My Mum's Christmas Cake

Every year my Mum will make her amazing Christmas Cake and she even did a guest blog entry for me last year.

I made the cake two Christmas's ago and was lucky enough to be in Australia last year so I didn't get the chance. So this year as it will be my first Christmas as my boyfriends families house I thought a cake like my mum use to do was only fitting.  However as I hosted a Christmas dinner for my lovely lady pals in London last week I decided to make two smaller cakes and try my hand a decorating on of them. I forgot to get a picture of my un iced cake, so here is my first ever attempt at properly iced Christmas cake. It wasn't to hard to do at all and the decoration possibilities are endless. I used the idea for the tree from another blog I follow, with my own touch of course... Let's hope the family enjoy it!!

Wishing all my readers a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year and many Happy Baking Returns for the year ahead

xx Laura

Lily Vanilli Bakery Review

What would you do if you won the lottery? Its a question we have all wondered throughout the course of our life, some want cars, holidays, jewellery and to never work again. As much as the thought of never having to stand on a peak our train squished together like sardines, I don't think at this point I could spend the rest of my life as a lady of leisure and I would definitely open a bakery or tea shop and bake until my heart's content.

In my travels around this wonderful city of London I often think about where is the best place to set up shop and earlier this year I found it!!! Right in the heart of the Columbia Road Flower Market in the cutest little alcove surrounded by other cute boutique shops. This place had it so easy with the flower market literally on its doorstep and rows and rows of adorable shops, non of which were bakeries or tea shops. Any places you could eat barely have enough room for more than about 5 people to sit down and enjoy a well deserved break from the flower market with some tea and cake. The 'coffee shop' that was already there had no charm, no warmth and no taste, yet for me would be the perfect place to set up what I would consider a perfect little corner of the world.

A few months later I was pleased to hear the Lily Vanilli Bakery was opening... This was exciting!! I'd come across her A Zombie Ate My Cupcake! book last Halloween and have been always in love with her style of baking. Her cakes are the ones you want to smash in your face when you see it and that's exactly what I want from my cakes. Not "aww wow doesn't that look like an exact replica of your favourite car"... I want a cake that my taste buds will enjoy and not just my eyes.

Even Lily's up on her puns...
Too cute!

One Sunday afternoon my girls and I met up on Columbia Road at the usual place near the man who makes  the best flat whites whist squished in the doorway between two shops. I had figured out that Lily Vanilli's bakery was close by, and when I checked on my phone it said we were about 100 feet away. As we headed off Columbia Road I walked in to this cute little alley way only to find where had once been a crappy 'coffee' shop was now a cute bakery packed inside and out and cute fairy lights hanging from the ceiling. Lily Vanilli had 'stolen' my dream... but hey you snooze you loose...get it? Whatever, I think its a winning pun!

My cupcake order was ready and waiting when I arrived (okay second time around it was ready and waiting as Groupon didn't place my order, but lets keep this post in a nice tone - profanities don't get you anywhere) and my friends were very happy with me when I walked into the pub with these gorgeous cupcakes. There was  a selection of vanilla, chocolate and red velvet with a selection of meringue, brownie or coconut toppings... all were delish, but my favourite was the meringue.

All and all, my overall experience combined with the actual cupcakes at Lily Vanilli I give a 10 out of 10. The girls in the store were very helpful when they realised my order had not been received by Groupon and sorted this out promptly and followed up to ensure the order was ready for me the next time I arrived. However I can't say the same for Groupon who only contacted me back 2 weeks after I made my second attempt to pick up the cupcakes - tsk tsk!

Will be definitely visiting Lily Vanilli again as the array of delicious treats staring at me from the counter on both the occasions that I visited will be to hard to resist, and also perfect to help recover after the crowds of the flower market. I suggest you try it out too.

Happy Baking x

Beetroot Brownie & Recipe 15 - Jam & Coconut Slice

A few weeks ago Pete and I ventured up North to visit his brother and family in Coventry. It was my first time in Coventry and I got all the typical jokes about being sent there etc. Jokes aside it was a lovely couple of days hanging out with his two nieces and their cat. Actually I think the cat loved the attention I gave it so much that on the second night it bought me a present.. a mouse. Cat's are so sweet.. as were the girls.

Before venturing up North, Pete's sister in law contacted me to ensure firstly, that I had a pair of suitable shoes as I think the last time she saw me I was struggling with my heels in the back garden. Secondly, she knew I would bringing some kind of baked goods with me and requested I bake something for Children in Need for her eldest daughter to take into school that day. I couldn't help myself so I made raspberry and coconut slice for the school and chocolate brownies as my 'Thanks for Having Us Gift.'

I have made raspberry and coconut slice many times before with my own recipe, however I wanted to use this as an opportunity to get through another recipe in my Women's Weekly Challenge. The rich chocolate beetroot brownies has always been a winner in the past and they definitely did the job this time and even Charlotte being only 3 couldn't get enough of these - kids got good taste!!

I was happy to see when Hannah came out of school that my tin had been was completely empty. You got to love kids honesty though as when asked if she had tried one she said none of the kids like them and only the adults ate them. Oh well, at least the brownies were a winner with these kids.

Happy Baking x

Miss Lulu's Birthday Carrot Cake

This weekend we celebrated the lovely Miss Lulu's Birthday. She is one of my closest and dearest friends and also one of my biggest fans, maybe that's why she is so good to me... so she get's cake in return...hmmm.

Photo's Courtesy of Helena

Whatever the reason, I do love to make her favourite cake, Carrot Cake. She did toy with the idea of other flavours, but this cake is just too good to beat. The recipe is from the first Hummingbird cookbook and last time I made this I didn't realise it was meant to be 3 layers instead of 2. This then affected the amount of icing I actually needed and I threw a large quantity of it away which I was later scolded for by Lulu... I'll never do that again. This time around I thought since I'd be clever and make slightly less cream cheese icing, however I  quickly realised why double quantity was needed on a 3 layer cake. Anyway, no one really noticed and I wasn't in trouble for throwing out extra cream cheese icing.

I was quite happy with my 3 layer cake efforts and so did a number of people who were on the East London Ginger Line as I transported it to Lulu's party. It always surprises me that when Im carrying cake how many people are intrigued by such a simple gesture of baking a cake and are very forth coming in saying so. Its very comforting.

Happy Birthday Lulu! Wishing you a very special day... filled with more cake!

Happy Baking x