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

Stand up meringue snowmen

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

When I read Rising to the Berry’s post about making chocolate éclairs (recipe 123 as she bakes her way through the Mary Berry Bible – what a star!).  It made me smile when she spoke about piping of them. 

“I piped the rather runny mixture onto several baking trays. The éclair shapes were so thin, they reminded me of pencils! I was concerned about the size but hoped they would spread when cooking. I put them into the oven and willed them to grow. They did indeed grow but not very much!”

Please Shrink!
I could identify with Annalise’s post after this weekend I tried to get rid of some left over meringue mixture by piping festive snowmen  My snowmen had ended up with little tails from my rubbish piping skills in rather unusual places despite my pathetic attempts to flatten them.  So instead of willing my baking to grow in the oven like Annalise I was willing mine to shrink. I prayed for about 30 mins or so loitering with intent around the oven hoping the snowmens tails would deflate. Of course the tails did not shrink at all in fact if anything I am sure they grew (must have been the heat!).

Introducing Stand up Snowmen
When my son came in he asked excitedly if he could use the snowmen on his gingerbread house for a baking competition.  Normally I would be delighted but this time it was a little embarrassing to explain why this was not such a good idea!  I guess I could cut their tails off if needed (ouch!). For your eyes and amusement here is my sad piping disaster that created stand up snowmen.  I’ll leave you all to draw your own conclusions as to why they might be happy as my mind is as pure as white icing sugar…but I can see these appearing on dodgy Christmas cards next year!

Snow awful! Comedy stand up snowmen…

Which bit would you bite first?
I guess the thing that tickled me the most was placing one of these on my friends keyboard in the morning as I knew it would amuse her.  We drew sweepstakes in the office to see which bit she would bite off first.  As she left the office at break time when she thought nobody was looking she rather discretly gave the tail a little nip and the poor stand up snowmen was no more.  I won that bet!  Which bit would you bite first?

Snowmen showing offf (no business like snow business)

Sadly this clearly tells me I am not ready to enter the Great British Bake off.  Can you imagine Mary Berry’s face if I presented her with these! Allthough the lovely man at Love Productions thought it was the funniest disaster he had seen.  Ta ta for now x

How to deal with snowmen tails

Cake disasters

This post was inspired by ermilia blog  and abakinglife after they posted their rather disastrous attempts at cakes and pies which made me chuckle and not feel so alone because all of us that bake will have disasters along the way.

After watching the Great British Bake Off masterclass episode 9 I felt inspired, invincible and filled with confidence that I could follow the instructions that the Queen of Baking (aka Mary Berry) had generously shared with us mere baking mortals. She promised that any baker could try her coffee and walnut battenberg cake recipe and would be rewarded with a professional looking cake. Mary sadly has never met me then!


 I read through the recipe countless times and even did some artistic origami to divide my tin into 2 halves and reduce the size as I did not have the right size tin.  I struggled to make the mixture cover the base of the tin but the words Mary Berry uttered echoed in my head ‘always trust my recipes they are never wrong’. After placing it carefully in the oven and muttering words of prayer I then endured a nerve-wracking 25 minute wait all the time resisting temptation to open the oven and take a sneaky peak.

The moment of truth had arrived the smell filled the kitchen so I was hopeful.  As I pulled the cake out of the oven Mary Berry fell off her baking throne. I have never ever seen such a flat cake in my life!  If you look carefully you can still see my attempts at oragami style baking paper stuck at the ends.

This was my Facebook  status:

Dear Mary Berry, I am very disappointed that after watching you tell amateur bakers to trust your recipes as they are never wrong I would like to disagree. I don’t think you cake was supposed to end as a biscuit nor did I expect to be able to hold it in the air at any angle and it not fall off the baking paper.  My next door neighbour was very amused when I held it over my head and it still did not fall off.  I would however recommend my cake as a self-defence weapon, door stop or even an emergency tena lady. Regards J

 I was rather surprised when I discussed the cake disaster with my Husband and he replied rather matter of factly  ‘I hope you did not use old eggs as Mary says only to use fresh eggs as they give much better volume’ this from the man who would struggle to boil an egg!  I took this as a sign I had been subjecting him to watch these programmes too much as he even if he could quote from it.

 We all have cake disasters and usually it is when we so desperately need the cake to go right at least mine was at home and not in front of millions of viewers so my heart does go out to the contestants of the Great British Bake Off they must have nerves of steel.  I guess it was not Marys fault but mine somewhere along the line and will I ever find out what went wrong – probably not.  A baking disaster can make us more determined to carry on, keep calm and bake and if nothing else it makes you laugh.

Just think of all the other uses for this cake flat pack for posting , paperweight, bookmark, mini tray, the possibilites are endless and how many pro bakers like Mary Berry can say that.

For some ideas on other things you can make and hold over your head see here for toffee meringues (yummy).

Luckily for me attempt 2 was much better and I had a very happy friend who told me she hid her birthday cake so her husband and children in the house could not find it and eat it – she said that when someone makes her cake like that she is NOT sharing – got to love her!

Mary Berry Coffee and Walnut Battenberg

Mary Berry Coffee and Walnut Battenberg