Mary Berry easy lemon cheesecake recipe review

lemon cheesecake by cake takes the biscuit blog

On Sunday I wanted to make a dessert for some friends coming round. After a BBQ with lots of meat, I thought something light and refreshing would go well. I started sifting through my recipe books and found that there were plenty of cheesecake recipes out there but a lot of them were a bit faffy especially if you had to bake one. In the end I plumped for the easy lemon cheesecake recipe from Mary Berry’s Ultimate Cake Book because it was super easy. I was impressed about how quickly it could be made.

It says to use a 9 inch flan dish, but as I didn’t have one, I used an 8 inch cake tin which was loose bottomed. The first thing to do is mix the 10 crushed digestive biscuits, 2 oz of melted butter and 1 oz demerara sugar together for the biscuit base. I found that the base did go a bit soggy when eating it so I now want to experiment with baking the base for a short amount of time before adding the filling.

For the cheesecake filling, you mix together 150ml of single cream, 1 tin of condensed milk, almost a pack of soft cheese (175g) and zest of 3 lemons. I used light condensed milk and light soft cheese so this was a bit healthier. Then you add the juice of 3 lemons – I actually put the juice through a sieve to make sure the filling was really smooth. It’s also really important to use a whisk to get rid of any lumps when you add the soft cheese. The lemon juice almost instantly thickens the mixture as long as you keep whisking. Pour the mixture into the cake tin and leave for four hours to set. Just before serving I added strawberries round the edge. If you’re more organised than me then you can make it the night before, which is actually a good plan if you’re preparing for a dinner party. I would definitely make this again because it was faff free. If you want more info on Mary Berry and her other books you can read about her here.

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Angry Birds Cupcakes

Angry Birds Cupcakes for the Cake takes the biscuit blog

My boyfriend sends me lots of links to cool cakes he sees on the web and hints at which cakes he’d like for his birthday. I knew an Angry Birds cake was on the list after he sent me the Playable Angry Birds Cake video and this clever modelled one. I’m not all that experienced at modelling so didn’t think I’d be able to do the birds justice. In the end I came up with the idea of cupcake toppers but found there are very few items of Angry Birds merchandise out there at the moment. I bought these off eBay and they’re very reasonably priced and were delivered quickly. I made vanilla sponge cupcakes with piped buttercream (Cakes4Fun recipe) and then added the toppers. I found the pigs came out the best because the printing of that topper was the most accurate colour wise. I then bought some happy birthday candles and was set! Note to self though, don’t walk with those happy bday candles – the wicks are really short and they fizzle out in seconds!

Afternoon tea review: Wyndham Grand Hotel, Chelsea Harbour

On Saturday, I went to afternoon tea at the recently refurbished Wyndham Grand Hotel in Chelsea Harbour. It was a lovely sunny day and the Harbour was a great setting. My friend had found a special deal on the Afternoon Tea website for a champagne afternoon tea for £20 which was a bargain. The afternoon tea was themed and because of the Chelsea Flower Show currently being on, it included flowers and herbs being subtly woven into the menu. You can read the menu here.

Wyndham Grand Hotel London

First up, we were ravenous and ate all the sandwiches, though if you want an extra plate, it’s £6.50. I liked the salmon and cream cheese one and it was nice and fresh. I’m not a personal fan of lavender so the honey and ham sandwich with lavender bread was not to my taste. The next layer was some lovely warm scones which were wrapped in a linen napkin to keep in the heat. We managed a scone each but there was another scone still to go at! The scones were fresh and came apart easily in two pieces and we smeared on plenty of clotted cream and strawberry jam.

Next up were the smaller cake delights and everyone had their own favourites. The one I enjoyed the most was the flourless chocolate cake with chilli. The chilli was mild enough not to be too overpowering and there was a lovely treacly gooey taste at the end of your mouthful. I also enjoyed the lemon drizzle cake and the rose and raspberry chibouste (looks like a shotglass in the pic) but you did have to dig a little deeper to get the lovely creamy filling so that the raspberries weren’t too sweet with it. The lavender shortbread wasn’t for me but it was nicely done and I did love the idea of the violet and blackberry eclairs although they were too dry. There was limitless tea and coffee and my friends chose mint and breakfast tea and a cafetiere of coffee whilst I went for a cappuccino.

The hotel has been done in a modern style and the seats were comfortable although I’m not sure the lounge bar had the right furnishings for afternoon tea. If it had been warmer we would have ventured on the terrace for the great Chelsea Harbour views. Overall it was a fantastic afternoon out and after the champagne we all felt very pampered and relaxed. I felt thoroughly stuffed from the afternoon tea so went for a long bike ride and did my fastest ever lap of the park so it must have been down to all that sugar!

Let Them Eat Cake Exhibition Review

Tate & Lyle cake exhibitionA couple of days before the Royal Wedding, I took my Parisian friend to the ‘Let them eat cake’ exhibition organised by Tate and Lyle. She had asked to do something ‘British’ before she moved back to Paris permanently. We had already been to the Orangery for afternoon tea so I thought a royal wedding cake competition and exhibit would be the perfect cake outing. Tate & Lyle held a competition on Facebook for people to create their version of the royal wedding cake. At Wellington Arch, the cakes were presented and there were some great entries. They were works of art!

Whilst browsing the cakes and reading all the tid bits of information about royal wedding cakes throughout the ages, I was asked if I wanted to be filmed for a Channel 5 and OK magazine feature. I agreed although was horrified that I had gone out with no make-up on as I was too busy for make-up with all the moving house tasks. I spoke about what I thought the royal wedding cake would look like and which cakes I liked at the exhibition. I haven’t heard that the feature has gone out just yet but if it makes the cut, I’ll let you know!

Made with sugar paste on an aluminium armature

I learned all sorts of facts at the exhibition such as Queen Elizabeth II’s cake was 9ft high and a replica of Buckingham Palace with models of Balmoral and Windsor Castle! A 27 year old piece of cake from Princess Diana and Prince Charles’ wedding was sold at an auction for over £1,000! And in days gone by, wedding cakes had lots of lovely white icing, because it showed off how rich the bride’s family was because sugar was so expensive. Who knew! I loved the replica of the Victorian era cake because the detail and craftsmanship was beautiful. The It Must be Love cake was a big favourite of other visitors too. Enjoy the pics and you can see a slide show of more pictures on the Independent’s website here.

Easter vanilla cupcakes recipe

with mini eggs in pink gingham cupcake boxHaving recently been to the Cakes4Fun cupcake course in Putney, I have continued to use their vanilla sponge and vanilla buttercream recipes. The sponge is light and the frosting is yummy! This time I made a mistake to use Lurpak spreadable butter as the icing wasn’t stiff enough. Next time I will definitely stick to the butter blocks as this tends to give a better result. I made these cupcakes for my friend’s birthday and she was over the moon with them. They make great pressies when you put them in a professional looking cupcake box. I bought this pink gingham one from Cakes Cookies and Crafts. See below for the Cakes4Fun vanilla cupcake recipe. Have a lovely Easter everyone!

Cupcake sponge (makes about 10)

  • 125g castor sugar
  • 125g margerine
  • 125g self raising flour
  • 2 eggs (large)
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla essence
  • 2-3 tablespoons of milk as needed

Vanilla buttercream:

  • 125g soft butter (use salted)
  • 250g sifted icing sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla essence
  • 1 tablespoon of water as required

Photo story: Finnish cinnamon rolls ‘Korvapuusti’

Korvapuusti

I was browsing my Facebook newsfeed last week and came across my friend’s incredible culinary creation – Korvapuusti – which are Finnish cinnamon rolls. My friend, Miina Salminen, is also a fantastic photographer and so I asked if I could show her photo on the Cake takes the biscuit blog. You can get the recipe here via Flickr. I adore pastries so I definitely need to add this to my list of things to bake!

Celebrating one year of Cake takes the biscuit!

James Martin recipeToday is a special day, as it’s the first anniversary of the Cake takes the biscuit blog. It’s been a fabulous culinary journey so far and I intend to keep it up! I thought a Valentine’s theme post would be particularly appropriate, especially since I did promise to let you know what I would bake. First of all I made a beef and ale pie with this James Martin recipe. It’s a great one to get simmering away on a Sunday in winter and then just finish off on a week night with the puff pastry and add into the oven for 25mins. I added a heart in pastry to make this Valentine themed. It was very tasty and I’d definitely cook it again. My boyfriend did have two helpings so that was a good sign.

Hummingbird Bakery vanilla cupcakes with vanilla icing and heart shaped chocolates
For pudding, clearly the most important part of the meal, I baked vanilla Hummingbird cupcakes in heart shaped baking cases. I also used homemade vanilla essence which was a present from my sister-in-law at Christmas. Add two good quality vanilla pods to sterilised jars and fill with decent vodka, shake and wait. It needs 4-6 weeks to mature so this week was great timing to use it. I then decorated the cupcakes with vanilla icing and little hearts wrapped in pink and red foil from M&S. I made these in fairy cake cases rather than bigger cupcake cases. Nonetheless my boyfriend tucked into four of them! And my housemates polished off the rest with me tonight and they went down a treat. All in all, a success and a great way to start the second year of Cake takes the biscuit!

