Archive of ‘Baking Adventures’ category

Homemade Tea cakes

I’d been eyeing up the teacakes in my Peyton and Byrne British Baking book for a while, but admittedly I was nervous about baking them; before last week I’d never made my own marshmallow and I’d heard plenty of horror stories about getting it wrong! Thankfully I had nothing to worry about –  the recipe is really easy to follow and the results are mouthwatering. The most difficult part is piping the marshmallow, but with a little practise, you’ll soon perfect your technique. The best tip I can give you is to put your piping bag in a pint glass, roll the sides over the glass edge and scoop the marshmallow in slowly with a tablespoon (that way you won’t end up covering yourself/the bag/the kitchen in marshmallow like I did the first time around…)

The original recipe also includes 1 tbsp of double cream in the biscuit base, but personally I don’t feel it adds anything to the taste or texture. Next time I’d love to try these with a layer of jam; I might even adapt the recipe to make homemade Wagon Wheels in the future.

Peyton and Byrne teacakes

The biscuit base:

  • 110g plain flour
  • 60g unsalted butter (room temperature)
  • 60g caster sugar
  • 2 egg yolks (save the whites for the filling)
  • 1/8 tsp baking powder
  • 1/8 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1/2 tsp of vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt

The marshmallow filling:

  • 2 egg whites
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 1 tbsp and 1 tsp of golden syrup
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/2 tsp of vanilla extract

The chocolate topping:

  • 250g of good quality milk chocolate (or dark if you prefer)


Make it!

  • Preheat the oven to 180/gas mark 4. Line 2 large baking trays with baking paper and set to one side.
  • Grab a bowl and sift together the flour, baking powder bicarb of soda and salt.
  • In a separate, larger bowl, beat together the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Add the egg yolks and vanilla extract and mix well, then add in the flour mixture and mix until just combined.
  • Scoop the dough into 12 balls and roll gently in your hands before placing them onto a prepared tray. I found that the mixture doesn’t spread too far, so you may want to push down gently on the tops to prevent a biscuit mound and give yourself a flatter surface to pipe onto.
  • Bake for around 10 minutes, or until the edges turn golden brown. Remove from the oven and leave to cool completely.
  • Whilst the biscuits are cooling, you can move onto the marshmallow filling. Put all the ingredients into a heatproof bowl and set over a saucepan of boiling water. Whisk continuously by hand for 10-15 minutes (ouch) until all the sugar has dissolved and mixture becomes frothy and slightly opaque.
  • Remove the bowl from the heat and using a handheld mixer, whisk until you have the consistency of meringue. Once the mixture is white and holds its shape, it’s ready to pipe!
  • Pipe generous amounts of marshmallow on top of each biscuit. Don’t worry about creating perfect shapes – after all, you’re going to smother it in chocolate anyway.
  • Once the marshmallow has set (I found half an hour in a cool area was plenty of time) you can get to melting your chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water. When the chocolate is ready, remove from the heat and leave to sit without stirring for 7-10 minutes.
  • Place a wire rack over a tray lined with baking paper, line up your teacakes and start spooning the melted chocolate over the marshmallow. The best method is to drop the chocolate directly over the top and assist carefully with a teaspoon to ensure full coverage.
  • Leave to set and then enjoy! Ideally the teacakes should be eaten on the same day as making and no mater than the following day.

Nutella Cheesecake

If you’ve never attempted a cheesecake before, this is a really simple no-bake recipe that guarantees tasty results! Nigella’s Nutella cheesecake is a great go-to dessert that will be welcomed not only by your dinner guests, but by you; it’s perfect for those wintery days when you want something indulgent but you’re too tired to create a masterpiece.

DSC_0228

You’ll need:

  • 250g digestive biscuits
  • 75g unsalted butter (room temperature)
  • 400g Nutella
  • 100g hazelnuts
  • 60g icing sugar
  • 500g cream cheese


Make it!

  • Put the digestives, butter and a tablespoon of Nutella into a food processor and blitz until incorporated. Add 25g of hazelnuts and repeat until you have a damp, sand like texture.
  • Press evenly into the bottom of a 23cm springform tin to create the base and pop in the fridge to chill.
  • Beat the cream cheese and icing sugar together, then add all (yes all!) of the Nutella. Continue to beat until smooth.
  • Take your base out of the fridge and pour the mix over the top, spreading out with a spatula as you go.
  • Chop the remaining hazelnuts and scatter across the top, then place in the fridge for +4 hours (if you can wait, overnight is best).

