Month: October 2013

Everyone’s gone Baking Mad!

Cheese scones recipe from Baking Mad

No, I’m not talking about The Great British Bake off (which everyone still seems to be talking about). I’m talking about those crazy bakers over at the Baking Mad website. They contacted me last month to see if I would like to link up with them and after a little persuasion (I was knee deep in a Spring/ Summer 2014 shoot – yep Christmas appears to finally be over) I said yes.

When I first went freelance I knew one of the writers at Baking Mad and she asked me if I had any cakes they could feature. I had only just started back then so I am sure you can imagine I was thrilled to be asked. The cakes they chose to be featured were my Spiderman cake (which was the first ever cake I made for a non-friend/family member), the 40th Wedding Anniversary cake I made for my mum to take to her quilting class – all pretty with flowers and a  two tier christening cake which if you follow me over on Facebook you will have seen a few times already!

So what was I going to do with the food colouring/ decorating and flavourings they sent me to play with? In a word nothing. “And why not?” I hear you cry. Well, because after flicking through the cute little recipe booklet that accompanied the goodies I spotted this cheese and mustard scone recipe and I knew I  had to bake and eat a lot of them. I also had to share it with you guys too. (I’ll be playing with the delivery another day.. I promise)

I totally love scones so it was a no brainer for me. Who can resist a cheese and mustard scone? I mean really? I think a cheese scone is my favorite type of scone. So here it is….


The Baking Mad Cheese and mustard scone recipe

Cheese scones recipe from Baking MadIngredients

(makes 12)

  • 225 g plain flour
  • 1 tspBaking Powder
  • 50 g Unsalted Butter chilled and diced
  • 1 tbsp Thyme Leaves (I used dried herby ones)
  • 1/2 tsp Mustard Powder ( I used real mustard)
  • pinch of Salt and pepper
  • 50g Cheddar Cheese extra mature, grated
  • 25g Parmesan grated ( I didn’t have any so I put a bit extra cheddar in there)
  • 3 tbsp Buttermilk plus a little extra to glaze
  • 2 Eggs medium, free range

 How to make cheese and mustard scones

  1. Preheat the oven to 180c fan oven 160c gas 4.
  2. Place the flour and baking powder into a large bowl. Add the butter and using your fingertips rub the butter into the flour until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. You could also do this in a food processor.
  3. Add the thyme, mustard, seasoning and the grated cheddar and three quarters of the parmesan and mix lightly.
  4. Add the eggs and buttermilk and using a round blade knife mix gently until all the mixture is combined into a dough, but do not overwork the mix.
  5. Place the dough onto a lightly floured surface and lightly roll or pat the dough to a thickness of 2-3cm. Cut the scones using a 5cm round cutter and place onto a baking sheet. Lightly brush the scones with a little buttermilk and sprinkle with the remaining parmesan and black pepper.
  6. Bake for 20 minutes. Let the scones cool slightly, serve warm with an extra wedge of British cheese and chutney.

So, what’s your favorite scone recipe? I bet you’ll find it over on They have everything over there!




P.S. If you are a certain friend who lives up the road to me and you happen to be reading this – I know that I owe you a batch of these and a cuppa! 


Buttercream recipe

buttercream for cake decoratingButtercream is one of those parts of cake decorating that I do without really thinking about it, which is why it’s never really occurred to me to share my recipe with you all. That is until I was asked to by a reader. I mean I have included the recipe in the past but when it comes to searching blogs for anything specific you do tend to get all sorts of other random stuff mixed in with it and actually the reader wanted to know how much to use for different sized cakes. So anyway, here it is. Nice and easy to find.


My buttercream recipe

My recipe is pretty basic and easy to remember. These ingredients will fill and cover an 9″cake. Some people find that this is too sweet so you can always try it with 50-100g less icing sugar. Taste it till you get it how you like it. I personally think this is a good taste- especially with the vanilla essence.Butter cream recipe

  • 250g butter – at room temperature
  • 500g sieved icing sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • milk as required.
  1.  Start by beating the butter so it becomes light and fluffy.
  2. Sieve the icing sugar over the top of the butter then mix until well blended. I place a tea towel over my Kitchenaid and hold it carefully in place whilst mixing to prevent the dust from the icing sugar from going everywhere (and I mean everywhere! It will look like you haven’t cleaned your kitchen in a year otherwise!)
  3. Once combined add the vanilla essence and mix for 2-3 minutes so it becomes really light and fluffy. This consistency is good for a filling between two layers of cake as it’s thick. I’ve been piping buttercream between layers recently as it stays thicker than when I used a palette knife. It’s also easier to control and get flat.
  4. When covering a cake with a buttercream crumb coat before adding sugarpaste or for a decorative finish you need the buttercream to be more fluid. You can get this consistency by adding a drop or two of milk and mixing it in well. Do this slowly as once it’s too soft it’s a pain in the bum to get it to firm up again. How soft you want your buttercream is a personal choice. I like to be able to smooth the buttercream on with a palette knife easily and have it come off the sides with a side scraper without breaking the cake, but I don’t want it too soft.  You get a feel quite quickly on how you like it to be.

Chocolate buttercream 

For a chocolate version simply add the cocoa powder when you add the icing sugar but make sure you sieve it or you’ll have lumps.chocolate butter cream recipe

  • 250g butter – at room temperature
  • 500g sieved icing sugar
  • 30g cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • milk as required.

Buttercream will last for two weeks in a sealed container in the fridge but remember to take it out and let it get to room temperature a good few hours before you want to pipe it.


Buttercream quantities for different sized cakes

And for that lovely reader who asked for quantities of buttercream for different sized cakes. Here you go…

Buttercream quantities


Pimp that snack – so funny!

And now for something completely different!

I haven’t really shared websites with you guys before but after being introduced to this one by a photographer on a recent shoot (thanks Si) I just had to. It amazes me what people have the patience to make and to the most intricate detail. Pimp my snack is basically your old school favorite snacks gone big. I mean really big!

Pimp that snack

But it’s the attention to detail and the moulds the people have made (as shown on each post) that is just fantastic. Each post has step shots so you can see exactly what has gone into the production from the measuring and shaping to the detail of the wording. Like on this Custard or should I say ‘bastard’ cream!

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Just look at the wrapping on this Trio! Amazing.

Pimp that snack

Pimp that snack

And the chick on the side of this giant Cream Egg. It really looks like the real thing.

Screen Shot 2013-10-10 at 23.42.29

 Big KitKat and even bigger KitKat!

Screen Shot 2013-10-10 at 23.41.40

Those chocolate dipped stick thingies. Check out how they dipped them. So funny!

Screen Shot 2013-10-10 at 23.41.23

And the one I want to eat the most! A giant Quality Street triangle made with Nutella! Nom, Nom, nommmm.

Screen Shot 2013-10-10 at 23.40.56

 I hope these make you laugh as much as they did us. But be warned. Once you start looking you get sucked in. It’s a bit like Pinterest. You just can’t get enough of it!


Leiths ‘How to Cook’ Lemon Tart recipe

Leiths Lemon tart recipe

As promised here is the Lemon tart recipe from Leiths latest book Leiths How to Cook (Quadrille, £30). Photograph: Peter Cassidy.   (see the whole book review here) It also includes the delicious pâte sucrée recipe too! Thanks Quadrille for letting me do this extract. It looks sooooo good!

