Saturday, 6 October 2012

Mary Berry's Victoria Sponge

Like the rest of the country I am completely hooked on the Great British Bake Off. I have become a huge fan of Mary Berry, she is my baking heroine.

Can you believe she has published over 60 cookery books? I decided I needed to get my hands on one. I know she has a new one out but I was more interested in some of her older ones and was really pleased to come across Fast Cakes, originally published in 1981.

Mary Berry wrote Fast Cakes for baking beginners who want to learn to bake delicious teatime treats, quickly and simply. I think its really important to get the basics right and I can't think of anyone better than Mary to teach me.

To start with I made Mary's Fast Victoria Sandwich. Not only is this super speedy to make but there's no fancy ingredients, so I was able to make it with the basics I already had in the cupboard.

It takes just 5 minutes to make and 25 mins to bake.


100g Stork margarine
100g caster sugar
2 large eggs
100g self-raising flour (sieved)
Tsp baking powder


Strawberry jam
Icing sugar for sprinkling

  1. Grease and line two round cake tins and heat the oven to 180°.
  2. Add all the ingredients to the bowl and mix using an electric whist until combined (takes about 2 mins).
  3. Divide between the two tins and bake in the oven for 25 minutes.
  4. Leave to cool on wire racks
  5. When completely cool sandwich together with strawberry jam and sprinkle with icing sugar.

This was so simple and absolutely scrummy!

Sunday, 12 August 2012

Diet Coke Chocolate Cake

I've been wanting to make a cake with cola for ages. I found a recipe from the coca cola website and it made the most delicious, moist cake!

You can view the full recipe on the Coca Cola website.

I made a couple of changes to the recipe using 150g Stork Baking Liquid rather than butter, this was much easier as I then didn't have to go to the trouble of melting the butter. I also cut the cake in half and filled it with butter icing, making it extra indulgent.

This cake is delicious, really moist and it keeps really well.

Saturday, 11 August 2012

Olympic Team GB Cake

I love a themed cake and I could resist making a special Team GB cake to celebrate our success in the Olympics and the general great atmosphere at the moment.

For the cake:
225g margarine
225g sugar
4 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
200g self-raising flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
30g cocoa powder
2 tbsp milk
100g dark chocolate

Cream the margarine and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the eggs and vanilla and mix again. Add the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and milk and mix until combined. Finally melt the chocolate in the microwave add to the mixture and stir until combined.

Pour the mixture into a square cake pan (greased and lined) and put into a pre-heated oven. Cook on Gas Mark 4 / 180°C for 22-25 minutes.

When you think it might be ready take it out of the oven and insert a cocktail stick into the centre to check whether is it cooked through or not. If the cocktail stick comes out clean it is cooked, if not put it back in the oven for a few more minutes.

When the cake is cooked through, leave it on the side to cool for 5 minutes before turning it out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

For the icing:
200g white chocolate
250g Elmlea double / double cream

Melt the white chocolate in the microwave on a low heat and stirring regularly to avoid burning. Lightly whisk the cream for a minute, add the melted chocolate and whist for another minute.

Smother the icing across the cake and decorate with sweets - I used red and blue smarties and white chocolate buttons.

Saturday, 4 August 2012

Giant Doughnut Cake

I made this giant doughnut cake for a friend's birthday. You can buy a silicone doughnut cake mould from Amazon for about £5 and I used a simple Victoria Sponge recipe with a special strawberry icing on top.

Ingredients you will need:

4 eggs
Caster sugar
Self-raising flour
Icing sugar
Unsalted butter
Strawberry jam

Grease the doughnut moulds well and sprinkle some flour on the inside. Preheat the oven to 170°C.

Weigh the eggs (still in their shells) and then measure out the same weight of the rest of the ingredients.

Beat the sugar and margarine together in a bowl for approx 2 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time adding a heaped teaspoon of the flour with each egg. Mix well after each addition. Once all of the eggs have been added and are well incorporated add the rest of the flour and mix until combined but do not over-mix.

Pour the mixture equally across the two moulds and put in the oven for 35-40 mins. When you remove the cake from the oven leave them in the moulds until they have completely cooled to ensure they come out in one piece.

When the cakes have completely cooled and you have removed them from their moulds spread strawberry jam across one side and vanilla buttercream across the other and carefully sandwich them together.

For the buttercream simply mix equal amounts of icing sugar and unsalted butter, you can adjust the ratio depending on your taste. Make plenty of buttercream as half will go inside the sponge and half on top.

Put three heaped teaspoons of strawberry into a jam into a bowl and using a hand mixer blend the jam until it is runny. Add the jam to the remaining buttercream and spread over the top of the doughnut. Finish off with some sprinkles.

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Big Celebration Birthday Cake

I was recently invited to a surprise birthday party for my friend Adam who was turning 30. Several years ago Adam and I were flatmates and he was always a fan of my baking, often thinking I didn't notice when cakes disappeared or got smaller overnight, so it wasn't difficult deciding what to get him for his birthday.

As soon as I'd agreed to make the cake I panicked, how do I make a cake for 20 people? What kind of cake does a 30 year old man want anyway?

I decided the best thing to do was to make two cakes, initially I wanted to make the cakes in the size of a 3 and a 0 but this might mean less cake so instead opted for two big round cakes with the 3 and the 0 on top.

The chocolate cake recipe I used makes a delicious light and fluffy sandwich sponge.

Ingredients for two sponge cakes:

280g creme fraiche
260g margarine
460g soft light brown sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
8 eggs
360g plain flour
Pinch of salt
80g cocoa powder
20g baking powder

The method is simple, put all of the ingredients in a bowl and mix until everything is combined. Pour the mixture into 8in round cake tins (if you don't have 4 tins cook them in batches) and cook in the oven for 25-30 minutes at 180°C.

For the icing:
160g Green and Blacks milk chocolate
260g unsalted butter
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
500g icing sugar

Melt the chocolate in the microwave and put to the side to cool slightly. Mix the other ingredients in a bowl and whisk until light and fluffy, then add the chocolate until fully combined.

Once the cakes have cooled spread the icing over two of the cakes and then sandwich the remaining cakes on top and spread the rest of the icing on the top.

In the end I went for quite a simple design on the top (as much as I would have liked to have covered them in sprinkles I had to keep the birthday boy in mind), I bought a box of Cadbury Heroes and arranged them into a 30.

This cake really is delicious, each cake serves approximately 10 people with a generous slice and it was really popular with everyone at the party.

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

The Cocoa Box Cupcake Decoration Class

This Sunday I went to the Thistle Hotel in London and took a cupcake decoration class run by The Cocoa Box. I've never done any sugarcraft before but they showed us how to make a bow, an ice cream and a cupcake from sugarpaste. It was great fun and so easy to do, just like playing with plasticine.

I also learnt the best techniques for using fondant icing, buttercream and cream cheese icing so I'll be playing around with these over the next few weeks.

They also gave us some great tips, like when you're using fondant icing a flat cake is ideal and the best way to get a flat top is to use margarine instead of butter.

The Cocoa Box have their own blog too so check them out for some great recipes

Check out some more photos from the workshop:

my cute jubilee heart cupcake

Thursday, 5 April 2012

Easter Cupcakes

I couldn't resist making some easter themed cupcakes, I raided my local sweet shop last night for mini chocolate eggs, food colouring and sprinkles.

I used my favourite chocolate cake recipe because I know the cakes will always turn out well. Then I made the icing just using equal amounts of Stork to icing sugar (430g Stork, 430g icing sugar) and decorated with treats. They went down a storm in the office.

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Not your average chocolate orange cupcakes

After the success of the Nutella cupcakes I made for a bake sale a few weeks ago I wanted to make them again but I needed to adapt the recipe for my friend who has a hazelnut allergy.

I came across a jar of chocolate orange spread in Sainsburys which gave me the idea for these delicious chocolate orange cupcakes.

This recipe was supposed to make 12 cupcakes but I made 16.

175g margarine
175g caster sugar
3 eggs
200g self-raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
zest of one orange
4 tbsp milk
16 tbsp chocolate orange spread

To start, mix 175g margarine and 175g caster sugar in a bowl until smooth. Add the eggs, one at a time and beat well after each addition.

Now add the dry ingredients, sieve the flour and baking powder into the bowl and mix well. Finally stir in the milk and orange zest.

Switch on your oven to gas mark 4 / 180°C, while you're waiting for the oven to heat up line your muffin tins with paper cases and fill each case around two thirds full. Don't overfill the cases or the cakes will overflow in the oven when they rise.

Now to add the chocolate spread. Warm up 16 teaspoons chocolate spread (one per cupcake) until it's runny. Add a teaspoon to each cupcake.

Then with a cocktail stick gently stir the mix creating a marbled effect like in the picture below.

Put in the oven on the middle shelf for 25mins or until golden brown. When you remove the cupcakes from the oven, leave them for around 5 minutes before you put them on a wire rack to cool completely.

For the icing:
100g dark chocolate
200g milk chocolate
100ml double cream
100g margarine
1/2 tsp vanilla essence
250g chocolate orange spread

Melt the chocolate in the microwave, be careful not to burn it though! Once the chocolate has melted completely add to a mixing bowl and add the cream,  butter and vanilla essence and beat well with an electric whisk. Once fully combined add the chocolate orange spread. I can't tell you how delicious this is, you just have to try it!

Once the cupcakes have cooled completely add the icing using a piping bag or spatula. Here's a photo of the final product, I used an icing bag with a Wilton 1M nozzle which is my favourite.

Sunday, 5 February 2012

Nutella Cupcakes

We had a bake sale at work this week and these Nutella cupcakes were by far the most popular, selling out in just 15 minutes. Unfortunately I didn't even get to try one as I wasn't quick enough but I was told they were scrummy so I will have to bake them again very soon!

To avoid chocolate overload, rather than using a chocolate sponge I used a plain sponge with cinnamon for added flavour. I then simply swirled some Nutella into the uncooked batter before putting them into the oven.

The icing is a delicious combination of melted chocolate and Nutella....divine!

This recipe makes 12 cupcakes:

Cream 175g margarine and 175g caster sugar in a bowl until smooth. Add 3 eggs, one at a time and beat well after each addition.

Add 200g self-raising flour (sifted), a teaspoon of baking powder and 2 teaspoons cinnamon and beat well. Stir in 4 tablespoons milk.

Line a 12 muffin tin with paper cases and divide the batter evenly across the cases. Now it's time to add the Nutella, warm 12 teaspoons of Nutella in a bowl in the microwave until it's easy to stir (be careful not to burn it). Add a teaspoon of Nutella to each cupcake but don't mix fully as you want to create a marbled effect (see below), I used a cocktail stick to do this but you could also use a small spoon.

Pop into a preheated oven (gas mark 4 / 180°C) for 20-25 mins. When they're ready to come out of the oven the cupcakes will be raised and golden brown. Leave the cupcakes to cool for 5 mins before you turn them out onto wire racks to cool completely.

To make the icing you need to melt 300g chocolate, i find it's easiest to do this in the microwave but you can also do it in a pan on the hob if you prefer. When ready put the chocolate into a mixing bowl and add 100ml double cream, 100g unsalted butter and half a teaspoon of vanilla extract/essence. Beat well with an electric whisk. Add 250g of Nutella and beat well until smooth.

Once the cupcakes are completely cool they are ready to be iced. I used a piping bag and a Wilton 1M nozzle to create the nice rose design on mine.

Saturday, 28 January 2012

Mint chocolate cupcakes

For these delicious mint chocolate cupcakes I used my favourite recipe from the Primrose Bakery cookbook p21 but switched the icing for mint instead.

You can use any chocolate cupcake recipe, then for the mint icing you need:

115g unsalted butter (softened)
40ml milk 
1 tsp peppermint essence
1/2 tsp green food colouring
500g icing sugar

Put the butter in a bowl and mix until softened, gradually add the icing sugar and the milk. Add the peppermint essence to taste.

To create a two tone icing effect put half the icing into another bowl and add green food colouring until you get the desired colour.

When you put the icing in the icing bag keep the colours seperate and you will get a nice design like in the picture below.

For the finishing touch I added an After Eight mint chocolate and a mint chocolate Matchmaker. Simple but effective :)

Saturday, 7 January 2012

Baileys chocolate cupcakes

Last week I found myself surrounded by Christmas leftovers, including some Baileys chocolate truffles and a bottle of Baileys so I created this delicious recipe for Baileys cupcakes which went down a treat with my friends.

As the Baileys is only in the icing, you can use any cupcake recipe here, below is my favourite.

For the chocolate cupcakes you will need:
115g dark chocolate
85g Stork margarine
175g soft brown sugar
2 eggs
185g plain flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
3/4 bicarbonate of soda
pinch of salt
250ml milk
1tsp vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 190°C/gas mark 5. Line your muffin trays with 16 muffin cases.

Sift the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt into a bowl and stir together. Then measure the milk into a jug and  add the vanilla extract.

Melt the chocolate in a separate bowl and leave to the side to cool slightly.

In a large bowl cream the butter and sugar together using an electric whisk. Once the mixture is smooth add the eggs one at a time and beat well after each addition. Add the melted chocolate and beat well again.

Add one third of the flour mixture to the large bowl and beat well, add one third of the milk mixture and beat well again, continue to add one third at a time until all is combined.

Spoon the mixture into the muffin cases and bake in the oven for 20-25 mins.

For the icing:
115g unsalted butter (softened)
60ml Baileys irish cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
500g icing sugar

Beat the butter, baileys and vanilla extract with half of the icing sugar with an electric whisk. Gradually add the rest of the icing sugar. This should create a smooth and creamy icing with a subtle baileys flavour.

For the finishing touch, use an icing bag to ice the cupcakes and add a truffle to the top of each cake.

You can either buy the truffles or make some yourself using the recipe from the Baileys website