I always love Biscuit Week on the Great British Bake Off. It was great to see that this year’s contestants were asked to bake Jammy Dodgers for the Technical Bake. I love making Jammy Dodgers, although mine always look boring. I so need to get a set of those Nordicware Cookie Stamps as featured in the show to get that beautiful pattern on top of the biscuits.
If you are on Twitter, you might have heard of #TwitterBakeAlong which has been running for the last 5 years or so. Jackie (aka The Baking Nanna) and Rob run weekly challenges over on Twitter. During Bake Off Season it becomes #GBBOTwitterBakeAlong and bakers can enter one of the challenges like the contestants bake and submit a photo of their bake on Twitter. As I’m busy a lot with work commitments, I don’t always get to join in but I was able to for this week with my version of Jammy Dodgers.
I used the recipe in The Great British Bake Off: A Bake For All Seasons and I must admit it was different to my standard “roll out” biscuit recipe in that there was added cornflour in the recipe. I also felt that I could have done with double the quantity of dough as to get the quantity of biscuits out of the dough, I had to roll the dough so thinly. I used my KitchenAid mixer to bring the dough together so that I didn’t overwork it.
No way was I going to make my own jam to go inside the biscuits as the original contestants had to. I hadn’t got time for making jam as well. To be different from the traditional, I found some Lemon Curd in the cupboard which needed using up as well as some Cherry Curd which I’d found in a local supermarket. The dark pink colour was so pretty that I thought I’d use it as well. Instead of a heart shape cut out in the middle I looked in my cookie cutter boxes and found a splat type cutter which I’d used on a psychedelic 1970s style cake from a few years ago. I thought it would make a change from the hearts and stars and other shapes you might find in the middle of a Jammy Dodger or those Linzer style cookies.
I took the cookies with me to work and left them in the staff room. I was a bit ashamed of the actual biscuits to be honest. Because they rolled out so thinly, they caught round the edges and baked a lot quicker than expected. But everyone enjoyed them and that was the main thing.
Hi everyone! Once again I’ve not kept up with my blogging. I’ve started a new job. I only work part time (every morning) but I’m busy with my online baking commitments and juggling lots going on at home at the moment.
I’m pleased to say it’s actually now half term week here and although I love my day job, I really need this week to catch up. Not to mention getting to see friends, having my Mum to stay and to get on with those long overdue chores.
I’ve still got round to baking the odd thing for ourselves and I got round to testing out the Fairy Cakes recipe in The Great British Bake Off Book Of Amazing Cakes a couple of weeks back.
I have my own tried and tested foolproof cupcake recipe and this has been my go-to recipe for the past ten years or so. But every now and then I like trying out other recipes to see how they compare to my favourite one.
I must admit I’ve not called these little cakes Fairy Cakes since I was little and I guess cupcakes can be seen as a bigger version. I’m not sure. I live in North Yorkshire and before cupcakes became popular, I heard other people calling them buns. No matter what their name was, they’re still fun to bake. I decided to make some cupcakes from the Fairy Cake recipe in the Bake Off book and to adapt the icing to suit what I had in the cupboard at the time.
The Bake Off recipe in the Amazing Cakes book differed slightly in that the quantities of butter, sugar and flour was 25% less than what I put in my recipe for a dozen cupcakes. I use 125g of each of the former, adding in a teaspoonful of vanilla extract to two eggs. This recipe stated 100g of each to the two eggs as well as vanilla bean paste. For my icing, I use 250g butter to 500g icing sugar as a ratio and add milk to soften. The smaller quantity must have been because the recipe was for fairy cakes. I didn’t have the right size cake cases, only larger ones so I actually did up my quantities a bit.
When it got to creating the icing, I noticed the recipe was for two tone butter cream and this also was shown in the photo. I looked in my cupboard and only had half a pack of plain icing sugar as well as half a back of Sugar and Crumbs’ White Chocolate Flavoured Icing Sugar. I just decided to cop out of making it two tone and just made up the recipe quantities with half plain, half flavoured icing sugar. I had some leftover blue, green and lilac sprinkles which I call my “Frozen Sprinkles” to put on the top of the cakes.