Lemon tart

Serves 6
  • 1 quantity pâte sucrée (below)
  • Extra flour, to dust

For the filling

  • 3 lemons
  • 6 eggs, plus 1 extra yolk
  • 150–170g caster sugar
  • 225ml double cream
  • Icing sugar, to dust
1. To make the filling, finely grate the zest of the lemons and squeeze the juice; you will need about 100–125ml juice. Put the eggs and extra yolk into a large bowl, add 150g of the sugar and, using a balloon whisk, mix well. Add the cream, zest and juice, and stir until combined. Cover and chill in the fridge for 2–3 hours, preferably overnight, to allow the flavours to develop.
2. Roll out the pâte sucrée on a lightly floured surface into a disc about 30cm in diameter and about 3mm thick. Use to line a 24cm loose-based flan tin or flan ring set on a baking sheet. Cover with cling film and chill until very firm to the touch. Meanwhile, heat the oven to 190°C/gas mark 5.
3 Once the pastry is firm, make a cartouche of greaseproof paper 8-10cm bigger than the tart tin. Scrunch it up then unfold it and use to line the pastry case. Add a layer of dried beans or ceramic baking beans. Blind bake the pastry for 15–20 minutes, ensuring the paper cartouche is pushed well into the corners of the pastry and the excess paper is folded over the edge of the pastry case, to help prevent the pastry from browning. Remove the beans and cartouche, taking care as the pastry is still very soft, and bake for a further 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and reduce the oven temperature to 150°C/gas mark 2.
4 Taste the filling. If it seems too sharp, add some or all of the remaining sugar, to taste. Strain into a jug and pour the filling into the pastry case, filling it about half full. Transfer the tart to the oven and pour in more filling until the tart is as full as possible. Bake for40–50 minutes until almost set, with a very soft wobble across the surface. A violent ripple across the middle of the filling indicates it is not set.
5 Take the tart out of the oven as soon as the filling is set, allow it to cool a little, then carefully remove the sides of the tin or flan ring. Leave to cool completely, then dust with icing sugar. You can glaze the icing sugar dusting using a kitchen blowtorch if you wish, but take care not to burn the pastry.

Pâte sucrée

This is an enriched version of shortcrust pastry, with extra butter and egg yolks replacing the water. We use a traditional method of making pâte sucrée by hand, although it can be made in a food processor. It tends to be cooked at a slightly lower temperature than shortcrust because of its high fat and sugar content, as fats and sugars both encourage browning. It should be thoroughly cooked but only to a very pale biscuit colour. Once cooked, it needs to be released from tins or baking trays while still warm, or the pastry will stick.Makes enough to line a 24cm flan ring

  • 250g plain flour
  • Pinch of salt
  • 125g unsalted butter, softened
  • 125g caster sugar
  • 4 small egg yolks
  • 2–3 drops of vanilla extract
1 Sift the flour and salt onto a clean work surface and, using the side of your hand, spread the flour out into a large ring.
2 Place the softened butter, in one piece, in the middle and, using the fingertips of one hand, push down (‘peck’) on the butter to soften it a little more, but without it becoming greasy; it should be soft, but still cold. It is important that the butter is uniformly soft, as if there are still small lumps of cold, hard butter in the mixture they
 an cause greasiness and holes in the finished pastry.
3 Sprinkle over the sugar and ‘peck’ until the sugar is just fully incorporated.
4 Add the egg yolks and vanilla extract and continue to ‘peck’ until the egg yolk is fully incorporated and there is no colour streakiness.
5 Using a palette knife, flick all the flour onto the butter, sugar and egg yolks and, using the edge of the palette knife, ‘chop’ the flour into the butter and sugar mixture. This technique helps to keep the flour from being overworked. Use the palette knife to lift any flour left on the work surface to the top occasionally.
6 As you continue to do this, you will create large flakes of pastry. Continue until there are no obvious dry floury bits among the pastry; it should be a fairly uniform colour. Floury patches at this stage will mean having to overwork the pastry at the next stage to incorporate them.
7 Now shape the pastry into a long sausage and, using the palette knife on its side, scrape a little of the large flakes together at a time. This will finally bring the pastry together and is called ‘fraisering’. As more pastry sticks to the palette knife, scrape it off using a cutlery knife to avoid overworking it. Continue in this manner until all the pastry is fraisered: one or two more fraiserings are possible, but the more you fraiser the more the pastry will be overworked.
8 Bring the pastry together with your hands to form a ball.
9 Now shape the pastry into a flat disc. Wrap well in cling film and chill to allow the butter to firm up before rolling out.



