Vanilla Buttercream Icing

Vanilla Buttercream Piped Roses
Vanilla Buttercream Piped Roses

This is a simple buttercream icing to use as a good base. Start with this recipe and then adapt it to mach your cake with different colourings and experiment with replacing the vanilla with different flavours too!!

Ingredients

500g Icing Sugar (sifted)

115g Unsalted butter at room temperature

60ml Milk

1tsp Vanilla Essence

Method

1. Cream the butter with your electric whisk

2. Add half of the icing sugar

3. Add the milk and vanilla and whisk until smooth

4. Slowly add the remainder of the icing sugar whilst continually whisking

This will leave you with enough buttercream to experiment with some piping techniques

Tips

I like to use Tate & Lyle icing sugar as I find this to be of really high quality. At the moment you can buy a box of this in Lidl for 69p!!

When adding colourings I tend to use a gel as opposed to a liquid to avoid affecting the consistency of the buttercream

you can store the remainder in the fridge in an air tight container for three days. When re-using you may need to whisk it up with a couple of drops of milk

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Healthy Oat & Banana Pancakes

Oat & Banana Pancakes
Oat & Banana Pancakes

I am always indulging in delicious yet calorific desserts, I have decided to make something a bit more on the healthy side. Inspired by the fact that the sun is out today, reminding me that summer is only around the corner. I have a huge sweet tooth and I don’t believe in leaving out foods which I love, instead I choose to eat them in moderation.

I absolutely love a pancake although I don’t get the savoury thing. It doesn’t seem to sit well with me that you can have a sweet and savoury variation of the same thing. I will occasionally entertain a savoury one just out of curiosity but sweet is always the one for me!

These pancakes are so quick and easy and only take a few ingredients to make them.

Ingredients

100g Quaker Oats

2 Medium Eggs

250ml Almond Milk

1tsp Vanilla Extract

Sprinkle of Cinnamon

Method

So easy….

1.Put all of the ingredients into a bowl an whisk them together

2. Heat some olive oil in a pan

3. Use a ladle to spoon in a measure of the mixture into the pan

4. Flip and serve with a topping of choice…..I chose Nutella 🙂

Simple Layered Cake

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I’m making my friend’s wedding cake for her in a couple of months’ time. This is the first (of many I hope) that I have aver made and am hoping that this is something which I can become really good at.

As I have never made one before I thought it was about time I started practising.

To begin with I decided to keep it simple so I started with an easy vanilla sponge which is a fool proof recipe for any type of cupcake or sponge. I made 2 separate cakes in a round cake tin and layered them on top of each other using vanilla buttercream and raspberry jam.

This is also the first time I have attempted to do both a crumb coat and a full cake covering with rolled out icing.

I really want to master this and feel confident as I will probably fall in to panic mode in the run up to the wedding!

Ingredients

These are the ingredients for one sponge cake as I made one at a time (I only had one round cake tin) so you will want to double these measurements up so you can make 2!

Sponge

125g Caster Sugar

125g Unsalted Butter (at room temperature)

2 Medium Eggs whisked

125g Self Raising Flour (sifted)

2tbsp Semi Skimmed Milk

1tsp Vanilla Essence

Buttercream

250g Icing Sugar (sifted)

55g Unsalted Butter

30ml Semi Skimmed Milk

1tsp Vanilla Essence

Additional

1tbsp Raspberry Jam

Ready to Roll Icing

Method

1. To make the sponge whisk together the caster sugar and the butter until creamy

2. Slowly whisk in the eggs, adding a spoonful of the flour to prevent the mixture from curdling

3. Fold in the remaining flour with a metal spoon and then mix in the milk and vanilla extract

4.  Line an 8 inch round tin with greaseproof baking paper. Add the mixture and pop into a preheated oven of 180 degrees (fan) for 18/20 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean

5. Let the cake cool before sliding off onto a wire rack to cool further

6. Repeat this process so you have 2 cakes

7. To make the buttercream, whisk together the sifted icing sugar and butter and then slowly add the milk and vanilla extract

8. Even out the top of each of the cakes by thinly slicing off a thin layer with a sharp knife

9. On top of the one cake used a pallet knife to smooth over a thin layer of the buttercream and then smooth the jam on top of the buttercream

10. Balance the other cake on top ensuring that they are even

11. Apply a crumb coat to the entire cake and then refrigerate for around 30 minutes

12. Roll out the icing and use your rolling pin to apply the icing to the cake

13. Smooth down the edges and cut off any excess icing with a sharp knife

14. Garnish with some sliced strawberries

Slice off the top of each layer of the cake to create a smooth, even layer
Slice off the top of each layer of the cake to create a smooth, even layer
Apply a crumb coat to the cake using my vanilla buttercream recipe
Apply a crumb coat to the cake using my vanilla buttercream recipe
Garnish with sliced strawberries
Garnish with sliced strawberries
Beautiful
Beautiful

Red Velvet Giant Cupcake

Back Camera

I made this cake as an experiment as I fancied buying a giant cupcake mould. The result was so nice and my friends were so impressed that one of them asked if I could make it for her for her engagement party.

I made the cake and was so pleased I managed to complete it as I am rubbish with timing and left myself no time to spare so I was literally icing this cake right up until the last minute.

On the night of the engagement party one of my friends came over for some pre-drinks and it suddenly dawned upon me that I had not factored in how I was going to transport the cake to the venue, I hadn’t even thought about boxing it up.

At this time I was actually living close to the city centre so I was only a 5 minute walk away from the venue so my friend and I decided to brave it and just go for it, we put the cake on to a baking tray and I walked through the centre of town carrying a giant cupcake on a baking tray. (luckily I had a couple of gin and tonics inside me) It was definitely a talking point and a good memory of which I share with this cake.

The cake itself is red velvet. This is not my usual choice of cake as it does involve quite a high volume of food colouring however, it tied in nicely in with the red theme and I considered it as a gift, therefore, a treat!

Usually you would see a red velvet cake with a cream cheese frosting which can be quite difficult to pipe due to its consistency. Buttercream is much more versatile and will help to create the beautiful roses which you see here.

Tip

It may be helpful to grease the inside of the cake tins with a light coating of oil or some butter to help release the cakes from the tins

Ingredients

125g of softened unsalted butter at room temperature

325g caster sugar

2 eggs

25g cocoa powder (I like Bournville)

1tsp vanilla extract

1 x 38ml red food colouring

325g plain flour

1tsp salt

1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

1 x 284ml carton of buttermilk

1 tbsp vinegar

4 tbsp raspberry jam

Buttercream

500g icing sugar

115g unsalted butter at room temperature

60ml milk

1tsp vanilla essence

Method

1.Beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Whisk the eggs together in a small bowl and gradually add to the sugar mixture

2. In a separate bowl, mix together the cocoa powder, vanilla and food colouring and then beat this into the sugar mixture ensuring it is all combined

3. Sift the flour, salt and bicarbonate of soda into a bowl and add this into the mixture in intervals. Alternate the intervals with the buttermilk to prevent the mixture from curdling

4. Divide the mixture into the 2 cake pans (the top and bottom sections of the cake)

5. Bake in a pre-heated oven at 180 degrees (fan oven) for approximately 45 minutes, until an inserted skewer into the centre comes out clean.

6. Allow the cakes to cool fully in the tins before turning them out onto a rack.

7. Level off the bottom half of the cake base and spread the raspberry jam on top. Add the top layer and the jam should help them to stick together

8. To finish off I then made a batch of my vanilla buttercream, inserted it into a piping bag and using a star shaped nozzle began to pipe roses across the base. Start from the bottom and work your way upwards

9. I then made some edible roses to complete the cake

Mastering The French Macaroon (Macaron) – Trials & Tribulations

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When I began baking again (I took a really long break from doing so) I decided to throw myself in at the deep end and make some macarons. I am a huge macaron fan of both the taste and appearance and as they didn’t involve too many ingredients, I thought I would give them a whirl well, epic failure on my part. I really didn’t realise the complexities of them and the result was a disaster.

