7 June 2014

Peanut butter & ice cream sandwiches

So I said I'd be back to share what I did with all that yummy homemade ice cream from my last post.

I give you peanut butter & ice cream sandwiches!


It seems ice cream sandwiches are a big trend for this summer, it's essentially a scoop of ice cream sandwiched between two cookies, what could possibly be better than that?  Peanut butter is one of my all time favourite things, so I baked a batch of peanut butter cookies as the perfect compliment to my homemade vanilla ice cream.

For the cookies you'll need...

50g unsalted butter
50g caster sugar
50g soft brown sugar
50g peanut butter (Peanut Butter & Co is my favourite as it uses no added oil)
1 egg
100g self raising flour

1. Cream together the butter, sugars & peanut butter until smooth & fluffy, then beat in the egg.

2. Stir in the flour until you have a soft cookie dough

3. Roll into balls about 2cm wide, flatten slightly, then place on a lined baking sheet.

4. Bake in the oven at 180c/GM4 for around 12-15 minutes.  Keep an eye on them so they don't over brown.

5.  Leave to cool thoroughly & crisp up before constructing your sandwich

When you're ready to use, simply sandwich a scoop of vanilla ice cream between two cookies & serve immediately.  You can also add extra ingredients, what ever you fancy really?


I rolled the edge of one of the sandwiches in grated milk chocolate for an added indulgence!  I also added some strawberry jam at the request of hubby (he does have a good food idea every now & then!)  Just spread some jam on the insides of the cookies before sandwiching together.  I have to say that was my favourite combination, but then I'm a sucker for anything with peanut butter & jam.  I can definitely recommend my peanut butter & jam cupcakes if you haven't tried them?

You do get in a bit of a mess eating these, but then I guess that's half the fun!  Till next time, Rebecca x

1 June 2014

Having a go at homemade ice cream

A few months back I joined the marketing team for an ice cream brand, lucky girl I know!  It's been quite an education learning about what's in the tub & what real ice cream actually is?  What I've discovered is that it should be pretty pure & simple, just milk or cream, eggs & sugar.

But the reality is in fact quite different & there have been a few things that have genuinely surprised me about the ice cream industry.  Here are my top facts I've been boring everyone with!

  • Many ice CREAMS don't actually contain any real CREAM, some use vegetable fats, reconstituted skimmed milk & even water
  • The official regulation states ice cream must contain 5% dairy ingredients to be called dairy ice cream. So in a 100g tub, that's only 5g of dairy, makes you wonder what the other 95g are?
  • Soft scoop products are created by whipping in a huge amount of air, which last time I checked was a free ingredient!

So with all this in mind & fuelled by my usual curiosity, I thought I'd have a go at making my own. I chose Mary Berry's no churn recipe as it seemed straight forward & didn't need an ice cream maker.  You can find the original recipe here.  It was incredibly simple to follow, whisk egg whites, whisk cream, fold together, freeze!


The result was delicious & simple,  it had a lovely creamy taste & soft texture that melted slowly.  But I have to be honest it's not going to make me stop buying ice cream (especially when my brand tastes so good!) What it has done is demonstrated to me what ice cream should be & as many of us are now more mindful of what we eat, I encourage you all to take a look at your tub & consider the ingredients.  The choice is ours, but lets at least know what we're eating!

Next time find out what I did with my tub of homemade ice cream, trust me it's going to be delicious! Rebecca x



25 May 2014

Top 10 kitchen gadgets

Over the years I have been suckered in by many a kitchen gadget that I thought I just couldn't live without, I think it's a symptom of being taken to the Ideal Home Show from a young age!  The pineapple corer that would have struggled to cut through butter (it did come from Poundland), the thingy that was meant to create twirly ribbons out of carrots & the strawberry huller.  All completely useless! However I've come to realise that there are a number of gadgets & utensils that I genuinely couldn't do without now, so here's my top 10.

1. Silicon pastry brush
Image: trendycookshop.co.uk

2. Citrus zester
Image: inthehaus.co.uk

3. Nespresso magnetic pod holder
Image: tavolaswiss.ch

4. Dualit sandwich cage
Image: dualit.com

5. Non stick baking liners
Image: lakeland.co.uk

6. Silicon spatula
Image: lecruset.co.uk

7. Retro kitchen timer
Image: poshrosh.co.uk

8. Garlic press
Image: johnlewis.com

9. Sodastream
Image: sodastream.co.uk

10.  Kitchen aid stand mixer
Image: kitchenaid.com

What would your top 10 look like, what's the thing you couldn't do without in your kitchen.  Would love to hear what I'm missing!  Till next time, Rebecca x 


9 March 2014

Adventures in cheese making...

