Month: March 2013

Cakes Bakes And Cookies is Two!

Goodness me!

Is my calendar really right?

Is really two years old today?


But it feels like 5 minutes….. actually it feels like I’ve been writing it and baking it all my life. I love it. I get excited when I find new things to share with you all. New books. New recipes. New cakes I’ve decorated. I have albums bursting full of photos ready for posts that I haven’t got round to writing yet as I get so busy with my grown up work and they get over taken by something newer and fresher. But right now I just want to say

“Thank you”

Thank you for following, the comments (which I looooovvvveeee!) and for all the support – especially from family and friends who have become accustomed to my baking obsession and my going on and on about ‘the blog’- even if you secretly like it when you come round and there’s something fresh out of the oven (Yes you know who you are!)

I was excited about before I even started it. I read every blog about blogging I could find and they all said the same thing. Write about something you are passionate about so you don’t get bored or worse-  run out of things to say. Well I haven’t and after 18 months of writing at least one, usually two posts a week I’ve still got plenty more to say/bake.

So here’s to the next two years of baking fun. I hope you’ll stick around for the ride.



Here’s just a few of the cakes that have featured in the last two years.

Country Homes & Interiors and the Easter cake

Country Homes & Interiors cakeAs a part time cake decorator/blogger, full time interior stylist and full on mum I am always busy. This week has been mental!

  • To start with I have been organising a big, three day Christmas shoot for next week (Yes I did say the ‘C’ word and yes I know it’s March!!!)
  • I’ve been playing around with a Red velvet cupcake recipe for a friends, daughter’s birthday which were very chocolatey and not very red – but were delish and disappeared in record time! I didn’t even get a photo of them!
  • And I’ve been playing about with this white chocolate mud cake recipe – which on the first attempt came out really solid and very heavy (and yes I did still eat it!)
  • But the highlight of my week has to be the fact that one of my cakes has appeared in print!

Easter in November

Back in November when most people are thinking about Christmas I was in full on Easter mode -the world of magazines really is a crazy one! My friend Claire who is the Assistant Editor in Design at Country Homes and Interiors magazine asked if I would make a cake for one of their shoots. It was a no brainer really! I gladly made the cake for the stylist (the very talented Carol Wortley Bishop – check out her beautiful work here) so that it fitted in with her shoot perfectly.  It was to be pale blue, covered in flowers and have little eggs dotted around. Carol  already had a cute little nest to sit on the top of the cake. It looked really sweet and I was bowled over when I saw the feature in the current issue (Page 64 of the April 2013 issue if you’re interested?). At this point I have to say a big thank you to my Dad for delivering it into London for me- Thanks Poopah.x

Country Homes & Interiors

So, now for sharing the recipe and decorating tips. My plan was always to talk through how I decorated the cake for the magazine and have an alternative option for anyone who didn’t want the full on iced version. I wanted the cakes to look beautiful and pretty and I planned the flowers to the point of obsession. Then with my crazy, busy schedule I didn’t get round to decorating the smaller cake when the girls were at school. That means one thing and one thing only. I get to have some help in the form of a 6 year old Darcey. That’s where I had to let go of my perfectionism and I just let her go with the flow. I really can’t resist a “Can I help?”from a little person.

I had already topped the cake with a circle of yellow sugarpaste and the flowers (learn how to make them here) were all dried and ready to add to the cake. Darcey decided that she would make a Daisy circle and when she ran out of Daisy’s she carried on with pink and white blossoms. In all I think she did a really great job. Not quite what I had in mind but it made her so happy I was happy too.

slice of mud cake


Recipe for White Chocolate Mud cake

  • 300g unsalted butter
  • 300g good quality white chocolate (but you can swap it for milk or dark chocolate if you prefer)- broken up into small pieces
  • 270ml water
  • 300g plain flour
  • 150g self raising flour
  • 350g caster sugar
  • 3 eggs, at room temperature and beaten
  • 1 tea spoon of vanilla essenceWhite Chocolate Mud cake

How to make the White Chocolate Mud cake

  1. Line a 9″ round baking tin (or 8″ square) and heat your oven to 160ºC ( 140ºC fan) 
  2. Melt the butter in a saucepan then add the chocolate. Once all melted add the water and stir away from the heat until it is all well combined. Set aside to cool.
  3. In a separate bowl measure the flour and sugar then add the chocolate mix, eggs and vanilla essence and mix until just combined. Make sure you don’t over mix it.
  4. Place the batter into the cake tin and bake for 1½ hours. The cake is done when it is a light golden colour, domed in the middle and a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.
  5. Leave the cake to cool completely on a wire rack before removing from the tin.
  6. Decorate to your taste and enjoy!
  7. For instructions on how to create the flowers please check out this postWhite Chocolate Mud cake recipe



How to make simple sugarpaste flowers

1. How to make sugarpaste flowers

I’ve been making these simple flowers for my cakes for years. In fact I am pretty sure these were the very first plunger cutters I ever bought. That was back at the start. Now I have tons of different shapes and styles of cutters and all because they are really easy to use and create the best effects. All you need is a little imagination and you can do all sorts of things with them.

