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