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Bitter Sweet

Lemons are one of those enigmas of the fruity world that send our taste buds into sensory polar extremes. They are renowned for their sour powers, inciting bitter and sharp tastes that make even a new born purse their lips. They ooze zesty and refreshing fragrances that make us think of homemade lemonade on a hot summer’s day or fresh fish and chips by the seaside. Their baked aroma reminds us of home cooked comfort foods ranging from lemon meringue pie to crispy lemon infused roast chicken. The opportunities to cook and bake with lemons are endless, and dare I say it quite overwhelming.

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Hopscoff has an enticing, aromatic, sensational, and irresistible collaboration to announce with JOYCE, an online magazine for curious people who have quite frankly seen enough photos of avocado toast. Today’s post celebrates life’s 5 greatest joys – our senses. Our taste, touch, smell, sight and hearing allow us to experience life to the max and JOYCE and Hopscoff hope to guide you and accompany you along your own sensational journeys.

JOYCE is a happy space, but it was born from a place of sadness; the ideas forming in hot and hungry nightmares in which I wrestled with an eating disorder and a fear of food. Without sites like Hopscoff, and their unashamed commitment to appetite, indulgence, and a great slice of cake, JOYCE might not have happened. That’s why I’m so excited to be collaborating with Nat, and with Hopscoff, this month (Rachel, founder of JOYCE).

Today, it is important to acknowledge that not everyone has a sweet tooth, not everyone likes cake, not everyone may even God forbid like tea. But, it doesn’t matter, we are all different and have different taste buds and different preferences. What does matter is that teatime is a time for all of us. That should be enjoyed together.

Therefore, today Hopscoff leaves you a recipe that hones in on as many of the sensory adventures that our citrus friends give us. This zesty-refreshing-sharp-creamy-comfort cake gives you the perfect excuse to take a trip down memory lane, to bake with or for your loved ones. This recipe is simple and easy to follow and is great for everyone – even baking novices, those with little’uns and for those whose spare time is a luxury rather than a given. Therefore whether your in it to bake it, in it to eat it or in it just to lick the bowl – everyone can get stuck in!

These days I have fewer nightmares and eat more cake; I lick the crumbs from my fingers and dream of sponge and sugar. Hopscoff and JOYCE suggest you do the same. You might like to start with this lemon cake, and a cup of hot hot tea (Rachel, founder of JOYCE).

So, take the recipe and make it your own creation. Have no boundaries. Have no fears. Add poppy seeds for added textures, swap the lemon curd for orange curd, throw in some blueberries for additional fruity flavours, swap lemons for limes – whatever you wish!

…there are only two conditions 1) serve your finished masterpiece with a hot beverage of your choice and 2) never leave a crumb!

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Let us know how your baking experiences turn out by commenting below, sharing your photos on Instagram @hopscoff or by saying hello at natalie@hopscoff.co.uk.  Make sure you don’t miss a post by subscribing below and to JOYCE.

Happy Baking!

nat

JOYCE

Lemon Curd Cream Cake

Ingredients

Cake

250g butter

250g golden caster sugar

250g self-raising flour

1tsp baking powder

4 large eggs

zest of 3 lemons

juice of 1 lemon

1tbsp of milk

Filling and Icing

1/2 jar lemon curd

zest of 3 lemons

juice of 1 lemon

250g butter

500g icing sugar

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to gas mark 4 and grease and line 2 8inch/20cm sandwich tins.
  2. Beat together the sugar and butter until light and fluffy.
  3. Add in the eggs one at a time whilst continuing to beat the mixture.
  4. Stir in the lemon zest and juice.
  5. Sift the flour and baking powder into the mixture and fold until well combined.
  6. Add a tbsp of milk and stir the mixture one last time.
  7. Divide the mixture into the two prepared tins and bake in the oven for 20-25mins until golden brown and a cake tester comes out clean.
  8. Whilst the cakes are cooling make the icing by beating together the butter, icing sugar, lemon zest and juice until light and fluffy.
  9. Once the cakes have cooled remove them from the tins and place 3-4 heaped tbsps of lemon curd on top of one of the cakes. Spread the curd out evenly.
  10. Then pipe or place the lemon icing on top of the lemon curd.
  11. Place the second cake on top and repeat (I would advise to only put a thin layer of lemon curd on the top cake).
  12. Decorate the top how you wish!
  13. Enjoy with a nice hot cuppa 🙂

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The DeChox Challenge

Ever heard of the DeChox Challenge? If you haven’t then you are probably in safe territory and will never have to come across it! If you have, then you probably know where today’s post is going…

The DeChox challenge is the painstaking process of agreeing to give up chocolate for the whole month of March – that’s right anything that contains cocoa is a no no! Chocolate cake, chocolate biscuits even the chocolate sprinkles on your cappuccino!

My colleagues and I thought it would be a good idea to accept this seemingly impossible challenge and endeavor to say a BIG fat sugary goodbye to chocolate in order to raise money for the British Heart Foundation (https://dechox.bhf.org.uk/).

