Category Archives: cakes

Easy Easter Nest Cupcakes

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Easter is just around the corner and to get you in the mood, I have some inspiration for some easy Easter nest cupcakes that children can easily decorate themselves.

The chocolate cake is actually Nigella Lawson’s Dense Chocolate Loaf Cake recipe. The version I used is here. The recipe makes a massive quantity of cake mix and easily makes 30 cupcakes. I adjusted the cooking temperature to 175 degrees as I have an electric fan oven and baked them for 20 minutes until a knife comes out clean. The mix is very runny and it is easier to pour it into the cake cases before baking. I let the mix stand for an hour before baking and it thickened up slightly, making it easier.

Once cooled, I made up some chocolate buttercream (250g unsalted butter, 500g icing and 100g dark chocolate melted) and decorated the cupcakes using a grass/hair nozzle to give it a twig effect. The grass nozzle is very forgiving and you are almost given permission to not be perfect for the nests as the messier the better! This nozzle is perfect for children to learn basic piping techniques as they can hardly go wrong. This method of decorating does not use as much buttercream as you think and I ended up with some leftover for use another day. I finished the decoration off with my favourite Easter chocolate, Mini Eggs. I am impressed with myself that all the Mini Eggs made it onto the cakes! Where I found the willpower from not to eat them all, I do not know!

What are you baking this Easter? I would love to find out :-)

PS: I am taking these to Blue Door Bakery’s Cake Club tonight. I am looking forward to talking about cake, cake and even more cake!

spring carnival

Product Review: Baker Day’s Letterbox Cake

 

I was recently asked to try a Baker Day's letterbox cake. I have never been known to turn down an offering of cake and I was intrigued, could they really send me a perfect cake through my letterbox?

With Valentine's Day fast approaching, I decided to order a cake for Stuart and let it be a surprise. When it arrived, my initial impressions were very good. The cake was packaged in a box and sealed in a tin within the box so could pretty much take whatever the Royal Mail could throw at it. The cake even came with instructions for how to remove it from the tin.

Once I got the cake out of it's packaging and onto a plate, I was sadly disappointed. The cake was very small (the picture on the top of this post is the cake on a side plate.) I was not expecting a massive cake to come through my letterbox but thought the cake might be slightly bigger. The decoration on the cake was excellent. However, the sponge was average and very dense in texture for my taste.

Overall, I like the idea of a letterbox cake but think the idea needs some refining. I am sure that many people will enjoy the novelty of having a cake posted to them but think the actual cake, especially for the price you pay (£14.99) needs improving.

 

Disclosure: I recieved a Letterbox cake to review. All opinions are my own.

 

The Best and The Laziest Brownies In The World!!

As it is the new year and everyone has lots of resolutions to drink less, eat healthier and get fitter, I decided to do the complete opposite of that and share with you, the best and the laziest brownies in the world recipe. These brownies are so good and so easy to make, I am sure they will counter any back to work/school January blues!!!

I originally discovered this recipe through Twitter/Instagram where a couple of blogging friends were discussing something called 'Slutty Brownies'. Even the name seemed intriguing to me and I knew I had to find out more. I was pointed to the apparent source for the original recipe on The Londoner blog. The recipe only contains three ingredients; chocolate cookie dough mix, chocolate brownie mix and Oreo cookies. Anyone can make them as they are so easy. They are called slutty as they are made with ready mixes/packages but I am sure you could make your own brownie and cookie dough mix if you like. My version of the recipe is below. For other versions, please see my fellow blogging friends:

Mari's World

The Boy And Me

Slutty Brownies

Ingredients

  • 1 packet of chocolate brownie mix
  • 1 packet of cookie dough mix
  • 1 pack of Oreos
  • Eggs or water to make up packet mixes as described on the packet
  • A greased foil tray, a normal tray lined with tin foil or a greased silicone tray (The Boy And Me used a loaf tin which I think I will do next time)

Method

  1. Make up the cookie dough mix and chocolate brownie mix as per the package instructions
  2. Put the cookie dough as a thick layer at the bottom of the tin
  3. Top with as many Oreo biscuits as your tin allows
  4. Pour the chocolate brownie mix over the top and bake in a preheated oven at 200 degrees C for 20-30 minutes
  5. Eat and enjoy!!

