Monday, 20 April 2009

Apple Victoria Sponge

Victoria Sponge is just the best thing to bake on a Sunday when your feeling at a bit of a loose end. Its so simple to do and most of the time you'll have everything you need in the storecupboard.

I didn't have any of the traditional raspberry/strawberry jam in the house, so in this recipe i've used my hubby's homemade apple jam (i'll try and get the recipe) with vanilla buttercream icing...

For one Victoria Sponge you will need:
180g unsalted butter
180g caster sugar
180g self-raising flour
3 medium eggs
dash of vanilla essence

And for the filling/topping:
Apple jam (or jam of choice!)
88g unsalted butter
175g sifted icing sugar
1 tbsp boiling water
dash of vanilla essence
Icing sugar for dusting

Before starting on the cake mixture pre-heat your oven to 180c. Make some preparations by greasing two 20cm sandwich tins, which you will then need to line with greaseproof paper.

Next beat together the butter and sugar until the mixture is light and fluffy in consistency. You'll then need to mix the eggs in one at a time before sifting in the self-raising flour. Once you have combined all of these ingredients thoroughly its time to divide the mix into the cake tins.

The cakes will need to be baked for around 20-25 minutes until the sponge has a golden brown colour and springy consistency. Once cooked, leave the cakes for around 5 minutes before turning out on a wire rack to cool.

Before even attempting the filling, leave the cakes to cool for at least 30 minutes...otherwise you will be left with a gooey mess! For the buttercream filling whisk the butter, icing sugar, boiling water and vanilla essence together until the icing has a nice thick consistency. If it feels slightly gloopy just simply add more icing sugar to the mix.

Finally to decorate, spread the jam onto both sides of the cake...its best not to spread the filling right up to the edges as it will spill over the sides once you press the cakes together! All you need to do now is add the buttercream, by spooning into the centre of the bottom cake before gently placing the top layer. If you wish you can now add a dusting of icing sugar on top of the sponge.

Happy Baking! x
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Saturday, 21 March 2009

Rosewater & Pistachio Cupcakes

Mothers Day has become a tad gimmicky these days, the shops are overflowing with flowers and chocolates, so to make it a bit more special why not bake your mummy a present instead?

Mum loves rose and violet chocolate creams, so i've done my own cupcakey take on her fav chocolates. So, here goes the recipe for rosewater & pistachio cupcakes with chocolate buttercream icing....

For 12 standard cupcakes you will need:
60g pistachios
125g self raising flour
125g butter
125g caster sugar
1-2 tbsp rosewater
2 tbsp milk
2 medium eggs

For the chocolate buttercream:
175g butter
350g icing sugar
4 level tbsp cocoa powder
1 tbsp rosewater
3 tbsp boiling water
rose petals/crystalised roses for decoration

Before starting heat your oven to 190c and line the cupcake tins with some cases.

Firstly sift the flour and place in a blender with the pistachio nuts, grind until the nuts have disintergrated into the flour - this will give the cupcakes a greenish tinge.

Next place the butter and sugar into a bowl and mix together, then add the flour mix, milk and rosewater. Before blending together, seperate the egg whites from the yolks in two seperate bowls, then add the yolks and blend till smooth. Finally whisk up the egg whites and stir into the mixture to create a lighter consistency of cupcake.

Finally divide up the mixture into the cupcake tins and place in the oven for between 12-15 minutes.

Tip - Use a tablespoon to divide the mixture, as one spoonful roughly equals one cupcake

Once you have left the mixture to cool for at least 45 minutes, you can start on the buttercream. Blend the butter first so that is nice and smooth, then add the sifted cocoa powder, icing sugar, rosewater and boiling water. Once blended your cupcakes will be ready for decoration, you can either use a knife or special icing equipment to place the buttercream on the cakes. Finally, add the rose petals to make the cakes look pretty.

Happy Baking!