Now, many people’s first reaction when they find out about the challenge quite undoubtedly places them within one of two categories: 1) the ‘there is noooo way I could ever do that’ type of people or 2) the ‘why would you want to do that?’ kind of people.

The first set will either embark on the challenge anyway thinking they won’t be able to have the will power to resist the temptation to eat chocolate and essentially have given up before they even started. Or, alternatively, initially think they won’t be able to and what makes them accept the challenge is the inner curiosity and determination to trial their inner strength.

The second category of people simply do not care. Either they are just not fussed about chocolate (I know these weirdos do exist in the world- shock horror :O ) or 2) they live everyday to the full and cannot see why they would deprive themselves of something they love and enjoy! Probably a sensible viewpoint to have.

I, unfortunately, have always been doomed to test and trial myself, I have always tortured myself with the ‘save the best till last‘ mantra and this time is no exception. My theory is that come the day I can eat chocolate again, it will taste so good in that moment that it would have been worth waiting a whole month for it – kind of like Christmas day 🙂 … Yet, isn’t the best thing about Christmas the build up and the festive period as a whole, and not the actual day?

Before I find myself sliding down the slippery slope into category two, I do think that testing our inner strength, integrity, will power and determination is important, every now and again. OK, so it may not have to be as extreme as giving up chocolate but I do encourage you to think of something that you enjoy and could perhaps do without for a little while. This will force you to not only open your mind to the wider options that are available to you but also increase your notion of gratitude, which is absolutely fundamental.

During the DeChox challenge I have been taking advantage of the lack of chocolate in the house to find other ingredients to inspire my baking. With spring now officially upon us I have turned to fruity alternatives that are not only a healthier option but are also naturally sweet…to help satisfy those cravings 🙂 If you are after a chocolate free dessert this weekend try my Lemon, Blueberry and Raspberry Meringue cake. Or, if you want something completely refined sugar free and also gluten free try Deliciously Ella’s Orange and Polenta cake.

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Lemon, Blueberry and Raspberry Meringue Cake
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Deliciously Ella’s Orange and Polenta Cake

So have a go at trying some new today – go on test yourself 🙂

Let me know how you get on by commenting below or saying hello at natalie@hopscoff.co.uk 🙂

nat

Lemon, Blueberry and Raspberry Meringue Cake

Ingredients

100g butter
300g Golden Caster Sugar
5 eggs
2 tsp vanilla bean paste
2 tbsp milk
150g self-raising flour
juice and zest of 1 lemon1 punnet of blueberries
50g flaked almonds
300ml whipping cream
1 punnet of fresh raspberries
Icing sugar, for dusting
Method
  1. Preheat the oven to gas mark 4 and grease and  line 2 x 8″ cake tins
  2. Beat the butter and 100g of the sugar together in a bowl until pale and creamy
  3. Add in the juice and zest of 1 lemon, 1 egg, vanilla and milk and mix until well combined
  4. Sift over the flour and add the punnet of blueberries and gently fold in
  5. Divide equally between the prepared tins
  6. Place the cakes in the oven for 10 minutes
  7. In the meantime, whisk 4 egg whites in a bowl until they form soft peaks
  8. Gradually beat in the remaining 200g sugar to make a glossy meringue
  9. Remove the cakes from the oven and gently spread the meringue over the sponge mixture. Bake for approx 10-15 minutes until the meringue has turned golden
  10. Leave the cakes to cool in the tins and in the meantime whisk the cream to form soft peaks
  11. Once the cakes have cooled, remove them from the tins. Place the cream over one of the cakes, top with raspberries and place the second cake on top
  12. Scatter over the flaked almonds and dust with icing sugar
  13. Enjoy with a hot cuppa!

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Go Bananas!

So today’s post takes me back to my Australian East Coast travels and more specifically to Coff’s Harbour, aka the Big Banana. Heading to this part of the coast only really means one thing – surf camp.

I had only been surfing once before this – in Devon on New Years day. Let’s just say it wasn’t a truly positive experience. I am not sure what was worse, the panic attack of hitting the ice cold water or being hit in the head with the board on numerous occasions!

Therefore, rocking up at a SURF camp was not my idea of fun! That having been said,  I did really enjoy my time there and I even managed to stand up on the board 🙂

Now being the true Girl Guide trooper that I am, no camp would be complete with out a fire and no fire would be complete without marshmallows and digestive biscuits to make makeshift smores and no makeshift smores would be complete without tea! Unfortunately, Aussie marshmallows are not nice at all so thank goodness we had some Yorkshire tea to save the day!

Now, although Aussie marshmallows don’t quite cut it, Banana Bread is a big hit Down Under and what better place to grab a slice than from the Big Banana city itself!? Famously called so for the Big Banana amusement park that is based there. I didn’t actually get a chance to go but I am sure it would have been a whole bunch of fun ;).

