Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Garlic And Herb Focaccia


I love bread. I love making it, baking it, eating it. I honestly can't tell you how much I eat but lets just say its A LOT! I am a sandwich fiend, more often than not i will have a sandwich while waiting for my dinner. Bread really is my downfall when I'm trying to knock off a few pounds. It is the carby love of my life!

If you too are a bread obsessive then you MUST try this recipe. This bread is amazingly good. It has an amazing crust, its not crunchy but has that great chew factor. Its is not like sourdough, where your jaw aches in fantastical delicious way, it is just somewhere in between. The bread itself is light and airy with little pockets of oily garlic goodness. It is the perfect bread for placing on the table to tear off chunks and share.

Recipe for Garlic And Herb 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
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 tbsp of chopped herbs


  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. Meanwhile heat your oil in a small pan over medium heat. Add garlic and cook for 5 mins or until fragrant.Remove from heat and remove garlic slices.
  6. Place dough on a baking sheet coated with oil and pat into a 12x8' rectangle. Brush your garlic oil over dough and sprinkle with herbs, I went for thyme. Cover and again allow to rise for 25 mins in a warm area.
  7. Preheat oven to 180°C. Use your fingertips to create small indentation on focaccia. Bake for 14 mins or until lightly browned. Leave cool on wire rack.

I have made this on numerous occasions and it has always been fantastic.

Hope you enjoy!

Shirley x

Monday, July 29, 2013

Raspberry Victoria Sponge

You can never go wrong with a classic Victoria sponge and with the beautiful fresh berries and fruit around at the mo,they're always a fab combo! This is a moist,light cake with layers of raspberry jam and fresh cream. I have mentioned my dislike of fresh cream before but as of late I'm loving it, it must be all the juicy berry goodness around at the moment.


Recipe for Raspberry Victoria sponge 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
  • Raspberry jam or jam of your preference
  • Raspberry's or again berries of your preference


  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Grease and line your tins. I used two 8" round tins.
  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 won't affect the taste as much as the texture.
  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.Leave to cool on wire rack.
  6. Once cake has cooled, layer your jam and cream on one cake and sandwich together. I topped mine with some icing sugar (for that extra sweetness), cream and fresh whole raspberries.

Happy Monday!

Shirley x

Friday, July 26, 2013

Some Sort Of Rugby Ball Cake

This may not look like a complicated cake but due to our glorious weather recently, it really tested my patience. The apparent rugby ball did in fact look like a rugby ball when first moulded but due to the heat it literally melted and drooped. No amount of icing sugar and tylose powder was going to save me!

The cake was the ever so popular chocolate biscuit cake and chocolate buttercream.

Short and sweet (and seriously frustrating!!)

Hope everyone has a great weekend!

Shirley x

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Vanilla Cupcakes With Vanilla Swizz Meringue Buttercream

I had to make this buttercream THREE times, not once, not twice but threeeeee times. I will admit I was pretty knackered when  it came to making it and my baking brain wasn't at full speed. I had invited all the family for high tea and had been baking for literally the whole day so I'm not sure if it was tiredness or this buttercream is just a pain to get right. I have seen it made numerous occasions, Anna Olson and Ina seem to do it at their ease, so I'm putting the first two failed attempts down to tiredness.

In the end, when I was finally happy with the results it turned out to be a pretty nice buttercream. Is it going to knock cream cheese frosting as my No.1? No but its fluffy and satiny and a great buttercream to decorate with. I will definitely be giving it a go again........hopefully I'll get it on my first attempt this time! I used my favourite Vanilla Bean Cupcake recipe and topped them with mini eggs which I loooove,far too easy to eat!


Recipe for Vanilla Swiss Meringue Buttercream



  • 225g caster sugar
  • 3 large egg whites
  • 300g unsalted butter,room temp
  • 1-2 drops vanilla extract



  1. Using a large heat proof bowl, place the sugar, salt and egg whites and place over a pan of simmering water making sure the bottom of the bowl doesn't touch the water. Stir occasionally to dissolve the sugar, you’ll know when the sugar has dissolved as the mixture won’t be gritty.It will be smooth and runny.
  2. When the mixture is smooth, using a hand held electric mixer, whisk on high speed until you have a thick meringue. Remove the bowl from the pan of water and continue to whisk on low speed until the meringue has cooled to room temperature,you can check this by feeling the outside of the bowl.
  3. Add your butter in chunks one at a time and continue whisking. Don't worry if it looks scrambled, it will eventually become smooth. Add your vanilla extract and food colouring if you wish.Whisk until you have a smooth and silky buttercream.

For some reason I could never get to the meringue stage on my first two attempts, maybe it was the bowl or my sugar wasn't dissolved properly but hopefully ill be back with better news on my next attempt. I'm thinking some pureed strawberries would be amazeballs in this.

Hope you have better luck than me and get it bang on first go!

Shirley x

Monday, July 22, 2013

Strawberry Frangipane Tart

This tart is the definition of delicious. It has a crunchy pastry crust with a smooth moist frangipane filling and sweet strawberries dotted throughout. It is definitely up there with my all time favourite tarts. It went soo fast in our house, literally 10 minutes I'd say. I should have made two!

I got a fantastic batch of strawberries, they were perfectly sweet and juicy. It kinda went like most of my baking adventures for the tart, one for Shirley.



Recipe for Strawberry Frangipane Tart




  • 350g shortcrust pastry
  • 110g butter
  • 110g caster sugar
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 110g ground almonds
  • 25g plain flour
  • 200g strawberries approx (size depending)


  1. Preheat oven to 180°C. Prepare the pastry and blind bake following the instructions from my Rhubarb Tart Recipe.
  2. For the frangipane, cream the butter in a bowl until very soft. Add the sugar and beat until pale and fluffy. Slowly add the egg and yolk, continuing to beat all the time. Fold in the ground almonds and flour until combined.
  3. Spread the frangipane into the baked pastry case and spread evenly. Chop strawberries in half or quarters, if very large, and arrange as desired. I didn't particularly push the strawberries deep into the mixture as the frangipane will rise up around it.
  4. Bake for 30-40mins or until the tart is golden in colour. It should feel set when you gently press it. Leave cool or serve warm.

We had this tart warm with a big dollop of whipped cream, it was devine. I'm not a huge fan of fresh cream but it perfectly complimented the sweetness of the strawberries and the crunch of the pastry.......just mmmmm!

I am super excited to enter this tart into this months Calender Cakes, hosted by the lovely Laura. It is my first time entering even though I have followed the two hosts Lauralovescake and Dollybakes for quite a while. It is a summer fruits theme so this tart is perfecto!

Happy Monday!

Shirley x

Friday, July 19, 2013

Cocktail Birthday Cake

This is a birthday cake for one of my fabber dabber friends for her 30th birthday. She is a massive lover of cocktails sooo the theme was easy peasy. She is also "obsessed with her dog (who has her own facebook page,I kid you not!!) so I popped a little "dora" on the side.

The cake was Chocolate Biscuit Cake (which seems to be EXTREMELY popular lately) and topped with a cocktail glass. For some reason I never remember to take photos of my cakes, my bakes yes......the cakes no! Its not the clearest photo in the world but I loved the cake.It was fun and girlie which describes the birthday gal to a tee!

Happy Birthday Aoife x

Shirley x

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Chocolate Chunk Peanut Butter Cookies


I'm a huuuuge fan of peanut butter. At school I used to get in so much trouble with my friends who are clearly not peanut butter lovers ( aliens, I know), for bringing peanut butter sandwiches for lunch. Ill eat it on pretty much anything bread,crackers,celery but to be fair its usual off a spoon :)

Peanut butter and chocolate belong together in my opinion. Instead of adding chocolate chips, I went right in with chunks. These cookies are soft and chewy and insanely moreish.They were really quick to whip up and bake within a few minutes. Absolute winner in my peanut butter lover book!

Recipe for Peanut Butter and Chocolate Chunk Cookies


Makes 12 giant cookies


  • 70g butter, softened
  • 125g smooth peanut butter
  • 60g light brown sugar
  • 55g caster sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 125g plain flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 90g chocolate, chopped into chunks or use chips if you wish.




  1. Preheat the oven to 180C. Line baking sheet with greaseproof paper.
  2. Place the butter,peanut butter and sugars into a large bowl and beat until light and fluffy.Gradually add the egg until it is fully incorporated in the mixture.
  3. Sift together the flour and baking powder together and fold it into your mixture. You can do this by hand or on the lowest speed on a mixer.Add your chocolate chunks/chips and combine.Your mixture should be pretty much a firmish dough and easy to handle. 
  4. Roll the mixture between your hands to create balls which can then be placed onto the baking sheet. The cookies can be as big or as small as you like but remember that the mixture will spread out when cooking so do not put them too close together.
  5. Bake for 15-20mins or until lightly brown and the centre still gooey. Leave cool (if you can, I couldn't) on a wire rack.

 Finito! Whip up to impress any peanut butter lovers you know :)

 Shirley x

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Cadbury's Creme Egg Stuffed Cupcakes

If you are creme egg obsessed then this cupcake is for you! I know its probably hard to get your hands on the mini creme eggs now but if you do......

These babies are not just topped with the little egg of gooiness, there is also one inside the cupcake..SURPRISE! "Ooooooo" seemed to be the main reaction. Don't you just love biting into a cupcake or muffin to find something delicious stuffed in?

I decided to go for the Mini eggs as I didn't want it to overwhelm the cupcake but it didn't, so if you you feel the urge to stick a full sized Cadburys creme egg in there, go for it!


"How to put Cadbury's Creme Egg inside a Cupcake?"



What you need


  • Your favourite chocolate cupcake batter. You could use a box mix just as easy whatever works for you!
  • Cadbury's Creme Eggs minis or be a rebel and go original size:)
  • A freezer


  1. Place your Creme Eggs in the freezer for 10 mins. You want them to be chilled, not frozen. This way the egg doesn't loose its thick chocolatey shell and the gooey consistency of the egg remains the same.
  2. Preheat oven & whip up your cupcake batter.
  3. Fill your Cupcake cases 1/3 of the way with your batter.
  4. Remove your eggs from the freezer and place onto your batter. This way the egg is in smack bam in the middle of your cupcakes.
  5. Spoon over your remaining cupcake batter until 2/3 full.
  6. Into the oven for the required cooking time and cool.

You'll be left with a delicious cupcake with a chocolatey gooey surprise inside! I topped mine with Swiss Meringue buttercream and half a creme egg. The eggs cut perfectly in half the fact they were chilled. Would love to get my hands on some caramel eggs.....

Shirley x

Monday, July 1, 2013

Rhubarb Tart

My uncle Joe came up trumps once again this year with a big stash of Rhubarb. We had a little rhubarb cook-off between myself, my Dad and Aishling. Dad made stewed rhubarb and Aishling went with the classic crumble. My contribution was a Rhubarb Tart.

I don't know about you fine folks but I always have issues getting the correct sweetness to cut through the rhubarbs sourness, so I do mine a little differently!


Recipe for Rhubarb Tart


Makes 1  9" pie




  1. Make (or buy!) the shortcrust Pastry and leave chill in the fridge for 30mins. Preheat oven to 180°C. When chilled, Roll out 2/3 of your pastry and line your greased tin. Place some greaseproof paper over your pastry and fill with baking beans or dried pulses (I have used lentils before and they worked a treat). In to the oven and bake "blind" for 15 mins and leave on cooling rack.
  2. While the pastry is baking, put your rhubarb and 1 or 2 tablespoons of water into a large pot and add 1/2 of your caster sugar. You want your rhubarb to stew ever so slightly but not break down completely. I like to do this so you can control the sweetness/sourness ratio. Add more or less sugar according to taste.
  3. Combine remaining sugar and flour. Sprinkle 1/2 the mixture onto pie base. Heap rhubarb over the mixture and sprinkle with remaining half. Dot small knobs of butter randomly throughout. Cover the top with remaining pastry and pinch the sides with a fork to seal. Cut some holes or prick with a fork to leave steam escape. Brush with beaten egg for that "shiny look".
  4. Reduce oven to 160°C and bake for 20-25mins.

We ate this warm right out of the oven with some vanilla ice-cream. Its not the usual way to make a rhubarb tart but it works. The addition of the flour and butter makes the filling so much nicer. It absorbs all that rhubarby sweet syrup and with the crunch of the pastry crust ,it really is rhubarb heaven!

Hope everyone has a good week!

Shirley x