Oh Crumbs.

A charming start to a baker at heart.

Girl Power.

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After the Christmas festivities and messy New Years Eve in London, it was my friend Mic’s birthday. Last year for a very special 21st birthday I baked her a cow cake! (See blog posts in January 2012). So although 22 isn’t exactly an exciting age, I felt that this year’s cake must at least match up to the beloved Mr. Moo. So as I stared blankly at flour in Sainsbury’s for at least 10 minutes, my mum suggested a Spice Girls cake. Brilliant!

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I grabbed all of the necessary ingredients, then the following day I woke up at 9am ready to spice up my oven. So after making a classic Vic Sponge, I started to mould some marzipan into baby, posh, ginger, sporty and scary. I then iced the cake forming a union jack pattern on top and sat my spice girls around the edge. But as the centre of the sponge looked a little bare, I printed off a Viva Forever label, glued it to some card, sellotaped a cocktail stick to the back and stuck it in the cake.


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En route to Mic’s house for b’day celebrations, I cautiously held the girls on my lap. Thankfully they arrived safely and the birthday girl was very pleased. GIRL POWER.

Victoria Sponge Spice Girl Cake

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Ingredients

Sponge
350g Butter
350g Self Raising Flour
350g Caster Sugar
6 eggs
2 tsp. Vanilla Extract

Filling & Icing
3 tbsp. Jam (plus extra to cover cake)
65g Butter
200g Icing Sugar
1 to 2 tbsp. Milk (if needed)
1 pack Ready Rolled Royal Icing
Red and Blue Icing Pens

Spice Girls
1 Pack 500g Marzipan
Multipack Coloured Fondant Icing

Method

1. Preheat oven to 180C. Put butter, flour, sugar and eggs into a bowl and stir until smooth.
2. Add the vanilla  to the mixture and beat until combined.
3. Separate the batter into two round cake tins - make sure it is evenly spread. Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes.
4. When finished baking, remove the sponges from their tins, and leave to cool on a wire rack.
5. While cooling, add butter and icing sugar to a new bowl and beat until creamy. If the mixture is a little stiff, add in the milk one tbsp. at a time.
6. Once the cake is cooled, spread a thick layer of strawberry jam over one sponge half, then spoon the icing onto the other and place both halves together.
7. Heat a few tbsp. of jam in the microwave for approximately 1 minute, then leave to cool. This will help the royal icing to stick to the sponge.
8. Once cooled, spread the jam over the entire cake. Lay the ready rolled icing over the top and trim off any excess.
9. Using the icing pens paint a union jack flag on top.
10. For the spice girls, basically use the marzipan to shape their bodies, then create their clothing and facial features with coloured fondant.
11. Place the girls around the edge of the cake, using cocktail sticks to prop them up.
12. To finish, make a Viva Forever sign by printing the logo, sticking it to a thin piece of cardboard and sellotaping a cocktail stick to the back. Then pop it in the centre of the flag.

Original Recipe Find: My Own.

                                                                     Happy Baking!

                                                                          Maisie x

A Toast to the New Year!

imageChristmas is just the best time of year. It’s a cliché, but I bloody love it. For me, Christmas Eve was spent down the pub with many friends and a lot o’ alcohol, and the next day was full of food and gifts. One of those gifts included Paul Hollywood’s How to Bake book (of course) which I’d wanted for months. So to practise my bread making skills I spent a few mornings kneading, proving and baking. The first loaf had so much potential, smooth, silky and elastic – except after an hour of proving it ‘proved’ that I had used the wrong yeast. Sod it. However, my second attempt at baking the white cob went well. The dough doubled in size and produced a delicious crust that trapped a warm, soft centre.


The fam soon devoured it for breakfast and the following day it was gone. Try it toasted with lashings of butter and your favourite spread. My choice, peanut butter and jam!

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A few days later I decided to make a flavoured bread. In the festive spirit, I chose Paul’s Cranberry and Stilton loaf. Originally it was supposed to present a twirl shape, much like a snail’s shell (appetising). But for some reason, I’m not sure if it was because of the way it proved or something along those lines, but my twirl had merged into a basic cob shape. Still, it tasted divine!

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So as I clearly need to keep practising, this ‘unfortunately’ means that a lot of bread will be consumed this January. So long New Year’s diet!