I am a hugeee banana fan and it therefore came as a pleasant surprise that banana bread is extremely big in Oz and is served in most cafés. It is standard practice out there to have a big chunky slab for breakfast – a custom that I could most certainly get used to!

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Have you ever tried it toasted!? It is amazing! Just quite literally grab a piece of banana bread/cake (does anyone actually known the difference between the two!?) and put it in a toastie machine or under the grill! I had never heard of this concept before and it was really delicious.

I reckon banana bread toasties could be the next craze – The banoastie? Okay so the branding needs a bit of work but the concept is golden right? 😉

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Banana cake is one of my favourite types of cakes (following ever so closely behind my all time favourites – carrot cake and lemon cake!). I have a ‘go-to’ recipe which never fails and to jazz it up, from time to time, I throw in some chocolate chips. Or when I’m feeling adventurous I whip up some Oreo buttercream and make a banana and Oreo sandwich cake.

Now, throughout my experiments with a more wholesome lifestyle I have also developed a gluten-free, dairy-free, and refined sugar-free alternative to my classic favourite. Admittedly, it is less fluffy, buttery and sweet than my original recipe BUT it is not compromised on flavour and is perfect for breakfast or a post-workout fueling.

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You can choose to mix it up however you wish. I actually found it quite hard to pin down an exact recipe as I change it every time. I am a huge pecan fan so lately I have been putting pecans in. But, you can throw in just about anything – raw cocoa nibs for a chocolatey taste, flaxseeds for added omega-3, adjust the amount of maple syrup for more or less sweetness, any nuts or additional fruit would also go perfectly.

This banana bread recipe is also gorgeous toasted – drizzle with maple syrup and add pecans for a real treat! 🙂

Have a bonkers day, make a banoastie!

nat

Traditional Banana Cake 

Ingredients 

8 oz Plain Flour

6 oz Golden Caster Sugar

4 oz Butter

1 tsp Baking Powder

1 tsp Bicarbonate of Soda

1 Egg

3 Mashed Bananas

A little milk (if needed!)

Chocolate chips (optional)

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to gas mark 4
  2. Cream together the butter and sugar
  3. Add in the egg and mix until well combined
  4. Sift in the flour, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda and mix until well combined
  5. Pour in a little milk if you wish and then stir in the mashed bananas
  6. Throw in some chocolate chips for a chocolate banana cake.
  7. Pour into a loaf tin and bake for at least 45 minutes. Depending on the tin this cake could take up to an hour to cook so keep checking after this time.
  8. For an oreo banana cake line an 8inch cake tin with Oreos, pour the mixture over and bake. To make the Oreo buttercream, cream together 125g of butter and 250g of icing sugar and 1 tsp of vanilla bean paste. Then stir in half a pack of crushed Oreos.

 

Wholesome Banana Cake 

Ingredients

4 mashed bananas

4 eggs

140g of almond butter

4 tablespoons of melted coconut oil

75g of coconut flour

1 tsp of cinnamon

1 tsp of bicarbonate of soda

1 tsp of baking powder

2 tbsp of flaxseed meal

1 tbsp of maple syrup

1 1/2 tbsp of raw cocoa nibs

2 tbsp chopped pecans

Method

  1. Grease one loaf pan with coconut oil and preheat the oven to gas mark 3
  2. Combine the mashed bananas, eggs, coconut oil, almond butter and maple syrup until well mixed
  3. Add the coconut flour, cinnamon, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and flaxseed meal and stir until all is mixed.
  4. Stir in the raw cocoa nibs (if you would like a chocoately taste!) and pecans (if you wish!)
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Baking from the heart…

So as the weeks go by the blogging is getting sparser and sparser 🙁 Early mornings and late nights have left me with very little time to type away. But for those keeping up to date with my Instagram posts and stories (@hopscoff) you will have noticed that my weeks have still been filled with baking, drinking tea and eating cake – hoorah! I have so many tea rooms to tell you about, new cake flavours to try, new recipe combinations I’m working on and of course I still have to reveal all my travel tips from Australia – there has been a lot of scoffing recently and not much hopping! But stay tuned and get the cuppas at the ready as from now the posts will come pouring in 🙂

For the next few posts I want to focus on some of my recent cakes I have been baking and I suppose the thought process behind them. I have definitely come to realise that my passion is baking. I don’t have an inkling of a doubt about it. Why not? Because it is starting to take over my life! To fulfil my obsession I have recently had to bake late in the evening after a day’s work or early in the morning at the weekend before meeting for family affairs.

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Standing by my KitchenAid with my eyes half shut my Mum normally squeals ‘What are you baking NOW!?’ ‘Do you HAVE to bake!?’ My answer? In a calm and collective manner is ‘I don’t have to, I want to’. I am always looking for an excuse to bake and family occasions and birthdays are the perfect opportunity.