Since I started Rebecca Bakes Cakes I have always been up for a culinary challenge, in fact the blog was created to chart my progress to create 52 cakes in 52 weeks!  I've tried making my own crumpets, which was a complete disaster.  I've roasted my own coffee beans in a frying pan, thankfully without burning down my friends kitchen.  I've tried to overcome being sponge challenged, but still cannot for the life of me get a Victoria Sponge to rise properly...it is my cakey nemesis!  I've also tried to make my own sushi, which although a relative success, YO! Sushi need not issue a profit warning anytime soon.

Always willing to have a go at making something myself, I was chuffed to receive this fab pressie...


Now I'm not entirely new to cheese making, I did used to work for a dairy company & spent a very fun week at agricultural college in the North West, learning how to make cheese.  But that was a good few years ago & if I'm honest I seem to remember an awful lot of stainless steel kit involved.  


The kit included citric acid, organic sea salt, rennet tablets, a thermometer, muslin square & an instruction booklet.  This was going to be a far more artisan experience!  To make ricotta you start with some whole milk, add some citric acid dissolved in water & some salt.  No rennet needed for this recipe, that's for the other recipe in this kit, mozzarella.

Pan of milk (I know not that interesting!)

I heated the milk slowly & stirred occasionally to avoid scorching until it reached 185F.  By this point you can see that the curds & the whey have separated.  I took it off the heat, popped on a lid & left it to stand for 20 minutes.

Next step was to strain the whey from the curds.  I lined a colander with the muslin cloth & tipped the whole lot in.  I did this in the sink so the whey could just drain away, but I guess you could collect it & use the whey for something else?  I have no idea what mind you :-)


I gathered up the muslin into a bag, then looked for somewhere to hang it to drain!  I left it like this for around 30 minutes.  


Cautiously I opened up the muslin bag to judge my cheese making effort & felt quite chuffed to find this.  Looked pretty ricotta-ish to me!


So what to do with a kilo of ricotta?  I turned it into Jamie Oliver's Spinach & Ricotta Cannelloni, ta dah! 

 
The verdict...it was really very tasty.  It was quite rich as I used full fat milk for the cheese as per the recipe, I would be tempted to use semi-skimmed next time for a lighter flavour, but I guess you need the fat in the milk for it to do it's thing & become cheese.  It was so straight forward to make, just needed a little time & patience.  Can't wait to try the mozzarella recipe next, there's a suggestion to add chili flakes to make a spicy version, sounds good to me.  I think I may have been a mouse in a previous life...squeak!  Till next time, Rebecca x 







3 February 2014

Zoom to the moon....it's a rocket cake!

I am not that good at decorating cakes.  Baking them?  Yes.  Eating them?  Most definitely!  But when it comes to decorating them I have always found myself a little lacking.  I even wrote a manifesto for cake a while back that celebrated the fact that my cakes, although very tasty, were no supermodels.  My low cake esteem has never been helped by the beautiful food photography that graces the pages of the food magazines...how do they get them to look like that!?

So I hadn't really given this much thought when I offered to make a cake for a very special two year olds birthday party.  'Rockets & space, that's what she really loves at the minute, do you think you could make a rocket cake?' says her Mum.  'Uhhh sure, I'll have a go' says me!

So here it is...


I wimped out a bit & didn't make an actual rocket shaped cake!  But I did make a rocket cake topper from ready to roll coloured icing & made the cake a star shape.  I just printed off a colouring in template & used that to cut out the rocket shape, then hand (yes hand!) cut a number 2 to finish it off. I added a scattering of stars cut with a mini cookie cutter I have & finally a couple of candles.

Although it wasn't the most technical creation in the world, it was pretty effective & both mum, toddler & party guests seemed pretty please with it!  Also worth pointing out I used a Madeira Cake recipe rather than a Victoria Sponge.  I prefer the richer taste & texture, but there's also the fact that I seem incapable of baking a Victoria Sponge that doesn't resemble a pancake!  Must master that one day...

Have you created any spectacular birthday cakes?  Would love to hear about them.  I'll be back next time with the results attempting to make my own....wait for it.....cheese!

Till then, Rebecca x




8 January 2014

A new year challenge - 100 happy days!

Happy new year to you!  I can't quite believe it but Rebecca Bakes Cakes is now into it's 4th year of existence.  When I wrote my first post back in January 2010 (it was a recipe for Spiced Apple Muffins if you were wondering?) I wasn't quite sure what to expect from it & although I've been a little lax in writing over the last 12 months, I feel quite proud.  It's really nice to look back over the posts, each one reminds me a little of what I was up to at that point in time!  And a lot has changed over the last few years, I've been through a number of jobs, some out of choice some not, we've bought our first house, re-homed a Battersea cat & last but not least got married!  