White Cob


Ingredients
500g/1lb 1oz strong white bread flour, plus a little extra flour for finishing
40g/1½oz soft butter
12g/2 sachets fast action dried yeast
10g/2tsp salt
About 300ml tepid water (warm not cold - about body temperature)
A little olive or sunflower oil
Additional cold water, for creating steam in the oven


You’ll also need:
Large mixing bowl
Flat baking tray
Old roasting tin
Clean tea towel
Baking parchment or silicone paper (not greaseproof)

Method

1. Put the flour into a large mixing bowl and add the butter. Add the yeast to one side of the bowl and add the salt to the other - the salt will kill the yeast if they come into direct contact. Stir all the ingredients with a spoon to combine.
2. Add half of the water and turn the mixture round with your fingers. Continue to add water a little at a time, combining well, until you’ve picked up all of the flour from the sides of the bowl. You may not need to add all of the water, or you may need to add a little more - you want a dough that is well combined and soft, but not sticky or soggy. Mix with your fingers to make sure all of the ingredients are combined and use the mixture to clean the inside of the bowl. Keep going until the mixture forms a rough dough.
3. Use about a teaspoon of oil to lightly grease a clean work surface (using oil instead of flour will keep the texture of the dough consistent). Put your dough onto the greased work surface.
4. Fold the far edge of the dough into the middle, then turn the dough by a quarter turn and repeat. Do this several times until the dough is very lightly coated in olive oil.
5. Now use your hands to knead the dough. Push the dough out in one direction with the heel of your hand, then fold it back on itself, turn the dough a quarter turn and repeat. Kneading in this way stretches the gluten and makes the dough elastic. Do this for about 4 or 5 mins until the dough is smooth and stretchy.
6. Clean and lightly oil your mixing bowl and put the dough back into it. Cover with a damp tea towel or lightly oiled cling film and leave it on one side to prove. This gives the yeast time to work and the dough will double in size. This should take about an hour, but will vary depending on the temperature of your room.
7. Line a baking tray with baking parchment or silicone paper. Once the dough has doubled in size you can scrape it out of the bowl to shape it. The texture should be bouncy and shiny. Put it onto a lightly floured surface and knock it back - use your hand to roll the dough up, then turn by a quarter turn and roll it up again. Repeat several times. Then use your hands to gently turn and smooth it into a round loaf shape.
8. Place onto the lined baking tray, cover with a tea towel or lightly oiled cling film and leave to prove again until it’s doubled in size. This will take about an hour, but may be quicker or slower depending on how warm your kitchen is.
9. Preheat the oven to 220°C (200°C fan assisted)/425°F/gas mark 7. Put an old, empty roasting tin into the bottom of the oven.
10. After an hour the loaf should have risen again. Sprinkle some flour on top and very gently rub it in. Use a large, sharp knife to make shallow cuts about 1cm deep across the top of the loaf to create a diamond pattern.
11. Put the loaf on the baking tray into the middle of the oven. Pour hot water into the empty roasting tray at the bottom of the oven just before you shut the door - this creates steam which helps the loaf develop a crisp and shiny crust.
12. Bake the loaf for about 30 mins.
13. The loaf is cooked when it’s risen and golden. To check, take it out of the oven and tap it gently underneath - it should sound hollow. Turn onto a wire rack to cool.

Cranberry & Stilton Bread


Ingredients
500g strong white bread flour, plus extra
for dusting
10g salt
10g instant yeast
30g unsalted butter, softened
320ml cool water
100g dried cranberries
150g Stilton, crumbled