The Oreo or caramel chocolate drip cake is a guaranteed crowd pleaser and is a go-to cake for any gathering. But, there are sometimes special occasions that require a bit more thought and care into the flavour selection.

A few weeks ago was my Nouna’s (Godmother’s) four year memorial. To mark the occasion we traditionally go to the Greek church service, visit the cemetery and then back to my Aunty Donna’s for a souvla (BBQ). I of course wanted to bake for the occasion but this definitely was not a drip cake affair. My cake had to mean more than your bog standard pudding fix. But I found myself struggling for inspiration. I spent days doodling in my notebook, scribbling memories and stories that I could try to pull through in a cake.

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One of my fondest memories is drinking my very first cup of coffee, that she made me. My Nouna was a fond coffee drinker and I must have been about 6 when she handed me a coffee in a diddly kiddies cup. ‘I have made it without sugar. With sugar it tastes like caramel and you will be hooked on it forever!’ Till this day I have never had sugar in my coffee. Yet she did! I thought about baking a Coffee Caramel cake. But for some reason after recipe drafting and sketch making this didn’t seem good enough. I could picture her taking one bite and not liking it so I decided to go back to basics – what was her favourite cake? …Carrot Cake! So Carrot Cake I baked…

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But… this cake kept me up all night. It was an extremely warm weekend and I had nightmares about the cream cheese frosting melting away from the sides by the time it got to pudding time. I mean get a grip! Who has nightmares about cakes?! So, I was up at 6am the next morning baking again.

My Nouna was quite a no nonsense get straight to the point kind of woman and she was never afraid to tell you what she thought. She also had the biggest heart known to man and would do anything for anyone.

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I therefore thought that a Jammy Dodger Cake would sum her up perfectly. The bottom layer made of shortbread giving the cake that crunchy bite, representing her fiery personality. Topped with a layer of vanilla buttercream and fresh strawberries resembling her summer fresh glow that she always had in her perfectly structured cheekbones and voluptuous lips. Topped with a layer of vanilla sponge sandwiched in between a layer of jam for her cheeky jammy side, for when she got away with her loose tongue. Finished with another layer of shortbread with a big heart for the love that will never fade. Overall making four layers – one for every year since she passed away.

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So that weekend a lot of icing sugar, butter and flour was flung around the kitchen, but I got there in the end. Sometimes baking from the heart can be a long process, other times quite blissfully spontaneous! But, be warned, if you dare to breathe the expression ‘It’s just a cake’ you will probably end up with butter up your nostrils. Cakes can and do mean a lot more than what first meets the eye…

 

Happy heartfelt baking all,

nat

Carrot Cake

Recipe adapted from Jaime Oliver

Ingredients 

For the cake

50g light soft brown sugar

3 large eggs

350ml sunflower oil

350g plain flour

2tsp baking powder

1tsp bicarbonate of soda

3tsp ground cinnamon

2tsp ground ginger

2tsp vanilla essence

350g peeled and grated carrots

90g finely chopped walnuts

For the icing

350g icing sugar

50g soft butter

2tsp vanilla bean paste

150g cold cream cheese

Walnut halves to decorate

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 170C/Fan 150C/325F/Gas Mark 3. Prepare 3 x 20cm/8in sandwich tins and lining with baking paper.
  2. Place the sugar, oil, and eggs in a large bowl and beat together. Sift over the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, cinnamon and ginger then fold in until well mixed. Fold in the carrots and walnuts (you can optionally add in raisins as well if you wish)
  3. Divide the mixture between the prepared cake tins. Bake for 30-35mins or until golden. Leave to cool.
  4. For the cream cheese icing sift the icing sugar into a large bowl, add the soft butter and vanilla essence. Whisk until well combined. Add the cream cheese and briefly beat together again until well mixed in.
  5. When the cakes are cold, pipe the icing between the three cakes. Stack the cakes one on top of the other. Top with the walnut halves and store in a cool place.
  6. Enjoy with a cuppa!

