The Great British Bake Off Christmas- Coconut Traybake.

Coconut and Marshmallow Traybake.

 I’ve been testing a few recipes out of a favourite book of mine this month: The Great British Bake Off Christmas.  There’s been loads of different things to choose from and we’re not just limited to cakes and biscuits here.   I was tempted to have a go at Cathryn Dresser’s own recipe featured in the book, her Snowy White Coconut Traybake. Cathryn was one of the contestants on the Bake Off from the third series in 2012. I liked her and who can forget her catchphrase “Oh my giddy aunt?” Her coconut traybake is bound to be a big hit with young and old alike as you can add optional marshmallow snowmen to the top of the cake. I didn’t do this as I didn’t have any marshmallows in.  I had completely forgotten to blog about this bake as things became so hectic in the run up to Christmas.

Sunday 9th December 2017.

After dropping my son off at work and catching up on the ironing, I fancied some baking. Anything with coconut in goes down really well with me and I had the perfect excuse to use some Sugar and Crumbs Marshmallow Natural Flavoured Icing Sugar in the frosting. I thought coconut and marshmallow would work really well together. As stated in the introduction “this sweet, simple cake is a delicious treat to enjoy with your visitors during the festive season,”  Or a great recipe to try out with children as it’s so easy and fun to bake.

After preheating my oven to 170oC (fan oven) I weighed out all my ingredients and greased my traybake tin.  Butter and sugar were creamed together with my electric whisk.  After that I mixed together some sour cream, buttermilk and eggs in another bowl.  Finally, these were combined, along with some desiccated coconut.  I could have added some ground cardamom pods to the mixture but I didn’t have any.  

Once all added together I poured the mixture into the prepared tin and baked it in the oven for about 25-30 minutes.  As usual I got distracted and ended up forgetting to put the oven timer on. I went off upstairs to put some washing away and forgot I’d put the cake in the oven.  It wasn’t until I smelled coconut coming from the kitchen that I remembered! Luckily I got the cake out in time.  Aftter another half an hour or so it was ready to be flipped out of the tin. Thankfully I had no problems with that coming out and falling to bits.

The frosting or icing for the top of the traybake was a combination of butter, icing sugar and soured cream.  As I said before, I was keen to try out one of Sugar and Crumbs’ new winter flavours which was a Marshmallow one.  The ingredients were simply added together in one bowl and then spread on top of the cooled cake.  My final flourish was to sprinkle some snow themed sprinkles on top of the cake.  I thought I had some snowflake themed ones but I found some pale blue, white and lilac hundreds and thousands to decorate instead.  I could have used some more dessicated coconut and/ or some edible glitter but the other choice worked well.  

To decorate the top I found some winter themed hundreds and thousands.

I’m definitely going to add this to my baking list for next year at Christmas.  Though the coconut bake being reminiscent of snow could be linked to Christmas and winter, I think that you could bake it all year round.

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx

 Raspberry and Lemon Love Heart Cake- The Clandestine Cake Club A Year of Cake February Bakealong.


The Raspberry and Lemon Love Hearts Cake from The Clandestine Cake Club book A Year Of Cake
Valentine’s Day to me is a great excuse to bake.  I don’t like all the commercialism around Valentine’s Day, though. To me if you want to show someone you love them, its the little things every day, not just on the 14th February. Why wait until the 14th February to buy your loved one a bunch of flowers? They’re usually twice or three times the price! My hubby and I once went out on Valentines Day to dinner and it was a complete let down. The meal wasn’t very good, the tables in the restaurant were crammed close together so you felt like you were listening to other people’s conversations. It was expensive and the following day I went down with a stinking cold. So ever since then we make a nice dinner at home and I might bake a cake. But then again we do that at other times of the year. 

This year I decided to take part in the Clandestine Cake Club’s monthly A Year of Cake Bakealong. If you see my last post it explains how the Bakealong works. For the February event we have to send our photos in by the end of the month.  I chose to bake Margaret Knox’s Raspberry and Lemon Love Heart cake which is featured in the book to celebrate Valentine’s Day.