Pancake Day ideas – a month to go!

You might only just be thinking about what you’re baking for Valentines day but it’s only a month away until Pancake day (Shrove Tuesday) on 8th March. Recently, I spied a turquoise mini frying pan in my local department store and decided I had to have it! You can buy them online here in a range of colours for £3.99 and they make perfect mini pancakes. They also double up as good egg friers too when you don’t have a pancake craving!

My friend and I tried out Gordon Ramsay’s cinnamon pancake recipe recently from his Christmas recipe book. We adapted it and showered the pancakes with blueberries, drizzled them with honey and added a spot of natural yoghurt. They were perfect for brunch! Gordon cooks three in a bigger frying pan but it’s more fun to cook in a mini frying pan. Admittedly for pancake day you might be going for volume rather than novelty but you could always have the mini frying pan on the go on a different hob!

For two people making 6 mini pancakes:

75g self raising flour

3/4 tsp ground cinnamon

3/4 tsp baking powder

pinch of fine sea salt

3/4 tbsp maple syrup (we used honey)

112.5 ml buttermilk

2 large eggs separated

1 tbsp sunflower oil

Method:

1. Sift the flour, cinnamon, baking powder and salt into a large mixing bowl and make a well in the middle.

2. Add the honey/maple syrup, buttermilk and egg yolks to the well and gradually incorporate the flour into the liquid by whisking from the middle and working outwards.

3. In another bowl, whisk the egg whites to peaks and then fold into the batter.

4. Cook the pancakes for 1 – 1.5 mins on each side in the mini frying pan

5. Keep warm in a low oven. Then add blueberries, swirls of honey and natural yoghurt. Yum!

BBC Good Food Christmas pudding ice cream

BBC Good Food

This is a cracking little recipe for Christmas, New Year, or anyone wanting that little reminder of Christmas in January. This is a picture of my sister-in-law’s Christmas pudding ice cream which she made for our family on New Year’s Eve. It looks very impressive, a great alternative to the traditional Christmas pudding and can be made in advance. The recipe is from the BBC Good Food website and dare I say that this photo does the recipe a lot more justice than the BBC’s photo! I can’t say this is the healthiest dessert at a whopping 675 calories per serving but it tastes darned good. The boozy fruit in the ice cream is complemented nicely by the cranberry compote which is drizzled on top. It makes a fabulous and dramatic contrast too. Enjoy!

Florentines recipe review

Milk and dark chocolate FlorentinesThese make a great gift for any special occasion such as New Year and Easter. I made these for my relatives and purchased little cellophane bags from Cakes, Cookies and Crafts. I do think the recipe needs a bit of tweaking though, partly because they took quite a long time to make. Firstly, the recipe says to use two baking trays, adding small spoonfuls spaced apart. I found that I needed to use three baking trays and my third tin was a little smaller than the rest and the Florentines did start to merge with each other. If you want to be sure that they don’t merge, I’d suggest either doing tiny mounds or using four baking trays. The mixture only has to be cooked for 10-12 mins so that part is very quick.

The recipe says to melt dark or milk chocolate and then paint it on baking paper and then stick the dried Florentines on to the baking paper. I found this to be an extra step which wasn’t strictly necessary as it wasted chocolate and meant that you had to wait for the chocolate to dry before you peeled off the Florentines from the baking sheet. Once dried, I painted on more of the melted chocolate and used a fork to create a wavy pattern in it. It helps if the chocolate has been left for 30 seconds so the pattern stays in the chocolate. Your hands do get very sticky so it’s handy to have a damp cloth nearby.

I struggled to get perfect circular Florentines but once they have the chocolate on them, they do look quite professional anyway, especially in the little bags!

Here’s the recipe:
75g butter
75g caster sugar
50g glace cherries (or use 25g cherries and 25g glace ginger)
25g raisins or sultanas
25g pumpkin seeds
100g almond flakes
175g good quality dark chocolate – you could probably just use 100g by cutting out the painting on a piece of baking paper first
2 tbsp double cream

Method:
Melt the butter and add in the sugar. Bring to the boil once the sugar has dissolved. Take off the heat and add the almonds, cherries, sultanas and pumpkin seeds. Then add in the two tbsp of double cream. Spoon tiny amounts onto several baking trays (lined with baking paper) and put in the oven at 180degrees for 10-12 mins until lightly golden brown. Leave to cool. Take the Florentines off the baking trays and then paint the melted chocolate on to the flat side of the them. Draw a wavy pattern in the melted chocolate using a fork. Leave to set. Add into little clear bags once the Florentines have dried.

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