Monday, 9 March 2009

Tea at Maison Bertaux

For me and the girls, Maison Bertaux is better than therapy. Every Thursday, we meet for a chat over a nice slice of gateaux and a pot of tea.

Maison Bertaux is surely one of London's best kept secrets, situated on Greek St in London town it's quirky style and delicious confections always gets the cool kids beating a path to its door.

For just under £7 you can get a wonderful french patisserie plus tea in an atmosphere that is completely unique. You may be thinking that this is a lot, but consider your average sticky coffee chain and then think about where you'd rather hang out!

Check it out next time your in London...

Maison Bertaux
28 Greek St,

Sunday, 22 February 2009

Creme de la Crepe

Pancake Day is finally here, otherwise known as Shrove Tuesday. Way back in history the idea was to give up ingredients such as eggs, milk and butter for lent.

Now i fully love the idea of using up ingredients and gorging on sugary pancakes filled with nutella, peanut butter, syrup or just plain old lemon - it's enough to send me detoxing for at least a couple of days after! (but perhaps not the entire lent period)

To celebrate this wonderous day, i dragged a friend along to the new Creme de la Crepe in Covent Garden. It's a small haven within Covent Garden market and sells pancakes at barginious prices. With offerings such as Cheeky Monkey (nutella and banana) and banoffee pie on the sweet menu, we headed straight for dessert! We were not let down, my Milkybar kid (white chocolate with fresh strawberries) was amazing and has now surpassed nutella and peanut butter as my favourite pancake flavour.

Creme de la Crepe is definately worth a visit when your next in the area, the staff are super friendly and made evert effort to find us a table, despite the place being packed. I'm already planning what to have on my return!


Cadbury's Buttons cupcakes

Cadbury's chocolate buttons are my latest pregnancy craving, so what better ingredient to base a batch of birthday cupcakes around?

To make 12 standard size cupcakes you will need...

125g butter
125g caster sugar
100 g self raising flour
3 tbsp cocoa powder
chocolate drops
2 medium eggs
1 tbsp milk

Buttercream Icing:
175g Butter
350g sifted Icing sugar
vanilla essence
Cadbury's chocolate buttons
Purple food colouring

Firstly heat your oven to 190c

Mix the butter and sugar in a bowl, then seperate the eggs and leave the whites to one side. Next add the egg yolk, self raising flour, cocoa powder and milk. Once this mixture is smooth and creamy, whisk the eggs whites until you get stiff peaks.

After dividing the mixture into the cupcake cases they need to bake for approximately 13-14 minutes.

Leave the cupcakes to cool for a couple of minutes before moving onto a wire rack. Forgot about the cupcakes for around 30 minutes before making the buttercream topping.

Simply put the butter, sugar, colouring and vanilla essence into a bowl and mix with an electric whisk.

Finally put the buttercream on top of the cupcakes and add the Cadbury's chocolate buttons for decoration.

Happy baking! x

Banana Syrup cupcakes

I have become obsessed with using up ingredients of late. We had one browning banana left in the fruit bowl and instead of automatically chucking, i thought 'why not bake a cake?' I usually go for banana loaf, but as i've got a serious sweet tooth at the moment (apparently the baby develops its sweet tooth from 25 weeks...honest!) i went for banana syrup cupcakes instead. I have adapted this recipe from the Waitrose website, if you want to look at the original.

To make 12 small(ish) cupcakes you will need

Base 1 ripe banana
50ml golden syrup

75g unsalted butter

25g granulated sugar
100g sifted self raising flour
1/4 tsp baking powder

2 medium eggs

50g grounded brazil nuts

75g unsalted butter

3 tbsps golden syrup

1 tbsp milk
yellow food colouring

brazil nut halves for decoration

Preheat your oven to 180c before starting on the cake mixture and line the cupcake tray with cases.

Next you need to mush your banana up, baby food style in a bowl and add the golden syrup. Set this bowl to one side, then in a seperate bowl mix the sugar, butter, baking powder, eggs and flour.

