Month: March 2012

The personalised name cake

Cakes gone by…

Personalised name cake

Beau’s 7th Birthday cake

When Beau was 7 I was really busy with work and knew I wouldn’t have time to create a masterpiece for her birthday party. She was having a crafting party at home and I had a lot of ‘making stuff’ to plan -mug  painting, magnet making, jewellery creating etc. So for her cake I decided to make it a really simple, pretty personalised cake.

I made the flowers from sugar paste while the cake was in the oven and left them to harden overnight. The next day I filled the cake, which was chocolate, with chocolate buttercream and iced it in a pretty pink colour. I then used Royal icing to add each of the guests names onto the cake. When it was time to cut the cake each girl got her name. The kids loved it and it took no time at all to make. It was a really quick fix.

Obviously Beau got the biggest slice, I mean it was her birthday after all!


How to make cake pops

Mmmmm Cake pops!

I mentioned yesterday that I had never tried to make cake pops before. I think it’s because I read a hysterically funny blog post somewhere (years ago) where the person trying to make them made a complete mess of it! They weren’t round, the candy melts wouldn’t stick, the sticks wouldn’t stick and her disaster stuck in my mind. So I really read the book Pop Party  and all the instructions on how to make pops and off I went…….

What you’ll need

  • 8″ cake. (I used Madeira but anything goes!)
  •   Buttercream  (Mix 150g butter at room temperature with 250g icing sugar and 1 tsp vanilla essence)
  • lollipop sticks
  • Candy melts (available from Sainsburys,Hobbycraft & Amazon)
  • Decorations ( I used sprinkles, pearls and mini flowers)

How to make the cake pops 

Cake and chopper!

I used an 8 inch Madeira cake . I removed all the dark outer edges of the cake to leave a nice clean, fluffy surface. Then I whacked it piece by piece into the food processor to turn it into crumbs.

Oh Crumbs!

I wasn’t sure how much I was going to need so I turned the whole 8 inch cake into crumbs!

Mix the crumbs  and buttercream

Ideally you should use a cream cheese frosting to mix in with the cake crumbs, but I had completed a cake during the week and had some buttercream left over, so added that instead to the food processor bowl and blended again.

Till it forms a nice big lump!

Beat it again till it forms a clump.

weigh each one

In her book, Pop Party, Clare O’Connell says to weigh each ball so that they will all be about the same size. She suggests 30g  each which I agree is spot on! Then roll them in to balls and place them on a tray and pop them in the freezer for about 20 minutes to harden them a little. They do tend to get a bit squishy if left out or handled for too long.

Dip the stick

Heat up a few candy melts (which are basically a type of chocolate icing) so that you can place a little at the end of each lollipop stick.

Push the stick in

Then push the stick into the cake pop and leave to dry.

Cake pops all stuck!

We made half the cake mix into round pops and the rest as little cylinder shapes. It would seem that my hands are not the right shape to create really round balls. Bumpy ones are not a problem at all!

My little helper

It was at this point where I got a little helper (and my kitchen became instantly covered in chocolate and sprinkles!)

Dip and roll each cake pop

To heat the candy melts you can place them in a microwave friendly bowl on half power and stir every 30 seconds until they are all completely melted. When they are ready they look like a thicker lumpier version of  melted chocolate. To make it possible and much, much easier to coat the pops Clare says to add a little vegetable oil to the melts, one teaspoon at a time. I did this and couldn’t believe how much it needed! I kept adding it a spoon at a time until I could dip each pop and coat it easily without it being thick and lumpy. Don’t worry, they still dry smooth and hardish.


I had to improvise when it came to where to put them to let them  firm up.

We decided to make pink and chocolate pops with sprinkles, pearls and mini flower decs. Some we double dipped in both colours.  In the end it was just as I had expected, but with more mess, but they tasted great and looked pretty cute all together.

 Cake pops ready to go!

As you can see, I made a cake pop stand from two polystyrene forms which I glued together and placed strips of wallpaper around the out side edges. (How I love my hot glue gun!) I then used a spare lollipop stick to create the holes in the polystyrene for the pops to stand in. Remember to leave enough space in between the pops so that they don’t knock into each other.

Once assembled, I wrapped the whole thing in cling film and tied a ribbon and bow around it so I could hold onto them in the car and then present them to my friend at her party.

They seemed to go down well. Well there weren’t any left in any case!

So with my first cake pops under my belt I want to make them all the time now! I’m making my cousin a cake for her baby shower party in a few weeks. I think there may be a cake pop or two on that cake now! Watch this space!


‘Pop party’ book review

‘Pop party’ book review

Pop party book

This is the second Cake pop book by Claire O’Connell from The Pop Bakery. At just 23 she runs a successful cake pop business from her home in West Hampstead, London, creating truly beautiful pops, you know the kind that are too good to eat!

I hadn’t made cake pops before getting my hands on this ‘Pop Party’ book. They’ve been on my to-do list for a while now. I had a fancy dress party to go to on Saturday night so I decided to attempt to make some for that!  This was SO the book to inspire and help me, but more on that tomorrow!