Method
1. Tip the flour into a large mixing bowl and add the salt to one side of the bowl and the yeast to the other. Add the butter and three-quarters of the water and turn the mixture round with your fingers. Continue to add the remaining water, a little at a time, until you’ve picked up all the flour from the sides of the bowl. You may not need to add all the water, or you may need to add a little more – you want dough that is soft, but not soggy. Use the mixture to clean the inside of the bowl and keep going until the mixture forms a rough dough.
2. Tip the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and begin to knead. Keep kneading for five to 10 minutes. Work through the initial wet stage until the dough starts to form a soft, smooth skin.
3. When your dough feels smooth and silky, put it into a lightly oiled bowl. Cover with a tea towel and leave to rise until at least doubled in size – at least one hour, but it’s fine to leave it for two or even three hours.
4. Line a baking tray with baking parchment or silicone paper. Tip your dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Without knocking it back, flatten it out with your hands, then roll out using a rolling pin into a rectangle, about 35 x 25cm. Turn the dough 90 degrees if necessary, so you have a long edge facing you.
5. Sprinkle the cranberries and Stilton on top as evenly as you can. Roll the dough up from the closest edge into a sausage. Press along the seam to seal it.
6. Coil the sausage into a spiral and put it on the prepared baking tray.
7. Put the tray inside a clean plastic bag and leave to prove for one hour, or until the dough is at least doubled in size and springs back quickly if you prod it lightly with your finger. Meanwhile, heat your oven to 220C and put a roasting tray in the bottom to heat up.
8. When the dough is risen and feels light to the touch, fill the roasting tray with hot water and put the bread in the middle of the oven. Bake for 30 minutes or until the loaf sounds hollow when tapped on the base. Cool on a wire rack.

Original Recipe Find: Paul Hollywood How to Bake, but recipes can also be found online. Click here for Paul’s White Cob or Cranberry & Stilton Bread recipes.

                                                                     Happy Baking!

                                                                           Maisie x

Everyone loves a ginge..

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Last week I bagged 2 days off work, so I popped on a train to Torquay to enjoy a long weekend at my boyfriend’s family home. Throughout my childhood I spent many years holidaying in Newquay, Cornwall, but from what I can remember I had never been to Devon.


It was a lovely Christmassy weekend that included shopping, drinking, walking and eating. On the Friday evening Andy and I stumbled upon the most charming pub, think The Shire/The Holiday. The ceilings were low and cosy, the walls were draped in fairy lights, presents decorated the windowsill ledge, and seats were filled with charismatic country folk. A Budweiser had never tasted so good.


Anyway, it’s tradition for me to knock up a baked treat for the family trips, so this year I decided to make gingerbread men.

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The men turned out rather tasty and very adorable. I wanted to keep them quite rustic looking, so I decided to leave off the sweet decorations, but I did tie a shiny ribbon around each of their necks, creating mini bow ties. This made them look ever so camp.


Next time I bake the little men, I think I’ll sprinkle in a touch more ginger, just to give it a bit more of a kick. After all, who doesn’t like a bit o’ ginge at Christmas! (Carl Howells – one for you).


Season’s Greetings!

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Ingredients

175g soft dark brown sugar
90g clear honey
60g butter
350g plain flour
1 level tsp baking powder
1 level tsp ground ginger
1 level tsp mixed spice
1 medium egg, lightly beaten
Baking sheets, lined with baking parchment

Method

1. Place the honey, sugar and butter in a pan, and melt over a gentle heat, stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Remove the pan from the heat and allow to cool slightly.
2. Sift together the flour, baking powder and spices into a bowl. Pour in the melted mixture and the egg. Mix well. Knead on a lightly floured surface until it is smooth and thoroughly mixed. Keep the dough well-wrapped in a plastic freezer bag until required.
3. To bake, set the oven to moderate, 180ºC/350ºF/Gas Mark 4. Roll out the gingerbread on a surface lightly dusted with flour. Cut out the shapes and transfer to the lined baking sheets.
4. Bake the pieces in the centre of the oven for 10-12 minutes or until they start to brown. Remove from the oven and allow the pieces to cool on baking sheets.
5. Once cold, the gingerbread pieces may be kept in an airtight container for up to three days. If the pieces are stacked up, place sheets of cardboard between the gingerbread to keep the shapes flat.

Original Recipe Find: Good to Know

                                                                 Happy baking!
                                                                       Maisie x

The Bells of St. Clement’s

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Last Thursday I left work and hopped on the tube to Brixton. I was meeting the girls to see Ben Howard live at the 02 Academy; needless to say he was amazing. But as one of my friends was driving back home, I jumped in with her to enjoy a lovely 3-day weekend with the fam. So Friday was bake day! I have been desperate to get back in my apron for weeks now, but due to work, graduation and general busyness I simply haven’t had the time. So on Friday that’s exactly what I did.


After looking over my blog, I realised that it’s very cake-heavy, but I want to branch out in my baking skills, so this was my chance. I practised meringue making and pastry baking! Initially I had just planned to make a Strawberry Pavlova, but as it was a fairly quick bake, I rummaged around in the kitchen and found just enough ingredients to make a Lemon and Orange Zest Tart.


