Happy Birthday to Me!

It was my birthday this week. As the world is still on lock-down I decided I wanted to make my own cake.

I have some small cake tins so I made 2 small rounds the weekend before that I froze to keep for decorating this week. I wasn’t 100% sure what my plan was – at first it involved Jammy Dodgers and Party Rings, but ended up only using the latter.

I wasn’t feeling adventurous on flavour, so I went with the good-old Vanilla cake, vanilla buttercream and strawberry jam combo. I smeared some random pink colours around, and used a white chocolate drip. The gin was just as it was colour co-ordinated and made the cake more grown-up!

The top of the cake was decorated with some of the pink buttercream and Party Ring biscuits.

A shot of the inside of the cake

Finally, when I baked the cake layers, there was a bit too much cake mix. I didn’t want to over-fill the cake pans so I decided to make 2 x cupcakes with the remaining mix. I decorated these to match the cake:

Even with a smaller cake, there’s still 2 Party Rings worth left even though I also gave some to friends on Monday! I miss being in work where I could force cake upon my workmates… I love making it, but there’s only so much I can eat myself.

Afternoon Tea

Friday 8th May was the 75th anniversary of VE day. Though we couldn’t have any actual celebrations due to lockdown, I wanted to make an afternoon tea to do something typically British

I had purchased my afternoon tea stands quite a few years ago but had not used them in quite a while. This was another bake where I managed to make everything with ingredients already in the house – sadly this meant no cream for the fruit scones (though I did have jam).

  • Cream cheese sandwiches
  • Cheese and red pepper mini quiche
  • Fruit scones with jam
  • Oat and raisin cookies
  • Chocolate chip cookies
  • Cocoa macarons
  • Red velvet cake
  • Viennese whirls
  • Mini trifle

I started on the baking on the Thursday my making the cookies and macarons. I was following a Neurotic Mom recipe for the macarons for the first time, then being an idiot I went in the loft to hunt something and forgot they were there – thus over-baking them! Thankfully they didn’t end up too burnt.

The red velvet cake was some of the excess made for the birthday cake I’d made (see last post) so I didn’t need to do anything special for them.

The Viennese whirls were a recipe from Mary Berry that I had used a number of times and they always turn out well. So crisp and buttery!

I made the scones in the morning on Friday morning. They baked up well and I don’t really have any stories for these ones. As mentioned before, you’d usually have these with jam and cream, but I had no cream in and was unwilling to go out and buy any.

The trifles, sandwiches and quiche were the last items to be made. Nothing much to mention about these except my pastry on the quiche got stuck to the pan so they ended up more like little egg-bites.

Oh, finally, I had made so much extra that I ended up boxing-up a number of afternoon teas to take to family members as “doorstep drop-offs” (as we still can’t see each other due to social distancing)

Red Velvet Birthday Cake

Well before social distancing and UK lock-down, I agreed to make a birthday cake for a family friend. I was adamant that I was still making the cake – and thankfully I had everything in the house that I needed to get it done.

The cake was made using a recipe from Chelsweets which I made the week before and kept in the freezer until I was ready to decorate. I made enough mix to make multiple layers, as well as some cupcakes and smaller bite-size cakes to decorate.

The cake was decorated with Cream Cheese forsting (what else?) and a dark chocolate ganache drip.

I didn’t actually have any cream in to use to make the ganache, so I used a method involving milk and butter instead – it worked great! I used this method and had no issues whatsoever.

Another new thing I tried was making icing roses – again, these turned out well for my first go. I didn’t have a cake nail, so I improvised by using some baking paper on my cake turntable. It just about did the job!

I can always find fault with a cake I’ve made, but overall I was happy with how this one ended up. Even more so as I didn’t have to venture to the supermarket for any supplies!

April – Lockdown Baking

I can’t believe that it’s the end of April already. I was looking back through Google Photos and saw a number of things that I’d baked this month but not posted about, so here goes:

First off, the mountain of cookies I made after learning to bake soft, gooey cookies. I had some “pumpkin spice baking chips” from our USA trip last year, and used these for the cookies.

Next up, was the cupcakes I made for James’ birthday that I left on his doorstep. Chocolate cake with PB icing, PB drizzle, and chopped up nuts

Whilst sorting out my kitchen cupboards, I also found out that I had 2 bags of vegetarian marshmallows left. They were a few months past their best before dates, so I decided to make these into a combination of Rice Krispie treats, and White chocolate Rocky Road:

And the final bake to post about, was a chocolate banana & rum bread that I made when I had a couple of ripe bananas that I’d not got around to eating yet

Worryingly, we’ve eaten all of these bakes between the two of us this month (well, except for the cupcakes). Maybe I should avoid baking anything for myself in May!

Social Distancing Baking

It’s a struggle to try and pretend that everything is normal at the moment, but I still wanted to do some baking and spread some joy to people (whilst keeping my distance, of course).

Cupcake baking

I had two people to make some cakes for and do a doorstep drop & run (cakes on doorstep, knock on door, run away).

The first batch I made were Red Velvet Cupcake Baileys cupcakes. This was made using the limited edition “Red Velvet Cupcake” Baileys, and resulted in some pink cakes (no food colour used, this was solely the colour of the Baileys).

Red Velvet Cupcake Baileys
  • FOR THE CAKES
  • 1/4 Cup Butter
  • 1/2 Cup Sugar
  • 1 Egg
  • 1/4 Cup Baileys (red velvet)
  • 1/4 Cup, + 1/4 of the 1/4 cup Self-Raising Flour
  • 1/4 Cup + 1/3 of the 1/4 cup Plain Flour

FOR THE ICING

  • 1/4 block butter
  • Red Velvet Baileys
  • Icing Sugar
Red Velvet Baileys Cupcake

The second cupcakes were for my Sister-in-law and these ones were chocolate cake with chocolate buttercream icing.

Double Chocolate Cupcakes

For the Cakes

  • 1/2 Cup Sugaer
  • 1/2 Cup Plain Flour
  • 1/4 cup Cocoa Powder
  • 1/2 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1/4 tsp Baking Soda
  • Pinch Salt
  • 1 Egg
  • 3 Tablespoons Milk
  • 2 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 Cup Coffee

For the Buttercream

  • 1/4 block butter
  • Cocoa Powder
  • Icing Sugar
  • Milk
Chocolate batter and Red Velvet Baileys batter before baking
Straight out of the oven

Anonymous Cake – February

The weather so far this month has been awful! High winds, multiple storms, and what feels like non-stop rain. It’s been sad to see people’s homes and businesses impacted yet again by the weather. Sadly, some of my old roller derby friends were impacted by flooding again, so I wanted to do a little something to cheer them up a tiny bit.

I made some PB&J blondies and boxed them up to post to them anonymously (unless they read this blog, in which case – oops!)

I used this recipe that I found online for the blondies. I then added a small bag of chocolate chips to the mix, and topped with white chocolate ganache.

Once they had cooled down, I cut them in to squares and put into cellophane bags. I posted them and thankfully I knew that they had arrived as my friend put a post on Instagram asking who the sender was (I still haven’t owned up).

Next up, I need to think about what to bake & give away in March!

January’s “Secret Baker” Cake

I’d never actually use the “Secret Baker” name, but I laughed when someone used it when talking about January’s cake.

This one was a last minute change in nomination due to a change of circumstances, but it went to a work colleague (anonymously). He was nominated because he is an amazing colleague who gives up time in work to listen to others and is always willing to go out of his way to help. Outside of work, he gives up his time to work with the Scouts.

I was told he was a fan of bourbon, so this led to a chocolate whiskey cake being left on his desk on Monday Morning:

Chocolate whiskey cake. Chocolate whiskey buttercream. Melted chocolate.

I got told that the recipient looked very confused at first, and maybe a little concerned that someone knew about his love of bourbon and work outside of work with the Scouts. Oops!

Next month I’m going to try find someone not in work to give a cake to. Watch this space!

Giving Something Back – With Cake!

I get so much inspiration from Instagram bakers. In December, Neurotic Mom posted about donating a number of cakes to people who were nominated by her followers. Her cakes went to some of the most deserving people, and it made me feel inspired! I decided that each month in 2020 I would bake and give a cake to someone who had been nominated as a recipient.

Being me, I actually started this in December when I was feeling in the festive, giving spirit. I won’t give all the info on here, but here are pictures of the cakes that I baked to bring some cheer to the recipients…

Chocolate Cake, Vanilla Buttercream, and Candy Canes
Same cake, just another angle with a little more chocolate drip on display.

Chocolate oveload cake – chocolate cake, chocolate buttercream, white chocolate drip, snickers and marc celebration chocolates to top

First Cake of 2020

It’s my niece’s birthday on the 4th January and she sent me a video in December asking me to please make a “Unicorn Cake with all the colours” because “I love unicorns”.

I hadn’t been asked to make a unicorn in well over a year, but it seems 5 year olds still like them.

The inside was 5 coloured layers to make it rainbow-esque and these turned out a bit brighter than I thought they would be.

Glass Stabbed Cupcakes

Another idea I had when making cakes for Halloween was to try making some “stabbed” cupcakes. I’d seen the idea on Instagram and thought it would be a good one to try. I had obviously made cupcakes before, but never tried anything with sugar work.

I had to begin by making the sugar mixture for my “Glass” – 2 cups of granulated sugar, some water, and a tube of liquid glucose. I had to heat this to 300 degrees F, whilst constantly stirring. It took nearly an hour!

Once the mixture was heated to the necessary temperature, I poured it out onto baking parchment and allowed it to cool down and set for a few hours

After setting, I hit it with a knife to get it to break up into the “shards”

I already had some cupcakes baked, and some leftover buttercreams. I used chocolate buttercream first, then added a vanilla swirl to the top mwhich i “stabbed” with the sugar shards

Finally, I added some red coloured icing drizzles to make the “blood”: