Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Christmas Cakes, Bakes and Fails!

My first gingerbread house, doesn't it look pretty? Well it DID until it collapsed. Big baking fail! I kinda had an idea it would. In the mayhem surrounding my Christmas I stoooopidly left it on a wire rack "cooling" overnight. The gingerbread got soft real quick and the roof simply couldn't take the weight of the icing.

A quick trim and back into the oven for ten minutes with my roof,walls and sides. Crisis averted! I then stuck it together and decorated as above. This was late Christmas Eve so it was somewhat more messier but it tasted great and it really isn't that much work. I used Rachel Allens recipe and templates from her book "bake". I will definitely be making it again, it was a fab centrepiece if I may say so myself. Very festive!

I also made my Mini Mince Pies from last year. Sweet Shortcrust Pastry filled with a sharp fruity mix......devine! They too are super cut and pretty to have on the table. I followed last years tradition and topped them with a star which just adds to they puuurtiness.

Last but not least Cupcakes! Because whats Christmas without cakey bakes. These were Vanilla Bean Cupcakes with Vanilla Buttercream Frosting. It was my first attempt doing a toned frosting,let alone three! Even though the swirls weren't exact and leaked every so slightly,I was delighted with them. It was actually much easy than I thought and I will definitely be sharing what I learnt as soon as I have it perfected.

I just want to thank each and every one of you for stopping by and making me smile with your lovely comments and emails. I hope you all had a very Merry Christmas and I wish you all a very Happy New Year!

Here's to 2014!

Shirley x

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Almond Sugar Cookies

It has become somewhat of a tradition in our family to bake and decorate cookies at Christmas. I for one have no complaints about it. I recently have become OBSESSED with cookies,cookie decoration,piping, flooding and working with royal icing in general. I'm still only learning and am nowhere near any of the fantastic cookies you see about but I am determined to get there.

This year I decided to make a few changes to our usual sugar cookies. As you probably know I'm a huuuge fan of ground almonds so I decided on an almondy sugar cookie. These are definitely my go to sugar cookies from now on. I had to restrain myself (and my father) from eating just the dough.

This year we did some cute simple 'gingerbread men'. They were for my two year old nephew,who in the end spent more time playing with them than actually decorating them :)

Recipe for Almond Sugar Cookies



  • 200g butter
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract
  • 1 egg
  • 50g ground almonds
  • 300g plain flour


  1. In a large bowl, cream your butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Gradually add your egg and beat until well combined. Add your vanilla and almond extracts.
  2. Sift in your flour and ground almonds into your mixture. Ground almonds tend not to be very fine, just be sure there is no lumps. Fold into mixture until dough comes together.
  3. Place dough on cling film and press into flat round shape. Chill for at least 30 mins. I chill mine until it is quite solid. Pre-heat oven to 170°C. Then roll and cut into desired shape. Bake for 8-10 mins. Leave cool for 10 minutes on baking sheet before removing to cooling rack. And decorate!

Honestly couldn't be simpler. Hope everyone is nearly set for the big day. I am currently constructing my first gingerbread house so everyone please cross your fingers for me it doesn't crumble and fall apart. Lol!

Shirley x

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Wedding Cake

My cousin Laura asked me to do her wedding cake and I jumped at the chance. I don't think there is one cake more daunting to us amateur bakers as a wedding cake.

As much as I love doing cakes, they can get a bit monotonous. I always say to people leave your imagination run wild, you can do anything with cakes nowadays. I love a good challenge and I think a wedding cake is pretty much up there with the best of them.

Laura wanted to incorporate her wedding dress details on the cake. I made a sketch and free handed the beautiful design. It was probably the thing I was most scared about as I hadn't really done much piping before. But I was delighted the way it turned out. It was simple,clean and elegant. She had roses as her flowers so we topped the cake with them. I love incorporating little details into cakes, even if guest don't cop it. Its all part of the theme!

She then wanted two little figurines of herself and her new hubby. These took me.....ahem.....awhile. I made four brides heads until I was happy. Painting eyelashes on an already tiny eyes took a lot of patience and a seriously steady hand. I thought they turned out super cute and they were very happy with them so it was smiles all round.

The cakes were Chocolate Biscuit Cake and Red velvet.....ya-huuum! I also, as per usual, completely forgot to take proper pictures. Please forgive me for the hazyness. When will I ever learn!

I loved doing every single bit of this cake and I got sooooooo many compliments off people, I was absolutely delighted.

It was a beautiful wedding and such a great day.

Congrats to the newly-weds xx

Shirley x

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Chocolate Coconut Cake Squares

If you are following me over on Instagram, then you will have seen my nephew and I made some Chocolate Coconut Cupcakes. It has been so long since I had coconut and I had forgotten how deliciously scrumptious it is. So I decided to spruce up the child friendly version and make a more pretty refined cakey treat.

Cake cut into squares,dunked into melted chocolate and covered in coconut....pretty yes...refined not so much!

These little squares would be perfect for Christmas party finger food and let me tell you why....

They are much tastier the next day, so you can have them done way ahead...yay!
The chocolate seems to set more but is still velvety and soft.
The coconut makes them Christmassy and almost snow like.
You can make them as small as you like so they're just bite-size. No chocolate and coconut all over you.
They are Deeeelicious,absolutely finger lickin' good.

Honestly they are a winner in my book.

Recipe for Chocolate Coconut Cake Squares

Makes 16 (depending on what size you cut them,mine were 1 1/2" squared)



Victoria Sponge

  • 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 

Chocolate Ganache

  • 150g milk chocolate,chopped into pieces
  • 80ml double cream

Coconut Topping

  • 150g desiccated coconut


  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Grease and line your tins. I used a 7" square 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.
  4. Fold in your sifted flour and pour the mixture into your prepared tin. Bake in the oven for 15-20mins until the cake is risen and spongy to touch. Leave to cool completely.
  5. While the cake is cooling make your ganache. Chop chocolate into small pieces and tip into a heat-proof bowl.
  6. Pour your cream into a saucepan and heat until it is just at boiling point. Carefully pour your cream over your chocolate and stir until all your chocolate is melted.
  7. Cut your cake into square shapes,I went for 1 1/2" squared cakes.
  8. Place coconut into a large bowl. Using a fork stuck in one side of your cake, dip it into your melted ganache. Then using a spoon sprinkle coconut abundantly. I did this over the bowl of coconut to catch any waste. You could also leave the ganache cool and spread it on the cake but I don't think the coconut sticks as well. I also find the cake almost soaks some of the chocolate in, making them super moist. Place on wire rack and let set.

I think its almost impossible not to end up eating half the ganache and coconut by themselves. If you love bounty bars, you are going to adore these. They taste exactly like bounty bars but with cake....seriously good!

Happy Tuesday peeps :)

Shirley x

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Victoria Sponge with Nutella Buttercream Frosting

I don't know anyone that doesn't like Nutella. Whether you're smothering it on bread,stuffing it into a cupcake or my fav, licking it off a spoon. It is always a huge hit! I've seen loads of different recipes around for Nutella buttercream but I decided to wing it. Lets face it buttercream isn't exactly rocket science, once you've mastered the basics you're pretty set but I was happy with myself none the less.

I will admit I used copious amounts of Nutella trying to get the flavour just right. I had scribbled down on a piece of paper what I thought the recipe would be and ended up with a whole different recipe.

At first this buttercream gives you a super strong flavour of nutella but then it becomes smooth and creamy. It is actually like a nutella cream flavour. The cake was a Victoria Sponge ,sandwiched also with this buttercream. I'd love to try a chocolate cake with this buttercream too. I've a feeling it would be a winner!

Recipe for Nutella Buttercream Frosting

Iced and sandwiched a 10" cake


  • 225g unsalted butter
  • 550g icing sugar
  • 280g nutella
  • 60ml double cream
  • 2tsp vanilla extract


  1. Beat butter until completely softened. Add nutella and beat until well combined almost fluffy. Add icing sugar bit by bit while beating. Using a mixer mix on highest setting beat until all ingredients are well combined.
  2. While beating, mix double cream and vanilla extract together in a jug. Slowly pour the liquids into the buttercream mixture. And BEAT!! I did it for about 8 mins. You should have a light creamy Nutelly mixture.

I ate waaay too much of this straight out of the bowl, it is not the kind of buttercream that you can just have a taste. I had to restrain myself from diving in face first lol!

