Sunday, 26 May 2013

Banoffee Popsicles

So, I've become a terrible Blogger... I've just been doing so much recently that I hadn't noticed I'd run out of scheduled drafts! Ooops! Planning to type a few more up over the next few days, but it meant that I was in a bit of a tizzy when it came to Ice-Cream Sunday today.

I actually realised yesterday that I needed a recipe to post today, and was planning to make an apple and elderflower sorbet this lunchtime to post. Unfortunately, muggins here forgot to put her ice-cream machine in the freezer last night - so no sorbet today! Instead, I threw together these tasty little Banoffee Popsicles using a few bits and pieces I had in - super simple, and very yummy!

You'll need a mould for this one - the deeper the better - and some lollipop sticks.

Chocolate sprinkles
50g white chocolate
100g caramel flavoured chocolate buttons
1 sachet of banana flavoured instant whip
200ml milk (or however much is required by the instant whip you are making!)

Prep time: 15 minutes
Freeze time: Minimum 2 hours
Make 6 pops

  1. Start by giving your mould a good polish to remove any grease. Pour a few chocolate sprinkles into the bottom of each hole.
  2. Melt the white chocolate, and carefully spoon half a teaspoon into each mould. Tap the mould on your work surface a few times to make the chocolate spread. Pop this into the freezer to set.
  3. Melt the caramel flavoured buttons in a wide bowl. Take you mould from the freezer, and fill each hole 1/2 full of the caramel flavoured melts. Turn your mould upside down over the bowl and tap lightly - this should give each mould a nice thin coating of caramel flavoured chocolate. Pop the mould back in the freezer to set one more.
  4. Make up the instant whip as per the instructions on the packet (usually add milk, whisk until thick) 
  5. Fill each hole in the mould with instant whip, then pop a lollipop stick into the centre of each. Pop back in the freezer to set for at least 2 hours.
  6. Just remove the popsicles from the mould as and when you are ready to serve. Simple!

Happy Thoughts

Friday, 24 May 2013

Easy Chocolate Cream Cake

It's no secret that when it comes to chocolate cake, my preferred (and go-to) sponge recipe is the devils food cake sponge I used for my Chocolate Fudge Cake (and Rapunzel's Tower, and Creme Egg Cupcakes...), however that one is very, VERY chocolaty. But sometimes, you fancy something a little lighter, and that's where this recipe comes in. It's not as rich, or as dense as the devils food cake sponge, and coupled with whipped cream it makes a lovely light dessert.

Not only that, but it's quick and easy to make, too! (And has much less washing up ;-) )

200g margarine
200g caster sugar
2 medium eggs
2 tbsp almond milk
40g cocoa powder
160g self raising flour
double cream, or Elmlea
100g milk chocolate, to decorate (optional)
20g white chocolate, to decorate (optional)

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes
Makes 8 slices

  1. Preheat the oven to gas mark 5 and grease ad line two 6 inch cake tins.
  2. Beat the margarine and caster sugar together until smooth and creamy, then beat in the eggs and milk until the mixture is light and fluffy. 
  3. Gently fold in the cocoa powder and self raising flour, then pour the batter into the prepared cake tins. Bake for 20 minutes or until the tops of the cakes are cool to touch. Leave to cool in the tins for 5 minutes before turning out onto a wire wrack to cool completely.
  4. Once the cakes have cooled, whip the cream until thick and billowy, then use this to sandwich the two cakes.
  5. Melt the milk chocolate and leave to one side to cool slightly whilst you melt the white chocolate. (The cooler the chocolate is when you pour it onto your cakes, the less likely it is to run down the sides!) Spread the milk chocolate over the top of the cake, then put the white chocolate into a piping bag and pipe circles onto the milk chocolate. Before the chocolate sets, gently drag a cocktail stick though the chocolate to create a decorative pattern. (I alternated going from the centre to the edge, then back from the edge into the centre.)
  6. Keep refrigerated until ready to serve.

Happy Thoughts

Friday, 17 May 2013

Over the Rainbow Cupcakes

I've been saving this recipe up especially for this today, as not only would it have been Frank L. Baum's 157th birthday on 15th May, but it's also The Wizard of Oz's 113th birthday today! (That is, The Wizard of Oz was first published on 17th May 1900.)

Anyways, these cupcakes came to life for a different birthday to the two listed above – that of my best friend Victoria. For Vix's 25th birthday, I got her a pair of tickets to go see The Wizard of Oz at the London Palladium, but the show wasn't until a few weeks after her birthday and I knew the tickets wouldn't arrive in time. So, in lieu of a physical gift, I made these cupcakes and posted them to her along with a little postcard which had a picture of Dorothy, Scarecrow, Tin-man and Lion and the words “we're off to see the wizard!” on the front, and the date, time and venue of the show on the back. I hope you like them!

(PS – you might recognise parts of this recipe from an earlier one I posted!)


For the cupcakes:
200g butter or margarine
200g caster sugar
2 medium eggs
200g self raising flour
1tsp vanilla extract
Food colourings in red, yellow, green, blue and purple (or at least red, yellow and blue – you can mix the other colours if you need to!)

For the butter cream:
150g slightly salted butter
300g icing sugar
Vanilla extract, to taste
A little milk, if necessary

For the decorations:
30g red sugar paste
30g yellow sugar paste
20g light green sugar paste
20g dark green sugar paste
edible glitter in red, green and white hologram
edible glue

Prep time: 45 minutes
Cook time: 12 – 15 minutes
Makes 18 cupcakes

  1. Preheat the oven to gas mark 5 and line a bun tray with cupcake cases.
  2. Beat the margarine and sugar together until light and fluffy, then beat in the eggs, one at a time. Tip the flour into the bowl along with the vanilla extract, and fold into the mixture until just combined. (Be careful not to over mix here, as you'll be doing a lot of mixing when you add the colours!)
  3. Split the mixture into 5 even portions, then use your food colourings to colour the batter red, yellow, green, blue and purple. I use Sugarflair paste food colourings, as I find you can get a really vibrant colour without using too much. I'd be wary of using liquid colourings, as in order to achieve a vibrant colour you will have to use a lot of liquid, which could effect the taste and texture of your cakes.
  4. Place half a teaspoon of purple batter into the bottom of each cupcake case, and spread this evenly across the bottom of the case with the back of a spoon. Next, add half a teaspoon of the blue batter on top of the purple batter, smoothly gently with the back of the spoon. You want to cover the whole of the purple layer, but not mix it in, so try not to put too much pressure on the cake – just flatten it down as quickly and lightly as you can. Repeat the process adding half a teaspoon of green batter next, then half a teaspoon of yellow, finally adding half a teaspoon of the red batter.
  5. Bake for 12-15 minutes until firm and springy to touch. Remove from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool completely.
  6. Meanwhile, make the decorations for the top of the cupcakes. Start with the yellow brick road as that's the easiest. Roll out the yellow sugar paste to 3mm thick and then cut out a wiggly path that starts big at the bottom and gets small at the top (see the picture for reference, as what I just wrote makes very little sense!) Paint edible glue over each of your YBR's then sprinkle the white hologram edible glitter over them and leave to dry. Next, the ruby red slippers! Roll out the red sugar paste, again to around 3mm thick, then cut out shoe shapes. It's probably easiest to use a cookie cutter for this, but I didn't have one so just freestyled it with a sharp knife (hence why they are all different shapes!) once you're happy with your shoe shapes, paint a little edible glitter over each and then sprinkle with the red edible glitter and put to one side to dry. Finally, make your mini-Emerald cities! Roll the two green sugar pastes into long thin sausages, then fol over and trim into different length “buildings”. Use a little glue to stick a few “buildings” together, mixing up the sizes and colours to create the illusion of depth. Spread a little more edible glue over the top of each Emerald City, and sprinkle with the green edible glitter. Once all of your decorations are dry, shake any excess glitter back into the relevant pot, and place the decoration to one side until ready to use.
  7. I imagine that by now your cakes have completely cooled, so it's time to make the butter cream! Beat together the butter, icing sugar and vanilla extract until smooth and cream, adding a little milk to the mixture if necessary to achieve a good piping consistency. Place the icing into a piping bag fitted with a star nozzle, and then pipe the butter cream onto the cupcakes in a spiral. Place one of the decorations onto each cupcake, and dust with a little more white hologram edible glitter to finish!

Happy Thoughts

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

National AIDS Trust and the Cambridge Cake'n'Bake Club Bake Sale!

Happy Wednesday, folks! Whilst this isn't strictly a recipe from my Cake'n;Bake Club antics, I do think it's important and so wanted to share this post on my persoanl blog too...

We at the Cambridge Cake’n’Bake Club were recently contacted by the National AIDS Trust to ask for our help in raising funds and awareness through their Bake Aware initiative – a very exciting, and very tasty, initiative to encourage people to talk about the Birds and the Bees, and HIV awareness.

