Half Term Baking

It feels like an eternity since I last updated my blog. I was working in a long term and full time post last half term. Baking, let alone any blogging was the last thing on my mind.

The last few weeks have been extremely stressful. Even though baking helps me to relax and unwind, I didn’t have the time and the energy to lift a wooden spoon. As soon as my work was finished for the night, it was bedtime and the cycle would start again at 6.00am the next morning.

Although half term week was last week up here in Yorkshire, it’s taken me that long to get my head back to writing up my latest post. But I was so happy, esctatic even to be back in my favourite place doing what I love. So I am sharing with you what I have baked this last week.

At Christmas I was given a copy of Jamie Oliver’s latest book “5 Ingredients” which I really love. As there are only 5 ingredients in each recipe, a lot of the recipes are simple to make and quick to throw together after a busy day. Although poor Mr SmartCookieSam ended up cooking our dinner most nights last half term! As usual, whenever I get a new recipe book I’m always looking at the sweet stuff at the back of the book.

On the Monday of half term week I went over to Leeds to meet up with my cake club friends at one of our friends’ houses. Linda cooked us a delicious Spanish Chicken Traybake (from the Hairy Dieters first book) and we had some sweet treats afterwards. This was a real tonic to catch up with my friends as I hadn’t seen anyone for a couple of months. My contribution was a Chocolate Orange Bundt Cake (more of that to follow) and some St Clements Polenta Biscuits from Jamie’s 5 Ingredients.

The St Clements Polenta Biscuits could have been used with lemons or oranges but I used just lemons in my recipe. The five ingredients were: butter, fine polenta, self raising flour, caster sugar and lemons or oranges. The biscuit dough could be made up in my food processor, so it was really quick to put together. When the dough had formed into a large ball, I split the dough into 24 equal pieces and laid them onto a lined baking tray. The biscuits spread a lot during the baking so I needed to space them well apart on the tray. I usually put 6 biscuits per tray. These were baked for about 10 minutes in the oven, but my oven temperature is a bit out at the moment so I was watching them like a hawk.

I was very pleased with the biscuits and they went down well. My only problem was not to eat them before I met my friends! It’s the first time I’ve used polenta in a biscuit recipe. I’ve baked polenta in savoury recipes and also in a cake. The latter was a complete disaster and the cake fell apart. Cake balls, anyone?!

The other bake I took along to my friend’s house was a Chocolate Orange Bundt Cake. Anyone who knows me well will know that I collect Nordicware Bundt pans. Much to the annoyance of Mr SmartCookieSam who complains about them taking up space in the garage! I chose to use my Elegant Heart pan to make my cake in, being as it was two days before Valentine’s Day. I had a packet of mini Chocolate Orange Lindt D’Or balls in my baking cupboard which I could use to decorate the top. I’m still confused. How were they still there in the cupboard? I’m surprised they hadn’t been scoffed.

I adapted the Tunnel of Fudge Bundt recipe from one of my Nordicware cookbooks and used one of my favourite products in the mix. I’m a huge fan of Sugar and Crumbs’ Natural Flavoured Icing Sugars and Cocoa powders. I used the chocolate orange cocoa powder in the cake itself and in the glaze on top.

The third bake of the week was on the Thursday of half term week. I was at home on my own that day just catching up on jobs around the house and by the afternoon I was fed up of doing boring chores. The kitchen beckoned again so I had a go at making another recipe from Jamie’s “5 Ingredients” This time I baked “Buddy’s Flapjack Biscuits” Jamie must have made the recipe for his son, Buddy. The five ingredients in this recipe were: butter, mixed dried fruit and nuts, porridge oats, self raising flour and golden syrup. Basically a flapjack style recipe without sugar in it, only syrup and more sweetness derived from dried fruit. I chose to substitute the dried fruit for a packet of Vahine choco-caramel chips which I had in the baking cupboard. They had been brought back from France last August and I hadn’t got round to using them. They melted into the mixture, though and turned it darker. I was hoping they might stay solid, rather like chocolate chips do in a cookie. Once again, this recipe was simplicity itself pulsed together in my food processor.