It was a fabulous day filled with repeated Christmas songs and delicious food. To polish off the day’s festivities, my Mum made mulled wine!

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                                                        - Mamma’s mulled wine!


The Pavlova was one of culinary marvel, Delia Smith’s recipes. It was a very simple recipe to follow and the turn-out’s rather impressive.  The Tart was a recipe by the bald one from Masterchef (the one who likes pudding – the name I can’t remember, Greg something?) But I felt that the presentation needed a touch more excitement, so I added a sprinkling of lemon and orange zest on top.

The following day, I was to meet my family for lunch in Harrow. We as a family love a lemon, so ‘my Tart and I’ travelled together in the backseat en route to Northwest London to share the desert with my fellow citrus-fans. After the customary lasagne was devoured – a dish my Mum always makes for these visits - the Tart was brought out and shortly after all plates were clean. Success!

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So it’s not long until the Christmas holidays commence. For me, this means two full weeks of baking everyday and getting pissed most nights! MERRY CHRISTMAS.

Delia’s Pavlova

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Ingredients

For the meringue:
3 large fresh egg whites 
6 oz (175 g) caster sugar

For the topping: 
10 fl oz (275 ml) whipping or double cream, whipped
12 oz (350 g) Fruits such as raspberries, strawberries and redcurrants (or just one of these)
Plus a little icing sugar

Method

1. Place the egg whites in a large clean bowl and have the sugar measured and ready. Now whisk the egg whites until they form soft peaks and you can turn the bowl upside down without them sliding out (it’s very important, though, not to over-whisk the egg whites because, if you do, they will start to collapse).


2. When they’re ready, start to whisk in the sugar, approximately 1 oz (25 g) at a time, whisking after each addition until all the sugar is in. Now take a metal tablespoon and spoon the meringue mixture on to the prepared baking sheet, forming a circle about 8 inches (20 cm) in diameter.


3. Then spoon round blobs next to each other so that they join up to form a circle all around the edge. Now, using the tip of a skewer, make little swirls in the meringue all round the edge, lifting the skewer up sharply each time to leave tiny peaks. Now place the baking sheet in the oven, then immediately turn down the heat to gas mark 1, 275°F (140°C) and leave it to cook for 1 hour.


4. Turn the heat right off but leave the Pavlova inside the oven until it’s completely cold.


5. To serve the Pavlova, lift it from the baking sheet, peel off the paper and place it on a serving dish. Then just before serving, spread the whipped cream on top, arrange the fruit on top of the cream and dust with a little sifted icing sugar. Serve cut into wedges.

Lemon & Orange Zest Tart

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Ingredients

For the pastry

250g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
70g icing sugar
125g unsalted butter, cubed
2 egg yolks


For the filling

5 eggs 
140g caster sugar
150ml double cream
Juice 2-3 lemon (about 100ml/3.5fl oz) and 2 tbsp lemon zest, plus extra to decorate
1 tsp orange zest to decorate

Method

1. To make the pastry, mix the flour and icing sugar in a bowl. Rub the butter into the flour with your fingers until crumbly. Mix in the egg yolks. If the pastry is still too dry, add 1-2 tbsp water until it comes together. Roll into a ball and divide in half (freeze one half for another recipe). Flatten out the pastry with your hands, wrap the dough in cling film, then chill for at least 30 mins. While the pastry is chilling, make the filling. Beat all the ingredients, except for the zest, together. Sieve the mixture, then stir in the zest.


2. Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface to about the thickness of a £1 coin, then lift into a 23cm tart tin. Press down gently on the bottom and sides, then trim off any excess pastry. Stab a few holes in the bottom with a fork and put back in the fridge for 30 mins.


3. Heat oven to 160C/140C fan/gas 3. Line the tart with foil and fill with rice or dried beans. Bake for 10 mins, then remove the tart tin from the oven, discard the foil, and bake for another 20 mins until biscuity. When the pastry is ready, remove it from the oven, pour in the lemon mixture and bake again for 30-35 mins until just set. Leave to cool, then remove the tart from the tin and serve at room temperature or chilled.

