Sunday, December 30, 2012

Light Madeira Christmas Cake

A few weeks ago, my dad requested a fruit cake. He is a big fan of all the older recipes, fruit cake, bread and butter pudding, Russian slice etc. He would pick these over a brownie or a cupcake any day!

So it being the festive season and all, I made a Christmas cake. I actually made this the week before Christmas (even though it recommends "maturing" of a month), so it was much more crumblier than a fully matured cake would be. I'm not the biggest fan in the world of fruit cakes but I gave it a whirl anyway. It actually wasn't so bad, my dad on the other hand looooooved it. He gave it a big thumbs up so if your a fruit cake lover, I'm sure you'll enjoy it too.


Recipe for Light Madeira Christmas Cake



  • 300g plain flour
  • 100g self-raising flour
  • 300g butter,room temp
  • 300g caster sugar
  • 5 large eggs
  • 50g ground almonds
  • 75g cherries
  • 150g raisins
  • 150g sultanas
  • 75g cut mixed peel
  • 1/2 tsp almond essence
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla essence
  •  3 tbsp whiskey



  1. Preheat oven to 180°C. Grease a 23cm round or 22cm square tin. Line the bottom and sides with double greaseproof paper. Tie a collar of paper on the outside with some string, this should be 3cm higher than the tin.
  2. Quarter the cherries,toss in the ground almonds. Lightly whisk your eggs and essence. Sift both flours together.
  3. Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the whisked eggs gradually, add a tsp of flour with each addition and beat thoroughly.
  4. Fold in the remaining flour, cherries, fruit and whiskey.
  5. Turn into prepared tin and smooth. Bake for 1 1/2hrs. Cover with a thin sheet of cardboard after 45mins to prevent over-browning.
  6. Leave in the tin for 4hrs, turn out, cool on a wire tray. If you wish, pour 4 tbsp of whiskey over the top of the cake. Do not remove paper but wrap in more greaseproof paper and store in an airtight tin for up to a month to mature before use.

I'm sure if you left it for the full month maturing to would be even better. Note to self for November 2013 :)

Shirley x

Monday, December 17, 2012

Christmas cookies

On a rainy Wednesday evening, Aishling and I decided it was time for some Christmas cheer so out came the cookie cutters and the greatest Christmas hits. These are just a few of what we made and to be honest not many made it to the icing stage. Aishling made some using fondant icing and I went for the piping bag.

Basic cookie recipe



  • 200g unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 egg
  • 300g plain flour, sifted



  1. Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the vanilla and egg, then add the flour. Beat until smooth.
  2. Remove from the bowl, halve and shape into discs. Wrap with clingfilm and chill for about an hour until firm. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
  3. Dust your work top and roll out your dough to 3mm approx and cut whatever you wish.
  4. Line your baking sheets with non-stick paper and place your cookies on top. Chill for ten minutes or so and bake for 10-12 minutes, until just turning golden at the edges. Cool on wire rack.

This was Aishling's first time ever working with fondant so these are her pride and joy :)

I always make an extra batch of this dough and leave it in the freezer. Its soooo handy to have for a cookie emergency :)

Shirley x

Saturday, December 8, 2012

White Chocolate Buttercream

I mentioned in the earlier "rainbow cake" post, I used white chocolate frosting. This a delicious and creamy frosting, like good frosting should be! Being a fan of white chocolate, I could literally have eaten this with just a spoon.

A tip I've recently learned is, when you go to buy your white chocolate, Do NOT get chocolate chips! Chips are slightly waxy so they hold their shape when cooked (like in cookies for example) and this will make your frosting go weird.

Recipe for White chocolate buttercream



Makes 2 1/2c

  • 1/2c unsalted butter
  • 1/2c butter (you can of course use 1c of unsalted and a pinch of salt,this is just the way I did it)
  • 2 1/2c icing sugar
  • 180g good white chocolate
  • 1/2c double cream
  • 1/2tsp vanilla extract

1. Place your chocolate in a bowl and melt over a pot of boiling water, you can use the easier method of the microwave but I'm an old fashion gal and to be honest I have burnt chocolate way too many times this way! Melt and cooool.

2.Place your butter into a large bowl and beat for 30 seconds.Sift your sugar and salt, if using, over your butter. Cream your butter and sugar until it is light and fluffy, not forgetting to scrap down your bowl as needed.

3.Measure your cream and stir in your vanilla extract.

4.On a low speed, pour your cream mixture into the bowl.

5.Once the cream has been fully incorporated into the mixture, fold in your melted (but cooled) white chocolate until incorporated.

6.Increase the mixer speed to medium-high, and beat frosting for an additional 3 minutes.

I used this frosting for the cake and also for the crumb coating but if you wish to pipe or use this for decoration, I would add 1/2c of icing sugar for a thicker consistency.