I also treated myself to Mary Berry’s latest book “Classic” and used her recipe for flapjacks which definitely are a classic to me. If I could only ever eat one thing for the rest of my life, it would easily be a flapjack. Though it has to be said, both my son and Mr SmartCookieSam ate these.

Finally, I had a very special cake to bake at the end of half term week. My friend was celebrating her 60th birthday so her husband asked me if I could bake her a cake. Marion and I met a couple of years ago before our favourite band of all time Wet Wet Wet were playing in Scarborough at the Open Air Theatre. Her husband was bringing her away for the weekend at Nidd Hall near Knaresborough in North Yorkshire and they asked Mr SmartCookieSam and I to come over to Nidd Hall for drinks and afternoon tea. I baked Marion’s special cake the day before and had great fun decorating it with a fanastic cake topper from mycupcaketoppers.co.uk. I used the image from Wet Wet Wet’s very first album cover Popped In Souled Out and added stars, hearts and sugar coated crispy balls around the edge. The cake itself was a Madeira sponge which I cut in half horizontally (not straight as you can tell from the photos), and layered with strawberry jam and buttercream. I then crumb coated the cake with buttercream, left it to dry and then added the sugarpaste layer. I hate covering cakes with sugarpaste and even though I’ve been decorating cakes for years, I still get anxious and nervous about the sugarpaste breaking and falling off the rolling pin. But thankfully today, it all worked out fine.

As I type, it’s now the following Thursday morning and I’m not at work today. I’m wondering what I can bake. I daren’t bake anything as I know I’ll eat it though. Maybe I’ll have to keep out of the kitchen and do my knitting instead once I’ve done all my chores.

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx

Pineapple Upside Down Bundt.

Who remembers having Pineapple Upside Down Cake as a child?  Did you have it for school dinners? I did, although when I was little I didn’t like the pineapple and left it. I remember a very strict teacher at our Infant School telling me off for not eating it and making me sit there at the table until I’d eaten every last mouthful! I’m surprised it hasn’t put me off pineapple for life!

I’ve had the NordicWare Pineapple Upside Down Bundt pan for a couple of years now.  I spotted it on Ebay from the US and just HAD TO HAVE IT! I love how you already have the shape of where to stick the pineapple rings and the cherries in. Alternatively as with other bundt pans, you could bake a pineapple flavoured cake and the pretty pattern will come out on top of the cake when you take it out of the tin. Personally, I’ve not got round to trying this out yet, but maybe one day?

To be honest I’ve not had much chance for blogging recently so this cake was baked over a month ago.  It was my 19 year old daughter’s last day at home before going back to uni for her second year. She was moving into a new house and would be going back early to work on a film shoot.  As with the last year before she left for uni we had a family meal at our house.  My Dad and step mum came over and I cooked a roast  chicken dinner followed by either Pistachio and White Chocolate Blondies and the Pineapple Upside Down Cake.  What would you serve with it? I went for a choice of double cream or vanilla ice cream.

As for the recipe used, I tried googling for a recipe specifically for the Nordicware pan but could I find one? No such luck, so I tried adapting a recipe I’ve used before. Nigella Lawson has a lovely recipe in her Express book, but the cake comes out a lot smaller. I doubled the quantities of the cake mixture itself and that seemed to work. I had to keep an eye on the time in the oven though. As it was over a month ago I can’t remember the exact time but my guess is it took me about an hour to bake.

The bundt pan has been greased in the usual way. I put the cherries and the pineapples in the right places and then sprinkled sugar on the top of them to help make them caramelise.
The finished Pineapple Upside Down Cake. It was perfect for a Sunday lunch dessert.

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx

Pecan and Maple Bundt Cake- Nigella’s Kitchen.

Once again I’ve lost my way a bit with my blogging.  I have all these posts in draft on my laptop but that’s as far as they’ve gone during the last month. A lot has happened in the past month. I’ve been on a trip to visit my brother, sister in law and their gorgeous family including my four month old niece who completely stole my heart. Auntie Sam was in her element and as my niece is very similar in temperament to my own daughter, it really did take me back to twenty years ago when my brother became an Uncle to my daughter. What special times. With all this in my mind I chose to bake a Canadian inspired cake for the last Clandestine Cake Club event I went to. This was a few days before I was due to jet off over to Alberta but the theme was Around The World In 80 Cakes Although there weren’t 80 cakes there, there were definitely a delicious array of cakes representing lots of different countries.

