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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Pink Lemonade Recipe (from scratch)


I predict Summer will arrive in the UK with a bang in September when all the kids are back at School and you know my predicton will be right.  Celebrate with pre-prepared vivid hot pink lemonade a natural beauty with no nasty additives.

Pink Lemonade

This drink slaps you across the chops with refreshing fruitiness reminscent of sucking on a lemon and strawberry sherbert sweet.  You can’t not smile and go ‘ahhhhh’ when you have a glass of this whatever the weather.  The concentrate freezes well so you can enjoy that sunshine in September!

Pink Lemonade

I don’t posses ice cubes trays so I used a heart shaped silicon mould which was just perfect! All I need to do in future is add an iced pink raspberry concentrate heart to glass of lemonade and watch it turn pink. Yes that is just my sort of evening as why watch paint dry when you can watch a bright pink ice cube melt!

Pink Lemonade

The Story (optional reading) I watched the Smurf movie for the first time this week which was not exactly my choice of film but hey ho. It reminded me of a big cuddly Smurf I had when I was little. The smurf with no name was as big as me and I have no idea where he came from but he must have been deemed precious as I wasn’t allowed to play with him (sobs). Poor Smurf was held captive in a cupboard in my bedroom to keep for best.  At night I would creep across my bedroom floor very quiet, unlock the door of the forbidden cupboard and just sit there and staring at him not daring to touch. Years later when I deicded enough was enough Smurf needed rescuing from his wooden cave. I bravely opened the forbidden wardrobe but he had mysteriously vanished and I guess as I was a bit old for him by then so he must have been given away. SO sadly I never did get to play with him (sniffle) I know get the violins out right! (it’s OK Dad I’m not completly unhinged becuase of it only slightly but you knew that already)

The moral here?
1. ‘Never keep things for best as they will be out of fashion by the time you use them’.
2. Never buy things that do not fit as that never ends well
3. Live each day as if it’s your last and just once eat your microwave / take out / cheese on toast off a posh plate and enjoy the thrill of breaking the rules you rebel.

Personal note to self ‘take own advice and don’t leave the pink lemonade concentrate in the freezer for years because you love it so much that you never get to enjoy it”.  So this week live a little, raise a glass to life even if life often rains on your parade. For me I’m British and very adept at coping with lifes torrential downpours and severe gales from my recent camping trip in my VW – thanks to all those who commented I am glad to be a source of your amusement 🙂

Back to Pink Lemonade – Finding a recipe for pink lemonade concentrate online was fruiteless (pardon the pun) as nobody seemed to have a standard recipe so I figured I would follow suit and make my own as I went along. Even if it’s not sunny when I post this get ahead of the game; make this, freeze it and savour your own perfect glass of sunshine just waiting to be poured when the Sun finally makes its entrance. I guess you want to know how to make it because you know you will it’s just too hard to resist. Ok come on follow me…

Pink Lemonade

This also makes a great cocktail – 1 shot of limoncello, 1 shot of vodka, pink lemonade concentrate, top with lemonade or sparkling water and add plenty of ice – mmmm.

Ingredients

200g raspberries
200g strawberries
300ml water
300g golden caster sugar
1 vanilla bean / pod
6-8 lemons (mine were tiny!) juice and grated rind

Pink lemonade

Instructions

1. In a pan add sugar, vanilla bean (I used one from my vanilla sugar so it was already used) and the grated rind.
2. Bring the mixture to a boil and then take off the heat and leave to infuse until cool (or however long you want to wait).
3. In a blender (or with a blender attachment) blend the raspberries and strawberries until smooth.
4. Pour the berry mixture into a sieve to remove the pips.
5. Strain the sugar syrp to remove the lemon rind. Pour the berry and sugar syrup mixture into a jug.
6. Squeeze the lemons and add the juice to the pink lemonade mixture and stir until combined.
7. Pour a portion into a glass like you would juice you add water too (to taste) and top with ice cubes, sparkling water or lemonade and add a sprig of fresh mint if you feel so inclined or basil and serve.

To Freeze
Pour the concentrate into ice cube trays or silicon moulds and freeze overnight. Depending on the size of the moulds you may need a few ice cubes to flavour a drink. I also plan to use some in a cake, jellies and jam once I have worked out how I am going to make it all. I admit it I am a little obsessed with the flavour I have to say but not that obsessed that I’d torture myself by making ice lollies with them as I know I can never get the damn things out of the mould.

Happy summer rainy days x

I am entering this into Botanical Baker’s Summertime Sipping competition where I’m sure you will find lots more ideas and yummy natural drinks I can’t wait to see what everyone else has been up to!

summertime sipping

Pink Lemonade

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