Raspberry courting cake recipe review

2 tier cake adapted from Good Food magazineOn this cold snowy night, I thought it would be nice to hark back to a summer recipe. This is a raspberry courting cake which I made in August and tasted absolutely delicious. My sister-in-law adapted the recipe from the July issue of the Good Food magazine – it’s a three layer cake but as we didn’t have three sandwich tins, we scaled down the recipe to make it a simple two layer cake. The magazine had some interesting history about this particular cake – it’s a Lancashire cake made by ladies for their young (betrothed) men – see the Food Dictionary’s definition here. It’s usually prepared with fresh cream and strawberries but I liked Good Food’s interpretation with raspberries and mascarpone! I did make this for a young man but not one I’m betrothed to! My five year old nephew declared that he didn’t want a chocolate birthday cake this year, so my niece and I baked him this beauty instead!

Here’s the adapted sponge recipe:
Use 8 inch cake tins
200g softened butter
200g caster sugar
4 medium free range eggs (beaten)
200g self raising flour
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp baking powder

For the filling, use a 250g tub of mascarpone or a smaller tub if you can find one
50g of icing sugar and some to dust the top of the cake
175g raspberries
1tsp vanilla extract
zest of one lemon

Treat this as a Victoria sponge cake with a different filling. Cream the sugar and butter, add the eggs one by one, then fold in the sieved flour and baking powder plus pinch of salt. Combine it as little as possible so the sponge turns out nice and light. Bake for 25-30mins in the oven – Fan 160/Oven 180/Gas mark 4. Once baked, let the cake cool. In the meantime, mix the mascarpone with the icing sugar and lemon zest. Spread a generous layer of mascarpone on the top of one of the cake halves. Place the raspberries all over. Then stack the second cake half on top. Finish off with a dusting of icing sugar! This is a simple cake to bake and a refreshing alternative to Victoria sponge. Being a Lancashire lass myself this is a cake close to my heart…

The iPhone birthday cake

Via TUACIf you’re an Apple fanboy or just like cake, this is a cool birthday cake to take some inspiration from! Baked and decorated by Cath Samuels, it’s pretty accurate and detailed! That’s got to be one happy hubby. Oh and if you fancy making a Nikon camera cake – check out this blog. The sponge looks to be red velvet with a cream cheese icing and the attention to detail is incredible. I will have to improve my baking skills so I can give one of these bad boys a try. I’ve had a request for an Angry Birds cake like this already! You can read the Awesomely Delicious: The iPhone Birthday Cake blog post with more pics. Via TUAC

Alternative Christmas cake ideas

Marks and SpencerWhilst browsing in Marks and Spencer yesterday morning, I came across this great cake mould in the shape of a Christmas tree! Each year I like to do something a little different from the traditional Christmas cake. Last year I made chocolate cupcakes in Christmas cupcake cases and then decorated them with miniature puds, Father Christmas and snowmen. You’ll be glad to know they’re selling them again this year at Sainbury’s – just search for Fiddes Payne Festive Fun Royal Icing, Cake Decorations on the Sainbury’s website. Back to the Christmas tree mould – I am going to make a chocolate cake and decorate it with Smarties for the baubles! I will keep you posted on the adapted cake recipe for the Christmas tree mould so you can try it for yourself. If you’ve got any alternative ideas which you like to do at Christmas, please feel free to comment on the blog!

I love macarons book

My friend has given me a lovely macaron recipe book so I thought I would share it with you. It would make a great Christmas present at a reasonable price. I love macarons by Japanese pastry maker Hisako Ogita is dedicated to the mysterious arts of macaron making. Less reassuring is the double page spread on what might have gone wrong with your macarons so this is clearly not an exact science! There’s lots of beautiful photography and a section on what desserts you can cook with your leftover egg yolks which is practical. There’s also a chapter on different gift wrappings if you’re giving macarons away as a present. Perfect for Christmas! I better get practising…

Landmark Hotel afternoon tea review

Selection of finger sandwiches and miniature cakes at the Landmark HotelToday I was fortunate enough to be invited to afternoon tea at the Landmark Hotel in Marylebone. We were met with a calming atmosphere as we walked in the atrium style room known as the Winter Garden restaurant. Piano music drifted from the mezzanine as we chatted. Three of us chose the Landmark Hotel afternoon tea which included a glass of Tattinger champagne for £40. We were met with a traditional three tiered cake stand with four types of finger sandwiches and 10 miniature cakes. The second round of cakes included a basket of warm scones with strawberry jam and whipped cream. I was absolutely stuffed by the end! This was shared between two of us. The afternoon tea is generous on tea and coffee – each person is given a large teapot each and I had a full cafetiere of coffee.The waiter also gave us second helpings of sandwiches. I particularly enjoyed the coronation chicken ones which were very fresh and tasty. On to the cakes! My favourites were the passionfruit dome, not dissimilar to a chilled mouse on a little biscuit, the chocolate and kahlua millefeuille, the crunchy caramel eclair and the petite carrot cake. The scones were warm and soft and came apart easily in two parts. My colleagues said the orange cupcake frosting was a bit hard and dry and the odd salmon sandwich had slightly dry bread but these were minor points. The only limiting factor was the size of my stomach; I didn’t manage all the miniature cakes but I made a hearty attempt at eating atleast six of them! The Landmark also does a chocolate afternoon tea but this wasn’t available today. I’d love to go back and review it. Overall a fabulous afternoon tea in a relaxing setting. And I’ve just returned from a freezing hockey training to burn off the cakes!

Hummingbird Bakery Halloween cupcakes recipe review

Hummingbird bakery chocolate cupcake with pink frosting

Last week I made these scary chocolate cupcakes from the Hummingbird Bakery recipe book for Halloween. I doubled the quantity making 18 cupcakes (they make 9 rather than 12 in a batch). I had run out of caster sugar so used golden sugar which went well. One batch of the vanilla frosting (250g of icing sugar) is enough to ice all the cupcakes. Split the icing into two bowls and add some cocoa powder. I added red and yellow food colouring to the vanilla icing. I was hoping for orange icing but without any orange food colouring I was struggling! It ended up being a deep pink instead. Next up came some scary eyeballs and pumpkins wrapped in foil, sold by Marks and Spencer.

Hummingbird bakery chocolate cupcakeThe cupcakes went down very well with my taste testers and I particularly liked the eyeball ones in the end! I did find this cool baking website – Cakes, Cookies and Craft Shop in the process which sells great cupcake decorations. I thought their Halloween selection was fun, I just didn’t have time to order them before Halloween!

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