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