There are 100,000 people living with HIV in the UK, and 1 in 4 people don’t know they have it. Those who do have it still face discrimination in school and in the workplace, and this is what NAT are trying to stop.

On Sunday 19th May, Cake’n’Bake Club will be holding a Birds Vs Bees bake sale at the Cambridge Nursing Centre, 5 High Street , Chesterton , from 10am – 2pm. We’d love it if you could come along, treat yourself to some of our baked goods (and they are good!) and help us to raise funds for this very worthy cause. We’ve split into two teams, Teams Birds and Team Bees, and each team will be competing to raise the maximum funds for the charity. We’re going to put in all the hard work in our kitchens – for you; it’s going to be a piece of cake :-)

I'm part of Team Birds, and I'm planning to make some little birdy cake pops, some bird themed jam tarts, and some chicken "sausage" rolls :-) If you're in or around Cambridge on Sunday, feel free to pop along and say hello, and get yourself a little treat!

Happy Thoughts

Friday, 10 May 2013

Choco-Nana Cookies

Be still my beating heart, these cookies are AMAZING!

I'm not overly fond of fruit, but I do love bananas, so bananas are my "go-to" fruit of choice. I always buy a big bunch of bananas on my way to work on a Monday and keep them in my desk drawer for snacking on throughout the week, but this means that by Friday I often have one or two leftover bananas that I need to use up. Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining about this - just an explanation for the sheer number of banana recipes that turn up on this blog!

Here, have another photo of the cookies:

Anyway, my leftover bananas usually go into making my favourite Banana Oat Muffins, which I wrap, freeze, and use for pack-up during the week. However, this time I fancied a change. I really, really fancied cookies. I don't often bake cookies and biscuits, so I decided to scour the Internet for recipes to use. Originally I was looking at healthier banana and oat cookies, but then I came across this recipe for Nutella Banana Cookies. Nutella. Banana. Cookies. What more could a girl ask for on a rainy Saturday afternoon? After baking though, I think I'd describe these more as a drop-cake, rather than a cookie, as they have a deliciously spongy texture. (I'm eating one RIGHT NOW. It is amazing.) Maybe they should be called cakies? I haven't changed the original recipe too much, so all credit for this goes to Chef in Training. I did make a couple of tweaks to the method, and made the measurements UK friendly :-)

2 medium, ripe bananas
1 medium egg
200g plain flour
175g light brown sugar
125g rolled oats
1tsp baking powder
75g slightly salted butter
75g vegetable shortening (Trex)
2 tbsp Nutella

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 10 - 12 minutes
Makes 18 cookies

  1. Preheat the oven to gas mark 6 and line a baking tray with grease-proof paper.
  2. Break the bananas into a bowl, then mash with a fork. Beat in the egg, and put this to one side.
  3. Tip the flour, sugar, oats and baking powder into a bowl and mix. Add the butter and shortening, in cubes, to the bowl, and then rub in until the mixture resembles a coarse crumble. 
  4. Stir the banana and egg into the dry mixture until they combine to form a sloppy dough. Plop the Nutella into the middle of the bowl and then swirl through the mixture with knife to create a marble pattern.
  5. Dollop the mixture onto the prepare baking tray in tablespoon sized blobs, leaving enough space in between each blob for the cookies to expand slightly. Bake for 10-12 minutes until the cookies are golden brown all over and firm to touch. 
  6. Allow to cool on a wire rack, if you can resist the banana, chocolate, nutty goodness.

Happy Thoughts

Friday, 3 May 2013

Best Ever Granola

I know I shouldn't toot my own horn, but this might actually be the tastiest granola in the world. It is delicious, and oh so good for you. One of my new year's resolutions for 2013 was to eat breakfast every day, and this recipe makes that a very easy resolution to keep.

I was introduced to the idea (and the starting point for this recipe) by my friend Jen at Cake'n'Bake Club - you can find Jen's version of the recipe here. I used a different variety of nuts and dried fruit to Jen, and added extra honey, because that suited my preference. That's probably the best thing about this recipe, you can make it your own by subbing out the fruit and nuts listed below and replacing them with your favourite. This granola definitely tastes better than any shop bought granola I've tried, and it's healthier to boot!