I chose to bake a recipe from Nigella Lawson’s book “Kitchen” which is a maple and pecan nut bundt cake.  Although I’m a huge Nigella fan and I bake lots of her recipes, it’s been a while since I baked from Kitchen. It’s such a huge book too, wouldn’t like to drop that on my feet or I’d be in agony.  It was also a great excuse to get out one of my bundt pans off the shelf and to use it again.  My Crown Bundt pan also has a Canadian connection as I bought it last year on my first visit to Canada.  We went shopping and I got carried away in Williams Sonoma.  But it was worth it.  The pan was half the cost of UK prices!  Nigella uses the Fleur de Lys Bundt pan in her recipe and says: ” The reason I chose this particular shape for this cake was that it seemed to show it’s nutty, gooey stuffing off to maximum effect once sliced,”

The bundt cake has a separate maple pecan filling which is swirled into the vanilla batter once in the cake tin and looks really pretty when the cake is cut into.  So, as Nigella says you really need a tin which looks great when it’s cut up into slices.

I baked the cake the night before Cake Club as I was working a full week.  It had to be done in the evening once we’d had tea.  I normally love baking but it had been the first day back at work after the summer holidays.  I’d had a lot of running around and standing on my feet to do so the last thing I wanted to do was to stand up in my kitchen baking. But at least it was the first episode of the latest series of The Great British Bake Off!  So I set up my Ipad in the kitchen and watched it as I was weighing out, mixing and chopping nuts up.  I soon forgot my legs and feet ached and immersed myself in my hobby.

I always grease my bundt pans with Wilton Cake Release.  Once this was done, I pre-heated my fan oven and set myself going with the filling part to the cake.  For this I mixed flour, soft unsalted butter, ground cinnamon, chopped pecan nuts and some maple syrup. This formed a slightly more fudgy version than a crumble topping.  When this was done I put it aside and made up the rest of the cake mix.

In another mixing bowl I weighed out plain flour, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda. Though it took  me 5 minutes to find my pot of bicarb as it had somehow managed to hide itself behind everything else in the cupboard.

In yet another bowl (lots of washing up tonight!) I creamed together butter and caster sugar using my hand held mixer.  Following this I put in 2 eggs and then in went the flour mixture.  Finally, I folded in some sour cream before putting about half the mixture into the bundt pan.  The pecan mixture went in next followed by the remaining cake mixture.

The cake baked for about 40 minutes or so. I kept on checking it through the oven door and it seemed to be fine after the allotted 40 minutes.  I always panic that the bundts are going to fall apart or not come out of the tin.

Sheer relief!  A few crumbs had stuck inside the tin but not enough to worry about and the cake slid out effortlessly.  I let it cool down on the rack in the kitchen while I cleared up.  When it was cool, I dusted it with icing sugar and hoped that the cake would be ok in it’s box in my car boot while I was at work the following day.  Thankfully, even though I drove over loads of speed humps going to the venue in Leeds, the cake was intact!

I really love going to cake club events. I’ve made loads of friends through cake club and we regularly meet up for a chin wag and a catch up over cake and coffee. I can’t wait for the next one in October which is to be a Hallowe’en themed one. Better get my thinking cap on!

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx

Tiger Cake from The Nordic Bakery.


 A couple of weeks back I dug out my copy of the Nordic Bakery Cookbook.  It’s been sitting on the shelf in my spare room for about a year.  I can’t believe it’s been over a year since I last tried something out from it.  Anyway, what the hell. It was the summer holidays and I had the chance to bake something. 

