Irish Coffee Cake

Irish Coffee Cake 1

As I sat drinking a break time coffee wishing it was an Irish version, I realised that within my daylight hours I resided in a regimented World punctuated by bells, demands and deadlines. On top of that I’ve two self-inflicted days of fasting followed by five days of visiting the ‘Land of eat whatever I fancy’. Life felt too controlled, I longed to be free even if just for 10 minutes so I hatched a cunning lunch time plan that involved:

  1. Desertion
  2. Crime
  3. Smuggling contraband

Irish Coffee Cake 4

That does sound grand, but you’ll be glad to know that the contraband was in the form of Irish coffee cake which is the most acceptable way to bring alcohol into the workplace (ooh I’m so naughty).

I tortured myself by making this cake on a fasting day; there was no licking of fingers, bowls or sneaky tasting therefore its success remained a mystery until the next day (I know I’m so hard-core in the self-torture department). When I took these pictures I had to wrap the cake slice up and yes that was very hard, I may have licked my computer screen just a little bit but don’t tell anyone.

Irish Coffee Cake 5

As the following lunch time at work arrived I threw off my goody two shoes veil to become a wicked woman about to take a walk on the dark side. I deserted my post, stole out of the confines and told myself I could just keep on walking if I didn’t feel any better after five minutes. Trees whispered, birds darted past and teenager’s feet stampeded for cover as I inadvertently walked past their secret cigarette lair all of which made me smile.

Irish Coffee Cake 2

I felt so much better that I turned back towards the hallowed halls. Feeling stronger I dared myself to commit a detention nominated crime by entering a clearly marked exit door and skipped up the one way only stairs. There was one mission left to complete as I crept back into my office trying to hide the flush of fresh air which had reddened my face. I pulled out the contraband, my hands shook slightly as I opened the foil hiding a cake cocktail* of rich coffee with Baileys white chocolate buttercream. The time was now, fast day was over and there was only two more minutes of peace before the bells tolled so I took a big bite and realised there is truth within the words ‘naughty but nice’. The cake tasted exactly as I imagined it, I felt like I’d been transported to a glitzy restaurant where I indulged in an Irish coffee over lazy chatter.

It’s the little things in life that matter, you’ll never say on your death-bed ‘I’m so glad I spent all those hours at work’ instead why not take just 10 minutes for yourself and be a little bit naughty next lunch time. Your work will be better due to lower stress levels which results in an increase in effectiveness and cake always boosts happiness so what’s to lose?

*always eat cake responsibly

Traditionally, Irish coffee consists of hot coffee, Irish whiskey, and sugar stirred and topped with thick cream I have altered this idea to fit my cake vision (fresh cream wasn’t that practical for transporting) but feel free to adapt it anyway you wish.

Irish Coffee Cake 3

Irish Coffee Cake

Coffee Cake Ingredients

400g Salted Butter (room temperature)
400g Caster sugar
400g Self raising flour
8 eggs
5 tbsp espresso ground coffee (instant) mixed with 3 tbsp of boiling water

Instructions for Coffee Cake

1. Pre heat the oven to 160 / 140 fan or Gas 3
2. Line two deep 20cm tins (do use the right size tins to avoid disaster)
3. Beat the butter and sugar until fluffy (5 minutes as this is what makes the cake rise so beautifully to get the full big cake wow factor so not skimp this part. I also find that using very soft butter (but not liquid) helps the creaming process)
4. Add the eggs two at a time and sift quarter of the flour into the mixture and beat until combined
5. Repeat until all eggs and flour are used up
6. Add coffee extract and mix
7. Place the tins in the oven on the middle shelf for approx 50 minutes (all ovens vary so check your cake after 45 mins)
8. Cakes are ready when the skewer can be inserted into the cake and it come out clean.
9. Leave in the tin for 5-10 minutes before removing and placing on a wire rack to cool

White Chocolate and Baileys Buttercream Recipe

250g Salted Butter (room temperature)
500g Icing sugar
250g White chocolate melted
125ml Baileys (or cheaper alternative!)

White Chocolate and Baileys Buttercream Instructions

1. Beat together the butter and icing sugar until light and fluffy
2. Melt the chocolate ( I do mine in 10 second stints in the microwave)
3. Let the melted chocolate cool slightly (10 mins)
4. Pour the chocolate into the buttercream mixture in small quantities beating as you do until all the chocolate has been incorporated.
5. Add the baileys and beat to combine one last time

Assembly of the Cake

1. Level the cake that will be the bottom layer
2. Smother the bottom layer of cake in buttercream and add the top layer of cake
3. Smother the top of the cake in buttercream, make spiking patterns with a palette knife
4. Cover with grated chocolate

      5. Eat and enjoy your naughty contraband

Rolo Cupcake Challenge

I’ve been playing ‘hide and seek’ with cupcakes and it’s great fun! For the game to work I baked chocolate fudge cupcakes baked with rolo inside adorned with lashings of caramel buttercream.

Rolo Chocolate Cupcake

The Rolo hidden inside was what I hoped would make them a hide and seek cupcake. Although I froze the Rolos for 24 hours before hand in the hope they would remain somehow intact inside the cupcake sadly they didn’t but who cares when your welcomed by an explosion of moist fudgy chocolate cake.