I am linkin up today to Tea Party Tuesday as recommended below by the lovely Hazel.
 Hope you are all having a great day :)

Shirley x

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Sweet Shortcrust Pastry

I think, along with fairy cakes, pastry was one of the first things I ever made on my own from scratch. I remember making apple tarts as teenager and being so proud of myself when they turned out nice.
I adore sweet shortcrust pastry. It is definitely my favourite pastry. I'm all about the crust. I could just eat the crust with cream and I would be in heaven.

I have heard so many people say they would be too scared to make their own pastry and my answer usually is 

Pastry is honestly one of simplest things to make. It more than likely will shrink and crack but once you get the hang of it, there's nothing to it. The only thing that can really go wrong is you burn it and we've all been there!

Recipe for Sweet Shortcrust Pastry

Makes 400g


200g plain flour, sifted
1 tbsp icing sugar
100g chilled butter
1/2-1 med egg


Place the flour, icing sugar and butter in a mixer and mix until resembled bread crumbs.

Add a little egg at a time until your mixture is just moist enough that it comes together.

With your hands, flatten out your dough into disc shapes (this just helps it chill faster) and wrap in cling film.

Leave in fridge for at least 30 mins or if pushed for time 10-15 in the freezer. Pastry done!

If you want to blind bake your tart,head on over to my Rhubarb Tart recipe for instructions.

Here are a few tips I've learnt along the way.......

  • Work quickly with your pastry. You want a crumbly moist pastry, over working it can make it quite chewy.
  • All your ingredients must be cold, if your pastry gets quite warm you will end up with a dense pastry.
  • CHILL your pastry! I never used to do this back in the day but now it is a MUST! Even after you have put it in your tin,you must re-chill it. Your pastry must go into the oven cold. It will help to avoid shrinking and cracking. 

Don't be scared,go make some. I've done all of the above wrong in the past but you will learn as you go and it usually turns out delicious, even if it does shrink and crack!

Below are some recipes I've made using Shortcrust Pastry.

Mini Lemon Meringue Pies

Rhubarb Tart

Strawberry Frangipane Tart


Shirley x

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Red Onion And Sage Focaccia

Bread.......my love!

I made this focaccia to go with a pasta dish we were having for dinner, I do believe I'm Italian at heart.

I made it ever so slightly different. Instead of flattening it out like my Garlic and Herb Focaccia.I just left it in its lovely loaf form, quite large, quite chunky. It still had its soft airy inside and slightly crunchy chewy outside. Perfect for mopping up sauce!

Recipe for Red Onion and Sage Focaccia


Makes 1 Loaf



  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 sachet (7g) dried yeast
  • 210ml luke warm water
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 350g strong plain white flour
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 red onion, cut very thinly
  • 1 tbsp sage


  1. Dissolve sugar and yeast in warm water in a large bowl and let stand for 5 minutes until it looks frothy and bubbly. This is the yeast being activated.
  2. Stir in salt and add flour, stirring to form a soft dough.
  3. Knead dough until soft and elastic. This usually takes about 5 minutes in a mixer.
  4. Place dough in large bowl coated with olive oil, cover with cling film and let rise for 45 mins  in a warm place.
  5. Place dough on a baking sheet coated with oil. Sprinkle over red onion, the onion will shrink so don't be frightened to over sprinkle. Scatter over Sage. Cover and again allow to rise for 25 mins in a warm area.
  6. Preheat oven to 180°C. Use your fingertips to create small indentation on focaccia. Bake for 14 mins or until lightly browned. We ate this warm, it was only ok cooled in my opinion but my folks couldnt get enough of it.

I wish I had gotten a better photo but because we ate it warm out of the oven, impatience got the better of me!

                                                         Hope everyones having a great week.

                                                                               Shirley x

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Cinnamon Rolls

I'm ashamed to say I've only just discovered the deliciousness that are cinnamon rolls. As I mentioned before, My sisters and I recently took a trip state side.On one jet lagged stricken night, we got a SERIOUS craving for cake,cookies and all things sweet in general,so off we trotted around L.A at about 1.30a.m.......the things you do for cake! All we could find was a burger joint,so we raided them for their cookies and something called a Cinnabon. A love affair was born!