50g whole almonds
50g whole cashews
225g rolled oats, the chunkier the better!
25g sunflower seeds
25g pumpkin seeds
50ml sunflower oil
3 generous tablespoons of runny honey
40g dried cranberries

Prep time: 5-10 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes
Makes around 6 portions

  1. Start by preheating your oven to 170/gas mark 4, then line a flat baking sheet with baking parchment.
  2. Tip the nuts into a food processor and whizz them a couple of times until they are in smaller chunks. Tip the nuts into a large bowl then add the oats and the seeds.
  3. Stir in the oil and honey until everything has been coated and the mixture starts to come together, then tip the mixture out onto the lined baking sheet, spreading evenly with the back of your spoon.
  4. Bake in the centre of the oven for 10 minutes, then gently remove the tray from the oven, tip the granola back into the mixing bowl, give it a good stir, then put it back on the tray and back in the oven for another 5 minutes - this should help the granola to be cooked evenly!
  5. After the granola has been in the oven for the second time, take it out and pour it once more into the mixing bowl, stir through the dried cranberries, then leave the granola to cool, uncovered, in the bowl.
  6. Once cool, transfer the granola to an airtight container, where it should keep for up to a week.

Happy Thoughts

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Cake'n'Bake Wednesday: Singapore Spiral Mooncakes

In May 2012 the Cake'n'Bake theme of the month was "Around the World in 80 Bakes". Each member entered an electronic draw to get a random country, and had to bake something from that country. It was a really great month, and a theme we hope to repeat in the future (there are a lot of countries we haven't baked yet!)

The country I pulled from the electronic hat was Singapore, and for a little while I was at a loss as it seems that rather than having it's own cuisine, Singaporean food is based on a mixture of Chinese, Malai and Indian cuisine. However, I was very lucky to stumble upon a fellow baking blogger who just so happened to be from Singapore, and this is where I was first introduced to the mooncake.

I looked at as many recipes I could find for many different kinds of mooncakes, but in the end I settled on an adaptation of a recipe found on the original blog I came across: Happy Home Baking.

Thankfully there are a number of East-Asian supermarkets in my area, so I found it quite easy to get hold of some red bean paste to use for my filling, however, I was advised by a friend that this was an "acquired taste", and I really disliked it - so just go in with an open mind!

Prep time: 45 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes
Makes 20 mooncakes

For the filling:
400g red bean paste

For the "water" dough:
140g plain flour
10g icing sugar
50g vegetable shortening
70ml water

For the "oil" dough:
150g plain flour
80g vegetable shortening
Red, yellow and green food colouring

Flour, for dusting.

  1. Start by preparing the filling: measure the red bean paste into 20g portions and roll these into balls in your hands. Place on a lined baking sheet in the fridge until ready to use.
  2. Next prepare the water dough. Sieve the flour and icing sugar into a mixing bowl then rub in the shortening until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Stir in enough of the water to form a soft, pliable dough and then cover this with clingfilm and put in the fridge to set slightly, whilst you prepare the oil dough.
  3. For the oil dough, sieve the flour into a bowl and then mix the shortening into it by hand, until you get a soft dough (which I found to be similar in texture to a soft playdough!). Divide this dough into 3 equal pieces, and colour these red, yellow and green (respectively). Note: you could use any combination of colours you like here. Roll each dough out into a roughly equal sized rectangle and place to one side.
  4. Take the water dough from the fridge and knead on a lightly floured surface until it too resembles playdough in texture and pliability.  This is where the instructions get a bit confusing, so bear with me! I've posted a step-by-step photo collage below should you need it! Roll this out into a large rectangle and then place the three coloured doughs in the centre of this, overlapping each colour slightly. Fold the edges of the water dough (the white dough) over the coloured dough, then cover with cling film and place in the fridge to rest for 20 minutes.
  5. After 20 minutes, place the dough onto a lightly floured surface and roll out until completely flat. Starting at one of the shorter ends, roll the dough into a tight "Swiss roll" style log, and trim the ends. (I hope you're still following!) Cut the dough into 20 slices.
  6. Preheat the oven to gas mark 4 and line a flat baking sheet with greaseproof paper.
  7. For each mooncake, take a slice of the spiral dough (which looks super pretty at this stage, might I add!)  and flatten it into a circular disk with your fingers. Place one of the red bean paste balls into the centre of the disk and wrap the dough around it, gently pinching the ends to seal. Place the mooncakes seam side down onto a lined baking sheet and repeat the process until all 20 mooncakes have been made.
  8. Bake the mooncakes for 10 minutes, then removed from the oven and leave to rest for 10 minutes before returning to the oven to bake for a final 10 minutes. The mooncakes will be fairly squidgy when they leave the oven, so allow them to cool on the baking tray for 5-10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Happy Thoughts