Category: Cake recipe

Noah’s Arc Birthday cake

Cakes gone by…

Noah's arc birthday cake

I love this cake design. It was so much fun to do. My friend Simi asked me to make it for her third son Hugo’s first birthday party. I saw Hugo in the playground just this morning. He’s nearly three already and a proper cutie.

When I start a cake I always try to cover the cake board at least a week ahead of delivery. This means it has time to set hard (I am prone to leaving finger prints in them otherwise!) I covered this one in blue icing then used a darker blue food colour to paint on waves.

I also do all the modeling I can ahead of time. When you use icing to create animals and people they take at least a week to 10 days to dry hard enough to be handled or position so that they stand up on their own. It took me a long time to learn this habit. I’ve had legs fall off on delivery and all sorts of mishaps! But more about that in another post!

Noah's arc cake, elephants

I made these animals in one weekend and Beau sat with me and made the exact same animals too. It was her idea to have butterflies and parrots on the boathouse, also Hugo’s big brother Calum was in her class at school and he said that spiders would be good, so we included them too!

Both the arc and boathouse are made from chocolate cake, everything else is made from pre-coloured sugarpaste, except the ramp that the sheep are walking up. That is actually a thin cake board cut to size and covered with sugarpaste. I needed to know that there was strength there. One bump in the road and an icing ramp would have cracked before I even got off the drive!

Noah's Arc cake -lions

I shaped the arc part of the cake so that it was only slightly smaller at the bottom than it was at the top. I wasn’t experienced enough to get the icing to stick inwards without causing creases, so I made it a simple design. I used a sharp knife to score ‘plank’ lines horizontally around the ship then every now and again made a vertical line for an end of plank -with two dots for nail marks.Noah's arc cake, snakes

The house was a rectangle of cake with a pitched roof shape on top. I made one square cake large enough to cut up and do all the separate pieces in one go. The house was covered in chocolate sugarpaste and the tiles were made with an oval cutter. Each red ovals was cut in half and then placed from the bottom edge of the roof upwards and were attached with royal icing.

Noah's arc cake, Monkeys

All the Animals were positioned with royal icing except the bees which were made on food standard wire (which is available from cake decorating shops) I made them so they could be placed in the arc after the cake was delivered. they move around like they are buzzing.

When it comes to a Noah’s Arc cake you really can go on and on. Beau and I made way too many animals that just weren’t ever going to fit onto the cake, but the modeling is the fun part and you just can’t stop yourself from playing once you get your hands on the sugarpaste. Well, we had fun anyway!


Mary Berry’s Lemon Drizzle traybake recipe

Following on from my post from yesterday, the publishers at BBC Books have very kindly given me permission to share with you Mary Berry’s Lemon Drizzle traybake recipe, as taken from her book Mary Berry’s baking bible.

Mary Berry's Lemon traybake

I made this cake for the first time a couple of weeks ago. Until then I had only really made flapjacks and brownies as a tray bake. I really wasn’t expecting the result to be so light and fluffy. I have to say it was totally delicious.

In Mary’s recipe she makes it as a Lemon Drizzle cake with a crunchy topping, but Tim requested a lemon glaze on top so I’ve added my little twist at the end. Don’t worry, I’ll give you Mary’s way too!

The Ingredients

225g softened butter

225g caster sugar

275g self raising flour

2 level teaspoons baking powder

4 large eggs

4 tablespoons milk

Finley grated rind of 2 lemons

The crunchy topping

175g granulated sugar

Juice of 2 lemons

The lemon glaze topping

200g icing sugar

Juice of 1 lemon

How to make the cake

Line the tray

Pre-heat the oven to 160ºC/ Fan 140ºC / Gas 3. Grease a 30 x 23cm traybake tin then line with baking parchment.

The ingredients

Measure all the ingredients for the traybake

put it all in the bowl

Place it all in a bowl and beat until well blended.

Darcey helping

Let Darcey help!

Mix it all upIt should look like this.

Fill the tin

Turn the mixture in to the prepared tin and level the top with a spatula.

Hot hot hot!

Bake in the pre heated oven for 35-40 minutes or until the cake has shrunk away from the sides of the tin and springs back when pressed in the centre with your fingertips. Leave to cool in the tin for a few minutes then turn out, carefully peel off the parchment and finish cooling on a wire rack.