Honestly these are sooo good! The dough is not at all bread like. It is a sweet fluffy dough and with the buttery cinnamon oozing out where ever it can,they are packed with flavour.They may take a while to make but if you haven't already indulged in these sweet rolls, Go do it! They will not disappoint.

Adapted from a Paula Deen recipe

Recipe for Cinnamon Rolls

Makes 12-15




  • 7g packet fast-action yeast
  • 125ml warm water
  • 125ml scalded milk
  • 60g sugar
  • 75g butter,melted
  • 1tsp salt
  • 1 egg
  • 520g plain flour


  • 115g melted butter,plus extra for pan
  • 250g sugar,plus extra for pan
  • 2 tbsp ground cinnamon


  • 60g butter
  • 250g icing sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 to 5 tbsp hot water


  1. In a small bowl or jug ,dissolve yeast in water and set aside until frothy and bubbly. This wont take long, a few minutes perhaps. 
  2. In a large bowl, mix milk,sugar and melted butter, salt and egg. Add flour and mix until mixture is smooth like. Add yeast mixture and mix,if it seems too wet add a some flour little by little. Using a dough hook, knead until dough is smooth and almost elasticky. This usually takes about 5 minutes using a mixer. Place into a well greased bowl, cover with clingfilm and let rise until double in size, 1 - 1 1/2hrs approx.
  3. When doubled in size,punch dough down. Roll out on a floured surface into a 15x9 inch rectangle. Mix sugar and cinnamon. Spread melted butter over dough (leaving a drop for the pan) and sprinkle sugar/cinnamon mixture over it (again leaving a bit for the pan). Beginning at the larger side (15inch) roll up dough and pinch edges together to seal. Cut into slices, I always aim for a 1 inch cut, hence the 12-15 serving.
  4. Coat bottom of baking pan with melted butter and sprinkle remaining sugar/cinnamon mixture. Place cinnamon roll slices close together in the pan. Let dough rise until doubled again, usually takes 45mins approx.Pre-heat oven to 180°C.
  5. Bake for 30 mins or until nicely browned.
  6. Mix butter, icing sugar and vanilla. Add 1tbsp of hot water at a time until the glaze reaches desired consistency. I like mine quite runny. Spread over now slightly cooled rolls and your done!

I've tried a few shop bought here since and they are soooo not the same. I know these take a bit of patience but they are the real deal. We demolished these in a matter of hours......there was 3 of us :-)

                                                     I'm not one bit ashamed, they are THAT good!

                                                                                 Shirley x

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Chocolate Drop Rainbow Cookies

I don't know why but American cookies are so different to what I consider cookies here. Cookies to me are always crunchy, which I'm not complaining about. I could (and have) polished off a packet of Maryland cookies all by myself........addictive!

So on a recent trip across to the states, I tried all different types of cookies. They are mainly chewy with a crumbly moist bite to them. My sister later informed me that you could get these kind of cookies here in places like Subway but I reckon they probably wouldn't be the same.

So when I came home all I wanted to do was replicate these moist chewy cookies. I tried a few different recipes and fought with the cup to gram converter many,many times. Eventually after four different batches, tweaking and changing up different ingredients. I got the perfect consistency of deliciousness. There is quiet a few ingredients in this recipe but it is pretty simple to throw together.

These cookies are sweet and moist. They have a soft chewy centre and a crunchy, crumbly outside. I added chocolate drops that taste like mini smarties. But I reckon you could add pretty much anything to it.

                                                  I'm dreaming of a chocolate hazelnut combo!

Recipe for Chocolate Rainbow Drop Cookies


Makes 25-30


  • 260g plain flour
  • 40g self-raising flour
  • 1/2tsp bicarbonate soda
  • 1tsp cornflour
  • 170g butter,softened
  • 165g light brown sugar
  • 165g caster sugar
  • 1 egg, room temperature
  • 1 egg yolk,room temperature
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 130g chocolate drops approx


