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

 

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Galaxy Bites Chocolate and Caramel Cupcakes

chocolate and caramel cupcakes recipe topped with rose buttercream and galaxy bites flower gold soft pearl centre

I’d love to tell you more about these but, truth be told, they have sat on my phone for about 2 months (the photos, not the cakes!), and my memory is, well, hazy at best!

The key ingredient I can tell you is my latest addiction in the chocolate market, Galaxy Bites. Think of a malteaser, but with creamy galaxy chocolate on the outside and smoooooth galaxy caramel inside. Yum!

galaxy bites chocolate fillled with caramel chopping up into chunks for cupcakes

The cupcakes were made form a basic vanilla sponge mixture. I used half light brown sugar to add a more caramel-y taste to the sponge, and a good handful of caramel bites, mixed in with the flour so they wouldn’t sink to the bottom on baking.

caramel cupcake mix with galaxy bites chunks chocolate mix in flour to keep from sinking

The baked cupcakes – a golden caramel colour and with sneaky peeks of chocolate!

caramel cupcakes with chunks of galaxy bites chocolate purple and pink foil cases

To decorate – it couldn’t really be anything else but more chocolate! A rose swirl of chocolate buttercream, topped with a quartered caramel bite, and finished with a soft gold pearl centre.

rose topped chocolate and caramel cupcake flower buttercream swirl gold soft pearl

purple and pink foil cases caramel and chocolate cupcakes buttercream rose swirl topping

chocolate and caramel rose flower cupcakes purple and pink cases artistic photos

Red Velvet Valentines Ombre Cake

red velvet ombre valentines cake present vanilla and chocolate with cream cheese icing heart sugar sprinkle topping

Happy Valentines Day! We have agreed not to do presents this year (it is going to be a costly enough 2013 as it is, watch this space…) but of course I couldn’t shy away from the valentines cake tradition! Rob would be broken-hearted if there wasn’t a red velvet surprise waiting for him. Last years was an epic 3 layer chocolate-fondant-covered Love Cake, and two years ago a gigantic heart-shaped red velvet cake.

This year I decided to go somewhat on-trend, and something I’ve wanted to try for a while, ombre. For those not in the know this is basically just a layered cake, with colours graduated throughout. Generally a light coloured layer at the top, with colour building layer-by-layer to a deep hue on the bottom layer. Simple.

Although there are some great red velvet recipes out there, with their buttermilk, vinegar etc, I chose to stick with a simple vanilla sponge, that I know well, so I could easily add the ombre effects.

As I didn’t want a huge cake on my hands (Rob may disagree!), I used 1.5x the mixture for a normal victoria sponge. I.e.: 150g butter, 150g sugar, 3 eggs, 150g SR flour and a splash of vanilla essence.

I mixed the basic sponge up in one big bowl, then divided into 4 smaller ones to start the colouring:

vanilla sponge cake mix divided into four glass bowls recipe

First up, cocoa. Leaving the first bowl plain, I added 1/2 teaspoon to the second bowl, a full teaspoon to the third, and a well-heaped teaspoon (probably about 1 1/2 teaspoons) to the last.

ombre cake cocoa powder mixing chocolate batter into for bowls

And then, the red food colouring. I use Home2Bake, which I get from Asda, the little pot lasts for ages (even with the amount of baking I do!) and always gives a good strong colour.

Again I added nothing to the first bowl, the second had just a little dab (using a cocktail stick), the third a good swirl, and the fourth as much as the cocktail stick could pick up in one splodge!

ombre cake red velvet colouring the batters into graduated layers gel food colour instructions

I baked the cakes in normal round victoria sponge tins (I think mine were 7 inches). As they were a little thinner than a normal sponge they took around 9 – 10 minutes in my fan oven, at 180 degrees. As I then had to take a break to make dinner, I had to hide the cakes away from Rob, so left them to cool dotted around my crockery cupboard!

ombre cake four layers cooling in crockery cupboard red velvet chocolate

To fill and top I used a rich cream cheese icing. I tried to follow the pink whisk‘s recipe, but found it really very runny. In the end I used the 70g butter, 250g tub of cream cheese, and 700-800g icing sugar. This was far too much icing and I’d definitely halve it if making again!

