Friday, April 30, 2010

Cakes cakes cakes!

I guess one of the reasons I havent had much of a chance to blog is that I've been so busy making cakes for friends! I've been able to get lots of great experience in, but it doesnt leave much time for anything else!

I thought I'd share some of the fun stuff I've been up to.

This was a fun little set up for a 1 year old birthday. I finally discovered the magic of the glue gun, which was just wonderful for putting pretty ribbon on my cake stand!

A friend's son turned 3 and he requested a 'cat in the hat' cake. I was very happy with this tall hat cake, and modelled 'thing 1' and 'thing 2'. I even had alternating layers of vanilla/red velvet cake inside to match the fondant, which apparently went down very well. The birthday boy stuck to eating the characters!

I had my first try at a flower pot cake, this was really fun to do, I added some cake crumbs for soil.

Another set up I was quite proud of was this spiderman party. I hand modelled spidey and popped him on a fondant spider web. It was accompanied with some cupcakes topped with spidey themed toppers!

There have been lots more but I wouldnt want to bore you, feel free to click on my flickr page for more, and to keep up with how I'm doing with my cakes, you can 'like' me on facebook at

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Daring Bakers-Sticky Toffee Pudding worth waiting for!

I was so determined to get this recipe in under the wire! Pudding is what we brits are famous for, I just couldnt possibly let this one pass me by! I thought about pudding and I just couldnt get my favourite out of my mind, sticky toffee pudding! I recall eating it at my friend's wedding last October and it nearly brought tears to my eyes, I was so full but I had to really work hard to stop myself from licking up every little bit of the caramelized brown sugar sauce!

It seems that most of the recipes I've come across are for a baked pudding although I think the original roots of the pudding may be as a steamed suet pudding. I didnt have any suet on hand and I dont eat meat, so I substituted coconut oil, which I felt had similar properties.
I added a little lemon to the recipe, lemon zest in the cake and juice in the sauce, I loved the little zing in there.
I really loved this cake, I think butter would work just as well as coconut oil, and the individual pots steam pretty quickly, I cooked them for 30 mins but I think 20 mins would have been just perfect, since it was on the dry side. Of course the fantastic sauce made up for any dryness!
Here is a recipe from channel 4 in the uk if you want to try a baked recipe.
It was fun getting to use my 'Dairy Book of Home Cookery-new edition for the 90's'!!

Sticky toffee steamed pudding (makes 4 large servings or 6 small ramekins)

4oz dates, chopped and soaked with 1/2 cup hot water and 1/2 tsp baking powder
4oz flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 oz panko breadcrumbs
zest 1 lemon
3oz sugar
3 oz coconut oil (can be replaced with butter or suet)
1 egg
2 oz milk
Mix the dry ingredients, whisk the egg, combine all the ingredients then spoon into 6 greased ramekins. Steam for 20 minutes. Serve warm.

Toffee Sauce
100g butter
100ml cream
1 cup brown sugar
juice of 1 small lemon
Heat the sauce until the sugar is fully dissolved and simmer for a couple of minutes. Add the lemon and stir to combine. Serve warm.
The April 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Esther of The Lilac Kitchen. She challenged everyone to make a traditional British pudding using, if possible, a very traditional British ingredient: suet.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Delicious Failures!

So there I was whipping and whipping a meringue topping for my smores cupcakes and nothing was happening. Either my proportions were wrong or there was a tiny amount of fat, but I never got any billowy clouds of meringue.

Since I hate to waste anything, I turned my failed meringues into a success by folding in coconut, almonds, dried tart cherries, a little vanilla and almond essence. They were very well received at my bookclub!

We read 'The Survival Club' and it was a very interesing book. The basic principle that it seemed to keep returning to is that survival is often based on the determination of the person and that the mind is a very powerful thing.

Coconut Almond Cherry Meringues

2 egg whites

1 cup sugar

2 tbsp corn syrup

2 tbsp water

1 cup coconuts

1/4 cup slivered almonds

1/4 cup dried cherries

1/2 tsp almond essence

1 tsp vanilla essence

Preheat the oven to 325

Whip up the egg whites, sugar, corn syrup and water.

Fold in the remaining ingredients

Bake for around 20 minutes until the macaroons are starting to brown

Wait until fully cooled before removing from the sheet.


Scoop walnut sized scoops onto a parchment covered baking sheet

Monday, April 12, 2010

Culinary Garage Sale

As I was browsing for appliances in Pacific Sales yesterday, I came across a chef demonstrating the ovens and she mentioned a really fun event being put on by 'Les Dames D'Escoffier' which I thought I'd share. Just make sure you give me first dibs on the good stuff!!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010


So one of the reasons I've been really quiet lately is that we bought a house! It needs extensive work done, one exciting part of that is a new kitchen. I was really happy to find a house with a horrible kitchen because it meant we just needed to rip it out and start again. There are lots of little things about our current kitchen that we dont like, tile counters for instance, but its quite cute and there is nothing bad enough to mean an entire refit.
We're in the planning stages, although everyone has advised getting ikea cabinets, we think we might go for the more solid american ones, that way this kitchen should last a really long time. We like the silestone counter tops, and I'm thinking cream colored cabinets and a sand/limestone colored countertops. Another big decision is the oven configuration. I think we'll go for a wall oven and separate cooktop.
Many people have mentioned the usefulness of drawers, so we're planning on having all the lower cabinets either as drawers or cupboards with drawers in, much better use of the space. It looks like I'll have lots of bookshelves on the other side of the kitchen with a little cubby under the window that I can sit at and dream about cakes!

There will be a central island, where the sink is now, which will probably have a couple of stools underneath for chilling and maybe eating. We're also planning to move the door from the left hand side to the right.

Any opinions anyone has are extremely welcome!!