Rolo Chocolate Cupcake

Homemade caramel was added to the buttercream and then drizzled with chocolate and caramel sauce and of course a Rolo completed the ensemble.

Rolo Chocolate Cupcake

Then the fun began! Yes fun! I had to write it twice to remind myself as life rang me the other day:

“Excuse me I’m looking for fun.”

Err, I don’t know where she’s gone?” I replied whilst looking up at the ceiling wondering if she was perhaps hanging off there with the remnants of mis-tossed pancake. “Perhaps she’s gone out with childhood wonder and laughter to play.”

“Hmmmm,” Life replied. “When she gets back get her to give me a call”

“Oh, OK.” I sang before a forceful slam reverberated in my ear drum which signalled the end of the conversation.

It was then I realised fun, wonder and laughter must have got bored waiting and gone off exploring without me. After sulking for a few days I had an ephinay of sorts. I could find fun again, yes it might take some work but I was sure I could track them all back down eventually. I set myself a challenge for three weeks as I believe things should and do always come in threes. This challenge would be based on me, us and them. For me: I wanted fun back even more than ‘twihards’ want Edward to show up in their living rooms so they can breathe ‘bite me you sexy beast’.

So I set about wondering and came up with this:

  1. Could I bake a Rolo inside a cupcake and it still be whole?
  2. Is it possible to play a game involving cupcakes?
  3. Could I find fun, bring her back and share her with my Husband and teenage son?

The answer was no, yes, yes in that order. The hide and seek cupcake game is easy with two variations:

  1. Hide cupcakes around the house whichever are not found are yours so hide well and give them a time limit to find them. Hmm about 10 seconds seems fair.
  2. Set a 007 challenge to overcome household obstacles in a race against the clock to find the cupcake in 70 seconds and return back to the starting point and sing the 007 theme tune. If you haven’t seen the coke zero version of 007 challenge you must watch it for inspiration! Think locked doors, chairs, discarded toys, rogue shoes and people getting in your way so pretty much like a normal day but with cake.

They both moaned initially when they realised they had to play a game to get their cupcake but when the countdown started they couldn’t stop their little faces lighting up. You see there is nothing loved more by men than a challenge which involving man V food.

From this challenge I learnt that fun is still out there and although admitedly she just pops in every now and then I aim that one day she might stay a bit longer until the day she moves right back. When you have fun you might notice that the other people in your life seem happier too and when you share the fun you get to witness that sparkle appear back in their eyes that you forgot existed. I’m not quite at the end of my three week challenge but it makes me wonder what else can I do for 21 days?

Try it out yourself: give yourself permission to go and play ‘hide and seek’ cupcakes and find out that fun might just be waiting patiently for you to invite her back in.

Ingredients for Chocolate Fudge Rolo Cupcakes

130g room temperature butter
3 fl oz / 95 ml of boiling water
3 tsps strong coffee granules
75g Self raising flour
75g plain flour
30g cocoa powder
¼ tsp bicarbonate of soda
300g caster sugar
2 eggs (room temperature)
5 tbsp sunflower oil

70ml sour cream

Chocolate Fudge Rolo Cake Instructions

  1. I froze my rolos for 24 hours (but up to you if you wish)
  2. Preheat the oven
  3. Line a muffin tin with liners (my mix made 13 cakes so I left one to bake later)
  4. Mix coffee with boiling water and add to a pan with butter and chocolate
  5. Heat the mixture gently to melt
  6. Sift all dry ingreadients into your mixer bowl
  7. In a bowl combine and mix eggs, oil and courcream
  8. Add both the egg and chocolate mixture to the dry ingreadients
  9. Mix on low (2 for Kitchen aid) until combined
  10. Add approx 2 tbsp of mixture (I use a cookie scoop)
  11. Add one rolo in the centre of each and top with further tbsp. to cover the rolo
  12. Bake in the oven for 20-25 mins until the top springs back when touched or cake tester is clean
  13. Leave to cool in the tin

Caramel Buttercream Ingredients

125g caster sugar
4 tbsp of water
80ml double cream
½ tsp of salt (optional but does bring out the flavour)
1 tsp of vanilla essence
160g butter
200g icing sugar
2-3 tbsp of milk (if needed to make the buttercream lighter for piping)

Caramel Buttercream Instructions

  1. Heat the sugar and water in a pan until the sugar has disoloved
  2. Continue cooking until it turns a golden colour and thickens slightly
  3. Remove from heat and add cream be aware it may splutter so be careful
  4. Stir and leave to cool
  5. Cream butter and icing sugar for 5-6 mins (Kitchenaid gradually increase to speed 6 once combined)
  6. Add caramel and beat until combined (reserve some caramel to drizzle over your cupcakes)

To Assemble

Pipe or cover your cupcakes with lashing of caramel buttercream, drizzle melted chocolate and caramel over the top and adorn with a Rolo. Then go and hide them, trash the house and set the timer 🙂

7 tips for Gluten Free Baking (GF)

So you have been nominated to make a cake for a gathering and then someone says to you ‘hey can you make it gluten free?’.  You get sweaty just thinking about it, I mean gluten free – what is that?  You wonder how you are going to create a cake without flour but somehow find yourself nodding at the same time – well it is rude to say no.  If gluten free baking is something you have not done before you know that hours of internet research is ahead of you .  Where do you even start? Well you read on and find out…

Understand what Coeliac is (taken from coeliac website)

“Coeliac disease (pronounced see-liac, spelt celiac disease in other countries) is an autoimmune disease. Gluten, which is found in wheat, barley and rye triggers an immune reaction in people with coeliac disease. This means that eating gluten damages the lining of the small intestine. Other parts of the body may be affected.”

It is very limiting to be on a gluten free diet especially when out socialising as you have no control over what has gone into the food and eveything can potenitally be the gluten devil.  Wheat free is generally a food intolerance but coeliac (gluten free) is an autoimmune disease.  Do not think that a person who is Coeliac (GF) will eat be OK eating a bit of gluten every now that they might be a bit ill but they’ll be alright.  Gluten can have a very damaging effect on their intenstines in the long term and cause complications such as infertility, osteoporosis and bowel cancer.  Once diagnosed like an alcoholic they have to avoid gluten for life as this is the only way to control it and even one bit of gluten can upset the stomach and intenstines for day and out them back to square one.

My Top Gluten Free Bakes

I was recently invited to attend an overdue gathering of friends when I got that request for gluten free cake so I set to work to meet the challenge so nobody felt they were missing out.

1. Firstly I started with toffee crisp bars.  These always work well , requitre little effort and everyone lovesthem.  Do check the ingredients of the toffee and marshmallows (made from corn) you buy. If you wnat to cover them in chocolate you will need a gluten free chocolate. Most chocolate is GF (good ones) but some do use it- Nestle chocolate is GF where as Cadburys has been reclassified as having a very low gluten content. I made the toffee crips as a tray bake in a 20cm tin rather than moulds like below for speed. Final tip on that – use a wet wooden spoon to press it down into the tin!

2. A rather dodgy looking but yummy chocolate cherry cola cupcakes was made by my Son and Husband. Note: Cola and GF flour do not like each other!

3. I made fruit alternative as the choclate base was already covered with a zesty lemon polenta cake with fresh berries to satisfy all tastebuds. Polenta is a GF grain and this is more of a dessert cake with a satisfying texture that I really enjoyed.

4. My naughty hot chocolate fudge sauce is also gluten free and we poured it over vanilla ice cream again watch out fo rice -cream but there are some very gluten free varities and I swear by Swedish Glace which I know Saisnbury does stock as it is delicious. When using cocoa in a recipe as always with gluten free baking be vigilant check as it can contain cereals and starch which are a no no.  I use Green and Blacks 70% Cocoa which is GF. Nestle also offer GF cocoa and hot chocolate powders that you can use and are easy to get.

I can tell you now it is worth the effort as anyone on a strict GF diet will love you forever if you make them cake as some varieties in supermarkets are not always that nice and can be very expensive.  To help you understand more here are some general guides as to what coeliacs can and can’t eat. There are many other recipes out there that involve alternative flours but if you are not following a GF diet here are my top tips to adapt a favourite recipe you already have:

1. Use 1 tsp of xantham gum in cakes stops them from being too crumbly in texture which is notorious in gluten free cakes especially ones that don’t have lot’s of moisture in them e.g victoria sponge.

2. Gluten free cakes can be quite dry so don’t be afraid to add extra moisture. Into a 20cm cake I will normally add an extra 1 – 2 tbs of milk, water or fruit juice (depending on the flavour of cake).

3. Subsitute any ordinary wheat / gluten based flour with a gluten free flour alternative these are available in plain and self-raising. In my own experience Doves farm is my favourite but there are others. You can easily adapt the same recipe you love this way.

4. For fail safe baking and first attempts – go for moister cakes like carrot, coffee or fruit as in my expereience they tend to work better and will not have that gluten free taste twang that you can sometimes get with a vanilla sponge.

5. Check your baking powder is gluten free – I only use this type anyway so that I do not get the wrong one by accident.

6. Icing sugar (by Silver Spoon) is gluten free so you can still use this to make buttercream icing.

7. Watch out for starch (check what sort it is – potato is OK but see tip 7). Corn is OK, wheat must be avoided and oats are ad odd one.  Manufacturers seem to process oat goods in the same spaces as wheat ones therefore cross-contaminating them so my advice is if it it does not clearly state gluten free then don’t use it. If in doubt check the manufacturers website but for the best list of ingredients to avoid click here – once you see the list you will soon start to realise just how limiting a GF diet is and how they sneak naughty gluten into most our food.

Make someone’s day who is GF and bake them a cake.

Hope that helps so you never have to sweat again 🙂

7 Random Facts About Me

Thank you to All that glitters for awarding me the Kreativ and Versatile Blogger award I am truly honoured. I met all that glitters over a conversation about ginger cupcakes.  She runs a fantastic blog with a wealth of interesting articles from beauty, cooking, fashion and food of course!  With such a wide variety to read there is always something to enjoy.  Of course part of the award is that I have to reveal 7 random facts about myself so here goes….

7 Things about me:

  1. I have a second marriage to baking – sometimes I scream at it, argue, fuss, pine for it, laugh at it.  Occasionally it gets the silent treatment and I file for divorce but it never agrees.
  2. I love to stand in the rain – the harder it is raining the better but not on straight hair days.
  3. I love dragonflies as like them I flit from one thing to another with super charged speed.
  4. I have lots of partially started books on all differnt themes that I have written and have never finished one yet but dream of doing so.
  5. I have phantosmia which involves smelling things that nobody else can.  Bizarrly when I smell something really bad I also find bad things happen afterwards.  So with my cooking this could mean the World is going to end most days – well it is 2012.
  6. I hate driving and will physically pull my body inwards when trying to fit through a small gap whilst oooohhhing in true girly style all the way through.  I also duck when I go under low bridges and can be found gripping the seat and trying to put my foot through the floor to find an imaginary extra brake pedal when my Husband is driving.
  7. I recently had a conversation with a friend about things spooky things and the film ‘Woman in Black’ (not that I have seen it) . When I went to bed I had to turn off the light and run to my bed as fast I could and hide under the covers because I had scared myself – how stupid!

My nominations for the Kreative and Versatile Blogger award are:

  • Homedmade by Fleur – A devoted baker with a beautiful face, soul and blog to match. She runs her own cake club and has been on TV but like me she believes in cakeland (a bit like fairyland but the cupcakes have wings).  She is very supportive and has some fantastic ideas.
  • Here’s one I made earlier – is a blog by Kate and she tries out all sort of different baking goodies.  I love her little blog but she does not get many comments and I think she should have more as she has a great blog with simple instructions and images to match.  You all remember what it is like to blog and think nobody is reading what you write so spare a moment, say hello and cheer her on as baking is quite obviously her secret passion.

Rules of the Kreativ and Versatile blog award:

  1. Thank the blogger who nominated you.
  2. Share seven things about yourself that people may or may not know already.
  3. Pass the award along to others and let them know you’ve nominated them!

The year that inspired me to bake

It is weird to be sat here a year on in the same place and yet life has changed so much. Although the days move on some things don’t change. There is still the whir of the washing machine rumbling and as always my computer screen lights up the corner of my kitchen with its familiar Friday night glow and shortly I will ring my Mum as I always do. I could tell you that I began baking because of child memories or a treasured Grandparents passion for baking but that is not my story. My story began a year ago this evening. A seemingly normal Friday evening where fate thrust me into a situation that although not the most pleasant ended with at least one silver cloud.

Without that evening I would not have truly met my best friend, nor would I get to share evenings with her, cake and coffee which is the ultimate pick me up trio. I began truly baking to welcome her back home. When I looked back I realised I began my blog on her Birthday as I spent the whole week making different cakes pops to cheer her up.

Image of Cake Boules on Sticks

Cake boules on sticks

Weeks went past and I would pop round with cake and tell her all about my ideas and she would listen and encourage me in a way nobody else has. She overcome her fear of technology and after weeks of trying she managed to suscribe to my blog all by herself to make sure I at least had one reader and the day she managed to rate and comment on my post she was so excited I felt quite priviledged.

Over the last six months I have fallen in love with baking and our meetings just don’t seem right unless there is cake and coffee involved. She oohs and ahhs at my cakes, gives me a bite by bite analysis of my bake and eats them all with great delight. One day I fed her mince pies which I knew she loathed so I wrapped them in marzipan to lure her into a false sense of security but always game she ate it anway. Most importantly she laughs with me instead of at me when I have cake disasters. I can remember holding a sad cake above my head outside her house without it falling off the baking paper while we both squealed with laughter.

IMage of The flatest cake ever

The flatest cake ever

She has watched and listened patiently to my random stories and when I first ventured onto twitter hesitantly with my why I will bake mince pies campaign she rolled up her sleeves and got stuck right in. She baked with me with knowing it was something that truly meant a lot to me. My first attempt at meringue snowmen ended rather disasterously with willies and she was the first to laugh rather loudly I have to say.

What happens when piping goes wrong!

Without that day a year ago I would never have truly known the big heart and strength my friend has that inspires me each day to keep on going. I write this post as I know you can hear me saying the words to you as you read and I am too chicken to say it out loud. We both know this would involve heavy breathing, flapping of arms and spelling of words out loud. From me this is a sincere thank you as I don’t think you will ever realise how much you changed my life and yes in a good way before you try to tell me jokingly otherwise!

Ps you will be proud of me as I did not spend hours rewriting this it comes from the heart mistakes and all.


Baking Addiction Series (Part 2)

True Confessions of a Baking Addict – I blame Adriano Zumbo
As always this is based on a true story (my neighbours do not talk to me anymore apart from the ones I feed cake too)

Baking addiction as you can see from part one of the series has a lot to answer for in my life.  When recently leaving for work I was having a bit of a baking addict episode and from referring to the handy guidelines in part one I knew I had already reached stage two of baking addiction that day as in the short space of 60 seconds I had:

1. watched erotic images of layered chocolate mouse cake by Adriano Zumbo (a highly recognised patisserie found in Australia).
2: stopped mid step down the driveway gazing longingly at the cake on my phone screen.
3. experienced a feeling of unusual warmth despite cold temperatures outside.
4. found myself licking my lips as if I could taste the velvety chocolate.
5. a twinkle in my eye reserved only for highly calorific sweet cakes that make me want to rub my face in them.

If you have not heard of Adriano Zumbo I found him winking at me from the Good Food channel with a series called Zumbo’s. Initially I thought is was quite inspirational to have an exercise program on a food channel to combat all those calories viewers must gain just from watching.  I soon realised to my utter delight that Zumbo’s was not an exercise program but a beautiful patissiere.  My luck was in as I was not going to be cavorting round my living room trying to look sexy but exercising my eyes over an unprecedented array of macarons and tarts and therefore he had my complete and undivided open mouthed attention. Wow!

The Confession
However Mr Zumbo and his staff got me into a spot of bother the other morning many thousands of miles across the World from the gorgeous patisserie.  Let me take you back to a normal school day.  If this was a confession style TV show you would hear the sad violins playing right now.

Mr Postman
After watching Zumbo’s the night before I knew I wanted to find the recipe for Adriano’s decadent chocolate mousse cake.  Completely besotted with the sultry chocolate images on my phone, my son got into the car ahead of me and a loud tutting sound made me look up.  I saw the post man approaching with his usual weary steps so I smiled in acknowledgement but instead of his usual morning cheery wave he turned abruptly and crossed over to the other side of the street his pace quickening.  How rude I thought to myself and I had another quick glance at the cake just to make it all better (click image for recipe).

Chocolate Junior Masterchef Challenge

Am I dressed?
After the cake imagery disappeared from view I felt a combination of withdrawal pangs and a nagging curiosity as to what could have upset the Post Man that morning who is normally such a cheery soul.  I looked down initially to make sure I had actually got dressed (it has been known). Luckily today was a day where I was fully ready to go to work, my skirt was not tucked in knickers (that is a whole other story) and was therefore fairly presentable, so what was it?  My gaze returned upwards when I saw the neighbour opposite quickly shuffling children into the car with a notable glare.  The dog next door just sat and stared at me, barked twice and whipped her tail high in the air before turning to show me a full delightful view of her backside (who says dogs can’t talk?).  Whatever I had done recently neighbours and dogs were clearly not impressed by it.  Whilst I may not notice much in my Adriano Zumbo ‘WIlly Wonka’ style bubble after a rule of 3 set of incidents I knew I must have done something very wrong indeed.

I got into my car still confused and looked at my son.  He shifted his eyes away from me so I asked him what I had done wrong?  The conversation went like this:

Me: Did I do something to upset the Postman and Neighbours?
Son: Well …. yes but it’s a bit embarrassing to explain.
Me: It’s OK you can tell me, now come on what was it I did?
Son: Well you were kind of yelling and panting.
Me: What an earth do you mean?
Son: Well you know that shampoo advert (long pause)
Me: The Herbal Essences one?
Son: Dunno, you know the one where the lady is screaming in the shower when she washes her hair?
Me: Yes , the Herbal Essences one (still not realising)
Son: Well you were making that kind of noise.  Loudly!
Me: Oh (awkward silence)

His reply caused a cold sensation that tingled down my spine as I realised with much embarrassment that I had truly arrived that morning at stage 3 of baking addiction courtesy of Mr Zumbo and his crew.  I can only assume this comes from the withdrawal symptoms from knowing that this particular cake is nearly a whole days flight away from the UK and therefore there is no way I am ever going to get my hands on one.  My inner psyche must have though it would be funny to involuntarily make me do the baking addicts call for cake by reenacting the restaurant scene with orgasm style yelling from ‘When Harry met Sally’.  I would not have minded so much but apparently my Son tells me I was in full Dolby digital surround sound for the whole street to hear just as the Postman arrived which perhaps explains why the Postman always rings twice at our house?  Mortified I quickly drove off from the house not daring to look at who else was out in the street and the car was oddly silent all the way to School. 

Feeding my Addiction
So what is a person to do when they reach this state of addiction?  Do I:

1. Attend Bakers Anonymous (#BA).
2. Continue to feed my baking soul with tasty treats.
3. Save up for 5 years so I can fly off to sunny Australia and drool outside Zumbo’s window and lick the glass.  I must have had this stuck in my head as when I googled the location of Adriano’s I put in ‘Lickation’ by accident and that is a place you do not want to go on Google!  I seem to have a fondness for standing outside shop windows – as you can read in my Tiffany inspired champagne layer cake post.

What would you do and which stage of baking addiction are you at – comment and let me know your baking confessions as I am sure I am not alone!  I’d love to write a book on it, in fact I can see the title now ‘True Confessions of Baking Addicts’.  More  in the series to come so sign up so you do not miss an episode of baking drama!

How baking and moods are like the weather

For the last few days I have been quite literally like Jamie Cullum sings ‘All at sea’ this is where I forget momentarily the good things in life and the miserable thunder clouds roll in.  Sometimes feeling sad just creeps over me like a relentless high tide and I know it is coming as I can hear my families seagull cries calling me back to reality but I dissapear into my mind and for a time I am lost in my thoughts no matter how hard I or they try to battle it. I realised today when I looked back at the photographs I took that baking and moods are like the weather; changeable, hard to predict and can hit you when you least expect it.   This gave me a lifeline back to reality and made me smile.

Weather and Mood Forecasts
Whilst you can check the weather forecast and roughly know what to expect you can not get a baking or mood forecast.  If such a thing existed it could let you know that this weekend there is a 60% chance of forgetting to add baking powder to your recipe, 100% chance of sugar sprinkle showers exploding across kitchen floors in Wiltshire or a 75% chance of feeling sad despite beautiful surroundings and no apparent reason but desperatley trying to fight it.

Mood Weather Apps
If we had baking and mood forecasts I imagine a funky aproned presenter waving their hand towards sunny spells of cupcakes before moving slowly down to demonstrate the thunderstorms of mood chaos.  On the other hand I bet my husband (like many others) wishes he had a wife / girlfriend mood weather app for that as although Apple tell us there is an app for everything there quite clearly isn’t one clever enough to predict female mood swings.

If such a thing did exist my Husband’s conversation with his iphone companion Siri who is like his new best friend whom he talks to frequently. The mood conversation would go like this; ‘Siri, can you tell me what my wife’s mood weather is today?’.  Siri would reply ‘ Sorry Mr H (Apple use a pause to build up the intrigue) I am afraid it’s not looking good.  You might want to take battle armour home today or at least wear a box. Would you like me to set a reminder for you to put it on?’

You see in order to get to the sunny happy times you have to endure the storms, gails and torrential downpours to full appreciate the beauty of it.  I know this to be true as if I try to bake, write or do anything creative when I feel like this then I can skillfully predict that what ever I’ve attempted will turn out less than perfect as creativity reflects your mojo as a friend once told me.  So here through photographs is my journey through Baking and Moods.

The Baking and Mood Journey through Photographs
Sometimes the recipe or time ahead is foreboding and scary and although you may see light ahead it is only just a glimpse which is a long way off.

Just when you think you have life and baking all cleverly balanced and fen shui’d up be warned if you step on the wrong pebble / recipe you are going to end up on your ass with twisted pride.

Occasionally there is a ‘beam me up scottie’ moment where you wish you had never started both the recipe and / or that moment in life.  It does not matter how much you wish to be beamed up this will never happen.

The serene moment when you sit and wonder at your finished bake or good fortune in disbelief trying to ascertain if it really happened and it’s not just all part of a dream.  This is the moment when something you thought would go hideously wrong actually worked out well but you have no idea how?

When your mind is unrelenting and wakes you in the darkness with it’s continual conversation of what went wrong that day which makes you feel so alone.  This photograph was taken in the dark and as you can see there is still so much light (hope) around it just takes time for your eyes to see it.

Life, moods and baking are ever changing but for every drop of rain that falls or each cake that flops better weather has to happen eventually even if it is not on your terms.  That’s just how it goes and I know this but I have to say for my own benefit now ‘hang on in there’. I say this to make me pause for a moment look back at this blog to see what I have created and then eventually I will realise that it can not be all that bad and the sun will come out again.

Baking Addiction Series (Part 1)

This is the first in a series of posts that each month will explore a different aspect of the phenomenon of Baking AddictionSubscribe now so you will not miss the next instalment…

Emotions of Baking
On a typical weekend or bored moment you will find me searching for divine cake led inspiration often of the virtual kind. The fact is a few minutes often dissolves into hours of gazing longingly at golden sugary encrusted online pages and sometimes I can be found stroking pages of cookbooks with lust exclaiming ‘would you look at THAT!’ to whomever is listening which is typically myself as the rest of the household scuttles off to dusty corners at this point.  Looking at food gives me that excited walk, you know the one where you have imaginary springs in your shoes and your bottom starts to swing from side to side and really you are trying not to make it too obvious that you are skipping with baking excitement.  After a few minutes of happy clapping and food lust my evil alter ego Cruella de Baker transforms into tantalising Little Miss Baking Addict with incredible apron ripping style.  ‘Roooaaaarrr!’ means I love you, didn’t you know?









A cake rush (or Crush by Pendulum)
Let me introduce you to Little Miss Baking Addict.  She raises her cherry topped peak whenever I stumble across a divine new cake, pie, bread or tart that just makes my mouth water in anticipation.  Once overtaken by Little Miss Baking Addict I reach out and touch the screen and give it a slow protracted stroke whilst telling it to ‘Come to Mummy’ in a bizarrely deep throaty voice which incidentally I have no idea where it comes from?








