HAPPY BIRTHDAY HANA!!!!

Today is my Sister’s 28th Birthday, so last weekend she was home to celebrate with the family. I’ve mentioned a keenness to develop my confidence in baking before now, so while she was out on a birthday shopping trip with my Mum I set to work making her a birthday cake to be proud of!

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The Chequered Neapolitan birthday cake consists of 3 sponges- one chocolate, one strawberry and one vanilla. It’s brilliant because it actually looks 1000 times more complicated than it really is, so results in you (the baker) receiving far more praise than you really deserve. I wanted to make this for her, as I have a vague child-hood memory of us seeing two-flavour version of this being made on How To (or was it The Handy Men?) when we were little, and then my Mum baking it after sufficient nagging.

You’ve seen me make the strawberry sponge before, back when I was at Battersea Dogs and Cats Home, but this time I developed the recipe ever so slightly by adding a tablespoon of powdered Strawberry Milkshake mix… You know, for extra strawberry oomph!

So. Here’s how it’s all done.

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Geeking Out for Operation: Cake Quest

The Monday just gone was my friend Diana’s birthday. Knowing carrot cake is her favourite, and knowing she was unfortunate enough for her birthday to land on a Monday, I couldn’t resist surprising her with a tasty treat! I’d never made a carrot cake before, and the prospect was a tad daunting, so Sunday morning I set out to find an easy recipe to build from!

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I would just like to side step, and take a moment to geek out about a free food app I’ve recently discovered that goes by the name of Yummly! Anyone who enjoys cooking and wants a world of recipes at their finger tips should download it and use it immediately! Simply search for a recipe (you can search by ingredient, country or even be specific like I have been here, or browse through the thousands they have on the home screen) and select. Want to hold onto it for future reference? Add it to your Yum List! Look through the ingredients and add anything you don’t have in the house to your built-in Shopping List. When you get to the supermarket, you have right in your pocket the exact items and measurements you require so there’s no longer the risk of finding yourself short of something halfway through cooking!

Yummly

Anyway, now I’ve got that out of my system, back to the carrot cake recipe.

I found a super easy to follow recipe via Yummly, that from the looks of it can also be found on the All Recipes UK website. I made a few tweaks, such as thickening the icing, adding a teaspoon of nutmeg, and making the vanilla a little more special, not to mention a few other tricks! So, with no further ado, here’s my Carrot Cake Recipe!

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Cappucino, and Super-Healthy-But-Probably-Not-Really Cake

Cappucino CakeStrawberry Cake

Over the last couple of months, I have had the absolute pleasure each Monday and Friday of volunteering at Battersea Dogs and Cats Home, assisting them to organise one of their biggest events of the year; The Annual Reunion. I had such a wonderful time while I was there, and my last day came around alarmingly fast. I just had to show them a token of my appreciation, and what better way to do this than with cake!

Baking is far from being my strong point and most people are striving to be healthy in July and August, so I was up against a challenge. Finally, I came up with a couple of simple recipes that they couldn’t resist!

Super-Healthy-But-Probably-Not-Really Cake

One of your 5-a-day! Possibly. Maybe. Citation needed.

Ingredients
125g of self-raising flour
125g of caster sugar
125g of unsalted butter
2 eggs
1 punnet of strawberries

Get cakin’

1. Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees

2. In a bowl, cream together the caster sugar and butter

3. Once smooth, beat in the two eggs

4. Sift and stir in the flour. Stir until lumpless and divine

5. Top the strawberries (cut their heads off) then destroy them in a food processor

6. Gently fold your strawberry goop into your cake mix

7. Grease your cake tin AND line the bottom with grease proof paper. This mix causes a lot of sticky when cooked!

8. Pour the cake mix into the tin and pop in the oven. Bake for approximately 30 minutes, though it may need longer due to all the moisture, so be sure to check!

9. Remove from oven and allow to cool

Icing
As I was icing two cakes, and as I’m a fiend for Buttercream Icing, I made a particularly large amount. You may find you don’t need so much!

Ingredients
250g of unsalted butter
500g of icing sugar
1 vanilla pod

Ice ice baby…

1. In a big bowl, cream up your butter

2. Sift in your icing sugar about 1/5 at a time, and stir it in ensuring you tackle any lumps!

3. Split your vanilla pod with a knife, then with a teaspoon remove all the little black seeds and add them to your mix. Josie then popped the empty pod into a bottle of Vodka, you may wish to do the same!

4. Stir in your vanilla seeds, then gloop this mixture all over your cake. To decorate, I lined the top edge with dried strawberries. Enjoy!

Cappuccino Cake

The cappuccino cake is even easier! Use the same ingredients as above, minus the strawberries. Measure out 40g of instant coffee (alter depending on your preference of strength) and blitz it up into a powder! Then, BEFORE you add the flour, add your coffee powder to the mix, stir it in and continue as normal. It needs slightly less time in the oven too- bake for about 20 minutes. Then just slather with your vanilla buttercream icing, dust with chocolate (just like a real cappuccino!) and enjoy. Who could resist that on a cloudy Monday?