Saturday, 31 December 2011

Polly's Fridge Bars (and New Year's Resolutions)

Let me just start off by saying, don't bake with your sister. Just don't do it. She's even messier than I am, she is incapable of doing even the simplest of things and she can be a real pain.

These aren't her recipe, the recipe is from Hummingbird bakery but I'm still going to call them 'Polly's Fridge Bars'

400g unsalted butter
200ml golden syrup
100g cocoa powder
800g digestive biscuits, broken into small chunks
200g raisins (we didn't put these in. Raisins are gross)

You will also need a 33 x 25 x 5-cm baking tray, lined with greaseproof paper

1.  Put the butter, golden syrup and cocoa powder in a large saucepan over medium heat and heat until melted and smooth, stirring occasionally

2. Put the biscuit chunks and raisins (if using) in a large bowl and pour in the chocolate mixture. Mix with a wooden spoon until everything is well mixed and the biscuits are evenly dispersed.

3. Press this mixture in to the prepared baking tray, using a tablespoon to flatten and compress it.

4. Refrigerate for a couple of hours, or overnight if possible.

It was a no-bake bake! It's a super simple recipe, and the outcome is alright too! It also goes absolutely perfect with a cup of tea. It's a thumbs up from me!

So that's it. Another year over. They always seem to fly by, and I always manage to make promises and commitments that I never seem to keep. But I have lot's of things I want to achieve in 2012, baking related and others not-so, and keeping a list is the easiest way of remembering them. I'll hopefully revisit this list at this time next year (assuming we're all alive and the world doesn't end)

1. Make macaroons. I've been dying to do this for ages.

2. Raise £2000 for my World Challenge expedition to Madagascar

3. Sort my skin out once and for all. It's been three years now and I want better than this

4. Use my Battenburg cake tin!

5. Perfect my piping technique. It still needs lot's of work :/

6. Watch more French movies, they are simply the best thing ever.


That's not too much to ask, right?

I hope everyone has a wonderful New Year's Eve and an even better 2012!!

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Gingerbread Cupcakes

I can't seem to get over my post-Christmas depression, so I have baked even more festive goodies to keep me in the Christmas spirit. Also, I had countless Christmas themed cupcake cases, and the thought of keeping them until next December filled me with dread.

I've noticed that the last three things I've baked have been gingerbread bakes. I'm a bit gingerbread-ed out now!

140g unsalted butter
200g caster sugar
60g black treacle
60g golden syrup
2 large eggs
2 egg yolks
310g plain flour
1 tbsp cocoa powder
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground nutmeg
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
240ml hot milk

For the frosting:

600g icing sugar
100g unsalted butter
250g full-fat cream cheese (Philidelphia)
1 tsp finely grated lemon zest
Christmas themed shapes, to decorate

1. Preheat the oven to gas mark 5/190C. Cream the butter and caster sugar together until pale and fluffy.

2.  Add the treacle, golden syrup, eggs and egg yolks and continue mixing until all ingredients are evenly combined.

3. Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, spices, baking powder and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the butter and egg mixture, mixing on a low speed and adding in two or three batches, alternating with the hot milk. Continue to mix until the batter is smooth.

4. Divide the batter between the muffin cases, filling each one two-thirds. Pop in the oven and bake for 18 - 20 minutes or until risen and springy to the touch. Allow to cool in the tin for a short while, then remove to a wire rack to cool down completely while you prepare the frosting.

5. Slowly whisk the icing sugar with the butter until no large lumps of butter remain and the mixture is sandy in consistency. Add the cream cheese and mix on a medium-to-high speed until the frosting is light, fluffy and smooth. Stir in the lemon zest by hand.

I have come to the conclusion that I am such a fail at separating eggs. I wasn't put on this earth to separate eggs. Many helpless eggs were harmed in the making of this cupcake.

Success! Some festive cupcake cases have been used AND I am over my post-Christmas depression!

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Sticky Gingerbread Puddings

Oh Delia. How I love you so. If I were poetic in any way, I would write a poem about her, titled 'An Ode to Delia Smith'. Sadly, poetry is not one of my strong points, so my dreams of writing a Delia-inspired poem cannot be fufilled. But that doesn't detract from my love of Delia Smith!!

As you may have guessed, this is a Delia Smith recipe. Instead of the usual Sticky Toffee Pudding, we mixed it up and made 'Sticky Gingerbread Puddings with Ginger Wine and Brandy Sauce' from 'Delia Smith's Winter Collection' (we have all the Delia books in the family. If I hadn't mentioned before, I'm a big fan).

