The Make Lounge - Christmas Cookie Decorating

Happy Christmas Eve everyone!!

So while Pete is out doing some last minute Christmas shopping I thought I would put up the photos form my recent Christmas Cookie Decorating class at the Make Lounge. 

I've never been good at decorating, writing or any kind of art that needs an eye for detail and I thought this might be the perfect way to learn a few simple skills. As it turns out though you don't really need to be good at any of these things to make some very cute decorated cookies.

I went along with a few of my baking buddies. We had a relaxing saturday morning learning and testing out our skills... and eating the disasters. 

First we learnt the basics, making a piping bag out of parchment, which of course I struggled with being left handed, making me the only one who had to be handed a pre-made bag by the teacher. I later Googled how to make them, practiced at work with some scrap paper and (which I later realised were my boss' notes... oops!) and got the hang of it.

Next we were let loose on decorating the real cookies, outlining and filling

Miss Kate proud of her cookies

Next we learnt about covering the cookies in ready rolled icing, which is so simple I don't know how I didn't think of it.

With all the trimmings

Miss Kate & Miss Katie pleased with their snowmen.

This one was one of my favourite, simple but so effective.

Then we finished off the holy with some glitter, everything needs glitter at Christmas time.

My other favourite was the snowflake, I was attempting a pattern with the dots and got sidetracked. It doesn't quite show in the picture but it has a simple shimmering glitter.

The girls show off their take home box of treats.

And my box of creations... no photo of me as I had biked it and definitely wasn't getting in front of the camera, plus these are much cuter to look at.

Merry Christmas, happy baking and bring on 2013 x

Chocolate, Chocolate Cake

Just a quick blog entry today as its that time of year where I have the last minute dash to Oxford Street.... eek! Kill me now!

I was asked to do a cake last weekend and the request was it just had to be chocolate... all chocolate, with Happy Birthday Leanda across on top. This seemed like a simple order, however I was a little bit worried about doing the lettering as I have terrible handwriting. Luckily I stumbled across these chocolate letters in Sainburys by Silver Spoon which saved me the embarrassment of my left handed handing scribbled across the cake.

The cake was delivered safely to Volupté in central London after a very hectic day which included the morning at the Make Lounge... more on that later. 

Happy Baking x

Jade's Birthday Cupcakes

About 6 months ago I moved departments within my company and I've been non-stop ever since... with their baking orders.
They seem to have a few favourites and for Jade's birthday she decided to order the top two; carrot cake with cream cheese icing and chocolate Guinness with cream cheese icing. I'm starting to see a pattern here...

You just can't beat good carrot cake and this recipe is my favourite, its perfectly moist without being soggy and I don't like to over do it on the icing*.

*unless the cakes are for Lulu, then its cream cheese Everest! 

And not far behind is Chocolate Guinness, which is rich without being over the top on the chocolate, which again is why the cream cheese icing is a perfect match.

Also do you like my simple stars? I made them from my very own chocolate modelling paste. I've surprised myself with the skill I have learnt this year and some of this stuff is so easy I don't know why I haven't done it earlier. Bring on 2013!

Happy Baking x

Reese's Pieces Blondies

Its nice to be back blogging after a couple of weeks off, but I now have a bit of catching up to do. I also had a few technical issues as I ran out of photo space. But I am now back up and running and have lots of baked good to share.

This recipe I had saved in my "must bake" list since I saw it on Dozen Flours in October. I have an obsession with anything peanut butter and the recipe was so very simple to make and it was devoured by my workmates in a flash. My only problem; which is not a reflection of this recipe but all US recipes; is the use of cups instead of weight!! Okay I might just be me who find its frustrating, but its so much easier to bake with weighted ingredients - and less washing up too! I also found that I was unable to judge how many packets of Reece's pieces it would take to fit 3/4 + 1/3 cup and therefore I was left short for the top of the blondie - or was it that I ate to many of the "spares". I would never do that.

Nevertheless, they were delish and will be added to my "must bake many times again" list.

Happy Baking x 

Recipes by Dozen Flours can be found here 

How to Bake - Triple Chocolate Layer Cake with Walnuts

A couple of weeks ago I finally got to catch up with my good friend Nat who recently got married to her English fiance back home in Australia. As I was unable to attend I wanted to hear all about it and see the wedding photos, so I invited a few of the girls around for tea and cake. I was not very organised for this and only a few hours before they were due to arrive did I frantically look through my cookbooks for something to bake. The plan was to make something I haven't made before as its easy sticking to what we know - lemon drizzle anyone?

I thought it best I try bake something from one of the numerous baking books I have received/bought and never used, and the most recent book I have got my hands on is Paul Hollywood's How To Bake. For anyone that hasn't watched the Great British Bake Off (as if you haven't), Paul is one of the judges and his book if full of so many exciting recipes to try along with lots of pictures and instructions which for me is very handy.

This cake is amazing. Its a lovely (not to rich) chocolate cake with walnuts  and brandy soaked sultanas added to the mix. And then the icing is like a chocolate ganache, which then has mixed in more walnuts and brandy sultanas.

Between the 4 of us we managed to finish of a fair amount in one sitting... and the rest didn't have a chance of making till Monday.

Happy Baking x

Dance London Dance at LIGHTBOX

The other weekend, Dance London Dance returned with an amazing line-up at the Lightbox bar in South London. The venue is incredible and is exactly as the name would suggest, many lights... in a box. It was pretty amazing, though I might be biased due to my love of lights... I even got my night flying licence just because I got excited about being able to turn on all the runway lights from the air. Its pretty amazing flying around in darkness and with the touch of a radio button being able to light up 1.5km of runway... how can that not be exciting.

Anyway back to the cakes.

As per usual I was asked to bake each of the DJs a disco cupcake and thanks to Luke Dyson for his amazing photographs.


And as it was the birthday party for the guys from Psychemagik, they got a entire box of disco cakes... complete with sparklers.

Happy Baking x

Charlotte's 1st Birthday

Just over a year ago Pete's goddaughter Charlotte was brought into this world, however from the day she was born she has had a number of challenges; many more than some of us with go through in a lifetime.

Earlier this year it was decided she would need a liver transplant and since her operation she is like a new person and celebrating her 1st birthday last month felt like we were celebrating so much more, including her amazing parents who have been through so much.

Happy Birthday Charlotte!!

For the party I offered to bake the birthday cake and I was very excited to use this an excuse to bake the Number 1 cake from the Women's Weekly Kids Birthday Book, including as well some lemon cupcakes for the adults.

I was quite pleased how this cake turned out and I thought for sure my smarties would not look straight like in the picture; I've never had a good eye for getting things straight. I have confession though, and I don't think anymore noticed, but when you put 2 packets of smarties into bowls, you tend to eat them, so I was a few smarties short on the side of the cake - oops!

Looks just like the picture...

And the cupcakes...

Sam handing out the cakes...

...with his best smile!

The birthday girl...

Happy Baking x