Baking House
Last weekend my love of baking was beginning to spiral out of control as I still wasn’t dressed by 2pm on a Sunday afternoon.  I had been playing (quite literally) with flour all morning and videoing it.  Realising the time I ran frantically out of the door to my Son’s football match with speckled white hair and white tell-tale hand prints across my backside.  This was not good and I realised out on that windy pitch that is was time I took control and consult the baking addiction guide: 

Using this guide
To conduct this test fairly you could click on the link to my Pinterest gallery of FoodPorn or use your own image of a suitably desirable cake or baked good.  To truly test yourself you should do this on a mobile device whilst on the move to fully check for all levels of addiction.  Take note of your initial reaction and consult the guide below to determine which stage of baking addiction you may be at:
Stage 1: you will present with full open mouth (possibly in awe) which looks like fly-catching or a re-enacting the  ‘catching the Malteaser’ advert.  This stage is often accompanied by a short intake of breath and ‘ooohhh’ sounds.   







Stage 2:  at this stage (look at your image on the move for this) whatever you are doing when looking at the image you will find you suddenly have the need to stand still and take a closer look.  This level of addiction may cause unsteadiness on your feet as food lust, gawking and moving requires a high level of multi-tasking which proves difficult to the affected.    








Stage 3: you may present with all the symptoms above and also experience quickened heart rate with a sudden ‘it’s getting hot in here‘ feeling which is similar to a hot flush but is not dependant on gender, age or room temperature  and removal of clothing may occur.  This is often followed by deep breathing and in extreme case you may make graduating volume levels of  ‘oooh, oooooooh , oooooooh yes, yesss,   YESSSSSSSSS!’  The shrieking bears similarities to the scene in the film when ‘Harry met Sally’ but is understood to be the baking addicts call for a hot sugar fix rather than a mate.   








Your  Results
If you suffer from some or all of these stage you are most likely suffering from baking addiction.  This is a less documented condition in the medical world but renders the sufferer incapable of walking away from a recipe book or online page and can cause disturbing side effects such as drooling, groaning and realistic dreams involving cakes, cookies and other foods. 








Partners of baking addicts must wear protective clothing at night and ensure they do not wear perfume or cologne that bear any resemblance to the sweet scent of baked goods (avoid Lynx Chocolate).  If this is not adhered to, partners risk getting bitten or licked in the night which is not as nice as it sounds as baking addicts know instinctively how to sink their teeth into baked goods (think piranha ) and in reality this can be a painful rather than pleasurable experience.  








Where are you in baking addiction? Comment and let me know

P.S: In my own personal experience I also advise not to use any hair products that smell of sweet desserts.  One night I woke up eating my hair but in my dream I had been devouring lemon cheesecake.  It did not take a genius for me to work out this is the fragrance of my ‘only use when really going out somewhere nice as it is really expensive’ hair mousse. Perhaps manufacturers could flavour their hair products to give us something to chomp on without any calories? Now there’s a thought, hmmm, I’d like a triple chocolate honeycomb cheesecake flavour please.

Levels of baking addiction

Next in the series : Confessions of a baking addict

You might also like:

Stand Up Meringue Snowmen (naughty)                    

Snowmen showing offf (no business like snow business)


Virtual Valentine Craft and Bake Competiton 2012

Valentines Day is special (get ready to pass the sick bucket) as it is our wedding anniversary yes groan all you wish.  This year I am surprising Mr H with a holiday away and I can honestly say I can’t wait but I can say that as I know where we are going.  As I am unlikely to bake on that day (being away and all) I thought it would be great to get in the spirit with a virtual valentines competition (remember my New Year’s resolution about making more memories).  

Fun Bake and Craft Competition
This is just for fun competition showcasing photographs and blog posts from insanely clever crafters and bakers like you.  Be as creative as you like there are no hard and fast rules.  If you believe in Mayan predictions there will not be another one as the World is going to end in 2012 so this could be your last chance! 

I will feature all entrants with a photograph of their entry and links to your blog post or facebook page to showcase your hard work.  There is a small prize and of course the ability to brag to friends you won.  As this is a self funded blog and I have no sponsors but rumour has it the prize will be a stylish heart trophy beautifully handcrafted in oak. 

P.S: I would love to say my husband chose this date for our wedding as he is the complete romantic but I would be lying.  In reality it was purely (as I found out during his speech) for no romantic reason at all but to ensure he got a continual 6 week reminder after New Year.  He told the entire room ‘if I remain oblivious to hearts and roses in shop windows from Jan 1st  then the queues in garage forecourts and supermarkets across the land by panicked men would give me a final reminder’.  He followed this with ‘at least I will not be the man who forgot his wedding anniversary’ (thanks a lot for the romance Mr H). 

Competition Rules of Entry 
Want some inspiration?  Look at my Valentine inspired gallery on pinterest

Main Entry  – Using a Blog / Website

  • Make sure your entered item is featured on one of your pages / posts.  Tell your viewers that it is for the virtual valentines craft and bake competition 2012 with a link to this post on the competition
  • Sign up to follow my blog to find out the results and of course to see the entrants and winner
  • Add cakeboule as a tag on your post / page that you are submitting
  • You can add me to your beloved blog roll / website links if you wish but it is not necessary – join or add me because you want too.