I piped my usual swirl on top of the cupcakes with my large star shaped nozzle but I was interested in the recipe book instructions on buttercream and also different ways to decorate cupcakes. I also liked the illustrations to show what alternative effects you could get, depending on the type of nozzle used to pipe the buttercream on the cakes. I would have loved to have experimented with my piping bag but I was so short of time.
I originally was going to take the cupcakes to work to share with my work colleagues but I forgot to take them into work. That day was a Friday. Then I was away for the weekend so they stayed at home. Over the next couple of days they vanished one by one. I never got to try one!
When you hear the name Fondant Fancies you immediately think of Mr Kipling’s yellow, chocolate and pink creations. Or if you live in Yorkshire like me, you might have even tasted the delectable version which Betty’s creates. I must admit I find Fondant Fancies too sweet and sickly, even though I’ve got a sweet tooth. The other week I met my friend at Betty’s and while she had a Fondant Fancy, I tucked into a Fat Rascal! Her Fondant Fancy looked so pretty though, with the icing and delicate pink flowers.
Last Thursday and Friday were my main baking days for SmartCookieSam as I had had my Mum up here visiting. I had an afternoon tea order as well as some brownies and shortbread to go out to customers. I thought of what I could maybe offer as an option on my afternoon teas and Fondant Fancies came into my head. Although I don’t really like eating them, there are plenty of people who do.
For Fondant Fancies you start off by baking a square shaped sponge cake. I did this in one of my square tins I use for my brownies, etc. It was a simple sponge, delicately flavoured with lemon.
As soon as I started baking, I realised I had not got any marzipan in. I only tend to have marzipan in around Christmas for my Christmas cakes and also at Easter for Simnel Cake. I’d been to do my shop the day before and completely forgot. Luckily later on that day I was heading out to the post office to ship my brownies and shortbread and the village shop it was attached to has a wonderful array of baking products. Phew!
After the sponge came out of the oven and I was home after my post office run, I removed the sponge from the tin. It had to be cooled but it was so hot in my kitchen that nothing was cooling down.
To the sponge I added a layer of apricot jam and then a layer of the marzipan on the top. The marzipan was very sticky to work with and my hands felt so hot. I had to dust the surfaces very thickly with icing sugar to stop the marzipan from sticking to it when I was rolling it out. I then put it on top of the sponge and trimmed round the edges of it.
The next job was to make up a batch of buttercream. This buttercream needed to be put in the fridge to harden up slightly but this didn’t work because as soon as I got it out of the fridge it became runny again.
The sponge cake was then cut into 16 equal squares and on top of each square I put a blob of buttercream. This blob is to create the little hump you get in the middle of a traditional fondant fancy.
Of course when you are tired, you misread recipes. This one being a complicated recipe with zillions of steps should have been read carefully and I didn’t. I was meant to put the cakes into the fridge to harden up again for 20 minutes but I didn’t. This then made the next steps more tricky. I had to crumb coat each of the four sides of the fondant fancies with the rest of the buttercream. This was very awkward. How do you hold the blinking things and ensure that they are all covered without getting your hands covered in more buttercream?
Now for another complicated part. The recipe asked for roll out fondant icing or sugar paste which to make runny you have to put in a mixer with water to make it runny. I felt this made it extremely messy and didn’t give the effect I wanted. I wondered whether I should have bought some fondant icing sugar instead and coloured it with food colouring. I started off trying to colour the pink icing first. It took ages to get even a hint of pink with the food colouring I have at the moment (a mixed box of Wilton food colours, which to be honest I’m not a fan of, compared to the likes of Sugarflair, etc.) The cakes from not been hard enough through not being in the fridge, were difficult to hold and the icing just went everywhere. It was meant to pour over the cakes but it didn’t. It was too thick despite me following how much water to add to the icing. I tried spreading it with a small pallette knife but that made it even messier!
Then I tried to colour the rest of the icing yellow. Unfortunately the yellow in my food colouring set doesn’t bring the icing out a deliciate pastel yellow, it came out as this flourescent, lurid yellow like you would have on a high-viz vest! You’d be able to spot it from the International Space Station. By this time I had given up caring and so long as I’d got the bloody things iced and all the stuff cleared up, I didn’t care what colour it was.
