30 December 2010

Week 50 - Windsor Mess

Happy Christmas everyone! I hope you've all had a lovely break? Me, I had lovely few days relaxing at my Mum's, thankfully I managed to shake off the cold I had & my appetite returned to something resembling normal. I hope you were all good this year & Santa brought you lots of lovely things? I had an early Christmas present on Christmas Eve, the local paper published an article about my year long baking, blogging challenge! The article also invited readers to send in suggestions for my final recipe...it is only 2 weeks away, yikes! I extend that invitation to you too, if you think I've missed an essential recipe, or you have a favourite you'd like to suggest I'd love to hear from you. Just leave a comment on this post or send me an email at rebeccabakescakes@hotmail.com. I was quite chuffed with the article, although having my photo taken in my kitchen was a little stressful! Click here to have a look at the online version of the article.

So this weeks recipe is a dessert rather than a cake, but after copious amounts of Christmas cake, mince pies & Christmas pudding over the last week, I thought this might be a welcome change. It's my twist on the classic Eton Mess, as I live just a hop over the bridge in Windsor, I thought I'd call it a Windsor Mess (apologies if this is already copywritten or in existence!) Eton Mess is made with raspberries & for me tastes like Summer, my version uses spiced oranges & tastes altogether more wintry & Christmassy! I also added orange rind to the meringue which gives a really subtle flavour.

For the meringue
2 egg whites
100g caster sugar
Grated rind of 1 orange

For the orange sauce
40g butter
120g demerera sugar
1 tsp mixed spice
2 tbps water
3 large oranges

Pot of whipping cream

1. Beat the egg whites until stiff, add half the sugar & orange rind then beat some more until they go stiff again. Finally fold in the other half of the sugar with a spoon. Line a baking sheet with baking paper, place dollops of the mixture onto the tray & pop in the oven at 130c/GM1 for a couple of hours until they have dried out & are crisp. My batch made 6 meringues.

2. To make the orange sauce, place the butter, sugar, spice & water into a pan. Heat gently until melted together, then bring up to the boil & bubble for a couple of minutes, take off the heat.

3. Top & tail the oranges, then carefully slice down the sides to remove all the skin & pith, then cut into small chunks. Stir the oranges into the caramel sauce & leave to cool completely. Finally whip the cream until it forms soft peaks.

4. Now for the construction! I used my martini glasses, but a sundae dish would be just as good. Take 1 of the meringues & break it into small pieces, place a spoonful of oranges in the bottom of the glass, then sprinkle over half of the crushed meringue. Add a layer of cream, the some more oranges & a couple of spoonfuls of the sauce. Finally sprinkle the rest of the meringue over the top.

I really liked this combination of the tangy oranges with the sweet caramel sauce, meringue & cream. It's perfect if you have people over for dinner as you can make everything in advance & just throw it together when you're ready to serve, well it is meant to be a mess!

All that's left for me to do is wish you a very Happy New Year, Rebecca x

p.s. don't forget to suggest a recipe for my final week!

23 December 2010

Week 49 - Christmas Cookies

Hello! How are we all this week, survived the big freeze? I know a few weeks ago I said the snow in the Shire was a bit pathetic, well it certainly made up for it this week & it tipped it down on Saturday! It all made for a very pretty looking Windsor, but now it's all just turned into a yucky, mucky mess & I'm hoping it'll all melt away soon. I don't know about you, but I've also had to have an emergency re-think on the present front too as some things are stuck in the post! Thankfully I've finished work for the year, so it's into town for me today for some last minute shopping.

As well as the recipe this week I've also decorated my family Christmas cake, click here if you want to have a look at the finished article, must admit I'm quite chuffed with it. There's also a suggestion as to what to do with the marzipan you generally always get left with!

So this weeks recipe is a really simple sugar cookie, they make lovely tree decorations & I have heard a rumour that they are in fact a favourite of Santa Claus!

125g butter
150g caster sugar
1 egg yolk
225g plain flour
Few drops of vanilla essence
100g icing sugar mixed with water to a thick paste
Edible decorations (optional)


1. Cream the butter & sugar together until light & fluffy. Beat in the egg yolk & vanilla, then finally stir in the flour & combine until you get a firm dough. My kitchen is quite cold & I have granite surfaces, so I found kneading it a little to warm it up helped it along, it was quite crumbly otherwise.

2. Roll out the dough to around 5mm thick, then cut out into whatever shapes you like. I made stars, then used a skewer to poke a hole for the ribbon in the top. Bake in the oven on a baking sheet lined with paper at 180c/GM4 for 8-10 minutes. Keep an eye on them as they turn from light golden (what you want) to burnt (not what you want!) very quickly!

3. Leave to cool thoroughly, then attach a ribbon or string through the hole & decorate at will! I used the silver balls & sugar snowmen I had left over from last weeks Gingerbread House.

So that's all from me for this week, I hope you all have a lovely Christmas. Thanks for all your support & comments on my marathon blogging baking challenge, it's very much appreciated. I'll see you again next week as we head closer towards the Rebecca Bakes Cakes finale, only 3 weeks to go!

Happy Christmas!

Rebecca x

14 December 2010

Week 48 - Gingerbread House

Hello my festive friends! Please be nice to me this week, I've come down with a horrible cold & am rapidly losing my voice. I currently sound like Mariella Frostrup, which to be honest would be quite nice if it didn't hurt so much. Sadly it also means most of my tastebuds have gone on strike so I'm not really enjoying my food at the minute which is torture! There's only 10 days to go until Christmas, so I'm hoping for a speedy recovery, Christmas in our house is all about the eating & drinking, it's not going to be much fun if I can't taste it :-(

This week I've finally got round to doing something I've planned for about the last 3 Christmases, I've made a gingerbread house! I'm not sure why I've had this desire, maybe it was being read Hansel & Gretel as a child!? Maybe it's because I used to love building Lego houses & the thought of an edible one was just too tempting? The gingerbread itself is really easy to make, you just need a bit of time & patience to construct & decorate it. It's quite therapeutic really, although I think I probably ended up eating more sweeties than ended up on the house! I used mini marshmallows to create the snow, milky way stars for the roof & a mixture of jelly tots, smarties & tooty frooties for the rest of the decoration. I also had some really cute little sugar snowmen & white sugar sprinkles that looked like ice. You can use whatever you want really, let your imagination run wild! I've also included a house template below, I just cut mine out of baking paper.

100g butter
100g demerara sugar
200g golden syrup
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsps bicarbonate of soda
1 egg
500g plain flour
200g icing sugar
Assorted sweets to decorate
Cake board

1. Put the sugar & syrup into a pan & bring it up to boiling point over a gentle heat. Add the bicarb & give it a good stir, it will turn cloudy & froth up a bit so make sure you have room in the pan!

2. Chop the butter into small chunks & put into a large mixing bowl. Add the syrup mixture to the butter & stir until the butter is melted. Beat in the egg, then mix in the flour a little at a time until you end up with quite a stiff dough.

3. Dust a work surface with flour, then roll out the dough to about 5mm thick. Cut out 2 of each of the template shapes & place them onto a baking tray lined with baking paper. Bake in the oven at 170c/GM3 for 10-15 minutes. I baked mine in 3 batches, leaving them to cool completely on the paper

4. Now comes the tricky bit! Firstly trim the sides of each panel, this makes it fit together a little easier. Next mix the icing sugar with a little water until you have a stiff paste. Take one of the side panels, spread a thin layer of icing on the bottom & stick it to the cake board. Repeat with all the sections using the icing as cement, putting the roof on last. You might need to hold this in place for a couple of minutes to leave it to set. Then go wild with the decorating! Leave to set in a cool place.

I love my gingerbread house, although I don't think I could ever bring myself to destroy it! So with that in mind I have wrapped it up & donated it to our annual Christmas charity raffle at work. Hopefully it will go to a good home & it will be happily broken up & devoured, herein fulfilling it's Christmas Gingerbread destiny! Have a good week, see you next time, Rebecca x







8 December 2010

Week 47 - Florentines

Blimey it's cold! Hope you're managing to stay warm & haven't been snowed in, we've had rather pathetic flurry in the Royal Borough so sadly no snow days for me :-( I'm very excited that the Windsor Ice Rink returns this year! It's in Alexandra Gardens in the centre of Windsor, right by the banks of the river, it's a beautiful setting & sure to make you feel in the Christmas spirit. It opens this weekend, take a look at the website for opening times & booking information.

So I'm launching into full on foodie prep for the festive season & this weeks recipe has become a bit of an annual tradition. I really like making foodie gifts at Christmas & these are perfect to take to dinner or a party as a thank you gift. Last year I also made Santa cookies for my friends at work, the idea was to leave them for Santa on Christmas Eve, but if I'm honest I don't think many of them made it out of the office! Florentines are really easy to prepare, but if I'm honest once they come out of the oven they are a little fiddly to finish. But have patience & it'll be well worth it in the end!

150g butter
150g light brown sugar
100g flaked almonds
50g chopped nuts
40g mixed peel
100g glace cherries
100g raisins
150g dark chocolate, melted

1. Melt the butter in a pan, stir in the sugar & heat gently until it dissolves & just starts to bubble. Take off the heat & stir in all the other ingredients.

2. Line a baking sheet with baking paper & place small dollops of the mixture, leaving space in between for them to spread. Bake in the oven at 180c/GM4 for 8-10 minutes.

3. Lift out the oven, slide the paper off onto a wire rack for the florentines to cool. Line the tray with fresh paper & spoon out the next batch.

4. Once all cooked & completely cooled, carefully peel them off the paper, you might need to slide a knife underneath to help. Place them face down on the paper & cover the bottom with the melted chocolate & leave to set.

When the chocolate was completely set I packed them into sellophane gift bag. I bought mine from Morrisons supermarket, but did also notice them in Sainsburys. They were around £2 for a pack of 10, with ribbons & I just added a simple silver gift tag. My batch made 28 florentines, but you could easily half or double the quantities depending on how many you need. Enjoy! Next week I think I'll be trying my hand at some baking construction, until then, Rebecca x




1 December 2010

Week 46 - Red Velvet Cupcakes

Pinch & a punch for the first of the month, it's December so the Christmas countdown starts today! The tree will be going up at the weekend & I'm really looking forward to the party season. We're starting early with our work do tomorrow evening, outfit is sorted, nails are done, just need to work out how exactly you use a velcro roller & I'm ready to go. I bought a gorgeous new pair of heels which are pretty much sky scrapers, even by my standards. I've been off work today so thought I'd better try them out, you should have seen me, teetering round the house in my jammies & a pair of 4 inch heels, actually it's probably best you didn't see me! They're remarkably comfy, but I think as back up I should try & get a pair of those fold able ballet pumps to stick in my handbag...I have a feeling I might have to abandon the stilts at some point!

So entries to my second giveaway closed yesterday & thanks to the random number generator I'm happy to announce the Kel of Writings, Ramblings & Reviews is my lucky winner! Well done Kel, I hope you like the mugs, given the Arctic conditions I hope you enjoy using them to warm up with a nice hot brew? With only 6 weeks left to go in my baking challenge, I'm hoping I can bring you a finale giveaway soon...watch this space.

This weeks recipe is something that I've wanted to try for quite some time & comes from the very beautiful Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook. The red velvet is created by mixing together red food colouring with cocoa powder & vanilla essence to form a paste. Word of advice, do not mistake this as melted chocolate & lick the spoon...eh Mum? I baked this week at my Mum's house & before I could stop her she did exactly that, looked like she'd gone all vampire like & had to spend 20 minutes brushing her teeth!

For the cakes
60g butter
150g caster sugar
1 egg
10g cocoa powder
20ml red food colouring
1/2tsp vanilla essence
120ml whole milk
150g plain flour
1/2tsp salt
1/2tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 1/2tsps white wine vinegar

For the frosting
300g icing sugar
50g butter
125g cream cheese

1. Beat together the butter & sugar until light & fluffy, then beat in the egg. Mix together the cocoa powder, food colouring & vanilla until you have a smooth paste. Add this to the butter mixture & beat well until all combined.

2. With the mixer on a slow speed, beat in half the milk, then half the flour. Repeat with the remaining ingredients until you have a lovely smooth mixture. Finally add the salt, bicarb & vinegar, then turn up the mixer & beat well for a couple of minutes.

3. Line a 12 whole bun tin with paper cases & fill each about 3/4 full with mixture. Bake in the oven at 170c/GM3 for around 20-25 minutes until well risen & springy to the touch. Leave to cool in the tin.

4. To make the frosting, beat the icing sugar & butter together, then add the cream cheese & beat for around 5 minutes until fluffy, spread this frosting all over the top of the cakes when cool.



These are really delicious & as the name suggests, have a lovely velvety texture! Have a good week, I'm giving my Christmas cake it's final drink of brandy before tackling the decorations! See ya, Rebecca x

23 November 2010

Week 45 - Cherry Upside Down Cake

Evening everyone! Hope you're all well? I'm trying to relax (with a glass of red!) after a rather stressful day at work. I had a minor meltdown when I thought I'd lost my 3 year marketing plan presentation I'd been working on for weeks, with only an hour to go before I was due to present it to the whole company...arrgghhh! I was dealing with it quite calmly, but panic quickly set in & my poor colleague who I share an office had to deal with tears which could have quickly descended into a full on tantrum! Turns out our delightful IT system had saved it in a completely random place (to be honest that could have been me, it was late when I left the office last night!) & the presentation was safe & sound. Big sigh of relief, but man alive today has been a long day.

Anyway enough about work, can you believe it's only 31 days until Christmas? I have finally given in & made a start on my Christmas shopping at the weekend. To say thank you for the blog support I've had over the last year, I bought an extra gift which I'm giving away this week. Click here for details. The other thing I need to start planning is how I'm going to decorate the Christmas cake. I think it's ready, there's enough brandy in it, I realised the other day it's been fed the best part of half a bottle! I did say it usually comes with an ABV rating.

So this weeks recipe is my alternative take on a pineapple upside down cake. I love cherries & think they work really well in cakes. I've used my latest find, frozen sweet dark cherries, which I bought from Sainsburys. They are delicious & I've taken to adding them to desserts, yoghurt, as a garnish...anything really.

100g butter
225g self raising flour
100g caster sugar
175g frozen cherries
1 beaten egg
1/2tsp vanilla essence
75-150ml milk

1. Rub in the flour & butter until you get fine breadcrumbs. Stir in the sugar, then the egg & vanilla & enough milk until you get a soft dropping consistency.

2. Grease a loose bottomed cake tin & spread the cherries over the base of the tin. Pour over the cake batter & spread our evenly. Bake in the oven at 180c/GM4 for 1hour - 1hour15 until golden brown & firm to touch. (I'd recommend putting a baking tray on the shelf below in case the cherry juice leaks out!)

3. Leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then turn out carefully onto a rack to cool.

The cherries sink into the cake mix, producing a delicious gooey topping & the cake itself is quite dense & rich. It goes really well with a cup of tea, but it would work equally as well as a dessert served warm with either a good lashing of custard or a scoop of vanilla ice-cream! Hope you enjoy, have a good week & don't forget to enter the giveaway, Rebecca x

17 November 2010

Week 44 - Crumpets

Hello! Welcome to week 44 of Rebecca Bakes Cakes & this week I've decided to try & make it a full on multimedia experience, so I'm going to attempt to include not only pictures, but video into the post! Hold onto your hats, I'm not the most technically minded so anything could happen, apologies I've recorded the video on my HTC phone so it's not going to be the best quality. But before we get to this weeks baking, I wanted to say a big thank you to everyone who has voted so far in the Dorset Cereals Little Blog Awards. If you haven't already voted & would like to, just follow the link on the right or click here...

So as you can probably tell from the picture, or there in lack of, the crumpets weren't exactly a success! Some of my recipes have been far from perfect, but I've somehow managed to salvage them into something that at least tastes good even if it looks a bit iffy. These were beyond recovery...but rather than try & explain it, I'll tell you the story through the medium of video! Scroll down after the recipe...

450g plain flour
1/2 tsp salt
1tsp sugar
7g sachet of fast action yeast
300ml water
300ml milk
As many plain round pastry cutters as you can fit in your frying pan!

1. Sift the flour into a large bowl, stir in the salt, sugar & yeast. Make a well in the centre & add the liquids, beat well until you have a smooth batter. Cover with a tea towel & leave in a warm place for an hour to rise.


So far so good...the batter rose really well!

2. Give it a good stir to knock it back then pour it into a jug to make it easier to pour into the pan.

3. Heat a frying pan over a medium heat, then grease the insides of the pastry cutters with a little oil & place them in the pan to warm up.

4. Pour in enough mixture to half fill the mould & leave to cook for about 8 minutes until lots of little wholes appear on the surface. Pop them out of the moulds & flip them over to cook on the other side for 2 minutes. Lift out & leave to cool on a rack - start the process over again!

Crumpets Take 1, here goes....
video

Want to see what happened?
video
So not exactly a resounding success! I think the pastry cutters weren't helping, so I thought I'd try a slight variation on the crumpet theme...

video
Take 2 managed to produce some bubbles, so the piklets were an improvement on the crumpets, but to be honest they ended up with a consistency somewhat resembling those rubber powerballs I used to have as a kid. After 3 attempts, I cut my losses, gave up & put the kettle on instead! I had heard that crumpets were dead simple to make, so I think I must be missing something? So although there's not really anything to show for this week, I hope the videos of my crumpet incompetence at least gave you a giggle! Onwards & upwards for next week, Rebecca x

10 November 2010

Week 43 - Viennese Biscuits

Afternoon folks, I've had a day off today so I'm feeling all relaxed & am writing this with a cup of tea & one of this weeks biccies! Can you believe that I'm in to the final 10 weeks of my blogging challenge. It's gone so fast, but I'm wondering what to do with all the recipes I've tried over the year? A book maybe? :-) For now I have to concentrate on the final 9 recipes, if anyone has any suggestions please let me know...

This week I had some good news, the blog has been nominated in the Dorset Cereals Little Blog Awards! It's a monthly award & voting takes place throughout November. So if you like my blog & enjoy reading then please vote & spread the word. You could also be in with a chance of winning a delicious Dorset Cereals goodie bag too! Click here to vote or follow the link on the right, thank you x

I thought we'd go all continental like this week with a Viennese Biscuit, they were meant to be Viennese Fingers but it didn't quite go to plan! These were really easy to make, they're pretty much a very short shortbread & this recipe came from my vintage Be-Ro book. Once you've made the mixture, you are meant to put it into a piping bag with a rosette nozzle & pipe 6cm strips of mixture onto a baking tray. Well I have a piping gun & could not for the life of me squeeze anything out of it as the mixture was so stiff, so I popped it in the microwave for 10 seconds! That seemed to do the trick, but rather than keep their traditional spiky shape, as soon as I put them in the oven they flopped into a splat!

150g butter
50g caster sugar
150g self raising flour
Few drops vanilla essence
100g plain chocolate

1. Cream together the butter & sugar, make sure it's really well beaten & soft.

2. Stir in the flour & vanilla. Scoop it into a piping bag or gun & pipe 6cm strips onto a baking tray lined with baking paper. Bake in the oven at 160c/GM3 for 15 minutes until just golden.

3. Leave to cool & crisp up, then melt the chocolate & dip one end of each biscuit.

So they may not have the shape of the shop bought ones, but they are delicious none the less. Let me know if or how you managed to get yours to keep their shape! Have a good week, don't forget to vote, Rebecca x

3 November 2010

Week 42 - Toffee Apples

Evening everyone, how are you adjusting to the clocks going back? I'm not liking the dark evenings, it feels like I'm leaving work in the middle of the night! Never mind only what, 6 months until we're back on BST?!

So it's Guy Fawkes Night this Friday & I thought I'd mark the occasion with a Bonfire Night treat. I'm not quite sure why I associate toffee apples with this time of year, but I do remember as a kid nagging Mum to buy one for me (I also liked the chocolate ones that were covered in sprinkles!) Growing up in a small town in Northumberland, Bonfire Night was a big deal, it started with a candle lit procession through town up to the bonfire, then a fireworks display that was sure to bring out the oohs & aahs! The event was usually newsworthy for the local paper & yours truly even got her picture in the paper one year. We've dug it out of the Hodgson archive & here it is. Yes I do look like the Michelin man, Northumberland in November is a very cold place!

So question of the week...you probably know the start of the rhyme, but do you know how it finishes?

Remember remember the 5th of November, gunpowder, treason & plot. I see no reason why the gunpowder treason should ever be forgot.


Useless information of the week over, back to the baking...Now I know these aren't strictly cake, but I'm exercising creative licence & I have made the toffee from scratch, so there was some element of cooking involved :-) This recipe came from my traditional 1970's Good Housekeeping cookbook, can't go wrong!

450g demerera sugar
50g butter
10ml vinegar
15ml golden syrup
150ml water
6-8 apples & lolly sticks

1. Put all the ingredients (except the apples!) into a large heavy bottomed saucepan. Heat gently until the butter & sugar have dissolved, then turn up the heat & boil it rapidly for 5-8 minutes. The recipe said to use a sugar thermometer, but I don't have one. I tested it by dropping a small dollop into a glass of cold water, if it holds together & set immediately then it's ready to use.

2. Stick the lolly stick into the apple, then dunk it in the toffee, be very careful, hot sugar can be lethal! Lift it out & keep twirling it to even out the toffee, then dunk it in a bowl of cold water for 10 seconds, still twirling. Place it onto a piece of baking parchment to set completely. If your toffee sets in the pan before you can coat all the apples, simply put it back on the heat & bring it up to the boil again.

Do you know these almost didn't happen, there wasn't a lolly stick to be found in my local area, I ended up having to buy ice lollies just to get the sticks! It was either that or spearing them with a plastic fork. I hope you enjoy them & sorry but I can't be held responsible if the toffee causes havoc with your fillings! Have a fun Bonfire Night & please remember the fireworks code (that's the public service announcement for this week!) Take care, Rebecca x

28 October 2010

Week 41 - Chocolate Raspberry Muffins

Hello, how are we all this week? I can't believe how quickly the weeks are whizzing by & to be honest I've been so busy with the day job there's nothing much exciting been happening! So this week I've decided to stay true to the cake & just share this weeks recipe with you. Oh & by way of a public service announcement, don't forget the clocks go back this Sunday, an extra hour in bed...yey!!

125g butter
200g caster sugar
2 eggs
175g plain flour
1tsp baking powder
1tsp bicarbonate of soda
35g cocoa powder
250ml greek yoghurt
100g raspberries (fresh or frozen)

1. Melt the butter, beat in the sugar then the eggs, finally stir in the yoghurt.

2. Sift in the flour, baking powder, bicarb & cocoa powder & fold the ingredients together.

3. Line a bun tin with paper cases & spoon in the mixture. Finally sprinkle the raspberries over the top of each muffin & bake in the oven at 180c/GM4 for around 20 minutes. Leave to cool in the tin for a few minutes, then lift out onto a rack.