As mentioned in the recipe introduction ” but cake club members know the fastest way to your heart is through your stomach, so it’s an occasion for cakes! Presented with this pink, zingy flavoured fruity gift, your Valentine’s reaction is sure to echo one of the classic  Love Heart messages: All Mine!”

Last September when the Clandestine Cake Club book A Year Of Cake came out we were invited to a special book launch party in Leeds. Everyone was drawn to Margaret’s beautiful cake with its delicate pastel pink icing. But the real treat was inside- the sponge is bright pink! To match the colour, the flavour is also achieved with real fresh raspberries and a hint of lemon. No wonder we loved the cake and it vanished off the table.

I couldn’t wait to bake it myself and was glad that I had the February Bakealong to do it. My husband would enjoy the cake itself but he’s not a fan of sugar paste. He could always take it off though.  

So on Valentine’s Day itself I set to with baking this stunning cake. The cake is baked in two 20cm/ 8″ diameter loose bottomed sandwich tins which were greased and lined with baking parchment circles. 

To make the cake itself I creamed together butter and sugar. To the creamed mixture I added eggs and self raising flour. When this was done, in went the zest of two lemons and some fresh raspberries. Finally I needed to turn the sponge pink, this was achieved with a few drops of pink gel food colouring. For colouring sponges I always use Dr Oetker gels which you can buy in most major supermarkets. 

The mixture was divided between the two greased tins and baked for about 25 minutes. So far so good. When I took the cakes out of the oven though I was a bit worried as the top of the sponge didn’t look pink, it was very pale and was browned. I hoped the inside would look better. I thought maybe I hadn’t added enough food colouring but I thought I’d stuck loads in.

The finished cake though Iots more practice needed with sugarpaste.

When the cakes had cooled I turned them out on to a rack and started to assemble the cake. The filling could be either with raspberry jam or lemon curd along with a simple buttercream. I made up some buttercream and found some raspberry jam in the cupboard. I didn’t have lemon curd so raspberry it had to be! The buttercream and jam were spread onto the cakes, they were layered up together and then onto the next stage of baking. 

I then had to colour a packet of white sugarpaste myself. I find this a real pain and can never get it to be even coloured, it t always ends up with little streaks in.  For colouring sugar paste I always use  cocktail sticks and post blobs of the concentrated gel into the icing. Then I knead the colour in but always wear disposable catering gloves so the colour doesn’t stain my hands. Before I discovered that tip and got red food colouring on my hand, it looked like I’d had a nasty acciden

A ribbon around the edge of a cake always covers up my mistakes.

Yayyyy! The colour did turn out pink after all!

As you can see from these pictures above my sugarpaste colouring skills still need practice. At least I managed to cover the cake with with the sugarpaste without having a wrestling match with the rolling pin and lots of swearing. A little tip- that’s why ribbons around the edge of a cake always hides any mistakes!

To finish, I got out my cake smoother to flatten out the surface of the cake and added the Love Heart sweets to the top. There were a few sweets leftover in the packet and lo and behold the children came downstairs when they saw I had spares.   I’m sure they have radar where sweets are concerned.

So did Mr SmartCookieSam enjoy his cake? No he didn’t because he said it was too sweet. But I took the remains to share out at the end of the Cake Club event I was going to the following night. I thought it tasted fab even though I say so myself. 

Would I bake this amazing cake again? Of course I would.

Happy Baking! 

Love Sam xx

Frosted Walnut Layer Cake from Mary Berry’s Baking Bible.

Last week it was my turn along with two others to provide supper for all the ladies at my local WI meeting.  When we sort out the supper rota at the beginning of the year I always volunteer to do my turn depending on when the school holidays are.  Luckily this time I managed to do April’s meeting as it fell during the Easter holidays.  This means it’s easier to get things ready, like baking a few little goodies.