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Jammy Dodger Cake 

Adapted from the BBC

Ingredients 

For the shortbread 

400g slightly salted butter softened

200g golden caster sugar

2 tsp vanilla extract

600g plain flour

For the cake 

140g slightly salted butter

140g golden caster sugar

3 medium eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

140g self-raising flour

For the buttercream

140g slightly salted butter

300g icing sugar, plus extra for dusting

1 tbsp vanilla extract

1 Punnet of strawberries, washed and halved

1 jar of seedless strawberry jam

Method 

  1. Heat oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4. To make the shortbread, beat the butter, sugar and vanilla extract together until smooth. Add the flour and stir until the mixture starts to form a dough. Use your hands to bring it together and shape into a ball. Cut off approx 100g of the dough, wrap in cling film and chill. Weigh the remaining dough and divide into 2 equal pieces.
  2. Using your hands press one  two equal pieces of shortbread mixture into the base of a 8in/20cm loose-bottomed tin Smooth the surface with the back of the spoon to create an even layer, then chill for 15 mins.
  3. Remove the tins from the fridge and prick the bases of the shortbread all over with a fork, place on a baking tray and bake for roughly 25 mins or until lightly golden and firm. Remove from the oven and, while the shortbread is still hot, cut a heart into the centre of one of the tins. Leave to cool in the tins.
  4. For the cake,  line a 20cm/8in cake tin. Beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs and vanilla a little at a time, beating well after each addition, then fold in the flour. Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin and smooth the surface. Bake for 20-25 mins until lightly golden. Leave to cool.
  5. Meanwhile, roll out the 100g piece of reserved shortbread dough on a lightly floured surface to the thickness of a £1 coin. Using a heart shape cutter cut out mini hearts onto a baking tray lined with baking parchment and chill for 15 mins. While the cake is cooling, bake the hearts 5-10 mins until lightly golden. Leave to cool.
  6. To make the buttercream, beat the butter in a large bowl until soft and pale. Sift over half the icing sugar and beat until combined. Sift over the remaining icing sugar, add the vanilla extract, then beat until smooth and creamy.
  7. To start assembling the shortcake place the shortbread biscuit without the heart cut-out on a plate or cake stand. Spread a thin layer of jam over the shortbread followed by a layer of buttercream. Place the strawberries on top and then spread some more buttercream over them to lock them in place. Lay the cake on top of the buttercream, then spoon the jam on top of the cake and carefully spread out over the surface.
  8. Remove the heart from the second shortbread biscuit and set aside. Slide the shortbread on top of the jam layer and sprinkle sugar allover the biscuit. Fill in the heart with more jam. Place the little hearts around the edge, fixing them with buttercream.
  9. Enjoy with a cuppa!
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No plan survives contact with the enemy…

Nothing ever really goes to plan, right? Well, thats what German military strategist Helmuth von Moltke also thought when he quite bluntly put it that no battle plan survives contact with the enemy. Translated into simpler terms for us lesser beings, everything we try hard to plan quite generally always goes to pot! This is something I learnt during my 48 hours at Sandhurst, oh yes the initial officer training grounds for the British Army. What was I doing there? Learning all about teamwork and leadership as part of my induction week for my new job. So what has the British Army and Banking got to do with Travel, Tea and Cake? Good question! And I think I will have to get back to you with an answer in about 5 years time…

Since being back from Australia my plan was to have plenty of time to blog loads and tell you all about my travels. The reality turned into quite the opposite and within four weeks I have only managed to churn out two posts. So what have I been up to? Well, the more suitable question would be what haven’t I been up to! Well in a nutshell…

Week 1: Salisbury, Bath and Oxford

Less than 24hours after I landed back into England from Australia I made my way down to Salisbury to visit my Argentinian family who were staying there for a few weeks. Within one week I hopped over to Southampton, Bath and Oxford. Spending time in Salisbury involved eating a lot of Cinnamon Swirls, my all time fav, and that spurred me on to try out my own recipe once I was back in Kent!

Week 2: The Emma Bridgewater Factory, family, friends and tearoom visits

The highlight of my second week back in the UK was of course a trip to the Emma Bridgewater factory in Stoke with the bestie Miriam! We made a complete day of it, mug painting, factory touring and of course tea drinking and cake eating!

The week also consisted of many family BBQs and birthdays, more baking and oh yeah playing netball! So I have now joined a netball team after 10 years of not having played! My first game involved a lot of fouls and footwork mistakes – whoooppsss! 😀

I of course managed to squeeze in a few tearoom visits. Josh and I went to The Tiny Teapot in Biddenden which lived up to all expectations and was indeed tiny! I then found myself BACK to Oxford to say farewell to my dear friend Florrie who has now moved to Mexico 🙁 We went to the recently opened Barefoot Cafe which was fab!

Week 3: an intense Cake Decorating Course in Greenwich

So what is the done thing to do before you start a two year graduate scheme with a bank? Go on an intense 7 day course in cake decorating and techniques – of course! 😉 All jokes aside, this is something that I had been thinking about doing for a long time and I am *so* glad I did. It really allowed me to be uber creative and fuelled my passion for cake making. Now I am very eager to take it to that next level. So if you are after a celebration cake or cupcakes, give me a call! 😀

Week 4: started my full time job in Landaaannn

My first week at work has consisted of a variety of different activities the biggest surprise being a trip to Sandhurst training camp! I am now left with a few scratches on my elbows and knees from the assault courses but the 48 hours there were fab! My average wakeup time over the last week has been 5:45am, but I think/hope that things will be a bit less intense this week…

…I have been squeezing in teas and sleeps when I can…

(would you believe that today was the first day in one month that I was able to wake up without an alarm which is quite insane!)

… and the odd bit of baking!