In the book’s Cakes chapter is a recipe for Tiger Cake.  It “gets its name from the tiger stripes formed by the two colours of the cake mixture- vanilla and chocolate.”  This is explained in the recipe introduction, that it’s really a marble cake but the staff at the Nordic Bakery like to call it a tiger cake instead.  Either way, it still looks very impressive and even more so if you bake it in a bundt pan.  As I collect Nordic Ware bundt pans, it was a great excuse to use one.  The photo in the recipe shows a traditional ring shape but I chose to bake my version in my Star bundt pan bought earlier this year and was yet to get used.  I also adapted the recipe slightly to suit ingredients I had in and to make the cake look more special.  Here is my adaptation:

Tiger Cake

300g unsalted butter at room temperature

250g golden caster sugar

3 tsp vanilla extract

5 large, free range eggs

3 tsp baking powder

300g plain flour

2 tbsp cocoa powder

2 tbsp full fat Greek Yoghurt

200g plain chocolate

Various chocolate sprinkles to decorate

You will also need a 23cm/ 9″ bundt pan  or a 19cm/ 7″ diameter springform tin for this recipe.

  • Pre-heat your oven to 180oC/ 350oF or Gas Mark 4. I have a fan oven so I put it on at roughly about 160oC.#
  • Cream the butter and sugar together in a large mixing bowl until it becomes pale and fluffy.  Add in the vanilla extract.  Then add the eggs in one at a time, whisking well after each addition.
  • In another bowl, sift the baking powder and plain flour together. Then fold this in to the egg mixture.
  • Separate one third of the mixture into a separate bowl and fold in the cocoa powder and the Greek Yoghurt.
  • At this stage I then grease my bundt tin with some Wilton Cake Release.  The tin is then ready for you to put the mixture inside it.
  • Take it in turns to spoon vanilla mixture then chocolate mixture into the bundt pan. Make sure the cake mixture is evenly spread out.
  • Bake in the oven for about 50-60 minutes until the top is firm to the touch and a skewer comes out clean after you have inserted it into the cake.


Leave your cake to cool down in the bundt pan for about 15 minutes and then take it our of the tin carefully.  Leave it to cool down completely before serving.

The original Tiger Cake recipe was left plain but I thought mine looked a bit bland and boring without some decoration on the top.  I had 200g plain chocolate in my baking cupboard so I chose to melt that and to drizzle it onto the top of the cake.  To finish off I found a tub of various milk, plain and white chocolate sprinkles I’d bought a few weeks ago in the supermarket and not used up.

I’m sorry to say I broke my diet here and scoffed a slice.  Well who can blame you when you’re faced with chocolate cake?  The cake had a delicious aroma of vanilla and chocolate and the icing tasted wonderfully fudgy. Didn’t last long in the SmartCookieSam house, I can tell you.


Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx

Strawberri Daiquiri Bundt Cake

I’m pretty sure I’ve got an addictive personality.  I’m an all or nothing kind of person.  Over the past two or three years I’ve really got into baking bundt cakes. I blame Rachel McGrath (aka the fabulous DollyBakes, the bundt queen herself!).  After seeing her amazing creations on her website using NordicWare bundt pans, I thought I fancy buying a couple of those tins!  Now I have a shelving unit with them piled up in our garage much to Mr SmartCookieSam’s disgust!  Both he and my kids have said if I buy any more cake tins, they’re going to throw some out! My 16 year old son said to me yesterday that I hadn’t used one of the tins I’d bought when we were on holiday in Canada.  Well I hate to disappoint him but that tin was a snowflake shape and I don’t want to be thinking of wintery themed cakes in August, thankyou very much!

Last week I went into TKMaxx with my Mum and daughter.  My daughter wanted a new handbag but when she was paying for it, I wandered over to the Homeware section knowing full well they sometimes have Nordicware tins in and they’re usually half price!  My eyes lit up when I saw the layered heart tin on the shelf for £19.99 (half price) and I picked it up! My Mum saw me with it and said “What do you want that for?” and “I don’t like hearts,”  When someone says that to me the rebel in me wants it all the more!  All I could think about for the next few days was getting that blooming cake tin and what I could use it for.  As luck would have it I went back into TKMaxx and it was still there on the shelf!  I nearly danced with it to the checkout!

On Sunday afternoon I got to use the tin for the very first time.  Mr SmartCookieSam saw it and asked “When did you get that tin?”  I said, “Oh I’ve had it ages and it’s been in the garage!” Normally we ladies do that with shoes and clothes (well I do that too!) It was Headingley and Meanwood Clandestine Cake Club’s event coming up and we were going to be meeting at White’s Bar in Headingley.  The theme was Cocktails which is always a fab theme for cake club and everyone comes up with some delicious cakes.  I had recently bought some of Sugar and Crumbs’ new summer flavours of their natural icing sugar and was keen to try out their Strawberry Daiquiri flavour.

I had to google what was in a strawberry daiquiri as I don’t think I’ve ever had one before.  My daughter who has a part time job in a bar said she was pretty sure it had rum in it but had never made one. She wanted me to make a Godfather Cake but that would mean going out and buying bottles of Disaronno and some Jack Daniels. With the daiquiri I could buy a small bottle of Bacardi and know that MrSmartCookieSam would finish it off with some coke.

For the cake itself I went back to the Queen of Bundts for inspiration.  Rachel McGrath has a recipe in the second Clandestine Cake Club book “A Year Of Cake” which is a Passionfruit Caipirinha  Bundt.  I adapted the recipe to make it Strawberry Daiquiri flavoured. Instead of lemon extract I used natural strawberry extract from Lakeland.  I kept in the grated lime zest but substituted passionfruit yoghurt for strawberry yoghurt.  There was also Bacardi in place of the ready made caipirinha cocktail mix.  I hoped it would work in the cake.  I’ve found in the past that you can’t always taste the alcohol, maybe I should have added it afterwards as a soaking syrup.  You can but try.

Last Sunday afternoon saw me baking a few things as I was having a couple of my friends over for lunch the day after.  The bundt was going to be done last as it needed the longest in the oven, after salted caramel brownies, peanut butter cookies and a Pimms Victoria Sponge.  My son was hovering around the kitchen and asked if he could help with the brownies and the cookies.  I don’t think using a heart shaped bundt tin was his idea of baking though, so by that time he sloped off upstairs.

An hour later and the cake was ready to come out of the oven.  I always get nervous about bundts coming out of the tin in one piece especially when it’s for cake club.  Though it nearly ended up on the floor as my dog walked into the kitchen as I was carrying the cake across from the oven to the cooling rack.  One of these days he’s going to end up with hot cake on his head! Thankfully the bundt slid out of the tin perfectly and there weren’t any stubborn bits stuck to the side.  I gave it a while to cool down and then started on dinner.  After that I mixed up the icing sugar which had a heavenly scent of strawberries.  It tasted very sweet so rather than making it into buttercream, I made a very watery glaze and let it trickle down over the sides of the cake.  I put a plastic mat underneath but icing still ran over the edge of the mat onto the worktop.  Mr SmartCookieSam doesn’t like it when I use icing sugar as it goes everywhere. He has a point.The next morning the cake was finished off with its decorations.  I put whole, fresh strawberries inside the middle of the cake and cheated with ready made pink flower and leaf decorations bought in my local Morrisons. I can make sugar flowers but I didn’t have time to colour up the only white icing I had in the cupboard.  Even Mary Berry uses shortcuts!


Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx

Peach Bellini Bundt Cake.

Peach Bellini Bundt Cake. Recipe adapted from Rachel McGrath’s Pink Champagne Bundt Cake in The Clandestine Cake Club’s book “A Year Of Cake”

Last weekend I finally got the chance to go along to one of North Yorkshire and Teeside Clandestine Cake Club events.  My friend Heidi is the group organiser but I’ve never actually been to one of her events.  They’d always clashed with other things going on.

ssyLife has calmed down here a little in the SmartCookieSam house.  We had a hectic few weeks with our holiday visiting family over in Canada, then it was busy at the end of term. It’s taken me a while to wind down.  It’s been great to chill out at home as well as trying to get all those annoying little jobs done that never seem to get done at other times of the year.  My house is the cleanest and tidiest it has been in a long time, well it is if you ignore my two teenagers’ messy rooms!

I was pleased I could get along and enjoy cake, drinks and a good old natter with the other members who I hadn’t got the chance to meet up with before.

