thing about a swiss roll, it’s still fat-free, and with all those strawberries must surely count as one of your five a day 😉

BAKE_ALONG_LOGO

Mint Chocolate Chip Tray Bake

mint chocolate chip traybake recipe easy dessert tea party cake recipe make ahead

An easy-but-wicked summer dessert – easy to make ahead and enjoyed by everyone!

The dark chocolate is wonderfully rich, interspersed with the crunch of the chocolate chips, and finished with a cool, smooth and creamy mint icing. Keep in the fridge until serving for an extra burst of freshness.

Ingredients (cake layer)
100g dark chocolate
125g butter
100g sugar
50g cream cheese
3 eggs
185g plain flour
100g dark chocolate chips
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

Method
– Melt the chocolate via your preferred method – be that microwave, over a pan of hot water, etc. Set aside to cool
– Beat together the butter, sugar, and cream cheese
– Beat in the eggs and milk , with a tablespoon of flour
– Once the chocolate is cool enough – it should only feel lukewarm to touch, quickly but carefully add to the mixture and quickly beat in. Too hot and you’ll cook the eggs, too cold or too slow to beat and the chocolate will solidify in before it’s mixed! It’s not as tricky as it sounds but make sure your wooden spoon is at the ready
– Add the flour, baking powder, and chocolate chips. By putting the chocolate chips in last, they’ll get a thin coating of flour, which should stop them sinking during cooking- Beat together until all combined, but don’t over-mix
– Pour into a well-greased tin, 20 cm / 8 inches square is ideal
– Bake at 180 degrees for 25 – 35 minutes. Test with a skewer, but be wary of mistaking melted chocolate chips for uncooked cake batter! It should also start to pull away from the side of the tin when ready.
– Leave to cool in the tin, so the chocolate chips have time to set

mixing dark chocolate chips into cocoa batter with flour to prevent sinking dark chocolate chip traybake sticky batter ready to bake

tray bake fresh from the oven chocolate crispy crunch brownie top

I find it better to ice within the tin as well – you can ensure an even coating right up to side, and you can even refrigerate in the tin until you’re ready to slice and serve.

Mint icing
75g butter
Few drops peppermint essence
Couple drops lemon juice
200g icing sugar
Green food colouring
50g dark chocolate chips, to decorate

– Beat together all the ingredients bar the chocolate chips. The food colouring is entirely optional but I think adds to the effect
– Spoon the icing onto the cake, and spread evenly with a small palette knife or the back of a spoon, making sure you have even coverage at the sides and the corners
– Sprinkle generously with the dark chocolate chips
– Wrap in cling-film and refrigerate until you’re ready to serve – I’d recommend a minimum of an hour in the fridge, maximum of 2 days
– Cut into squares as large as you please – mine were big and chunky and didn’t last long at all!

mound of mint colour and flavour icing on dark chocolate chip traybake recipe mint chocolate chip traybake icing setting inside tin

mint chocolate chip tray bake ready to be cut into squares easy dessert recipe

mint chocolate chip traybake recipe easy summer dessert

corner section of tray bake mint icing dark chocolate chips brownie cake base

mint chocolate chip traybake big dessert squares easy party summer cooking

Pink Lemonade Cupcakes

pink lemonade cupcakes using sugar and crumbs flavoured icing sugar easy recipe edible straws and fizzy sprinkles
A beautiful summers day and perfect excuse to use some more of my treats from Sugar and Crumbs.

A quick taste test and I was instantly smitten with their Pink Lemonade Natural Flavoured Icing Sugar. You know those Refresher sweets, with the fizzy lemon centre? It tastes exactly like that fizzy sherbet!
And despite the name, the sugar is white in colour… so you could easily confuse any taste testers… mwah haha 😉

sugar and crumbs pink lemonade icing sugar review and recipe

To keep on the theme I wanted to top these lemonades with a little straw – but no ordinary paper or plastic version. Instead I rolled together thing lengths of red and white fondant, twisting and intertwining to give the effect of a striped paper straw.

red and white drinking straws made from fondant twisting red and white

Once cut into lengths, I left them to air-dry and harden overnight.

red and white fondant icing edible drinking straws swirl striped effect

The cupcakes were a simple vanilla base – with more than enough flavour punch in the icing.To ice 12 cupcakes I used 350g pink lemonade icing sugar, 185g soft butter, a couple of drops of pink food colouring, and a splash of milk to get to piping consistency.

I used a star nozzle to get that perfect swirl, before creating a hole for the ‘straws’ with the back of a paint brush (the fondant would break if you tried to push it straight into the cake).

how to make pink lemonade cupcakes making hole for straw using paintbrush

A final topping of pink shimmer sugar for that little extra ‘fizz’ – et voila!

pink lemonade cupcakes sugar and crumbs flavoured icing sugar sugar sprinkles and straw

Definitely cuter than the real thing – and surprisingly refreshing to boot. A big things up to Sugar and Crumbs on this one! pink lemonade cupcake swirl icing with red and white edible straw

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.

Ingredients
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

Method
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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Afternoon Tea Review: Tower Restaurant, The National Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh

Last weekend a girl friend and I went for a short break in the beautiful city of Edinburgh. We completely lucked out with the weather – gorgeous clear blue skies and bright sunshine the whole time, perfect for a bit of laziness education on some of the Edinburgh Bus Tours.

The Castle and Grassmarket:

edinburgh castle and grassmarket area summer sunshine june 2013 panorama

Views back to the city (Castle on the right) from Ferry Road:

edinburgh city view from bus tour to leith suburbs castle and old town volcanic plug

We’d decided well in advance that afternoon tea was a must for the weekend, and, recommended by the rather amazing www.afternoontea.co.uk , we booked a table at the Tower Restaurant, atop the National Museum of Scotland. I’m pretty sure our decision was made entirely on it having terrace!

The museum itself was well worth a look on the way to tea. It has 4 floors of completely varied exhibits, from Scottish history, to Formula One cars, animals, and a whole heap of interactive stations where you can play games, press buttons, and generally have a play with some amazing things. Plus, there is a great rooftop garden, with all manner of different plants, and amazing views across to the castle.

national museum of scotland roof terrace views over edinburgh castle with grandstand and old town

We arrived at the Tower Restaurant a little early, weary from a days activities, but they were only too happy to seat us early. Having spent a lot of the weekend in the sun already, we opted to sit inside, rather than on the terrace, happily next to some wide-open sliding doors, so we could still see out to the old town and reap the benefits of fresh air.

tower restaurant edinburgh view of old town rooftops sunny summer skies afternoon tea terrace

tower restaurant edinburgh sunny terrace with a view bistro tables afternoon tea review

It was pretty obvious what we were there for – afternoon tea all the way! Our order was taken, and we were then handed the menus:

afternoon tea menu tower restaurant national museum of scotland edinburgh review

And as if the food selection was not enough, they had a great range of teas to complement it:

afternoon tea place setting the tower restaurant tea selection edinburgh

What seemed like a long wait later, but was probably very short (I was hungry!), we were presented with this fantastic solid silver cake stand. A work of art in itself!

silver cake stand full of afternoon tea at national museum of scotland tower restaurant

afternoon tea table setting tower restaurant national museum of edinburgh review summer sunshine

And the food! So much! So much choice!

afternoon tea silver cake stand amazing selection of food review sandwiches cakes scones tarts mousse

As seems the sensible thing to do, we started from the bottom and worked our way up.