The book

Not only does this book contain the basics on how to make a cake pop, but it also has recipes for some of Claire’s other delicious cakes including Omelie’s chocolate cake, chocolate pistachio ice cream cake and Ruffle cake (this is gorgeous. I must have a go at this one with its delicate layers of soft pink icing)

Ruffle cake
I love the cute book mark in the book.

The cake pops

Each of the cake pops in the book look so cute. So much more detailed than the basic round ball ones we have all seen. There are babies with cute faces, racing cars, pencils, balloons, monkeys, fish, dinosaurs, swans, camels, unicorns, hot dogs, apples, mermaids and so much more.

My favourite designs have to be the mini tiered wedding cakes. They’re absolutely gorgeous hence they make the cover of the book (check it out in my Amazon book shop to the right of this post!). The Cavalier dogs are also really sweet with their big eyes and fluffy ears.  Lastly the ice lollies in bright colours with a bite taken out of them are very sweet (no pun intended!)

The extras

As well as the recipes and inspiration there are examples on how to display your pops as well as decorations to really create a party atmosphere. There’s a how-to on making paper roses, drink parasols, cake bunting as well as instructions on how to make a tiered display stand from polystyrene. The stand is really clever as it means the cake pops will stand up perfectly and not get damaged in transit. I made one for my cake pops.

This is the kind of book that you just can’t help but flick through and want to make absolutely everything in it. It’s beautifully shot, incredibly pretty and Clare makes it all look so effortless (it’s not- believe me, she’s seriously talented!) I found her tips and ideas made my first attempt at cake pops a whole lot easier.

Right I’m off now to by her other book Pop Bakery now. I can’t get enough of them!


Gluten free banoffee muffins recipe

Muffins for Evie

Gluten free banoffee muffins recipe

Last week we had a cake sale at school to raise money for charity. We have them all the time! One of Darcey’s friends, Evie, is gluten intolerant so I made some muffins especially for her so she wouldn’t feel left out. Evie is seriously cute.

I wanted to do something with a great flavour, rather than just another fairy cake and what with the Cartmel Sticky toffee sauce (which is gluten free!) from a previous taste test still sitting in my cupboard waiting for a trial run, I decided to make banoffee muffins. They’re really, really easy to make and of course taste great!

I got some advice on how to go about making gluten free cakes. Evie’s mum had told me that you can just substitute regular flour for gluten free versions, but when I tried that they haven’t tasted quite as good their gluten counterparts.

Gluten free flour

On the packaging for the gluten free flour it says add a little extra liquid. With the first batch I added milk which didn’t really work. The cakes came out quite heavy and tasted and looked like mini banana bread cakes. It will come as no surprise to you that I still ate practically all of these cakes, but they definitely weren’t muffins in any way, shape or form!

After the Truefoodies advice (her “Any questions post” was  very well timed! Check it out here) I added an egg for the extra liquid the second time round. BINGO! They were perfect.

I also wanted to see how these came out with a non gluten flour (in which I used the same recipe but with regular flour and only 2 eggs) and they were practically the same.


(makes 6 nice big muffins) 

125g butter (at room temperature)

125g brown sugar (I used dark brown sugar)

125g Gluten free self raising flour (I used Doves which is available in Sainsburys and Tescos)

3 large eggs

1 tsp vanilla essence

1 banana- mashed up  (the softer and squidgier the better)

Jar of sticky toffee sauce (Cartmel’s is my favourite)

How to make Gluten free  Banoffee muffins

Heat the oven to 170°C. Place muffin cases in the tin ready.

muffin cases

Blend the sugar and butter together. You can use a food mixer / hand held electric mixer for this. Then add all the rest of the ingredients and mix gently until blended but this time use a wooden spoon or a spatula ( I love my silicon spatulas) .

All the ingredients

Try not to over mix. The less you mix the better the muffins will bake/ rise/ taste.

Mix it up

Add a heaped tablespoon of mix to each muffin case.

Half fill the cases

Use a tea spoon to add a dollop of toffee sauce to the centre of each muffin

Add a dollop of toffee sauce

Cover the sauce with more cake mix, filling the case almost to the top.

Fill the cases to the top

Bake in the oven for 20 minutes. Avoid opening the oven door.

Pop them in the oven

The muffins will rise up out of the paper cases and crack on the top. When they are done (you can tell by lightly pressing the top and if it springs back it’s ready – or you can insert a skewer and if it comes out dry it’s done) Remove the tray from the oven and place it on a wire rack to cool down enough for you to handle the cases and pop them on the wire rack so they can cool completely.

Gluten free banoffee muffins

I was really happy with the results of these muffins. Now I have to start thinking about what I can make for Evie for the next cake sale. Any suggestions? Please leave me a comment if you have any ideas what you think a 5 year old gluten free cutie would like.

For Evie



P.S. A special thank you goes out to Evie for the beautiful necklace she made me with the immaculate repeating pattern. I love it Sweetie!

 Em XX 

The New Complete International Jewish Cookbook review

The New Complete International Jewish Cookbook review

Let me just start by saying that Evelyn Rose rocks!