  • Feel free to like the cakeboule page and share it with others to share out the Valentines love (got to get in the spirit)

Bonus Retweets on Twitter

  • Follow me on twitter for competition updates @cakeboule
  • Post your entry on twitter. 
    • use a shortened link to your post and mention me @cakeboule
    • Add #ValentineBakeCraft
    • I will retweet you and your post when I get chance
    • E.g @your name entered WP.657.890 to @cakeboule for the #ValentineBakeCraft competition

General Rules

  • Make anything you wish as long as you feel it says Valentines day to you
  • Please email your photographs (no more than 2 so make sure they are your favourite) to
  • Please include the link to your post as well as your name (but I will only publish you as your blog / web page name where possible)
  • The deadline is February 4th so that I have time to showcase your entries in a blog post with links to all your hard work before 14th February
  • The winner will be announced on the big day itself (wifi connection permitting)  which is 14th Feb in case you did not know / live under a rock.
  • The small prize will be sent out to the winner by post if within the UK (overseas entrants are welcome to join in but I am not sure how much it will cost to ship the prize internationally but will find out.  Disclaimer – I accept no responsiblity for the state it arrives in or if it gets there I can only do my best)
  • Bragging rights are completely allowed for the winner

Cruella De Baker

I would like to start by wishing all my readers out there a Happy New Year even though bizzarley my hidden half of an Easter egg just launched itself at me from the top shelf of my baking cupboard which is it’s way of saying ‘for gods sake will you eat me before it’s Easter again’. This year I need to stop being a squirrel and hiding life (and chocolate) away in cupboards and boxes and actually begin to live it (maybe eat it) and that my dear readers scares the hell out of me.

A truly amazing article by the blog English Mum really struck a poignant cord with me. Her aim is to ensure that her 2012 is full of snapshots of family life together instead of wasting time and money on stuff that you will not remember even though you try. Try it out; what did you get for your Birthday last year? You can’t remember? Don’t feel bad neither can I. Now get out your photo’s from last years holiday can you tell me a memory from it? You can! Excellent then you need to read English Mum as she quite rightly shares with us that family experiences and snapshots will stay with us forever. The stuff we buy such as presents and all those little things we stress over will fade away. I am sure we all know this but it never hurts to have a good reminder and written kick up the ass as if anything 2011 has taught me is you never know what will happen.


2011 for me can only be best described as odd and certainly not one I would wish to repeat again. I don’t cope well with stressful situations as this results into a hasty retreat into my own little world where it is nice and safe. I started baking as I did not know how else to make a bad situation better and in true British fashion it was a choice of either tea or cake . I am crap at making tea and cake seemed to work in the short term. Essentially it kept me busy and busy is my coping method as then I do not need to deal with anything. At the beginning it was what I needed and I enjoyed baking as it truly made me happy buzzing around the kitchen. Somehow though I turned that little hobby into mass baking hsyteria and that turned me into…

In short I am the baking version of Cruella de Ville but instead of punishing puppies I punish my poor family who admittedly squeal like puppies when I growl at them and other times they bite back. Family, friends and life in general have been placed under a thick blanket of plain flour for the last 4- 5 months. Anyone who dares enter the kitchen on a weekend has been given choice words. I am embaressed to admit that I have turned a stress releasing hobby into a military exercise. Accompanying me on my missions are Sergeant Major Inner Perfectionist and she screams at me from the kitchen sidelines ‘drop and give me 20 more cupcakes you worthless baker’.


1. My blog is only meant to be a record and I don’t have to do it every waking second of the day as there is a life out there Jacqueline just not as you know it at the moment. So I will not be checking the statistics for my blog for one whole month. I am not supposed to care if people read it or not (inner voice alert: ‘oh yes you do’ followed by a chorus ‘oh no you don’t – feel free to join in the pantomime shenanigans if you wish). I want to just write and not worry about numbers.

2. I want to make memories and take more snapshots as my son is teenage and I truly want to make the most of it. So I will bake for fun and these outings but not to the extent that items get whipped out from my husband’s or son’s nose to be photographed just before they bite into them (my finger is still healing from the last time).

3. I will write as myself as up until now I have been afraid to fully be my real self online. You have been warned that in real life I wander off on random tangents all the time. Strangely I find most females can cope with this but my husband sadly not.

4. Complete a to do list page on my blog (thanks to CafeLula for this idea) with all my baking dreams. I adore lists (it’s a Virgo thing) and nothing makes the teacher control freak in me feel better than crossing through a completed task especially now as you can see I have found out how to cross stuff out (cue: crazed cackled laughter). This will reduce wasted time and energy as I endlessly amble up and down the corrdiors of pinterest, stumbleupon and foodgaker with wantant lust getting myself in a ‘what shall I bake’ and ‘I’ll never be as good as that’ tiz waz.

5. Stop beating myself up when baking fails. My path to baking wisdom is meant to be full of macaron sinkholes, oversized snowmen meringue willies and flat as you like cake . I need to deal with it, move on and laugh at it for god’s sake. I suppose laughing won’t cause me to pass wind loudly in public (god forbid) but if I laugh really hard I will be more concerned with my pelvic floor muscles and a quick sit down may be needed.

Have a good 2012, see what you want from it and go for it. Most of all keep safe, record your memories and do drop me a comment if you would like to as with all bloggers we appreciate all of them (except spammers) as it lets us know that there is someone else out there…