I think these are delicious, the sharp raspberries really balance the sweet chocolate & the yoghurt gives them a lovely soft texture. Hope you enjoy them! Don't spook yourselves too much this halloween & I'll see you next week with a bonfire night treat, not strictly cake, but something I've always wanted to have a go at making! Until then, Rebecca x

20 October 2010

Week 40 - Apple Cider Cake

I have to start this weeks post with a confession & apology! Last week I mentioned I would be making something for my best friends birthday & it would be a bit of a challenge for me...I wasn't wrong there. As a result I had to turn up to my BF's birthday dinner, sans cake! Dear readers, my experience last weekend has just confirmed that I really can't do pastry. At the request of my BF I attempted to make Profiteroles, my mum had said she'd made them years ago & thought they were pretty straight forward, how hard can it be I thought...silly Rebecca! Here's a picture & yes I am a little embarrassed to call myself a home baker after this...


Needless to say I didn't bother filling them with cream & topping them with chocolate. Mum was suitably confused as to what went wrong & as she was stuck in the house poorly, decided to have a go herself. This is what she produced...
All I can say is good work Mum! I also got to taste one & they were delicious, maybe I should hand over the reins to Mum, could always change the blog to Val Bakes Cakes!

Anyway onto more successful cakes & this weeks recipe. This week is National Baking Week & Thursday is also Apple Day. Apple Day was founded in 1990 by Common Ground to celebrate apples, orchards & local distinctiveness, what better excuse for an apple cider cake? This recipe is one I've had in my scrap book for a number of years, I think it originally came from BBC Good Food magazine.

For the cake
330ml cider
150g unsalted butter
300g plain flour
2tsps bicarbonate of soda
1tsp mixed spice
1tsp ground cinnamon
4 apples, peeled & grated
150g soft brown sugar
2 eggs
200g sultanas or raisins

For the topping
250g marscapone
1tsp cinnamon

1. Put the cider into a pan & simmer it until it reduces by about two thirds. Place to one side to cool a little.

2. Melt the butter, then stir in the grated apple & sugar. Stir in the eggs & sultanas, then finally sift in the flour & spice & fold together.

3. Pour the mixture into a buttered springform tin & bake in the oven at 180c/GM4 for 45-60 minutes. You need to keep an eye on it, the top of mine over browned a little! It's done when a skewer stuck in the middle of the cake comes out clean.

4. Beat the marscapone with the cinnamon until soft, spread it all over the top of the cake when it's completely cold.

I love this cake, the apples & cider give it a really moist texture. Hope you enjoy it & if anyone else is inspired by National Baking Week I'd love to hear what you create. See you next week, Rebecca x

13 October 2010

Week 39 - Christmas Cake

Hello, how are we all? So bad news out of the way first, I didn't win the Brownie Bake Off :-( Lets get straight on to happier news from cake towers!!

You may remember a couple of months back I told you I'd joined a gym to try & counteract all the cake I was scoffing as a result of this challenge. Well it was a 6 week trial & in true me style I got bored & have decided not to join up full time, so that leaves a big exercise shaped hole in my week. You might not know this, but as well as being an amateur baker & fluffy marketer, I'm also a tap dancer & go to a class once a week! Inspired by Strictly starting again I decided I'd have a go at a new dance class. I say dance, it's aerobics really, but takes it's moves from a number of different dance styles & it's the new 'thing' to do apparently. It's ZUMBA & quite honestly it's bonkers! You really have to leave your self consciousness at the door & are encouraged to shake what your Mama gave you as much as possible (sadly mine shakes in different directions at the same time!) It's a brilliant work out & a lot of fun, I've never laughed so much through a class before, I'll definitely be going back. I hope I won't get bored of it, I'm starting to run short of exercise options!

Now you may look at the title of this weeks post & think, give over, it's only October I can't possibly think about Christmas yet? But it's exactly the right time to make the cake, especially if you're like me & want it to marinade in brandy for the next 10 weeks. This is a bit of a tradition in the Hodgson household & usually comes with a ABV rating!  The recipe is taken from an old Good Housekeeping cook book that has been in the family for years.
225g currants
225g sultanas
225g raisins
100g mixed peel
100g glace cherries chopped
50g flaked almonds
225g plain flour
1tsp mixed spice
225g butter
225g soft brown sugar
Grated rind of a lemon
4 eggs, beaten
2tbsps brandy

1. Cream the butter, sugar & lemon rind until light & fluffy, then add the eggs a little at a time, beating as you go. Fold in flour, spice & brandy, finally mix in the fruit & nuts.

2. Cut out a piece of baking paper to line the bottom of the tin, then cut another piece that will fit around the inside of the tin. Pour the mixture into the prepared tin & bake in the oven at 150c/GM3 for 3 3/4 - 4 hours. To stop the top over browning I cover it with a piece of baking paper after about an hour and a half.

3. When cooked, lift it out & leave to cool completely in the tin. I leave mine in the baking paper & store it in an airtight tin. About a week later, poke holes in the top of the cake using a skewer, then drizzle a tablespoon of brandy over the top. Repeat once a week (or as often as you like!) until Christmas.

I usually decorate my cake the week before Christmas, so I'll keep you posted about my decoration of choice this year. Enjoy your week, I'll be back with a treat I'm creating for my best friends birthday...it's set to be a challenge for me! Till then, Rebecca x

6 October 2010

Week 38 - Lemon Drizzle Cake

Evening! It's been a busy week this week with lots to tell you, but first I'd like to say thanks to those of you who shared your Victoria Sponge secrets. It really was the most pathetic excuse for a cake, but I think I've picked up a good few tips & will be testing them out in the coming weeks. I'll let you know how I get on...

So as well as the weekly recipe, I've also been practising for the Great Brownie Bake Off this Saturday. I've just about perfected the recipe so bring on the competition! You can find more details about the event here If you're in the area come along, it looks like a great line up of demonstrations from various bakers as well as appearance by Edd, winner of the Great British Bake Off. Fingers crossed, results next week.

Thanks to everyone who voted in my poll last week, it was a bit of a contest between Peanut Butter Cookies & Lemon Drizzle Cake, poor old Carrot Cake didn't seem to get a look in! Lemon Drizzle won, so here's my take on the tea time classic. This week I was kindly sent a selection of products from Total Greek Yoghurt to experiment with in my baking. I have used yoghurt before in muffins & it really does give a delicious soft texture. So I thought I'd try adding it to a Lemon Drizzle Cake, it's the perfect addition to ensure a squidgy, gooey cake...for me, exactly what Lemon Drizzle should be!

300g plain flour
200g caster sugar
170g butter melted
250ml Total Greek Yoghurt
2 eggs
1 heaped tsp baking powder
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 lemons zested & juiced
100g granulated sugar

1. Beat together the sugar & eggs, add the melted butter, yoghurt & lemon zest. Finally stir in the flour, baking powder & bicarb.

2. Pour into a baking tin & bake at 180c/GM5 for around 45-55 minutes until well risen & golden on the top. Leave to cool for 10 minutes in the tin, then lift out onto a rack.

3. To make the drizzle, mix together the lemon juice & granulated sugar. Once cooled, using a skewer poke small holes into the top of the cake, then pour over the drizzle. This doesn't have to be exact as it will all seep through the cake. Leave it to set & you should have a gorgeous sugar crust on the top!