I really urge everyone to give this recipe a go. It is so easy and delicious. It really feels like a treat which is perfect to sort out any case of the January blues!!

 

Forman and Field’s Jubilee Bake Off

You may that remember that last year, I took part in the Forman and Field’s Valentines Cook Off, well this year they have invited me to take part in a Jubilee Bake Off with lots of lovely bloggers. The other bloggers taking part are:

 http://athomewithmrsm.blogspot.co.uk

http://iheartkatiecakes.blogspot.co.uk/

www.renbehan.com

http://www.lavenderandlovage.com

http://www.frugaliciousfood.com/

www.Cupcakesbysarah.co.uk

http://www.workinglondonmummy.com

http://whatkatebaked.blogspot.co.uk/

We have all been lucky enough to be sent a fabulous box of inspiring ingredients and told to bake to our heart’s content in honour of the Queen’s jubilee. In the boxes we received:

ORIGINAL BEANS CRU VIRUNGA 70% DARK CHOCOLATE A new chocolate producer that is rapidly becoming the choice of top Chefs, chocolatiers and restaurants including Marcus Wareing, The Fat Duck, Galvin at Windows and Damian Allsop to namedrop but a few.

DOVE’S FARM FLOUR This general purpose white flour is milled from English wheat grown by organic farmers to Ethical Trade standards which involve a fair price for the farmer and fair treatment of workers, as well as involvement with local communities. This is great for baking pastry, cakes and biscuits.

LONGMAN’S UNSALTED FARM BUTTER Proper butter from a family run Dairy farm in Somerset.

FORMAN & FIELD LEMON CURD Our own handmade lemon curd from the Forman & Field kitchens. Tarter than most with a good hit of lemon zest so it’s makes for a mighty fine baking ingredient.

CRÈME ANGLAISE More homemade goodness from our kitchens. We make this daily to order with lots of fresh Bourbon vanilla.

ELDERFLOWER LIQUEUR This heavenly elixir is made in small batches with hand-picked elderflowers by Bramley & Gage down in South Devon. They’re a family business with son Michael recently having taken over from his old man Edward.

MULLED PEARS The final contribution from the F&F kitchens, pears poached in a mulled red wine syrup.

From this selection of ingredients I have somehow managed to make three baked treats. Don’t ask me how I found the time but I did. I will now explain what I made, why I was inspired to make it and give the recipe.

Lemon Curd Butterfly Cakes

What is more British than a butterfly cake? I remember having them a lot as a child but they seem to have disappeared out of fashion now. The lemon curd was so delicious I knew I had to make it the start of the show in one bake. These are traditional butterfly cakes minus the cream. All they have is the lemon curd inside of them which can, depending on the lemon curd make them quite tart and not really suitable for children.

Ingredients (makes 12)

  • 125g unsalted butter, softened
  • 125g caster sugar
  • 125g self raising flour
  • 2 large eggs
  • Zest of an unwaxed lemon
  • Juice of half a lemon (or a whole one if you like it sharp)
  • A generous teaspoon full of lemon curd per cake

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 190 degrees C. Put cupcake cakes into a cupcake tray (British flag ones if possible!)
  2. In a food processor, add in all the ingredients except the lemon curd and whizz until a smooth batter is formed. Do not over mix as the cakes will not rise
  3. Spoon the mixture into the prepared cupcake cakes and cook in the oven until lightly golden brown and a knife inserted in them comes out clean. Leave to cool for 10 minutes and then remove to a wire rack until they cool completely.
  4. Once cooled, cut a small disc out of the top of the cupcake and then cut the disc in half. Leave to one side and spoon the lemon curd into the hole you have created in the cake. Put the disc pieces back into hole vertically to create butterfly wings. Decorate the cakes with appropriate jubilee decorations and dive in!