First layer:

layering ombre cake with cream cheese frosting icing turntable for ease instructions

And the finished stack:

red velvet ombre cake layers graduated colour filled with cream cheese icing valentines present

Next step was to cover the entire outside of the cake in the frosting, so that the layers would only be revealed once a slice was cut. This was more tricky than it sounds! The cream cheese frosting doesn’t hold well in place (it needs to be kept cold, difficult while working with it), and the cake went a bit leaning-tower, but only on one side…

cake covered in cream cheese icing ombre slightly wonky

Nevertheless I was glad it was all covered, and hurriedly stuck it in the fridge to cool and set before the cream cheese slid any further. I checked back the next day and it was definitely looking more solid!

As the inside was so complex, I wanted to keep the topping simple. Using some left over, thinned down icing, I painted a heart on the top…

valentines cake painting heart in icing to be covered in shimmer sugar

… and covered with red shimmer sugar, coaxing into place as well as possible.

red velvet ombre valentines cake heart shimmer sugar topping cream cheese icing

Well the outside didn’t look too bad after all the cream cheese issues – but as they say, the proof of the pudding…

red velvet ombre valentines heart cake slice pink champagne glasses (2)

Hoorah! The layers looked fab! And perfect with the cream cheese frosting.

red velvet ombre cake candles background cream cheese frosting

Of course Rob loved it (I haven’t yet made a cake he didn’t!) and went back for 2 generous slices.

Happy Valentines everyone! ❤ x

valentines day flowers and red velvet ombre cake cream cheese frosting

Two Great Years – Vanilla and Chocolate Chip Anniversary Cake

I’ve been away a lot with work in the past couple of weeks (7 nights away out of the past 12, groan!) so decided a while back we’d have a nice little celebration cosied up at home, nice dinner, bottle of wine, Christmas film on the TV (can’t believe I’ve got my own way and started Christmas so early!) and rounded off with a big sticky cake.

Using the same number and letter cake pan as my 80th cake, I made a number 2 chocolate chip cake, in the slightly smaller size (you can either have the cake 5 or 7 ‘blocks’ tall). The other post explains it a little better – safe to stay I still love this tin!

I used a very basic sponge recipe and ramped it up with some vanilla and chocolate chips – it was very quick to make which was ideal as I wanted to keep the whole cake a secret.

– 100g butter
– 100g caster sugar
– 2 eggs
– 100g self raising flour
– 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
– 1 teaspoon vanilla essence
– 100g chocolate chips

– beat together the butter, sugar, and vanilla
– beat in the eggs
– sieve the flour and baking powder into the bowl. Pour the chocolate chips on top of the flour, then slowly fold in, but don’t over-mix. Getting the chocolate chips covered in flour first helps to stop them all sinking to the bottom
– bake at 180 degrees for 15-20 minutes depending on the size and shape of tin. As the ‘thickest part’ of this cake was only about a couple of inches across, it didn’t take long to cook.

Once cooled, I covered in 2 thick layers of vanilla butter cream, refrigerating between and after the second one:

And to finish a thick layer of chocolate fondant. I’m the first to admit this is far from my best fondant work, made all the more difficult by trying to keep Rob out of the kitchen to keep the surprise. At one point I managed to poke myself in the face with a knife and tear a hole in the fondant in one fell swoop – cue lots of cursing!

Finally, onto the decoration. I’d been musing over this all day at work – sprinkles, sparkles, hearts, numbers, initials? But when I got home and a look through my (overflowing) box of cake supplies, I quickly settled on some leftovers of coloured fondant and a tiny heart plunge cutter. Simple and effective – and most importantly quick, Rob still didn’t know what was going on!

And the finished product! Rob loved it, although his first reaction was “I didn’t get you a present”. Luckily my quick reactions and no desire to stay in the kitchen any further, I managed to convince him that paying for a takeaway was all the present I need!

We even managed to sneak in a quick piece before the takeaway arrived… look at those chocolate chips!

So enjoy your evening while we enjoy ours curled up with cake – to finish here is one of my favourite pictures of Rob and I, taken on the beach in Blackpool, in December of 2010. Chilly but magical in the snow!