So there you have it, delicious Lemon Drizzle Cake & as its got yoghurt in it, we can kid ourselves it's healthy. I'll be trying out a few other things with the yoghurt including a dessert my Kiwi colleague recommended called Ambrosia (no not custard), which looks like a variation on an Eton Mess! Enjoy, till next week, Rebecca x

29 September 2010

Week 37 - Victoria Sponge (attempt 1!)

Hello! I'm so excited, after weeks of procrastinating & deliberating over colours I am now the proud owner of a shiny new Kitchen Aid mixer! It's an absolute lump of a thing, but it's soooo pretty. I think it's going to take a bit of trial & error to get the best out of it, it's a bit different from my battered old food processor. I love having such an icon in my kitchen, makes me feel like a proper grown up! The next big decision was what to make this week to christen it? I settled on a classic Victoria Sponge cake which to be honest I've never had much success with in the past. I thought I'd see if the Kitchen Aid helped me any, short answer...it didn't!

I'm not really quite sure where I'm going wrong? The mixture did seem a little lumpy, but it rose quite well (but dropped back just as quickly!) The texture is moist, but it was a little on the heavy side. If anyone has any tips on making the perfect Victoria Sponge I'd love to hear them. I will be practising, I want to get to the ultimate cake by week 52! Don't worry it won't just be the same recipe for the next 15 weeks, that would get a bit boring eh? But I'll keep you updated on my progress.

For the cake
100g butter
100g caster sugar
2 eggs
100g self raising flour

For the filling
75g butter
175g icing sugar
3tbsp strawberry jam

1. Cream the butter & sugar until light & fluffy, then beat in the eggs one at a time. Finally fold in the flour.

2. Grease a cake pan & pour in the mixture, spreading it evenly. Bake in the oven at 190c/GM5 for around 20 minutes. Leave to cool on a rack.

3. Cream together the butter & icing sugar to make the butter cream filling. Using a bread knife, cut the cake through the middle, then sandwich the two halves together with the butter cream & jam.

I think I could have split the mixture between 2 tins, maybe I'll try that next time? Granted it's not the most attractive looking cake (not as pretty as the Kitchen Aid!!), but I have to say it tasted good. Just need to improve on the light & fluffiness!

You may have noticed a new feature on the blog, a poll for you dear readers! I'd like you to choose next weeks recipe for me, I've chosen 3 recipes that I haven't yet got round to baking, just vote for your favourite & that's what I'll make next week, simples! Enjoy, Rebecca x


My new baby!

22 September 2010

Week 36 - Fruit Bread

Phew, I'm back from my European tour of the Douwe Egberts offices! It's been an interesting month, I've learnt far more than I ever thought I would about coffee, however I'm really looking forward to having some more time to concentrate on my baking. Apologies, I feel like I've neglected you over the last few weeks & I don't think things have been up to my usual standard. That's probably because I've taken to baking at all hours & I've realised 1am is not my finest hour for creating recipes!

Did you watch the final of the Great British Bake off last night? I don't know how they came to a decision between the final 3, they were so close! I would have been happy whoever won, I kept changing my mind every time they presented another delicious baked goodie. I think my favourite from the final was Ruth's Mint, Ginger & Blackberry cakes, they looked so gorgeous. Just reinforced the fact that I need to go on a cake decorating course to make mine look a little prettier! There's talk of another series for next year...hmm, maybe?? In the meantime I've signed up for the Great Brownie Bake Off that's being hosted by The Chocolate Consultancy on October 9th, so I'll be spending the next 3 weeks perfecting my brownies!

This week, having more time, I decided to have a go at making bread. I've always cheated & used my bread maker, but thats now been banished to the back of the cupboard to make space in my kitchen for my new coffee machine. It was pretty simple to make actually, you just need patience, checking the airing cupboard every 10 minutes to see how it's doing is probably not ideal! I decided to go for a rich fruit bread that I could either eat for breakfast or afternoon tea.

250g strong white bread flour
35g butter melted
35g caster sugar
1/2 tsp salt
7g sachet dried yeast
1 egg beaten
1 tsp ground cinnamon
35g sultanas
30g mixed peel
75ml milk mixed with 75ml water
Zest of 1 orange & 1 lemon (plus a little squeeze of lemon juice

1. Put the flour, sugar, salt, yeast, butter & egg into a large bowl. Add the liquid a little at a time, once it's all combined, stir for at least 3 minutes. Tip out the dough onto a surface dusted with flour & knead for a further 5 minutes. Add a little more flour if needed to get a smooth elastic dough. Pop it back in the bowl & leave to rise for 1.5 hours.


2. Mix the fruit, spice & zest together in a bowl. Tip out the dough back onto the board & combine the fruit mixture into the dough. Shape it into a sausage & place it on a baking tray lined with parchment. Leave to rise for another hour.


3. Bake in the oven at 220c/GM7 for 20 minutes until golden brown. Lift out & leave to cool on a rack.

I'm so chuffed with my first from scratch loaf of bread. It's delicious sliced, toasted & smothered in butter, I can highly recommend it! Have a good week everyone, see you next week, Rebecca x

p.s. has anyone else made their Christmas cake yet? I'm starting to stress it's nearly October & I haven't made mine yet...I'm losing valuable alcohol soaking time!!

15 September 2010

Week 35 - Mars Bar Cupcakes

Evening! I'm back from Belgium just long enough to rustle up this weeks recipe. I also bring good news! You may remember a while back I created a recipe for Malteser Cookies for a competition that was being run by MyDish. Well sadly I didn't win, so no shiny new Kitchen Aid mixer for me, but I was a runner up! That means I have a parcel of chocolate goodies heading my way...as if I didn't have enough calories to deal with every week :-) Here's the link to the original post, it's a dead simple recipe to make, so why not have a go yourself?


You may have noticed that this week is National Cupcake Week (it's also Scottish Food Fortnight & Organic Food Fortnight!), so it only seemed right to make some sort of cupcake. Sweeties have often been a source of inspiration for recipes so this week I'm paying homage to the good old Mars Bar. I found them great to bake with, the nougat bit stays soft, but the caramel turns into lovely chewy toffee. Yum!


For the cakes
60g butter
100g caster sugar
1 egg
Few drops of vanilla essence
300g plain flour
1tsp baking powder
1tsp bicarbonate of soda
100-150ml milk
2 Mars Bar Duo's chopped into small chunks

For the topping
80g plain chocolate
2tbsp icing sugar
Dash of milk
1 bag Mars Planets

1. Melt the butter, stir in the sugar, then beat in the egg. Fold in the flour, then add the milk a little at a time until you get a dropping consistency. Finally stir in the chopped up Mars Bars.

2. Line a 12 hole bun tin with paper cases & spoon in the mixture. I made 18 cakes, so had to bake 2 batches. Bake in the oven at 180c/GM5 for around 10-12 minutes. Lift out, leave to cool for a minute, then transfer to a rack.

3. To make the topping melt the chocolate, then stir in the icing sugar adding a little milk to make it smooth. Drizzle over the top of each cake, then top it off with a Mars Planet sweet.

Hope you enjoy what's left of National Cupcake Week, it's a good excuse to eat cake I guess! I'm off to Holland again next week & will be on a mission to get a traditional recipe for Dutch Apple Cake from one of my colleagues. Till next week, Happy Baking, Rebecca x

7 September 2010

Week 34 - Rhubarb & Orange Crumble Cake

Hello! Sorry this is going to be a bit of a short post this week. I'm on a bit of a European tour with work this month & as much as I could ramble on about coffee & my numerous trips to Belgium & Holland, I'm going to just keep it all about the cake!