Mulled Pear Crumble with Crème Anglais Ice Cream

I love crumble and am constantly trying to make new variations of them and the mulled pears were calling to me to be put into one. The crème anglais was full of vanilla and as it had a short use by date, I knew I needed to do something to preserve it for longer.  It is the perfect accompaniment to the crumble as the creaminess cuts through the richness of the mulled pears.

Ingredients (makes 1 small ramekin but please adjust recipe to suit whichever bowl you want to use)

For the Crumble

  • 1 and a half mulled pears, chopped into small chunks
  • About 100ml of syrup from the jar of mulled pears
  • 50g unsalted butter, softened and cut into cubes
  • 100g plain flour
  • 50-75g caster sugar, depending on how sweet you like your crumble

For the Ice Cream

  • Jar of Crème Anglais ( or homemade custard)

Method

  1. Pour the Crème Anglais into a suitable container with a lid that can go into the freezer. Pop into the freezer and stir every two – four hours with a fork until completely frozen to prevent large ice crystals forming.
  2. Put the mulled pear chunks into your baking dish and put the syrup into a saucepan. Reduce the syrup until slightly thickened. Do not reduce it too much as it will cook more in the crumble. Set aside and leave to cool.
  3. Meanwhile, make the crumble topping by rubbing the flour and the butter together. Add in the sugar and mix together.
  4. Pour the reduced syrup over the mulled pear chunks and top with the crumble topping. Bake in a 180 degrees C oven until lightly golden brown and bubbling.
  5. Take the ice cream out of the fridge 10-15 minutes before you want to serve it. Serve a generous scoop next to the crumble and tuck in.

GB Dark Chocolate Cake

This is a very quick, made in one bowl simple but amazing chocolate cake. It is moist and very yummy showing the flavour of the dark chocolate to its full potential. I do not usually get this quality chocolate to bake with so I knew I had to show it off in some way. I did add some milk chocolate to mix as I think too much dark chocolate can be overpowering. I decorated the cake with Renshaw’s Great British Icing Pack and followed the instructions on the box to make the Union Jack.  I took this cake to the Merry Hill Centre Mummy Morning  Jubilee Cake Club today and despite the fact it did not win, I still got lots of comments of how moist and delicious the cake was despite the fact I baked it on Sunday night. If you only make one of these baked treats for this coming jubilee weekend, then I urge you to make this one. Everyone will love it!

Ingredients (makes 1 20cm square cake)

  • 100g dark chocolate, buttons or chop a bar into chunks
  • 100g milk chocolate, buttons or chop a bar into chunks
  • 200g unsalted butter, cut into chunks
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 100g plain flour
  • Pinch of salt
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • Any decorations or toppings you like

Method

  1. Grease and line a 20cm square cake tin and set aside. Preheat the oven to 190 degrees C.
  2. Put the chocolate and the butter in a heatproof bowl over simmering water and melt together, stirring frequently.
  3. Once melted, remove from the heat and stir in the sugar until combined.
  4. Fold in the flour and salt and finally add in the eggs. Stir to combine and pour the batter into the prepared cake tin. The batter will be quite runny but don’t worry as this makes a more moist cake.
  5. Bake in the oven for 40 minutes or so until a knife inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. Once cool, remove from the tin and decorate however you see fit.

Many thanks to Forman and Field for inviting me to take part in the bake off. I had a great time thinking about and creating the recipes. If you are on Twitter, you can follow all the bake off action using the hashtag #formansjubileebakeoff :-)

Baking Mad With Eric Lanlard

Unless you have lived under a rock for the last month, you cannot have failed to notice that the second series of Baking Mad with Eric Lanlard is currently in Channel 4 on weekday lunchtimes. Before the series started, I was lucky enough to be given a sneak preview of some of the recipes from this series and have the opportunity to make one myself. I chose the toffee and apple sauce muffins as I do not usually make muffins and these sounded super yummy!

The series is sponsored by BakingMad.com, an online community of over 100,000 members sharing a wealth of information, recipes, hints, tips and advice on baking. They very kindly provided me with some of the ingredients to make the muffins. I only altered from the recipe once as I saved the caramel that the apples were cooked in and poured it over the warm muffins to serve. The ladies at my work loved them when I visited with Thomas a couple of weeks ago! :-)

Toffee and Apple Sauce Muffins

Ingredients (makes 12)

  • 275g plain flour
  • 100g golden caster sugar
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 75g unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 large eggs
  • 125ml whole milk
  • 100g fudge pieces
  • Approx. 2 tbsp cinnamon sugar (2 tbsp light muscovado sugar mixed with 1 tsp ground cinnamon)

For the apple sauce

  • 300g Bramley apples (approximately 2 medium apples)
  • 150g light muscovado sugar
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tsp calvados

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C/fan 180°C/ gas mark 6. Line a 12 cup muffin tin with muffin papers.
  2. To make the apple sauce, peel and core the apples and cut into small cubes. Place the diced apple in a saucepan with the sugar, cinnamon, calvados and 1 teaspoon of water. Cook over a low heat until the apples are tender and of a compote consistency. Drain the apples and leave to cool.
  3. Sieve the flour, sugar and baking powder into a large mixing bowl. In a separate bowl beat the butter and eggs together then add the milk. Stir the flour mixture into the egg mixture until just incorporated and smooth. Put on a high speed and beat for 2-3 minutes until light. Finally, add the fudge pieces and mix.
  4. Spoon half the mixture into the muffin cases then spoon over the apple sauce. Ensure that the sauce is the same consistency as the batter so that it doesn’t sink into the cakes. Cover with the remaining muffin batter and sprinkle with lots of cinnamon sugar.
  5. Bake in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes then cool on a wire rack and serve.

Festive Baking

It is the season for excess especially in terms of eating lots of sweet things and this year for me as been no exception. I have made two Christmas Cakes. One for myself and my family and one for some friends. I made my first Christmas Cake last year but did not blog about it as I used Delia’s kit from Waitrose. This year I have made and decorated both cakes completely all by myself.  I used Delia’s recipe which is here and used the techniques I learnt at the cake course I went to at the start of the year to cover the cake. The decorations for both cakes and some of the icing/marzipan was kindly supplied by Dr Oetker.

This Christmas, I have also been busy making cupcakes. I made some vanilla and mince pie cupcakes for a family gathering we had this week. To make the mince pie cupcakes, I added some mincemeat and extra spices to the usual cupcake mix and added some brandy into the buttercream. The idea was inspired by my friend and Cupcake Queen of the Cotswold’s, Louise of Cirencester Cupcakes. My family loved them and I will be making them again soon.

That’s it for my Christmas baking. Please let me know in the comments what you have been making and add links if you have done a post about it. I am always looking to try something new for next Christmas.

I will be back soon with my New Year resolutions post, a cookbook review of the year and a new monthly blogging challenge for everyone. Hope you have a great party tonight, whatever you are doing.

Happy New Year! :-)

English Mum’s Big Christmas Bakeoff

English Mum is back with another Big Bakeoff and as it is Christmas and I have not taken part in one for ages, I could not give it a miss really, despite having a 7  week old in the house and the time constraints they provide.

This time, I have decided to make a Christmas tree giant cupcake. I love giant cupcakes as they are really easy to make and look really impressive. I made this one for my local National Childbirth Trust’s (NCT) Children’s Christmas party where Thomas got to see Santa for the first time (see below). I made it originally to be sold on the cake stall but it ended up as a raffle prize. I hope the lady who won it enjoyed eating it as much as I enjoyed making it.

I used Dr Oetker’s Cake Release Spray to ensure that I could get it out of the tin and I was really impressed, the cake came out very easily. The cake was a 6 egg Victoria sponge cake mix and the icing on top was simple buttercream.

You have until midnight tomorrow to enter the Big Christmas Bake Off, so won’t don’t you get your mixers out and have some fun. I did. I will be back with more Christmas baking soon :-)

Many thanks to Yasir for the Dr Oetker products :-)

Coffee and Cake: Kenco Millicano Product Review

Hello everyone. I am back. Did you miss me? I missed you all. Thomas is doing fantastically and I am loving motherhood. You can follow my progress as a new mum on my sister blog Jo’s Nursery. I have a backlog of posts to get through so I will do my best to post regularly from now on, however please bear with me if I do not. A 4 week old can be quite demanding!