These flowers are a doddle to make as I will show you below. I tend to make a ton in one go as they are quite brittle and I’m very good at breaking them, but also because they keep for ages in an air tight container (indefinitely really if you keep them dry) and they are great to have to hand when you make a cake in a hurry.


How to make sugarpaste flowers

2. How to make sugarpaste flowers.jpg

These blossom cutters are the most commonly available. They come in a set of 4 and are available from Amazon (see them on this link Flower Blossom Cutter Plunger). I use this shape on it’s own and layer them up using really thin fondant. The tiny one makes very cute flowers that are really easy to break but look so cute on a cake. They are also perfect centres for other flower shapes.


3. How to make sugarpaste flowers.jpg

The daisy cutters are really good for lots of different looks. If you layer the same size flower up so the petals overlap eachother they look really pretty but you can also layer  up different sizes, add a small blossom flower in the centre or as I have done above, add small yellow circles (also done with a plunger cutter) to make them look like a traditional daisy. (See these cutters on Amazon on this link  Daisy Cutter Plunger)


4. How to make sugarpaste flowers.jpg

The first step is to roll out your sugarpaste on a hard surface. The reason for this is that once you have cut out the flower it will stick to the plunger. Before you lift the plunger up away from the surface, move it from side to side a little. This removes any burrs of sugarpaste that remain. Alternatively, you can gently wipe your finger across the bottom of the plunger to get the same result. The idea is to have nice sharp edges with no fuzzy bits.


5. How to make sugarpaste flowers.jpg

Press the plunger to release the flower. If it sticks give it a shake and next time very lightly dust the flower part of the cutter with icing sugar.

It’s a really good idea to get your hands on an artists palette. I’ve had loads of these over the years and my favorites are always the ones with deep recesses. This little 6 hole one is my latest addition. Just 79p from Hobbycraft. By placing the flower inside the recess of the palette you give the petals shape. You don’t have to shape the flowers though. They still look good when they are flat.



6. How to make sugarpaste flowers.jpg

To layer up the flowers add a tiny amount of water to the centre of each flower. Sugarpaste is very sticky when wet so you really don’t need much.


7. How to make sugarpaste flowers.jpg

When adding the next flower position the plunger directly over the centre of the base flower and push gently into it to create a firm connection between the two layers. You can stop there or keep on going- adding more flowers. Remember that the thinner the sugarpaste the better the flower will look.

The flowers now need to be left overnight to harden up enough to handle. They will be fragile so use a dry paintbrush to dislodge one side of the flower when you are ready to remove them and they should just slide out of the palette easily.


8. How to make sugarpaste flowers.jpg

The end result…. but we’re not finished!


9. How to make sugarpaste flowers.jpg

Once hardened the flower can be attached to cakes. You can add them as they are onto cupcakes but when I add them onto celebration cakes I add a small finishing touch. Add a small dab of royal icing onto the back of the flower. If you add too much it will squidge out and show from the front and it will also mean the flower is likely to slip slide down the cake.  Add just a tiny dot the size of the base of the back of the flower. Position the flower on the cake and hold it in place with your finger for around 30 seconds. That’s all it takes for it to stick.


10. How to make sugarpaste flowers.jpg

The finishing touch is a tiny dab of royal icing in the centre of the flower. This can be any colour and it really finishes off the flowers.


11. How to make sugarpaste flowers.jpg

And there you have it. Simple yet effective sugarpaste flowers.




p.s. I have used sugarpaste but you can also use modelling paste or flower paste in exactly the same way. The flowers will harden much quicker.

How to make a Minecraft birthday cake


Minecraft Birthday cake

Have you heard of Minecraft? I hadn’t until recently. It’s a computer game that the boys in Beau’s class are really into. I went from being completely clueless to having two Minecraft cakes to make in as many weeks! I really didn’t know where to start with this cake. It needed to have loads of slices. When I make cakes for friends (especially Beau’s little friends) I like to create enough cake for the party guests AND  for the family to have some at home. Tim had the great idea of creating layers after I showed him screen grabs of  what the game looked like. Genius I thought.

How to make a Minecraft Birthday cake

Minecraft cake

 I started off by baking two Chocolate Madeira cakes (the large one was an 8″ and the small one was a 6″- I made double the recipe here and split it between the two tins)

Minecraft Birthday cake

The smaller cake was cut up so that I had two ‘L’ shaped cakes to create the steps. I think it’s probably a bit obvious where the two left over cake pieces went – yep straight onto my hips!