Once you have a nice creamy consistency add the banana mush and mix into the rest of the ingredients. Finally add the grounded brazil nuts and stir in well.

Divide the mixture into the cupcake cases and bake in the oven for 14-15 minutes

Tip - you probably need 2-3 teaspoons of batter for each case as a general rule.

Once the cupcakes have baked and cooled, you can get cracking with the buttercream topping. Mix the butter and syrup in a bowl along with some milk.

Tip - add the golden syrup gradually to get the correct consistency

If you wish, you can use some food colouring to jazz the cupcakes up a bit, i chose yellow to properly round off the banana theme! Finally, chop some brazil nuts in half to use as decoration.

Happy Baking! x

Saturday, 21 February 2009


For some reason unbeknown to me, Hubs has been nagging me to bake madeleines for months. I've always thought they look pretty dull, but as he's a complete Francophile he insisted they were sophisticated. Finally i relented, desperate for some peace and quiet!

As it turns out they are lovely! And so simple to make, the whole process only takes 20 minutes so its ideal if you need to make something in a hurry. Chances are you'll have all the ingredients in your store cupboard too.

So to make 9 madeleines you will need:

1 medium egg
1 large orange (for the zest)

55g caster sugar

50g unsalted butter (plus extra for the moulds)
50g sifted self-raising flour

dash of vanilla essence
Icing sugar for decoration

Firstly you need to pre-heat your oven to 190c and use some butter to grease the madeleine moulds.

Next whisk up the egg and caster sugar into a paste, then add the flour, softened butter and orange zest. Finally add some vanilla essence before whisking up into a paste.

Now place your mixture into the madeleine moulds using a teaspoon to even out. The madeleines will need to bake for approximately 7-8 minutes.

Once the madeleines have cooked, leave them for a couple of minutes before turning out onto a cooling rack. To make them look even prettier, decorate with a teaspoon of sifted icing sugar and serve with a nice brew.

Simple! x

Sunday, 15 February 2009

Valentine's cupcakes

I have to say, i don't normally buy into Valentine's Day, but this year i thought hubby deserved an extra special treat. It been a dramatic week with our cat Molly who is very poorly and any man who can gracefully put up with pregnancy hormones deserves a sainthood!

So anyway, mentioned pregnancy means tight purse strings so i searched the house for ingredients already about. In the end i decided upon lemon sponge cupcakes with red vanilla buttercream...

Ingredients- makes 12 cupcakes
1 lemon (juice and rind)
125g caster sugar
2 medium eggs
125g lightly salted butter
125g self raising flour

For the Icing
350g caster sugar
175g lightly salted butter
3 tsps boiling water
Few drops of vanilla essence
Few drops of red colouring

First whack the oven up to 190c, you need that oven warm before attempting to bake. Whilst the ovens doing its thing, you can start on the batter by blending the butter and sugar together before adding the lemon, flour and the egg yolk. Mix all these ingredients together well, it should have a off-beige colour and your arm should be aching! Finally, whip up the egg whites seperately and fold into the mixture.

Tip - use lightly salted butter over the ordinary variety, especially when making a buttercream topping. Otherwise it can taste far too salty!!

Divide the mixture into cupcake cases, i usually find that 2 teaspoons in each case does the trick, and level out with the back of the spoon. Once they are as level as you can get them you can pop them in the oven to bake for around 12-15 minutes.

Tip - Its best to check after 12 minutes with a toothpick or knife, if there is no gooey mixture, it means they're done!

So once you've left your cupcakes to cool for at least an hour, start on the buttercream. This is my all time favourite topping and its soo easy peasy to do. Basically, just whack all the ingredients into a large mixing bowl (remembering to sift the icing sugar first) and whisk away until smooth.

Finally, you're ready for making the cakes look pretty! This is all down to personal preference, just make sure you put the decorations on before the buttercream dries!

Happy baking! xx