That Was The Week That Was #19

Happy Easter to you all!

I hope you’re having a fantastic day filled with chocolate and family – that’s certainly what Easter is normally about for me. But alas, I’m working today (get the violins out), so I’ll be enjoying my Easter tomorrow, having lunch with family, eating chocolate and cake, and hosting the second WI.RED Book Club at my house.

We’ve skipped a TWTWTW as last week I was unable to post due to technical issues so I’ll bring you up to date a little with what’s been occuring.

Sherlock (small pup) has been very naughty this week, destroying half our kitchen, and chewing through an electrical wire to something very expensive (he’s lucky it wasn’t switched on!). Lola is tolerating him but I still don’t think she loves him!

This week we had our WI meeting which was street dance! There’ll be a post dedicated to this coming up this week. Also, it was my turn to make cakes, so I had a little play with my goodies I’ve got from my recent cake shows – more on that this week.

This week marked Mike and I’s 5 year anniversary. On the day itself I was unfortunately working, however he surprised me with flowers and gifts and made me a nice meal. He’s a keeper. In return, I had paid for us to have a night away in Cheltenham and visit the races, something we’ve never done before. We loved it and the hotel was AMAZING. I’ll be sharing a review with you very soon.

Anyway, enough rambling. Here are some photos for the week, and enjoy the rest of the weekend!

Two peas in a (pink) pod

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My first attempt at using alphabet stamps with sugarpaste

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And using my bow mould!

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I made this in 45 minutes – arm knitting rocks!

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Sherlock exhausted after a long afternoon of mischief

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Mike and I at the races…

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… Before my big win!

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Nan’s Yoghurt Cake

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I hope you’re having a wonderful Easter weekend!

It was our 5 year anniversary this week, and to celebrate last night we stayed in a lovely hotel in Cheltenham, and had a fun day out at the races.

The hotel was simply amazing, and I took lots of pictures which I’ll be sharing with you very soon.

For now though, today’s recipe. The title is pretty self explanatory – it’s my Nan’s Yoghurt cake. You may well see a number of my Nan’s recipes popping up here on the blog, ‘cos she’s an amazing baker and the person who got me into the kitchen in the first place.

This cake is an old favourite, and is very light, sticky, and, dare I say it… Moist!

It’s so simple to make, there’s no weighing involved at all. Just use the carton that the yoghurt comes in and measure everything out with that. I used measuring cups because we get those big massive cartons of yoghurt, and to be honest, it made a bit too much batter. I’d use cartons or half-cups.

Bake it in a traybake tin, or you can even use a sandwich tin if you like. You don’t want to put too much batter into the tin though, so if you have too much, spread it between two tins. You can also use any kind of yoghurt you like, even natural. I just happened to have strawberry in the fridge!

You can use most types of unflavoured oil – sunflower, vegetable, groundnut etc. I used my Brock and Morton Rapeseed Oil which I have a lovely big bottle of and love to use in anything and everything I can. You can buy it from their website here if you like – they also do lots of other kinds of flavoured oil (the basil is particularly good!).

Anyway, enough nattering, here’s the main event.

Ingredients

1 carton yoghurt (I used Fat Free Strawberry Yoghurt)

1 carton oil (I used Brock and Morton Rapeseed Oil)

2 cartons caster sugar

3 cartons self raising flour

2 large eggs

Method

– Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C.
Grease and line your cake tin. I was planning on using my square silicone tin however I had a bit too much mixture so popped the rest in a few of the little loaf cases from Wellbake that I picked up at the Cake and Bake Show. You can visit their website by clicking on the link here – I’ll chat more about their products soon, but if you’re going to get anything, these little loaf cases are a must.

– Place all ingredients in a bowl and stir until everything is completely mixed in. Pour your batter into your tins and bake for around 30-40 minutes, depending on the size of your tin. The cakes in the little loaf cases took around 20 minutes, but the larger cake took closer to 40.

Leave to cool completely before slicing up and tucking in!

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Cake International London – The Aftermath

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Last weekend I went to Cake International for a little look around. It was my third cake show in as many weeks and I was beginning to get into the swing of things and it was nice to see the same faces again.

Cake International is a baking show, but really focusses on cake decoration and sugarcraft. As someone who is a bit rubbish at this sort of thing I was hoping to pick up a few hints and tricks on how to make my cakes prettier and more professional looking, and this show did not disappoint.

The main thing I loved was all of the stalls who were doing demos – it was great to stand and watch people work, who really knew what they were doing and no-one minded answering all of the stupid questions I was asking. (People say there’s no such thing as a stupid question… I can assure you, there is, and I came out with quite a few).

The lovelies at Renshaw did some fab demos on how to make specific flowers, like daffodils and tulips, which was fascinating, and I met Ann Pickard who was making some cute little animals out of sugar paste. She gave me a pig, dog and chick to take away which was very kind of her, although I’m not quite sure what to do with them, I’d feel guilty eating them! Ann invited me along to one of her sugarpaste workshops as she’s local to me, living in Weston Super Mare – I don’t need asking twice Ann, I’m there!

I also met Mich Turner – what a lovely lady! I must buy her book…

As usual, I scoured the stalls to find some goodies and I can’t wait to get going with them.

Cake Craft World

I didn’t actually buy anything from this stall, however they told me all about their new site they’ll be launching in a couple of months – for only £5.95 per month you can sign up to the site, receive video tutorials on how to make certain items, get money off their products and learn tips and tricks. I’ll definitely be keeping an eye out for when this goes live as although there’s stuff for advanced decoraters, there’s a lot for complete beginners too.

Cacao Barry Chocolate

This chocolate was DIVINE. It’s really good, high quality chocolate for use in baking, tempering, decorating, and, well, eating. They had little tasters out and I couldn’t help myself. Will Torrent is their ambassador and has loads of good ideas for uses. I picked up the white, milk, and various varieties of the dark chocolate and am looking forward to experimenting.

Purple Cupcakes
This is really a cupcake decorating company and their site is great for beginners – there are some really helpful and self explanatory video tutorials which I know will help make my cupcakes look so much better. I got a bit of a kit from them inlcuding foam balls, an acrylic block and some acrylic letters, some cutters, a cornflour pouch for dusting and a paisley sugarpaste press folder. I already have some ideas brewing so expect to see some special cakes soon!

I also got a little bow mould from Cake and Sugarcraft Boutique and a special rolling pin (well, you need all the kit, don’t you?!).

I’d normally say, “all the gear and no idea!” but I think I might be getting there… Watch this space!

 

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Have You Missed Me?

This is just a very quick post to say sorry!

I haven’t posted anything this week as I’ve been having some website issues but luckily I have a super super web man who’s getting it all sorted for me.

So bear with me lovely readers!! I have lots of exciting things to share with you, from my Nan’s Yoghurt Cake to Vanilla Cupcakes with Strawberry Milkshake Frosting (totes delish), not forgetting a round up of the Cake International Show and news from this month’s WI meeting.

So, plenty to talk about and hopefully things will be all sorted soon. I’d be really grateful if you could comment and let me know of any issues you are or have been experiencing with this site.

Kim x

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Sponge Gift Cards – The Ultimate Birthday Card

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We all have those people in our lives, don’t we. The people for whom, a birthday card isn’t quite enough, but they’re not quite in the “gift” league. Maybe it’s your boss, or a distant friend.

Or maybe it’s not them, it’s you. Maybe you’re not feeling too flush with cash at the moment (I hear ya!) but you want to send a little something to someone to say, Happy Birthday! Well done! Or even, Hey, I Was Thinking That You Love Cake As Much As I Do And I Saw This And Thought Of You!

Well, my lovelies, I have the solution for you.

Think Moonpig, plus cake. That’s what this is.

This dropped through my letterbox earlier this week and I actually jumped up and down with excitement. You see, Sponge are a company which I’ve been in love with for a little while now. You can go to their site (which I have to say is excellently designed – Sponge, please design my site for me?!) and get a whole cake delivered to someone as a gift – or to yourself.

But their newest product is a gift card. You choose the front cover message (Happy Birthday You Big Fatty), your message inside (I love you, eat cake), and then, the best bit, you can send a slice or two of actual real life, yummy cake! There are five flavours to choose from and I received chocolate and carrot cake. They also have Lemon, Coffee or Victoria sponge. You can also add a picture, if you like.

Then pop your delivery address in and off it goes! Prices start from £7.50 inclusive of delivery which I actually think is pretty reasonable for such a lovely surprise for someone.

You can visit their site here to find out more about the cards or the rest of their lovely range.

 

Disclaimer – This product was received for free from the lovelies at Sponge, however I was not expected to write a positive review and all opinions are my own. I have a strict policy of only reviewing products I love and would buy personally.