I think it will always baffle me how I am able to cram so much random stuff into my life in such a short space of time. The amount I have done in one month kinda scares me and makes me think what I could do in a year… If I had a bit of money 😉 The reality is that I now have to work! But who knows what I will be doing in a few years time… The key is, there is no point planning that out. All plans change. Yet, I do know one thing is for sure, I will always need an element of tea, travel and cake in my life!! 😀

Have an unplanned and spontaneous day!

nat

All recipes (cinnamon swirls, cupcakes, caramel drip cake, blueberry muffins) will go up shortly!! …When I get a moment :D!

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Summer Lovin’

‘Summer Lovin’ had me a blast, Summer Lovin’ happened so faaaassst…’ Well yes, summer does seem to have been and gone already. Torrential rain and freak hail storms are not exactly what I had in mind for post-exam summer fun, but then again a lot of unexpected and unfortunate occurrences have taken place recently!

Amongst all the graduation whirlwind this week I haven’t had a chance to think about turning on the oven and whipping out my wooden spoon. Therefore, when I arrived home from Cambridge this weekend I couldn’t wait to fire up the magic mixer! With my trip to Aus a mere 24 hours away this weekend has been my only chance to catch up with all the girls before hopping off again. Annie’s summer BBQ was the perfect excuse to get everyone together, and to bake of course! 🙂

Summer for me inspires fruity and citrusy flavours, ones that are meant to be refreshing and light on the palate. Whilst I am a huge chocoholic, turning up to a summer BBQ with a heavy and rich chocolate cake just won’t cut it. Having said that, with the grim weather that we have experienced this weekend, we cannot really say we are in summer, the heavens have opened and it seems like we are being flooded into an apocalyptic world. Remember Noah’s Ark and the flood that wiped out the sinful population? Just saying! I thought I was a goner on the way back from Cambridge on the M25, thank goodness I graduated before the journey home.

Nonetheless, rain or shine we have got to get that BBQ going. The last time my group of secondary school friends were all together in the same room must have been about 2 years ago so it was such a treat to meet up for a catch up. Annie, ever the hostess, put on a lovely spread with the men in charge of the barbee. But I have to say I don’t think a mini portable BBQ and vegetable skewers shout testosterone! Especially when you shout act natural and this is what you get…such posers!

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Our chatter and natter certainly made up for the lack of heat from the sun since the hot topic of the evening was of course the recent EU referendum result. With a split among the group our eyes sharply turned to tea and cake to keep things under control. Thank goodness the girls had the treats on the ready!

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As I have mentioned in one of my first ever posts, lemon-infused desserts are a tradition among the Millers and they scream summertime. I have various different lemony recipes, from the thick lemon curd iced sandwich cake to the simplistic lemon drizzle loaf. This weekend I opted for the latter with a sprinkling of poppy seeds (as homage to my car whose name is Poppy! I missed her whilst I was away at Uni 😉 ).

Whilst I am a sucker for lemon cake, I’m all about the icing and nothing beats a spongy sandwich cake with thick creamy frosting. Annie is the DON at making a Lime and Blueberry cake so I wanted to mix things up this week and try Lime cake with a fresh Strawberry Buttercream, it was yum! Strawberries are the epitome of British Summertime and they are found everywhere within the summer months from Wimbledon, to summer school fêtes galore! They are traditionally served with cream and make a simple yet scrummy dessert even for the youngsters. I do remember one particular summer fête where one to many strawberries got the better of me…

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To full on strawberries to walk …and even open my eyes!

I unfortunately cannot take credit for the Pavlova that Annie made – it was delicious! I do apologise for picking off the strawberries on the top though 😉 Whoops – I don’t think I will ever learn!

Check out the recipes below and bring some sunshine to your week!

Have a beau-TEA-ful day.

nat

Lemon Drizzle Cake

Ingredients

Cake

175g self-raising flour

150g caster sugar

150g butter

3 eggs

zest of two lemons

2 heaped tbsps of poppy seeds plus extra to sprinkle on top

Icing 

juice of one lemon

approx. 200g icing sugar

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 170°C/Gas Mark 4 and grease and line a loaf tin.
  2. Beat together the sugar and butter until light and fluffy.
  3. Gradually add in the eggs and the flour, alternating until all has been added and well combined.
  4. Stir in the lemon zest and the poppy seeds.
  5. Place in the oven for 20-25mins or until it is golden brown.
  6. Once removed allow to cool completely and in the meantime make the icing by mixing together the lemon juice and icing sugar. For a thicker icing add more icing sugar, for a thin glacé add more lemon juice.
  7. Cover the cake with the icing and sprinkle with poppy seeds.
  8. Enjoy with a cuppa!

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Strawberry and Lime Cake

Ingredients 

Cake

350g self-raising flour

2 1/2 tsps baking powder

115g butter

zest of 3 limes

335g caster sugar

3 large eggs

3 large egg yolks

120ml whole milk

120ml lime juice

green food colouring

Buttercream

5 large strawberries

225g butter

approx. 500g icing sugar

Toppings 

Green sugar

Strawberries

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 170°C/Gas Mark 4 and grease and line two 20cm sandwich tins.
  2. Beat together the sugar, butter and lime zest until light and fluffy.
  3. Add the eggs and the egg yolks one at a time, mixing continuously and then add the lime juice mixing until well combined.
  4. In a separate bowl mix the flour and baking powder, add this gradually to the previous wet mixture alternating between the four mixture and the milk until all is well combined.
  5. Add the green food colouring, mix well and then pour into the two prepared tins.
  6. Place in the oven for about 25mins or until the cake is golden brown and springy to touch.
  7. Remove from the oven and leave to one side to allow to cool completely. In the meantime prepare the frosting by blending approximately 5 large strawberries into a purée.
  8. Using a mixer, beat together the icing sugar, butter and strawberry purée, adding more icing sugar if needed to gain a thicker consistency.
  9. Once the cakes have completely cooled, spread half of the buttercream onto one of the cakes, place the other on top and cover the top cake with the remaining buttercream.
  10. Decorate the top with green sugar and strawberries and enjoy with a cuppa!

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Birthday Eve Baking!

For those who don’t know (which would be a very small minority since I never shut up about it) tomorrow is the celebration of the day I was born – its ma birthddayyyy!!!! And I am going to be twenty-twwooooo! (Yes, I’m going to have the Taylor Swift song on repeat all day). Yesterday I arrived home from Cambridge and the celebrations kicked off early when Josh gave me my present, in the form of a KitchenAid mixer!!! I was extremely excited to crack on with some birthday baking that I hardly slept. Not so good since I still haven’t actually caught up on sleep yet since my exams – I was so nervous that insomnia invaded my life. However, now I’m too excited I can’t sleep! Emotion oscillation to the max this week! At least I am now on the sunnier side of the rainbow.                                         2016-05-28 12.00.18

Following the Miller tradition tomorrow we are having all the famo over for a BBQ to celebrate my one-year-older -but-not-wiser day. Mum and I are splitting the dessert duties. She has her classic lemon cheesecake covered – an old time favourite in the family that always goes down a treat. We have always had a lemon pudding option among our array of goodies that we serve up, a tradition that stems from my Grandma’s classic lemon meringue pie, a secret recipe that she never revealed until we found her recipe book after she sadly passed away four years ago. Andrew and I tried to make it once but it *epically* failed. We think she sabotaged the recipe on purpose – she was like that was our dear Grandma, bless her little cotton socks. Anyhoo, I digress, since we already have the lemon sorted for those with a lighter palate, I am in charge of the chooocooolattteeeeee – oh what a chore – not! I opted to go for a Chocolate Orange cake. I cannot take full credit for the recipe since it is a Merry Berry invention but I do like to put my own spin on things with the decoration. After all it is true that we eat with our eyes! On top of the chocolate ganache I like to put sprinkles and mini Terry’s Chocolate Orange wedges. See below for the full recipe.

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Second on the list was the task of making my own birthday cake and I wanted to drift away from the traditional madeira sponge cake with jam and buttercream filling. I decided to do a Oreo and Baileys cake! But the fun doesn’t stop there… I of course wanted to complicate things further by making it in the form of a teapot! It didn’t turn out toooo badly but I still have a lot of practicing to do when it comes to covering cakes with royal icing. Let’s see how it tastes tomorrow, I did try some of the Baileys buttercream and it was goooood!

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See below for the recipe for the Oreo and Baileys cake.

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Have a beau-TEA-ful day all! We now have to clear up Tracy’s kitchen – the worst part! 🙁

nat

Chocolate Orange Cake Recipe 

Ingredients 

Chocolate Orange Cake

100g butter (I use Stork)

55g cocoa Powder (I always use Cadbury’s Bournville Cocoa)

90ml boiling water

3 eggs

4 tbsp full fat milk

175g self-raising flour

1 tsp baking powder

300g caster sugar

zest of 1 orange

Chocolate Ganache 

150g Bournville chocolate (or an alternative good quality dark chocolate)

150ml double cream

Decoration 

dark chocolate shavings

mini Terry’s Chocolate Orange wedges

Method 

  1. Preheat the oven to 180/160 fan/gas mark 4 and grease 2 20cm round cake tins.
  2. To make the sponge, mix the cocoa powder and boiling water together in a large bowl to make a paste and add the remaining ingredients and beat until well combined – yes it is that easy!
  3. Divide the mixture between the two tins and bake in the preheated oven for 20mins. When they are done turn out onto a cooling rack and allow to cool completely.
  4. To make the ganache, place the chocolate, broken into pieces, and cream into a bowl. Stand this over a pan of simmering water until the chocolate has completely melted, stirring occasionally. Be careful not to let it burn and don’t let the bowl touch the water. Set aside and let it cool. After a while place it in the fridge to cool completely.
  5. To finish place half of the chocolate ganache on one cake and place the second cake on top. Cover the second cake with the remaining ganache and decorate with the chocolate shavings and mini Terry’s Chocolate Orange wedges.
  6. Enjoy with a cuppa!!

