Take a break from the grey and bake


2012 is officially the colour of Grey. Floods and continual grey skies create the perfect reading opportunity for stuck indoors women in their millions to one by one drop like flies and seek comfort in the arms of the infamous Mr Grey. I can’t go anywhere without hearing constantly  ‘I’m spending the night with Christian’, ‘I got the last copy whoop whoop’ and my personal favourite ‘I wrestled the woman in Tesco’s for it and won’    Honestly all this grey has turned my female social media friends into whipping, drooling and silk scarf frenzied sex kittens.  As with all good things Ladies you have to take a break some time or bits start to fall off so walk away from Grey and Greyer, give your racing hearts and imaginations a rest. If you really have a need to tie yourself to things that’s fine just tie yourself to the food mixer or oven door and get it over with. You all have to eat sometime so join me in my top ten round-up of bakes over the year and I hear the naughty chocolate fudge sauce is good if that’s your sort of thing.

Number One – Strawberry Pimms Cake Pop Truffles

Pimms Cake Pops / Truffles

Pimms Cake Pops / Truffles

This is where it all began and I really enjoyed making these and I think at the time that was probably because at the beginning it did not matter if the cake I baked was wonky or imperfect as it got smooshed up with various fillings to create a mouthful of heaven. If you roll cake balls in meringue before dipping them in chocolate you have an Eton mess variation and perfect for when you need something ball shaped that isn’t salty.

Two – The mis-piped naughty meringue snowmen

My piping disaster (keep on reading to see more!)

See these were a bit of a baking disaster and most of you who have spoken to me over the year will have chuckled at these.  I was not the best at piping back then and figured that the little snowmen rather naughty looking tails would go down in the oven.  Hmmm I guess I was wrong with that one however they will star on this year’s Christmas cards!

Three – Pay Day Cakes  ‘The Macchiato’

The ‘Pay Day Cake’ idea began in March with the premise that you do not scrimp on ingredients but bake a cake that has four layers in a celebration for each week worked. This one is the Machiatto based on the coffee, vanilla and caramel drink at Starbucks. After this followed Sticky Toffee Pudding Cake, The Turkish Temptress and White Chocolate Mousse cake with a secret berry blast that will keep your admirers wondering how you did it? The final cake so far is triple chocolate mousse cake with chocolate covered strawberries – do I pick the longest names or what? What next a fifty shades of grey cake how would that work?

Sticky Toffee Cake

 FourVanilla Essence (DIY)

Homemade Vanilla Essence

A great gift to you or a baking friend – why not make a few at the same time.

This has to be on the list as it is the one ingredient I use in all of my bakes – simple to make, full of flavour and saves £££ and if you add lemonade to a shot of it you have a vanilla vodka spritzer – love the dual purpose nature! Comes with a humourous tale of baking meltdowns.

FiveMojito inspired Polenta Cake

Mojito polenta cake

Polenta cake – this is a dairy and gluten-free option you know you will be safe most places you need to take cake. Moist, tangy, easy to make and very portable with no fussy icing to worry about – bake it and job done and if you like it try the lemon and berry version.

SixJammie Dodger CheesecakesJammie Dodger Cheesecake

Perfect little pick me up with a creamy cheesecake, jamminess and biscuit all rolled into one. You would think a soft biscuit base wouldn’t work but it really does and cute too.  Comes with a tale about synchronicity.

Seven – Raspberry Bakewell Cake

Raspberry Bakewell Cake

Another dairy and gluten free cake (but you would never know) that is just as good as a Bakewell tart but far less hassle. I have a love of simple loaf cakes and my top tip is buy cake liners for your tins to save time from fiddly lining with baking paper. Why not try out Left over Banana, honeycomb and chocolate or Lemon and Blueberry.

EightNaughty Chocolate Fudge Sauce

Just perfect for pouring over ice-cream sundaes, traybakes, puddings or whatever else takes your fancy but I don’t want to know about it thank you very much. Keeps in a jar in the fridge and then just heat and pour over your choosen dessert or body parts includes cute labels as well so you can give it as a gift but please don’t tie the labels to body parts as that would just be wrong.

Nine – Palmiers, Berries and Macaron Ice-Cream

Juicy berry Palmiers with ice-cream oozing with berries and crushed macarons which is the perfect use for them if they have gone hideously wrong as mine do. Accompanied by a funny story of blackberry picking disasters and walking like John Wayne but without needing Mr Grey to do that for me.

TenSprinkle Spiral Cookies

Made for Valentines day with love and such fun to hang on the side of cups (if you cleverly cut them as soon as you take them out of the oven before they begin to harden. Any colour or flavour would work with these and they freeze well so you can make ahead and bake when needed. I keep a frozen cookie roll in my freezer which also serves as a back up weapon to ward off any intruders. Please don’t get any ideas of putting cookie rolls anywhere they shouldn’t go as that would be a hard one to explain at the NHS walk in centre.

Hope you enjoyed my round-up and here’s to more bakes ahead. As for Mr Gey I’m avoiding you for the moment as my kitchen is my own version of a ‘red room of pain’ where I’m often found weeping in dispair, involunatrily tied up in piping bags or yelling with sheer baked ecstacy all without having read the trilogy.  Apparently there is expected to be a 50 shades baby boom which will lead to some interesting questions for those parents in the next decade.  I can imagine their conversations now, ‘Mum, how was I concieved?’ and the reply ‘Well Your Dad tied me to the Kitchenaid and I spanked him with the beater attachment whilst balancing a cupcake on my head’ oh dear Mr Grey what you got us into?

Thanks to all who have supported me, commented, followed and the extra pounds my close friends and family have endured so far in my little journey. What was your favourite?

Love to all x Up next gooey popcorn bars traybake

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Mojito Inspired Polenta Cake (Gluten and Dairy Free)


Mojito Gluten and Dairy Free Polenta Cake

IWhen I baked the lemon and berry polenta cake I promised I would be back to bake another one and here I am. Once again this was not a planned cake but one that just sort of happened. You would never guess this cake is both gluten and dairy free as like my last post of Raspberry Bakewell cake as it is light and moist.

Mojito poelnta cake

Juicy limes meet spiced rum in this gluten and dairy free cake and it’s all mine I tell you. Concoted with the last remenants of spiced rum so that my husband and I could not argue over who got the last tipple and some little limes I randomly ordered (as you do). I choose to miss out the mint in this cake as I’m not a big mint lover. I am sure someone somewhere will tell me that ‘technically it’s not a mojito cake then’. Fair enough, add a sprig of mint for decoration on the top and get over it I say as life is too short! This cake keeps beautifully and the depth of flavour increases over a few days as the rum truly soaks into the moist cake.

Mojito Polenta Cake
Life’s little coincidences

The voice of synchronicity is still going strong last weekend my Husband and my mobile phones both signalled a message at 08.30. Thinking that someone must have sent us both the same message I thought no more of it and went back to sleep. It turned out the messages were both from different people (who do not know each other) and one message was to sadly tell us of a death and the other a birth. A true reminder that life’s never-ending cycle is certainly evident. So I got up and baked this cake and pondered for a while.

Mojito polenta cake

Coincidence Number 2

Whilst still pondering I posted a picture of this cake using instagram. Later that day one of my followers on twitter spotted it and asked me kindly for the recipe for her next Clandestine Cake Club meeting. I thought she may live somewhere in the South so I asked where it was out of curiosity. It turned out that that we both live the same town. I mean what are the odds of that out of all the invisible people on twitter? She also kindly asked me if I would like to go and offered me a lift. So perhaps I am destined to actually go to a cake club after all?

Mojito polenta cake

Whatever conicidences happen ahead and I know they will I’d just like the universere to know that I’m ready, armed with cake and I have a 1950’s Kenwood stand mixer on stand by just waiting to soothe any trouble.

Mojito Polenta Cake

Recipe (adapted from Doves Farm)

120g sunflower oil
150g caster sugar
3 eggs (room temperature)
75g ground almonds
1/s tsp gluten-free baking powder
2 limes – grated rind and juice
75g Polenta (quick cook fine grain variety)
50g granulated sugar ( for the sugar syrup) and a tad more for sprinkling
40ml of spiced rum (20 ml for the cake and 20ml for the sugar syrup)

Instructions

1. Preheat oven to 170°C/Fan150°/325°F/Gas 3
2. Grease a 18cm/7”cake tin and line with baking parchment or greaseproof.
3. Beat oil, eggs and sugar together for 3 mins
4. Mix in the ground almonds and baking powder until fully combined.
5. Stir in all grated lime rind and juice of one lime – reserve the rest for the sugar syrup.
6. Add 20ml of spiced rum
7. Stir in the polenta.
8. Spoon mixture into cake tin.
9. Bake for approx 40/45 minutes on the middle shelf
10. Allow to cool in the tin.
11. Add the juice of the remaining lime into a saucepan with 50g sugar and 20ml of spiced rum.
12. Boil gently, stirring regularly, for 5 minutes to form a thick syrup.
13. Make holes in the cake with the cake tester or a skewer and pour syrup over the cake
14. Allow to cool before removing from the tin. Sprinkle the top of the cake with sugar and finish with a sprig of mint if you wish!

Storage

This cake is very moist and will last in an airtight container for up to 5 days. You might also like my Lemon and berry polenta cake. or wish to read more about gluten free baking.

Props: Rainbow bunting (Folksy £20), Cake stand – Wilkinsons £8 and heart band made with paint cards (free from DIY stores) punched with a heart shaped punch and stapled onto ribbon.