 

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Easter Homemade Gift – Cheat’s White Chocolate and Mini Egg Fudge

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Fudge is one of those things isn’t it. It either works out perfectly, or it doesn’t. There isn’t really an in between.

Don’t feel too bad if you’ve had a few disasters – I’ve had some EPIC fails. I think unless you have a sugar thermometer, it’s really easy to go wrong. And even though I DO have a thermometer, I still seem to screw it up sometimes.

Ah we’ll, that’s life.

This fudge though… This is foolproof. Seriously, a child could make it. In fact, make it with your kids, they’ll love it. I like to make this as gifts. Are you visiting anyone over the Easter weekend? Take this as a treat for them and they’ll love you forever more (I’m sure they already do love you… But… Just sayin’).

This is an adaptation of a Nigella Lawson recipe from her book Nigella Express. The original is dark chocolate and pistachio and I’ve made it countless times for my Dad cos he loves it.

But I thought, seeing as it’s Easter soon, and I love Cadbury’s Mini Eggs, I’d give this a bash. No pun intended.

So here you go, try this out. It takes about 10 minutes to make, then stick it in the freezer and that’s you done. I would suggest storing this in the freezer. Sounds weird, but it works. It won’t freeze – at room temp, it tends to go a little gooey, but up to you. You can eat it straight from the freezer.

I’ve worked out that this recipe will cost you around £5.06 and it’ll make about 40 pieces of fudge.

Ingredients

350g white chocolate

30g butter

1 can condensed milk

200g Cadbury’s Mini Eggs

Method

– Line a traybake tin with greaseproof paper or cling film. Put your mini eggs in a sandwich bag (the kind with zippers on are great) and give them a bit of a bash with a rolling pin. Don’t go too mad – it’s nice to have some really chunky pieces in there.

– In a heavy based pan, slowly melt together the white chocolate, butter and condensed milk. It’s really important to keep a close eye on it and keep stirring as it can burn very quickly. Just when everything is all melted and smooth and lovely, take it off the heat. Stir vigourously for a minute or so, then chuck in the mini eggs.

– Give it a quick stir, just enough to get all the eggs covered, then pour into your tin. Level the mixture out then pop it in the fridge, covered with cling film if you like, for at least 4 hours.

Once it’s set you can chop into squares (I suggest about 1-2cm squares – it’s very rich!) and package however you like.

What a lovely Easter gift!

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Coconut and Lime Macaroons

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I’m going to Cake International tomorrow, yay! I’m looking forward to seeing even more shows, meeting even more people and getting some more treats to review on this blog. In, particular, I’d like a new spatula. Yeah, you heard that right, and yes, I am getting old. They say a decent spatula is the secret to great stirring, so I would like to get one tomorrow. Maybe a nice pink one to match my KitchenAid?!

Talking about treats, I’ve picked up a few bits and pieces which I shared with you briefly after the shows. Ever since I got them, I’ve been wracking my brains to come up with something yummy to make.

The first product I was excited to use was my flavoured icing sugar by Sugar and Crumbs. If you’re a baker, you NEED this brand in your life. They make naturally flavoured icing sugar and cocoa powder and when I saw them at The Big Cake Show, I stocked up. I wanted to try out some of the coconut icing sugar I had from them… So I had a think and came up with coconut and lime macaroons!

The lime flavour comes from the amazing flavourings I got from Foodie Flavours at The Cake and Bake Show. I have a few of these and couldn’t wait to use them (seriously, I lie in bed thinking about what I can make… Is this just me?! Does anyone else do this?!). I knew the coconut and lime would go great together so that was that.

The macaroon method, and base recipe, is the same as the cookie ough recipe I posted a few weeks ago. It’s easy to follow and foolproof if you follow it exactly. I think I’ve explained it pretty clearly so let me know what you think!

These macaroons came out deliciously, they taste summery and fresh and a little bit different. Make them a few days ahead, I find that they really are better a few days old.

In case you’re interested, to make these it will cost you approximately £2.46, with the special icing sugar.

Ingredients

For the macaroons

100g ground almonds

100g coconut flavoured icing sugar

100g caster sugar

2 tbsp cold water

2 large egg whites

For the filling

55g softened butter

150g icing sugar

5 drops lime flavouring

A few drops green food colouring

Method

– Line two baking trays with greaseproof paper. I like to use a little butter to stick it down and stop it from moving around.

– Put the icing sugar and ground almonds in a food processor and blitz for a good couple of minutes. Noisy, yes, but this stage is essential if you want them to look professional. I skipped this stage and you can see by the pictures they look a little lumpy bumpy.

– Put the caster sugar and water into a pan and heat gently until the sugar is melted and the syrup is runny and dissolved. It should be bubbling away. Ideally use a sugar thermometer and take off the heat at 110 degrees C. Remove from the heat and leave to cool slightly – but not too much. A minute or two will do it – after this the syrup will form a skin and go hard. All that hard work ruined!

– At the same time as you’ve got the sugar syrup heating, whisk one of the egg whites on a high speed until it forms stiff peaks. If it begins to look like cotton wool you’ve gone too far – start again because they won’t turn out right. It should take a couple of minutes with a KitchenAid or electric whisk.

– When the eggs whites have reached the correct consistency, slowly pour in the sugar syrup, whilst still whisking. You need about 20 pairs of hands to make macaroons, I swear. And be careful not to spill any of the sugar syrup – if you do, wipe it up immediately. Once it’s gone hard (which it will do quickly), it’s a right pain to get off.

– Stop whisking when the meringue mixture is shiny and forms a peak on the tip of your finger. That’s when it’s just right.

– Take the icing sugar and ground almonds out of the food processor and mix with the other egg white. Mix it into a paste, then take one tablespoon of the mixture and stir competely into the meringue.

– Add the rest of the alomd/icing paste and GENTLY incorporate into the meringue. You want it fully mixed in but don’t over stir it. The consistency you need is a little runny but still holds its shape. It should run off the spatula in a ribbon-like shape.

– Using a large round piping nozzle, pipe small rounds, about 1.5-2cm in diameter on the baking trays. Mine filled two baking trays. Then set them aside for an hour. This step is really important as it causes a skin to form and helps to achieve that shiny sheeny top.

– Preheat the oven to 150 degrees C (130 fan) and bake for about 25 minutes. Keep an eye on them as everyone’s oven is different. They’ll be ready to take out when they’re firm and lift easily off the baking paper. Don’t leave them in for too long as they’ll go brittle.

– Remove and leave to cool completely on the tray. After a couple of minutes though, I like to go along and lift each one off the paper to make sure they don’t stick.

– Make your filling. Cream together the butter and icing sugar, then add the lime flavouring and green food colouring. add only a little at a time of each until you have achieved the colour and taste that you’re after. You want quite a soft, spreadable dough so you may find you need to add a drop or two of milk.

– Once the macaroons are cool, take one, spread some cookie dough on it and sandwich with another macaroon.

And that’s it! Easy, no?!

A tip with macaroons – don’t eat them on day one. They are best after a couple of days as the filling has had chance to soften the meringues. If you eat them on the first day you’ll probably find they’re quite hard and think you’ve done it wrong. Don’t throw them in the bin – try them again over the next couple of days and you will find they have improved lots.

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The Cake and Bake Show Goodies and Finds

So as I’m sure you’ll know, (I’ve gone on about it enough!) I went to The Cake And Bake Show in Manchester this weekend. It was pretty cool I have to say. If you’re a baker, or even just a general piggy and food lover, I strongly recommend you give it a go next time it’s on – they have another C&B Show in London on 3rd-5th October 2014. You can visit the website here.

The show was held at the Manchester Central building, which is a big exhibition centre and there were tons of stalls for me to wander around. I picked up some real treats, which I can’t wait to play with, but I thought I’d give you a quick overview here so you can check them out for yourselves by clicking on the names if you’d like to.

I also attended two classes. The first was with April Carter, learning how to make cake pops. This is something I’ve wanted to have a go at for a while but have never got round to it so I thought I’d learn how to do it properly. She was great and explained things very easily and clearly. The second lesson was with Duncan Glendinning from The Thoughtful Bread Company on how to start your own bakery. He gave some really practical advice, and it was very interesting hearing him tell the story of his company.

Bake at Home

This was a really cute little stall which had lots of pre-made cake and bread mixes, packaged up with tins and spoons. It was all very shabby chic and lovely, and the owners were delightful too (I always think this makes the world of difference if the owners are nice – makes you more likely to want to buy something from them!). After my success with the House of The Rising Bun cake mix last week, I thought I’d go for a bread mix. This one comes with terracotta flower pots to make the bread in which can be re-used over and over. They currently sell on Not On The High Street and I thought this would make a lovely gift.