Try this.......ahhhhmazing!

Hope everyone is having a great weekend!

Shirley x

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Rainbow Cake

My lovely friend Rachel asked me to bake a cake for her little girl's ( and my beautiful god-daughter ) birthday. Lucy was celebrating her first birthday so I was only delighted and honoured to be making her very first birthday cake..........shed a tear :)

I used a Victoria Sponge for the cake and white chocolate buttercream for the frosting. I am actually drooling while thinking of that frosting!

"How to make a Rainbow Cake?"




  • 175g butter, room temp
  • 175g caster sugar
  • 3 eggs,beaten
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract (optional, but a must in my books)
  • 175g self-raising flour, sifted
  • food colourings


  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Grease and line your tins. I used two 7" square tin as I was doing a block shape but this is perfect for an 8" round tin.
  2. Beat your butter for a minute or two until soft. Add your sugar and cream the mixture until it is light and fluffy.
  3. Add your vanilla extract, if using, to your eggs. Slowly add this to the mixture while continuing to beat or if your doing it by hand beat well after each addition. If you add the eggs too quickly, the mixture will curdle, making the cake much heavier. If it does curdle don't panic try adding a spoonful of flour to bring it back. It wont affect the taste as much as the texture. Split your mixture in two and gently fold in food colouring.
  4. Fold in your sifted flour quickly and pour the mixture into your prepared tins.
  5.  Bake in the oven for15-20mins until the cake is risen and spongy to touch.

I had a few different food colourings but adding a little less or more will change the colour of the sponge drastically. With the basic food colours you can pretty much make up whatever colour you want anyway, so I wouldn't be rushing out to the shops because you don't have a certain colour. To avoid colour disasters, just remember to mix up your colours in a small bowl or something before adding to cake mixture.

For the cake decoration, Rachel wanted an alphabet block. So as with all my cakes it started off with a sketch. This is not a necessary step but I always do it for my novelty cakes, just to give me some sort of guideline. More often than not the end up completely different, with little tweaks here and there.

Finally, I iced the cake with fondant. As I said with the little changes I ended up having the A,B,C and D around the sides and the LUCY 1 on top!

And on a quick little side note,

                           "Happy Birthday to my beautiful little god-lady, love you lots"

Shirley x

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Halloween Birthday cake

My sister's friend Orla was celebrating her 21st birthday the weekend before Halloween. She wanted something to celebrate her 21st but also to fit in her "Halloween-fancy dress" themed party! We played around with a few ideas and with a few last minute changes here and there, we came up with this.

We had originally decided to have ghost and all sorts surrounding the "21" but I think it may have looked a bit "too much". A few pumpkins and bats here and there with the chosen colours pretty much screams Halloween anyway and it also didn't take from the actual 21.

She was happy therefore I was happy!

This was a fairly tricky cake to ice but it was my first time trying to ice unusual shapes and there proximity didn't make my life any easier. The "2" was a chocolate fudge cake and the "1" was a Victoria sponge. There was soooooo much waste with these cakes, luckily my family are cakey people and there wasn't a scrap left the next day.

We celebrated Halloween by taking Callum Trick or Treating for his very first time. He went as superman and was delighted with himself to be receiving free sweets.

Aishling decided to dress up as a lion for the trick or treating fun with Callum. Jacqueline and I also got in on the action and dressed up as cats, I don't know who enjoyed themselves more, him or us :)

After our trick or treating venture, we headed home, I whipped up a few (eight to be precise...phew!) homemade pizzas and wedges. We stuffed ourselves with food and sweets and it was honestly a great Halloween.

Hope everyone had a fantastic and safe Halloween!

Shirley x

Wednesday, November 7, 2012


So as Dad was making his Spaghetti With Herby Pork Meatballs, I decided I would make a dessert. With it being spaghetti and all, I stuck with the "Italian" theme and went for Tiramisu. I've had Tiramisu a few times and only seem to like certain ones. The best I have ever tasted was in an Italian restaurant in Turkey and, ironically, the worst I have ever tasted was in a restaurant in Venice.

This is a creamy and rich dessert and it is simple to put together. It went down well with my family, who are fast becoming my tasting jury and not afraid to say if it's......well......yuck! There are sooooo many versions of tiramisu out there, I'm not claiming this to be the best but I would definitely whip it up again. On my recent purchase of Nigella's "nigellissma", I noticed she does her version served in a martini glass, which I thought looked cute, perfect for dinner parties.

Recipe for Tiramisu



  • 150ml Strong black coffee or espresso
  • 1 tbsp brandy
  • 250g boudoir biscuits
  • 200g mascarpone
  • 100g whipped double cream or plain yoghurt
  • 100g ricotta cheese
  • 75g caster sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 large free-range egg whites
  • Grated chocolate for sprinkling


  1. Make the coffee, put into a shallow dish. Add brandy, allow to cool. Dip half of the biscuits quickly one by one in the coffee to moisten and use to line the bottom of the dish. Do this quickly or the biscuits will become soggy and break up.
  2. Beat Mascarpone,cream (I used cream for a richer dessert), ricotta, sugar and vanilla until smooth.
  3. Separate eggs. Whisk egg whites stiffly. Fold into the cheese mixture. Spoon half of this over the layer of soaked sponge fingers.
  4. Moisten remaining sponge fingers with the remaining coffee and make a second layer over the cheese. Cover with the cheese mixture. If you are using a smaller dish just continue the layering.
  5. Sprinkle with grated chocolate or cocoa if you prefer and leave chill in the fridge for 2-3 hours before serving.

I actually ended up using a larger dish so my biscuits were quite spaced apart but I don't think you can go wrong with this dessert whatever the dish size!


Shirley x

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Halloween Witches Fingers

The funny thing about these "witches fingers" I've found is, because they look so unappetizing people aren't inclined to eat them but Halloween can't be all about fancy cupcakes! I like the fact they look so gross lol!

Again this is up there with the worst of the worst photos but I shall up my photography game, I've really got to be less lazy and actually use my camera instead of my phone.....lazybones!


Recipe for sugar cookies

Ingredients for vanilla sugar cookies


  • 200g caster sugar
  • 100g icing sugar
  • 300g unsalted butter, diced.
  • 2 large eggs.
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 500-550g all-purpose flour, sifted.
  • Extra flour for kneading and rolling.

For decoration :

30-40 blanched almonds, cut into halves after the skin is removed
1 teaspoon dark cocoa powder + a little brush



  1. Preheat oven to 170°C.
  2. In a bowl or in the kitchen mixer with paddle attachment, mix the two types of sugar, vanilla and the egg.
  3. Add the flour and the butter and keep mixing just until the dough comes together.
  4. Knead the dough lightly by hand on your flour dusted kitchen counter and wrap it well in cling film and put it in a plastic bag. Chill the dough for 2 hours or if caught for time I have put in the freezer for 30mins.
  5. Take a small piece of cookie dough and roll it back and forth. You should make the finger long and thinly,think witch long and creepy. Pinch and form knuckles. Score with a sharp knife and transfer the fingers to the prepared baking sheet. Place a almond “nail” on the cookie fingers. Chill for 15 minutes in the refrigerator.
  6. Put your fingers in the oven for 12-15 mins until lightly browned. Transfer to cooling rack and leave cool completely. When cooled dust with a little cocoa powder and your cookies are ready!

Enjoy (or watch people make disgusted faces at them,either way they're great!)

Shirley x

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Baby Cakes!

When life hands you lemons, you make lemonade.............hmmm what I didn't realise was that life would be beating the crap out of me with the so called lemons! When everything was settling back to normal and I was starting to get back into my baking stride,my other half  G was struck down with a still yet "unknown Virus" which was inflaming his heart. Life was work, hospital, little sleep for over a week. G was discharged and is expected to make a full recovery.....Phew! He'll be out of work for a few months and has to rest up. So I packed him off to stay with his mother because I now had to face into the task of MOVING!!!

I never realised how much stuff we had actually accumulated over the years but my god! The packing I didn't mind so much but the unpacking.......nightmare. I soldiered on and after many days and even more boxes I'm finally unpacked :)

So as I said I got a little baking in, My friend Carmel wanted a cake for her sisters baby shower. My camera was full at the time so the good ol' iPhone stepped in so please forgive the quality.

My friend Jean asked me to do a cake for her nephew Callums christening. Its similar to my own nephews cake but with a few little tweaks.

This is a slumpy teddy bear, in other words I didn't leave it dry properly...ooops :)

 And here are a few more baby cakes I've done along the way!

Happy Baking!

Shirley x

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Rhubarb Crumble


I don't know whether it has been the "summer" or the lack of free time on my hands but I haven't really done a lot of baking lately. I have done the odd cake here and there but not my usual baking obsession. I have ventured into making my own condiments and dressings with great satisfaction. I was surprised by the ease of making from scratch, I honestly don't think I could go back to store bought dressings. I will admit my first two attempts at mayonnaise were a DISASTER! I just could not get it right, I still don't know where I went wrong but hey eventually I got there and that's all that matters :)

As promised rhubarb crumble! I adore rhubarb, always have always will! So when my Uncle Joe stopped by with a big bag from his garden, I could not wait to get baking! Yaaay for Uncle Joe, What a gem :)

Recipe for Rhubarb Crumble



  • 12 stalks of fresh rhubarb, washed, cut into 5cm/ 2" pieces
  • 4 tbsp water
  • 8 tbsp fine sugar
  • 110g  butter, cut into small cubes
  • 110g fine sugar
  • 180g plain flour

( I actually adjusted mine by eye,so if you feel you need less or more rhubarb or sugar, please do so!)


