Last week I was one of three judges for the ‘Brands2Life British Bakeoff‘ at work to raise money for Byte Night – the IT industry’s sleep out to raise money for Action for Children. Along with fellow judges @goldenbrown01 and Lucy, we judged the cakes on three criteria – flavour, the bake and presentation. We had a huge selection of cakes to choose from – Mississippi Mud Cake to Sachertorte to chocolate swiss roll and Chocolate and Guinness cake. All but one entry was chocolate – a brave banana cake.
I have never eaten so much cake in one sitting!! It was really fun to judge the cakes and sachertorte came in first place for its glossy finish, tasty sponge and jam, icing and sponge combo. It looked very professional too. In joint second place was the chocolate and hazelnut cake for doing well across the board and the refridgerator cake for being particularly ‘scrummy’. Well done to everyone that entered! We then sold the cakes to raise money for Byte Night and made over £100!
At the Squires Baking Exhibition (you can read part 1 here) they had some fantastic competitions going on. One included a baby cupcakes competition and the amount of detail which went into the decoration was fantastic! From teddy bears to Beatrix Potter characters, plenty of imagination was used! Check out my pics below to give you inspiration for your own baby cupcakes.
To mark the second anniversary of the Cake takes the biscuit blog, I decided it was time to give it a makeover. Having set out on a journey to tweak recipes and review cupcakes and cafes, my mission hasn’t changed, I’ve just added in a few extras like reviewing afternoon teas and photo stories with fantastic images from the likes of Jonathan Pollock. I have met some great people along the way writing the blog and I hope it continues!
My illustrator and designer friend Mary Kilvert very kindly offered to design my new logo and background. I hope you like them – I certainly do! I have also given the blog a fresh look with a new layout. Hopefully this is more appealing with the content categorised by theme. If you like Mary’s work, she will be exhibiting at the Country Living Magazine Spring Fair on stand M69 on 21-25 March. Mary will be launching her new Spring Lambs, woolly eggs and colourful sheep egg cups at the show. If you can’t catch her at the show, Mary’s lovely products can be found on her website.
For my birthday my boyfriend surprised me with the mother of all presents – a cream KitchenAid Artisan Cake Mixer. I had lusted after one in a nearby department store but told him it was way too expensive. He knew I loved it though and so he was really generous and gave it to me as an early birthday present on Wednesday! As you can see, the mixer had quite an entrance, standing between a sea of pink, cream and pearlised balloons.
The mixer is SO sleak and trendy and looks really swish on the kitchen work top. We had Chinese takeaway so I could get to the baking straight away and in no time at all I had whipped up a lemon drizzle cake. I couldn’t believe how quick it was to make in the mixer and I didn’t even read the instructions; the mixer is very easy to use. I took the cake into work as it is tradition to bring in cakes on or near your birthday. My colleagues said the cake was light and fluffy and was a great hit! Apparently, the deal with the mixer is I have to make cakes every week so hopefully I’ll be posting a lot more from now on! Whilst I was out at my birthday afternoon tea yesterday (another post to come!) my boyfriend also used the cake mixer and baked me a lovely red velvet birthday cake from the Hummingbird Bakery cookbook with lashings of icing. I couldn’t believe he had made me a cake and I was bowled over!!
I have finally got back to the blogging after a little reprieve during the holidays but rest assured I have been baking and have lots to update you on! I have also been watching the Great British Bake Off and it has inspired me to do more baking. I thought the tarte au citron from Mary Berry would be a great recipe to try soon.
Back in June I was invited to an Edwardian Garden Party. It was great fun and full of delicious afternoon tea goodies. I managed to get a few snaps of the raspberry and champagne jelly and these little lemon and mini cupcake treats on vintage crockery! This year Lili Vanilli has been researching the Edwardian High Tea so you can see her photo story if you’re feeling inspired!
I recently went to my friend’s wedding in St Andrews and managed to get a few snaps of the gorgeous wedding cake. It was a lovely fruit cake (there was also choc sponge but I didn’t manage to get a piece of that as well). The cake was made by the Cake Partnership in Edinburgh – a mother and daughter duo – Lillian and Emma. My friend said she fell in love with the cake the second she saw it – I can understand why!
This week I made a small batch of chocolate cupcakes with vanilla icing from the Hummingbird Bakery recipe book. There is a new Hummingbird recipe book publishing on 17 March which you can pre-order from Amazon. I used concentrated sugar paste colouring to make the purple frosting – it lasts a long time as you only need one tiny blob using a cocktail stick. I used a variety of fun decorations including hundreds and thousands, shiny mini balls and blue edible glitter. The cupcakes went down a treat and all my friends had two.
Recently, I was given a vintage cake plate for my birthday from eBay. I did a lot of research before finding the one I wanted and found that it’s actually quite hard to find a nice one at the right price.
You can also buy it here for the same price on ‘Say No To The Highstreet‘ or Amazon. My friend found a lovely one at a vintage sale so you may find them at car boot sales, charity shops or on vintage websites.
You can buy modern ones like this single tiered cake plate from Amazon or this other Portmeiron one from John Lewis. I also like Cath Kidston’s three tiered cake stand and at House of Fraser, this one layer cake stand is currently on offer. Happy cake plate hunting!
A slight departure from cake for this week…At the weekend, I made bread for the first time with my friend and it was much easier than I thought it would be! It’s also pretty quick and cheap to make. This recipe was fun to bake and something a bit different as it’s savoury and sweet. It goes incredibly well with cheeses like St Agur, Wensleydale and cranberries and mature cheddar. This is the recipe my friend chose from the BBC Good Food website. All you need is strong flour for bread, a bit of fast action yeast, some decent olive oil, pepper and salt, chopped dried figs and a very large bowl for the bread to rise in. The kneading is a great stress buster/bicep workout too!
First up, put your salt, pepper, yeast and flour in a bowl. Add your olive oil. Work into a dough. 400-425ml of water is about right to get the mixture to form a smooth dough. According to Delia, the water should be hot for your little finger if you dip it in. Our water was a bit colder than that but I read the Delia ‘bible‘ later on. Then you need to leave the dough to rise for an hour in a warm place. Our kitchen was warm already and we wanted to pop out so we didn’t put it by the radiator. We left our bread to rise for two hours whilst we grabbed a coffee in Wimbledon Village and watched the perfectly coiffured pedigree pooches walk by! There’s a surprising number of them!
When we got home, our bread had doubled in size and we were ready to knead in the dried figs. I’d actually use less than 350g of figs, 250g seemed enough to us. Leave it to rise for another 10-15 mins and sprinkle with a bit of flour before putting in the oven. Don’t put it too high in the oven but I would recommend baking for 45-50 mins (or atleast in a fan oven like mine). We only baked ours for 45mins and it wasn’t quite enough.
To check it’s done, knock on the bottom and see if it sounds hollow. If not, give it another 5mins in the oven. Serve warm with yummy cheese and grapes like we did! I tested the bread out on my colleagues this afternoon and with some Yorkshire Wensleydale cheese, it went down a treat! Try it for yourselves!