Serves 8
110g preserved ginger in syrup
175g self-raising flour
1/3 tsp ground cinnamon
1/3 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/2 level tsp baking powder
3/4 level teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
2 eggs
75g soft butter
110g molasses sugar
1 tbsp black treacle
1 heaped teaspon freshly grated ginger
175g Bramley apple, peeled, cored and chopped small
175ml warm water

For the Ginger Wine and Brandy Sauce
175g soft dark brown sugar
110g unsalted butter
4 tbsp ginger wine
2 tbsp brandy
2 pieces preserved ginger, chopped small

Yes, that's a lot of ingredients, and some of them can't be found easily. But as I said before, it's Delia. And she's worth it.

1. Preheat the oven to gas mark 4/ 180C

2. First of all, place the pieces of preserved ginger in a food processor and turn on for 7-10 seconds. Be careful not to puree the ginger! After that sift the flour, spices, baking powder and bicarbonate into a mixing bowl.

3. Then add the eggs, butter and sugar. The way to deal with treacle is to grease the spoon first and, using a spatula or another spoon, push it into the bowl to join the rest of the ingredients.

4. Now add the freshly grated ginger, then using an electric hand whisk, whisk everything together gradually, adding the water until you have a smooth mixture. Finally fold in the apple and preserved ginger.

5. Now divide the mixture between the buttered pudding basins, stand them on a baking sheet and bake for 35 minutes or until they feel firm and springy to the touch. After that remove them from the oven and let them stand for about 5 minutes, then run a small palette knife around the edges of the tin to turn them out.

6. To make the sauce, all you do is gently melt together the sugar and butter until all the granules of sugar have completely dissolved, then whisk in the ginger wine and brandy, add the chopped ginger and the sauce is then ready to serve.

It looked a bit plain with just the pudding and the sauce, so I think it can be served with either chilled cream or vanilla ice cream

It was really nice, but I'm not in a rush to make them again. I think I'll stick to the cupcakes.

Monday, 26 December 2011

The best way of spreading Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear!

Merry Christmas for yesterday! What an amazing day it was... Full of family, food and, of course, festive cheer!

I got lot's of things of interest, including a brand spanking new camera (perfect to take baking photos, see below), Jo Malone perfume, and THE WHOLE FREAKING HARRY POTTER COLLECTION. I'm planning a date where I can watch all eight films back to back, and I'll make some magical treats to help me through the 24 hours that it will take me.

I haven't even mentioned all the baking goodies I was given by my family (and Santa. Let's not forget Santa). The goodies I got included:
  • More piping bags and decorating nozzles
  • A Battenburg cake bake tin!! What a genius idea, I'm so so so excited to try it out!
  • Edible Rice Paper cupcake toppers with my favourite boybands face's splashed across them. Bring on Valentine's Day. I know Ella is excited to try my One Direction cupcakes
  • An icing palette knife, and various other kitchen utensils
  • Three new baking books. Two of them were from the Hummingbird bakery, and one was the Leon 'Baking & Puddings' book.

I probably got many more baking-related goodies, but I can't remind myself of what they were...

 Every year, our Christmas tree is 'alternative'. Instead of a traditional tree with lot's of baubles and tinsel, we do something slightly different. We make ginger cookies to hang on the tree, and we make tinsel out of popcorn and cranberries!

 I don't actually eat mince pies, because I can't stand raisins and other dried fruit, but I wasn't even allowed to make them this year. Apparently, according to my mum, I would 'make too much mess', so she made them herself.

Undoubtably, one of the best things about Christmas day is the mammoth feast that we call Christmas dinner. It is the one meal a year where no one can judge you for how much you eat. Every year, people around the country manage to consume mountains of food, and I am one of those people.

I don't eat Christmas pudding either, but that didn't stop me making it! Back in September, I followed the secret Burnett recipe, and made all my Christmas wishes. I'll let you know if they come true...

I hope everyone had an absolutely wonderful day, and all of your Christmas wishes come true...

With that, I am going to make myself a cup of tea, and plan lot's of bakes for the new year with all of my new recipe books.


Monday, 12 December 2011

Gingerbread Men

Happy December!! The countdown to Christmas is truly underway.

I'm far too poor to afford presents for all my friends, so I'm going to bake them all gifts instead. To kickstart things, I made some simple gingerbread. Everyone loves them, and they're super cute, so everybody wins!