In Mary’s recipe she adds a crunchy topping. 

Place the wire rack over a tray to catch any drips of the topping. To make the crunchy topping, mix the granulated sugar and lemon juice in a small bowl to give a runny consistency. Spoon this mixture evenly over the tray bake while it is still a little warm. Cut into 30 squares when cold.

Pour the lemon icing

I added a lemon glaze instead.

Mix up 200g icing sugar with the juice of one lemon so that it is quite runny. Set aside 30g of icing and mix with some yellow food colour. Pour the white icing over the whole cake. I like it to dribble over the sides! While the icing is still wet I added the yellow lines of icing.

Lining up to taste

Before the cake was even cold the whole gang descended on the cake! Tim loved it. The girls weren’t so impressed with the lemon icing! That just meant there was more for me and Tim.


You say banana bread, I say banana cake…..

I love banana bread!

Just one sliceBanana bread conjures up sentimental memories for me. When I was little, my grandad used to come over to our house every week for Friday night dinner. He had always been to Croydon market that morning and had always bought up loads and loads of individual bananas from the stall holders- just as they were packing up.  Now, I don’t know if he liked bananas or not but there were always tons at our house!

We could never eat them all before they went bad, so mum used to make banana cake practically every weekend. Thank goodness it freezes well! Looking back we never got tired of it!

This particular banana cake was made when my friends Wendy and Theoda were coming round for coffee back in October. Wendy was one of the recipients of my honey cakes so when we were arranging what day and time to meet up she kept slipping in not so subtle hints that I should make the honey cake again. The conversation went something like this …..

Me: Are you free on Wednesday?

Wendy: Yes, honey cake,  in the morning, honey cake.

ME: Okay shall we say 10 ish?

Wendy: Great, honey cake!?!

Wendy’s son, who isn’t keen on cake absolutely loved the honey cake I made for them, so I made them an extra one a week later and what with all the other honey cakes I made for Rosh Hashannah I was feeling a bit honey caked out! So I stood my ground and went with this old favorite.

Wendy was not disappointed! She added butter to her slice, which we never did as kids, I suppose that’s because we always thought of it as a banana cake rather than as a banana bread, but it really adds to the flavour.

The Ingredients

200g caster sugar

110g butter at room temperature

250g Plain flour

1 tsp of baking powder

2 eggs

75ml milk

250g ripe bananas (in their skins) around 3

75g dark chocolate

50g icing sugar

2tbsp water

How to make Banana bread

Pre-heat your oven to 180°C, fan 160°C, Gas mark 4. Line a loaf tin with baking paper. I use preformed liners available from Poundland as they are so much easier to fit.

Mash up the bananas so they are nice and squidgy. I strangely love doing this bit. The more ripe the bananas are the sweeter the bread will taste. This recipe is great for using up those blackening  ones no one wants to eat!

The ingredients

Weigh up all the ingredients ready for mixing


Blend the butter and sugar together until really smooth, then add the eggs one at a time.

Add the flour

Add the baking powder to the flour then add them, one table spoon at a time to the mix. This will stop the mixture from curdling. Then the bananas can be added and mixed in well.

Add the milk

Add the milk slowly

pour into cake tin

Then pour the mix into your tin and bake in the centre of the oven for 45-55 minutes. When a skewer comes out dry it’s done.

Baked banana bread

The cake should rise gently in the centre. Pop it on a wire rack to cool completely.

Chocolate icing

To make the chocolate topping, melt the chocolate in a microwavable bowl. While it’s cooling a little  make the icing in a separate bowl then mix the two together. Before it sets use a spatula to spread the chocolate icing over the top of the cake and leave to set.

Banana Cake

You can also add a packet of chocolate chips to the cake mix for a really chocolatey cake.


P.S. I got the images for this post ready last night. Then I went downstairs to watch ‘The Great Sport relief bake off ‘ and guess what they were making? Banana bread! What amazing timing. I have to say that I have never had a flop with banana bread and there was a lot of shouting at the TV last night. I can’t believe they all went so wrong when it’s so easy to make. Anyway you can see the catch up here!

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