  1. Pre-heat oven to 180°C. Line baking sheet.
  2. In a large bowl, beat butter and sugar until fluffy and light. Gradually add egg, egg yolk and vanilla extract and mix well.
  3. Mix together both flours,bicarb and cornflour in a bowl. Add to mixture until a dough is formed. Fold in chocolate drops. Do not over mix this dough. Wrap in cling film and roll into sausage shape.Chill dough for at least 30 mins but preferably overnight.
  4. When chilled, form your dough into even quantities. Roll into sausage like shapes and stand them up on baking sheet. Chill again. The key to a good cookie is to keep the dough chilled. Ever wondered why you put lovely round balls in the oven and they come out a crispy thin cookie? Well the taller and more chilled you have your dough the less "melting" time it has. They still cook perfectly,they're just chunkier and more moist.
  5. Bake for 8-10 mins.....no more.I used a fan assisted oven, they were done in 7 mins.
  6. Leave on wire rack to cool. As always I did the warm and cooled taste test...they're pretty nice both ways!

                                              The best cookie I got was in a restaurant at The Grove in L.A.

                                      It was a cookie baked in a skillet, served warm, with ice-cream on top!

                                                              It's been months and I still think about it :)

                                                                                      Shirley x

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Lemon and Poppy Seed Cupcakes With Lemon Buttercream Frosting

I made these cupcakes only just last week but they are soooo good I made some again last weekend. I went for a little twist on the cupcakes I made last week and topped them with a lemon buttercream frosting instead of the vanilla buttercream

These cupcakes are lemony zesty goodness just by themselves. So I went a little easy on the addition of lemon juice in the buttercream. These are just as good as they were last week and my house is divided on which buttercream was nicer....vanilla or lemon?

Recipe for Lemon and Poppy Seed Cupcakes with Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

Makes 12


Lemon and Poppy Seed Cupcakes

  • 175g butter, softened
  • 175g caster sugar
  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • 60ml full fat milk, room temperature
  • zest of 2 lemons
  • 1tbsp lemon juice
  • 225g self-raising flour
  • 2 tbsp poppy seeds

Lemon Buttercream Frosting

  • 225g unsalted butter,softened
  • 400g icing sugar
  • 1tsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp full fat milk, room temperature


Lemon and Poppy seed Cupcakes

  1. Preheat oven to 160°C.
  2. In large bowl, beat butter until completely softened. Add caster sugar and beat until light and fluffy. This may take a few minutes. Gradually add eggs and beat until well combined. Add milk,lemon zest and lemon juice and mix well.
  3. Gently fold in flour and poppy seeds until mixture is well combined. Evenly dollop mixture into cupcake cases. I usually use a ice-cream scoop for even distribution.
  4. Bake in oven for 12-15mins (I use a fan-assisted oven) or until a skewer comes out clean.
  5. Try and avoid temptation and leave cool on wire rack.

Lemon Buttercream Frosting

  1. In a large bowl, beat butter until extremely soft and almost fluffy.
  2. Add icing sugar and slowly beat working up to full speed.
  3. Add milk and lemon juice and beat mixture until light and fluffy.
  4. I piped mine just for the prettiness but a big dollop with a spoon is just as good!

    I'm sooo in love with these cupcakes...............can you tell lol?

    Happy Tuesday :)

    Shirley x

    Thursday, August 29, 2013

    Lemon and Poppy Seed Cupcakes with Vanilla Buttercream frosting

    I have been wanting to make these cupcakes for ages, like literally a year. My sister Jacqueline had tasted one and said I had to make them. I'm a huge fan of poppy seed bread (dangerously so) and so I was only too happy to bake them. There was only one problem...............trying to find poppy seeds!

    I tried everywheerree. They didn't want to be found.

    So when I spotted on my daily dose of bloglovin' that a fellow baker/blogger, Hazel from cupcakery had found them. I couldn't have been happier. I purchased a 1kg bag so be prepared to be bombarded with poppy seed recipes :)

    These cupcakes are zesty lemony goodness. They are honestly the nicest lemon cupcakes I've ever tasted. The poppy seeds add lovely little dots of crunch. They are light and perfectly lemony. I went with a vanilla buttercream to balance the zesty cake. It was moist,lemony with a little crunch,they are delicious!