Today I would like to tell you about an amazing new coffee I have discovered. It is called Kenco Millicano and is the best tasting instant coffee that I have ever found. The reason it is the best tasting instant coffee is because it contains 15% finely milled roast and ground coffee, making it taste like freshly brewed coffee. With a newborn in the house and a distinct lack of sleep happening, a good cup of coffee to get me going in a morning is a must. Since finding Kenco Millicano, I have not looked back and I highly recommend it.

Kenco Millicano have spoken to over a thousand women across the UK to find out what the hottest trends for 2011 were. One of the most interesting trends for foodies is the ‘retro recession’ with people trying to be more cost conscious and frugal with their food purchases.

The report features the biggest upcoming trends for food such as:

  • Scandi-Style: There’s a new interest in the clean, fresh tastes of Nordic cuisine, with herring, lingonberry jam and Västerbottensost cheese enjoying a surge in popularity
  • Olde worlde recipes will continue to inspire nostalgic cuisine. Heston Blumenthal’s new venture, Dinner, interprets dishes from as far back as the 14th century, likewise at Marcus Wareing’s Gilbert Scott the menu features old school offerings like Mrs Beeton’s snow eggs with Everton toffee. 17th century grog cocktail anyone?
  • Inexpensive but tasty food: Jay Rayner’s latest discovery BBQ Shack smokes brisket and pork shoulder over hardwood pits for 18 hours, transforming the taste and texture. While stocks of salmon and cod dwindle, so too does our appetite for them, but coley and pouting will surge in popularity.

As part of the inexpensive but tasty food trend, Kenco sent me a frugal fruit cake recipe to try. I was really impressed with the recipe. It is delicious and you can hardly tell it is frugal at all. It smelled so delicious I would of eaten the cake mix uncooked if I had not of been pregnant when I made it.

Frugal Fruit Cake

Ingredients

  •  150 ml (¼ pt water)
  • 100 g (4 oz) sultanas
  • 125 g (5 oz) caster sugar
  • 113 g (¼ lb) butter
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 150 g (6 oz) plain flour
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp baking powder

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4
  2. First grease and line a 1 lb loaf tin, then grease the paper.
  3. Take a large, thick based saucepan and put in the water, sugar, sultanas, butter and bicarbonate of soda. Place pan on a medium heat, stir ingredients together and bring to the boil, then boil for 10 minutes exactly, but don’t go away – if the temperature isn’t controlled it may boil over.
  4. When the 10 minutes is up remove pan from the heat and allow mixture to cool. Then add the beaten egg, and the flour and baking powder, sifted together. Mix well then place in prepared tin and bake on the middle shelf for approx 1½ hours.
  5. This dark and sticky cake is a family favourite and gets even better if kept for a few days.

Many thanks to Joanna for sending me the coffee to review and the fruit cake recipe. It is much appreciated :-)

Cupcakes by Chrissie Competition Winner

A couple of weeks ago, I told you about a children’s cupcake decorating workshop that I went to with Cupcakes by Chrissie. I had a fantastic time. Over the last two weeks, I have been running a competition to win a workshop with Chrissie and learn how to decorate fabulous cupcakes yourself.

In total, there were 16 entrants to the competition:  Cupcakes by Chrissie Competition Entrants who gave the correct answer to the following question:

What is the number of the Wilton piping nozzle used to make the grass on my cupcakes?

A) 244

B) 211

C) 233

The answer is C – 233. Well done to everyone who got the answer correct. The winner was selected by Random.org and I am pleased to announce that it is Natalie Cullip. Well done to Natalie. I will be in touch soon with what you need to do next. Thanks to everyone for taking part.

Happy Cooking! (or Baking!) :-)

Cupcakes by Chrissie Review and a Competition!