Original Recipe Find:Delia Smith’s Pavlova & Greg’s Lemon Tart                              

                                                                         Happy Baking!

                                                                            Maisie x

He’s GRRRRREAT!

                      

Last weekend was one of my best friends’ birthday. So, due to her crazy animal affections I decided to bake her a tiger cake. A few months ago my colleague, Maggie, showed me a video of Lorraine Pascal’s zebra/marble cake, which gave me the idea of creating a tiger-patterned sponge! But instead of using plain colours, I made a black batter and an orange batter to produce some striking stripes. But Lorraine’s recipe was nowhere to be seen so I used my own, and it was GRRRRRRREAT! (A Tony the Tiger reference - for those who didn’t understand this hilarious pun).


It was unexpectedly easy to do actually, and did create an impressive finish. But I wanted to disguise this so that when Amy cut into the cake it was a surprise. So I made some orange, white and black butter icing and decorated the cake like a cartoon tiger.


He was really quite cute, so it pained me to see Amy carve into his chops the next day. But it was worth it as when she revealed the freshly cut slice it was a stripey mishmash of colour and fun! But in our slightly hung-over state we couldn’t quite face a bite, so I can only hope that it tastes as good as it looked!


Ingredients (makes 12)


Sponge – Tiger’s Face

225g butter, softened
225g self-raising flour
225g caster sugar
4 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
3 tbsp cocoa powder

2 tbsp black colouring
2 tbsp orange colouring

Sponge – Tiger’s Ears

115g butter, softened
115g self-raising flour
115g caster sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp cocoa powder

Icing

125g butter, softened
400g icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
3-4 tbsp milk
3 tsp orange colouring
Black icing pen


Method

Sponges

1. Preheat the oven to 180C. Grease a deep cake tin in butter and cut a circle of baking paper to fit the bottom of the tin and place inside.
2. Put the softened butter, flour, sugar, eggs and vanilla extract into a bowl and beat until smooth and creamy.
3. Separate the batter by spooning half of it into another bowl.
4. In one bowl, add in the cocoa powder and black colouring and mix, and to the other pop in the orange and mix.
5. Take two piping bags and spoon the black batter into one and the orange into the other.
6. Cut about 1cm from the tip of each piping bag to create a very thin nozzle.
7. Pipe a small blob of black into the greased cake tin, and then pipe a blob of orange on top of that. Keep this up until both batters are completely finished.
8. If the mixture hasn’t quite reached the edges, tap the tin down several times on your work surface.
9. Bake in the preheated oven for approximately 35 minutes, or until it is springy to the touch.
10. While the tiger’s face is baking, this is the perfect time to whip up his ears!
11. Place the butter, flour, sugar, eggs, vanilla extract and cocoa powder into a bowl and beat until combined.
12. Grease a shallow cake tin with butter. Cut a circle of baking paper to fit the bottom of the tin and place inside. Then pour in the chocolate batter.
13. Once the tiger face is ready to come out of the oven, leave to cool on a wire rack. Then pop in the chocolate cake and bake for 15-20 minutes.
14. Leave to cool completely before decorating.

Icing 

15. To make the icing, add the softened butter to a new bowl and beat until creamy.
16. Pour in the icing sugar and vanilla extract and mix, if the mixture is a little stiff add the milk, one tbsp at a time until it creates a thick, smooth finish.
17. Spoon about a quarter of the icing mixture into a different bowl, this is for the tiger’s mouth area.
18. Drop in the orange colouring into the original mixture and stir until combined.
19. Once the cakes have completely cooled. Cut two ear shapes out of the cake, either by hand with a knife, or using a circular cutter.
20. Place the tiger face and ears onto a sheet of baking paper ready to ice.
21. Using a black icing pen draw the line which separates its mouth from its head.
22. Carefully spread the orange coloured icing over the top half of the cake until it reaches the black line. Do the same with the white icing on the bottom half.
23. Draw the nose, eyes, stripes and whiskers in with the black icing pen.
24. Fill the eyes in by piping on the white icing, then draw his pupils on once set.
25. Tony the tiger is born!

Original Recipe Find: my own recipe

                                                                           Happy Baking!

                                                                                    Maisie x

Give a Dog a Bone

This week’s bake was a very new one for me altogether. Soon was my boss’s goddaughter’s 1st birthday and so I was given the challenge to bake an apple and sultana…dog cake! The dog inspiration came from the birthday girl, Andrea’s family pet, Tilly, a springer spaniel from London. But as I was baking the cake a week in advance the only real option was fruit cake as it lasts without drying out. Fruit cake is actually a very easy bake and strangely something that I have never done before. So to make it extra special, I used four apples that had freshly fallen off an apple tree! Kindly given to me by my colleague, Nicky, who has one in her very own back garden.


So I baked the cake in a large tin – big enough to create a dog’s head shape. And once it had cooled I cut out Tilly, using a template that my stepdad had nicely drawn for me, and layered the cake with jam to glue the fondant icing onto the sponge.


                                                                    

For the springer’s brown patches I used a chocolate icing and piped it on in sections. I then polished the cake off with a fruity bone! (Not a euphemism). In the end, I was slightly fearful that it didn’t look like a dog, but as soon as the Andrea’s mum came to pick it up she was thrilled! So my worries were forgotten.


So a very happy 1st birthday to Andrea, have a ‘pawesome’ time!


Ingredients (makes 6-8)

Cake

400g butter, softened plus extra for greasing
400g dark muscovado sugar
6 eggs , beaten
2 tbsp black treacle
400g self-raising flour
4 tsp mixed spice
2 tsp baking powder
4 eating apples , grated (approx 100g each)
600g mixed sultanas and raisins

Icing

500g white fondant icing
Dusting of icing sugar
3 tbsp jam (any kind)
1 black icing pen
1 white chocolate icing pen/1 milk chocolate icing pen (both can be found together in a set - Sainsbury’s own).

Method

1. Heat oven to 180C/fan 160C/gas 4.
2. Butter and line the bottom of a deep, rectangular cake tin with greaseproof paper. Beat the first seven ingredients together in a large bowl (electric hand- beaters are best for this), until pale and thick.
3. Using a large metal spoon, gently fold in the fruit until evenly combined.
4. Spoon the batter evenly into the two tins and bake for approximately 1 hr or until the cake is dark golden, springy to the touch and has shrunk away from the tin slightly. A skewer inserted into the centre will come out clean when it’s ready.
5. Cool completely before decorating. Will keep, wrapped in an airtight container or iced, for up to a week, or can be frozen un-iced for up to a month - defrost fully before decorating.
6. To decorate heat 3 tbsp jam in the microwave until it comes to boil, then leave to cool completely.
7. While the jam is cooling, place a template on the fruit sponge and, with a sharp knife, carefully cut round it to create the dog’s head shape.
8. Spread the cooled jam evenly over the cake. This is to help the icing glue to the sponge.
9. Place a large rectangular sheet of greaseproof paper on your work surface, sprinkle with icing sugar and roll out the fondant icing - enough to cover the entire cake. It should be approximately 3mm thick.
10. Lay the icing onto the cake and cut off any excess.
11.  Using a black-coloured icing pen, pipe round the outline of the cake.
12. With the chocolate icing pen fill in the dog’s brown patches, nose, and lightly pipe a few small dots onto its mouth.
13. Using the white chocolate icing pen draw a tear shaped eye and fill it in with black icing.
14. For the bone, do the same with the icing as above, and using the black icing pen to draw round the outline of the bone, to create a clear shape.
15. Store in an airtight container for no longer than a week once iced.

Original recipe find:   Cake - BBC GoodFood    Doggie decorations - my own

                                                                      Happy Baking!

                                                                             Maisie x

Dreamboats and Cake Shows

Last Saturday I had the most fabulous day, and this is because it was the Cake & Bake Show!! (Muchos excitamondo).  So I travelled to Earls Court to meet the gorgeous and talented, Paul Hollywood, and to see all the other stands too of course. The show included an Edible Beach competition – showcasing bakers’ impressive beach-inspired cakes; stools of sugar craft displays, celebrity bake demonstrations; and many things in-between.

                                   - Fish & chips cake from the Edible Beach Competition!


While I waited to see my baking hero, Paul Hollywood, I watched many of the craft stands work their sugary magic. The decorations that they were creating were incredible. Teddy bears, dinosaurs, roses – to name a few – all made from sugar dough. I decided that I would like to practise my skills in that area of baking, and so I bought an icing smoother - which is basically what it says on the tin. When you’re covering a cake with fondant icing or marzipan, it’s very hard to remove those horrid finger prints, so that’s what the cake smoother is for. I also bought some flower stamps to create some pretty sugar dough decorations.

                                                              - Paul’s 8-strand strudle

At 1pm the crowds lined-up to watch Mr Hollywood. Fortunately, I bagged myself a front row seat, sitting on the floor mind, but for Paul I would have sat in poo. Anyway, Paul came on to demonstrate how to create an 8-strand strudel. But aside from his awe-inspiring bread making skills, Paul was very entertaining and seemingly, a very down-to-earth guy. He was a definite crowd pleaser, bringing audience members up to help him and answering as many questions as people had to ask. At one point he even tried to call Mary Berry on her mobile, making jokes about nicknaming her ‘Bezza’ – she didn’t answer, but it was amusing, nonetheless.

After a day surrounded by celebrity bakers and the smell of sponge, I just had to do a spot of my baking myself. And as my boyfriend was surprising me with a visit 2 days later, I decided to make him my Strawberry & White Chocolate Hearts (bit girly, point taken).


So if you’ve never heard of Paul, you ‘knead’ (genius) to watch the Great British Bake off, Tuesday nights, 8pm on BBC2. If not for the cakes, then for dreamboat Hollywood!

Ingredients (serves 8)

Cake

170g Butter
170g Caster Sugar
170g Self-Raising Flour
3 Eggs
1 tsp. Vanilla Extract

Icing

100g Butter, softened
325g Icing Sugar
2 tsp. Strawberry Flavouring
1 tsp. Pink Colouring
1-2 tbsp Milk (only if mixture too stiff)
Box of Dr. Oetker White Chocolate Hearts

You will need:
1 cake tin – round or square
1 heart shaped cake cutter

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 180C/gas 4.
2. Put the butter, sugar, flour, eggs and vanilla into a bowl and mix until smooth and creamy.
3. Grease a square or round cake tin with butter and pour in the batter.
4. Bake for 15-20 minutes, insert a skewer and if it comes out clean the cake is ready to come out.
5. Remove the sponge from the tin and leave to cool on a wire rack.
6. In a new bowl, for the icing, beat the butter until creamy.
7. Sift in the icing sugar. Then add the strawberry flavouring and pink colouring – stir until the mixture is combined and is of a smooth, thick texture. Add a little milk if it is too stiff.
8. When the sponge is cooled, spread the icing over it and wait for while until the icing has set.
9. Then cut 8 hearts out of the sponge and decorate with white chocolate hearts.

Original Recipe Find: my own recipe

                                                                         Happy Baking!

                                                                                Maisie x

                                                - Paul Hollywood’s 8-strand strudle skills!

Wishing you a very Nutty Birthday

A few weeks ago it was my colleague Eleanor’s birthday, so as I had a peaceful weekend ahead after the alcohol infused birthday the week before, this meant that I could indulge in some baking. I knew that Eleanor is a chocolate-fan, so I decided to make her double chocolate cupcakes. But to liven my recipe up a little, I thought walnuts might be a nice addition. Now although this was a bake that I felt fairly comfortable in doing, in reality, nothing is simple in my miniature kitchen.

For me, I find nothing worse than a weak chocolate sponge. By that I mean, when it’s just not chocolaty enough and it tastes like that weird chocolate milk pudding situation that the dinner ladies shoved down our throats at school. (Although, at the time I thought they were the dog’s bollocks). So I always tend so overload my batter with heaps of cocoa to give it that rich, sinful flavour. Although I’ve found that this can make the sponge a little dry, so add a touch more milk if the mixture’s slightly stiff when beating.


The walnut addition in the cupcakes make for a nice combination of textures. It’s not the most traditional nut to pair with chocolate, but from what I gather, it works.


Ingredients (serves 12)


Cakes

170g Butter, Softened
170g Caster Sugar
170g Self-Raising Flour
3 Eggs, Beaten
½ tsp. Vanilla Extract
30g Cocoa Powder
2 tbsp. Milk

Icing

125g Butter, Softened.
400g Icing Sugar
3-4 tbsp. Milk
1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
4 tbsp. Cocoa Powder

Method

Cakes

1. Preheat oven to 180C/gas 4.
2. Put the soft butter, sugar, beaten eggs and vanilla into mixing bowl.
3. Sift flour and cocoa into bowl.
4. Add the milk then mix thoroughly using a wooden spoon or electric whisk, to make a smooth, thick cake batter.
5. Spoon mixture into cupcake cases – they should be about ¾ full.
6. Bake in a preheated oven for 15 - 20 minutes.
7. Remove the cupcakes from the tray and leave on a wire rack to cool completely before icing.