    Recipe for Lemon and Poppy Seed Cupcakes with Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

    Makes 12


    Lemon and Poppy Seed Cupcakes

    • 175g butter, softened
    • 175g caster sugar
    • 2 eggs, room temperature
    • 60ml full fat milk, room temperature
    • zest of 2 lemons
    • 1tbsp lemon juice
    • 225g self-raising flour
    • 2 tbsp poppy seeds

    Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

    • 225g unsalted butter,softened
    • 400g icing sugar
    • 1tsp vanilla extract
    • 1 tbsp full fat milk, room temperature


    Lemon and Poppy seed Cupcakes

    1. Preheat oven to 160°C. Line cupcake pan with cupcake liners.
    2. In large bowl, beat butter until completely softened. Add caster sugar and beat until light and fluffy. This may take a few minutes. Gradually add eggs and beat until well combined. Add milk,lemon zest and lemon juice and mix well.
    3. Gently fold in flour and poppy seeds until mixture is well combined.
    4. Bake in oven for 12-15mins or until a skewer comes out clean.
    5. Try and avoid temptation (which nearly killed me!) and leave cool on wire rack.

    Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

    1. In a large bowl, beat butter until extremely softened and almost fluffy.
    2. Add icing sugar and slowly beat working up to full speed. If you go full speed straight away you will end up with an icing sugar cloud and it goes everywhere......been there!
    3. Add milk and vanilla extract and beat mixture until light and fluffy.
    4. Pipe or just dollop on cooled cupcakes.....mmmm!

    These cupcakes are honestly so good........I'm baking them again this weekend!

    Happy Thursday :)

    Shirley x

    Thursday, August 22, 2013

    Cinnamon Banana Bread

    We are big banana eaters in my house. I wasn't much of a banana eater (with the exception of banana ice-cream!) until recently but now I'm obsessed. I love a banana with a cup of tea, which is probably the weirdest combination of all time but trust me its yum and so filling.

    I've had banana bread once or twice and always found it just okay. This loaf however has CINNAMON which changes everything. It gives it a deliciously warm hint of spice and sweetness. The bananas make this a super moist loaf. The kind of cake that sticks to the roof of your mouth.

    This loaf is what i imagine Autumn tastes like. It holds great in the cupboard, infact it's even better on day 2 and 3!

    Recipe for Cinnamon Banana Bread

    Makes 1 loaf


    • 220g plain flour
    • 1 tsp cinnamon
    • 1/2 tsp bread soda
    • 150g caster sugar
    • 45g butter,room temperature
    • 2 eggs
    • 1 tsp vanilla extract
    • 2 large ripe bananas


    1. Preheat oven to 180°C. Grease and line loaf tin.
    2. In a large bowl beat butter until completely softened and add sugar. Continue beating. Gradually add your eggs until mixture is creamy.
    3. Mash bananas. Addd banans and vanilla to mixture and beat slowly. Sieve flour,cinnamon and bread soda together. Fold into mixture until it is 'just mixed'. Don't worry if there are a few lumps!
    4. Pour into prepared tin and bake for 45-50 mins or until a skewer comes out clean.
    5. Cool in tin for 10 mins and transfer to wire rack.

    Hope everyone is having a great week!

    Shirley x

    Thursday, August 15, 2013

    Madeira Cake

    The last few days in work have been mayhem. It's either a feast or a famine in the art world and this week has been car-a-zeeee. I've literally been getting home having my dinner, then straight into a fight with myself to stay awake. 10pm was usually the latest I could get to. It's just one of those weeks!

    It was the perfect week for Madeira cake however. A big chunky slice smothered in raspberry jam and a warm cup of tea.....hmmm comfort food. I'm a lover of madeira cake in general. My Dad however is the madeira king, he comes home with all sorts of variations of madeira.......last week was chocolate chip :) I had found some cake liners a few weeks back for a euro(bargain!) so of course madeira had to be made.

    Madeira is a firm but light cake. It is moist and crumbly but has a good bite. It is a match made in heaven with most things jam, butter, nutella.......and moooore nutella. Did I mention it's delicious with nutella?