Last weekend, I was lucky enough to be invited to review and take part in a Children’s cupcake decoration class run by Chrissie of Cupcakes by Chrissie in her Birmingham home. Chrissie started baking cakes for her son and his friends in 2005 and the business grew from there. After a trip to New York, where she was introduced to the American cupcake, Chrissie decided to use her home economist background to teach students how to make pretty, sophisticated and elegant cupcakes for all occasions.

I arrived at 9.30am to be greeted warmly by Chrissie and taken into her lovely home. All the classes are run from her beautiful kitchen and I was soon joined by five other ladies, all of whom had taken classes with Chrissie before. Our first task, after we had drunk our cup of coffee, was to learn how to make the perfect ball out of sugar paste. This would be the base for all our models as the day went on and it was a technique we all needed to master. It took me a little while but I got there in the end! We started making a racing car as our first model, where we took our balls of sugar paste and make them into flat sausage shapes to form the basis of the car. We used the end of a piping nozzle to make the wheels and another ball of sugar paste, with a flattened bottom to make the helmet.

After finishing the racing car, we moved onto a cow, a pig and a rabbit. All of which we made in a similar way. You started off with a ball of sugar paste for the body and another for the head. The heads were all shaped slightly differently depending on the animal involved. We made ears using leaf cutters or freehand with a craft knife. The arms and the legs were all sort of flat sausage shapes with pads made for their paws and feet. Everything was stuck together using edible glue and detailing was done either by using a small paintbrush or tiny bits of black sugar paste.

We spent approximately 30 minutes on each model. To give us a break, we used a mould to make a tatty teddy, which is made by pushing grey sugar paste into the mould and leaving it to set in the freezer for a couple of minutes. We then used  silver lustre dust and black sugar paste to bring out the detail. To finish, we could either make a brown teddy in the same method as the other animals or we could make a caterpillar. I decided to make the caterpillar as it was just different sized balls of sugar paste. To finish, we used a grass piping nozzle to pipe grass on 3 or 4 of our cupcakes and used buttercream/ sugar paste circles to top the rest.

We left after 5 hours of cake decorating fun, leaving Chrissie with a messy kitchen, clutching our goodie bags containing cupcake cases and full instructions to make cupcakes ourselves at home. We all had a fantastic time and I cannot wait to make cupcakes like these again soon. Thank you to Chrissie for her excellent tuition and patience.  It was great fun! :-)

Many thanks to Beth from Jam and Cream PR for arranging it for me to attend the class :-)

About the classes:

Cupcake classes cost £50 per person and include all equipment and 12 cupcakes to take away.

Classes are held in Castle Vale, Birmingham 9:45am – 1:30pm.

For a full list of upcoming classes please see here for details.

You can find Cupcakes by Chrissie on:

Twitter:  @CakesbyChrissie

Facebook:  http://www.facebook.com/pages/Cupcakes-by-Chrissie/252159928841

Contact Details:

By email: info@cupcakesbychrissie.com

By phone: 07701025647

Its Competition Time!

If you would like a chance to win a cupcake class of your choice from Chrissie, all you need to do is answer the question correctly below:

What is the number of the Wilton piping nozzle used to make the grass on my cupcakes?

A) 244

B) 211

C) 233

Please email your answer to joskitchen@hotmail.co.uk by 12 noon BST on Monday 1st August 2011 and leave a comment in the comments form below (with a Twitter username, if you have one) telling me you done so. All the correct answers will go into a draw and the winner will be selected using Random.org. The winner will be informed via email and/or Twitter as soon as possible after the competition has closed.

This competition has now closed. Thanks to everyone who entered

Terms and Conditions

  1. The winner will select a class of their choice to attend from the list here.
  2. Competition is open to UK Residents only.
  3. The winner must be able to make their own way to Birmingham (just off J6, M6 near Star City and Fort Shopping Centre) for the class.
  4. The same competition is also running on the Midlands Food Bloggers blog but there will be only be 1 winner picked from all entries from both blogs. 
  5. The judges decision is final.
  6. Any questions, please email joskitchen@hotmail.co.uk