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Foodie Flavours

So last week, I picked up some flavoured icing sugar from Sugar and Crumbs, and this week I found this brand, Foodie Flavours. They make natural flavouring to go into your baking. The thing I really liked about the flavours was how “real” they smelt, plus they weren’t overpowering like some flavourings can be. I snapped up rhubarb, passion fruit (a best seller apparently), lime and butterscotch. Yum. Look out for these soon in my recipes! They have a massive range of flavours, check out their website to see more.

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Renshaw

Following my lesson on how to make cake pops, I got myself all a bit excited so picked up these Colour Melts by Renshaw. Renshaw are a long established business in cake decorating and are better known for their ready to roll icing. However they’ve just brought out these Colour Melts (similar to Wilton’s Candy Melts), which will be great for my cake pops. I’m looking forward to a much more professional finish than normal, and I’ll be sharing the results with you very soon.

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Polka Pops

Polka Pops had a stall with lots of tempting looking cake pops, but the thing that really caught my eye was the Cake Pop Gift Bag. This little bag contains everything you need to make cake pops: the cake mix, frosting, sticks, sprinkles and chocolate candy coating. It has really clear instructions and is great for beginners or to give as a gift. I have one of these lovelies and will be making them soon.

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Wellbake

I love my silicone bakeware, and this company has it all. I picked up some cupcake trays, a loaf “tin” and, my most favourite of all, mini loaf cases! I’ll be making some cute little loaves to share with friends. These mini loaf cases would be great to use to make cakes to sell, for example at a school fete.

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Pupcakes

This was the only pet-related stall I saw at the show and I just had to snap up a few treats for Sherlock and Lola. I got some little beef flavoured oaty bone treats and a chocolate flavoured paw lollypop (which unfortunately didn’t survive the day – not that the pups will care!). The things I really liked about this company was that their products are all made from human grade ingredients, and they use organic and even home grown where possible.

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I think I have quite a lot to be going on with, don’t you?!

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That Was The Week That Was #18

I feel like my feet haven’t touched the ground for the last few weeks! With work, baking and cake shows it’s all been go go go. This week I stayed up t’north with my lovely grandparents for a night then made my way to The Cake and Bake Show, where I are my weight in naughty treats and met lots of lovely people. I’ll be writing a post early this week about all of the bits and pieces I picked up.

Today, I went for a run before Mike and I headed down to the Chocolate Festival (more naughtiness scoffed) and then took the doggies for a walk at a local nature reserve. Sherlock is getting much quicker now although he still can’t keep up with his big sis!

I’m currently sitting on the sofa, trying my hand at crocheting (I had a crash course from my Nan on Friday evening and can say for certain that I’m not very good!), watching Orange Is The New Black on Netflix (anyone seen this?) and preparing to visit some friends tonight for a curry.

Diet next week I think!!

I hope you’ve all had a fun and relaxing weekend.

Someone has a foot fetish…

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Lemon cake with butter on. Wrong in so many ways, but when I’m at my grandparents’ it just feels right!

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My nails have been really brittle and weak lately – I’m trying out this strengthener from Boots so will let you know how I get on

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Delicious cakes at The Cake and Bake Show

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And I met Cathryn from GBBO!

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This made me smile…

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Sherlock cuddles Lola’s ear… With his feet!

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The Wedding Showcase – Wedding Show this Sunday at Thornbury Castle

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I hope that, from reading this blog, you’ll know by now that I won’t write about just anything. I will only promote something that I actually think is worth your while doing, and is something that I would use, buy or attend myself. So be rest assured that I really do think that if you’re getting married, and are looking for a venue, or even just looking for ideas, Thornbury Castle is a great shout.

If you were to ask me what my favourite place to go for afternoon tea in my local area is, it would, without a doubt be Thornbury Castle (near Bristol). Thornbury Castle is the most beautiful, magical venue, and if you ever get the chance to visit, you must. YOU MUST.

But, setting to one side the amazing afternoon teas, they also are a really popular wedding venue and this weekend they are holding a wedding showcase for brides to go along and chat to some fantastic local suppliers, and to have a look around the building and grounds. You’re able to explore the luxurious bedchambers, taste some award winning food and meet the dedicated team at Thornbury Castle.

The will have some lovely local business there, such as The Little Wedding Helper, Curtis and Co Cakes, Daisy Lane Floral Designs and many more.

They will be open tomorrow (Sunday) from 11am-3pm and admission is FREE!

For more information you can visit their website here.

FYI – This post WAS NOT sponsored or paid for in any way. I just really like Thornbury Castle and hope to visit there again soon! Plus I’m getting married so am always on the look out for great wedding fairs!

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