 

Oreo and Baileys Cake Recipe

Ingredients 

Oreo Cake

225g self-raising flour

225g light soft brown sugar

225g butter (I use stalk)

1 tsp baking powder

4 eggs

3 tbs full fat milk

1 tsp vanilla bean paste (vanilla extract can also be used if you don’t have bean paste)

75g crushed Oreos

Oreo and Baileys buttercream

175g butter

450g icing sugar

1tsp vanilla bean paste (again vanilla extract can be used)

1 tbs full fat milk

2tbs Baileys

25g crushed Oreos (I used a packet of the mini Oreos)

Method 

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees/ gas mark 4 and grease 2 20cm cake tins. (For this recipe I actually used semi-hemisphere tins to make a teapot shape and doubled the recipe, one batch for each tin. However, if you are making a standard sandwich cake then you can split one batch between two tins).
  2. Measure all the ingredients and mix until well combined.
  3. Place in the oven for 20-25mins or until golden brown. (Note if you are not splitting one batch between two tins it will take longer to cook, about 4omins).
  4. Allow the cakes to cool completely.
  5. To make the buttercream mix all of the ingredients together and stand to one side. Adjust the amount of Baileys to your taste! However, take note that more liquid means you will need to increase the amount of icing sugar! I ended up putting a bit more icing sugar in to make the icing thicker.
  6. Place half the icing on one cake, top with the other cake and add the remaining icing on top.
  7. Decorate to your choice! I often place with more Oreos, or for this particular recipe I made a birthday cake teapot and covered with royal icing.
  8. Enjoy!
Posted on

The Sweet Taste of Freedom!

Passionfruit and White Chocolate Cake  

The challenge of surviving a Cambridge exam term is one that I am very glad I won’t ever have to repeat again. Being one of the first to finish has an array of perks. Not only do you get to stop revising first!!!! but you also get the most wonderful satisfaction of drenching those that finish in sticky alcoholic substances as they shoot out of their last exam (and in my case it gives me an excuse to bake).

Florrie, my Latin American buddy, went to Mexico for her Year Abroad and grew a love affair with the most passionate of all fruits maracuyá, native to Brazil, Paraguay and northern Argentina. The passionfruit isn’t used in many British delicacies and oh-boy are we missing out! Together with white chocolate it makes a match-made in heaven and makes the raspberry seem like the pushed-aside sordid lover of the past whilst in swans the passionfruit in all its pulpy glory. Don’t be put off by the seeds! They add lovely texture to the cake alongside the creaminess of the white chocolate ganache. Have a go at the recipe and lets start to bring in this Latin American beauty into more of our British baking! (Obviously not completely ditching the raspberry – anything with raspberry in is by default a-mazing! It is undoubtedly my favourite of all berries).

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…a shout out to Miriam who *helped* me bake the cake! (By help I mean she was actually sneakily eating the caramel shortbreads I had made the day before ^photographic evidence^ – get your hands off the tin Goode!)

 

Passionfruit and White Chocolate Cake Recipe 

Ingredients

White Chocolate Cake

240g white chocolate

180g butter, chopped

85ml cold water

155g caster sugar

 2 eggs

150g plain flour, sifted

115g self-raising flour, sifted

Passionfruit sauce

 6 passionfruits

60g caster sugar

White chocolate ganache

400g white chocolate

150ml double cream

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 160°C. Grease and line two round 20cm cake tins with butter and then baking paper.

  2. Place the white chocolate, butter and water in a saucepan over low heat. Keep on the heat, stirring occasionally, until the chocolate melts. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside for 5 minutes to cool slightly.
  3. In a separate bowl mix the sugar and eggs together and then add the previously mixed white chocolate, butter and water combo. Add the flours and stir until well combined. Pour the mixture into the lined tins and bake in the oven for 30-35mins or until golden brown. Set aside for 30 minutes, then turn onto a wire rack to cool completely.
  4. To make the passionfruit sauce, cut the passionfruits in half and scoop out all of the pulp. Place the passionfruit pulp and sugar in a saucepan over a medium heat and bring to boil. Cook, stirring, until the sauce thickens. This can take a while, but do be sure that it doesn’t burn! Set aside to cool completely.
  5. To make the ganache, place the white chocolate (broken into chunks) and double cream in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan half-filled with simmering water (make sure bowl doesn’t touch the water) and stir until smooth. I used milkybar white chocolate which came out delicious – it is also generally on offer at Sainsbury’s – score!
  6. Take one of the cakes and spread over half of the white chocolate ganache and then all of the passionfruit sauce. Place the second cake on top and cover with the remaining ganache. Don’t be too meticulous here! You want the ganache to oooooze down the sides!
  7. Set aside and wait for the ganache to harden, if this is for a particular event, perhaps make it the night before and try not to tuck in until the day after! It takes so much better once the ganache has hardened a little.
  8. Enjoy with a cuppa!

nat