    Recipe for Madeira Cake

    Makes 1 loaf


    • 175g butter, softened
    •  35g light brown sugar
    • 125g caster sugar
    • 3 eggs, room temperature
    • 1/2tsp vanilla extract
    • 200g plain flour
    • 50g almonds
    • 1 1/4tsp baking powder


    1. Preheat oven 170°C. Line and grease baking tin.
    2. In a large bowl, beat the butter until completely softened. Add caster sugar and brown sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Lightly whisk eggs and vanilla extract together. Slowly add eggs to mixture until fully incorporated.
    3. Sieve plain flour,almonds and baking powder together. If almonds do not sift properly give mixture a whisk and make sure there are no lumps. Fold flour,almonds and baking powder into mixture until well combined.
    4. Pour into prepared tin and smooth top. Bake in the oven for 50-55mins. Leave cool on wire rack.

    As you may know from reading my little blog I can never leave anything cool properly without tasting it. Hence my cake being so crumbly in the photos. This cake is so much nicer cooled fully.It's even nicer the next day...........with.....ahem.... nutella :)

    Shirley x

    Tuesday, August 13, 2013

    Oreo Cupcakes With Oreo Buttercream Frosting

    Warning: Major overuse of the word "Oreo" in this post :)

    Is it just me or are Oreo cupcakes everywhere? Every blog, website seem to be obsessed with these cupcakes. So naturally, being the nosy baker I am, I had to see what all the fuss was about. There are about a bijillion recipes out there. In fact I don't think there is any one specific Oreo cupcake recipe. I decided to do my own thang and chuck Oreos into my usual vanilla cupcake batter and buttercream.

    The results were not too shabby at all. I did do the "hidden Oreo" at the bottom of the cupcake which is probably a must when making these. They have the dense dark chocolatey flavour of the Oreos with the light vanilla sponge in contrast. The frosting is creamy and smooth with the crunch of the Oreos.

    They are an Oreo lovers dream!


    Recipe for Oreo Cupcakes with Oreo Buttercream Frosting


    • 110g butter,softened at room temperature
    • 110g caster sugar
    • 2 eggs
    • 1 tsp vanilla extract
    • 110g self-raising flour
    • 1-2 tbsp full fat milk
    • 3 heaping tbsp crushed Oreo (crumb like)

    For frosting

    • 140g unsalted butter,room temperature
    • 280g icing sugar
    • 1-2 tbsp milk
    • finely crushed Oreos



    1. Preheat the oven to 180C and line a 12-hole muffin tin with paper cases.  If you would like to do the "hidden Oreo" at the bottom. Place a full Oreo flat at the bottom of each paper case.
    2. Cream the butter and sugar together in a bowl until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs a little at a time and stir in the vanilla extract.
    3. Fold in the flour and crushed Oreo crumbs using a large metal spoon, adding a little milk until the mixture is of a dropping consistency. Spoon the mixture into the paper cases until they are two-thirds full.
    4. Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes, or insert a skewer into one of the cupcakes until it comes out clean. Set aside to cool for 10 minutes, then remove from the tin and cool fully on a wire rack.
    5. For the frosting, beat the butter in a mixer until slightly pale,add sugar and continue beating until light and fluffy. This may take a few minutes. Fold in desired amount of finely crushed Oreos (this additon of crumbs will make your frosting an off white colour) and top as you please. I went for larger,chunkier crushed Oreos to give it a bit more bite!

              So there you have my version of Oreo Cupcakes, sure to please all you Oreo lovers out there!


                                  Today I'm linking up with the lovely folks over at chef-in-training.com!

    Tuesday Talent Show Link Party at Chef in Training! It is held weekly and has some amazing link ups!
    Shirley x

    Wednesday, August 7, 2013

    Chocolate And Vanilla Marble Cake

    I cant tell you how many times I've made this cake. It super simple and can be pretty impressive when marbled right. This one was made with a two-year-old helper so the sacred rule of marble cake was broken. Do Not Over Marble Your Cake.......whoops!

    This is Rachel Allen's recipe but it's a goodin' so I'm quiet happy to share.It is quiet a moist and crumbly cake. The vanilla is light and airy while the chocolate is rich and almost gooey at times. It is a one batter cake and super simple for any novice baker out there looking to impress.