So it's a new year & without mentioning the dreaded R word, spurred on by a new challenge I made a promise to myself that I would start writing again.  This new challenge isn't cake related this time thankfully (don't think my waistline could take another year of cake!) but related to a topic I have written about in the past, happiness.  Ask yourself.....



100 Happy Days challenges you to do just that, all you have to do is take a photo every day of something that makes you happy & share it making sure you include #100happydays so people can find it.  I love it as an idea, focus on the little things that make you happy & all the boring negative stuff won't seem as bad!

So here's my first happy day captured...

Day 1 - tap class starts again after the holidays

I'll be posting my daily photo on Instagram, click here to follow me & get your daily dose of happiness.  Or why not sign up yourself?  Be great to hear if you take up the challenge too?

If that's not enough happiness for one post, here's a little more before I go, one of my favorite tracks of the moment not least for the fact there are Minions in the video!


I'll be back next time with cake I promise, I'll be sharing my first attempt at a proper decorated kids birthday cake, yikes!  Till next time, Rebecca x



27 August 2013

This summers bakes & makes

Wow, it's been what can only be described as a frantic summer here at RBC HQ & here we are at the end of August & I haven't shared a thing!  It's included redundancy (booo!), job hunting (again), birthdays, weddings, hatching plans for shaking off corporate life once & for all, head scratching as to how to extend our vintage terrace without needing a significant lotto win...

Oh & I've gone a bit Kirsty Allsop, embarking on make & do projects that I'm really quite proud of even if I say so myself!  So rather than my usual waffle I thought I'd make this post a bit of a visual summary of my creations of the summer.  Hope you enjoy the pictures & that they might even spur you on to your own Blue Peter moment.

First bake of the summer was this quadruple layer cake filled with blueberry, passion fruit & raspberry butter cream.  It was possibly the hottest day of the year at that point, so there was a fair bit of swearing when it collapsed for the first time.  (Got it to stay upright on attempt 3!)  I have since discovered that a quadruple layer cake isn't actually expected to defy gravity & I should have used sticks to pin it together.  Anyway it was delivered in one piece for my friends birthday & even though it was no oil painting, it tasted good!


Cake two of the summer was for my Mum's birthday, the much revered Hummingbird Bakery carrot cake.  This did not disappoint!  It was a lovely light texture, complemented perfectly by the cream cheese frosting.  I'm not big on sugar craft so I cheated & found these really cute chocolate carrots from Sainsburys.  No candles…mum doesn't do candles!



This was the point I went a bit make do & mend.  In its previous life this was a pine dressing table stool with a pink velour seat pad.  Some paint, fabric, sparkly buttons, a staple gun & voila a new lease of life.  I had quite a bit of fabric left so I've made a matching lampshade.  I bought a kit from NeedCraft, it was only a little fiddly & the finish was pretty professional looking (lets face it when its 8ft in the air hanging from the ceiling how could anyone tell the difference?) There's even a video tutorial on the website featuring Cath Kidston to help you along.



These little cuties were made as a farewell treat for our dear friends who have gone to live on a rock in the South Atlantic for 2 years.  Much debate was had over who got gummy bears & who got smarties!


I made the cat a castle.

Least said about that the better, I had been off work for 2 months & was having a moment.  She quite liked it!


I made my 8th nappy cake for our lovely wedding photographers who were expecting their first baby.  

(orders welcome!)



My final make of the summer was this delicious Blackberry, Lime & Vanilla jam.  There are a lot of blackberry bushes along the river paths where we live, so off I went a foraging!


Came back with almost a kilo of lovely ripe blackberries, although FYI, foraging in a sundress & flip-flops…bad idea!  I came home with purple feet & between the nettles & the brambles, a right arm that looked like I'd been self harming which is not cool!

Into a pan they went with some lime, vanilla & jam sugar, boil for a bit, jar up & leave to set.  I know, I thought it would have been way more complicated too.


Totally yummy on crumpets!


So there you have it, the summer sum up of what I've been making & baking, looking back I realise I've been quite a busy bee!  I start my new job next week, so it's back to the real world for me for now.  Till next time, Rebecca x 


18 May 2013

DIY coffee - an experiment in roasting!

So you may remember I used to work for a coffee company & I've picked up a fair bit of useless knowledge & tried many different blends & roasts over the years.  However, I'd never even thought about roasting my own coffee beans, so when a friend offered me a bag of green coffee beans, fresh from his Grandparents farm in India, I thought it was worth having a go.

This what the beans looked like when they arrived.  They had been washed, so the outer skin & pulp of the coffee cherry that surrounds the bean had been removed & they'd been left to dry.


For the main event, I enlisted the help of my local coffee geek (otherwise know as Olly, ex-colleague & friend) & we set about our research into how to roast coffee beans at home without having to buy an expensive mini batch roaster!  There are a number of methods, but we went for the straight forward frying pan technique.

First step was to wash the beans in cold water, the little bit of moisture that absorbs into the beans helps them roast & I guess stops them from burning too quickly!

Next was to heat the frying pan so it was HOT!

Tip the beans into the frying pan, keeping the heat high & the beans moving!


Gradually the colour started to change....

Then you hear a crack!  It was around 4 minutes in to roasting, it's almost like the sound of popping corn, at this point turn the heat down just a touch.

Keep the beans moving all the time until you hear them crack again, you'll also start to smell a faint smokiness.

This is the point to take them off the heat, the residual heat will keep them roasting.  By now, they've been in the pan for 7-8 minutes.


Tip the beans into a metal sieve & swirl them around to help them cool down quickly.  It was a freezing cold day when we did it so we stood in the garden to cool them down.  It also helps being outside as the chaff that can come off the beans just blows away.


Once they'd cooled properly, we ground some & brewed up using Olly's posh glass drip filter.


I have to say we were pleasantly surprised by the result.  It produced a very smooth coffee, quite mild, it was very enjoyable to drink straight, no milk or sugar, adding them would have killed the delicate flavours.  Put it this way, I've drunk (& sent back!) way worse cups of coffee from professional outlets!


If you ever get the chance to roast your own, I'd give it a try.  It's really easy & very satisfying in the same way I guess as baking your own bread or making home brew is?  Don't think I'll be doing it all the time though, for the sake of laziness I'll stick to my pods for now.

Thanks to Olly for the use of his kitchen & hurrah to us both for not burning it down in the process! Till next time, Rebecca x


19 March 2013

Hotel Chocolat giveaway to celebrate 100 posts!

I must admit when I first conceived my hair brained idea of baking a cake a week for 52 weeks back in January 2010, I wasn't entirely sure if I'd get through the challenge, never mind still be blogging 3 years later.  But here I am & thankfully here you are, well some of you at least, still reading, commenting & providing the incentive for me to carry on.  I know a 100 posts might not be a lot in the grand scheme of the blogsphere, but for me it's a big deal & worth celebrating.

So what better way to celebrate than with a competition to win some delicious Easter chocolate courtesy of our friends at Hotel Chocolat!  The prize is a Zebra Beastie Egg (yes it has stripes!) from their Easter 2013 collection, it comes with 6 praline & caramel mini eggs...yum!

Lets face it, chocolate makes most of us happy & as tomorrow is the UN's first International Day of Happiness, our competition theme is just that, happiness!  To enter all I'd like you to do is pledge yes to happiness & no to grumpiness, are you with me? You can leave a comment below or email me at rebeccabakescakes@hotmail.co.uk.  Open to UK entries only, the competition will close at 12pm on Wednesday 27th March 2013 & the winner will be picked at random & contacted by the end of the day.  

Good luck!  Rebecca x

Source: www.dayofhappiness.net
I should probably point out that Hotel Chocolat are not at all affiliated with the UN Day of Happiness or Action for Happiness, but given they make such delicious chocolate, I imagine they are all lovely people & like the idea of making the world a happier place. 

24 December 2012

Seasons Greetings!

Just wanted to wish you all a very Merry Christmas
& a Happy New Year!

Rebecca x

The 2012 Christmas Cake

18 December 2012

Deck the halls with popcorn trees!

I saw these lovely little popcorn trees somewhere at some point & thought they looked fab, they're something really different from the usual Christmas treats I make.  I didn't follow a recipe, I kind of made it up as I went along using melted marshmallows to bind the popcorn together.  The trickiest bit was shaping them into trees, I got myself into a right mess, melted marshmallow could be used as a heavy duty adhesive, it sticks to everything!

I melted around 200g of white marshmallows in a large pan, do this over a low heat & take some time otherwise the marshmallows can brown quite quickly.  I then stirred in a dollop of butter just to loosen it up a bit.  Next I stirred in about 200g of sweet popcorn, the cinema style one not the toffee coated one.  Now, how to handle this big old gooey mess?!  I started with dry hands....didn't work, then I tried icing sugar....by this point I was covered in marshmallow & had nothing resembling a tree!  Then I remembered a tip I'd been given in the past & I sprayed my hands with a little olive oil....bingo, I could easily shape my trees!

I used a digestive to make a base for the tree, then decorated them with coloured icing, sprinkles & stars. 


Voila, a forest full of popcorn trees!


If you're looking for ideas for last minute Christmas treats to make, scroll down for a few from the Rebecca Bakes Cakes archive.

I wish you all a very Happy Christmas & prosperous 2013!  Rebecca x







7 June 2014

Peanut butter & ice cream sandwiches

So I said I'd be back to share what I did with all that yummy homemade ice cream from my last post.

I give you peanut butter & ice cream sandwiches!


It seems ice cream sandwiches are a big trend for this summer, it's essentially a scoop of ice cream sandwiched between two cookies, what could possibly be better than that?  Peanut butter is one of my all time favourite things, so I baked a batch of peanut butter cookies as the perfect compliment to my homemade vanilla ice cream.

For the cookies you'll need...

50g unsalted butter
50g caster sugar
50g soft brown sugar
50g peanut butter (Peanut Butter & Co is my favourite as it uses no added oil)
1 egg
100g self raising flour

1. Cream together the butter, sugars & peanut butter until smooth & fluffy, then beat in the egg.

2. Stir in the flour until you have a soft cookie dough

3. Roll into balls about 2cm wide, flatten slightly, then place on a lined baking sheet.

4. Bake in the oven at 180c/GM4 for around 12-15 minutes.  Keep an eye on them so they don't over brown.

5.  Leave to cool thoroughly & crisp up before constructing your sandwich

When you're ready to use, simply sandwich a scoop of vanilla ice cream between two cookies & serve immediately.  You can also add extra ingredients, what ever you fancy really?


I rolled the edge of one of the sandwiches in grated milk chocolate for an added indulgence!  I also added some strawberry jam at the request of hubby (he does have a good food idea every now & then!)  Just spread some jam on the insides of the cookies before sandwiching together.  I have to say that was my favourite combination, but then I'm a sucker for anything with peanut butter & jam.  I can definitely recommend my peanut butter & jam cupcakes if you haven't tried them?

You do get in a bit of a mess eating these, but then I guess that's half the fun!  Till next time, Rebecca x

1 June 2014

Having a go at homemade ice cream

A few months back I joined the marketing team for an ice cream brand, lucky girl I know!  It's been quite an education learning about what's in the tub & what real ice cream actually is?  What I've discovered is that it should be pretty pure & simple, just milk or cream, eggs & sugar.

But the reality is in fact quite different & there have been a few things that have genuinely surprised me about the ice cream industry.  Here are my top facts I've been boring everyone with!

  • Many ice CREAMS don't actually contain any real CREAM, some use vegetable fats, reconstituted skimmed milk & even water
  • The official regulation states ice cream must contain 5% dairy ingredients to be called dairy ice cream. So in a 100g tub, that's only 5g of dairy, makes you wonder what the other 95g are?
  • Soft scoop products are created by whipping in a huge amount of air, which last time I checked was a free ingredient!

So with all this in mind & fuelled by my usual curiosity, I thought I'd have a go at making my own. I chose Mary Berry's no churn recipe as it seemed straight forward & didn't need an ice cream maker.  You can find the original recipe here.  It was incredibly simple to follow, whisk egg whites, whisk cream, fold together, freeze!


The result was delicious & simple,  it had a lovely creamy taste & soft texture that melted slowly.  But I have to be honest it's not going to make me stop buying ice cream (especially when my brand tastes so good!) What it has done is demonstrated to me what ice cream should be & as many of us are now more mindful of what we eat, I encourage you all to take a look at your tub & consider the ingredients.  The choice is ours, but lets at least know what we're eating!

Next time find out what I did with my tub of homemade ice cream, trust me it's going to be delicious! Rebecca x



25 May 2014

Top 10 kitchen gadgets

Over the years I have been suckered in by many a kitchen gadget that I thought I just couldn't live without, I think it's a symptom of being taken to the Ideal Home Show from a young age!  The pineapple corer that would have struggled to cut through butter (it did come from Poundland), the thingy that was meant to create twirly ribbons out of carrots & the strawberry huller.  All completely useless! However I've come to realise that there are a number of gadgets & utensils that I genuinely couldn't do without now, so here's my top 10.

1. Silicon pastry brush
Image: trendycookshop.co.uk

2. Citrus zester
Image: inthehaus.co.uk

3. Nespresso magnetic pod holder
Image: tavolaswiss.ch

4. Dualit sandwich cage
Image: dualit.com

5. Non stick baking liners
Image: lakeland.co.uk

6. Silicon spatula
Image: lecruset.co.uk

7. Retro kitchen timer
Image: poshrosh.co.uk

8. Garlic press
Image: johnlewis.com

9. Sodastream
Image: sodastream.co.uk

10.  Kitchen aid stand mixer
Image: kitchenaid.com

What would your top 10 look like, what's the thing you couldn't do without in your kitchen.  Would love to hear what I'm missing!  Till next time, Rebecca x 


9 March 2014

Adventures in cheese making...

Since I started Rebecca Bakes Cakes I have always been up for a culinary challenge, in fact the blog was created to chart my progress to create 52 cakes in 52 weeks!  I've tried making my own crumpets, which was a complete disaster.  I've roasted my own coffee beans in a frying pan, thankfully without burning down my friends kitchen.  I've tried to overcome being sponge challenged, but still cannot for the life of me get a Victoria Sponge to rise properly...it is my cakey nemesis!  I've also tried to make my own sushi, which although a relative success, YO! Sushi need not issue a profit warning anytime soon.

Always willing to have a go at making something myself, I was chuffed to receive this fab pressie...


Now I'm not entirely new to cheese making, I did used to work for a dairy company & spent a very fun week at agricultural college in the North West, learning how to make cheese.  But that was a good few years ago & if I'm honest I seem to remember an awful lot of stainless steel kit involved.  


The kit included citric acid, organic sea salt, rennet tablets, a thermometer, muslin square & an instruction booklet.  This was going to be a far more artisan experience!  To make ricotta you start with some whole milk, add some citric acid dissolved in water & some salt.  No rennet needed for this recipe, that's for the other recipe in this kit, mozzarella.

Pan of milk (I know not that interesting!)

I heated the milk slowly & stirred occasionally to avoid scorching until it reached 185F.  By this point you can see that the curds & the whey have separated.  I took it off the heat, popped on a lid & left it to stand for 20 minutes.

Next step was to strain the whey from the curds.  I lined a colander with the muslin cloth & tipped the whole lot in.  I did this in the sink so the whey could just drain away, but I guess you could collect it & use the whey for something else?  I have no idea what mind you :-)


I gathered up the muslin into a bag, then looked for somewhere to hang it to drain!  I left it like this for around 30 minutes.  


Cautiously I opened up the muslin bag to judge my cheese making effort & felt quite chuffed to find this.  Looked pretty ricotta-ish to me!


So what to do with a kilo of ricotta?  I turned it into Jamie Oliver's Spinach & Ricotta Cannelloni, ta dah! 

 
The verdict...it was really very tasty.  It was quite rich as I used full fat milk for the cheese as per the recipe, I would be tempted to use semi-skimmed next time for a lighter flavour, but I guess you need the fat in the milk for it to do it's thing & become cheese.  It was so straight forward to make, just needed a little time & patience.  Can't wait to try the mozzarella recipe next, there's a suggestion to add chili flakes to make a spicy version, sounds good to me.  I think I may have been a mouse in a previous life...squeak!  Till next time, Rebecca x 







3 February 2014

Zoom to the moon....it's a rocket cake!

I am not that good at decorating cakes.  Baking them?  Yes.  Eating them?  Most definitely!  But when it comes to decorating them I have always found myself a little lacking.  I even wrote a manifesto for cake a while back that celebrated the fact that my cakes, although very tasty, were no supermodels.  My low cake esteem has never been helped by the beautiful food photography that graces the pages of the food magazines...how do they get them to look like that!?

So I hadn't really given this much thought when I offered to make a cake for a very special two year olds birthday party.  'Rockets & space, that's what she really loves at the minute, do you think you could make a rocket cake?' says her Mum.  'Uhhh sure, I'll have a go' says me!

So here it is...


I wimped out a bit & didn't make an actual rocket shaped cake!  But I did make a rocket cake topper from ready to roll coloured icing & made the cake a star shape.  I just printed off a colouring in template & used that to cut out the rocket shape, then hand (yes hand!) cut a number 2 to finish it off. I added a scattering of stars cut with a mini cookie cutter I have & finally a couple of candles.

Although it wasn't the most technical creation in the world, it was pretty effective & both mum, toddler & party guests seemed pretty please with it!  Also worth pointing out I used a Madeira Cake recipe rather than a Victoria Sponge.  I prefer the richer taste & texture, but there's also the fact that I seem incapable of baking a Victoria Sponge that doesn't resemble a pancake!  Must master that one day...

Have you created any spectacular birthday cakes?  Would love to hear about them.  I'll be back next time with the results attempting to make my own....wait for it.....cheese!

Till then, Rebecca x




8 January 2014

A new year challenge - 100 happy days!

Happy new year to you!  I can't quite believe it but Rebecca Bakes Cakes is now into it's 4th year of existence.  When I wrote my first post back in January 2010 (it was a recipe for Spiced Apple Muffins if you were wondering?) I wasn't quite sure what to expect from it & although I've been a little lax in writing over the last 12 months, I feel quite proud.  It's really nice to look back over the posts, each one reminds me a little of what I was up to at that point in time!  And a lot has changed over the last few years, I've been through a number of jobs, some out of choice some not, we've bought our first house, re-homed a Battersea cat & last but not least got married!  

