Tuesday, 22 March 2016

Coffee and Cardamom cake with Pistachio cream

This is one of those cakes that I want to make again immediately after looking back through the pictures.I just don't think the pictures really do it justice - it's such a humble looking cake but packs a big punch of flavour.

It ticked all the boxes for me so was bookmarked as soon as I saw it in BBC Good Food - coffee, cardamon, pistachio, no fuss decoration. Oh yeah.

I absolutely love cardamom in cakes after making the Hummingbird's Cardamom loaf cake for a Cake Club a few years back - I do have a slight hesitation when sharing it as I overheard a comment at the meeting about it 'tasting like curry' which rings in my ears to this day, but I love it anyway. I took this into work and even had to note it in the obligatory 'there's cake in the kitchen' email I sent to try and pre-empt comments!

Possibly the most cliched photo ever to feature on my blog? At least my tatty phone case keeps it somewhat real!

The flavours all work really well together, and it was nice to have the contrast of the warming flavours of coffee and cardamom with the fresh cream of the filling. Means it's seasonally appropriate at all times of the year, so there's never a reason not to make it! Unless you think it tastes like curry, of course....

Saturday, 13 February 2016

Bloodied brain cake

Not a very seasonally appropriate bake, unless you like your Valentine's Day filled with blood and gore!

I like to make something Halloweeny every year, and this was 2014's effort. To my utter horror when I started to write this a few days ago, I realised that I didn't note down anything at all about what recipe I used for the cake! However, as luck would have it, I was sorting through my recipe binder today and I found some notes I had made for it scribbled on the back of another recipe - hurrah!

It was inspired by Lily Vanilli's brain cupcakes but I wanted to make a giant version! The cake itself was Rachel Allen's hedgehog cake but with the cocoa powder omitted. Before pouring the mixture into the prepared bowl, I spooned out 6 tablespoons and coloured it pink, swirling it back in with the main mixture before baking.

I used the buttercream from the Lily Vanilli recipe, and used the 2A nozzle instaed of the No. 10 due to it being a bigger cake. For the blood, I just used strawberry jam - the Bonne Mamane with lumps in it for extra gore! It was really difficult to pipe the icing on - I wanted it to look vaguely plausible and it was hard without something to follow. In reality though it didn't really matter once you'd slathered the jam on.

The risk with this cake is that people simply won't want to eat it. It looks horrendous, and Mike only managed one slice (usually unheard of) because he said the look of it really put him off. However, I did think it looked pretty awesome sat out on the table for Halloween.

I sadly didn't manage to bake anything for 2015 but I did make these cute burgers from a recipe in the Co-op magazine! Mike didn't have any trouble eating them funnily enough!

Wednesday, 10 February 2016

2014-2016... the lost bakes

So after boldly claiming I'd hardly baked anything over the past year or so, I've just been through my phone pictures and found plenty of evidence to the contrary. Sadly (or not, in some cases), these are all bakes that never got the full photo session treatment for one reason or another, and some of them I don't even remember making!

In the interests of completeness I am therefore posting this random selection of poor quality phone pictures plus scant notes of what on earth they were for and why.

Most annoyingly, one of my favourite cakes that I KNOW I made over the last year was the Salted Caramel Bonfire bundt (recipe here from Kat the Baking Explorer)... I made this at a family Bonfire gathering and it went down very well along with a generous glug of custard. I can't believe I didn't at least get a phone snap! Gutted. Ah well, excuse to make it again this year...

1.  7th September 2014: unidentified loaf cake. Presumably for Mike's Dad's birthday, going off the date. And presumably containing walnut, going off the topping. Apple and walnut maybe?

2. 20th September 2014: Orange and Pomegranate cheesecake. Now THIS I remember. Mainly because it took me about an hour to deseed the pomegranate, which left me looking like a homicidal maniac. I made this when we had some friends round for tea - no bake cheesecakes are definitely my dessert of choice for these occasions. Definitely one to make again! Recipe from BBC Good Food.

3. 2nd October 2014: Victoria Sponge for Dad's birthday.

4. 4th October 2014: Baby shower cupcakes for my cousin and her husband! I'm pretty sure these were standard vanilla. I really liked the cute animal decorations, but those letters are an absolute arse to make with sugarpaste!

5. 13th December 2014: Popping candy latte cupcakes. These were for a friend's 40th birthday, with the flavour a request from his wife as they had loved some popping candy lattes they had had on a recent trip away. I'm pretty sure the cake and frosting was the Espresso cupcakes from Cake Days, with a bit of popping candy sprinkled on top.

6. 24th December 2014: This years festive efforts. Burnt Florentines and Cranberry and Pistachio cookies (also looking a little burnt round the edges).

7. 11th February 2015: Bailey's cupcakes for my best friend's birthday.

8. 27th February 2015: I have genuinely no idea what this is. Clearly something pistachio/chocolate related. This is annoying because I think it might have been really nice!

9. 1st March 2015: Apricot butter cake. This was very good and eased my fear of fruit based upside down cakes somewhat after some previous issues!

10. 9th April 2015: This was for my Mum's birthday and again, I have no idea what it was! Something with pistachios again, clearly. This was also made using an egg substitute but unfortunately that's all I can remember!

11. 11th April 2014: Half finished 30th birthday cake. Made for a colleague at work so he could finish the decoration himself. The 3 was a cycle path and the rugby pitch was covered with lego characters. It looked absolutely amazing once he had finished it but I don't have any pictures unfortunately!

12. 21st June 2015. Chocolate Guinness cake for Father's Day. Recipe was from the Hummingbird. This was possibly one of my favourite cakes ever! Looking at the picture now I don't know why I haven't made it again since!

13. 30th July 2015: Jammy dodger cupcakes. Basically vanilla cupcakes filled with jam and topped with a mini jammy dodger from Ikea. So cute!

14. 23rd September 2015: Rhubarb crumble muffins. Made because I had some leftover rhubarb after a crumble.

15. 24th September 2015: Another 'surprise inside' cake, this time going easy on the buttercream as the birthday girl isn't a fan! I quite liked it with the runny icing instead.

16: 2nd October 2015: Yet another 'surprise inside' cake - this time with liquorice allsorts for Dad's birthday.

17. 24th December 2015: This year's festive gift food was salted fruit and nut bark. Recipe from BBC Good Food. This one is definitely going into the Christmas repeat repertoire, really easy to make and looks impressive. It was a shame to break it up; next time I think I would get some giant sellophane bags and package them as a whole slab, or make smaller ones.

18. 31st January 2016: My first bake as a married woman! And it wasn't for my husband. I baked this Maple and Pecan cake to take to work with me on my first day back. It was from one of the Hummingbird books. I didn't even try a piece myself, it was all gone from the kitchen before lunchtime!

Looking back, I'm not sure I did slack all that much on the baking front, it's the photographing and documenting that I've let slip. I'm disappointed but looking forward to returning to blogging a bit more this year, I feel quite out of the loop! Also I've noticed that a lot of the baking blogs I follow are no more - if you have a baking blog or have any to recommend, please do leave me a link in the comments!

Monday, 25 January 2016

Pinata cake

Only very occasionally can I make a cake that I can stand back, admire, not pick any faults and on the whole just feel really proud of myself. Mike's sister's birthday cake of 2014 was one of those cakes. I usually try to think of something vaguely novelty for Louise, but the previous year's ginormous Rice Krispie cake was going to take some topping. I'm not sure I quite managed it - or ever will! - but I was certainly pleased with what I created.

I'd seen a few 'surprise inside' cakes doing the rounds and so decided to make a Pinata cake. At first I got carried away by googling images of complicated donkey type Pinatas but quickly decided to keep it simple and just make a normal cake with Pinata inspired decoration... I like to think of it as a 'stealth Pinata' as it just looked like a normal cake from the outside.

The cake itself was just good old vanilla sponge - I used this Pink Whisk recipe for the sponges and instructions for hollowing out the centre. Mike was pleased that he got a mini Victoria sponge out of it too!

The inside was filled with a mix of Smarties, M and Ms and Cadbury Pebbles.

The icing was the biggest challenge with this, I don't think anyone in Cheshire could buy a Wilton 1M for a while since I had cleared all the shelves of them! I needed to have all four colours on the go at once to do the decoration.

Decorating isn't my strong suit so this tested my patience, luckily I had my Wilton Turn Table to use which made it so much easier and I would highly recommend one of these to anyone, they are so handy to use when icing any layer cake. I also needed to use a step ladder once I got halfway up the side as I am rather short, and the height of the cake plus the turntable height meant it was too high for me to reach properly!

Since making this I've made it twice more, once with Smarties and once with Liquorice Allsorts, it's a quick and easy way of jazzing up a victoria sponge.

Friday, 24 July 2015

Percy Pig bundt cake

This was the cake that I made for a friend's birthday last year. Alex is more of a sweets person than chocolate or cake, but the law is that you have cake for your birthday, so I attempted to combine the two here.

And what better sweets are there than the Percy Pigs from Marks and Spencer? Although I must admit that I am more partial to a Phizzy Pig tails than a 'standard' Percy Pig... I prefer my sweets sour and fizzy - I'm definitely more of a Tangfastics rather than Star Mix kinda girl!

Dolly Bakes had fiendishly turned the Percy Pig into cake form, so I used her recipe, which is available on her blog here. I even shameless copied the decoration - why mess with something that looks so good?!

Unfortunately I didn't get any pictures of the lovely swirly inside. But this was a very good cake - as all Dolly Bakes bundts are, I've yet to make a bad one (or even an average one!).

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Salted caramel cupcakes

It's probably become quite apparent by now that baking and blogging have taken a bit of a back seat in my life over the past year or so. There's a few reasons for this... the main one being that planning our wedding has sort of taken over my life. But also I've just not been feeling the baking love - I've still busted things out for birthdays and occasions but there's not many things I've baked for pleasure. I've let my blog reading/commenting slide and the longer you leave that, the harder it is to get back into it. Plus, there's been some things I've baked that I never even took pictures of! BAD BLOGGER!!

Anyway, I've got all these draft posts (subject titles only, no notes or anything, so thanks for that, past self) about things I baked ages ago and can't really muster up anything to say about them! However, there are a couple of things that I couldn't *not* include and these salted caramel cupcakes are one of them.

Made last August for Mike's Mum's birthday, there are some pretty pictures of them that Mike took and it wouldn't be right not to share. Even if I don't have much to say about them, hopefully everyone will enjoy looking at the nice pictures, because who doesn't like drizzly caramel goodness? Just looking through the pictures to choose which ones to include has got me drooling!

I also liked the cupcake box - I got a set of these as a present from a friend and this was the perfect situation for them. We were seeing Mike's Mum for a birthday meal and since these were part of her present it didn't seem right walking in to Prezzo with a cake tin, nor are we the kind of family for 'things being brought out of the kitchen in a restaurant with candles in' (unless it's a BIG birthday, and then you just have to suck it up), so it was good to be able to hand one over nicely presented as a gift, and provide assurance there was a big old tin of them waiting in the car. Bonus points to me for having cupcake cases to match!

The recipe was from the Hummingbird Bakery and I have seen it online in many places, including here.

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Whiskey drizzle mini loaf cakes

My Dad is not a huge lover of cake - I think he would take a plain Victoria sponge over anything else (must be where I get it from!) - so I sometimes struggle for ideas for him, and Father's Day last year (yes, really, I am that far behind!) was no exception. But I saw these doing the rounds on various blogs and as I had some mini loaf cases in the cupboard thought I would give them a go.

I don't remember a great deal about making these mini loaf cakes, because Father's Day last year was the day after we got engaged! So I was in an absolute daze. I do however, remember that I was very happy with them. Light, moist with the unmistakeable tang of whiskey.

The recipe is online here. I couldn't find ground hazelnuts anywhere so I used ground almonds instead, I assume it didn't make much of a difference!
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