Macmillan Cancer Support - World's Larget Morning Tea

Last Friday was the Macmillan Cancer Support World's Largest Morning Tea which was a excuse for me to bake and to make some money for a good cause. The idea is people from our office are meant to bake cakes and other people put in a donation. I think people only bring in a cake, but I wanted to try out three different types of cupcakes, so I went with three batches of cupcakes. I had a whole production line going. On the Wednesday I baked all the cupcakes bases -Vanilla, Orange and Lemon. I stuck with a simple cupcake recipe and had my helping hand/student to mix the batter for me, however we struck trouble when we were mixing the first batch and my beaters decided to burn out. I knew they were about to go, but was hoping they would last just till the end of the week. I guess that's what happens when you keep replacing £3 beaters with £3 beaters. One day I will have my lovely Kitchen Aid and all my mixing problems will be solved - I can only dream.. for now!

The cupcakes I decided to go with were Lemon, Orange and Strawberries & Cream. The oranges cupcakes were a hit, everyone was very excited at the Terry's chocolate orange bits on the top. The strawberries and cream also went down at treat even though by the time I got them to work the strawberry's had bled on top, however a lady at work gave me a tip about drying out the strawberries in the oven slightly before putting them on the cake. I was a little worried my cakes wouldn't sell, but by 10.30am all but two of my cupcakes had been sold.

I guess I won't be baking for a while now without my beaters.. I say awhile, which will probably be like a week. I went to perve on my Kitchen Aid over the weekend and I think I might be purchasing it very soon... only decision left now is the colour? Cherry Red? Pale Yellow?

The Prep

The mixture goes in

Pre-iced Lemon Cupackes

Strawberries and Cream

Terry's Chocolate and Orange

and my Lemon Cupcakes...

Happy Baking x

The Christening of the Pie Dish

Our pie dish arrived in the mail from the US early last week, however making a pie is not something that can be whipped up after work, well unless eating pie at 1 am on a Wednesday morning is your thing.

Since my housemate Tom has had a few days off during the week, he decided to be the first to test out his baking skills, and what a test it was. He decided to go for something that was on the easier side... Lemon Meringue Pie.. okay maybe not so easy! The thing with meringue is it has so many things that can go wrong. The egg whites have to have no trace of yolk, the bowl has to spotless with no oil or other liquids that may stop the mixture forming soft peaks. For a first timer at pie and meringue, I think this is a real show of Tom's inner cooking skills. As much as his meringue didn't peak, LauraK definitely peaked on the sugar after eating this delish masterpiece.

Happy Baking x

Bitter Sweet Lemon

This week has been a crazy week for baking. After a whole weekend off from baking I was itching to get back into the kitchen, however my housemates and my own waistlines are going to start to suffer if I give in to my baking urges every day. And then I was then given the perfect opportunity to bake. At my work if it’s your birthday, instead of everyone pitching in and buying you a cake, they make you bring in your own. And not only that, if you don’t happen to bring them on the day of your birthday, they will harass you every day until you do. Now for most this is easily done by going to M&S and spending £15 on a selection of cakes. Unfortunately for one of the Underwriters who has better things to do than buy cake was still being harassed a week after his birthday. I said to him for a tenner I would make him some cakes. He threw 20 quid at me and said £10 for ingredients and £10 for my efforts. I was like a kid in a candy store… except I was a girl in Morrison’s very excitedly stocking up my baking cupboard.

I decided to make three different cakes:

Victoria Sponge with Butter Cream
Lemon Drizzle Cake
Orange Cupcakes

As I was pressed for time, I decided to ask my first and only student to to give me hand as I was a little pressed for time. Tom started the Victoria Sponge whilst I made the cupcakes. Whilst they were cooking I got the Lemon Drizzle on the go. The oven got a good run for its money and I finished up at about 11.45pm, but well worth it.

Firstly, the Victoria Sponge - unlike previous attempts we decided to cook this as two separate cakes instead of one and cutting it in half. However, this time, it definitely cooked all the way through, but sank. It still managed to impress.

The orange cupcakes were a winner, but I think what went down best was my first ever attempt at lemon drizzle cake. Everyone loves lemon and I've been told many times to try it out, so I did. It was so simple, yet so delish. I could have let the drizzle soak in a bit more whilst the cake cooled.

The whole night felt like my own British Bake Off and the pressure was on since this was my first proper paid 'gig'. So who's order is up next??

Happy Baking x

National Cupcake Week

I got an email this week from a friend in Australia who is always on top of the new trends, news, music, whatever. She informed me that apparently in the UK it was National Cupcake Week and I thought how on earth did I not know this. After doing a short amount of Googling tonight I can't seem to find much on the subject or why this week is meant for cupcakes more than any other week. But any excuse to bake another batch of cupcakes midweek is good enough for me.

I put this out to my friends to decide the flavour and went with lemon. I have stuck with a simple cupcake bases and added a zest of one lemon to the mixture and made my almost never fail cream cheese icing laced with more lemon zest... lemony!

They have passed the first test.. the housemate test!

Happy Baking x

Nana Peg's Shortbread - A Family Favourite

My wee Scottish Nana Peg or Peggy as she was known to others, was a big part of my life right up until she died on the 6th June 2006. When I was younger my family lived with her for a few months in Brisbane whilst my Dad worked up in the Torres Straight Island as an Optometrist before we moved to Warwick when I was 9. Whilst living with my Nana and for as long as I can remember, everyone has always adored her Scottish Shortbread. She made it perfectly, without using a recipe or measurements and it was always the perfect pale shade of yellow that from my (my Nana's) knowledge, shortbread should be. And as much as her children, grandchildren and many others that had the chance to sample her shortbread for many years, she still would claim it was never as good as her mother's. I can't even imagine what this may have tasted like.

Since my Nana's passing (on such an unfortunate date), my cousin's and I have been trying our own hand at trying to recreate the only Scottish tradition that my Nana left behind. The recipe below has been taken from a piece of paper my cousin Jacqui had stored away, however a lot of the method is relying on my memory of being a 9 year old child 'helping' my Nana create this butter/sugary goodness. I know in the past my brother Tim and cousin Scott have tried to recreate this also, however they were more just recreating the combination of sugar, flour and butter purely to eat the dough, which left them quite sick afterwards after consuming most of the uncooked dough.

I have tried this recipe a few years ago and failed several times. The biscuits melted and didn't even resemble anything that looked like a biscuit, let alone my Nana's shortbread.

This is my latest attempt...

The recipe as written to me via my cousin:

1/2 pound butter (don't ask what the hell it is in metric)
1/4 pound caster sugar
1 (?) pound plain flour

medium oven

Just mix butter and sugar in a bowl - use a plastic spoon - not metal apparently - until smooth - then add in little bits of flour until doughy pour some flour on the bench and knead the dough (with a light touch - i guess that means not too much) then roll into little balls and squish with a fork to get the # pattern that Nana used to do.

My first trouble started when I was weighing out the sugar; my scales died. However, I managed to turn them on briefly and with enough power to quickly measure the sugar, but then they really died.

Next went in the flour and instead of weighing this out, I worked with my memory whilst also not trying to over mix it. By the time I got it to a dough to be worked on the bench I was feeling hopefully. The texture seemed right and no cracks were forming. As I put the first couple of balls onto the tray I did feel like it was a bit too light and added slightly more flour.

For the baking I went with 150 degree oven and cooked for 15mins to see how they were cooking but total cooking time was about 23-25mins. And alas, they didn't melt. When the first batch were ready to come out, I opened the oven and the smell just took me right back to my Nana's house.

Overall I was impressed with my efforts and I don't think I will leave it so long between batches. The housemates loved them and we enjoyed them with a pot of Earl Grey tea served in my special tea cups - brought out for the occasion. However, I think the real test will be the ladies at work - they have had many years of eating cakes and are not afraid to tell me where to sharpen up. Lets hope its all good.
Happy Baking x

Weekend Baking Teimes

This week I have been thinking about baking all weekend. I have actually got to baking as much as I like, but I still have all of Sunday evening so I may just get around to it yet. I have however made one batch of cupcakes I planned to make.

One of the guys at my work just has a lovely baby boy which he has called Alex. I know his wife loves to bake too, so instead of buying gift I have decided to make my winning low-fat vanilla and jam cupcakes decked out in baby blue. I think they look quite sweet. I hope they like them.

I've also tried to make some vanilla cupcakes with the low fat sugar substitute as there is quite a difference in the calorie count. These didn't turn out so well; the batter tasted fine and the texture looked the same, however they stuck to the cupcake case and didn't quite rise the same. I might give it another go with the substitute with another recipe, however I think I might stick to good old caster sugar.

Overall it was a great weekend of baking and domestic goodness in the kitchen.

Happy Baking x


So I'm very excited tonight. My housemate LK has just bought the house a present of a vintage pie dish from etsy. For a long time pie's have been something I have wanted to master ever since my Nana Peg made her classic apple pie. It was amazing in those winter months (ok days in Brisbane) and I've always wanted to recreate it. Also since I got my Hummingbird Cookbook a few months back now I've been drooling over their pecan pie and lemon meringue, yet never had the dish to bake it in. And me being me, never wanted to settle for a cheap and boring supermarket dish.

Looking forward to filling you in on my pie adventures... and disasters!

Happy Baking x

Baking Fixes Everything, Almost

I always start blogs with the intention to write updates more often, but then it usually goes by the wayside. I think this is coupled by the fact that I'm not very good at getting my words down on paper without sounds like a complete twat (I'm more of a numbers girl). However, I'm trying to not let this deter me and will endeavour to post more… and bake more too!

Another reason I wanted to post more was I recently watched Julie and Julia and was inspired. For the first 20 minutes or so my housemate LK and I were constantly making comments about how the character Julie and I are alike. At the start of the film Julie gets home from a terrible day at work and jumps straight into the kitchen to bake. This happened to me last week; I had the worst day. It started with an early morning appointment at the gym with a personal trainer to give me some advice and exercises to help my recent injury (that is whole other story). When I got to the gym I was told that they had double booked my session and I had to go with someone else that I didn't like. After the pointless one hour session I found out there was no hot water, you can safely say my day didn't get much better than that.

That night I decided I should try making something with coffee as I was meant to make a coffee cake a few weeks back and didn't quite get to it. So these are my "I've had a shit day and baking makes everything okay coffee and walnut cupcakes"

The next day was much better…

Happy Baking x