    Recipe for Chocolate and Vanilla Marble Cake



    • 225g butter, softened
    • 225g caster sugar
    • 4 eggs, room temperature
    • 2 tsp vanilla extract
    • 225g plain flour
    • 2 tsp baking powder
    • 50ml milk, room temperature
    • 50g cocoa powder,sifted



    1. Preheat the oven to 180°C.Butter and flour the sides of a 8in diameter spring-form cake tin and line the base with greaseproof paper.
    2. Cream the butter in a large bowl or mixer until soft. Add the sugar and beat until the mixture is light and fluffy.Whisk the eggs and vanilla extract together in a small bowl. Gradually add the eggs to the butter mixture, beating all the time. Sift in the flour and baking powder and fold in gently to mix, then add the milk and mix gently to combine.
    3. Tip half of the cake mixture into another large bowl and, into this bowl, fold in the sifted cocoa powder.
    4. Place the cake mixtures into the tin by alternating spoonfuls of the vanilla batter with the chocolate batter, then with a skewer or something similar, gently draw swirls through the cake mixture to ‘marblise’ it. Again Do Not Over mix. Bake in the oven for 45 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.
    5. Leave to cool on wire rack or eat warm..............its pretty nice both ways!

    Easy,simple cake.......hope you all enjoy!

    Shirley x

    Monday, August 5, 2013

    Mini Lemon Meringue Pies

    Lemon, Meringue, Pie..........................whats not to like? I've made this a few occasions but never as individual pies. They are super cute and perfect for any occasion, or if you're anything like me, a mid-morning snack with a cup of tea. These were gone in no time in my house. I think its because you kinda have to have two....as my sister said "ill just have another one....just to be sure they're nice!" suuuure.

    You would think by the look of these pies that they're going to be dense and heavy. Its the complete opposite, they are so light and airy. The lemon curd is refreshing and smooth, it has just enough lemon zing and sweetness. In other words its not going make your eyes squint and cheeks suck in (yes we've all been there) on your first bite.

    I piped the meringue using my Wilton 1M tip but if you want to glob it on forming peaks by all means do. I just liked the ice-cream effect it gave!

    Recipe For Mini Lemon Meringue Pies

    Makes 12-15




    •  330g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
    • pinch of salt
    • 3 tbsp caster sugar
    • 175g cold butter, cut into small pieces

    Lemon filling 

    •  300g caster sugar
    • 100g cornflour
    • 120ml lemon juice (2-3 lemons)
    • 4 large egg yolks
    • a pinch of salt
    • freshly grated zest of 2 lemons, unwaxed if you can
    • 60g butter


    • 250g icing sugar, sifted
    • 4 large egg whites



    1. To make the pastry, sift the flour and salt into a large bowl. Add the caster sugar and combine. Add the butter and mix on high speed until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs this will take literally seconds. You can also rub it in using your fingertips until you get breadcrumb like consistency. Add 4-6 tablespoons of water, one tablespoon at a time, until the dough comes together to form a ball. Wrap the dough in cling film and flatten out. Place it in the fridge to rest for approx 30mins.
    2. For the lemon filling, place the sugar, cornflour and 450ml of water in a large saucepan and stir until sugar is dissolved. Stir in the lemon juice, egg yolks and salt. Bring to the boil and continue stirring for approx 10 mins, this can become a bit of a workout! Stir in your lemon zest and butter, stir until butter is melted,remove from heat and allow to cool.
    3. Preheat the oven to 180°C and grease and flour the muffin trays.Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured work surface about 3mm thick. Cut out desired shaped for pastry. I cut mine into rectangles as to get uneven chunky sides, it also holds more curd than a perfectly rounded pastry but do as you wish. Press each rectangle into your muffin tray and prick the base with a fork. Place in oven for approx 10 mins. Remove from oven and set aside to cool.Reduce oven to 170°C.
    4. For the meringue, in a mixer or a hand-held mixer, whisk the icing sugar and egg whites together on high for 10 minutes until stiff glossy peaks form. These peaks should be able to stand on their own when whisk is removed without collapsing. Fill piping bag and pipe, if desired or go for a big glob raising some peaks using a fork. Bake in oven for 10-15 mins. The meringue should turn a light pinky/brown colour. Don't be alarmed if you get some darkened bits, it will just be extra crunch!
    5. Remove from oven and allow to cool.........this is torture to some folks I know but really try! They are sooo much better cool!

    Hope everyone has a great bank holiday or happy Monday wherever you are popping by from!

    Shirley x