Minecraft Birthday cake

Check that the cakes sit nicely on top of each other. Too small and it will be hard to cover them, too big and the cake won’t be stepped enough.

Minecraft Birthday cake

Hopefully you will have covered your cake board with sugarpaste a week (or at least a few days) in advance.

Minecraft Birthday cake

Slice the large cake in two and fill with chocolate buttercream (the recipe for which is on this post). Cover the whole cake with a thin layer of buttercream then position the green rolled out sugarpaste over the cake. Smooth until as flat as is possible. Remove the excess sugarpaste and secure the cake on the cake board with a little royal icing.

Minecraft Birthday cake

Cover both the ‘L’ shaped pieces of cake by coating first in buttercream then sugarpaste. Don’t try and slice it in half to put buttercream in the centre. It’s very fiddly and messy and doesn’t work on such a small piece. The buttercream used to coat the cake and make the sugarpaste stick will moisten the cake enough.

Minecraft Birthday cake

Smooth the sugarpaste with a cake smoother and use a spoon to get into those awkward internal corners.

Minecraft Birthday cake

Position the larger of the ‘L’s onto the cake with Royal icing. Then repeat with the second ‘L’ shape.

Minecraft Birthday cake

To make the individual pixels squares – roll out the three shades of sugarpaste. If you do all three at the same time they will be relatively the same thickness.

Minecraft Birthday cake

Use a square cutter to press out lots and lots of squares all the same size. These are going to be the floor.

Minecraft Birthday cake

Secure each square pixel to the floor by dampening it with a paintbrush. Don’t use too much water as it will stain the cake. Dry off the excess water from the brush on the side of the pot first.

Minecraft Birthday cake

Add pixels on each level where there is a floor till you have done all three.

Minecraft Birthday cake

I tried to make the model of Mini Josh for the cake look like him and also look pixelated at the same time. I cut out cubes and rectangles in sugarpaste with the relevant cutters and used tooth picks in his legs and into his body to hold him secure. This also meant that once he had been made I could stand him up and push the tooth picks into a polystyrene fake cake and left him there leaning against box to dry for a while. (A couple of days- it’s a good idea to make the model when you cover the cake board) Minecraft Birthday cake

Use a little royal icing to secure the model to the cake. The toothpicks can only do so much.

Minecraft Birthday cake

Finally add your wording .

Minecraft Birthday cakeHey, Presto! One Minecraft cake!


Easy Almond Biscuits – a.k.a my mum’s fabulous Kirchals.

Almond cookie recipeMy mum has a famous Kichal recipe- well, it’s famous in our family anyway. Whenever she needs to make some biscuits to take to someones house these are what she takes. She cuts them in a crinkly circle and adds either a slither of chopped almond or a tiny piece of cherry on the top and she keeps them nice and thin. That’s the secret. To bake them long enough to be cooked right through but not so long as they go too brown. If truth be told I am the first to eat the ‘burnt’ ones as they are just as tasty- they’re just the wrong colour! Then she piles them high. They never last very long!

When my mum gave me this recipe I wrote it on the inside cover of the red book. The back cover has a pancake recipe on it. (I have had this book for a very long time!) I was talking to my sister about it and it turns out she has mum’s recipe written inside her red book too. I think I feel a family tradition coming on!

Almond biscuit recipe


Almond biscuit recipe

Makes around 50 biscuits

  • 226g (1 cup or 2 sticks)  butter at room temperature
  • 460g (3 ½ cups)  Self raising Flour
  • 226g (1 ¼ cup) caster sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tbsp water
  • ½ tea spoon almond essence/ extract

How to make Almond biscuits

  1. Make sure all your ingredients are at room temperature- especially the butter and eggs.
  2. Pre- heat your oven to 160ºC (140ºC Fan) and line your baking sheet with silicon paper
  3. Place all the ingredients in a bowl and mix until it forms a ball of dough. You can use a food processor or stand mixer but the best way to mix is with your hands as their warmth will combine the ingredients in a way that makes them taste the best. I’ve tried it all ways and by hand always wins- hands down!
  4. This makes quite a lot of dough so I will often knead two balls and freeze one. It will defrost in about 30 mins and it’s always great to have some ready to go. Whether you want to chill or freeze, wrap the dough in clingfilm. Chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes before rolling out.
  5. Once you are ready to roll out, lightly dust your surface and knead the dough. If it’s really sticky add just a little flour. The dough will soften quickly as you handle it so handle it as little as possible.
  6. For really thin biscuits roll out the dough to a depth of around the size of a coin then cut out your shapes and place on the baking sheet. Bake for 5 minutes then turn the baking sheet around inside the oven so the biscuits bake evenly. Bake for a further 5 minutes. You know they are done when the edges start to brown ever so slightly. Watch them like a hawk if you don’t want them to burn.
  7. Place the cookies on a cooling rack and try to resist eating them hot!

Almond biscuit




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