Enjoy!

Raspberry Bakewell Loaf Cake (Gluten and Dairy Free)


Raspberry Bakewell Cake

Finally I made myself a cake that is dairy free and gluten free who knows next time it will be cake without actually having cake in it? I have a guilty secret to share I am having a bit of a love affair with raspberries at the moment and I can’t wait until raspberries come into season but for now frozen will do.

Raspberries suit this moist cake beautifully and make me think of summer (sigh) oh how I miss it. It’s not right to still be wearing jumpers in May and with a looming maiden camping voyage in the ‘so nearly finished after two god damn years’ VW camper and when I look out the window at the rain and realise with dispair that it’s certainly not looking promising. At least the cake to take looks like a slice of summer.

Raspberry Bakewell Cake

When we brought the van to experience retro style family holidays I did not quite have in mind rain, men and smelly feet. I’ll admit being a fair weather camper and whilst some people stuck in a middle of a field somewhere may pine for the lack of television, toilets, proper showers or the internet but no not me I will pine for the loss of my oven. Although I did spot a mini electric one for £39 in Lakeleand that plugs in and sadly I am very tempted.

Coming on the trip is Ron and Ronald the comedy bromance duo (husband and his best friend) as well as my about to be teenage son leaving me as the only one with two ovaries in the camper and with the fact that I’m sat here having hot flushes they may be on their way out too. So many unimportant but nagging questions are running through my head like the torrential downpour drumming on the window as I speak ranging from:

1. Sod the food how much wine can I actually fit in the van for medicinal purposes?
2. Does Lakeland have a testosterone repellant I can spray around the van and on myself or do I have to have PMS / Pre-menopause hormones for a whole week to get any peace?
3.Will bunting actually make me feel more girly in a camping world that will involve stories of clutch repairs long winded attempts at humourous breakdown stories stuck on repeat.
4. If I put up sparkly lights, light scented candles, get out my sparkly rug will this constitute glamping or do need fluffy heeled slippers for that?
5. Will my husband actually read this post and then I will be in the proverbial dog house all week anyway?

Raspberry Bakewell Cake

This rainy cold spell is not doing my ass any favours either. It feels as if it is getting larger with each passing rainstorn. Comfort food is still the order of the day in fact I still want to cook soup for goodness sake! This cake was supposed to be frozen for the trip but instead it spoke lovingly to me. Quite literally my ass and brain simultaneously decided extra pounds were needed to be added to my curves in preparation for warmth needed on those cold camping nights. Oh well I can bake another one but just imagine if I had the mini oven I could just pop out a cheeky one there. Nope there is no hope for me.

Raspberry Bakewell Cake

Recipe adapted from BBC Good Food – I choose to do a loaf cake (2 pound) as I have just discovered the joy of paper liners for cake tins and they are the only size I have (yet). It was a choice of faffing around with lining a tin or just plonking a liner in. Yes you know which one won, however this cake will also fit a 20cm deep cake tin just fine.

See also my 7 top tips for gluten free baking

Ingredients
175g ground almonds
175g softened butter (or use dairy free substitute or use flavourless oil such as sunflower)
175g golden caster sugar
175g self raising flour (Gluten Free – Substitute with gluten free self raising flour – like Doves. Also add 1 tsp of xanthum gum to prevent cake from being too crumbly)
2 large eggs (rooom temperature)
1 tsp vanilla extract
200g raspberries

Instructions
1. Preheat oven to 180c / 160 fan / gas 4
2. Line a 2lb loaf tin
3. place all the ingredients in a food processor and mix until well combined
4. Put half the mixture into the lined tin and level it
5. Sprinkle over the raspberries and cover with the remaining half of the mixture and level with a spoon or spatula.
6. Place on the middle shelf of the oven and bake for 50 – 60 minutes, ovens do vary. You should check your cake at 45 mins to make sure it is not getting to brown on top – if it is you can cover it loosely with foil to prevent burning).
7. Test cake by inserting a skewer, if it is ready it should come out clean. Remove cake from the oven and leave to cool in the tin.

Almond Icing (optional)
140g icing sugar
1tsp almond extract or 1 tablespoon of amaretto if you are feeling naughty
2-3 tbsp of water

Instructions
1.Mix the extract and 2 tbsp of water into the mixture until combined. Keep adding water gradually until the icing is thick but not too runny. Drizzle over the top of the cake.
2. Toast the almonds in a pan with no oil on a low heat. After about 3 minutes the oil will begin to be released from the almonds and they will begin to brown. Keep moving the pan around to stop them from burning. When they reach a golden brown colour remove from the heat and leave to cool before sprinkling over the top of your cake.

Serve and enjoy x

Raspberry Bakewell