Category Archives: celebrations

30th Classic Car Birthday Cake

In the 10 years I’ve been with him, I’ve never known Hubs to have a proper birthday cake. He’s one of the lucky or unlucky people (depending on your viewpoint) who arrived on this earth just in time to interrupt Christmas Dinner. As this year was a significant birthday I wanted to make him a special cake. I subtly asked him many months ago as to what his dream cake was and set about making it. His brief was:

Victoria sponge and chocolate sponge with buttercream and topped with sugarpaste

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How to marzipan baked bean tin Christmas cakes

Your baked bean tin cakes should be nicely fed now so it’s time to get covering them in marzipan. You need to leave at least 24 hours between covering the cake marzipan and icing to allow the marzipan tp dry and stop the oils from the marzipan leaching and spoiling the white icing. One of the reasons for covering a fruit cake in marzipan is to act as a foundation for the icing. It’ll help to hide the major lumps and bumps of the cake beneath. Read the rest of this entry

Speculoos

I’ve always loved these biscuits be it when they are called speculoos, speculaas or spekulatius. They are dark, highly spiced biscuits with a caramalised sugar taste. Traditionally they are baked in some parts of the continent for St Nicholas Eve (5th December). St Nicholas Eve is the night where, as a child, you leave your shoes by the fireplace. If you’ve been good all year you’ll wake in the morning to find a shoefull sweet treats. If you’ve been less than angelic you’ll find some sticks.

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Brussel Sprout Wreath

The halls are beginning to get decked, the high streets are adorned with lights that are switched on by minor celebrities and tomorrow is the first Sunday in advent. Every household has its own traditions over the festive season, we have many. One being that I make a wreath to hang on the door during Christmas. Over the years they have evolved from a quite traditional wreath to last year’s alternative, yet still festive, creation. Read the rest of this entry

Baked Bean Tin Christmas Cake – pt 1

Before I get chastised for writing a C*&^%$£~s post in October the organised amongst you will be beginning to prep for festive baking time. While Stir-up Sunday, when you traditionally make Christmas Pudding, isn’t until 20thNovember, now is the time to start on the cake to give it sufficient feeding time. A Christmas Cake that hasn’t been stuffed to the gills with alcohol is deemed as substandard in this house. This is the recipe I’ve used for years, and after many request to stop keeping the recipe close to my chest here it is. It’s from a 2005 edition of Prima magazine and produces a lovely moist fruit cake. Read the rest of this entry

Beetle Forest Gateau

Those of you with entomophobia (fear of insects) may want to look away now. When I heard that the first Derby Clandestine Cake Club theme would be Trick or Treat I knew that last year’s Black Beetle Cakes would have to make a reappearance but in a slightly different form. The Clandestine Cake Club (CCC) has strict rules: no brownies, muffins, cookies pies or tarts and don’t even think of darkening the door with cupcakes. We’re talking big cakes that can serve 8-12 people. Derby’s first CCC was hosted by A Wannabe Foodie.

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Harvest Festival Sheaf

Harvest festival in Primary School always has strong memories for me as both a pupil and member of staff. People still donate random tins of food perilously close to their best by date that the poor old dear wouldn’t have a clue about using (even I would struggle to make something tasty with tinned sprouts). The usual hymns of Who Put the Colours in the Rainbow are still sung with gumption including my personal favourite Paintbox and the new addition of Harvest Rock & Roll that usually includes the kids bopping along with actions.

 ‘Cauliflowers fluffy & cabbages green, strawberries sweeter than any I’ve seen, beetroot purple and onions white, all grow steadily day and night. The apples are ripe, and the plums are red, broadbeans and sleeping in their blankety beds’ – Paint Box  Read the rest of this entry

Strawberries & Cream Victoria Sponge

This weekend I celebrated a significant birthday and I wanted to replicate the cake I had on my 1st birthday. Though this time there is a lack of photos of me sticking my fingers into the cream trying to harvest a fresh strawberry when I should have been blowing out a candle. Where did my 20s go?! I didn’t do badly as during that decade – I met Hubs along with some other fabulous people, graduated, bought our first house, got married, dabbled with a couple of jobs, discovered I really could cook and started my business. This birthday also celebrated my first year in business. Yep, I survived and even made a profit, so you could say it was two celebrations in one. I received lots of lovely gifts including a spa break, glass jelly mould, cookbooks and lots of vouchers to spend on myself. When you run a small business it’s always a nice novelty when your given the opportunity to spend money on yourself rather than the business. Shops of Derby watch out! Read the rest of this entry

Light Chocolate Cake for Easter

Julia Parsons from A Slice of Cherry Pie has hosted an Easter Cake Bake since 2007. My previous entries have included Mini Egg Tiffin and Simnel Cupcakes. I was pleased when she announced she was hosting it again as I already had a cake in mind. Easter in the culinary world usually means chocolate and a lot of it. As we had visitors this weekend I thought it would be a great opportunity to make my first ever sandwich cake (yes you read that right, my first!) and bake something from my newest cookbook purchase – Red Velvet & Chocolate Heartache by Harry Eastwood.

