Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Ladies lunch

I had a delightful day yesterday, when it was my great pleasure to host a ladies lunch, in honour of a good friend's fortieth birthday.
It was very refined (as we are ladies), with a glass of champagne for everyone. 
We started with a spicy butternut squash soup and homemade focacia.
Then onto a very ladylike salad of king prawns, grapefruit and avocado.
And of course, no ladies lunch is the same without a gooey chocolate cake and a big dollop of cream.

A lovely time was had by all and especially the birthday girl.

Friday, 27 January 2012

Gold cake

I was given free rein for a birthday cake and have been thinking about something gold for a while. so I put on my experimental hat and started spraying!

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Painting classes

I have been very bad at not posting the pictures from my last two painting classes. They were full of lovely ladies, and I had a great time with both groups. Everyone was very pleased with their results. I have seen quite a lot ex-pupils bringing some painted elements into their designs, which is very exciting.

I will be organising some dates for more classes soon. If you would like to come along you can sign up for my newsletter here which will have all the details. You don't need to have any painting experience the classes are for all abilities.

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Happy Birthday Cake.

Are you a baker? Do you make your own birthday cake? Is it a pleasure, or a pain?
Well I make my own cake, I suspect only until the kidlets are old enough to be let loose on the kitchen by themselves though. Mr Lemon Drizzle has never, to my knowledge, made a so much as a muffin! Although he swears that if he did it would be fabulous! (Because it's "really easy"!)
However, I really enjoy making my cake, as I can make the kind of cake I really enjoy. Although the fondant covered cakes are beautiful and I love the decoration, you can't beat a gooey, squidgy, chocolaty, caramely cake covered in sprinkles.
So this is what I have made. I baked this cake for a past book club and decided to recreate it just for myself! It is a mash up of a Nigella recipe and a Dan Lepard cake, with a little Nevie-Pie thrown in for good measure. So here it is!

Happy Birthday Cake Recipe

Dissolve the sugar in the water over a low heat. When it is totally dissolved turn the heat up and boil without stirring until it reaches the caramel stage (174C, 345F). Take the pan off the heat and stir in the cream (be careful it can spit). Return to the heat and stir until smooth. Then take off the heat and leave to cool.

 Take out two tablespoons of the caramel sauce and leave to on side. Place the remaining sauce in a frying pan with the banana. Heat it all up until the banana is mushed up and combining with the sauce. Take off the heat and cool.

Beat together the sugar, oil, vanilla extract and eggs until thick. Add the yogurt and banana caramel and beat again. Sieve the flour, spice, baking powder and bicarbonate together. Whisk until combined. Pour into two lined seven inch cake tins and cook for 30-35 mins in the oven (180C fan). When they are cooked through and springy to the touch take them out. Leave for five minutes and then turn out onto a cooling rack.

Boil the cream and then add the chocolate. Beat until                     smooth and leave to cool.

Beat the cream cheese with the remaining caramel and leave it in the fridge to harden.

Then assemble the cake. Spread the cream cheese mixture on the flat end of one of the cakes and sandwich the other cake on top. Drizzle the ganache over the top and liberally cover with sprinkles of your choice.

Then make a cup of tea, sit back and congratulate yourself on making another year and a fabulous cake!

ps you can download a printable version here.


We had a really beautiful sunrise a few mornings ago, so I thought I would share.

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Book Club Cake of the Month...January

Now don't fall off your chairs in amazement! But I have managed to post the book club cake only one (yes one!) day after our meeting. Hurrah, let's start the year as we mean to go on, efficient and organised,neat and tidy, a place for everything and everything in it's place, photo's loaded and edited as taken, slimmer and fitter! Alright enough self congratulations (lying) and on to the book.

Zoe and Jake are skiing when they get swept away, and buried by an avalanche. They manage to dig themselves out, but when they get back to the slopes, they are empty. They ski down to their hotel which is also deserted. Assuming there has been an evacuation, because of the avalanche, they make themselves at home for the night. The next day, however, their escape is foiled, and they realise they are trapped, together, alone in the village.
There is a real eeriness and a genuine spooky atmosphere to the book, which was great, and the descriptive sections are lovely. However, this was not a winner with the group and only scored 5.5. The reason? The characters are really annoying (punchable annoying), and the dialogue is, frankly, appalling. The writing never soars. That said, we did enjoy the book, mainly because it is an easy read and a page turner. And over the holidays we got to read it in a couple of sittings. So, if you want a good holiday read take it with you...but not if you are going skiing!

I made some snowball cookies for the group, which were just my normal vanilla cookie recipe laced with Toblerone (very apt for skiing I thought). 

I shaped them into balls and rolled them in icing sugar, which totally melted in the oven, so I rolled them again, after they had cooked and cooled.

Previous book club cake of the month

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Felt Cake

Just a quick post with last week's cake.
This is a cake I made last weekend for a friend's little girl. She was having a 'fun felt party', so I wanted the cake to look like it was made from felt. As I don't pipe I had to hand roll all the tiny fondant stitches.
It is a cake pretending to be felt, pretending to be a cake!

Friday, 13 January 2012

Elementary my dear cookie maker!

This weekend is just leading up to one thing...Sherlock! It is the best thing on Television at the moment, and the only programme I make time to watch. Sadly, though, it is the last episode of the series on Sunday, as they only make three. (Apologies to those of you who don't get BBC, but you should search it out if you can!) So, at the very end of the weekend you will find me curled up on the sofa, phone off the hook, a glass of wine and these cookies I made in homage!

I love the tie the costume department gave Moriarty. It is Alexander McQueen and has skulls on...how appropriate!

Friday, 6 January 2012

Cakes that time forgot 2

OK, I'm lying, the first two are from December but the third is from the summer (doesn't that seem soo long ago?)

This was for a lady who loves to buy handbags but they have to have a long strap! I really enjoyed this as I was given free reign (apart from the strap specifications). I used a limited palate which I was really pleased with.

The next is a new version of an old favourite for a 60th birthday. The lucky ladies daughter was eight months pregnant, but still made a two hour round trip to pick the cake up, I'm always so flattered when people go the extra mile for one of my cakes. (I know that in larger countries this is like a trip to the park but I find it hard to go the 5 minutes into town for a packet of biscuits!)

And finally a commission from Miss Cakehead, for the lady who owns Prangsta, a fabulous costumiers. Her studio is covered with vintage fabrics and amazing costumes. So it needed to reflect that, I was especially pleased with the pin cushion!

Thursday, 5 January 2012

Goodbye to Christmas

I have never been able to wait until Twelfth Night to take down the Christmas decorations. I start to get twitchy on New Years day and by the 2nd they are gone. I do feel sad though saying goodbye to Christmas, so I thought I would take one last opportunity to indulge in some memories.

Sunday, 1 January 2012

Happy New Year 2012

Hello lovelies!
I hope that your New Year has kicked off to a great start!
It's always nice to take a little time and review the past year. So this is what I've done. I've chosen some of my favourite pictures from the last twelve months.

See you all soon.