Finally, I used some left over lemon drizzle icing for the pink fondant fancies which seemed to pipe on ok through my plastic bottle. But the melted chocolate was having none of it and just wouldn’t go through the hole. It just clogged up the whole time.
There’s a couple of lessons to be learned here: Don’t make Fondant Fancies when you are short of time or are tired. Always read the recipe and use ready made fondant icing sugar, not sugarpaste watered down.
I did taste one of the Fondant Fancies and it was sooooooo sickly sweet. Not my favourite bake to eat or to make, I’m afraid.
This recipe has been a great favourite bake from Amazing Cakes From The Great British Bake Off. It was created by last year’s winner David Atherton. According to the recipe introduction it was his “favourite recipe from when he was growing up- he’s always been obsessed with the flavour of almonds.”
I love almond recipes as well but have never put poppy seeds in a cake with them before. I usually put poppy seeds in bread or a lemon cake. I must admit I had to buy in some poppy seeds to bake the recipe but I had some almond extract in. I love almond extract, the aroma of it is just heavenly.
Looking back at the photos, I actually baked this cake at the end of October and it ended up being one that was taken into work to share with my work mates. I can’t even remember what day of the week it was baked on as it was such a busy, full on time and I had just gone back to work after having to self isolate for two weeks.
Baking this cake also was a fantastic excuse to get out one of my Nordicware Bundt pans! I chose to use my Elegant Party Bundt Pan which is just perfect for this recipe with the drip icing and the grooves. Although I didn’t have any toasted flaked almonds to top the cake, I used whole cherries which turned it into more of a Bakewell recipe.
To begin with, the poppy seeds were infused in a pan of milk which came up to the boil and then simmered for a few minutes. I took the pan off the heat and then got the rest of the cake batter sorted out. The fat content is oil based, rather than butter or margarine and David uses olive oil in his. I thought the olive oil I had in my cupboard would be too strong for this recipe so I used sunflower oil instead.
In one bowl I whisked eggs and caster sugar together for about 4 minutes until the mixture became creamy and thick. To this, I then added in the oil and some almond extract. I whisked this carefully so it was well mixed in. The dry ingredients were weighed out in a separate bowl. Plain flour, baking powder and ground almonds were then added and carefully folded in.
Finally, the milk and poppy seed infusion was folded into the batter. I loved the look of the batter: the pale colour with the contrasting dark poppy seeds throughout the whole mixture looked really pretty.
Into the prepared bundt pan it went. I was hoping I wouldn’t have a bundt pan failure like I did last time but I took extra care to grease it. The cake takes less time to bake than a usual bundt recipe. Usually any bundt I have baked has taken about an hour or so but the required cooking time for this recipe was 30-35 minutes. I checked the cake at 25 minutes and it definitely needed the extra ten minutes.
To see the cake slide out of the pan as a whole without snapping in two or having half of it welded to the pan was a huge relief. It smelled wonderful as well. I just love the smell of almonds and my kitchen was full of this delicious aroma.
As the cake was cooling, I decided what I would do with the icing. When icing sugar was in very short supply in the supermarkets earlier on this year, I put in a massive order to Sugar and Crumbs for some of their flavoured icing sugars. I’ve always loved their icing sugars. I hadn’t got any plain icing sugar which I could flavour with almond extract so I had to use one of my Sugar and Crumbs flavours. I had a packet of their Cherry Bakewell icing sugar in my cupboard so I used some of that being as that was almond based. To top the cake I used glace cherries as I didn’t have any flaked almonds in.
The cake went to work to share with my work colleagues. I didn’t taste any but judging by the way the cake disappeared over the next day it must have tasted fine.
How are you all doing? As I write, I’m catching up on my day off after a busy first week back at work. My workplace reopened last Monday and it’s just fantastic to be back. To mark the day of reopening, I just had to celebrate by taking in some baking to share with my workmates. I hadn’t baked for a couple of weeks as I just haven’t had the interest or the motivation to do it.