So last week I mentioned that my good friend had been inspired to bake up a feast over the bank holiday weekend. One of the cakes she made was so delicious, I promised I would make it this week. The recipe came from an old Good Housekeeping recipe book & is made with rhubarb from her own garden (which I think makes it taste even better!) Anne gave me a good tip for preparing the rhubarb so it keeps its shape & doesn't go too mushy. Wash it & cut it into chunks, place it on a baking tray, add a little water, then pop it in the oven on 180c/GM4 for around 15 minutes. Lift it out & leave it cool, then drain off the excess water. Then it's ready to use.

For the cake
125g butter
125g caster sugar
125g self raising flour
2 eggs
Finely grated rind of 1 orange
200g rhubarb (prepared as above)

For the crumble
60g butter
125g plain flour
2 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon

1. Cream together the butter & sugar, gradually beat in the eggs until light & fluffy. Fold in the flour & orange rind. Pour the mixture into a loose bottom cake tin, then spread the prepared rhubarb over the top.

2. To make the crumble rub together the butter & flour until you have something that looks like fine breadcrumbs, then stir in the sugar & cinnamon. Spread the crumble over the top of the rhubarb.

3. Bake in the oven at 190c/GM5 for around 45-50 minutes until the crumble has just started to brown. Lift out & leave to cool before lifting out of the tin.

I served this as a dessert, warm, with a good dollop of cream. It would probably work just as well with custard, or cold with a cup of tea! It's hard to believe I've only got 18 weeks left to go in my baking challenge, the weeks are whizzing by! I hope you're still enjoying all the cakes? Thanks for all your comments, I love hearing from you! Have a good week, I'm off to unpack, then pack again. Take care, Rebecca x

1 September 2010

Week 33 - Oaty Cookies

Hello cookie monsters, here we are for another week of cakiness from the house of Rebecca Bakes Cakes. I hope you all enjoyed the bank holiday weekend, slightly upsetting to think that's it for holidays until Christmas :-( I had a cake filled weekend (even more so than usual!) I went to Cake Britain at The Futures gallery in London, it was organised by the Mad Artist Tea Party & featured an amazing collection of sculptures made entirely out of cake! I've put a few piccies of my favourites at the bottom of the post. It's also made me realise that it's time I prettied my cakes up a bit, so I've been inspired to sign up to a cake decorating class. Need to start researching, but if anyone can recommend one in the Berkshire area, let me know.

The second part of my cake weekend involved an afternoon invite over to my best friends house, with the instruction 'make sure you have an appetite!' I arrived to find Anne had been baking like a mad women, making millionaires shortbread, spiced apple cake & a.n. other cake, that I'm keeping under wraps as I'm going to make it next week! They were all delicious & I must admit it was really nice to be the one being baked for for a change. So just goes to prove, there's a domestic goddess in all of us, just need to find a way to let her out. Good work Anne, you've set your standards high! x

So this weeks recipe is one of my favourites & I've always called them Oaty Cookies, but I took some round to my mum & she described them as rock cakey thingies! I suppose they are a bit like rock cakes, a bit like a flapjack & crispy on the edges so a bit like a cookie. Essentially they don't know what they are really, I think I've created my first cake with an identity crisis! Well whatever they are, they taste delicious...

125g butter
200g caster sugar or demerera sugar for extra crunch!
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
100g plain flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
175g oats
80g sultanas or raisins

1. Cream together the butter & sugar, then beat in the egg & vanilla. Stir in the flour, bicarb & baking powder. Finally stir in the oats & fruit.

2. Place small dollops of mixture onto a baking tray, leaving space for them to spread. Bake in the oven at 180c/GM5 for around 8 - 10 minutes until golden brown. Leave on the tray to set for a few minutes then transfer to a rack to cool.

Hope you enjoy them! Final thing from me this week is to announce the winner of my blog giveaway, the random number generator selected

The Mad House

as my lucky winner, so congratulations, I hope you enjoy the coffee! Thanks to everyone who entered, I loved reading about your favourite cakes, given me a bit of inspiration for weeks to come. Hopefully I'll be able to run another giveaway soon, need to sweet talk another colleague into donating a prize! Enjoy your week, I'm off to Holland for a few days so bring on the waffles...or is that Belgium? Oh I don't know....ta ta, Rebecca x

24 August 2010

Week 32 - Banana Cinnamon Cupcakes

Hey there! So last weeks recipe...it created quite a bit of debate & I'll be honest it's probably the first week in my baking marathon that I've found it difficult to share the cake! Lets put it down to experience & not mention it again :-)

Have you been bitten by the Great British Bake Off bug yet? I've been watching it, going green with envy, not just about all the fab challenges they get to tackle, but also the rainbow selection of Kitchen Aid mixers in their baking tent! I am still yearning after a red one, but haven't yet plucked up the courage to invest that amount of money in a mixer. Do you use one? If you do I'd love to know what you think & if it's worth it, thanks! I think I've already picked my favourite contestant to win, but I'm keeping that to myself for now. By way of consolation, I've signed myself up for the Great Brownie Bake Off, it's being organised by The Chocolate Consultancy & will take place in London at Look Mum No Hands on October 9th. They are encouraging homebakers to get involved & share their best brownie recipe. Click here for more info, I'll let you know how my Brownie recipe comes along, given I set fire to the last batch I made, I think I need some practise!

On to this weeks recipe & it's a request from my boyf who celebrates his birthday this week, I don't much like banana in cake, but he does so here goes! They're fairly hearty cupcakes so imagine they would be really good for breakfast. I know not everyone likes frosting so I only decorated about half of them. p.s. do you like the new cake stand?

For the cakes
300g plain flour
100g soft brown sugar
50g butter
1 egg
3 ripe bananas
70g fromage frais
1tsp baking powder
1tsp bicarbonate of soda
1tsp cinnamon
Dash of milk

For the frosting
70g butter
170g icing sugar
Few drops vanilla essence
Dash of milk

1. Melt the butter, stir in the sugar, then beat in the egg. Mash the banana together with the fromage frais & cinnamon, then stir it in to the buttery mixture.

2. Sift in the flour, baking powder & bicarbonate of soda, mix until combined, adding a little dash of milk if it's a bit dry.

3. Line a 12 hole bun tin with paper cases & spoon in the mixture. A batch should make 18 cupcakes. Bake them in the oven at 190c/GM5 for 10-12 minutes until golden brown & well risen, lift out & leave to cool completely

4. To make the frosting, cream together the butter & icing sugar, adding a few drops of vanilla & a little dash of milk to help it along. Top the cupcakes with the frosting, I added a banana chip to the top for decoration.

So Happy Birthday M, hope you enjoy your alternative birthday cakes! Don't forget there's still time to enter my blog giveaway for the chance to win a Senseo coffee machine worth £149.99! See you next week, Rebecca x

16 August 2010

Week 31 - Courgette Cake

I know you've probably read the title of this weeks post & thought I've taken leave of my senses, bear with me on this one & I'll come back to the cake in a bit...

So this week it's my birthday & I got talking to my mum about the birthday cakes she'd created for me when I was a kid & I think this could be a contributing factor to my love of baking! We dug through the Hodgson photo albums & managed to find a few pictures which I thought I'd share with you. Sorry they're a bit grainy, but they are *ahem* years old! My favourite is the chocolate finger house, the recipe came from a promotional Cadbury cookbook, I think I loved it so much it was made for 2 birthdays! The Garfield was made for a birthday BBQ party I had, I think all my friends went home bouncing off the walls, how much food colouring went into that!? The other two were a treasure chest complete with sweetie jewellery & a buttercream covered butterfly. I hope you'll agree she's quite creative! Mum's adamant she's not baking one this year as I'm generating quite enough myself, probably just as well :-)


So to celebrate I thought it would be a good opportunity to offer something back to you readers! I'm launching my first blog giveaway, where you have the chance to win a Senseo coffee machine worth £149.99! Click here, or follow the link at the top of the page for more details. Good luck, you have until 27th August to enter!