On the savoury layer:

– mini cheese quiche
– smoked salmon and cream cheese bite
– egg mayonnaise sandwich
– chicken and tomato wrap

afternoon tea national museum of edinburgh sandwiches and tarts smoked salmon cheese wraps

Next up – cakes and scones:

– plain scone
– fruit scone
– shortbread biscuit
– dundee cake
– chocolate brownie with cream

cakes biscuits scones and brownies afternoon tea edinburgh

Scones of course served with jam and clotted cream – wow they were good!

tower restaurant edinburgh scones plain and fruit with jam and scottish clotted cream

fresh fruit scones with jam and clotted cream at tower restaurant national museum of scotland edinburgh

And finally the top layer – belly’s feeling a little full now…

– lemon and white chocolate mousse
– red fruits tart

afternoon tea silver cake stand lemon and white chocolate mousse red fruit tarts

I had my mousse with the shortbread biscuit on the side – a perfect combination!

afternoon tea review lemon mousse with white chocolate topping eaten with scottish shortbread biscuit afternoon tea edinburgh

We were completely stuffed – but not a crumb left in sight!

afternoon tea tower restaurant edinburgh empty cake stand all eaten

A quick amble round before we left, we found the terrace had amazing views of Edinburgh Castle; well we’ll just have to come back, and sit out there next time…

terrace at tower restaurant national museum of edinburgh afternoon tea with views of the castle and old town

And our review? YUM!

I honestly think it was one of the best afternoon tea’s I’ve ever had. Not only was there a huge amount and selection of food, but every single bite was delicious, even the bits I wasn’t expecting to like.

A definite must next time you are in the beautiful city of Edinburgh!

Little and Large Lemon Loaf Cakes

little and large lemon cakes two loaves one with white dripped icing lemon sugar glaze on ikea glass cake stand

When life gives you lemons, well, who among us would actually make lemonade? Not me, for one! A moist, fluffy, sweet-but-tangy lemon cake? Now you’re talking!

It was one of those weeks in the office, where nobody has brought us cake / chocolate / biscuits / sweets (yes, we are very spoilt, and it’s amazing), and free highlighter pens just don’t quite help with sugar cravings in the same way….
I had some lemons in the bottom of the fridge that had been need a use for a week or so now, and after a long conversation about lemon cake in the office the previous week, whereby we decided it was the best cake for all our tastes, well, it was a match made in heaven really!

After flicking through several recipes, I settled on a lemon drizzle cake recipe that I can’t for the life of me find now. I upped the lemon so it had more flavour, and, as you’ll see, split it into two cakes so I had one for work, and a smaller one to take with me for dinner at a friends the next evening.

The only difference between making these and one big loaf (other than the tin size!), would be the cooking time, which you’d need to up to around 45 minutes, if not more, to make sure it’s thoroughly cooked in the middle.

Ingredients

225g butter
225g white sugar (caster or granulated)
3 eggs
225g self raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
Juice and finely grated rind of 2 lemons

For the sugar crust
Juice and finely grated rind of 1/2 lemon
80g white sugar

For the lemon icing
Juice and finely grated rind of 1/2 lemon
80g icing sugar

Method

– Make as per normal sponge cakes – beat the sugar and butter until fluffy, add the eggs and flavouring, then fold in the sieved flour and baking powder
– pour into your prepared tin(s) and bake at 180 degrees C for 25- 30 minutes (2 cakes) or 45-60 minutes (1 big cake), until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean

– if topping with the sugar crust: keep the cake in its tin, and lightly prick small holes all over the with a thin skewer. Mix the sugar and lemon together, and pour all over the top of the cake. Leave in the tin until cool, when the sugar will have formed a crust in the top

lemon loaf cake with sugar drizzle glaze recipe

– If topping with lemon icing: take the cake out of its tin and allow to cool completely. Mix the icing sugar and lemon well; and pour all over the cake, allowing it to drip down the sides.

lemon loaf cake with glaze icing light and fluffy recipe

Easy peasy lemon squeezy! One recipe and two light, fluffy and so deliciously lemony loaf cakes.

little and large lemon loaf cakes sugar drizzle crust white drip icing

Best enjoyed in big, thick slices. YUM!

lemon loaf cake slice moist sugar crust drizzle top light and fluffy recipe

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! 😉

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