A few video tutorials later (in addition to recipe research) I felt more than ready to take them on again.

During the process I have stumbled upon many difficulties which appear to be common so I hope to share these as all I seem to see online is the success stories and the more common mistakes so I am going to list all of my findings below.

To begin with try ignoring the “finicky” and “temperamental” comments. Although they are challenging to make, these comments ultimately make you scared about the process, you end up thinking about it too much, being too delicate with the ingredients, just generally over thinking. My best advice is to use your instinct and just enjoy making them.

Ingredients

100g Ground Almonds

100g Icing Sugar (I like to use Tate & Lyle and have just discovered that you can buy this in Lidl for only 79p)

2 Large Free Range Egg Whites at room temperature

55g Caster Sugar

A Small Pinch of Salt

Nutella

1. Separate the egg whites into a large, clean glass bowl. Make sure they are room temperature and they do not have to be old

2. Add the food colouring gel at this point. The first time I made these I added food colouring liquid to the batter. This completely messed up the consistency of my batter and I was nervous about adding too much to get my desired colour. Most recipes suggest 2/3 drops – I add more like 5. Whisk until they are so stiff you can hold the bowl upside down without them moving

In my Nutella I didn’t add food colouring as I was experimenting with mastering consistency when I made these

3. Add a pinch of salt. I find that this gives a better result to the whisked whites

4. Add the caster sugar – you can throw this all in at once and whisk again until the egg whites are glossy

5. Sift the icing sugar and almonds into a large bowl. A lot of the almonds will get stuck and you will have to force some of them through but throw away the rest (you will be surprised how many)

6. Add this all in one go to the egg whites and fold with a spatula until well combined. This is often referred to as a mixture resembling “molten lava” to me this is not helpful, who would know what molten lava is like? You just want to make sure it’s not lumpy and not too runny so somewhere in-between. If in doubt only use half of the mixture and if they don’t work out you can always fold the second half of the mixture a few more times for the second batch

7. Transfer into a piping bag with a round tip nozzle and start piping. I use a macaron mat from Lakeland (£8.99) and lay it out on a baking tray which works a treat

8. Slam the tray on the surface a couple of times and pop out any air bubbles with a tooth pick

9. Leave the macarons to stand for around 30 minutes

10. Preheat the oven to 140 degrees (I have a fan oven) and bake for 15 minutes. Halfway through you should open and close the oven a couple of times to circulate some air

11. Remove fron the oven and allow the shells to cool. They should peel of the mat easily

12. Match up the shells of similar size, add a dollop of Nutella to one shell and squeeze another shell on top and voila!!

Troubleshooting – My Issues

* At first I used liquid food colouring – use gel instead

* Use a colour stronger than what you want. If I want to make pink macarons I use red food colouring

* Add the food colouring to the egg whites before you mix them to avoid messing up the consistency

* Use your instinct when it comes to mixing the batter and don’t be tempted to do a couple more folds

* Don’t leave them to stand for too long. This resulted in me having the perfect macaron but there were no feet

* Be sure to slam the tray on the counter a couple of times

* All ovens are different. It took me a while to find the correct temperature of my oven so I had to experiment a few times. They burn easily and at first all of my macarons ended up a light brown despite using many different colours. There is a fine line because if they are undercooked they will not peel off the mat easily and they will leave a residue

* If you use a food colouring you will find that you have to bake them for a little bit longer, usually around 3 minutes

* Start simple (like I did with these by using no food colouring) once you have made them successfully you will feel much more confident about experimenting with different colours and flavours

Hopefully this will have eliminated a lot of obstacles you are likely to come across however, don’t forget that you will probably find your own little methods and ways of doing things so be open minded and enjoy experimenting. They are totally worth it and you will be delighted when you get them right (hopefully this will be first time….or second or third)

Any questions/comments/tips/interesting flavour combo’s just fire them across, i’m still learning too 🙂

Sticky Mars Bar Crunch

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I had an all day regional conference for work last week which usually involves sitting around a round table for several hours of the day so I decided to whip up a little treat to break up the day.

I made these little slices the night before and it’s no exaggeration when I say that these literally took around 10/15 minutes to make, involving only 4 ingredients (well 6 Mars Bars) and they went down a storm in fact, Terry on my team took the last 3 home with him.

Ingredients

70g Unsalted Butter

3 tbsp Golden Syrup

6 Mars Bars (the regular sized ones) you can usually get a good deal on these in a multi pack at the supermarket

200g Cornflakes

Method

Step 1

Melt the butter and syrup together in a saucepan over a low heat and stir continuously

Step 2

Chop up all of the Mars Bar and add to the saucepan, keep stirring

Step 3

Stir in the cornflakes

Step 4

Add the mixture to a greased sandwich tin lined with baking paper and allow it to set for around an hour, cut and then serve.

This is extremely sticky (as you can imagine with the caramel and syrup) so watch those fillings!!

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Nutella Cupcakes Made Easy

Complete the cupcake by piping on the frosting - I chose a floral design as per usual

 

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This has to be one of the most simplest yet tastiest cupcake to whip up for any chocolate lover.

My friend just gave birth to a beautiful baby girl so with a quick, last minute visit planned for us girls to get in there to see the baby asap I was nominated as “cupcake bringer”. Usually I would have tried my best to make something that resembled the fact that we were welcoming a baby however, I decided to play it safe and go for a fool proof recipe which the girls would love.

Ingredients

For the Cake;

125g Unsalted Butter (at room temperature)

125g Caster Sugar

2 Medium Free Range Eggs (whisked)

125g Self Raising Flour (sifted)

1tbsp Bournville Drinking Chocolate Powder (sifted)

1tbsp Skimmed Milk (an attempt to lower the calorie intake)

1tsp Vanilla Essence

 

For the Buttercream;

115g Unsalted Butter (at room temperature)

500g Icing Sugar (sifted)

1tbsp Bournville Drinking Chocolate (sifted)

60ml Skimmed Milk

1tsp Vanilla Essence

Nutella

Method

Step 1

Whisk together the caster sugar and butter until they become fluffy (an electric whisk is best – i’ve had the same one for about 4 years)

Step 2

Gradually whisk in the eggs adding a spoonful of the flour to prevent the mixture curdling

Step 3

Fold in the remaining flour and Bournville powder and then mix in the milk and vanilla essence

Step 4

Fill your muffin cases 2/3 of the way in pop into a preheated oven at 180 degrees for 15-20 minutes

Step 5

Once the cakes have cooked, allow them to cool in the tin for approximately 10 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack

Step 6

Once cooled, dig out the centre of the cupcake and fill with Nutella

I usually make my buttercream whilst the cakes are in the oven to save a bit of time. To do so;

Whisk up the butter and add half of the icing sugar. At this point I like to add the milk and vanilla, this helps limit the mess caused from the icing sugar (bits of dust usually get everywhere) gradually add the remaining icing sugar and you will be left with a lovely vanilla/chocolate buttercream with the perfect consistency for piping.

I like to complete my cupcakes with my signature rose effect finish which can be easily achieved with a Wilton 2D Nozzle

 

Fill muffin cases approximately 2/3 of the way
Fill muffin cases approximately 2/3 of the way
Carefully cut a hole in the middle of the cupcake ready to fill
Carefully cut a hole in the middle of the cupcake ready to fill
Add a spoonful of Nutella to each cupcake
Add a spoonful of Nutella to each cupcake