Autumnal Golden Ginger and Chocolate Cupcakes

My second bake for National Cupcake Week – well, it does only come round once  year! You can view my first batch of cupcakes here.

Inspired by a big piece of root ginger that’s been in the kitchen for sometime, I wanted to make something tasty but beautiful!

The cupcakes were a basic sponge mix with a few additions for flavour and texture. I wanted the ginger to really a have a kick and contrast against the sweetness of the icing, so it was added in three ways – root ginger, ground ginger, and the jam filling.

Ingredients (makes 8-10 cupcakes)

Cupcakes:
60g butter or margarine
20g light brown sugar
40g golden caster sugar
1 egg
75g self raising flour (sieved)
1 tablespoon natural yoghurt
Approx. 1 cm of root ginger, finely grated
1 teaspoon of ground ginger

To fill:
ginger jam

Icing: (this makes quite a stiff  piping consistency, add a teaspoon of milk or water if you’d prefer it more spreadable)
50g butter or margarine
90g sieved icing sugar
20g cocoa powder

To decorate:
Sugar sprinkles, fondant shapes and shimmer spray

Method:

Cupcakes:
– beat together the butter and sugars until light and fluffy
– add the egg, yoghurt, gingers and approx. 1/3 of the flour, beating together
– fold in the rest of the flour
– spoon or pipe into cupcake cases
– bake at 180 degrees for approx 12 minutes, until lightly golden on the top

To make way for the jam centre, I simply cored the top of the cupcakes with a sharp knife:

The jam I already had in the fridge from my continual quest to find the perfect rhubarb jam (I’m certain I will end up making some before too long). This wasn’t what I was looking for in the rhubarb sense – the taste of ginger is so overpowering that it really is just ginger jam. Still, perfect for these cakes!

It was simply spooned into the centre of the cakes, and smoothed down slightly to give a flat base for the buttercream to sit on.

To make the buttercream, simply beat all the ingredients until smooth. Try and keep it as cold as possible if you’re going to pipe swirls, or they will melt into a chocolate-y mess!

I chose to pipe a thick, ridged swirl, using a wide star nozzle.

For the toppings, I coloured a small piece of fondant and cut out tiny hearts using my new plunger cutters (another great ebay purchase!)

Before the buttercream set I quickly added the hearts and sugar sprinkles – the orange colours giving a clue to the firey ginger kick contained in the cupcake.

Finally, I finished the cupcakes with a generous spray of golden shimmer spray (mine is Dr Oetker, you can buy it easily in the supermarkets).

Quite simply they were yummy – and very seasonal with the ginger flavour and autumn colours on the topping.  They went down a treat at home and at work – another good deed in the Cupcake Week one-a-day!

Nearly-Neapolitan Mini Cupcakes

Back from a lovely weeks holiday, relaxed, tanned, and itching to get back into the kitchen!

We’d been home all of about an hour before I dreamt up a good unpacking-avoidance technique of making some mini cupcakes, and they’d be the perfect thank-you gift for our lovely cat-sitters. It was the first day of National Cupcake Week,  and, inspired by a post over on playingwithflour I decided to try some pretty neapolitans.

The mixture was a simple vanilla sponge, I only made a small amount with 50g each of butter, SR flour and sugar, with one egg. Splitting into 3 I added a tablespoon of cocoa powder to one third, a good splosh of pink colouring to the second (fresh back from holiday our cupboard was clean out of anything raspberry flavoured!) and in the final a good amount of vanilla essence.

Using a mini-muffin tin, coated well in cake release, I carefully applied each layer of colour: chocolate, pink, then vanilla. To get the layers as even as possible, I put a dollop of batter in the centre, then used a cocktail stick to carefully spread out to the edges.

Because they were only teeny, they didn’t need long in the oven –  I gave them 7 minutes then quickly turned them out onto a cooling rack. The sight that met me was not exactly what I’d expected…

It seemed that the chocolate mixture had not been happy on the bottom and tried to force its way to the top, pushing up the pink in the process. Stopping just short of stomping my feet and throwing a tantrum, I took a knife and cut into one of them:

Inside was actually better than the top – the layers miraculously seemed to have gone sideways, leaving the cupcakes with a chocolate outer ‘cup’, with a pink lining and white vanilla centre. Not the end of the world!