As I mentioned in my post about Hamantaschen last week I have a fantastic Jewish cook book that is used by all of my family. It’s called the ‘The New Complete International Jewish Cookbook’ written by Evelyn Rose, published by Pavilion. My mum bought us all this book when we moved out from the family home. Mine was signed by Evelyn which makes it extra special. As you can see it has been made wet at some point and has smudged a little which really upsets me!Evelyn Rose's New Complete International Jewish Cookbook

Evelyn Rose was like the Jewish Delia. There was nothing that she didn’t know about Jewish cooking. There are many food laws to consider when you keep a kosher kitchen, mainly that you can’t mix meat and milk products, so a kosher cook book is essential! This book has over 1,100  recipes, 30 chapters and explains all about the different foods for different festivals.  Every Jewish festival comes with a traditional cake of some description. It’s a wonder there aren’t more overweight Jewish people around considering how many festivals there are!

The book

The chapters are broken up into the following categories

  • Starters
  • Fish and Vegetarian meals
  • Meat
  • Vegetables
  • Desserts
  • Baking (Yay- obviously my best bit!)
  • Preserves
  • Cooking for a crowd  (also known as feeding an army!)
  • Festivals

Now, I have to admit that although I can bake, I’m pretty rubbish at cooking so this is my only book for cooking kosher meat and fish. I follow the recipes to the letter and they always come out great. They are also exactly as I remember them as cooked by my grandma as well as my mum. Real, traditional style cooking.

A friend of mine recently remarked that she hated not having pictures in a cookery book, as she didn’t know what the dishes were supposed to look like. I have to say that I have never worried about that, and that’s probably as I have always used this book (even from a young age with my mum). It doesn’t have a single photo in it. With 1100 recipes there really isn’t room! It does have these really cute illustrations though.

Evelyn Rose's New Complete International Jewish Cookbook
Just one of the lovely illustrations throughout out the book

The Jewish Festivals

When it comes to baking for festivals I love it that you just turn to the right page for all you need. So when it comes to Rosh Hashanah you know where to get a Honey Cake recipe.

For Purim there are no less than five types of Hamantaschen (sweetand savory) to choose from.

Hamantaschen diagram
I love the little diagrams, like how to fold Hamantaschen

Peseach is especially hard to bake and cook for as the food we eat for the 8 days of that festival are limiting and very specific, so this one stop book is all you need- the cinnamon balls and macaroons are a family favorite not to mention the Plava (Oh how I love a heavy Plava cake! Not long now. ) I have to admit that as I am flicking through the pages of this book-  so as not to leave anything out- it automatically falls open at cinnamon balls!)

During Shavuot we traditionally eat Cheese cake (which is probably why it’s Tim’s favorite festival) I love Evelyn’s  Yomtov cheese cake, but let’s face it. I love all cheesecakes!

I could go on and on, but I will end this post saying that I am sure one day I will be buying this book for Beau and Darcey. I can’t see it ever going out of print or fashion. It’s the official Jewish cooking bible and I truly wouldn’t be without it!


Power Ranger Birthday cake

Power Ranger Birthday  Cake

Power Rangers birthday Cake

I recently had a request from a reader called Laurie, asking me how I made this Power Ranger cake which she saw on my ‘More cakes’ page. This is another early cake which I can’t believe I did two years ago! It feels like yesterday. George was at nursery (and now school) with Beau and Sammie is a year older than Darcey, so they were also at nursery together too.

The boys were both really into Power Rangers at the time and I thought the easiest way to do this theme was with a head shape. I made a round Madeira cake and cut the top off so it was more helmet shaped. The whole cake was covered in a thin layer of white sugar paste icing. Then it was covered in a second layer of blue icing. I made templates from paper for the eyes, mouth and the badge detail on the top of the helmet.

The Mouth

I wanted the cake to look as 3D as possible. I positioned the mouth template over the base of the cake and cut away and removed the first layer of blue icing, leaving the white icing underneath in place. I then used white icing to create the lips, attaching them with a damp paintbrush. I painted the whole mouth and lips in edible silver paint (you can buy it on Amazon here) and let it dry. Edible metallic paints are best used with alcohol whether painting or cleaning the paint brushes. I learnt this the hard way and had to throw out a few brushes as the bristles just clump together if you use water.

The eyes

I cut out the double layer eye masks from the templates, making the black one a little smaller than the white. I then positioned them on the cake. For the helmet badge at the top I placed two rectangles on the badge shape then used a larger cutter to imprint rectangles onto it, giving it more detail. I then painted it in silver edible paint and left it to dry before I secured it to the cake with a little Royal icing. I cut the ‘V’ shape for the helmet out of black icing and secured that with royal icing too.

The cake board

I always try and make my cake boards look extra special or as detailed as possible, so for this cake I cut out the two names nice and big in a bold red colour, then I cut out different sized stars, some with an extra star cut out. I used a pale blue sugar paste icing to cover the whole board so it could create a cute backdrop.

In all I think this cake works well as it’s a simple design, the colors stand out and the board gives it that little something extra. What do you think?


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