  1. Heat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4.
  2. Place the rhubarb, water and sugar into a 4cm/1½in deep ovenproof dish.
  3. In a baking bowl rub the butter, sugar and flour together until it resembles fine sand, then sprinkle over the rhubarb.
  4. Bake in the oven until light brown on the surface, approx 45 mins - 1 hour.

Serve or eat straight away with a spoon which what seems to happen in my house!

The caramelised edges are always my favourite. How fantastic with a big dollop of ice-cream!


Shirley x

Monday, September 3, 2012

My First Wedding Cake.

My very first wedding cake!
I have come to the realisation that summer and blogging do not work out so well for me, I'd love to say it is because I am out enjoying the sun all the time but unfortunately in Ireland, that's not the case. Never the less the weeks seem to be flying by and I always seem to have something on or going somewhere...busy bee!

I have also become a bit of an insomniac.....yawn! I sleep for about 3hrs and then I'm up for about 4hrs and just when I start to get sleepy, its time to get up. It's a good thing G is a sound sleeper because I'm pretty sure I would be single right now :) I truly miss blogging and used to spend these "awake hours" reading my favourite blogs but it would send my brain into overdrive with ideas and wanting to be uber-productive, so it had to stop :( I now watch "The Big Bang Theory" re-runs, easy on the brain!

blurrrrrr..................thanks iphone :)
Anywho on a baking note as the post title suggests, I made my very first wedding cake...YAY! I thought I was going to be more nervous than I was, to be making someones wedding cake, because it has to be perfect but I was happy with the results and the bride was even happier and that's all that matters really :)

On the Birthday Season,I have to wish a Happy birthday to Aoife, Barry, Carmel and Harry! And to myself....28...sooo old...argh! Also on a side note, Our family dog Tyler died 2wks back. Any of you animal lovers out there will know how heartbreaking that is! My sister Jacqueline did a lovely post to her on her blog ( I don't know where she got the strength to write it, I could barely read it ) so you can check it out here if you wish. Love you Ty xxx

On a brighter topic my Uncle Joe hit us up with some fresh rhubarb straight from his garden which was automatically made into crumble and tart within hours. I'll be posting soon.........I promise lol!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Chocolate Chip Cookies

YAAAY! I'm back. I'm finally back on the baking track. The last few weeks have been so hectic I'm honestly sooo tired the whole time. I will admit that alcohol has a lot to do with it. If I go out on a Saturday night, I am not functioning properly until Wednesday, even Thursday and then another birthday rolls around on the Saturday! I'm  sooo old!

Anyway besides the birthday season kicking my ass, I've had a few baking disasters. One batch of burnt naan bread in the bin to be joined by a burnt batch of cookies a few days later. You know you are all over the place when you burn cookies. I have learnt to make my timer my best friend, I usually just guesstimate the time....ya lesson learnt!

By the way I must ask all you fellow bakers out there..... Does your oven smell of baked goods all the time? I LOVE IT! The other day G came home from work, the first thing he said was "hmmm what are you baking?" with a big smile on his face.........It was chicken! But my oven smells of baked goods all the time, Preheating my oven is like lighting a scented candle for me, crazy.....amm maybe :)

Chocolate Chip Cookies




  • 2 1/4 cups of plain flour  
  • 1 tsp baking soda  
  • 1 tsp salt  
  • 1 cup butter, softened  
  • 3/4 cup sugar  
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar  
  • 1tsp vanilla extract  
  • 2 large eggs  
  • 2 cups chocolate chips



  1. Combine flour, baking soda and salt in small bowl. Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl until creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Mix in you chocolate chips.
  2. Place your mixture on to some film and roll into a sausage shape. Wrap parchment paper around this and place into the fridge for at least an hour but preferably over-night. You can actually freeze this too and cook straight from frozen.
  3. Preheat your oven to 180 °C. Bake for 9 to 11 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.

I love the way the chocolate stays gooey and melted even when cooled, I did add some white chocolate chips as well but they don't stay in melty,gooeyness form. Delicious none the less :)



Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Chocolate Malteser Cupcakes

I think if you asked most people to name a few things they love about summer,the smell of cut grass would be in there. I love the smell of freshly cut grass and new flowers blooming, I basically love being in the garden but it does not love me!

Ahh-choooo.......Hay fever!

This morning I think I have sneezed 4 billion times, looked like a women who was crying while walking to the pharmacy and then coughed my way home. I detest taking antihistamines, they make me sooo sleepy even the apparent "non-drowsy" ones.

Dear Pollen count, Give a girl a break!