Though I’m glad I had time to experiment in the kitchen this time.  I wanted to try out some more recipes from Mary Berry’s Baking Bible as part of my Cooking The Books Challenge, so I planned to bake a Frosted Walnut Layer Cake.   To help even more I was lucky to have both my daughter and her friend in the kitchen with me. My daughter’s friend is working towards her Duke of Edinburgh Award and wanted to gain some baking skills and more knowledge. So I got them both involved with tasks and it helped the baking go with a swing.

My daughter's friend set to chopping up some walnuts to go in the filling of the cake.
My daughter’s friend set to chopping up some walnuts to go in the filling of the cake.
Two 20cm/ 8" diameter sandwich tins were greased and lined.
Two 20cm/ 8″ diameter sandwich tins were greased and lined.
All the ingredients (butter, sugar, eggs, self raising flour, baking powder and the chopped walnuts) were all added to the mixing bowl and beaten until thoroughly blended.
All the ingredients (butter, sugar, eggs, self raising flour, baking powder and the chopped walnuts) were all added to the mixing bowl and beaten until thoroughly blended.
Here are the two Walnut Cakes turned out to cool on the wire rack.
Here are the two Walnut Cakes turned out to cool on the wire rack.

By this time it was getting busy in the kitchen.  I was trying to rush through each stage of the various cakes I had to make and then upon reading the recipe I realised I had to make a meringue frosting.  The egg whites and caster sugar had to be  continually whisked over a bowl of hot water, which took a very long time.  It was meant to thicken up but it just didn’t. No matter how hard I whisked it,  it just stayed runny.  By the time I had got round to making the frosting I had baked all the other things and I hadn’t got any eggs left to start again from scratch.  I was even low on butter so I couldn’t even make another batch of icing like a buttercream.  In the end I tried more whisking and after another ten minutes it finally thickened a little.  It still wasn’t enough to spread on the cake,  more like to pour it on as you’ll see from all the following pictures.

Spreading the frosting on one of the layers of the cake.
Spreading the frosting on one of the layers of the cake.
The finished cake, filled sandwiched and topped with more walnut frosting.  The cake was finished with walnut halves.
The finished cake, filled sandwiched and topped with more walnut frosting. The cake was finished with walnut halves.
A cut slice of the walnut cake.
A cut slice of the walnut cake.
The Walnut Layer Cake with some slices cut out of it!
The Walnut Layer Cake with some slices cut out of it!

I was so disappointed with the cake that I didn’t dare take it along to my WI meeting.  I was so ashamed of it and it looked so messy.  It went into the fridge and there it stayed.  Over the weekend a couple of days later when my mum was staying she had a piece and said it was lovely.  I tasted a mouthful and thought the icing was very sweet but I did like the walnut cake part.  I’ll definitely try and make it again when I’m not in a rush as it looks such a delicious cake.

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx

Mojito Cake

Mojito Sponge Birthday Cake.

My husband doesn’t really care much for birthdays.  To him they’re just another day on the calendar.  Until he met me, that is! He says he doesn’t like a fuss and big celebrations but I think you should mark the day in some way or another.

A few weeks ago we were talking about birthdays and my hubby said “Don’t bother making me a cake,”  But I bet if I didn’t serve him one up he would feel upset.  So I try a compromise, I make him a small cake which is big on the flavours he loves and not swamped in sugarpaste or fancy decorations.

So why a Mojito cake?  Both my husband and I love Mojitos especially since we first drank one in the Australian restaurant Reef n’ Beef in Copenhagen a few years back.  The mixture of white rum, lime and mint was just simply gorgeous.  By the way, the meal was lovely as well! Ever since then we have tried to make them at home, especially in the summer.  We also love drinking them on holiday.

