Halloween baking 

A couple of weeks ago, on the 29th October to be precise, I did a lot of baking for my families Halloween party but unfortunately due to work commitments eating through my time I don’t seem to have gotten round to posting my pictures!

So here they are, my final Halloween offerings for the year. 

Between me and my little monkey we made: 

  • Butterscotch chocolate monster cakes with chocolate ganache topping (and some great eyes that I bought ages ago!)
  • A bleeding cake which was a chocolate and vanilla sponge with an extra surprise of being full of smarties which fell out when the cake was cut 
  • Vanilla and raspberry bad teeth cupcakes 
  • And finally, my monkeys offering of green fairy cakes which were actually strawberry flavoured. A great idea and confusion for the brain all at once 

My sister was fascinated how made the piñata cake with the smarties inside. She asked how they didn’t melt when baked – hehe. I politely explained in all of my big sisterly kindness how I cut out a hole and filled the cake after it was baked. 

The cake actually was iced this way due to an accident from me. Because I forgot to put jam down the sides before icing so the icing slipped down and tore.

I was determined not to be stressed out by it so I filled the ‘cut’ with strawberry jam which left it looking like some gruesome surgery. Phew! 

Onto Christmas next and this time it’ll be properly iced. 

Earl Grey Tea Bread 

Surprisingly for someone who loves tea as much as I do, it took me until my 32nd birthday to try tea bread. 
I don’t know why I never had this before its lovely!  And as you’d expect from the name it goes perfect with my copious amounts of tea. 

My boyfriend bought me my first ever one as a birthday present and it came from an expensive artisan shop so when I tried it it was beautiful.  The next one I tried was from Aldi as I never noticed it in there before but now I suddenly saw it. Now had I tried the Aldi one first I’d have loved it but as I had the Buxton tea bread it just didn’t taste anywhere near as good. 

As usual this prompted me to try and make my own version. 

Good to know – Tea Loaf

This is the recipe I have used for my base but instead of Roobios I have used a lovely loose Earl Grey tea to infuse my fruit. I left it for about 5 hours to soak and I also added some extra mixed spice and some cinnamon. To top the cake off, for the last 20 minutes I have sprinkled the cake with a mix of brown sugar and cinnamon. 
Now unfortunately I can’t tell you how this has come out yet because although the cake looks and smells amazing, it says to wait at least two days! 

Now I’m stuck looking at a lovely hot cake which I can’t eat. I really hope it’s worth it because I don’t have much restraint for resisting cake but if it makes it special then it’ll be worth it. 

The cakes who can travel: standby brownies 

Today it was Mcmillan charity cake day at work and naturally I offered to bake something for it. 
The problem was that in my head I was going to bake a quick fruit cake and ice with a nice funny phrase. What actually happened was the day of the bake sale I had to work 50 miles away from my office at another site and the day before I had to do a 100 mile round trip for work! Dilemma. 

I wanted to bake but they had to be something sturdy, easy to transport and ok to sit in my car whilst I drove around and attended a meeting. In the end I settled for chocolate brownies, the wonderful sturdy baked goods. Not fancy but very tasty and most importantly able to withstand my driving. 

The recipe I used was from Donna Hay: http://www.lifestylefood.com.au/recipes/15140/standby-brownies

I saw her bake this recipe on TV one day and then my auntie bought me her cookbook as a present when I was visiting in Australia.  Since first seeing it on TV I’ve never used another brownie recipe since, honestly this never fails and chocolate doesn’t keep in my cupboards (yes. I mean I eat it!) so this is perfect. 

I was going to put the chocolate chips inside but I kinda forgot so they became a good sprinkling. 

Although I didn’t get to go to this bake sale, I did hear that the brownies sold quickly so I’m glad I got to make a small but chocolatey contribution. 

And the place I went for work today had their own cake sale so I had cake for breakfast and lunch… Shh. 

A very quick bake: Chocolate orange muffins 


Tonight is Great British Bake off night and for any aspiring baker from the UK it’s the program to watch. 

I love it which is why I had a dilemma – watch bake off or bake? 

In the end I managed to do both because I made a very quick batch of chocolate muffins and flavoured them using Sugar and Crumbs Jaffa Twist icing sugars.

I haven’t actually tried one of the muffins yet so I’m hoping they are ok. Its the first time I’ve swapped normal sugar for icing sugar but I thought I’d give it a go. 

This recipe literally only makes 6 average sized muffins so its good for just a few cakes around the house. They look right so let’s hope they taste good too. 


Chocolate orange muffins 

I used this recipe from the BBC good food: Chocolate muffins

I adapted the recipe slightly by adding in chocolate chips and using the same weight of flavoured icing sugar instead of normal sugar. 

They took exactly 20 mins in the oven.

Naked wedding cake

The last three days have involved some planning and baking as I was asked by my sister if I could make her friends wedding cake. 

My initial reaction (inside my head) was “no way in hell can I do this!”  but the story of her cake maker dropping out and her plan to go to Costco and buy a random cake was enough to get me straight into the kitchen.