So what does one need when feeling rubbish........Cupcakes :)


Recipe for Chocolate Malteser Cupcakes




  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 2 heaping tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup boiling water
  • 1 cup self raising flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda

Chocolate  Buttercream Frosting

  • 1 cup unsalted butter
  • 3-4 cup icing sugar
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 3-4 tbsp milk
  • 2 packets of maltesers


  1. Pre-heat oven to 180°C.
  2. In a saucepan,gently melt the butter,add cocoa and mix. Carefully add the boiling water and boil for 30 seconds. Turn off heat and set aside. 
  3. In a large bowl, mix flour and sugar. Pour in the chocolate mixture and combine.
  4. In a separate bowl, combine the egg and buttermilk. Add the vanilla and baking soda.
  5. Pour egg mixture to your chocolate/flour mixture and mix well. This is quiet a runny mixture so I transfer mine to a jug, which makes it easier to fill the cupcake cases!
  6. Bake for 18-20 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean.


Beat butter until softened,add icing sugar and beat for 1 minute,add vanilla and milk and beat for 3-4 minutes. If too thick, add more milk until you get the desired consistency. Crush maltesers while still in package and add to butter cream,mix! If you plan on piping this butter cream make sure your maltesers are finely crushed!

I also snuck in a couple of maltesers into the bottom of some of the cupcakes, just to see if it would make them yummier and when it came to frosting them I couldn't remember which ones they were! So I'm nosy to test my palette and see if I can tell which ones are which ;)

Shirley x

Friday, June 8, 2012

Wholemeal bread

Bread! I cannot live without bread in my life, I honestly can't remember a day when I went without it. I have tried to cut back once or twice to realise I don't really eat much else. I love bread and as I started to bake more, I feel in love with even more breads. Seriously I have it with everything from soups to salads to pasta! I'm the kinda gal that needs bread at the end of a meal to mop up sauces with.

Hi My name is Shirley and I'm a breadaholic!

I have made bread a few times and it's not that difficult,you just need patience.

Recipe for Wholemeal bread.



  • 375g strong plain wholemeal flour
  • 75g strong plain flour
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 7g sachet fast action yeast
  • 300ml lukewarm water


  1. Place both flours,salt and yeast in a large bowl. Using a dough hook mix on minimum speed,gradually adding the warm water to form a soft dough. I have also made this by hand,put your hand in a claw like position and gradually bring the dough together.
  2. Knead for 4 minutes approx until smooth and elastic. This will take longer if your doing it by hand. Cover the bowl with oiled clear film and leave to rise in a warm place for about 1 hour or until it has doubled in size.
  3. On minimum speed gently knock back the dough for 30-40 seconds.If doing it by hand be gentle no body wants tough as old boots bread! Transfer to a floured surface and shape into a ball. Knead from sides to the centre, then turn over and place on a floured baking sheet.
  4. Cover with oiled clear film and leave to rise for about 30 minutes, until doubled in size. Sprinkle with flour. Meanwhile preheat your oven to 230°C.
  5. Using a shape knife make 3 or 4 cuts across the loaf,then again at right angles. Bake for 10 minutes, then reduce oven to 200°C for 20 minutes, or until the bread sounds hollow when tapped on the base. Cool on wire rack.


Shirley x

Monday, June 4, 2012

Apple Turnovers

I had loads of plans for this long weekend and here I am on a Monday evening with nothing done,I honestly don't know where the weekend went! I wanted to bake,hang pictures (Well boss G around,telling him where to hang the pictures) and get in shopping,you would think with three days I would have accomplished this no problem......ah no! But at least I got the baking in :)

It's like committing a crime calling home to my mom and dad empty handed on a Sunday Evening....."Did you not bring anything nice for the tea?"..... So I needed something quick and easy!

Recipe for Apple Turnovers




  • 4 apples
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp cornstarch
  • 1 tsp water
  • 1 package frozen puff pastry sheets, thawed
  • 1 Egg,beaten
  • Sugar for sprinkling


  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C.
  2. Peel,core and slice your apples. If your an extra slow peeler like me and don't like the look of brown apples.Put the apples into a bowl of water with some lemon juice. I put 1 tablespoon of lemon juice to 2 cups of water. 
  3. Melt butter in a large pan over medium heat. Drain the water from the apples and place them into the hot pan. Cook and stir for about 2 minutes. Add the brown sugar, and cinnamon, stirring, for 2 more minutes. Stir cornstarch with the 1 tablespoon of water and pour into the pan. Mix well. Cook for another minute, or until the sauce has thickened. Remove from heat to cool slightly.
  4.  Unfold the puff pastry sheets, and repair any cracks by pressing them back together. Trim each sheet into a square. Then cut each larger square into 4 smaller squares. Spoon the apple mixture onto the center of each squares. Fold over from corner to corner into a triangle shape, and press edges together to seal. 
  5. Place the turnovers on a baking sheet and leave about 1 inch between them. Brush turnovers with egg wash and sprinkle with sugar.Bake for 25mins until the turnover is puffed up and a light brown.