So it's a new year & without mentioning the dreaded R word, spurred on by a new challenge I made a promise to myself that I would start writing again.  This new challenge isn't cake related this time thankfully (don't think my waistline could take another year of cake!) but related to a topic I have written about in the past, happiness.  Ask yourself.....



100 Happy Days challenges you to do just that, all you have to do is take a photo every day of something that makes you happy & share it making sure you include #100happydays so people can find it.  I love it as an idea, focus on the little things that make you happy & all the boring negative stuff won't seem as bad!

So here's my first happy day captured...

Day 1 - tap class starts again after the holidays

I'll be posting my daily photo on Instagram, click here to follow me & get your daily dose of happiness.  Or why not sign up yourself?  Be great to hear if you take up the challenge too?

If that's not enough happiness for one post, here's a little more before I go, one of my favorite tracks of the moment not least for the fact there are Minions in the video!


I'll be back next time with cake I promise, I'll be sharing my first attempt at a proper decorated kids birthday cake, yikes!  Till next time, Rebecca x



27 August 2013

This summers bakes & makes

Wow, it's been what can only be described as a frantic summer here at RBC HQ & here we are at the end of August & I haven't shared a thing!  It's included redundancy (booo!), job hunting (again), birthdays, weddings, hatching plans for shaking off corporate life once & for all, head scratching as to how to extend our vintage terrace without needing a significant lotto win...

Oh & I've gone a bit Kirsty Allsop, embarking on make & do projects that I'm really quite proud of even if I say so myself!  So rather than my usual waffle I thought I'd make this post a bit of a visual summary of my creations of the summer.  Hope you enjoy the pictures & that they might even spur you on to your own Blue Peter moment.

First bake of the summer was this quadruple layer cake filled with blueberry, passion fruit & raspberry butter cream.  It was possibly the hottest day of the year at that point, so there was a fair bit of swearing when it collapsed for the first time.  (Got it to stay upright on attempt 3!)  I have since discovered that a quadruple layer cake isn't actually expected to defy gravity & I should have used sticks to pin it together.  Anyway it was delivered in one piece for my friends birthday & even though it was no oil painting, it tasted good!


Cake two of the summer was for my Mum's birthday, the much revered Hummingbird Bakery carrot cake.  This did not disappoint!  It was a lovely light texture, complemented perfectly by the cream cheese frosting.  I'm not big on sugar craft so I cheated & found these really cute chocolate carrots from Sainsburys.  No candles…mum doesn't do candles!



This was the point I went a bit make do & mend.  In its previous life this was a pine dressing table stool with a pink velour seat pad.  Some paint, fabric, sparkly buttons, a staple gun & voila a new lease of life.  I had quite a bit of fabric left so I've made a matching lampshade.  I bought a kit from NeedCraft, it was only a little fiddly & the finish was pretty professional looking (lets face it when its 8ft in the air hanging from the ceiling how could anyone tell the difference?) There's even a video tutorial on the website featuring Cath Kidston to help you along.



These little cuties were made as a farewell treat for our dear friends who have gone to live on a rock in the South Atlantic for 2 years.  Much debate was had over who got gummy bears & who got smarties!


I made the cat a castle.

Least said about that the better, I had been off work for 2 months & was having a moment.  She quite liked it!


I made my 8th nappy cake for our lovely wedding photographers who were expecting their first baby.  

(orders welcome!)



My final make of the summer was this delicious Blackberry, Lime & Vanilla jam.  There are a lot of blackberry bushes along the river paths where we live, so off I went a foraging!


Came back with almost a kilo of lovely ripe blackberries, although FYI, foraging in a sundress & flip-flops…bad idea!  I came home with purple feet & between the nettles & the brambles, a right arm that looked like I'd been self harming which is not cool!

Into a pan they went with some lime, vanilla & jam sugar, boil for a bit, jar up & leave to set.  I know, I thought it would have been way more complicated too.


Totally yummy on crumpets!


So there you have it, the summer sum up of what I've been making & baking, looking back I realise I've been quite a busy bee!  I start my new job next week, so it's back to the real world for me for now.  Till next time, Rebecca x 


18 May 2013

DIY coffee - an experiment in roasting!

So you may remember I used to work for a coffee company & I've picked up a fair bit of useless knowledge & tried many different blends & roasts over the years.  However, I'd never even thought about roasting my own coffee beans, so when a friend offered me a bag of green coffee beans, fresh from his Grandparents farm in India, I thought it was worth having a go.

This what the beans looked like when they arrived.  They had been washed, so the outer skin & pulp of the coffee cherry that surrounds the bean had been removed & they'd been left to dry.


For the main event, I enlisted the help of my local coffee geek (otherwise know as Olly, ex-colleague & friend) & we set about our research into how to roast coffee beans at home without having to buy an expensive mini batch roaster!  There are a number of methods, but we went for the straight forward frying pan technique.

First step was to wash the beans in cold water, the little bit of moisture that absorbs into the beans helps them roast & I guess stops them from burning too quickly!

Next was to heat the frying pan so it was HOT!

Tip the beans into the frying pan, keeping the heat high & the beans moving!


Gradually the colour started to change....

Then you hear a crack!  It was around 4 minutes in to roasting, it's almost like the sound of popping corn, at this point turn the heat down just a touch.

Keep the beans moving all the time until you hear them crack again, you'll also start to smell a faint smokiness.

This is the point to take them off the heat, the residual heat will keep them roasting.  By now, they've been in the pan for 7-8 minutes.


Tip the beans into a metal sieve & swirl them around to help them cool down quickly.  It was a freezing cold day when we did it so we stood in the garden to cool them down.  It also helps being outside as the chaff that can come off the beans just blows away.


Once they'd cooled properly, we ground some & brewed up using Olly's posh glass drip filter.


I have to say we were pleasantly surprised by the result.  It produced a very smooth coffee, quite mild, it was very enjoyable to drink straight, no milk or sugar, adding them would have killed the delicate flavours.  Put it this way, I've drunk (& sent back!) way worse cups of coffee from professional outlets!


If you ever get the chance to roast your own, I'd give it a try.  It's really easy & very satisfying in the same way I guess as baking your own bread or making home brew is?  Don't think I'll be doing it all the time though, for the sake of laziness I'll stick to my pods for now.

Thanks to Olly for the use of his kitchen & hurrah to us both for not burning it down in the process! Till next time, Rebecca x


19 March 2013

Hotel Chocolat giveaway to celebrate 100 posts!

I must admit when I first conceived my hair brained idea of baking a cake a week for 52 weeks back in January 2010, I wasn't entirely sure if I'd get through the challenge, never mind still be blogging 3 years later.  But here I am & thankfully here you are, well some of you at least, still reading, commenting & providing the incentive for me to carry on.  I know a 100 posts might not be a lot in the grand scheme of the blogsphere, but for me it's a big deal & worth celebrating.

So what better way to celebrate than with a competition to win some delicious Easter chocolate courtesy of our friends at Hotel Chocolat!  The prize is a Zebra Beastie Egg (yes it has stripes!) from their Easter 2013 collection, it comes with 6 praline & caramel mini eggs...yum!

Lets face it, chocolate makes most of us happy & as tomorrow is the UN's first International Day of Happiness, our competition theme is just that, happiness!  To enter all I'd like you to do is pledge yes to happiness & no to grumpiness, are you with me? You can leave a comment below or email me at rebeccabakescakes@hotmail.co.uk.  Open to UK entries only, the competition will close at 12pm on Wednesday 27th March 2013 & the winner will be picked at random & contacted by the end of the day.  

Good luck!  Rebecca x

Source: www.dayofhappiness.net
I should probably point out that Hotel Chocolat are not at all affiliated with the UN Day of Happiness or Action for Happiness, but given they make such delicious chocolate, I imagine they are all lovely people & like the idea of making the world a happier place. 

24 December 2012

Seasons Greetings!

Just wanted to wish you all a very Merry Christmas
& a Happy New Year!

Rebecca x

The 2012 Christmas Cake

18 December 2012

Deck the halls with popcorn trees!

I saw these lovely little popcorn trees somewhere at some point & thought they looked fab, they're something really different from the usual Christmas treats I make.  I didn't follow a recipe, I kind of made it up as I went along using melted marshmallows to bind the popcorn together.  The trickiest bit was shaping them into trees, I got myself into a right mess, melted marshmallow could be used as a heavy duty adhesive, it sticks to everything!

I melted around 200g of white marshmallows in a large pan, do this over a low heat & take some time otherwise the marshmallows can brown quite quickly.  I then stirred in a dollop of butter just to loosen it up a bit.  Next I stirred in about 200g of sweet popcorn, the cinema style one not the toffee coated one.  Now, how to handle this big old gooey mess?!  I started with dry hands....didn't work, then I tried icing sugar....by this point I was covered in marshmallow & had nothing resembling a tree!  Then I remembered a tip I'd been given in the past & I sprayed my hands with a little olive oil....bingo, I could easily shape my trees!

I used a digestive to make a base for the tree, then decorated them with coloured icing, sprinkles & stars. 


Voila, a forest full of popcorn trees!


If you're looking for ideas for last minute Christmas treats to make, scroll down for a few from the Rebecca Bakes Cakes archive.

I wish you all a very Happy Christmas & prosperous 2013!  Rebecca x