As Sophie the bride had absolutely zero ideas on likes, colour schemes, flowers… Well, anything at all!  I sent her a couple of ideas. She liked them but said they were too fancy as she was having a rustic wedding in her parents back garden. 
Ah, rustic made me think of a style of cake I’d recently seen. A naked cake. She loved it and so the idea took off.

A naked cake is basically a layered sponge with no traditional icing around it so you can clearly see the cake and the layers. 

For the wedding cake I’ve kept it very simple, just a light vanilla sponge with buttercream and strawberry jam. 
I had an idea how I wanted it to look but it wasn’t until it was coming together that it finally took on its own style.  My mom isn’t convinced it’s very “wedding cake” but I like it. It’s different and fun and hopefully will taste bloody amazing! 

Good luck tomorrow Sophie and Joe xx


Naked Wedding Cake

For the cake:
18oz Caster sugar
18oz Margarine
20oz Self raising flour
9 eggs
2tsp vanilla extract

For the buttercream:
750g butter
1kg icing sugar
1tsp vanilla extract

Plus:
1 1/2 jars of jam
Icing sugar to dust
Edible glitter

This recipe will look daunting when you look at the amount of ingredients, just remember, it’s very simple, just two big cakes! 

I made this in two cakes over two nights. The first I made as a 10oz cake and the second as an 8oz cake. 

Preheat the oven to 180c and line a cake tin. 

In a large bowl or mixer (I used my Kenwood mixer with a K beater) put the margarine and sugar. Beat until light and pale. Mix in the vanilla. 

Add in an egg and some flour. Keep doing this till all the eggs and flour are incorporated. 

Pour into a cake tin and bake until the top springs back. For the 8oz cake it took me 1 hour and for the 10oz it took 1 hour and 15 minutes.

Once cooked, remove from oven and let it cool. When cool cut the cake into layers. 

When the cake is very cool then make the the buttercream by mixing all the butter and icing sugar together with the vanilla. 

Keep mixing till the butter is lighter.

Pipe circles of buttercream onto each layers and fill in the circles with jam (as on the picture) 

Finally finish the cake with flowers, glitter, signs or whatever you need to make the cake your own! 

Nutella stuffed chocolate chip cookies 


Have you ever been thinking about what to bake but you don’t really know what you fancy so you start Googling and then suddenly you see a recipe which stops you! It says “BAKE ME NOW!” 

How could I resist? 

The recipe that grabbed me was Nutella stuffed chocolate chip cookies

I just didn’t realise how big these would be once baked, they’re HUGE but they also look and taste fantastic. They were easy to make and with a good dusting of flour on my hands and work surface I started to make them looking uniform by the end. 

The only difference is that I added a bit of my favourite flavour – Moka Varnelli. 

Hopefully they’ll enjoy these at work tomorrow. 

A recipe for mess: White chocolate Rocky Road Cakes 

My daughter is an only child but luckily we do have a street full of other children to play with. 

The problem is me, I’m starting on the new adventure of parenting called entertaining other people’s children!  So on Saturday morning I ended up with 6 girls playing in my garden (sometimes happily, sometimes bickering) but only one was mine. 

I thought it would be a good idea to invite them in to come and make cakes which they were very excited to do. 

I told them all to ask their parents whilst I set up my kitchen for something I was hoping would be a fun task for them all… And it was! 

After diligently washing their hands each girl had their own little bowl and a teaspoon, and in the middle of the table I set up an array of things. There were lots of cupcake cases, rice crispies, glace cherries, marshmallows, raisins and my special case of cake decorations.  I did the job of melting white chocolate over a bain marie then gave each girl two tablespoons of white chocolate. I instructed them to add their own treats and stir all together. Once complete they each put them into two cupcake cases, decorated with random decorations like silver balls and voila! 6 happy girls and 12 awful looking (but lovingly crafted) rocky roads. 

It was a lot of fun and surprisingly easy to clean up. Bowls in the dishwasher, left over marshmallows in the bin and a quick hoover.

If you ever need ideas for a baking party then this is definitely it.  They were proud of their cakes and so were the parents. Next time it’s decorating cupcakes…


White chocolate rocky road cakes

  • Large bar of white chocolate
  • Little marshmallows
  • Dried fruit (glace cherries, raisins)
  • Anything for optional crunch (rice crispies, nuts) 

In a bain marie melt the chocolate slowly whilst stiring. A bain marie is a pot over hot water without the bottom of the pot touching the water. 

Take the bowl off the heat and stir in handfuls of the other ingredients till they stick together nicely without too much extra chocolate about but also not too dry they won’t hold their shape. 

Then either pat down gently into a tray or spoon into individual cupcake cases. Whilst the chocolate is still warm sprinkle any decorations you like. 

Chill in fridge for half hour till set.

Don’t worry, they are never going to be the cutest of cakes but kids and adults will love them! And they’re great for no baked cake emergency.