Leiths How to Cook (Quadrille, £30).Amazon, Photograph: Peter Cassidy. How to Cook


Cook Book review: Leiths How to Cook

Leiths 'How to Cook' book review
Every now and again I come across a cook book that is just fab. A real authority on everything cooking and baking. This is one of those books. It’s thick. I mean it’s really, really heavy. In fact to prove a point I have weighed it and it is 2.3kg. Now that is a whole lotta recipes! Over 500 to be precise. And I have to say that I really like it.

It’s not my normal kind of cookery book, because let’s face it, my normal kind is a baking book and doesn’t need to mention fish or veg or meat. Cakes, bakes and cookies are all I’m really interested in and do you want to know why? It’s because I can’t cook. Nope not at all! I have a theory that people can either bake or cook (have I said that before?) When we have people over Tim always does all the cooking and I do all the baking. We’re a good team. But this book may just change all that.

The book

When Leith’s say ‘How to cook’ they really do mean it. It’s basic Emma proof cooking. My fear when cooking is that I will under/over do something and kill someone wth food poisoning but this book explains everything in such a clear and simple and non-condescending manner that even I could do it. Cook well- not kill someone.

Leiths 'How to Cook' book review

The book is basically set out like a study course and takes you through each area subject by subject. There are loads of practical step by step photos which really help when you don’t know your roux from your bain marie. I like the way it explains how to do everything from scratch from how to clean and prepare as well as cook veg, fish, poultry and meat. It also explains how to know when your meat is cooked to perfection. (That’s my biggest cooking fear!) There’s a handy section at the back on how much to serve from a ‘catering’ point of view- 300ml for soup, 350g per person for chicken breast etc. It takes the guess work out of entertaining.

The contents

These are the areas covered in this book

  • Vegetables- everything from prep to cutting. French onion soup here I come.
  • Stocks and sauces – I reckon once you know how to do these you can make anything.
  • Eggs (did I ever mention eggs are my favorite food? The poached eggs here look page licking good)
  • Pasta, rice, pulses and grains- Oh just pile the pounds on now why don’t you? Tim won’t let me make rice. We have to buy those microwave packet ones as my rice always turns out a bit soggy, but maybe it’s time to try again.
  • Shellfish- Not stricktly kosher – well not at all kosher, but Tim tells me these look good.
  • Fish- Now they make the preparing raw fish look easy but I’ve never successfully managed to do this even though I know what to do. A sharp knife is essential I think. The recipes sound amazing. I want to make Hot smoked trout with roasted beetroot and watercress.
  • Poultry and feathered game- I love to find new recipes for Chicken and the Jerk chicken salad looks right up my street.
  • Meat- Who knew there was so much you could do with a piece of beef?
  • Pastry- Yay
  • fruit and puddings- double yay
  • Bread, biscuits and cakes- How do you know when you are at the right elasticity with your bread dough or when it has risen enough? Just look at the step shots. It’s easy. When it comes to cakes this book has all the old faithfuls – no surprises which I think is a shame, but as this book is all about learning the correct techniques I suppose this isn’t such a bad point.
  • Reference – including a glossary of cooking terms, kitchen tools and equipment, Food hygiene in the kitchen and catering quantities


The best section

So, it’s no surprise which section I turned to first. The pastry. And I think for me this is the section that really sells the book. I have my favorite pastry recipes and use them time and time again but every single time I watch ”The Great British Bake off’ I come away thinking “Oh I must try that rough puff/ shortcrust/ Pâte sucrée. Well  with the step by step photos for making each type of pastry shown so clearly now I can’t wait to start. The way they are described just makes you want to make, pie after tart after flan. I love the detailed how, what, why and where of each section but with pastry, bread and cakes it really helps to understand what is going on at each stage and why you need to take certain actions. It’s all that science of baking stuff that helps you to become a better baker.

Leiths 'How to Cook' book review

So, I give this book a double thumbs up and can’t wait to get started. Luckily you can too as the lovely publishers Quadrille have given me an extract from the book for the Lemon Tart (as seen above) which is made with pâte sucrée. It’s just a tiny part of a massive book but I bet is whet’s your appetite!


Leiths How to Cook (Quadrille, £30). Photograph: Peter Cassidy.

Available on AMAZON

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