So, I baked a simple Victoria Sponge recipe and added some white rum (sorry dear hubby I nicked the rest of your Bacardi to bake your birthday cake), lime juice and zest as well as some chopped mint to the basic mixture.  The icing was a lime flavoured buttercream and to decorate I used chopped pecans and hazelnuts round the edge of the cake along with lime slices for the top.

View from the top of the Mojito Cake.
View from the side. Note the slapdash way in which I threw on the nuts. This was done in a hurry before my hubby arrived home from work as I wanted the cake to be a surprise for him!
A better side view- this cake ended up not being a complete surprise. Hubby noticed the cake in it’s box on the worktop in the utility room. I had nowhere else to put it.
The cake already cut into.
A piece of cake for pudding!

My hubby was pleased with his cake and enjoyed it even though he originally asked me not to make a cake.  Everyone enjoyed it and I was pleased with how the Mojito flavours all worked well together in the mixture.  He didn’t even bat an eyelid when I confessed to using up his Bacardi!

I got the idea of the Mojito cake from Lorraine Pascale’s first book “Baking Made Easy”  Her recipe uses a Genoise sponge, mine was an ordinary Victoria Sponge like mixture.  I used her decoration idea as well, although hers was just using pecan nuts. I didn’t have enough pecans so I added hazelnuts to mine as well.

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx

Amaretto Cream Cake from The Clandestine Cake Club Cookbook.

This was a blog post I started writing at the beginning of January but ended up being sidetracked by other commitments.  I remembered only today, a month later about this bake. So better late than never, I suppose! I’d forgotten about the blog post but not about this yummy cake.  So this what I had started to write a month ago!

Last Sunday I decided to try and use up a pot of cream that was unopened in our fridge from Christmas.  For some reason I’d bought more than we needed.  As we always have a pudding after our Sunday roast, it had to be something which involved double cream.  To me who adores anything full of cream, this was like heaven on earth!

I asked my hubby and children what they would like and they said they liked Victoria Sponge.  I love Victoria Sponges but I wanted to make something a bit different.  Inspiration came from my fabulous Clandestine Cake Club book, which to me was my favourite baking book of 2013.  I’m not just saying this as a CCC Member and former group organiser.  It genuinely, for me was the best baking book I had seen on the shelves in a long time and I still have lots on my list to try out in the coming months!  I chose to bake Carmela Hayes‘ Amaretto Cream Cake which not only features Amaretto liqueur but Amaretti biscuits.  As a cream and an almond lover, this just had to be done!

A bowlful of naughty but nice Amaretto Cream.

The Amaretto cake was made in a similar way to a Victoria Sponge with the four main ingredients- butter, sugar, self raising flour and eggs. Added to this were some crushed Amaretti biscuits.  I had bought a box of these a couple of months ago when I planned to make the cake and not got round to it.  Judging by my sweet tooth standards and my kids’ reputation for cleaning out the baking cupboard full of treats, I was gobsmacked the biscuits were still there in an unopened packet!

The mixture was soon made up in my KitchenAid mixer and placed into two sandwich tins.  They went into the oven for about 20 to 25 minutes.  Trouble was as I was rushing round I forgot to set my timer going and also didn’t look at the clock to see what time the cakes went in.  I ended up having to guess.  I think the cakes were slightly overdone as they had come away from the tin at the edge.  Oh dear.

Once the cakes had cooled and had been removed from the tin, I spread the Amaretto cream on one of the layers and then sandwiched them together.  It was very tempting to stick my finger in the bowl of cream and have a sneaky taste.

In the Clandestine Cake Club Cookbook, Carmela’s gorgeous cake is pictured with a cocoa powder star on top. I did not have a cake stencil big enough for the top of my cake so I just got out my sieve.  It didn’t look very professional but it did taste lovely. To me, that is what really matters!

The finished Amaretto Cream Cake. Sandwiched together with luscious Amaretto whipped cream and finished with a dusting of cocoa powder.
The inside of the cake. Lots of cream filling inside, just how I like it!
A slice for Sunday lunch dessert. It was delicious.