All posts tagged: celebration

Cookies and Cream for my boy

Some people call this Hump Day; others, Wednesday. But for me, it’s like Friday. It’s my last paid working day of the week working as a teacher. But I figured that some of you who work all the way through to Friday could do with a little cheer, so I thought I’d write up the recipe for this Cookies and Cream cake quickly. I made it for my son’s 9th birthday on Monday. He asked for a Cookies and Cream Cake (I think because he loves that flavour of ice-cream), so I googled a few recipes, but, in the end, I went with our family favourite: Nigella Lawson’s Old Fashioned Chocolate Cake as the cake base and decided to come up with the icing myself. (I used half of her chocolate icing to sandwich the two cakes together, but you could easily make more of the cookies and cream icing and use that if you prefer). Cookies and Cream Buttercream Icing 300g of Soft Butter 300g of Icing Sugar 80g of White Chocolate, melted 2 Tablespoons of …

Pistachio and Chocolate Cake

I have a confession to make. Well, not so  much a confession but a disclaimer. This recipe isn’t entirely original and mine. To be honest, I am fed up of seeing people posting their alleged “new recipes” when they have clearly been reworked from someone else’s and have not given them credit. So, I want to be clear, that this cake is a re-working and scaling of other people’s recipes, with a minor element being mine. The sponges that make up this cake are a scaling up of Annie Bell’s Chocolate and Pistachio cake in her Baking Bible.  I have long been a fan of hers since I picked up a very reduced copy of her Gorgeous Cakes in a discount book shop. To this day I have no idea why she isn’t a household name: the woman knows her stuff and her recipes are great. I opted to make my own filling of Pistachio Buttercream, mainly because I had some leftover. But I think it really works and adds to the pistachio flavour. The chocolate …

Biscoff Macarons Heaven

Put your hands up if you like Lotus Biscoff spread? That Speculoos flavoured spread that only found its way in to our supermarkets a couple of years ago. Maybe you have only tried the Lotus biscuits: a sweet and caramelised crunch that dunks very easily in to a cup of tea or coffee. My daughter likes the biscuits, but *loves* the spread. It’s probably her all time favourite thing. She laughs in the face of Nutella but would give away her last colouring pencil for a spoon of “my favourite spread”. Last week I made 250 macarons. You would think I would have had enough of the things. In fact, I thought I had had enough of them. But, as the task of producing this massive order was coming to an end, I had this idea of making Biscoff flavoured macarons after seeing an online tutorial to make Oreo macarons. It didn’t take long to work out how I was going to fill them. Last winter, BBC Good Food printed a recipe for a Gingerbread Cake that …

Macathon

A few months ago I was asked by a friend of a friend to make some macarons for the evening reception of their wedding. I took on the task, not realising I’d be making 250 of the little blighters, in five different flavours. It also turned out to be the most humid and hot week of the year so far. It was quite the challenge and a macarons marathon. She chose four flavours that I was familiar with: White chocolate; Pistachio; Chocolate; and Lemon. However, she asked for one I hadn’t made before: Mojito. So, I did my research and tried out a couple of filling ideas. I had wanted to make a sugar syrup with real rum, mint and lime, but it just didn’t work. I reduced it to a sticky mess and the rum flavour just wasn’t coming through. In hindsight, I think I should have used a dark rum for a more rounded flavour. In the end, I used a rum flavouring. This is not the route I wanted to go down, …

Raspberry and Rose Celebration

Well hello there. It feels like years since I last wrote a blog post. The last few months have been very busy in our house but I’ve been baking away just the same, only not writing quite so much about it. If you follow my Instagram feed you’ll see plenty of baking, cooking and the odd bottle or two of wine (francesbakes). My friend asked me to make a cake for her mum’s special birthday and I just knew you guys would want to see more of the process, so I documented its production to share with you today. My brief was “she likes Turkish Delight and best to avoid chocolate”…immediately I thought to ask if she likes raspberries: they go so well with rose. Thankfully, she does, and so I started planning what I’d make. Straight away I decided to use The Pink Whisk’s Raspberry Ripple cake as the basis for the celebration cake. I have used this recipe a lot and it is simply delicious. So many people that I know love it too, so …

A Coffee Cake with a kick

Good morning and a Happy Easter to you. This isn’t an Easter cake, though it does contain chocolate, nor was it made recently. But I was asked for the recipe from someone over on Instagram, so I felt I should cobble together a blog post with details of how I made this cake (which was in the Autumn of last year). The cake itself is a simple coffee Victoria Sponge, but it is soaked in a Tia Maria sugar syrup, then filled with an Espresso and Mascarpone cream, then covered completely in a good old fashioned chocolate buttercream. It is finished off with a chocolate glaze drizzle, chocolate bark and various other decorative edibles. You should start by making the chocolate bark the day before you need it to ensure it is firm enough to handle, especially if it is warm. Chocolate Bark 150G of Dark Chocolate A handful of Coffee Beans Gold Sugar, sprinkles, bronze honeycomb chunks (Marks and Spencer) or any other pretty gold or bronze decorations you can find that will tone …

Carrot Gold

This isn’t a post in which I share a new recipe; but one in which I share an idea of how to decorate a Carrot Cake for a special occasion. As I was saying to my friend earlier, Carrot Cake *is* beautiful with swirls of Cream Cheese Frosting and some sprinkled nuts on top, but sometimes you want one of your favourite, everyday cakes to be a bit more celebratory. I wanted to show that it is possible to do that without training to be a pastry chef first. Firstly, let me explain that I don’t use walnuts in my carrot cake, but prefer pecans. I immediately thought about how I could use the pecans on the top of the finished cake by dusting them with gold and bronze lustre and adding small pieces of edible gold leaf to others. The cake also contains desiccated coconut, so I felt that using larger shavings of coconut on top would hint at the ingredients inside and add a different texture. After that, it was a case of …

Layers of Light and Lemon

This week at school one of my classes and I ran a fundraising event for Marie Curie. We held a Blooming Great Tea Party, and did various activities in order to raise money for this very worthwhile charity that offers support of all kinds to people with a terminal illness, and to their families and loved ones. I had agreed to bake some treats for the tea party and to make a cake to be raffled off. I went for a Spring like look that tasted fresh, and came up with this. A few people were asking for the recipe so I thought I’d write it up this morning. I hadn’t intended to write a blog post about this cake so didn’t document the making of it in photographic steps, so apologies for that. For the Sponge: 200g of Butter, at room temperature 200g of Caster Sugar 200g of Self Raising Flour 4 Medium Eggs The zest of 1 Lemon (unwaxed) For the Lemon Syrup: 45g of Caster Sugar 3 Tablespoons of Lemon juice For …

Blame it on the Brownie

Brownies are a very emotive subject for me. They are my favourite “cake” and they would be the dessert in my Death Row dinner (and it would be roasted Duck Breast with a red wine and cherry sauce, Dauphinoise Potatoes and Garlic Greens for main, if you are interested). I have very strong feelings about Brownies: they have to have squidge. They should not be hard or dry or cakey: they should be soft, melting, moist and squidge.   I finally found my Brownie nirvana a few years ago with Nigel Slater’s recipe but have tinkered with it a little since. I usually substitute the 50g of chopped dark chocolate for white, for example. I tried various respected food writer’s recipes, including ones from Nigella Lawson and Tamsin Day-Lewis, but Nigel’s recipe gives the exact amount of oozing chocolate richness that I want in a Brownie. Last year I made BBC Good Food’s Salted Caramel Brownies and though delicious and a contender for Nigel’s ultimate recipe, I still preferred his.   Off the back of that I came up …

A Good Sport

If you ask me to go for a run with you or join in with a game of Rounders I would politely decline. I am not very sporty. I am not sporty at all, in fact. That doesn’t mean, however, that I am not a good sport. If you were to ask me to help with your charity event I would do what I could. If you asked me to bake a cake for your charity event, then I would probably be planning it in my head before I had even come to the end of, “Yes, I’d be delighted to.” When my colleague asked if I would bake a cake to be raffled off as part of the school’s fundraising for this year’s Sport Relief I was more than happy to help out. For Comic Relief  last year I made a Red Velvet Cake as I felt the colour tied in with the charity’s logo. This year I stepped away from chocolate and went fruity instead. I decided to use one of my favourite recipes from Ruth Clemens, behind The …