Back to this weeks recipe & this definitely was an experiment. I was sent it by a lady I work with, who developed it to deal with the mass of courgettes being grown on her allotment. My honest opinion is that I'm really not sure what I think of it? I don't love it, but I don't hate it either! The courgettes do give it a moist texture (a bit like carrot cake), but like courgettes, it doesn't taste of much, other than a rich, not too sweet sponge cake. I do really like the filling however & would use that again.

For the cake
250g courgettes, grated
2 eggs
125ml sunflower oil
150g caster sugar
225g SR flour
1/2tsp baking powder
1/2tsp bicarbonate of soda

For the filling
200g cream cheese
100g icing sugar
Juice of a lime

1. Beat together the eggs, oil & sugar until fluffy. Then sieve in the flour, baking powder & bicarb & mix well. Finally stir in the grated courgettes. Divide the mixture between 2 sandwich tins & bake in the oven at 200c/GM6 for around 25 minutes, leave to cool completely in the tins before tipping out.

2. To make the filling, mix together the cream cheese & icing sugar, finally stir in the lime juice. Use this mixture to sandwich the 2 cakes together.

So there you have it, courgette cake. Not as green as I was expecting (I was thinking it might come out Hulk coloured!), but for me the jury is out on the final verdict. If anyone tries it, I'd be interested to hear what you think? Have a good week, don't forget to enter the giveaway & feel free to forward the link on. Ta ta, Rebecca x

10 August 2010

Week 30 - Lemon Meringue Cake

Hello! It doesn't seem 5 minutes since my last post, but I'm back on schedule & this weeks recipe is another request but more about that in a bit...

So, after 30 solid weeks of baking it has been proving a little tricky for me to maintain at least some level of will power not just to scoff the lot myself! It was ok whilst I was training for the marathon, but I've decided if I want to keep eating cake, I need to take assertive action. Wait for it, I've only gone & joined a gym! This is a big deal for me who has spent the last 3 years doing everything possible to avoid the gym (I even signed up for a belly dancing course for alternative exercise!) Thankfully this is a different type of gym, it's based around circuits & a workout only lasts 30 minutes...I think even I can manage that. I'll let you know how I get on, but don't worry, there will be no danger of me turning into a health freak gym bunny. Sweet indulgence will continue to week 52!

This weeks recipe was a request from my friend Jo, who is leaving work this week to have a baby. Honestly there's something in the water at our place, we girls are a bit nervous to touch the coffee machine just in case! She told me she's been craving lemon meringue so I thought I'd make this cake from Nigella's Feast cookbook. I've made it once before & it went down a storm, it looks really impressive, but it's actually quite easy (definitely easier to construct than the Black Forest Gateaux I made in week 21) I hope she enjoys it & it satisfies the craving!

125g unsalted butter
4 eggs separated
300g caster sugar
100g plain flour
25g cornflour
1tsp baking powder
1/2tsp bicarbonate of soda
Zest of 1 lemon
4tsps lemon juice
2tsps milk
1/2tsp cream of tartar
150ml whipping cream, whipped!
150g lemon curd

1. Cream together the butter & 100g of the sugar, then beat in the egg yolks. Stir in the flour, cornflour, baking powder, bicarb & lemon zest, finally add the lemon juice & milk. Divide the mixture between 2 sandwich tins, there will just be enough to cover the base of the tin.

2. Beat the egg whites until they form soft peaks, then gradually whisk in the sugar. Divide the mixture between the 2 tins, making sure you completely cover the cake mixture. Make the top of 1 tin smooth, peak the other one with a spoon & sprinkle with sugar. Bake in the oven at 200c/GM6 for around 20 minutes. You need to watch it quite carefully to make sure the meringue doesn't over brown. Lift out & leave to cool completely in the tins.

3. To construct the cake, tip out the cake with the smooth top & place it on a plate meringue side down. Spread the lemon curd over the cake, then smooth over the whipped cream. Place the other cake on top, so the peaked meringue is on top.

I think it's best to keep it in the fridge until you are ready to serve, if it lasts that long!? Now don't tell anyone, but it's my birthday next week. To celebrate I'm hoping to launch the first ever Rebecca Bakes Cakes blog giveaway with a fab prize that will provide you with the perfect accompaniment to cake! Until the, Rebecca x

6 August 2010

Week 29 - Creme Catalan

Ola! Sorry this weeks post is much later than usual, but I've been on a well needed break & have just got back from a fab trip to Barcelona. It's definitely my type of city, it's so focused around a foodie lifestyle that to say I've over indulged would be a bit of an understatement! We were lucky enough that our hotel was next door to Mercat La Bouqueria, a produce market that can be traced as far back as the early 1700's. It was unlike any other market I've ever seen, the care & creativity that went into the displays was incredible. There was the most amazing selection of fresh fruit & vegetables, some of which I'd never seen before! There was also stalls selling cured meats, cheeses & general groceries, alongside good old fashioned butchers & fishmongers. If I lived there I don't think I'd ever set foot inside a supermarket again if I could help it!

Catalans have such a relaxed attitude to food (well to everything really not just food!), I'm pretty sure you could sit & eat tapas all day & no one would bat an eyelid. My particular favourites were Manchago cheese, Iberian ham & tomato bread, as the name would suggest it's toasted bread, spread with fresh tomato paste & drizzled with olive oil...mmm, making myself hungry again. Here are a few of my favourite foodie photos of our trip.



So as you've probably guessed, this weeks recipe is inspired by the trip to Barcelona & is a traditional Catalan dessert. It's really simple to make & involves no baking (sorry feel a bit of a cheat this week!) It would be a great dinner party dessert as you can make it well in advance & just flash it under the grill when ready to serve.

60g sugar
2 egg yolks
1/2 tbsp cornflour
250ml double cream
Zest of 1 lemon
Cinnamon stick

1. Beat together the egg yolks & sugar in a small pan, gradually add the cream, then the lemon zest & cornflour. Whisk in the cornflour, quite vigorously to avoid lumps! Finally add the cinnamon stick.

2. Heat gently, stirring all the time until you start to feel the mixture thicken. As soon as you see even 1 bubble, remove it from the heat, scoop out the cinnamon stick & give it another good whisk before dividing it between 2 ramekins.

3. Pop into the fridge to chill for a couple of hours, then when ready to serve sprinkle a little brown sugar on the top & put under a hot grill until the sugar bubbles.

The lemon & cinnamon are really subtle flavours, but somehow, despite the richness of the cream, give it a fresh light taste. I never seem to have much luck browning things under my grill, so if you have a cooks blow torch, I'd recommend using that instead. I've added one onto my objects of desire list!

Hope you enjoy, I'm off to see if I can rustle up a Sangria from the contents of my fridge/wine rack. See you next week for another recipe request. Have a great weekend amigos! Rebecca x

28 July 2010

Week 28 - Whoopie Pies

So Whoopie Pies are apparently the new cupcake & in my quest to stay at the cutting edge of baking trends *ahem* I've had a crack at making them this week! By the wonders of the internet I have discovered the following things about Whoopie Pies...

1. They originated in the Pennsylvanian Amish community

2. Amish wives would bake them & put them in their husbands lunchboxes, when they discovered the treats they would shout WHOOPIE (I can't imagine a Brit husband getting quite so excited about finding a custard cream!?)

3. The tradition of using Marshmallow Fluff for the filling came from the manufacturers of Fluff featuring it in a Whoopie Pie recipe included in a 1930's cookbook called Yummy Book (I'd love to get hold of a copy of that!)

