Spring is on the way…

Saturday, March 9th, 2013
Easter display

Easter display

The snowdrops are out, daffodils are starting to poke their leaves through the soil and the trees are budding – it can only mean one thing: SPRING!! At my favourite time of year, there’s little I enjoy more than a walk in the fresh air and time for some Easter baking. But will I have time? I’d love to make a few mini Easter fruit cakes or some iced cookies to hang on my blossom branch display – if they don’t all get eaten first! ;)

Easter gift basket

Easter gift basket

Fancy making your own Easter cookies or mini decorated fruit cakes? Check out my tutorial in UK Handmade online magazine, back in the spring edition 2010!

Happy baking, Gilly xx

Christmas Cakes Past…

Sunday, December 16th, 2012
Christmas cakes past

Christmas cakes past

With Christmas around the corner and so much work to do on my placement, all I can do is dream about the cakes I’d like to have made this year. My past designs include this Christmas pudding, present cake and polar bear, and if I get time on Christmas Eve I might whip up a last minute cake. I’m thinking a forest of pink and green snow-covered Christmas trees…

If you fancy making the present cake yourself, you can find instructions on my blog here, and my tutorial for the Christmas pudding cookies and cake in the Winter 2010 UK Handmade magazine here.

Merry Christmas, Gilly xx

Autumnal Apple Cake

Tuesday, November 6th, 2012
Autumnal Apple Spice Cake

Autumnal Apple Spice Cake

Mmmm, I adore Autumn. Even rainy days like today. I love the golds and browns mixed with the bright green leaves that are still to turn, the red berries hanging on the bushes, the smokey smell that drifts through the air, and the wet, earthy smell of the ground as foliage decays and plants snuggle up for winter.

My thoughts are already turning to this weekend and the rare chance these days to do some baking on a Saturday afternoon. With the abundance of apples at this time of year, and the crab apples on my tree turning a beautiful orange hue, spiced apple and blackberry cake seems the perfect choice. The cake itself contains cooking apples, but a small bunch of crab apples looks sweet adorning the cinnamon-crusted top once the cake is plated up.

I first created this recipe for UK Handmade magazine’s Autumn edition 2009, adapting my Mum’s favourite apple cake recipe with juicy blackberries and a little more sugar and spice. For a naughty treat, serve with a generous dollop of spiced mascarpone….

Apple and blackberry cake with cinnamon mascarpone

Apple and blackberry cake with cinnamon mascarpone

Ingredients

For the cake

170g Butter, softened and chopped

195g Castor sugar

2 Eggs

230g Plain flour

Pinch of salt

Pinch of nutmeg

Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon

250g Cooking apples, chopped (approximately 2 medium cooking apples)

75g Blackberries (wild berries tend to have more flavour than supermarket ones)

For the topping

30g Dark brown sugar

1 Heaped tsp cinnamon

For the cinnamon mascarpone

250g Mascarpone

80g Icing sugar

1/2 tsp Cinnamon


To make the cake

1) Preheat the oven to 180C / 160C fan oven / gas mark 4

2) Grease a 20cm / 8” baking tin

3) Cream the butter and sugar together

4) Beat in the eggs

5) Add the flour, salt and nutmeg and fold into the mixture

6) Stir in the lemon juice and grated zest

7) Stir in the chopped apple and blackberries

8) Pour or spoon the mixture into the baking tin

9) Sprinkle the top with the dark brown sugar and cinnamon

10) Bake in the oven for 1 1/2 hours until golden brown and a skewer comes out clean from the middle of the cake

11) Allow to cool in the tin, then turn out

12) Serve with the cinnamon mascarpone if desired

To make the cinnamon mascarpone

1) Beat the mascarpone to soften it

2) Beat in the icing sugar and cinnamon

3) Chill until ready to serve

Mixing the apple cake ingredients

Beating the apple cake ingredients

Mini Cakes!

Monday, June 11th, 2012

I love making mini cakes, they’re extra special as gifts and look so pretty as part of a table display. They can be quite time consuming, but I think the effort that goes into them is well worth it – see UK Handmade magazine for my tutorials on how to make them :)

Mini tiered butterfly cake

Mini tiered butterfly cake

A mini three tiered cake the size of a teacup saucer! Adorned with handmade miniature sugarpaste butterflies…

Mini birthday cake

Mini birthday cake

Pink and green, my favourite colour combination. This made a perfect birthday cake – just a tiny portion each!

Red white and blue cupcake

Union Jack cupcake

In the spirit of all the recent Jubilee celebrations, I couldn’t resist sharing again this photo of my Union Jack royal wedding cupcake.

Mothers' Day mini cakes

Mothers' Day mini cakes

Mothers’ Day mini fruit and marzipan cakes for the best Mum in the world :)

Rainbow mini cake

Rainbow mini cake

One of my most popular cakes: rainbow layers. This time in miniature! This has been reposted, tweeted and pinned all over the internet. Cute and colourful xx

Mini anniversary cakes

Mini anniversary cakes

The first mini cakes I ever made, for my parents’ wedding anniversary :)

Arctic Christmas: Polar Bear Cake

Friday, December 23rd, 2011
Polar Bear Christmas Cake

Polar Bear Christmas Cake

Its lovely to be back home for Christmas and have some time to get crafty in the kitchen. I’ve really  missed baking while I’ve been away at university. I thought I’d do something different for my festive baking this year….

Christmas Polar Bear Cake

Christmas Polar Bear Cake

… I couldn’t resist making a polar bear Christmas cake – I’ve named him Henry :)

Merry Christmas!!

Gilly xx

Close up of Henry the Polar Bear

Close up of Henry the Polar Bear

Cherry Blossom Cupcakes

Friday, August 19th, 2011
Cherry Blossom Cupcake

Cherry Blossom Cupcake

Just a few cherry and almond cupcakes this week, decorated as I did once before with pink fondant tops and pink flower adornments. The sponge is almond, containing almond essence and ground almonds, and is filled with cherry jam and a preserved whole cherry. The cakes are topped with a thin layer of almond buttercream and then the rolled fondant. I ♥ cherries!

Goodbye Jules

Saturday, July 30th, 2011
Moving to Cornwall Cupcakes

Moving to Cornwall Cupcakes

My wonderful and very dear friend Jules and her husband Pip are moving away to a beautiful cottage in Cornwall this weekend (sob!) so I made some cupcakes with beach, home and hobby related decorations to let them know that I’ll miss them loads but hope they’re really happy in their new house. That’s supposed to be a guitar, not a violin, by the way! The cakes were all gluten free: zesty lemon (shown in the pics) and also chocolate brownie. Love  you Jules xxx

Gluten Free Baking

Saturday, June 11th, 2011
Lemon Gluten Free Cupcakes

Lemon Gluten Free Cupcakes

I made some gluten free lemon sponge cakes this week for a Friday get together with a couple of good friends. I used Doves Farm gluten free flour as usual, but I felt they tasted a little bit weird this time – like potato pancakes! The flour does include some potato flour as part of the gluten free mix, but I haven’t noticed it before. I think I overcooked them a little, a mistake I often make with gluten free – gf cakes can be a little bit dry so its best to take them out a few minutes earlier than regular sponge. Anyway, they were OK and served their purpose: tea and cake with friends, lovely :)

I blogged the recipe a few years ago, click here to see how to  make them. I haven’t sold them very well with all my complaining about potato and dryness, but they’re normally pretty good and most people don’t even realise they’re gluten free! Also, I highly recommend chocolate brownies made with Doves Farm flour to the recipe on the back of the flour packet. The recipe is here on my blog and is also on their website. Totally yum!

Butternut Squash Bonanza

Saturday, May 28th, 2011
Spiced Butternut Squash and White Chocolate Cupcakes

Spiced Butternut Squash and White Chocolate Cupcakes

So…. what do you do if you have a glut of butternut squash? Make cupcakes, of course! Oh, and I suppose a soup might be a good idea too. That’s how it is in my kitchen: the cupcakes come first.

I’ve experimented a little bit and come up with spiced butternut squash and white chocolate cupcakes topped with cinnamon cream cheese butter icing. To add some variety I also made a mascarpone frosting with a little icing sugar, mascarpone cheese and a dash of fresh orange juice.

Spiced Butternut Squash and White Chocolate Cupcakes with Mascarpone Frosting

Spiced Butternut Squash and White Chocolate Cupcakes with Mascarpone Frosting

They’re for a tutorial for UK Handmade magazine’s Autumn issue, coming out around September. I like how they’ve turned out, as they’re a bit like a carrot cake (which I love!) although I think I prefer them with the mascarpone topping rather than the cinnamon cream cheese buttercream. I guess you could also top them with a white chocolate ganache although that might be a little bit too sweet….

Spiced Butternut Squash and White Chocolate Cupcakes with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting

Spiced Butternut Squash and White Chocolate Cupcakes with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting

On to the soup… I have a nice simple recipe for butternut squash soup from my copy of The Student Vegetarian Cookbook, but its a little bit too bland for my taste, and too rich, so now when I make it I reduce the butter (and the quantity of parmesan cheese to garnish) and add a large handful of chopped fresh sage from my herb patch, plus tinned or freshly cooked cannellini beans to pep it up.  It makes a large saucepan full of soup, so its been soup for lunch every day for the last week and the rest I’ve frozen. The recipe is on the UK Handmade blog for today’s Lifestyle section.

Butternut Squash, Sage and Cannellini Bean Soup

Butternut Squash, Sage and Cannellini Bean Soup

Union Jack Heart Cupcakes

Friday, April 29th, 2011
Union Jack Cupcake

Union Jack Heart Cupcake

I watched the Royal Wedding on TV with Mum today, so I made a few cupcakes to celebrate. To keep things simple, I baked vanilla cake in red, silver and blue cases then topped them with vanilla buttercream. I already had plenty of red glittery sugarpaste hearts that I’d made up around Valentine’s Day last year (sugarpaste keeps well if you store it in an airtight container), which saved me from making any new decorations.

But….I felt the urge to make them a little bit more Red, White and Blue, without having to go to much trouble, so I quickly turned one of them into a mini Union Jack using some blue and white fondant leftover from a batch of cupcakes several months ago. Hey presto, instant “British” cupcakes :) The cakes were filled with an assortment of jams from my fridge – I only had a teensy bit left in the bottom of each jar, so some are filled with apricot jam, some strawberry, some raspberry  and some lemon curd.

Union Jack Heart Cupcakes

Union Jack Heart Cupcakes