I don't think these photos do the turnovers justice but they were really nice and went down well.

Has anyone ever made their own puff pastry? It is soooo time consuming!!I have no problem with using frozen puff pastry so I apologise if I've offended any fellow bakers out there :)

Shirley x

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Raspberry Muffins.

I recently spotted these delicious muffins on My Baking Addiction and immediately wanted to bake them. I had some blueberries and raspberries so I made some of each. I didn't get around to doing the glaze but they are so delicious and moist its hard to only have the one. I even made Ger take some to work so I wouldn't eat them all myself  lol!

Recipe for Raspberry/Blueberry Muffins


Makes 12




  • Zest of 2 lemons 
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup milk 
  • 1 1/3 cup fresh blueberries/raspberries


  1. Preheat the oven to 220°C. Lightly grease a standard muffin tin, or line with 12 paper muffin cups.
  2. In a bowl, combine the lemon zest and sugars. Mix the zest into the sugars until it is moist and fragrant.
  3. Cream together the butter, vegetable oil, and sugars until smooth. Add the eggs and vanilla, beating to combine.
  4. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Stir the flour mixture into the butter mixture alternately with the milk, beginning and ending with the flour and making sure everything is thoroughly combined. Fold in the Raspberries/blueberries. I used more berries than the recipe says,just be sure not to overload the mixture.
  5. Spoon the batter evenly into the prepared pan, filling the cups 2/3 full.
  6. Bake the muffins for 15 to 17 minutes, or until they’re a pale golden brown and a cake tester ( I use a skewer) comes out clean.

These really wont last long!


Shirley x

Monday, May 28, 2012

How to make wooden letters.

This is a total random post but I was so proud of my craftiness over the weekend,I felt the need to share.

My sister Aishling was doing up a playroom for her little boy and really wanted his name up on the wall. After searching all over the Internet,the cheapest she could get in Ireland with P&P was approx. €50 per letter!! Crazy! There probably is cheaper out there but we couldn't find it if there is!

So I decided to take it upon myself to get a bit crafty it couldn't be that hard after all............and it isn't :)

I started off on Microsoft word. Go into Word Art,decide what font you want and stretch the letter to fit the A4 page. Then simply cut your letters out.

I went to our local hardware shop and bought a sheet of mdf (3/4" thickness) and traced the letters onto the board. The mdf cost €20 and I only ended up using half of it. I bought a large sheet just in case I messed up some of the letters and had to re-do them,luckily that didn't happen :)

I must admit I had help,Ger cut the letters out using a jig saw and I sanded. Thanks G!

I had to do a little freehand with the "u" and "m" but wasn't too much trouble,just a lot of patience.I was so happy with the way they turned out and  Aishling was delighted with them.She cant decide whether to paint them or cover them with fabric. I'll pop a pic up when she decides and they are completely finished.

Hope ye all had a great weekend.

Shirley x

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Soccer ball cake.

A friend of mine asked me to do a cake for her OH whose a massive Manchester United fan. I automatically thought of a soccer ball cake. I don't own one of the soccer ball cake pans so I had to put my thinking cap on.

"How to make a Soccer Ball Cake?"


What you need

  • Chocolate Biscuit cake
  • Large heatproof bowl, greased
  • Buttercream
  • Fondant, black, white
  • Cake board
  • Edible glue


  1. Make up your biscuit cake and place it in your greased heatproof bowl. Using the back of a spoon or a spatula press the cake firmly into the bowl. Try and smooth out as much as possible as this will be the bottom of your cake. Leave cool, overnight preferably.
  2. Whip up your buttercream. Remove the cake from the bowl, place on cake board. Coat your cake with the buttercream for a smooth finish. You will have holes and chunks from where the biscuit settled so be sure to fill and smooth these over with the buttercream. Chill. Re-coat with second layer of buttercream if desired.
  3. Roll out white fondant and cover cake. Using the template below cut out shapes in black and white. I started with a top black one (shape on the right) and then surrounded it with the white (shape on left) and so on. Put some edible glue on shapes and stick them on to your fondant. If you cant get your hands on edible glue use a tiiiiny bit of buttercream, just enough for them to stick.
  4. I ordered a edible image of the crest online and stuck it on. I covered the board with green fondant, stuck with buttercream and hey ball cake!

I'm sure you could use a regular cake mix for this cake and bake it in the Pyrex bowl, just remember to adjust the cooking time and such.

Shirley x

Friday, May 11, 2012


(Photo Credit~Gary Rhodes)

It being the long weekend,I decided to do something I have never done before and have my very first dinner party. First problem that came to mind was "where was I going to fit everybody?". There is eight in my family and I have a four seater table,umm. As luck would have it all the boys were off doing their own thing and Callum has his highchair,crisis averted!

Next up,"what will I make?". This was like heaven to me,I could spend hours reading through copious amounts of cookbooks with a pot of tea by my side.

In the end I went for :

Mini Tuna Vol-au-vents.

Cesar Salad.

Main Course
Lemon Roast Chicken.

Brown-Sugar Pavlova with Cream,Strawberries and Blueberries.

Tuna vol-au-vents are always at my family get togethers because they're super easy and yum!

For the Starters I went for Cesar salad,it's so simple to put together,all ingredients into a blender and you have your dressing (there's some good ones on the Internet and homemade is sooo way nicer,trust me!), croutons,lardons,Parmesan...done!

The Lemon chicken I had never made before but was pleasantly surprised,if any one has Gary Rhodes "Food with friends" and you haven't tried this,go do it,the sauce is to die for!

And last but not least the yum Pavlova!

Recipe for Brown-sugar Pavlova



  • 6 eggs whites 
  • 115g caster sugar
  • 55g soft,light brown sugar
  • 1 tsp vinegar
  • 1 tsp cornflour
  • 300ml double cream


  1. Pre-heat the oven to 150°C. Line a baking sheet with non-stick baking paper and using a cake tin base,mark a 20cm (8in) circle.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk the egg whites to form soft peaks. Gradually add the sugars, whisking well. Whisk in the vinegar and cornflour with the last of the sugar.
  3. Spread the meringue mixture on to the baking paper within the circle, building up the sides slightly. Bake for 1 hour.
  4. Turn off the oven but leave the meringue inside to cool  completely. When cool, carefully remove from the baking sheet, peel off the baking paper and place on serving plate.
  5. Whip the cream and spoon onto the meringue. Arrange fruits on top and your done!

It's actually pretty easy so it was perfect for a dinner party,I was so scared it would all go wrong so I whipped up some ice-cream with the leftover egg yolks but thankfully it didn't!

Have a nice weekend.

Shirley x

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Castle cake

Right in the middle of about eight kids picking and pulling at the cake,my other half Ger pipped up "Did you take a photo of the cake?" Ummmmm NO!

So yet AGAIN this cake is too battered.

When will I ever learn?!

A couple of bits are missing,such as flags and glittery butterflies but you get the jist...hopefully lol!

Shirley x

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Probus cake.

This is a cake I did for "Castletroy Probus". I wont lie,I did have to google what a probus was,I hadn't a clue! It turns out Probus Clubs cater for the interests of retired or semi-retired professional or business people. So after talking with the lovely lady from castletroy probus,we decided to go for a big P cake and use the logo as the hole in the P!

Once again I forgot to take pictures so this cake is too a little bashed up!


Shirley x

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Eton Mess

(Photo Credit~Real Food)

My Mother invited us all over for Easter Sunday dinner and was adamant we were to bring nothing. Usually for a big family dinner(There is 8 of us) Jacqueline would do the starter, I tackle the dessert and Aishling does the "waitressing". We started the day with the Heineken Cup Rugby match and a couple of drinks. My mam then,like the trooper she is,started into our 3-course meal. We had BBQ chicken wings for starters and turkey with all the trimmings for main (My mouth is actually watering as I type this lol!) and dessert was Eton Mess!

Eton Mess



  • Meringue,crushed
  • Strawberries
  • Double cream
  • Vanilla Ice-cream



  1. Purée half the strawberries in a blender. Chop the remaining strawberries, reserving some for decoration.
  2. Whip the double cream until stiff peaks form.
  3. Into four cold wine glasses,Mam layered meringues,ice-cream,purée,strawberries and cream. She did this twice and then garnished with the remaining strawberries.

I don't think it is "Traditionally" made with ice-cream but this was deeeelicious! It was actually quiet refreshing, especially after the big meal we had. Well done to my wonderful mother,she seriously outdone herself. Hope you all had a nice relaxing Easter.

Shirley x

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Freshly made Scones.

My other half Ger has been plaguing me for scones for the last few weeks so last weekend I finally gave in and baked him some. I dunno what it is with me and scones but I literally cannot eat more than one of these,they are the most filling things ever! These are plain scones but there is so many variations around,every time I make some I'm gonna try different flavours. I have a feeling I'll be making these more often anyway just to satisfy Ger's love of scones, luckily they're easy-peasy!