I wanted to play on the way the chocolate outside had worked so well – so used chocolate buttercream, a white fondant star, and a pink chocolate bean, to allude to what was inside, but still look like a chocolate cupcake through and through.

Once cut open they had a lovely chocolate coating and the colours looked great inside.

And sliced again sideways – a perfect neopolitan stripe!

So, not quite the neapolitans I’d intended, but they made a good gift and were well-recieved by our cat-sitters! Will I try and make horizontal stripes again? Watch this space… it is National Cupcake Week for 5 more days!

Pink Iced Strawberry Buttercream Birthday Cake

A summer birthday and a big punnet of strawberries… how could you resist this amazing strawberry buttercream filled cake?

The cake was a victoria sponge, sweetened with a few spoonfuls of vanilla yoghurt (also makes it extra light and fluffy.)

To fill, I pureed some strawberries, an amazing excuse to use my new mini blender 🙂 Expect to see more recipes that require fine chopping, ground ingredients, etc…!

To this I added some a couple of teaspoons of butter, then icing sugar. Because the strawberries were quite liquid after pureeing, it took quite a bit of icing sugar to get it to a thick consistency, which I then put into the fridge to harden a little more before spreading inbetween the layers.

To top off the cake – matching pink icing! I finally found a use for the alphabet sprinkles I bought in Bath, and studded the rest of the cake with little white stars.

A lovely, light, fresh cake, perfect for summer. It went in the fridge for a good few hours to set (and still melted a little on the way over!) but the birthday girl certainly loved it. Happy birthday to Rob’s mum!

 

Edit: forgive me for I have sinned.

In my strawberry and sprinkle excitement, I completely forgot to reference my inspiration for the polka dot (star) topping. My English teacher’s would be fuming!

Please take a look at at the lovely Geraldine’s blog – she made her own birthday cake which looks amazingly tasty and brilliantly simple!

Rainbow Cupcakes

This weekend a good friend was having a birthday party, and I simply couldn’t turn up without cake in hand! I’d originally planned to do some simpler 2-colour cupcakes, but happened upon some gel colours on my supermarket run, and knew he’d love these, reminiscent of Nottingham Pride last weekend.

Believe it or not they are super-easy to make, and don’t require anything other than some gel colours (don’t even contemplate using normal food colouring, it’s fine for icing but doesn’t have in any way the same effect in the cake itself), and if you’d like to ice them, multi-coloured sugar sprinkles are a great finishing touch.

(nosy cat optional!)


The cake mix was a simple victoria sponge, divided into 5 bowls and coloured accordingly.

Using a teaspoon, put a small amount of the purple into the bottom of the cake case. I found it was good to spread this one out so it covered the all the way across. Then, one colour at a time, spoon the same amount of each colour into the middle of the case.
Annoyingly I didn’t take a photo at this stage, but the idea is to keep spooning the next colour into the middle of the previous one, so it pushes the other one down and out, and you end up with the top of the cake having concentric circles of each colour. Don’t be tempted to try spreading the other colours out, spoon them in and do not mix, stir or touch! Otherwise you will end up with smudgy colours and cupcakes more reminiscent of grey rain clouds than rainbows….

Bake the cupcakes for just under the normal time for your oven – I gave them 11 minutes at 180 degrees C in my fan-assisted, and keep an eye on them in the last few minutes, as you don’t really want them to start browning, it can spoil the rainbow effect.

I chose to carefully peel mine out of the cupcake cases to show off their food colour, then topped off with whipped, white vanilla buttercream, and a good shake of sugar sprinkles!

Not your average birthday cake – but definitely cupcakes that I’m proud of! Striking, sweet, and particularly photogenic 🙂

Little House on the Cake Board

The weekend before last, a couple of friends of mine upped sticks and moved house – granted only about half a mile down the road, but moving was still a lot of work!
They were taking some old furniture off my hands, so I was backwards and forwards to their new house a fair bit. One quiet evening, knowing I was going back the next day, I decided to get my bake on…

I wanted to keep it relatively simple, no complete covering in fondant, lots of fiddly bits etc. The whole idea was based around a loaf tin – I made up a double quantity of victoria sponge, and split it 2/3 to 1/3. The larger portion went straight into the loaf tin, and quickly baked up as the bottom section of the house.

