Month: February 2012

Waitrose Spring/Summer 2012 launch


Yesterday I popped along to the Waitrose Spring/Summer 2012 press launch. The invite said “Come and see our new indoor and outdoor homewares and you’ll have a chance to taste all our new summer food” Who can resist an offer like that?

I can’t wait till the products are on sale (which will be just after Easter) to share them with you, so here’s a sneaky peek at what they had on show!

The new picnic ranges are really cute with fab little pots with lids (I love a lidded pot. Don’t get me started on Lock and Lock’s), pretty melamine cups and plates all in lovely ice cream shades, but it was the ceramic wares that I completely fell in love with!

Measuring spoons

I’ve accidentally started a bit of a collection of these ceramic style measuring spoons. They look so ‘Old School’. At home I put them in jugs and have them out on show. I know I’d break them otherwise. I’m way too heavy handed. These pink spot ones are really sweet.

Cake stand

Have I mentioned cake stands recently? Being an Interior Stylist I am allowed to have an obsession with cake stands. Tim thinks I’ve stopped buying them as I have nine! I don’t…. I have a LOT more, but don’t tell him! These new ones at Waitrose are really beautiful. I love the spot design throughout their bakeware range, it really works on these stands. The scalloped edge is a really nice touch. Yep, I’ll have to sneak one in without him noticing!

Cake stand

Pie dish

I’ve seen quite a few of these ripple edged pie dishes at launches recently. They’re a great design and are also a really good size usually they’re too small. I also love the mixing bowl. More mixing bowls should come with a handle and spout. Very pretty yet practical.

pie dish

The whole range is called ‘Sweet Sundae’ and  comes in both baby pink and blue and has within the collection bowls, flan dishes, cake tins, cutters, whisks, colander, jugs, tea towels, spatulas and loads more.

Pretty in pink

I can’t finish off this post without giving a quick mention to the deserts that are going to be available from late June – I didn’t try all of them (really!) but I will say that the retro puds – especially the Tapioca one are deeelish.

There is also a new Waitrose cook book that Amanda, the lovely Waitrose PR is going to send me so I can share one of their recipes with you. I’m really looking forward to that, so watch this space!


Noah’s Arc Birthday cake

Cakes gone by…

Noah's arc birthday cake

I love this cake design. It was so much fun to do. My friend Simi asked me to make it for her third son Hugo’s first birthday party. I saw Hugo in the playground just this morning. He’s nearly three already and a proper cutie.

When I start a cake I always try to cover the cake board at least a week ahead of delivery. This means it has time to set hard (I am prone to leaving finger prints in them otherwise!) I covered this one in blue icing then used a darker blue food colour to paint on waves.

I also do all the modeling I can ahead of time. When you use icing to create animals and people they take at least a week to 10 days to dry hard enough to be handled or position so that they stand up on their own. It took me a long time to learn this habit. I’ve had legs fall off on delivery and all sorts of mishaps! But more about that in another post!

Noah's arc cake, elephants

I made these animals in one weekend and Beau sat with me and made the exact same animals too. It was her idea to have butterflies and parrots on the boathouse, also Hugo’s big brother Calum was in her class at school and he said that spiders would be good, so we included them too!

Both the arc and boathouse are made from chocolate cake, everything else is made from pre-coloured sugarpaste, except the ramp that the sheep are walking up. That is actually a thin cake board cut to size and covered with sugarpaste. I needed to know that there was strength there. One bump in the road and an icing ramp would have cracked before I even got off the drive!

Noah's Arc cake -lions

I shaped the arc part of the cake so that it was only slightly smaller at the bottom than it was at the top. I wasn’t experienced enough to get the icing to stick inwards without causing creases, so I made it a simple design. I used a sharp knife to score ‘plank’ lines horizontally around the ship then every now and again made a vertical line for an end of plank -with two dots for nail marks.Noah's arc cake, snakes

The house was a rectangle of cake with a pitched roof shape on top. I made one square cake large enough to cut up and do all the separate pieces in one go. The house was covered in chocolate sugarpaste and the tiles were made with an oval cutter. Each red ovals was cut in half and then placed from the bottom edge of the roof upwards and were attached with royal icing.

Noah's arc cake, Monkeys

All the Animals were positioned with royal icing except the bees which were made on food standard wire (which is available from cake decorating shops) I made them so they could be placed in the arc after the cake was delivered. they move around like they are buzzing.