Recipe for Scones



  • 225g self raising flour, sieved
  • 150ml milk approx.
  • 25g caster Sugar
  • 25g margarine
  • 1  beaten egg, for glazing


  1. Pre-heated oven 200°C for 10-12 mins
  2. Mix flour and sugar in a large bowl. Add margarine and rub until it resembles breadcrumbs.
  3. Add milk little by little to make a soft dough. Knead slightly to bring dough together and remove any cracks.
  4. Roll out your dough to 1” in thickness and cut using a cutter.
  5. Place on a baking tray and brush with egg for a lovely shiny glaze. this is completely optional.
  6. Bake  and leave cool on a wire rack.

Bit of butter,bit of jam..........hmmmmm!
Shirley x

Friday, March 16, 2012

St.Patricks Day Sugar Cookies

St. Patricks day is tomorrow! I'm looking forward to going into town to watch the parade,then head for bite to eat and then straight to the pub with family and friends. Paddy's day has always been a family day for us,every year we would watch the parade and then go to a nearby hotel with my grandmother,aunt and cousins but as we got older it just fizzled out. Now we have little Callum in our lives,its time to start making great memories of Paddy's day for him (and us!), lets just hope the rain stays off.

St. Patricks Day sugar cookies

Ingredients for vanilla sugar cookies

  • 200g caster sugar
  • 100g icing sugar
  • 300g of unsalted butter, diced.
  • 2 large eggs.
  • 1 tsp of vanilla.
  • 500-550g all-purpose flour, sifted.
  • Extra flour for kneading and rolling.


1. Preheat oven to 170°C.

2. In a bowl or in the kitchen mixer with paddle attachment, mix the two types of sugar, vanilla and the egg.
Add the flour and the butter and keep mixing just until the dough comes together.

3. Knead the dough lightly by hand on your flour dusted kitchen counter and wrap it well in cling film and put it in a plastic bag. Chill the dough for 2 hours.

4. Roll out your dough cut to desired shape (in this case shamrocks),put in the oven and bake for 15-20 mins depending on your oven.

5. Decorate! I used fondant to decorate these with little help of some edible markers.

 Here's how I made the shamrock,you can do it freehand but the heart shaped cutter made life so much easier!

Hope everyone has great and safe paddys day!

Shirley x

Monday, March 5, 2012


As I mentioned before,I'm a lover of Italy and all things Italian. So what happens when a baking enthusiast and an Italian lover collide? Homemade Pizzas!! I started making pizzas at home a few years ago and now its a bit of a tradition,everytime my family come round for a bite to eat,they know they're getting pizzas. Ireland were playing against France in the Rugby Six Nations on Sunday evening soooo out came the pizza trays!

Recipe for Pizza

Make three 9" pizzas


Ingredients for roasted tomato sauce

  • 450g (1lb) tomatoes,halved
  • 3 cloves of garlic,peeled and kept whole
  • 5 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • Salt,ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp caster sugar

Ingredients for pizza dough

  • 350g (12oz) strong white flour,sifted
  • 1 level tsp salt
  • 2 tsp caster sugar
  • 1 x 7g sachet fast-acting yeast
  • 2 tbsp olive oil,plus extra for brushing
  • 175-200ml (6-7fl oz) warm water


Preheat the oven to 220°C.
To make the roasted tomato sauce,place the halved tomatoes in a baking dish. Add the garlic cloves randomly,drizzle with oil and vinegar and season with salt,pepper and sugar to taste. Cook in the preheated oven for a bout 20 minutes until soft and blistered in appearance.

Liquidise! You can put it through a sieve but I don't bother,the sauce needs to be made thick enough to cover the back of a spoon. If it needs thickening,put in a saucepan,bring to boil and reduce to thicken. I always have lots of sauce left over so I freeze it for next time.

For the Pizza dough


  1. Place the flour,salt and sugar in a large bowl and mix. Rub in the butter,add the yeast and mix together. Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients,add the oil and most, but not all, of the warm water and mix to a loose dough. Add more water or flour if you need it.
  2. Take the dough out of the bowl and place on a lightly floured surface,cover with a clean tea towel for 5 minutes. Then knead the dough until smooth and slightly springy to the touch,I do it in a food mixer for about 5 mins using the dough hook,by hand it'll take about 10 mins and muscle power! Leave rest for another 5 mins.
  3. After relaxing, divide your dough,depending on what size pizzas you want,I usually divide it into 3,this makes about a plate size pizza.You can do these ahead of time and keep in the fridge,just brush them with olive oil and cover with cling film.

So now we have the sauce and pizza dough done, it's the fun part.

Turn your oven up as high as you can,I don't use fan assisted for the pizzas as the outside will burn.Roll out your dough on a floured surface,place on a pizza tray or a baking try,put on your sauce and toppings.

We went for mozzarella,ham,pineapple and salami. I love adding grated Parmesan (Parmigiano-Reggiano). Into the oven for 8-10 mins depending on your oven and voila!