I baked lemon cupcakes to begin with. It’s been a while since I’ve baked lemon cupcakes even though they usually go down well. I have struggled to find plain icing sugar recently but I had some packets of Sugar and Crumbs flavoured icing sugar left from a big order I had back in April. One of the packs was a lemon and blueberry flavour. I can’t really remember if I have tried it before but I thought I’d get it out and make something with it. I know it looks like I’m always mentioning Sugar and Crumbs, but it’s genuinely because I love their icing sugars. I’m not on commission from them or anything!
My lemon cupcake recipe is so simple because I use the all in one method. I also don’t use baking powder because I want my cupcakes to have a level top for icing. When I add baking powder to a cupcake recipe I always get a peaked top like a mountain!
You will need a 12 hole cupcake tin and some cupcake cases.
125g Stork or softened butter
125g caster sugar
125g self raising flour, sifted
2 large free range eggs
1 grated zest of a lemon
For the icing:
250g softened butter
500g icing sugar *
Juice of 1 lemon *
4- 6 tbsp milk to mix
Yellow food colouring (optional)
Sprinkles or jellied lemon decorations
*If using Sugar and Crumbs Lemon and Blueberry or Lemon Drizzle icing sugar then omit the lemon flavouring. If you find the flavoured icing sugar too strong, you can use half ordinary icing sugar, half flavoured. I would also leave out the lemon juice. Adding food colouring is also entirely up to you.
Pre-heat your oven to 180oC/ 160oC fan/ 350oF/ or Gas Mark 2. Put the cupcake cases into the tin.
Weigh out all your ingredients into one large mixing bowl and mix together until well combined, light and fluffy.
Spoon into cake cases. I usually get two heaped tablespoonfuls in each case.
Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes. When the cakes are done, they should spring back to the touch.
Place on a wire rack to cool.
Make the icing: beat the butter until light and fluffy. This might take a few minutes to get it really creamy. Add the icing sugar and beat in bit by bit. Don’t do what I do and end up with clouds of icing sugar all over the kitchen! Add in the milk and lemon juice until you get a great piping consistency.
Prepare a large piping bag with a star or a plain nozzle and fill it with about a third of the mixture. Pipe in swirls on top of the cupcake. I normally get about 4 cupcakes iced, then add the decorations before the icing begins to set.
Repeat until all the cupcakes are iced and decorated.
Let me know if you do try out this recipe. I’d love to see how you decorate your lemon cupcakes as well!
I’m a huge fan of Nordicware Bundt pans much to the annoyance of Mr SmartCookieSam and my kids. I’ve lost count of how many pans I’ve got since I started collecting them seven years ago. My first one was the giant cupcake pan and since then I’ve been lucky enough to find ones in local shops, chain stores, Ebay, Amazon and even over in Canada in Williams Sonoma. I spend birthday and Christmas money on them. Even only a few days ago as I type I managed to buy the Blossom pan. It turned up when Mr SmartCookieSam was there and he said “But you’ve got already got that one!” Er no, but then I suppose they all look the same to him.
The other week I managed to find the Star Pan (pictured below with the Heritage pan and the Elegant Party pan) in my local Home Sense. I’d only gone in to find a blanket for my dog to lie on when he goes in my car. Thankfully he did get his beautiful tartan blanket but I also came out with a bundt pan! I wasn’t expecting that!
Fast forward to a month later and I had the perfect chance to use my star pan for the first time. In my previous two posts about the Pinata Cake and the Decadent Chocolate Bundt Cake I mentioned about my wasted day baking three sumptuous cakes for my local WI Supper, only for there to be a mix up on the rota. The third and final cake I chose to bake was one that always goes down really well at WI is my Lemon Drizzle Bundt.
By this time it was early afternoon and I had already baked two cakes and decorated one of them. I had yet to decorate the second and to bake this one. Fortunately lemon drizzle cake doesn’t need any icing on it, just the syrup and a dusting of icing sugar. At least time was on my side.
I greased the Star Bundt pan with Wilton Cake Release, preheated the oven to 160oC and then started to weigh out the ingredients. I beat together butter and caster sugar until it was light and fluffy and then added in four eggs one by one. When the eggs were beaten in, I also added a tablespoonful of self raising flour from the whole amount each time to prevent any curdling. In another bowl I grated the zest from two large lemons and also added the juice from one of them in with some natural yoghurt. This was mixed together.