When it comes to a Noah’s Arc cake you really can go on and on. Beau and I made way too many animals that just weren’t ever going to fit onto the cake, but the modeling is the fun part and you just can’t stop yourself from playing once you get your hands on the sugarpaste. Well, we had fun anyway!


Best for baking… digital scales

Zassenhaus digital kitchen scales 

Pink scales

How cute are these kitchen scales? I received a press release about them last week and knew I had to get my hands on them to test, so I could share them with you. Retro designs are big in home wares right now and baking gadgets are no different.

The design

The scales are high accuracy which is great. If you’ve ever used digital scales before then you’ll know that when you’re weighing your ingredients they tend to jump up in big increments and oddly enough they jump in even numbers. It can be hard to add just one more gram, but not with these. They are so precise.

Accuracy is the name of the game.

The scales are made from glass and have four accuracy sensors underneath, which means they can measure from 1g up to 5kg effortlessly.

Digital reader

The digital reader is retractable which is great for storage. It also means that the scales would look great out on display on a kitchen shelf. I found the digital reader a little bit fiddly to get the hang of when I wanted it to go back to zero, but once I’d mastered the knack, it was a doddle. You simply press the ‘on’ button and it resets to zero after you’ve added each ingredient. You can also switch between metric and imperial units.Zassenhaus digital kitchen scales

Why I love it

The best thing about these scales (apart from the great old-fashioned dial design on the front and the cute colour) is that they’re really effortless to clean. My old ones have so many nooks and crannies in them that it’s hard to get every bit of icing sugar or flour off. But with this design you literally run a damp cloth over it and it’s like new!

Zassenhaus digital kitchen scales

Did I mention that they are available in 6 great shades? You can get yours by clicking on the image of the green  Zassenhaus digital kitchen scale on the right from Amazon for around £30.     

Me, the Village people and a Sticky Toffee pudding!

Hands up who likes Sticky toffee pudding?

I was very fortunate a few weeks ago to receive an email asking if I would like to review some Cartmel puddings here on Cakes, Bakes and Cookies. They wanted me to be on their Pudding Panel. When you receive an email like that on a Friday afternoon (and you’re hungry!) it’s very hard to say no. I mean let’s face it who doesn’t like pudding.

I love the illustrations on the Cartmel packaging.

The lovely PR told me all about the Cartmel brand, which started life in a small village shop back in 1988 (more to come on that in a future post). She told me she wanted to send some of their best known puddings for me to taste. Of course I jumped at the chance. That was when she told me about the sticky toffee pudding which they are best known for. Now, I don’t think I have mentioned on here before , but I don’t actually like toffee or fudge, or caramel! But I thought I would still try them out and get the kids and Tim involved. That way if it was a bit too ‘toffee’ for me I would still know how good they were.

The delivery

The box arrived on Friday and it contained the Sticky toffee pudding, sticky toffee apple crumble and their sticky toffee sauce. Crumble is one of my all time favorite puddings, so I was really looking forward to giving this a go.

The Cartmel sticky toffee pudding

Saturday lunch time I popped both puddings onto a baking tray and watched them bubble in the oven. Let me tell you the house smelt divine!

Ready for the oven
Ready for the oven

The Sticky toffee pudding was the first to come out. It was bubbling away with all that gooey toffee sauce on the top.

Cartmel Sticky toffee pudding

I popped a slice in each bowl. The actual sponge pudding is really soft and sticky, you know the kind where the serving spoon get’s clogged up with all the toffee-ness, and the sauce just oozes over the top? I love it when you first put the serving spoon in and all that steam escapes.
I thought I’d give the serving spoon a quick taste. It was gooood! So I tucked into the bowl and I have to say I loved it. I was expecting to find the toffee taste too strong but it was delicious and I finished the whole serving!Cartmel sticky toffee pudding Great with ice cream
Beau and Darcey also really liked it. Beau wouldn’t take the spoon out of her mouth for me to take her picture. She wasn’t going to stop eating for anyone!

Beau Mmmmmm  Darcey Mmmmmm

The Cartmel Sticky Toffee Apple Crumble

Cartmel Sticky toffee apple crumbleThen it was time for the apple crumble to come out of the oven. Having liked the toffee pudding I was expecting great things from the crumble. I was not disappointed! The crumble has a lovely light oaty texture to it and the toffee on the apples adds to the flavour. When I make crumble I add cinnamon to the apples to give it an extra warming feeling, and the toffee has exactly the same effect. I seriously couldn’t leave it alone. Tim walked in to the kitchen to taste his Sticky Toffee pudding (he looooves toffee!) and when he saw the crumble I selfishly said “ I don’t need you to test this one”  He tucked into his pud, not even waiting to sit down to eat it and then it was gone!