Just Desserts: Strawberry and caramel cheesecake

Remember back in August when I made Chocolate Pudding Cups for Domestic Sluttery’s ‘Just Desserts’ club? Well this time around the theme was cheesecake. Since the last cheesecake I attempted failed spectacularly (sob) I was eager to try a new recipe. Until last week I’d never made a baked cheesecake before, so, with a determined attitude and my sleeves rolled up, I dove straight in.

Confession time; this should have been a caramel and macadamia cheesecake but I accidentally burnt the caramel and used all of the nuts in the first batch. Drama! As non of my local shops seem to stock macadamia nuts, I had to improvise and alter the recipe slightly…but hey, it’s all part of the baking process, right? Aside from the additional strawberry topping, this recipe comes from Ottolenghi’s first cookbook. Enjoy!

strawberry and caramel cheesecake recipe

The cake:

  • 160g dry biscuits
  •  40g unsalted butter
  • 600g cream cheese, room temperature
  • 120g caster sugar
  • 1/2 vanilla pod 4 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 60ml soured cream icing sugar for dusting

The caramel sauce:

  • 65g unsalted butter
  • 160g caster sugar
  • 100ml double cream


Make it!

  • Pre-heat the over to 140°C and lightly grease a springform cake tin, lining the base and sides with baking parchment.
  • Whizz the biscuits in a food processor (or do it the old fashioned way and beat to death with a rolling pin) then mix with melted butter until you have a damp, sandy consistency. Transfer to your tin and flatten out evenly with a spoon/your hands.
  • Put the sugar and cream cheese in a mixing bowl. Slit the vanilla pod lengthways in half and scrape the seeds out into the bowl, then mix until smooth.
  • Gradually add the eggs and soured cream, whisking until smooth. Pour the mixture over the top of your biscuit base and place in the oven.
  • Bake for 60-70 minutes until set; a skewer should inserted into the centre should come out with a slightly wet crumb.
  • Leave to cool in the tin until room temperature, then release. Be warned – transferring to a plate can be tricky with such a delicate cake! Serve on the cake tin base if you don’t trust yourself to drop it (or get a lovely assistant to help you lift it). Chill the cake for at least a couple of hours in the fridge.
  • To make the sauce, put the butter and sugar in a thick bottomed saucepan and stir constantly over a low heat with a wooden spoon until it becomes a smooth, dark caramel colour. The butter and sugar will look as if they have split but don’t worry, just keep stirring! Once you’ve reached that yummy colour, carefully add all the cream whilst stirring vigorously. Remove from the heat and leave to cool.
  • To finish the cake, dust the edges with some icing sugar and pour your caramel sauce into the centre; depending on how long ago you made the sauce, you may need to heat it slightly. Top with freshly washed and cut strawberries et voila! You should have a beautiful cake that will keep in the fridge for 3 days.

Making macaroons (for the first time)

Although I bake quite often, I have the bad habit of sticking to a handful of recipes that I can do well. I know it’s naughty but I can’t help myself – when I’ve made something pretty and I’m proud of it, I don’t want to make anything else! This week I decided that I needed to pull myself out of the recipe rut, so I stepped away from the cupcakes, put down the truffle tray and tackled a sweet treat that I’ve wanted to try for a while…the macaroon.

I must admit, I was a little nervous about the whole process (my piping bags tend to be reserved for decorating) however, they turned out quite nicely for my first attempt even if I do say so myself. I made two different flavours – raspberry and lemon – and both mixtures were just ever so slightly off the mark. The lemon mix was a little too thick and didn’t produce that polished coat that one associates with a well made macaroon, where as the raspberry mixture went the other way and was a tad too runny; it did have the smooth shiny surface, but they expanded quite a lot on the baking tray.

I followed the recipe from The Great British Book of Baking but used food colouring instead of colouring paste.

macaroon recipe

Lemon macaroons (makes 6 pairs)

  • 1 x medium egg
  • 60g ground almonds
  • 60g icing sugar, sieved
  • 75g caster sugar
  • Yellow food colouring

Strawberry macaroons (makes 6 pairs)

  • 1 x medium egg
  • 60g ground almonds
  • 60g icing sugar, sieved
  • 75g caster sugar
  • Red food colouring

The rest:

  • 150ml double cream
  • 1 tablespoon lemon curd
  • 1 tablespoon of seedless raspberry jam
  • 2 baking trays lined with non-stick baking parchment
  • A piping bag fitted with a 2cm plain tube


Make it!

  • Preheat the oven to 140. Draw 12 even circles roughly 5cm across on the lining paper on each tray.
  • To make the lemon macaroons, put the egg white, caster sugar and a TINY amount of food colouring into a mixing bowl and whisk with an electric mixer until the mixture is very thick and moose-like.
  • Combine the almonds and icing sugar and gradually whisk in, then continue whisking for 1 minute until you have a smooth, shiny and thick mixture.
  • Spoon into the piping bag and pipe inside the circles to make 12 small macaroons.
  • Rinse out the piping bag and repeat the process for your raspberry macaroons.
  • Place both trays in the oven for around 25 minutes, until firm. Remove and leave to cool – you should now have 24 colourful tops and bottoms!
  • When ready to assemble, whip the cream until stiff then divide in half. Swirl the lemon through one portion of cream so that there are visible streaks of lemon. Repeat with the raspberry and second portion of cream.
  • Spoon the lemon filling into a clean piping bag and pipe a good dollop of cream onto the underside of 6 yellow macaroons. Use the other six 6 to sandwich.
  • Clean the piping bag and repeat with the raspberry macaroons. Chill until ready to serve.

Just Desserts: Chocolate Pudding Cups

The minute Domestic Sluttery launched Just Desserts, I knew I’d have to get involved – not least because I knew that friend and founder Sian Meades would probably beat me to death with a rolling pin if I didn’t bake something for her.

If you’re throwing a dinner party, these chocolate cups are the perfect dessert choice; they look impressive, they’re super easy to make, they’re cheap to produce, AND they only take 10 minutes in the oven! It’s a basic recipe, but it’s one that works every time. The best thing about these baked pudding cups is that you can make them as fancy or as laid-back as you like. Want to give it a boozy kick? Add a shot of brandy instead of the vanilla extract. Looking to score top marks with your dinner guests? Present your homemade dessert with two big scoops of ice cream, lashings of honey, a sprinkle of icing sugar and a handful of sliced berries.

chocolate pudding cups

You’ll need:

  • 300g of the yummiest dark chocolate you can afford
  • 75g of unsalted butter (don’t bother putting it in the fridge, you’ll want it to be soft)
  • 125g caster sugar
  • 50g of plain flour
  • 4 medium eggs
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 4 tablespoons of milk
  • Icing sugar to decorate
  • Ice cream or pouring cream to balance out the extreme chocolatey-ness
  • Greaseproof paper
  • 6-8 ramekins, pudding tins/dishes or moulds

Make it!

  • Heat the oven to 200°C and pop the baking tray in to warm up.
  • Grease your pudding dishes with butter and a pinch of flour. Cut out greaseproof paper circles and line the bases.
  • Break your chocolate into manageable pieces and slowly melt over a pan of steaming water, occasionally stirring as you measure out your other ingredients. Once it’s all gooey, resist the temptation to dip your fingers in it – leave it on one side to cool.
  • In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter with a wooden spoon until it’s nice and creamy (don’t worry, it’s supposed to look that small). Add the sugar and vanilla extract and beat with an electric mixer until light and fluffy.
  • Add each egg one at a time, beating well after each addition, then stir in the flour with a big metal spoon, followed by the chocolate and milk. Don’t forget to use a rubber spatula to ensure minimum waste!
  • Spoon out the mixture into your prepared dishes. If you’re going to eat them now, put them on the pre-heated tray and bake in the oven for 9-12 minutes or until the mix has risen and is just firm to touch. Turn out onto a pretty plate (try not to burn your fingers) dust with icing sugar, and serve straight away with a big dollop of ice cream.
  • If you want to save them for later, cover with clingfilm and pop them in the fridge for a few hours. When you’re ready to eat them, upwrap and bake as above.

chocolate pudding cup recipe

So, you want to get involved too huh? I don’t blame you. Each month the Domestic Sluts will announce a theme (this month it’s chocolate, obviously) and all you have to do is decide what you want to make, bake it, and blog about it, linking back to the Domestic Sluttery site and mentioning the Just Desserts pudding club. Find out more here!

How To… Bake Berry Muffins

I love all kinds of berries and often include strawberries, raspberries or blueberries in my baking. Berry muffins are so easy to make and taste great no matter what time of day you indulge (plus they’re totally acceptable for breakfast AND dessert!)

berry muffin recipe

You’ll need:

  • 360g plain flour
  • 370g caster sugar
  • 375ml buttermilk
  • 70g unsalted butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • 250g berries

Make it!

  • Preheat the oven to 170°C/gas mark 3
  • Measure out the plain flour, salt, caster sugar, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda. Throw it all into the same bowl and beat slowly with an electric whisk.
  •  Combine the buttermilk and vanilla extract together in a jug. Add 1 egg and mix. Slowly pour into the flour mixture and beat until incorporated.
  • Melt the unsalted butter in a pan. Pour into the mixture, beating as you go until the dough is smooth.
  • Gently fold in berries with a wooden spoon (I used blueberries and raspberries this time). You can add more depending on your taste, but anything over 300g will effect the end result. Once the berries are evenly dispersed, spoon the mixture into your paper cases; this recipe should make around 10-12 muffins.
  • Bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes. Skewer the centre of the muffin – if it comes out clean, your yummy treats are ready! Leave to cool completely on a wire rack before attempting to eat them all in one go; hot berries WILL burn your mouth.

Frugal February: How To… Entertain on a budget

If you’re taking part in Frugal February, I think it’s important not to spend all of your evenings and weekends wishing you hadn’t. Just because you can’t go to some ‘fabulous’ party that your friend is throwing – “the drinks are only £6 each darling and the music is so on trend and that cute boy you like will be there and everyone else you’ve ever met will be there and it’ll be the best night you’ve had in aaaaaaaaages” – does NOT mean you can’t have a good night. What ever happened to making your own fun? Invite your friends over and get creative! After all, it’s far too cold to go outside…

Gilmore Girls

Bring and Bake
Rather than going out and spending your money on over priced coffee and cupcakes, ask all of your friends to bake something, raid the tea cupboard, and have a good old fashioned catch up over a variety of yummy treats! Chances are there will be a few left overs to pop in your lunch box too…

You can find my cheap and cheerful recipe for fairy cakes here!

Dinner and a movie aka date night
No, I’m not talking about splurging on take out and sticking a movie on whilst you’re in bed, falling asleep half way through and waking up at 3am with your glasses sticking into your face. Put him to work in the kitchen whilst you freshen up. Sit down to dinner, light a few candles, have a conversation – make a little effort! Afterwards, get some popcorn in the microwave and watch a movie neither of you has seen before (or pick one each if you fancy staying up late). My point is, even if you can’t afford a fancy restaurant, you can still make time for each other.

The girls
Grab your closest girls and have a night in. Who wants to be out in this weather, shivering to death in painful heels, spending money on cocktails that will only leave you with a headache in the morning? All you need for a great night is a couple of films, one large bar of chocolate, a range of nail varnishes and a cheap bottle of wine.

The boys
Now, boys night for me isn’t that dis-similar to my girls night. Swap the nail varnish for video games and the wine for cider and black – the banter and jokes won’t be far behind!

Jumble sale
Sort out your wardrobe and have a night of listing on ebay – you might make more than you’d think. Bag up anything you can’t sell for the charity shops, or go one step further and invite your frugal friends over for a swap shop (you could even combine this with your bake off and make a real night of it).

Not taking part in Frugal Feb? Head over to ebay and buy my stuff!

Make & do
Do something different and start a craft project. You could make a card for someone special, teach yourself origami, or just write a letter to a friend. If you’re already a crafty person and fancy throwing yourself into a bigger venture, then take a look at A Beautiful Mess for some beautiful and unique ideas.

I love Sundays
Get everyone involved and host your own roast! Divide the responsibilities between the group (one person brings the potatoes, another the vegetables/dessert/wine etc) and enjoy the end of your week in style.

True Blood Halloween

Being a bit of a fang banger, I decided to go as a dead Merlottes girl this year (if you haven’t seen True Blood then the references I just made are pretty null and void – sorry!)

My outfit was fairly easy to make – to start, I used a cheap plain white t-shirt which I customised with an iron-on Merlottes Bar & Grill logo and added some mud and fake blood to give the dead waitress outfit a more authentic look. The black shorts came from my wardrobe and the apron began life as a piece of dark green material which I passed over to my friend Elizabeth who did the most fantastic job on her sewing machine! I purchased a waiting tray for £2 in a local shop, got myself a bottle of ‘O Negative’ from Forbidden Planet and wore a pair of white trainers.

True Blood waitress costume

For the injuries, I gave myself a black eye, bruised the opposite cheek bone and busted my lip as well as some bloody knees from falling and bruised knuckles from fighting back. My vampire bites were achieved by creating two small glue circles with a cotton bud, adding a little fake blood and some purple eyeshadow around the outside.

Bruise makeup

I also made my own Trick or Treat banners with some colourful card, string and a lot of patience as well as some zombie land biscuits for the ghoulish guests!

Halloween banners
zombie land biscuits

Make & Do

After spending quite some time looking through the Hummingbird bakery book I borrowed from the library, I decided on two cupcakes in particular that I wanted to bake. The first is a strawberry cheesecake cupcake with cream cheese frosting. The batch came out smaller than I’d have liked as the recipe is supposed to make 12 but I halved everything to a 6 capacity muffin tray. They were very easy and fun to make, requiring 25 minutes in the oven and about 20 minutes prep time – you can find the recipe here!

I’ve also been getting back into photography recently, so if you’re on Flickr, give me a wave! I really love shooting film, but the process of selling my non existent children to buy and develop is disheartening, so I don’t do it as often as I’d like.

Tree blossom
Barber