To bring the mixture together I alternated spoonfuls of the remaining flour along with the lemony yoghurt mixure. This was carefully folded in so I didn’t see any flour not mixed in. Then the mixture was ready to go into the tin and into the oven.
After about 40 minutes I checked the cake and noticed it was still a little bit runny in the middle. I kept this cooking for another ten minutes or so and that did the trick. The cake came out of the oven and was ready to cool down.
While the cake was cooling I had to make the lemon sugar syrup. This was made with caster sugar, lemon zest and lemon juice gently heated up in a saucepan until the sugar had dissolved.
It needed to cool a little bit for a few minutes but the cake needed to still be warm for the syrup to soak into the sponge. I did this as the cake was still cooling in the tin.
When the cake was ready to come out I felt as anxious as I always do every time I take a bundt cake out of it’s pan. This one would have to look good as it wasn’t going to be heavily decorated and any chunks missing from still being stuck in the tin would be on show!
Fortunately, thanks to taking great care with greasing the pans carefully I didn’t have any problems. So all that remained was to let the cake cool down on a cake board and to dust it with icing sugar.
Long time, no see! It’s been over a month since I’ve last blogged. My excuse is I’ve simply been busy working. Teaching full time on different supply contacts, doing extra shifts in a day nursery during the Easter holidays definitely took it’s toll though and by the Easter weekend I felt terrible. I went down with a stinking cold which then turned into a horrible cough. This pretty much made me feel like not doing anything much for the second week of the Easter holidays. So much for wanting to go out running. I didn’t even feel like getting my bum off the sofa let alone gathering up some energy to stick my trainers on!
This cake was one I baked right back at the beginning of April. I really miss baking and hadn’t done much mainly because I’m meant to be on a diet. This hasn’t really worked well the last few weeks as I have been so tired after coming in from work. Slimming World has gone by the wayside, especially when Mr SmartCookieSam gets involved with the cooking. He thinks nothing of using lots of olive oil. So when I get chance I like to take a cake into a school I’m teaching in. I was working in a school for the last week before the Easter holidays and decided to take a cake to leave in the staff room on the table. I explained I loved baking but baking didn’t love my figure.
This Lemon Curd Victoria Sponge is from a recipe in Lorraine Pascale’s latest book “Bake,” You might have realised I’ve baked a few recipes from her book recently but that’s what I usually do when I get a new book. I get a bit carried away. It’s a traditional two layer Victoria Sponge baked in an 8″ or 20cm diameter sandwich tin and sandwiched together with both lemon curd and a little buttercream. I was definitely not going to spend my precious time making my own Lemon Curd so I bought a jar of Tiptree with my weekly shop. I used about half the jar in the filling so Mr SmartCookieSam was happy to use the rest on his toast in the morning!The cake was very quick to bake and perfect for a Spring day. I reckon I only spent an hour baking it from start to finish, if that. A quick dusting of icing sugar on top and the cake was good to go. Or if you prefer caster sugar, go with that.
The morning after I arrived at the school, put my lunch in the staffroom fridge and the cake in a plastic box on the table. I left a note telling people to help themselves. It was quite a big school so I didn’t get along to the staff room until lunchtime. When I got there I noticed nearly three quarters of the cake had gone. Several staff members thanked me for the cake. I said I would bring some more another time, if I had time to bake. It gave me a warm, cosy feeling knowing that some teachers appreciated my baking. Especially at a time when it was getting near to the end of term and everyone was tired. A little bit of cake just helps you get through the day.
So far so good with my Slimming World plan. But I really miss baking. And what I mean about that is proper baking without using rubbish ingredients to replace the sugar and the butter in cakes. I’ll just have to be extra strict with myself and keep away from anything I bake.
I’ve had a large bag of Mint M&Ms in my baking cupboard for a few weeks now. Every time my son comes in the kitchen he’s always asking me if he can have the packet of M&Ms as I hadn’t used them. I told him I was using them to bake cupcakes or cookies with but last Wednesday he’d asked again on his day off from college. So I thought I would use the M&M’s as decorations on top of some chocolate mint infused cupcakes which were finished off with a swirl of mint chocolate buttercream. Those of you who know me well, know I have an addiction to all things mint flavoured and I’m also a huge fan of Sugar and Crumbs flavoured icing sugars. When they brought out a mint chocolate flavour icing sugar I was in heaven.
MINT CHOCOLATE CUPCAKES
125g softened, unsalted butter.
125g caster sugar
100g self raising flour
25g cocoa powder (I use Green and Blacks)
2 large free range eggs
1 tsp peppermint extract
Prepare a 12 hole cupcake tin with your cupcake cases and preheat your oven. I have an electric fan oven so my oven temperature is about 1600C.
Weigh out all the ingredients and mix together in a large mixing bowl. I use the all in one method for baking my cupcakes. These can either be mixed with a hand held mixer or a free standing one.
Spoon the mixture into the cupcake cases. I usually get two large teaspoonfuls into each case, making sure they are equally divided. I have used a small ice cream scoop to help me in the past but it has broken!
Bake the cupcakes on the tray in the middle of the oven for about 15-20 minutes until they are well risen and spring back when touched.
Leave to cool on a wire rack.
For the icing:
250g softened unsalted butter
500g pack of Sugar and Crumbs Chocolate Mint Natural Flavoured Icing Sugar
Milk to mix.
Weigh out the butter and put into a large mixing bowl. Whip it up with a hand held mixer so that it makes it creamy and easier to manage.
Sift in the icing sugar and mix carefully. Add in milk, bit by bit until the icing is smooth but not runny. It needs to be of a piping consistency.
Prepare a large piping bag with a large star shaped icing nozzle and fill the bag with about 1/3 0f the mixture. Pipe onto the cooled cupcakes.
As the pictures of my cupcakes shows, I used mint flavour M&M’s to top my cakes. You could use anything with a chocolate mint flavour: After Eight mints or Aero Bubbles or Matchmakers.
These cakes always go down well with my family and it was torture not being able to eat one.
This is the second recipe I baked from Delia’s Cakes as part of my monthly Cooking The Books Challenge. I baked four recipes this weekend as I wanted to bake and donate some cakes to the cafe at my son’s old Primary school where they serve tea and cake during the village Spring Festival.
I love blueberries and any excuse to bake with them and there’s a couple of other posts on here with blueberry cakes. But this cake with the addition of pecan nuts and a crumbly topping just made my mouth water from the picture. I thought it would be a great bake to send down to the Spring Festival as not everyone likes fancy decorated cakes. To be honest even though I love cake decorating, it’s all about the taste for me!
First I greased my springform cake tin with Dr Oetker Cake Release Spray and lined it with a baking parchment circle. The oven was still on from the previous bake at the right temperature so I got on straightaway with the weighing out. All the dry ingredients were sifted together in a large mixing bowl- starting with plain flour, then I added some baking powder and cinnamon to the mixture. In another bowl I mixed together some milk, melted butter, eggs and sugar. These two mixtures were combined carefully and folded with a metal spoon. Finally I added some blueberries.
The mixture was quickly spooned into the tin and then I added the crunchy crumbly topping. This was some chopped pecan nuts, some more blueberries and a sprinkling of demerara sugar. Into the oven it went for around an hour. After an hour my mum checked the cake and it felt springy to the touch so she took it out of the oven and let it cool down.
I thought the cake looked a bit flat compared to other cakes but then when I checked the picture out in the book, thankfully there wasn’t much difference. When it was cooled down I dusted the top of it with icing sugar and put it away in a box ready to be taken down to the Spring Festival.
Although I had been concerned about no one wanting to buy my Raspberry Cupcakes I noticed that my Blueberry Muffin cake had been cut up into 8 slices and by the end of the day they had all gone. My son’s former teacher was eating the last slice of it when I was chatting to her on her stall in the playground and I was so grateful to hear her say it was delicious! My mum said to me afterwards that she thought people are turning away from the heavily decorated cupcakes and going for more plain things. I agree with her. I love the look of cupcakes but I always have a massive headache after eating loads of that buttercream!
So, this cake in my opinion was a real success and one I would love to bake time and time again. I think it would work well with raspberries and apples as well. Watch this space!