Cartmel Sticky toffee apple crumble with ice creamThe crumble on the other hand was kept to one side, he he he! The girls had finished theirs and had run off to play, Tim was in weekend DIY mode, so I had the crumble all to myself.

Tim MmmmmIt’s at this point that I should mention that I had made the girls their lunch and was about to make mine when the oven timer went off. After a  bowl of sticky toffee pudding and then a bowl of sticky toffee apple crumble – with ice cream, I realized that I had completely forgotten to have any lunch! Oh well never mind.


The next morning I had breakfast really early (Darcey wakes up at 6am EVERY day, so even Sundays are an early start for me). I always give my oven a deep clean on a Sunday morning. It’s not a nice chore to do so I thought I would reward myself with a second breakfast. Yep, you’ve guessed it. At 8am I was reheating a lovely big portion of apple crumble. All I can say is thank goodness I was at the gym a few hours later!

As to the sauce, I’ve not played with that yet. The girls want to put it on ice cream with sprinkles but I’ve got a few ideas up my sleeve. Watch this space!

What’s next?

My next Cartmel delivery is due in April. Who knows what it will contain. There has been mention of Lemon drizzle cake, Black Forrest pudding and Raspberry sponge. Whatever it is I am very, VERY excited. Cartmel really rocks the pudding world!

Cartmel  handmade puddings are made with 100% natural ingredients which are sourced from local suppliers wherever possible. They are available in various sizes from 150g (why would you restrict yourself like that?) to 730 g packs (now that’s more like it)

Cartmel puddings are available from Waitrose, Booths and fine independent food retailers. Why not visit or call them on  015395 58300 to find your nearest stockist.


Tessa’s mini birthday cake

Cakes gone by…

Tessa Mini Birthday cake

I had worked with Tessa for nine years when I found out that she was about to have a (I won’t say big!) birthday. I wanted to make her a little cake for the occasion. One that I could carry into the office on the train, that wouldn’t get ruined on the 20 minute walk to the train station.

The cake

My plan was to make it small in diameter but taller than my usual cakes. I actually used the Lakeland pork pie tin to make it! It’s only 4″ diameter!  I love these proportions and should make my cakes taller more often!
It was a Madeira cake with a buttercream filling. I covered the cake and board with pink icing in one go- rather than separately. This is a great way to keep the cake central on the board. It’s also a lot quicker to do!

Tessa Mini Birthday cakeThe flowers

I made the flowers in pale pink sugarpaste, using a blossom shaped plunger-cutter and then used a decorators tool to lightly emboss lines into the centre of each petal. When they were dry I used a pink gel food colour to paint the centre of the flowers. The colour pools inside the lines which gives them more definition and a cuter appearance. Finally I gave them a really light dusting of edible shimmer (the white/silver one). If I was making this cake now I would have added a small dot of royal icing in the centre of each flower to finish it off.
To arrange the cake I piped pale green lines for stems from the cake board up, with a few iced leaves then added the flowers all over. I cut out the ’60’ sign from sugar paste and used royal icing to write the name on the board.

The art of giving

This is one of my earlier cakes and I got all self conscious when it came to giving it to Tessa. I’m known for being a bit extra and suddenly thought I was a bit over the top for making her a cake. She wasn’t even in my department! But I think she’s great! Anyway, I waited for her to come out of a meeting…… and waited…… and waited. (There’s a lot of waiting around for meetings to end …… and start on magazines!) So in the end I left the cake in its box with pretty ribbon wrapped around it, on her desk. Yes, I chickened out! Tessa’s team had bought her presents and cards which were on her desk too, so it was a lovely surprise when she finally came out of the meeting.
Of course she loved the cake and the fact that I had made a special effort for her. Why on earth would anyone ever not like to be made a special cake! I am funny sometimes!!!


Half term baking the Roald Dahl way.

The best books to bake with ….