Sometimes I’m a bit slow to jump on the cookery bandwagon, I haven’t attempted cake pops, whoopie pies or macarons yet. When Red Velvet & Chocolate Heartache was released in 2009 I admit I didn’t pay too much attention to it even if I’d been baking vegetables in cakes for a while. Until someone on twitter was talking about this book recently I didn’t really appreciate what it was about. This isn’t just about baking with vegetables it’s about gluten free baking and baking cakes without butter. Shocking at first the thought of baking without butter, but this can be replaced in the cake by vegetables. As Harry points out only use butter in cakes where it is going to be tasted. With the ever-increasing price of butter this is good advice. In the case of the Light Chocolate Cake the butter is replaced with Butternut Squash. While the majority of the recipes featured in the book use rice flour this can often be substituted with plain flour if you wanted to. I haven’t had a problem sourcing rice flour. Sainsbury’s sells Doves Farm rice flour, but you won’t find it by the conventional flour it’s but the free from foods. Holland & Barrett also sell brown rice flour.

You would never guess this moist, fluffy cake was gluten free and tasted far from virtuous. In keeping with the slightly haphazard way I bake the two layers of the cake were slightly different sizes, I was too stubborn to go and buy two identical tins but being blinded by the chocolate no one noticed. I could have trimmed the layers to make them equal, but was running out of time.

I could put the recipe below, but if you followed it probably wouldn’t work as the recipes from this fantastic cookbook are not simply recipes they are a revolution in baking. To get the most out of the recipe you need to read the introduction in the beginning of the book that explains the ingredients and methods that are different to traditional baking. To give you an idea about the recipes in Red Velvet & Chocolate Heartache Harry has put a few of the recipes on her website. I wholeheartedly recommend buying the book and look forward to baking from it again soon.

A Surprise Delivery

Nearly every family or friend parties I’ve been to recently have been surprise parties. A good friend’s 30th back in September, a great uncle’s 90th last weekend and a cousin’s baby shower yesterday. Family & friends reading this just remember although I have a significant birthday coming up I don’t like surprises as it means I’m not given the opportunity to go clothes shopping for the event! Before yesterday I hadn’t been to a Baby Shower so wasn’t quite sure what to expect but decided I couldn’t go wrong if I turned up with cake and this was a perfect opportunity to try out a cake I’d seen in Planet Cake.

I was given a copy of Planet Cake at Christmas and fell in love with it as soon as I saw it. I love the way it is set out and the designs that feature in it. I’m not a total beginner in cake making and decorating but wanted a bit of professional guidance and have found this book perfect for that. I like that this book tells you the exact quantities of icing you’ll need. Something before I wouldn’t have had a clue about. The tip about using piping nozzles for marking the icing, in this case the eyes and mouth, was brilliant. Why I hadn’t thought about that myself I don’t know.

I first set about colouring the icing. I  love colouring icing as in an odd way I find it quite therapeutic. Though I need a bit of practice with getting a light skin tone, this one turned out a slightly more Germolene pink, but I counteracted this by making the little hats on the cake a stronger colour. I’ve learnt my lesson in the past about letting the icing settle before using it as the colours intensify. Last time I used fondant I used a generic brand from the local cake decorating shop and found it dried out really quickly and putting me off working with fondant for a bit. This time I used a block of Silver Spoon ready to roll icing and found it really easy to colour and good to use. Even though it was a warm day when decorating these cakes the icing didn’t dry out at all.

To decorate these cakes I just used a cutter that would provide a circle big enough to cover the top of the cake, No. 2 round decorating tip, couple of cocktail sticks, pallet knife and small piece of kitchen roll. I don’t own the ball tool they recommend to make the ear indentations so just used a piece of kitchen roll wrapped around a cocktail stick. The fondant was secured in place with a small amount of buttercream. I also put a blob of raspberry jam in the cake that seemed to work well. Just a note, these cakes are fairy cake sized unlike the cupcake ones featured in the book to the quantities below are for the fairy cake sized ones.

I think they have a slight Pocoyo element to them and who can argue with the amazing Pocoyo!

Baby Shower Fairy Cakes
Makes 12 cakes
Adapted from Planet Cake

100g caster sugar

100g butter, softened

2 eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

100g self-raising flour

raspberry jam

120g butter cream (40g  unsalted butter beaten with 80g icing sugar)

250g skin coloured fondant

100g blue fondant

100g pink fondant

Black colouring icing pen (you could use a small amount of black fondant instead)

small amount of cornflour mixed with red petal dust

1) Preheat oven to 180°c and line a bun tin with fairy cake liners.

2) In a bowl beat together the butter and caster sugar until it is light and fluffy then one at a time stir in the eggs. Don’t worry if it begins to look curdled add a small amount of the flour. Mix in the vanilla extract.

3) Carefully fold in the flour.

4) Fill each liner 2/3 with cake mix. Dollop a tsp of jam on the cake batter just before the cakes go in the oven.

5) Bake for 15-20 min until risen and golden. Allow to cool completely before icing.

6) In a bowl beat together the butter, icing sugar and lime juice until light and fluffy. Spread a small amount of the buttercream on top of each cake.

7) Roll out the skin coloured icing until around 3mm thick. Cut out rounds and smooth on to the top of the cakes. Then mark the eyes and mouth then using a small amount of water attach the nose and ears.

8 ) Roll out the blue/pink icing and using the same round cutter cut out rounds. Cut these circles in half then cut a 5mm edge off the semicircle (this will be the ridge on the hat). Stick the semicircle on the head using a small amount of water then attach the rim. Use a cocktail stick along the rim to give the detail.

9) Using a small amount of cornflour and red petal dust mixed together, brush on the cheeks to give babies a rosy glow.

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