The event this time was held in a popular pub in Redcar called The Lobster which does great food. One to try again if I’m in the area.  Heidi had chosen the theme of Alcholic Cakes being as we were in a pub.  I was originally going to bake a White Chocolate and Limoncello cake but I didn’t want to go out and buy a bottle of Limoncello especially for the cake. It’s not something I really drink. I did buy some once on holiday in Rome a few years back but it ended up in several trifles over the next few months or so.  I had to chose a cake that would contain something I already had in my drinks cabinet or something I knew we could drink the remainder of.

Thinking of Italy and limoncello got me thinking about another, more recent trip to Italy. This time I was thinking back to my 40th birthday trip to the Italian Lakes and to Venice.  I remember Mr SmartCookieSam and I enjoying a Bellini cocktail outside a cafe in Varenna on the banks of Lake Como.  I haven’t drunk one since though they are easy to make with  prosecco and peach juice. I found that Sugar and Crumbs had brought out a limited edition flavoured icing sugar as part of their summer range, so the idea for a Peach Bellini Bundt was born.  The recipe I used was adapted from a Pink Champagne Bundt cake recipe featured in the second Clandestine Cake Club Cookbook “A Year Of Cake”.  In this recipe all I had to do was substitute the pink champagne for about 300ml of Prosecco.  I chose the cheapest Prosecco that Morrisons did which was about £5.99 and luckily there was half a bottle left after I’d finished baking the cake!

The ingredients that got used in my Peach Bellini Bundt Cake.

It was the perfect opportunity to try out my latest bundt pan which I bought when over in Canada. My brother and sister in law took me to Williams Sonoma which I guess is like a US/ Canadian version of Lakeland.  I was in bundt heaven and had I got more room in my suitcase I would have bought more! I came away with the 70th Anniversary Bundt pan and the giant snowflake one which was perfect.

I hoped and prayed that the bundt would come out of the tin in one piece.
Yippee! It did, except for one tiny piece.

I’m always careful and meticulous when greasing my bundt pans but this still gets me worried every time I bake a bundt and it doesn’t come out of the pan.  I have my usual praying it comes out of the pan in one piece game and if it won’t budge I have to give it a good thump.  Today the bellini bundt thought it wasn’t going to come out until I thumped the top of the inverted tin on the wire rack.  Fortunately, except for one tiny piece, it slid out in one piece! A miracle!

When the bundt had cooled I started on the Peach Bellini icing.  I opened the packet of icing sugar which was conveniently exactly the amount I needed to ice the bundt.  This was 500g which I was pleased about as I don’t like waste. I added a splash of prosecco and a spoonful of water to the icing sugar. The consistency came out just as I liked it.  The icing, though was white and I wanted my icing to be a peach colour like a Bellini.  There was one thing for it, to get out my food colouring.  I can be a bit heavy handed with the food colouring and today was no exception.  Two drops of red, one of yellow.  Only the red drops were too big, more like blobs!  This meant it came out a very dark orangey red.  I was really annoyed with myself. I couldn’t make any more up as I didn’t have any more Bellini icing sugar.  How embarrassing.  I could just see everyone looking at the horrible colour and be put off eating it. There was nothing else I could do, but to carry on and decorate the bundt with the luridly bright icing! I laughed it off, even when Mr SmartCookieSam said the cake looked like a road accident!

I got a bit too heavy handed with the food colouring!

On Saturday afternoon, it was a quick and easy drive up from my home near Boroughbridge to Redcar and the cake survived the journey without slipping and toppling over in the boot.   I had to put the cake in one of my massive cupcake boxes as they were the only ones tall enough for the height of the bundt.  Everyone was joking about the size of my cake box and laughing about how much cake I could fit in to take home!  All the cakes I tried were absolutely scrumptious and mine didn’t taste too bad, despite the bright icing. Thankfully people did taste it and ignored the loud colour!

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx


Peanut Butter and Chocolate Bundt Cake- from The Clandestine Cake Club’s A Year Of Cake March Bakealong.

As you know, I love any excuse to bake and even more of an excuse to get one of my prized Nordicware bundt pans out! Ever since the second Clandestine Cake Club book “A Year Of Cake” was published last September I’ve been keen to bake the mouthwatering Peanut Butter and Chocolate Cake which my friend Sharon Clarkson contributed to the book.