Roald Dahl’s Completely Revolting Recipes and other tasty treats

Roald Dahl's Completely Revolting Recipes

Nish Nobblers

Beau is a HUGE Roald Dahl fan. We have read his books at bedtime countless times, so when she was given this fantastic cook book for Christmas by Nanny Ali she was absolutely thrilled. She took it to bed with her, copied the drawings in her home made books and literally drove me mad to make something from it from Boxing day onwards!  We made the Nishnobblers which are from the book ‘The Giraffe the Pelly and me’, just before New Years Eve. They didn’t last a day!

The book


When a book is called ‘Roald Dahl’s Completely revolting recipes and other tasty treats you know to expect some quite spectacular recipes. Each one is inspired by one of his books and has some fab illustrations by Quentin Blake (I love his quirky drawings) along side.

Some of our favourite recipes include…

  • Crispy wasp stings on a piece of buttered toast – from James and the giant peach- They’re Coconutty cinnamon bites to you and me.

  • Bruce Bogtrotter’s cake – from Matilda – remember that bit in the book where Bruce has to eat the whole chocolate cake infront of The Trunchbull? Well I think I could eat this one. It looks amazing.

  • Georges Marvelous medicine chicken soup – from Georges marvelous medicine (of course) Thick and filling soup. (sounds like Jewish Penicillin to me)

  • Hornets stewed in tar– from James and the giant peach. Coloured caramel with bits in. Should be horrible but actually sounds quite appealing!

  • Hot ice cream for cold days – Charlie and the Chocolate factory. Yes this is ice cream that is hot. Brilliant!

  • Grobswichy cake – from The BFG which is a pecan, cinnamon type cake

  • It’s also worth mentioning ‘A plate of soil with engine oil -from James and the giant peach.  I can’t tell you how gross the photo of this looks. It really does  look like a plate of engine oil dribbling into the mouth of the little boy- Yuck! But on closer inspection you see it’s actually a chocolate cake and sounds delicious- if you close your eyes and ignore the detailed  illustration first!
Engine oil- Yuck!

The book contains 50 original recipes and is packed with snippets from the story books as well as a photo glossary and useful measuring information at the front. Each recipe has a chefs hat scale to let you know how much adult input is needed. One hat = ‘easy peasy’ , three hats ‘tricky but tasty’.

One of my favourite parts of the Roald Dahl reading books is the bit at the end where you get to find out loads of interesting facts about the man himself. I love it when we get to that bit. It’s like you know a little bit of him that no one else knows. Like he’s your friend. This book is no different with Roald Dahl’s fab foodie facts. I’m not going to spoil it for you, you have to get the book yourself!
In all this is a great book for kids of all ages. It’s fun to look at and read as much as it is to bake with it.

So on to the recipe. The lovely people at The Road Dahl Foundation ( have given me permission to share one of the recipes from the book with you and as we have already made the Nishnobblers – which were a huge success judging by the chocolate chops my girls had after eating them, here’s the recipe below.

Nishnobbler recipe

You will need

Pyrex bowl
sheets of bubblewrap
7cm pastry cutter
pastry brush

100g good quality dark chocolate
100g good quality white chocolate

Makes around 6

What you need to do

Nishnobblers are made from tempered chocolate. Tempering is when you mix melted and solid chocolate together to make it shinier and more manageable. It is an indispensable skill to have in life and you learn how to do it right here! Once you’ve got the hang of it you’ll be able to create masterful chocolate constructions to rival Willy Wonka’s.

Weigh the chocolate without eating any.

Melt 70g of the dark chocolate in a pyrex bowl on a defrost setting in the microwave or over a saucepan of simmering water. When it is melted stir the unmelted 30g into it until the whole lot is smooth.

Melting chocolate

Paint over the bubble wrap with the melted chocolate.

Paint the chocolate Mmmm   

Place it in the fridge for 15 minutes.

Temper the white chocolate in the same way (N.B white chocolate melts faster than dark chocolate, so you may want to let it cool a little before you start painting.)

Darcey's turn with the white chocolate    Melting the white chocolate

Spread it over the dark chocolate. Chill for 15 minutes.

Smear it on Darcey! Looking good already!

Carefully peel the bubble wrap away from the chocolate.

Peel off the bubblewrap

Cut it in to rounds with the pastry cutter.

Beau cut out the discs

At this point I would suggest that mums and dad’s eat the left over chocolate that didn’t make it into a round. They’re delicious!Nishnobblers

Chocolate chops
I think Darcey enjoyed the Nishnobblers!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
%d bloggers like this: