Have cake books, will use them.

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Latest additions to my collection!

As anyone who knows me will know I love a baking book.

And look at these two beauties that have managed to sneak their way into my house this month.

I personally love American cookbooks. I think the recipes – even the most ordinary – just have a little bit more to them than classic British recipes. And their cupcakes just seem lighter and more moist than ones I’ve gotten from home-grown cookbooks and websites.

Both of these books have handy conversion tables so you can easily switch the American measurements to UK ones. But, to be honest, just invest in a set of measuring cups and you’ll never look back.

There’s something satisfying about measuring in cups – sort of like a child playing with sand or water and a set of plastic saucepans!

Next on the list is the Miette cookbook and the original Magnolia bakery one.

 

 

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Summer Victoria Sponge

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Classic Victoria Sponge with blackberries and cream

When I was younger nothing seemed to complete a Sunday tea like a Victoria Sponge.

And, until this spring, I’d forgotten that and had never baked one in my adult life – so I decided to give it a go.

I’d had a trial run around the time of the Royal Wedding as I’d decided my contribution to our street party would be a heart-shaped (natch) Victoria sponge filled with summer fruits and whipped cream. It screamed kitsch and royalty rolled into one.

I used 8 inch tins and I’m pretty sure I doubled the recipe below. And I think the final thickness was perfect – nothing worse than a thin sponge.

If you’ve never made a Victoria sponge mixture, it’s a very thick batter. I wasn’t too sure when I first tipped it into the tin but it was lovely when baked. Really light.

Ingredients

200g butter

200g caster sugar

1/2tsp vanilla essence

4 free range eggs

200g self-raising flour, sifted

A tbsp of milk to loosen the batter

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 190C/350F/Gas 5. Grease and line 2 x 20cm/8in sandwich tins.
  2. Mix the butter, sugar and vanilla essence in a bowl or food processor until well combined.
  3. Slowly beat in the eggs one by one. Fold in the sifted flour and carefully pour the mixture into the prepared tins.
  4. Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden-brown. Test by pushing a skewer into the centre of the cake. If the skewer comes out clean the cake is ready.
  5. Turn the cake out onto a wire rack and set aside to cool.
  6. Spread one cake with whipped cream. Cover with fresh fruits of your choice and place the other cake on top.
  7. To serve, dust with icing sugar and cut the cake into slices.

 

Royal Wedding sponge

Cake? On a stick? Cake, on a stick?

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Cake pops for the girls' party bags!

I’m still yet to get to grips with cake pops.

I’ve made them before and they were alright but I can never achieve the levels of perfection that I would like.

So when Ruby asked for them at her party, I was a little loathe to go through all the rigmarol and faffing that comes with these treats.

However, like the good Mummy I am (more like the good Catholic, the guilt when I said no was too much to bear) I decided I would make some.

Again, they weren’t fabulous but I was pleased with how they turned out eventually – and everyone commented on them, so that was nice!

I’d recommend you have a go at these before making them for a special occasion. And, one top tip would be to dip the sticks in the coating, then into the balls and chill in the fridge before attempting to dip again. Believe me, this method works!

Somewhere over the rainbow … there was a shedload of cake!

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Five layer rainbow cake

So, it was that time of year again. Birthday time.

You may not know this but I am incredibly organised – okay, you could say I’m a control freak – and both my children share the same birthday a year apart.

And when the new school year starts, I start frantically trying to plan a birthday party for them.

This year was no exception apart from Ruby’s request – quickly joined by Isabelle – that they couldn’t wait to see their cake and *I’ll have to whisper this because it’s like blasphemy* could they BUY a lovely one from Costco.

Yes, my children, ladies and gentlemen – the cake philistines!

Not one to disappoint I duly trotted off to said shop and went to order said cake. But its bakery was having a refurb that very week and no baking would be taking place. I was secretly seething at this point as I’d not planned a cake and didn’t know what to do.

But then the cake fairy appeared – in the form of The Pink Whisk – and the concept of a rainbow cake was born!

It was a lovely cake, really easy to make – apart from the fact I only had one tin, so had to bake the five sponges individually.

I doubled the quantities below as my tin was huge and I had at least 30 kids plus adults to feed. I would say the double mixture would happily feed 50 – and it was a big slice of cake too, incorporating one of each colour layer.

Ingredients

500g butter. Now I used Aldi’s baking butter at 49p for 250g and it was a steal and worked really well. I checked the fat content and it was in 70% range, so I would thoroughly recommend it.

500g sugar

10 eggs

500g flour. I used plain and then added salt and baking powder.  You will need 1/2tsp of salt and 1.5tsp of baking powder per 500g.

1tsp vanilla essence. Yes, essence, I always use it and never its more expensive cousin extract.

Gel paste colourings. These are a must. Buy them in five rainbow colours of your choice. I chose Christmas red, Tangerine orange, Egg yellow, Holly green and Ice blue – as I knew I would use these colours over and over again in other things. Gel pastes last for eons as you only need a small amount.

Method

Heat the oven to 160 (electric fan) and line a tin/ tins (if you happen to have five!) with greaseproof paper. I think this quantity will give you five decent sponges for an 8inch round or heart tin. As I said I had a 10inch square tin and doubled the quantities.

I also got out five bowls so that I could divide the mixture once it was made.

Make sure your butter is room temperature and softened. I use a freestanding mixer and would definitely recommend it if planning to make the double amount. There is no way a handheld could cope with it.

Place butter and sugar in the mixing bowl and beat with a paddle attachment for at least five minutes until it is light, fluffy and completely combined together.

While this is beating, put flour, salt and baking powder in a bowl and mix together.

Once the butter and sugar mixture has been beaten, add in the vanilla. Scrape down and add in the eggs. One at a time and always follow each one with a tbsp of flour. It stops the mixture splitting.

Once all the eggs have been incorporated, add in the rest of the flour, a ladleful at a time and scrape down the bowl, giving it one final mix.

Mixture complete!

Next, get your weighing scales out and place in front of your five bowls.

To make the sponges the same thickness, you’ll have to weigh the batter. I made it around 400g per sponge, per bowl. Place the amounts in and then get your gel pastes out. Add in enough of the paste until you have your desired colour.

Place in the oven and bake. Around 20-25 minutes per cake. I even found that by doubling the quantities, the cooking time was roughly the same. Needless to say if you are doubling up, your weight per sponge will be around 800g.

If I could give you one tip that would be to cook the blue and the green sponges first. Basically your bottom sponges and bake upwards. As they cool you can then assemble from the base upwards and you won’t be wasting precious time waiting for them all to cool before the icing stage! I learnt the hard way!

Cooling sponges!

Once cooled, you’re ready to ice and assemble.

I decided on a plain vanilla buttercream, with pink fondant butterflies and some little pink buttercream icing stars piped around the bottom, where the cake meets the board to hide any blemishes) and around the top of the cake, just to break up the white buttercream.

I tried to use an icing scraper to create pattern around the side but -more practice needed, I think.

I needed 1.5x the mixture below for inside the sponges and the crumb coat. I then needed another quantity to cover the cake for the final layer.

Ingredients – Buttercream

160g softened butter – proper, unsalted butter this time please.

500g icing sugar

2tsp vanilla essence

Around 60ml of milk, a little more, a little less – depending on consistency, your room temperature that day.

Method

Put butter and vanilla in the mixer with the vanilla essence and beat to break up the butter. Add in the icing sugar a little at time – unless you want your kitchen covered in fine layer of dust! And once all in, beat until you get a sandy consistency.

Slowly add in the milk until you get the consistency you want. For spreading and covering, I like it a little less stiff than if I was piping onto a cupcake.

Beat for around 10 minutes until light and fluffy. You’ll also get more out of your buttercream this way as it does increase in volume.

Then layer up the sponges, buttercream and raspberry jam between in each layer and cover all the sponges in a crumb coat and place in the fridge for 30 minutes to set.

Make up another batch of buttercream and cover the cake in its final layer. Decorate as you wish!

Happy eating!

Layered up ....

My green sponge went a little funny and I have no idea why. It didn’t seem to rise as much as the others and seemed a little dense. Just luck of the draw but less cakey people never even realised – phew!

Crumb coat on

And finally … the big reveal …

Inside of the rainbow cake

I’m back!

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Gosh, I feel like I’m about to enter the confessional box in Church.

Yes, I know it’s been months since my last blog update, yes I am sorry and yes, for my penance I will bake and eat 24 cupcakes …. oh, wait…!

Well, I’m back and I’ve been busy over the Summer. Lots of baking and lots of pictures and recipes to share with you. My proudest achievement was my girls’ birthday cake. A monster five-layer rainbow cake that looked and tasted great – even if it did have 20 eggs, and 1kg each of butter and sugar in just the sponges alone! Ah well, at least it fed around 50 people!

Just let me get writing and I’ll be updating as much as I can over the next few days.