Category: Cakes

My one stop shop for Christmas recipes is…..

Woman and Home’s

‘Feel Good Food magazine’

Now, you might think that I am biased about this particular magazine as not only did I work for Woman and Home for nine years, and I know the food team at Feel Good Food (or FGF as we call it!) and I also write the table setting pages for each issue, but I’m not biased at all!

As you may know I am Jewish and as Tim is Christian so I get to celebrate all the religions festivals for both sides of our families. It’s the fact that I eat a practically vegetarian diet ( as I keep Kosher) and am always on the lookout for new cakes and cookies to bake makes this quarterly mag like food porn.

The Food Team

The Food team at Woman & Home are Jane Curran and Rebecca Smith and they are my food guru’s. I used to sit opposite Jane in the Woman & Home offices and I would throw all sorts of baking queries at her and she could fire back the most complicated response in an instant. I was always impressed. Their recipes are seriously impressive, yet easy to follow and very impressive for a dinner party.

Bex is the foodie behind the food blog I love reading this as it’s like she’s still sitting next to me in the office and we are chatting about food like we always used to. Bex’s brownies are the best I have ever tasted. I’m taking them to the New Year’s eve party we are going to this year. She taught me about adding a little salt in chocolate recipes. “Salt!” I thought. But try it. Just add a pinch.You’ll never look back!

Her most recent post is about getting the timing right for your Christmas dinner – turkey and all. I’m so glad I am the baker in my house and not the cook, but check out her advice here.

Feel Good Food Magazine

Feel Good Food Magazine

Whenever a new issue of FGF came out I would read it on the train home. Just to warn you, this is not the magazine to read on a train when you are hungry! It will make your mouth water.  I always want to make the veggie options as they are always proper meals. None of that tasteless nut loaf rubbish here.

From this issue I’m making  the Vegetable potato pie which is packed full of sweet potatoes (which I love) my fav veggies and all sorts of great flavours  (a must for any veggie meal)

Feel Good Food Magazine

I love how these ‘Home made gifts’ are packaged up. These truffles look melt in the mouth! (actually I know that they are as I’ve eaten Jane’s truffles before!)

Feel Good Food Magazine

I asked Tim what I should take to his parents for Christmas day this year. I wanted to make the roulade ( as I’ve never made one before and I love them) but he reminded me that his dad likes to make one (from a FGF recipe from a few years ago) so I should make this layered chocolate cake instead. He loves Chocolate cake. The recipe states that it will keep in the fridge for 3 days. Yeah right! This will be scoffed in one sitting at the MT household if me and Tim have anything to do with it!

So, if you are stuck for the perfect recipe and still need some inspiration this is the only mag you’ll need. I’ve only scratched the surface of what’s inside. There’s over 101 recipes in here! It’s available in supermarkets, news agents , but I always pick mine up in M&S.


Beau’s sleepover cake

How to make a simple sleepover cake

Beau was eight years old on Monday. Her birthday cakes have got more and more detailed and adventurous  as I have got more experienced and she has got older. When asked what cake she wanted this year she said

“ I want a two tier cake like a wedding cake with me sleeping on the top and my friends sleeping on the bottom of the cake” !!!!!!!

She was obviously having her first sleepover party.So we compromised. Beau’s main cake which we cut at her party, had her sleeping on a big bed and each of her friends had a separate mini ‘bed’ cake of their own, in which they were sleeping and could take home with them the next day.
The idea was to make all the cakes sit alongside each other so that it felt like one big cake.I used my favourite chocolate cake recipe (below) which is really chocolatey, super quick to make and super light and fluffy.

Two bowl chocolate cake recipe


3 tbsp hot water
3 tbsp cocoa powder
100g soft butter
100g caster sugar
100g Self Raising Flour
2 eggs
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp vanilla essence

To make the chocolate cake

Grease two 18cm sandwich tins (I used 3 x the ingredients and 3  loaf tins for this cake). Line the bottoms with baking paper. Heat your oven to 180C, gas mark 4.