Icing

1. Put the soft butter in mixing bowl, beat with wooden spoon or whisk, until very creamy in colour and texture.
2. Sift icing sugar and cocoa into bowl and beat. Then add the vanilla.
3. The mixture will be a little stiff at first so pour in the milk, 1 tbsp at a time, stirring in between each tbsp. until it is smooth and thick.
4. Once the cupcakes have cooled, spoon the icing into a piping bag and, using a large-sized nozzle, pipe swirls onto each cake.
5. Finally, pop a walnut onto the top of each, to style an impressive finish.

Original Recipe Find: my own recipe

                                                                  Happy Baking!

                                                                       Maisie x

Taste the Rainbow

So a few weeks ago it was Maggie’s birthday (R&R’s office manager). Maggie is also a baking fan so I knew that her birthday cake had to be special! For weeks I was researching what I could create in order to impress – I changed my mind on many o’ cake. At one point, due to Maggie’s love for veg, I was even going to bake a vegetable patch cake – don’t ask. Eventually I remembered something that she showed me in a food magazine some months back, about colourful sponge. So I thought, what about a rainbow cake! Although I’d never used food colouring in my batter before so I didn’t exactly know how it would go.


I was at home in Kent that weekend for a trip to see the friends and fam, but as my mum only has one baking tin in the size that I needed, baking 5 different coloured sponges did take a fair while. So after lugging the cake back to my London pad that Sunday, in order to camouflage the luminous colours inside, I decorated the mountainous cake with lilac icing.

                                                                                 - Before

When Maggie slid the knife into her cake the following day, I was terrified. But when the first slice was cut, the colours of the rainbow looked bright and vibrant. It’s a very easy cake to make (especially if you have a larger oven and more than one cake tray!) And it’s great for birthdays, kids in particular.


                                                                                   - After

Anyway from what I gather, Maggie enjoyed it and the team also commented on how moist it was! And one does love a moist sponge, doesn’t one? Not bad for a first attempt I guess. (I will become Mary Berry, I will become Mary Berry)…

Ingredients (serves 12)

Sponges

565g Butter
565g Self-Raising Flour
565g Caster Sugar
12 Eggs
5 tsp. Vanilla Extract

2-3 tsp Red Colouring
2-3 tsp Yellow Colouring
2-3 tsp Green Colouring
2-3 tsp Purple Colouring
2-3 tsp Blue Colouring

Icing

250g Butter
750g Icing Sugar
2 tsp. Vanilla Extract
4 (approx) tbsp. Milk
2 tsp. Lilac Colouring

Method

1. Preheat oven to 180C.
2. Put a fifth of the butter, flour, sugar, eggs and vanilla into a bowl and stir until smooth. Pour in the red colouring – beat until combined.
3. Line the bottom of the cake tray with greaseproof/baking paper and pour the batter in.
4. Bake for 15-20 minutes until it is springy to the touch. (If you like, insert a skewer or a cocktail stick into the cake after about 15 minutes, and if it comes out clean, the cake is ready to leave the oven).
5. Do the same with each fifth of the ingredients, adding a different colouring each time.
6. Of course if you have more than two trays and your oven can accommodate both, then bake two sponges at the same time.
7. While all of the five sponges are cooling, this is a great time to make the icing.
8. Simply beat the butter until it is smooth and creamy, then slowly sift the icing sugar into the bowl. Drop the vanilla in and if necessary, add a touch of milk if the mixture is too stiff.
9. If you wish, dye the icing in whichever colour you like – I chose lilac so that no-one would guess that it is a rainbow cake inside.
10. When the sponges are cool, spread a layer of icing on one piece and place another sponge on top – repeat until it looks like a tower of cake!
11. To finish cover the cake in your icing and decorate as you wish.
12. Then slice it open and taste the rainbow!

Original Recipe Find: my own recipe

                                                                   Happy Baking!

                                                                          Maisie x