Sharon is organiser for the Pudsey and West Leeds Clandestine Cake Club and nearly two years ago she organised an event where we had to bake cakes from around the world.  I created a Mojito and Coconut Tres Leches Cake which also ended up being put in the “A Year Of Cake” book. Sharon created a delicious peanut butter and chocolate bundt which was absolutely heavenly. So when the recipes were revealed when the book was published it was exciting to see Sharon’s recipe had been accepted.  The recipe testers decided though, that they wouldn’t have it as a bundt cake but as an ordinary layer cake.

Lynn Hill, the founder of The Clandestine Cake Club has been organising a monthly Bakealong of recipes from the book.  If you want to take part you tell Lynn which recipe you would like to bake from that month’s chapter.  There are usually between seven and nine recipes for each month.  Sharon’s recipe had been added to the book to commemorate the date of the London Marathon which is a link with its favours of a Snickers bar. Who remembers Snickers bars being called Marathons? Can’t remember offhand when the name changed but I’m sure it was when I was a teenager.

The recipe introduction says “About 40,000 people pull on their running shoes each year to take part in the challenge that is the London Marathon. Those of you who can’t speak from experience can nonetheless imagine that running 26 miles leaves you pretty tired and in need of some energy. With its crunchy sugar- boosting mix of caramel, peanuts and chocolate, Sharon’s Marathon cake will definitely help the runners in your life replace the calories they’ve burned. And if just the thought of running for a bus makes you tired then sit down with a cup of tea and a slice of cake and toast those brave competitors who pound the streets for charity,”

I am totally in awe of anyone who runs a marathon. I started running last September and have gone from not even running at all with my knees aching to running for 20 minutes non-stop. Of course I run at a snail’s pace but I’m working on getting faster as I have signed up for the Race For Life in York at the end of June! I’m not sure whether my family will be there handing me a slice of chocolate and peanut butter cake at the finish line but they’ve assured me they will be there to cheer me on!

Last Tuesday I had a very special photo session in my kitchen. I’ll be able to tell you more about it as soon as I can but I needed to have some cakey props in the kitchen.  So the opportunity to bake the Chocolate and Peanut Butter cake was perfect for the photos.  I chose to bake it in my  Nordicware Square bundt pan as I knew it worked well as a bundt!

 To bake the bundt I first had to mix crunchy peanut butter (I always use a good quality brand with no sugar in it, such as Meridian or Whole Earth) with some icing sugar. This was then put aside as I made the rest of the cake. In a bowl some cocoa powder, plain flour and salt was sifted and mixed together. I then got out another bowl and then creamed together some butter and sugar until it became light and fluffy. To this, I added eggs carefully to ensure the mixture didn’t curdle.  After this I took it in turns to add the flour mixture along with a mixture of buttermilk, sour cream and vanilla extract. Finally I added some chopped plain chocolate and folded it into the batter, along  with the peanut butter.

The Chocolate and Peanut Butter Bundt Cake ready to be put in the oven. I absolutely love my Nordicware Square Bundt pan which was a Christmas present.

I always hope and pray that my bundts come out of the pan in one piece, luckily this time it did!

I had prepared the cake before the photographer arrived at my house and it was all ready to be iced if he needed me to do it for the photos. I was asked to make up the icing and was photographed mixing the icing. The icing was a heavenly mix of cocoa powder, butter, icing sugar, vanilla extract and evaporated milk which turned into a delicious fudgy frosting. I then was photographed spreading the icing onto the cake with a large palette knife. Later, as the photographer needed me to bake and ice other things, I put the cake aside and added chocolate chips, sprinkles and icing sugar on afterwards.

Ready to be eaten. The. bundt’s fudge icing was jusr divine.


i was a bit cack handed with the icing sugar and the chocolate sprinkles!


A perfect example of chocolate heaven.

 By the time the photographer left it was about 3pm and  I was very hungry. I couldn’t help it but I cut myself a piece of the cake for my lunch. It was gorgeous. The rest ended up being eaten in bits over the next few days by my family.  I will definitely be baking the cake again!

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx