Category: Best for Baking

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! 


Cake International 2013

Yesterday I went to the second ever Cake International show at Excel in London. I have it on good authority that the show has had a 70% increase on last years attendance proving that the baking bug is still alive and strong. And as you walk around the show you can see why.

Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood opened the show and when my mum and I arrived they were busy doing demonstrations and a Q and A session in the Bakery theatre. Mary looked her lovely self and Paul had a constant cheeky grin on his face. He does make me laugh. Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry open Cake International at Excel, London




The show has over 80 exhibitors offering all the latest in sugarcraft, cake decorating and baking supplies, but it’s the very talented cake decorators on these stalls showing how to get different techniques that makes this such a valuable show to attend.  I loved how this decorator showed us ruffles. She also had some cakes entered into the competitions. She’s one talented lady! Cake International 2013



The first area we headed for were the competition cakes. The judges were all in action- as it was the first day and the tables were sectioned off which meant we couldn’t get too close to all the cakes.  There are loads of categories and the criteria is very seriously looked at. If you do one thing incorrectly you can get disqualified. Some must be made of all edible ingredients – no supports or ‘props’, some are allowed to be fake cakes as the judging is on the sugarcrafting talent. The bakers dozen cupcakes are cut open and tasted and judged on that as well as how they look. One judge told us that the children’s cakes are looked at with a sympathetic eye. If a cake made by someone under 12 has a little crack in the sugarpaste “we might turn a blind eye”. To be honest these kids cakes were amazing! I mean they are under 12!!

Cake International 2013
The judges in action


While we were looking at some of the novelty cakes a full size head from a Terminator cake came toppling off it’s shoulders. Someone must have knocked the table it was on to get a closer look. Mum and I have never been so pleased to have been so far away that we knew it wasn’t us who wobbled that table!  A judge had to come over and pick the head up off the floor. Poor Arnie’s sugarpaste nose was all squashed in and dented. We felt so bad for the cake decorator. It must have been devastating to see that your cake had been damaged before it had even been judged.

Cake International 2013
One of the under 12’s cakes


The Cupcakes

The cupcakes in the competition were beautiful and displayed in the most amazing ways.

Cake International 2013

This is the cupcake entry by the ruffle cake decorator lady (I wish I got her name!) She incorporated her cupcakes into this face design which she told us only took 6 hours to do the day before! Cake International 2013

Cake International 2013

Mmmmm maggots in your cupcake!


Cake International 2013

The display for this Magic Roundabout cupcake entry was brilliant, but why did the judges have to cut poor Dougal in half to taste test… especially with that jam filling in the centre!

Cake International 2013

Cake International 2013

These tiny models on these cupcakes were amazingly intricate


Cake International 2013

We loved the birds and flowers on these cupcakesCake International 2013


Novelty cakes

The novelty cakes were just amazing. The details that people can achieve is just awe inspiring.

Cake International 2013

I would love to be able to do airbrushing like this!Cake International 2013

Cake International 2013

Cake International 2013

I love the simplicity on the side of this cake.Cake International 2013

Beau asked if this Rocking horse cake actually rocked. It looked so real I almost think it could!

Cake International 2013

That apple is sugarpaste! Amazing!Cake International 2013



Cake International 2013

The detail in this house was outstanding. Just look at the bottles in the room below. Not only is this an amazing thing to make, but the fact that it could be transported without getting broken – like so many others is a feat in itself!


Cake International 2013



Cake International 2013

Cake International 2013

Cake International 2013

Cake International 2013

Cake International 2013

Cake International 2013


Tiered cakes

The tiered cakes were really beautiful. Some had such simple designs that were so effective, some had really garish colour combinations but in all they were fantastic. 

Cake International 2013

Cake International 2013

Cake International 2013

Cake International 2013

Cake International 2013

Cake International 2013


Cake International 2013

Cake International 2013

Cake International 2013



So, in all it is a pretty great show with tons of interactive workshops, demonstration theatres and lots to buy! The show is on till Sunday 14th April. Visit more information.

Cake International – The Sugarcraft, Cake Decorating & Baking Show

ExCeL, London
12-14 April 2013

Ticket Prices:
Adult £14.00
Senior £13.00
Children free if accompanied by an adult with a valid ticket, otherwise £5.00


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




Be bold and bright or pale and pastel with new food colours

Dr Oetker food colour

Have you seen these Dr Oetker gel food colours on the supermarket shelves yet? They’re available in these really handy squeezy tubes. Nice and neat and easy to use and what’s more they don’t make your icing go all runny. Each 10g tube of gel can be used to colour enough icing to cover 24 cupcakes in a really bright neon colour or a whopping 200 pastel coloured ones.

Dr Oetker

The range is available in Bright red, Sky Blue, Sunshine Yellow, Lime Green, Hot Pink, Ultra Violet, Neon Orange and Jet Black and is perfect for wet icing. It’s a bit too runny to colour sugarpaste as it makes it super sticky but it’s perfect for colouring royal icing whether for writing or flooding cookies. I wanted to give the tubes a test run and my two little helpers wanted to play too.  We mixed up some icing sugar and I let them colour it. Let’s just say that we started with four colours then they created their own mix match colours and both added every colour gel we had into one bowl. The end result wasn’t quite what I expected. Usually when you add black colouring you end up with a dark gloomy colour but both Beau and Darcey created khaki green colours.

Dr Oetker food colour

We had been out to a farm on the day we did the colouring and it was freezing outside. When we got home they both shot upstairs and came down in their onsies. I can’t seem to get them out of them if they are at home!

kids colouring

The icing was used to first put together this gingerbread house from Christmas (which has made the whole kitchen smell divine). For this they used lots of pretty coloured icing which is mainly on the inside. Then the fun really began. Beau grabbed our Friday night sweets, put them all in separate bowls and started piling them on with the khaki coloured icing. Let’s just say they brushed their teeth REALLY well that night!

Gingerbread house

And here’s the mess that the girls made with this little gingerbread house. I turned my back for two minutes! I don’t think we had any small bowls left in the cupboard!Gingerbread house mess

Dr Oetker Gel Food colours are available from major supermarkets from £1.29 for a 10g tube. For more information and some lovely recipes check out the website

The RG’s breakfast pancake recipe. Sugar free and delicious


Breakfast pancake recipeYou may remember me talking about my brother and his wife having the same RG initials and subsequently calling each other “RG”, well this is their recipe for breakfast pancakes.

The first time I tried one of these was on our family camping trip to Hastings last summer. Family camping is always good fun and to make it even more enjoyable we had 5 kids with us, Beau,9, Darcey,5, Asher,4, Sara,2 and Lital 10 months (Yes you read that right 10 MONTHS old!) We love a group outing as I am sure you can imagine.

On the first morning my mum and Dad brought out their little gas stove and Mrs RG brought out her pancake ingredients and frying pan (or was that mums?). This is a pretty ingenious way for a 10 month old baby to feed herself as the pancakes are nice and thick, so there’s plenty to hold onto. They are naturally sweet – so you don’t have to add nutella/cream/sugar / honey etc. They are filling and DEEELISHHHHH. Needless to say they couldn’t be made quick enough for us all!

My sister made a batch just last week and I just so happened to pop round as they were cooling on her worktop. Lucky for me Shell got a phone call and while her back was turned I wolfed down 5. I’d like to say that they were small. But they weren’t!

Rg’s pancake ingredients

  • 2 ripe bananas – this is a great way to use up brown bananas as they are the sweetest ones. 
  • 100g raisins or sultanas ( I soak mine in boiled water for 30 minutes so they are fat and juicy- which is how Darcey likes them best)
  • 3 eggs – at room temperature
  • 75g oats (you can add more if you want)
  • 125 g plain flour
  • 200ml milk

My sister soaks the oats in the milk so they are really soft but I just blitz all the ingredients with a food blender adding the sultanas at the end.

Heat a frying pan with a little oil. Add a small amount of pancake mix. Don’t touch it or try to turn it over until little bubble holes start to appear throughout the pancake, then gently lift and flip it over. Heat them until they are golden brown on each side.


As with most pancakes anything goes. Last week I had some cherries left over from a Black Forrest Gateau cake and I popped them in. They made the pancakes amazing. I had to squish down any larger pieces of fruit so they would cook properly. Next I’m going to try with raspberries.



RG pancakes


The Cake Decorating Bible – book review

The Cake Decorating Bible- book review

If you’re into baking and cake decorating then you’ve probably heard of Fancy Nancy. She (Juliet Sbear) is so amazing. Her cakes are simply stunning which is why  The Cake Decorating Bible: Simple steps to creating beautiful cupcakes, biscuits, birthday cakes and more, by Ebury Press is such a great book. She shares with us all her hints and tips and makes it all look soooo easy. After doing a short course at Le Cordon Bleu cookery school, Juliet went on to work at The Little Venice Cake Company. After 18 months she set up her own cake business from home and the rest, as they say is history.

” Above and beyond everything this book is full of practical know how on creating shop quality cakes in your own home” Juliet says and boy is she right.


So, what’s in the book?

The Contents

Introduction, Cake Jargon and supplies, Equipment and tools. Preparation: Cakes and cookie basics.

As you would expect these sections are bursting full of tips and advice from how to line a cake tin to what different terms are.

The Cake Decorating Bible- piping bag


Juliet’s sponge recipes are devised so that the cakes are firm and can take the weight of marzipan and icing. Perfect for decorating.  They include Very Vanilla, (complete with measurements for different sized tins) Rich Belgian chocolate truffle cake, Lemon Drizzle sponge, Rich boozy fruit cake, Chocolate cup cakes, zesty orange cupcakes, and basic vanilla cookies (which I will be having a go at this weekend).

book review

Fillings and coverings

When you see a picture like this bowl of fresh raspberry and strawberry buttercream don’t you just want a spoon to lick? The recipes in this section are just mouth watering – lemon, orange and belgian chocolate ganache buttercreams. There are also tips and advice on using Royal icing and fondant icing, pouring ganache and chocolate paste.

Buttercream. Yum Yum

Layering and contructing cakes

I wish I had this book years ago as I had no idea how to slice a cake in two when I started. I had so many lopsided cakes! The detailed explanations and clear steps with the photos here would have made my life SO much easier back then.

These pages make this book worthwhile more than anything else. It’s one of the hardest things I find to do.

Cake decoration book

Icing cakes

Here you’ll find a really handy chart for how much marzipan or sugarpaste you’ll need for different sized cakes. Fab steps showing how to cover a cake with marzipan, buttercream, Royal icing, as well as how to cover cupcakes – whether smoothing or piping. There are also lots of clever hints and tips for when dealing with chocolate paste and ganache.

Decorating cakes and cookies

Whether you are making cookies covered in royal icing, a wedding cake covered in flowers or big celebration cake bursting with cookies, this is where you’ll find the right technique to use – not to mention the inspiration. There’s a section on moulding -including silicone push moulds (as seen below) embossing, how to make roses and other types of flowers as well as ideas for cookies, cupcakes, mini cakes, single tier cakes, modelling and multi-tier cakes

Moulded flowers

This is just one of the cookie inspirations that I have fallen in love with (below) in the book. These cute dress cookies use edible printed sheets. Such a simple idea – yet so effective. I’m dreaming up a design for in the future. I have to use them.

Printed icing

I love the simplicity of the stacked cake designs. I have a cake stand like this one below. I just wish I could get married again (to Tim of course!) so I could have another wedding cake to decorate just like this! Stacked cake

Roses cake


The last chapter that I have to mention is the Caketastrophies. As Juliet mentions, not many books like this give you advice on what to do when it all goes wrong. It happens to all of us at some point or another and the tips here are really useful. Like – do you know how to remove a rogue air bubble? Or what to do when your cake developes hairline cracks? Well Juliet shares all in this chapter.


So to sum up

This book is a great all rounder. It has plenty of advice for a novice and expert baker alike. The cakes and cookies are original as are the recipes. It’s very inspirational. I also really like the way the page headers have been shot. It’s the care and attention to detail that makes this book practical and beauful all in one.




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