My ingenious idea for the roof was to tilt the loaf tin during cooking: by using the same tin it would be exactly the right size to fit the base, and by tilting it I would get a sloped triangle shape. After a quick root around in the cupboard, I found this foil container (I think it once contained a takeaway), which was a perfect size and shape to support the loaf tin on its side.
I added a spoonful of milk and some cocoa powder to the remaining 1/3 of the mix, a brown brick roof is just crying out for chocolate.

The tilted tin worked perfectly! The cake had risen ever so slightly in the middle – you can see it is a bit bumpy at the bottom here, but this quickly trimmed off with a bread knife.

The 2 pieces fitted together perfectly!

Next it was onto some buttercream to sandwich the two parts together, and also to top off the roof. I mixed up some straightforward chocolate buttercream, generously sandwiched the two cakes together, and used the rest on the roof. I’d planned to let the roof set a bit before adding tile patterns, but found that making lines with the serrated side of an ordinary kitchen knife smoothed it and made a great effect at the same time.

Some finishing touches came in the form of windows and doors. I coloured up some fondant, then painted details on using a fine paintbrush and some black food colouring, before leaving them out overnight to dry and harden.

In the morning they were very quickly stuck on with a little normal white icing, and the cake was ready all set – super simple!

The front door was of course personalised with the right number – I love the way the black has smudged slightly on this window so it looks like it’s old and cracking – hope this is not a sign of things to come for them!

Lemon and Ginger Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

I have a confession to make. I’m not a real blonde. Worse still, I really should be.

These cupcakes were made for the Nottingham City WI‘s Summer Fete this weekend. I was extra excited because finally, after months of blogging and talking on blogs, I was going to meet some girls who live locally, and love cake etc. as much as I do.

So, off I trotted, cakes in hand, feeling a little bit like a child on the first day of school. When I reach the venue and tried the door, a woman outside having a coffee told me they were closed.
“But” I said, “isn’t there a function upstairs today, I thought it started at 11?” (It was about 11.30am at this time).
“Erm – who is the function for?” the lady replied.
“The WI…”
“Oh, that was yesterday.”

ARGH!! Having learnt how to read before I even went to school (my mum is a teacher), you’d have thought that with 20+ years practice I’d be able to do it faultlessly now. Apparently not; even a day and date on an invite is too much for me. I was so cross with myself, and have spent most of the rest of the day in a grump.

Nevertheless – some beautiful cupcakes came out of it, and I have plenty of family and friends willing to gobble them up.

When I was deciding what to bake, I wanted something fresh and simple, that would hopefully stand up to this sticky weather we’re having.

What could be more fresh and cake friendly than some lovely juicy lemons!

The recipe was a simple victoria sponge, with the rind and juice of one lemon thrown in. At the last minute I decided to add a little kick, and put in a teaspoon full of ground ginger. Fresh and zingy!

The icing was whipped low fat cream cheese, juice and rind of another lemon, and thickened up with icing sugar.

I also mixed up some icing sugar separately with some yellow food colouring, which I used to pipe the swirls and zigzags on top. Although the heat melted them out some what (they did start as nice crisp lines, honest!), I quite like the melted-in look.
I also love the way that the yellow icing looks like lemon curd, when it’s actually the only bit that doesn’t have any lemon in!

To top them off, I added a few curls of lemon peel, and finally had an excuse to use the gold glittery sugar stars which I bought in Bath a few months back.

So. No lovely pictures of the summer fete and my cakes being enjoyed by an adoring public. But luckily I’d snapped a fair few in the kitchen before leaving, so, enjoy…

And here they are, all boxed up and ready to go – you can see a couple of them had already started to fall out of shape, it was warm this morning (still no sunshine but that’s a different grumble altogether),

And to finish – WP kindly uploaded this photo when I didn’t really mean it too (it was in the same folder as the others), but it’s so cute that I can’t help but share it.
In remedy from my grumpiness we went for Starbucks on the way home. Pepper was very disappointed that I didn’t save her any 😉