Month: February 2014

FAQ: How long can I store a cake before eating it.

Madeira cake

One of the questions I seem to have been asked a lot recently is

“How long can I keep a Madeira cake for?”

The official answer is 1 week in an airtight container and 3 months when frozen.

How long I keep it for.

PHASE ONE: When I have a cake to make for a Saturday party I bake on Wednesday (usually at night once the kids are in bed- so late!) and as soon as it is completely cold I wrap it in cling film. I don’t put it in a tin as it tends to sweat and the outside edge gets sticky – yuck!  I leave it on the kitchen work surface. Avoid storing your cake in the fridge. It does something to the butter in the cake mix and makes it go all hard.

PHASE TWO: On Thursday I cut the cake in half and add the buttercream and jam filling shape and give it a crumb coating. Then I cover it in sugarpaste. Once it’s completely covered in sugarpaste it is essentially sealed and airtight. The buttercream coating keeps it moist and the sugarpaste seals it in.

PHASE THREE: If it’s a simple cake I can finish the decorating on Thursday (unlikely). If it’s a more complicated cake design I will finish it off on Friday and won’t go to bed till it is completely done. That is sometimes VERY, VERY late – or should I say very early in the morning. Of course this is because I work full time and can’t do cake decorating with little sticky fingers swiping as much sugarpaste into their mouths as possible! So I do it all in the evenings once the wrigglers are in bed. If I had the day time to do my cake decorating I would bake on Thursday and decorate on Friday.

What about once it’s been cut? 

Really if  the cake was baked on Wednesday and cut on Saturday it should be eaten within 2-3 days, but it’s like bread. The slice that is left in the open (ie isn’t covered in sugarpate and buttercream) goes a bit stale. Cut that off and what’s underneath is still fresh and tasty.

My mum always makes a huge rectangular cake – whatever the celebration. Way more than we can eat at one party. The left over cake gets cut up into huge chunks (teh equivalent to a 6″ square cake) for each family. Once eating it at home we slice it into slim pices to make it last the whole week and it’s still good at the end of that week…… if it lasts that long.

Freezing Madeira cake 

If you want to freeze Madeira cake you can. Once it is completely cold wrap it in two layers of cling film and freeze for up to three months. It will take about an hour to defrost on a wire cooling rack. Never cover a cake that isn’t completely defrosted with buttercream or marzipan or sugarpaste. You will end up with a sticky gooey mess!

Can I freeze a decorated cake?

Yep, you can. But the icing/ sugarpaste will become tacky once it’s defrosted so only do this once you have celebrated your occasion and you are freezing left overs. It will still taste as good as new it just might not look so pretty.

Hope that helps



Peanut butter cookie recipe

Peanut butter cookies

Whenever we go to someone’s house for a play date (can you still call it that when your wrigglers are so big?) I like to take something home made with us. It doesn’t always happen (hence I love last minute freezer cookies so much) and this week is no exception. I made a big batch of freezer cookies after a slight mishap when the kids baked on their own- using a tbsp of bicarb of soda AND baking powder instead of a tsp. You can see how they could make that mistake. It created some very large burnt and yet uncooked splats. You couldn’t even call them cookies. I would share the pics with you but Beau would go mad! Even though she and her friends ate most of them up!

Anyway, I felt really bad for them as they were really looking forward to eating their cookies so I whipped up another batch while they were playing – thinking that I would have a ton left for another catch up tomorrow. Yeah right. Like home made cookies last more than a day in our house!

So, that’s why I whipped up these peanut butter cookies last night. They were one of the first biscuits I ever made as a kid and I loved them then nearly as much as I love them now. They’re kind of soft spongy cookies, just a little crunch on the outside edge and squidgy in the middle and not too peanutty.

Peanut butter cookie recipe

Peanut cookie recipe

Makes about 25

  • 125g butter at room temperature
  • 150g brown sugar
  • 125g crunchy peanut butter
  • 1 egg – lightly beaten
  • 150g self raising flour
  1. Beat the sugar and butter together till smooth then add the peanut butter and stir in.
  2. Add the beaten egg and combine.
  3. Sieve the flour over the mixture then mix till just combined.
  4. Use two teaspoons to place dollops of cookie mix onto a piece of greaseproof paper  – about the size of a large walnut. Leave in the fridge for at least two hours (you can get away with chilling for one, but they bake better the longer you leave them for) You can also bake them straight from the freezer.
  5. Heat your oven to 190ºC and once chilled bake your cookies for 10 minutes exactly (12 minutes if baking from frozen)
  6. The cookies will puff up and look underdone. Don’t worry they are baked to perfection. When you remove them from the oven they will deflate as they cool and have that nice crinkled cookie texture.  Leave them on a cooling rack till cold – if you can. Then devour with a cuppa!




How to make your own butter

Home made butterI love butter. I mean I REALLY love it. I spread it on way too thick and I make toast/crumpets/hot cross buns just so I can eat it. So, you can understand my excitement when I saw Lakeland’s newest and exclusive gadget.

The butter maker

It has never occurred to me to make my own butter. It’s the one ingredient I run out of the most when making cakes. Tim says I should buy shares in President butter! When I saw this gadget I knew I had to have a test run and I am so glad I did. It made me really happy. Funny how making something from scratch can give you such a buzz.

Lakeland butter makerIt’s so easy to make. The ‘Chef ‘n butter’ ‘jar’ has two ends. At one side is a plastic white lid which becomes a ramekin dish for you to store the butter in. The other side has holes at the end so you can use it as a sieve and to drain the liquid off. This is sealed with another lid. On the side of the clear jar are measurements for different butter recipes – the honey one will keep Darcey happy. Have you heard of Honey butter? I haven’t!

Easy buttercream

You use cream to make butter and basically you place 1 cup of cream in the jar and leave it to stand at room temperature for 6-8 hours.  Once it has sat you shake the jar for three minutes. After one minute the cream has turned from a smooth white liquid to a more creamy coloured clotted cream texture. After two minutes it looks like the cream has curdled. Then after three minutes you suddenly feel like there is a ball inside the jar and you can hear liquid sloshing around with a lump of butter. The liquid is buttercream.

How to make butter

This was another winner in my books. I needed buttercream for a muffin recipe I wanted to try out so I kept the buttercream to use later. Once the buttermilk is removed you take out the butter and rinse it under cold water then place it in a container……

Delicious butter

…. or spread it on a hot cross bun and devour!  As the butter is made from cream it’s very creamy. Much more than shop bought ones. I used double cream but I can’t wait to try other creams and add flavours and salt. I’m also thinking that this would make a superior buttercream for cupcakes- if only I didn’t eat it all up before I bake some!

So far I’ve made three batches (in two days. New obsession?) It’s easy fun and absolutely delicious.

Easy butter maker


Disclaimer: The product in this post was provided by Lakeland for review. All thoughts and opinions and entirely my own 

5 things I learnt making a Lego man birthday cake

Lego man birthday cakeSometimes cakes go wrong! Sometimes they go REALLY wrong and other times, if you’re lucky, you can get away with it. Like when it’s a cake for your 6 year old nephew!

Asher is mad on Lego and wanted a Lego Policeman birthday cake this year. “No problem” I said. Anything for the other man in my life. I thought. And then he gave me his little Lego policeman and I had to make it! What was I thinking? I was completely stumped. How was I going to get the proportions right? How would I make him stand up without falling over? There were endless questions and not all of them were answered.

How I made a Lego man birthday cake and where I went wrong

Lego man birthday cake1. The arms were too heavy

I started off with four Madeira cakes made using almond rather than vanilla essence (try it. You won’t go back) One square 6″ cake was for the legs and feet, one 5″ square cake for the body. One small 4″ pie tin  for the head and one loaf tin (half filled) for the arms. This was mistake number one! The arms didn’t need to be made from cake covered in buttercream and sugarpaste. They should have been thinner and made just of sugarpaste. That way they would have stuck to the side of the cake better.


Lego man birthday cake

Each cake was cut to size and shaped.

Lego man birthday cake

And was then covered in a buttercream crumb coating and then a top coating of buttercream which was smoothed as much as possible.

Lego man birthday cake

I thought that covering a square cake in sugarpaste when it was turned up onto one side was going to be impossible but it wasn’t too difficult. I made sure that the sugarpaste was really thick when it was rolled out so that when I picked it up to smooth it over the cake it moulded perfectly without cracking or tearing.

Lego man birthday cake Lego man birthday cake

Next the legs were covered in blue sugarpaste. I made a neat line in the cake for the crease in the trousers.

Lego man birthday cake

2. Where’s the support? 

I used one plastic dowel to support the top half of the cake and keep him upright – which didn’t actually work! I thought that if the dowel went from the cake board right up to his head then that would be enough to keep him sitting – not slouching. It didn’t work!

What I should have done was placed a thin cake board underneath the body part of the cake and supported him from underneath in the legs. Then had another small cakeboard under the head cake and supported through the body. Cake is heavy, especially when there’s a ton of sugarpaste on top.

Lego man birthday cake

The head was cut to size and shaped then the face was added.

Lego man birthday cake

PC Legoman is a  cheeky chappy complete with stublble.

Lego man birthday cake

3. I added stubble

Now I wanted to make the little Lego figure’s face as close to the one Asher had given to me to copy. I made the eyes out of black and white sugarpaste and then used black food colour gel on a dry paint brush to create the stubble. In hindsight a 6 year old doesn’t really need stubble on his birthday cake and it just made the cake look a bit dirty.

Lego man birthday cake

4. Too much hair makes your cake top heavy!

I used a ton of black sugarpaste to make the hair and although it looked good when I finished it was so heavy that it weighed down the rest of the cake making it impossible for the Lego man to stay upright. What I should have done was to leave as much cake on the top of the head and add as little black sugarpaste as possible. This is the one time you want the cake to dome!

After I attached the arms and head I had the cake resting against a food box. It was supposed to support the cake just while the arms were ‘sticking’. I turned my back for literally a minute and when I turned back again he had fallen backwards, leaning right on the box causing a massive crease all the way across the back of the cake. To make matters worse the arms just wouldn’t stay on. I gently rubbed the back sugarpaste to blend the crease in but it was just too deep. I had to leave it.


Lego man birthday cake

5. The hands weren’t quite right. 

I wished I had made the hands well in advance so they were hardened and stayed in shape but I didn’t have the time with this cake so, I had to make them on the day. In future when I make a Lego man cake (because I am not beaten yet!) I will make the arms and hands in advance when I cover the cake board so that they are really firm and I can place cocktail sticks in them to attach them to the  cake with sugarpaste.

Lego man birthday cake

All I can say is that Asher liked the cake and at the end of the day (when PC Lego man did literally topple over!) that’s all that matters.

Happy Birthday Asher. I love you. xx



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