Sieve the cocoa powder into a bowl, then add the hot water and blend really well until there is  no dry powder left. Set to one side to cool.

In another bowl mix all rest of the ingredients together until well blended and then add the cocoa mixture and blend again.

Spoon the mixture into the tins and bake for 25 minutes or until a skewer comes out dry. This cake rises a little so you can also test that it’s baked by pressing down on the top of the cake. If it springs back it’s ready. If it leaves a finger print or takes a while to rise up again it will need a little longer in the oven.

Chocolate buttercream

Ingredients to fill and cover a two bowl chocolate cake

75g soft butter
100g icing sugar
½ tsp vanilla essence

2 tbsp cocoa powder

How to make the buttercream

Put all of the ingredients into a bowl then blend until really light and fluffy. This makes enough to fill an 18cm cake and cover the top (and sides if you don’t use it too thick)

To make the sleepover cake

Cover your cake boards with sugarpaste. Use a patchwork cutter to create a pattern in the ‘carpet’. Leave to dry for at least a week. If you use it straight away it may dent when you touch it!

Cut the cake to size and add buttercream

I used three times the recipe to make three loaf sized chocolate cakes. One cake was used for the main bed and the other two were cut into rectangles for the smaller beds. Each cake was cut in half and had buttercream added to the centre.

 Cover each cake with chocoalte buttercream

It’s a good idea to bake the cakes in advance to decorating them. If it’s really, really fresh this cake will just crumble when you apply the buttercream.  24 hours after baking is a good time to decorate. Once the cake is iced it’s sealed so it will stay moist and fresh.
Add buttercream to the top and sides.

cover each 'bed' cake with white icingCover each cake with white sugarpaste then secure the cake in place on it’s cake board with a little royal icing. This creates the ‘sheet’ over the bed.

 Add the detailed trim to the bed

Use edgers to make strips of decorative sugarpaste and secure them along the bottom of the bed. Use Royal icing as glue.

Add details on the trim

Use a sugar craft tool, or the end of a paintbrush to give the valance more detail.

Add a pillow and a headMould a piece of white sugarpaste into a rectangular shape for the pillow. The heads are made from marzipan which has been coloured with a tiny bit of  food colour (paprika  is perfect for a skin tone). Use a very thin paintbrush to add the colouring of the eyes, eye brows mouth and cheeks. A tiny ball of marzipan is used to create a nose.

 Fake a body

Roll a sausage shaped piece of marzipan for the body. Taper it in at the end where the feet would be. Secure it to the bed.

Roll out a piece of coloured sugarpaste for the blanket. Leave it long enough that it will drape over the edges of the bed. Make sure each little lady is well tucked in up to her neck.

 Paint on the face and ice the hair

Colour royal icing to add the hair. Then all that’s left to do is add the names on each cake board and the ‘Happy Birthday’ on the largest cake board.

While I was finishing this cake Beau and Darcey made some accessories that you would find in their bedroom. They made books, hats and a dolls house that opens up. Beau even made a train complete with track which they positioned all over the cakes.

In all the cake was a big success. I think all the guests liked it that they could take home their own Mini Me! Beau obviously had a great time as you can see below.


The Stacey Solomon Cake

Stacey Solomon's cake

Stacey Solomon is one of  my many cousins – that is her dad and my mum are first cousins. When she came home from winning ‘I’m a celebrity, Get me out of here’ her sister Jemma organised a surprise welcome home party for her for just her family and closest friends (all 200 of them!)

The cake

I offered to make a cake for the occasion and Jemma jumped at the chance  after seeing my cakes on flickr. We decided that the cake should be a model of Stacey  in the jungle sitting on a log with a table covered in snakes and bugs. That was the plan anyway.

In the past my models have always been a bit more flat chested than I intended, but with Stacey I needed to make sure that was not the case (without going too far the other way! I mean I didn’t want to offend her) I also needed to make the hair really long and flowing so I needed to make her well in advance of the cake -so she could dry. I concentrated on the snakes, hat, food dome, fire and model a week before delivery. Two days later it started to snow!

Mmmm bugs for dinner

Snow joke!

The cake was a madeira with a raspberry jam and butter-cream filling. The table was a mini cake on top. I had the cake practically finished but I was now worried about delivering the cake. The snow from the few weeks earlier had practically brought the country to a standstill! How on earth was I going to get the cake to the party which was being held in a marquee at a golf club in Dagenham when I lived in Bromley in Kent!

Check out these mice!

The plan was to  drive  to the party with my sister Shelley. We were leaving our kids with our husbands and meeting our brother Robert there. As it was a surprise we didn’t  have to be there till 9pm. Great to have more time, but it meant that more snow could settle. Luckily it didn’t and once I had picked Shell up the roads were clear of both snow and other drivers. But it was the kind of evening that if you didn’t have to go out you wouldn’t.

The big surprise

Once in the marquee we were frozen. I mean really frozen. It must have been -3 outside and being inside a tent didn’t make much of a difference!

Jemma’s plan was perfect. She invited everyone via private message on facebook so Stacey wouldn’t have a clue what was going on. Then at about 9pm she phoned her asking if she could come and pick Jemma up from work at the golf club as she had missed her ride! Stacey who had just done a personal appearance and was with her manager was not impressed! Apparently there was a lot of swearing and Jemma had to persuade Stacey she really was stuck! It worked and at around 11am Stacey was directed to the marquee and walked straight in to see some of her closest friends waiting for her, all cheering and clapping.

The cake was set up on its own table next to the chocolate fountain (that we couldn’t leave alone) but as Stacey was so swamped by everyone I didn’t get a chance to show it to her. Everyone was trying to get her attention and she couldn’t move.

The games

Jemma had set up a real bush tucker trial. Six people had to sit at a table and eat some pretty disgusting stuff – to which Stacey was very encouraging – I mean she would be really wouldn’t she? She’s been there done that – and  got the crown to prove it!

By now it had gone 12.30pm and we really had to get going before the roads got too icy and our feet got frost bite! It was a brilliant surprise party though. We don’t get to see my mum’s side of the family as much as we would like to so it was great to catch up with everyone.

Stacey’s Story so far and the final  big surprise

A few weeks ago Stacey released her first book. The whole family is so proud of her and her achievements. When I picked up the book in Waterstones for the first time  I was amazed to see I’m in one of the photos, along with Tim my husband and all of my family. It’s the picture from her Dad’s wedding to Karen. That was a surprise but not as big a surprise as when I saw the picture of my cake for her surprise party in he book too! What a hoot! I was totally made up. I wasn’t even sure she got to see the cake at the party.

Needless to say I am so excited to be included in her book. All that’s left to say is thanks Stace!

My Mum’s Madeira cake recipe is the best in the world


How to get great results with this Madeira cake recipe

When I was one years old, my mum made her first shaped birthday cake. It was a number one! I wish I had a photo of it to share with you. It started a long family tradition in shaped birthday cakes for many (let’s just say well over 30) years. She always made the cakes from her Madeira cake recipe then shaped them, covered the top with jam and covered the cake in marzipan and then with regular icing . To this day I still think this is the best taste combination -cake wise, it’s just a bit difficult novelty shaping wise.

The only Madeira cake recipe you’ll ever need.

This recipe will make a 8 inch round cake. Heat the oven to Gas mark 4 / 350.F/ 180.C

For a list of other size cake tins ingredients see this post here

You can bake one cake and cut it in half to fill the centre with buttercream and jam or you can split the ingredients between two separate tins.


6oz/ 150g butter
7oz / 200g caster sugar
1 tea spoon vanilla essence
3 eggs
8oz /225 g plain flour
1 1/2 teasp of baking powder
3 tbsp hot water

The method to the cake madness!

1. Line and grease a 8 inch tin and set aside. Allow the oven to heat up to the correct temperature – Gas mark 4 / 350.F / 180.C. I measure out all the ingredients before I start as it saves time and I can concentrate on blending and not measurements. (Also a good idea if the kids want to distract… I mean help you!)Start by blending the butter and sugars together until the mixture is light and fluffy. You can make this cake by mixing by hand but it will feel like you are running a marathon with all the physical exertion needed

2.Add the vanilla essence.

Mix it all up.
3. Add the eggs one at a time. To stop the mixture from curdling add a spoon of the flour as you add each egg.


4. Once all the eggs have been combined, add the rest of the flour with the baking powder and continue to mix.Ensure all the ingredients have been mixed to a smooth consistency then add the hot water-slowly- till it is completely blended.

What a nice smooth consistency!


5.Pour the cake mix to the tin and pop it in the oven for 55 minutes.

Fill those tins

6.Once you have removed the cake from the oven leave it to cool for 10-20 minutes then turn it out onto a cooling rack. Never leave the cake in the tin to cool completely as it will ‘sweat’ and go soggy rather than stay moist.

7. To test if the cake is ready lightly press the top of the cake. If the surface springs back straight away it’s ready. If it slowly comes back it needs more time. Another way to test if a deep cake is cooked right through is to put a knife or skewer into the centre of the cake then pull it out. If it comes out clean then the cake is ready. If the knife is gloopy it probably needs another 5-10 minutes or so. If it’s only a little ‘wet’ give it another 2-3 minutes baking.


Remember that if you increase the size of the cake tin and ingredients then you need to increase the baking time. When I make a large 12 inch cake (round or square) I triple the ingredients and the cake always takes over 1 hour 45 minutes to be baked to perfection
I have tried a number of other Madeira cake recipes but they never taste as good as my mum’s and are usually really heavy. She always bakes three times the amount and bakes it in a large rectangular tin then cuts out the shapes.

I use the same recipe but I split the mixture up into 2 or 3 tins. The cake comes out really light and cooks thoroughly – right through to the centre. If you are going to make it in one tin I suggest you do it the scoop and bake method.


Scoop and bake

I read about this technique on a blog ages ago and was a bit dubious about it working – but it really does work! Ensure that the oven is at the right temperature before you start. Line the baking tin as usual and pour the Madeira mixture into the tin. Scoop the centre of the cake mix up to the sides so that you can see the bottom of the tin and then pop it in the oven. Avoid opening the door to peek! Don’t worry the cake will fill the hole, bake perfectly and be nice and flat. Don’t ask me how!

..Burnt on the outside, not cooked on the inside?

Another tip I picked up from a blog is that if your cakes bake too fast on the outside and not in the centre you can wrap the outside of the tin with folded newspaper. There should be about 4-5 layers of newspaper. It should sit just below the top of the tin and you can hold it in place with plain string. Make sure the string is plain/ natural as any plastic coating will melt and ruin – not to mention probably poison, your cake.


I hope you enjoy this cake as much as I have. Let me know what your favourite combinations for Madeira cake recipe are. I always use raspberry jam but have recently used black cherry which is good too. My mum uses apricot. The choices are just endless.



A little note about other size cake tins 

Since writing this post I have been asked loads of times for different ingredient quantities for different sized cake tins for this Madeira cake recipe. I finally did a post with an easy to follow chart which you can see here. I hope that helps all you keen bakers out there. EmmaMT (15th September 2013)

Another note….

I have had so many comments on this post I thought I would just take a second to explain that I wrote this post in May 2011 and have had so much more experience and success with another version of this cake since then. If you have read through all the comments you may end up a bit confused! My advice would be to go to my other Madeira cake recipe post here where you will have a ton of success! I hope that clears things up a bit. EmmaMT ( 25th April 2014)

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