January Birthdays

My Niece, Amber, Wanted a ballerina cake for her sixth birthday. I got it in my head that pink ruffles would be the way to do this… how much did I regret trying these when the icing kept dropping off the cake?

I suppose the plus side is that when I am not a professional and I am not getting paid, I don’t have to worry too much when things go wrong.

Another birthday treat was some chocolate cupcakes made for my sister in law’s birthday:

Nothing overly exciting for these – chocolate cake with chocolate buttercream. I chucked some Cadbury Miniature Heroes on top and some blue sprinkles to bring some colour.

Red Velvet Cheesecake Cake

My workmate finished working with us a few weeks back. Normally in the office I’d take a cake in to say goodbye, but we’ve all been working from home thanks to the pandemic. Thankfully, he lives quite local so I dropped a cake to him in person to say goodbye and good luck.

He had told me he liked cheesecake. I don’t like making the crust though so I decided he could have the baked cheesecake layers sandwiched between red velvet cake layers:

a shot of the sliced cake to show the layers inside

I had stacked the layers with a cream cheese frosting, which was also used to ice the outside of the cake.

beginning to stack the cheesecake and cake layers. The cheesecake looked a lot browner on the outsides
stacked cake before it was coated with cream cheese frosting

To finish the cake, I shaved some white chocolate shards to coat the outside, and topped it off with red velvet crumbs:

coated in cream cheese frosting, white chocolate shards, and a red velvet crumb.

Christmas Treats

I got started on Christmas stuff earlier this year, and ended up with all my “home made treats” completed at the end of last week. As such I took a load around to friends’ houses to share the sugary goodness.

Some of the treats as photo’d by a friend!

The offerings were:

Chocolate Coated Oreos

These were Oreos, coating in various chocolate, and decorated to look Christmassy. Sadly I made the error of putting them in the fridge, and by the time they got delivered the milk and dark chocolate ones had bloomed.

Gingerbread Fudge

Made with white chocolate, condensed milk, ginger spice, and gingerbread cookies all broken up. Topped with some Christmas sprinkles! I used this recipe from Janes Patisserie.

Eggnog Truffles

The eggnog truffles are AMAZING if I am allowed to say so. Made with white chocolate, cream cheese, rum flavouring and nutmeg. They are very easy to make, but taste delicious. Recipe from Six Sisters Stuff.

Reindeer Brownies

Made chocolate fudge brownies, cut into squares, then topped with some edible eyes, a red m&m, and pretzels for antlers.

Peanut butter dog treats (for those with dogs!)

The dogs don’t get forgotten at Christmas – these were Peanut Butter dog biscuits made with all natural Peanut Butter. I stamped the bigger ones with dog names, but they didn’t quite show up once they had baked, hence trying to use icing pens to show the names

The recipe for the dog treats was from The Cookie Rookie.

Some of the PB dog treats in a jar
“Make your own” cookie jar

The ingredients & instructions to make their own cookies one day in the future.

MERRY CHRISTMAS EVERYONE!

Soft Baked Pretzels

How is it that we’ve been in lock down since March, and I still feel that there’s no time to do anything (aka keep this blog updated). Looking back through my photos, I’ve got loads of bakes that I hadn’t uploaded from the last few months, so I suppose this means I’ll have quite a few posts to add over this week!

First up – soft baked Pretzels!

I’ve been following Neurotic Mom on Instagram for quite a while now. Amy adds her bakes there, as well as other channels including You Tube. I took this upon myself to follow one of her recipes by making soft baked pretzels back in May!

I usually only bake cakes, as bread seemed scary. I had some quick yeast in though so decided it was time to try some bread baking. Following Amy’s video made it all really easy – and I had yummy pretzels to eat that week (including some beer cheese  I made the next day to go with the savory pretzel)

Left the dough proving slightly too long – it tried to escape
Formed the pretzels
After the Pretzels had their water bath
After baking
With beer cheese & a beer!

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

Work Halloween Baking Contest

I was planning on making a cake for my work colleagues for Halloween, but then work announced a Baking Contest so I had to get creative. The idea is that staff enter a cake that gets judged, and then they sell off slices of cake for our nominated charity.

I had three ideas, but could only enter one. I ended up making all 3 anyway (further posts to come) but entered one and just gave the rest for selling to raise money as it was all for charity anyway.

The cake I decided to enter was my Brain Cake

Brain Cake

I made one of these last year, and it is surprisingly easy to make. The Gallery below roughly shows the steps, but essentially:

  • Bake 3 round cakes (I used vanilla cake dyed with pink food colouring)
  • Stack the cakes then cut the edges from the rounds to create the curved pieces for the dome
  • Cover with buttercream
  • Colour some fondant with ivory colouring and a drop of pink
  • Roll out the fondant into ropes
  • Apply to cake
  • Cover in jam

The bakers in work are really good so there was some stiff competition! The next gallery shows some of the cakes that entered – you’ll see that the decorating work on the cauldron was really good!

Judging took place based on Appearance and taste. I was happy to say that I won the contest 🙂

I get to go have Champagne Afternoon Tea for 2 at Cloud 23 at the Hilton in Manchester.

Rainbow Pride Blondies

The Typhoons all inclusive rugby team

My brother and I were never sporty when we were children. As a teen I started to do more cardio at the gym, and when I was 25 I discovered Roller Derby which I played for 6 years. It was great to feel a part of a team and it really helped build my confidence. As a child I was fatter and never did well at sport. As an adult, I was actually good at roller derby and it was a great feeling.

I imagine my brother was in a similar situation, and he discovered all-inclsuive rugby in recent years. He’s really blossomed in the sport and he’s doing amazing – I am very proud of him!

I like an excuse to bake, and as this month is Pride celebrations all over the place i decided to try make something to celebrate Pride and send them to him (secretly) in the post. I just really hope they have shipped OK…

Rainbow “Pride” Blondies

I used this recipe from All Recipes to make the blondies, and then topped them with a white chocolate ganache. I used a 3:1 chocolate to cream ratio and coloured some of this with gel colouring.

To begin with I covered the full tray of blondies with white chocolate ganache, then I added rainbow stripes which I then feathered:

cooling in the tray
fresh out of the tray, just before cutting.
Small squares of blondies
Yummy dense blondies, with a rainbow ganache topping

I posted these to his work without him knowing, so hoping they get there in one piece. Time will tell!