140g unsalted butter
100g dark muscovado sugar
3 tbsp golden syrup
350g plain flour
1 tsp bicarbonate of sida
2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
Icing and other decorations

1. Heat oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6. Line some baking sheets with baking parchment. Melt butter, sugar and syrup in a pan. Mix flour, soda, spices in a bowl. Stir in the butter mix to make a stiff-ish dough.
2. Wait until cool enough to handle, then roll out dough to about 5mm thick. Stamp out gingerbread men. Lift onto baking sheets.
3. Bake for 12 minutes until golden. Cool for 10 minutes on the sheets, then lift onto cooling racks.

I had a bit more dough left after cutting ten gingerbread men, so I made a couple of Christmas trees, just to feel that little bit more festive!

The smell and taste of ginger and cinnamon just remind me of Christmas, and I always seem to bake gingerbread at this time of the year!

Probably a few more bakes to be posted before Christmas. Man, I love this time of the year.

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Earl Grey Cupcakes

I've never been to Primrose Bakery, but oh my gosh, I really want to! I've been dying to try out this recipe for a while now. Earl Grey is my favourite variety of tea, so this recipe was too good to resist.

Earl Grey Cupcakes
(from Primrose Bakery)

125ml milk
4 Earl Grey tea bags (or you could sub with your favourite variety)
110g unsalted butter
225g granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1/4 tsp almond essence (optional)
125g self-raising flour
120g flour

115g unsalted butter
60ml semi skimmed milk
1tsp good quality vanilla extract
500g icing sugar
few drops of lilac food colouring

Preheat oven to 180C/gas mark 4. Line a 12 hole muffin tray with cupcake cases.
Heat milk in a saucepan over a medium heat until it begins to boil. Remove from the heat and add teabags. Cover with a lid for about 30 minutes.
Cream butter with sugar in a bowl until the mixture is pale and smooth. After this has been achieved, add almond extract and eggs one at a time, mixing after each addition. Scrape bowl with a spatula to make sure that the mixture is well combined.
Combine the flours in a separate bowl. Add a third of the flour to the butter and sugar mixture and beat well. Pour in a third of the milk/tea mixture and beat. Repeat until all the flour and milk has been added.
Carefully spoon mixture into cupcake cases, filling each one two-thirds full. Bake in the oven for about 25 minutes. 
After cooked, leave in 10 minutes, then place on a wire rack to cool.
To make butter cream, beat butter, milk, vanilla and half the icing sugar until smooth. Gradually add the rest of icing sugar to produce a creamy and smooth consistency. Add a drop of colouring and beat thoroughly.

There's nothing I love more than a cup of tea, whether it be a standard builder's brew, or something really weird (I'm desperate to try pomegranate tea!). But at the moment, I'm totally hooked on Earl Grey tea. 
So I'm going to sit here and eat these cupcakes while drinking the namesake tea. Yum!!

On another note, I recently found a baking blog that I'm absolutely obsessed with. It's called katiecakes, so you should go and check it out, because personally I think she's amazing!
Also, theres a new blog name. Orla came up with it, so go check out her Twitter!
And while you're there, check out my Twitter!

Happy December to you all, I've got some festive bakes up my sleeve!

Monday, 21 November 2011

New York Cheesecake

I haven't blogged in a while, sorrrrry! But I'm back now with a very delicious cheesecake, and some more planned bakes for the near future.


600g soft cheese
284ml pot double cream
100g icing sugar
vanilla essence
250g digestive biscuits
100g butter, melted

N.B Alternatively, I like to use Chocolate HobNob biscuits, depending on the flavour of the cheesecake. It makes it slightly oatier, with a little bit of milk chocolate. YUM.


1. Butter and line a 23cm loose-bottomed tin with baking parchment. To make the base, put the biscuits in a plastic food bag and crush to crumbs using a rolling pin. Transfer the crumbs to a bowl, then pour over the melted butter. Mix thoroughly until the crumbs are completely coated. Tip them into the prepared rin and press firmly down into the base. Chill in the fridge for ideally an hour to set firmly.

2. To make the filling, place the soft cheese, icing sugar and vanilla into a bowl, then beat with an electric mixer until smooth. Tip in the double cream and continue beating until the mixture is completely combined. 

3. Now spoon the cream mixture onto the biscuit base, working from the edges inwards and making sure that there are no air bubbles. Smooth the top of the cheesecake down.

4. Leave to set in the fridge for as long as possible (overnight would be best).

As I didn't make this at home (I made it at school), I couldn't take pictures of my method etc, but the recipe is incredibly simple and is practically foolproof!

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Coffee and Walnut Cake

I adapted the classic Nigella Lawson 'Coffee and Walnut Layer Cake' recipe to suit me and my family, so I will write out the ingredients I used and my method.

50g walnut pieces
225g caster sugar
225g soft unsalted butter, plus some for greasing
200g plain flour
 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
4 eggs
1-2 x 15ml tablespoons milk
1 espresso shot

I used our coffee machine to achieve this. Alternatively, if you wanted a more muted coffee flavour, you could just use 2 teaspoons instant coffee granules dissolved into a tablespoon of water.

I actually just used the buttercream I had left over from my rainbow cake, but added a shot of espresso to give it the coffee flavour.

The ingredients of my buttercream frosting were:
350g icing sugar
175g  soft unsalted butter
1 tbsp milk
(add the 1 espresso shot here)

It is possible to make this recipe using a food processor, but I prefer making it by hand.

Butter the 2 sandwich tins and line the base of each with baking parchment.
Bash the walnuts to a rubbly powder with a rolling pin and then mix with all the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl.
In a separate bowl, cream the butter and the sugar together until considerably lighter. Then add the eggs, one at a time, and then the dry ingredients, bit by bit. At this stage, add the coffee, which shouldn't be too hot as coffee that is too hot will melt the fat in the butter.
Divide the mixture between the two lined tins and bake in the oven for 25 minutes, or until the sponge has risen and feels springy to the touch.
While the cake is in the oven, you can make the buttercream.
Cool the cakes in their tins on a wire rack for about 1- minutes, before turning them out onto the rack and peel off the baking parchment.

Instead of using instant espresso powder, like it says in the original recipe, I made a shot of espresso from our Nespresso machine (which is pretty damn cool, by the way.)

I had never even tasted a coffee and walnut cake before, let alone made one, so I had no idea what it was meant to taste like. BUT IT TASTED GOOD, and I think that has to be a good sign, right?

Sunday, 23 October 2011

American Brownies!

Everyone has their own brownie recipe, but I use Delia's (because Delia Smith is amazing. No argument...)

110g butter
50g American unsweetened chocolate or plain dessert chocolate
2 eggs, beaten
225g granulated sugar
50g plain flour
1 tsp baking power
1/4 tsp salt
110g chopped nuts - these can be walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts or Brazils or a mixture (today I used walnuts, almonds and some pecans I had lying around)

Pre-heat the oven to 180C/160C fan

Grease and line a baking tin measuring 18 x 28cm (or use a silicone brownie tray that doesn't need greasing).

First of all melt the butter and the chocolate (broken up into small pieces) together in a basin fitted over simmering water on a low heat). Away from the heat, stir al the other ingredients into the butter and chocolate mixture thoroughly, then spread all this in the lined tin.

Bake in the oven for 30 minutes, until the mixture shows signs of shrinking away from the side of the tin, and the centre feels springy. A skewer inserted in the centre should come out cleanly (but don't overcook - it will firm up as it cools). Then leave the mixture in the tin to cool for 10 minutes before dividing into approximately fifteen squares and transferring them to a wire rack to finish cooling.

 By using a silicone brownie mould, I didn't need to grease or line a tin, which is time consuming and it makes it easier to get the brownie out after baking.

After 10 minutes of cooling, I cut the brownie into rectangles, sprinkled them with icing sugar and swamped them in raspberries (because raspberries are the best berries, fact.)

I'm going to freeze one of my brownie pieces until around two weeks time, when I shall be doing another brownie bake, but next time I am going to try another recipe, by Mary Berry. Can I just get this straight? I ADORE MARY BERRY. She was amazing on The Great British Bake-Off, and want to bake absolutely everything by her.
When I've done the Mary Berry brownie bake, I will compare the two recipes and the brownies and tell you all my ultimate brownie recipe, I'm very excited!!

Saturday, 22 October 2011

Birthday Shenanigans!

so today is my birthday and I finally reach the age of fifteen. That's really scary, that means I'm halfway to 30, which feels absolutely ancient!
That also meant that I got to change my blog biography from 'an awkward fourteen year old cooking student' to the ever so different 'an awkward fifteen year old cooking student'.

During my special day, I went to my drama school (of course), went for a special birthday lunch to Nando's, our favourite restaurant, and then headed to Westfield for some shopping for some flat whites with the infamous Cousin Candice (although both Ella and Bebe drunk hot chocolate, and I was the only flat white drinker of the table, silly girls).
After making such a giant birthday rainbow cake, I took some for the girls in Nando's. I think they were surprised that I had any baking skill whatsoever. And the whole restaurant sung me 'Happy Birthday'!

Present-wise, I got brand new iTouch, which is going to get a lot of use, as well as perfume, money etc.
Baking wise, I got two lovely books.
Firstly, from Bebe, I got an amazing cupcake book called 'What's New, Cupcake?' by Karen Tack & Alan Richardson.

They have the most spectacular recipes and creations in this book, I can't wait to try a few out, even though they are all really challenging. I know my mum, being the biggest fan of my cakes (just kidding, she wishes I would stop), will be thrilled at my new gift.

Even Chinese takeaway noodles and fried rice cupcakes were in this book (of course it's not real noodles, it's made out of icing and sweets. yum.)

My mum and I were fans of the show from the very beginning of this series, we were hooked. So when it finally came to the end, I asked for the cookbook, so I could relive all of the classic memories (I'm a freak, so what?)

All in all, it was a great day, spent with great people doing great things!
Thank you to everyone who wished me a great day on Facebook or Twitter, you guys are all great!

Until next year! xxxx

Friday, 21 October 2011

Rainbow Cake!

Because it is my birthday tomorrow, and I'm turning 15 (yes, that's right. 15. uberly-dooberly excited!!) I made myself a birthday cake.
That sounds really lame. Nobody should bake their own birthday cake. However, no one was willing to make a cake for me, so my friend Marlin and I made a rainbow cake, consisting of four layers of sponge: red, yellow, green and blue. We then covered it in vanilla buttercream icing.


(I apologise in advance for any hideous pictures of me. Fair to say I wasn't looking my best)


400g unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing
400g caster sugar
2tsp vanilla extract
8 medium eggs
400g self-raising flour
food colouring

420g butter
840g icing sugar
4-5tbsp milk
1tsp vanilla extract

I couldn't find a definite recipe for rainbow cake so I kind of had to make one up.

Heat oven to 190C/170C fan/gas 5. Grease and butter the sandwich tins. Place the butter, sugar and vanilla extract into a bowl and beat well to a creamy consistency. Slowly beat in the eggs, one by one, then fold in the flour and mix well.
Divide the cake mixture equally into bowls and add enough food colouring to create the colour desired. Then, transfer the coloured mixture into the cake tins, place in the oven and bake for about 20 minutes until risen. Check that they are cooked, and then turn out onto a wire rack and cool completely

Beat the butter in a large bowl until soft. Add half of the icing sugar and beat until smooth.
Add the remaining icing sugar and two tablespoons on the milk and beat until the mixture is creamy and smooth. Beat in some milk, if necessary, to loosen the mixture.

You will need 4 sandwich tins to create four layers, but as I only had two, I did the ingredients for the sponge in two batches.

Marlin, my co-baker for the day, and I have always wanted to make a rainbow cake. We'd seen so many pictures on Tumblr, and it was time to make our own.

We wanted bright, bright colours, and only achieved this through lots (and lots) of food dye.

When the mixture was as colourful as we wanted it to be, we transferred it to the tin, and made lots of mess.

After 20 minutes in the oven, the first batch (blue and green) were done, but went a little brown, so we decided to try the next batch at 15 minutes. 
When we took the second batch out of the oven, they seemed fine and cooked. But when we left them to cool for 5 minutes, everything went wrong...

The entire structure collapsed, as part of the cake wasn't cooked (though when we tested several parts of the cake with a skewer it seemed fine) and made a total mess. It looked unrepairable, until we somehow managed to stick it back in its tin (with lots of effort and moments of fear) and put it back in the oven.
It didn't look its best, but that didn't matter, as the whole cake would be covered in buttercream icing.

When all the cakes were finally baked, and they were layered in order of the rainbow, we made the icing.

WE WERE DONE!! The cake doesn't look its best on the outside, but we covered it in sprinkles, stuck some candles in and everyone sang Happy Birthday to me while I stood there awkwardly, not really knowing what to do with myself.

When the cake finally got cut, and we saw the inside of our creation, Marlin and I cried. We actually cried.
What are our lives coming to?

It looked amazing. I'm so happy with the result. The colours were so bright and the sprinkles were also really bright colours.