When I was researching what should go into a Whoopie Pie, I got a bit baffled by all the different options. This recipe was kindly sent to me by Roddas Cornish Clotted Cream & they have given them a distinctly Cornish twist, suggesting you fill them with their cream. I think that sounds like a great suggestion, but for my first attempt I'm staying true to the original & have chosen to make the traditional fluff filling. This part of the recipe is taken from the Marshmallow Fluff website. I chose to use Strawberry Fluff as I thought it would complement the chocolate & the fact it's the most amazing shade of pink!

For the cakes
100g unsalted butter
185g muscovado sugar
1 egg
300g plain flour
1tsp baking powder
1tsp bicarbonate of soda
1tsp vanilla extract
100-150ml milk

For the filling
1/2 jar of marshmallow fluff
130g icing sugar
100g butter
Dash of milk

1. Cream together the butter & sugar, then beat in the egg & vanilla.

2. Sift together all the dry ingredients, then add about half to the butter mixture along with about half the milk, mix well. Add the remaining half of the flour etc & enough milk to make a smooth mixture of dropping consistency.

3. Grease a baking sheet & place on small dollops of the mixture, leaving plenty of space in between for them to expand. I made 24 individual cakes from 1 batch. Bake in the oven at 180c/GM5 for 12-15 minutes until well risen & springy to the touch. Place onto a wire rack to cool completely.

4. To make the filling, cream together the butter & icing sugar, adding a little dash of milk to help it along, then beat in the Marshmallow Fluff until all combined. Match up the cakes into pairs, then use the fluffy filling to sandwich them together. I also added a drizzle of melted dark chocolate to the top!

These are quite possibly the most amazing thing ever! Delicious! They are pretty large, so unless you're feeling hungry I'd suggest sharing one with a friend over a glass of ice cold milk! Hope you enjoy making your own Whoopie *sniggers* I'll hopefully see you next week, I've booked a last minute trip away, so I'm hoping the technology will mean I can keep my unbroken record for a 29th week...until then, Rebecca x

30 December 2010

Week 50 - Windsor Mess

Happy Christmas everyone! I hope you've all had a lovely break? Me, I had lovely few days relaxing at my Mum's, thankfully I managed to shake off the cold I had & my appetite returned to something resembling normal. I hope you were all good this year & Santa brought you lots of lovely things? I had an early Christmas present on Christmas Eve, the local paper published an article about my year long baking, blogging challenge! The article also invited readers to send in suggestions for my final recipe...it is only 2 weeks away, yikes! I extend that invitation to you too, if you think I've missed an essential recipe, or you have a favourite you'd like to suggest I'd love to hear from you. Just leave a comment on this post or send me an email at rebeccabakescakes@hotmail.com. I was quite chuffed with the article, although having my photo taken in my kitchen was a little stressful! Click here to have a look at the online version of the article.

So this weeks recipe is a dessert rather than a cake, but after copious amounts of Christmas cake, mince pies & Christmas pudding over the last week, I thought this might be a welcome change. It's my twist on the classic Eton Mess, as I live just a hop over the bridge in Windsor, I thought I'd call it a Windsor Mess (apologies if this is already copywritten or in existence!) Eton Mess is made with raspberries & for me tastes like Summer, my version uses spiced oranges & tastes altogether more wintry & Christmassy! I also added orange rind to the meringue which gives a really subtle flavour.

For the meringue
2 egg whites
100g caster sugar
Grated rind of 1 orange

For the orange sauce
40g butter
120g demerera sugar
1 tsp mixed spice
2 tbps water
3 large oranges

Pot of whipping cream

1. Beat the egg whites until stiff, add half the sugar & orange rind then beat some more until they go stiff again. Finally fold in the other half of the sugar with a spoon. Line a baking sheet with baking paper, place dollops of the mixture onto the tray & pop in the oven at 130c/GM1 for a couple of hours until they have dried out & are crisp. My batch made 6 meringues.

2. To make the orange sauce, place the butter, sugar, spice & water into a pan. Heat gently until melted together, then bring up to the boil & bubble for a couple of minutes, take off the heat.

3. Top & tail the oranges, then carefully slice down the sides to remove all the skin & pith, then cut into small chunks. Stir the oranges into the caramel sauce & leave to cool completely. Finally whip the cream until it forms soft peaks.

4. Now for the construction! I used my martini glasses, but a sundae dish would be just as good. Take 1 of the meringues & break it into small pieces, place a spoonful of oranges in the bottom of the glass, then sprinkle over half of the crushed meringue. Add a layer of cream, the some more oranges & a couple of spoonfuls of the sauce. Finally sprinkle the rest of the meringue over the top.

I really liked this combination of the tangy oranges with the sweet caramel sauce, meringue & cream. It's perfect if you have people over for dinner as you can make everything in advance & just throw it together when you're ready to serve, well it is meant to be a mess!

All that's left for me to do is wish you a very Happy New Year, Rebecca x

p.s. don't forget to suggest a recipe for my final week!

23 December 2010

Week 49 - Christmas Cookies

Hello! How are we all this week, survived the big freeze? I know a few weeks ago I said the snow in the Shire was a bit pathetic, well it certainly made up for it this week & it tipped it down on Saturday! It all made for a very pretty looking Windsor, but now it's all just turned into a yucky, mucky mess & I'm hoping it'll all melt away soon. I don't know about you, but I've also had to have an emergency re-think on the present front too as some things are stuck in the post! Thankfully I've finished work for the year, so it's into town for me today for some last minute shopping.

As well as the recipe this week I've also decorated my family Christmas cake, click here if you want to have a look at the finished article, must admit I'm quite chuffed with it. There's also a suggestion as to what to do with the marzipan you generally always get left with!

So this weeks recipe is a really simple sugar cookie, they make lovely tree decorations & I have heard a rumour that they are in fact a favourite of Santa Claus!

125g butter
150g caster sugar
1 egg yolk
225g plain flour
Few drops of vanilla essence
100g icing sugar mixed with water to a thick paste
Edible decorations (optional)


1. Cream the butter & sugar together until light & fluffy. Beat in the egg yolk & vanilla, then finally stir in the flour & combine until you get a firm dough. My kitchen is quite cold & I have granite surfaces, so I found kneading it a little to warm it up helped it along, it was quite crumbly otherwise.

2. Roll out the dough to around 5mm thick, then cut out into whatever shapes you like. I made stars, then used a skewer to poke a hole for the ribbon in the top. Bake in the oven on a baking sheet lined with paper at 180c/GM4 for 8-10 minutes. Keep an eye on them as they turn from light golden (what you want) to burnt (not what you want!) very quickly!

3. Leave to cool thoroughly, then attach a ribbon or string through the hole & decorate at will! I used the silver balls & sugar snowmen I had left over from last weeks Gingerbread House.

So that's all from me for this week, I hope you all have a lovely Christmas. Thanks for all your support & comments on my marathon blogging baking challenge, it's very much appreciated. I'll see you again next week as we head closer towards the Rebecca Bakes Cakes finale, only 3 weeks to go!

Happy Christmas!

Rebecca x

14 December 2010

Week 48 - Gingerbread House

Hello my festive friends! Please be nice to me this week, I've come down with a horrible cold & am rapidly losing my voice. I currently sound like Mariella Frostrup, which to be honest would be quite nice if it didn't hurt so much. Sadly it also means most of my tastebuds have gone on strike so I'm not really enjoying my food at the minute which is torture! There's only 10 days to go until Christmas, so I'm hoping for a speedy recovery, Christmas in our house is all about the eating & drinking, it's not going to be much fun if I can't taste it :-(

This week I've finally got round to doing something I've planned for about the last 3 Christmases, I've made a gingerbread house! I'm not sure why I've had this desire, maybe it was being read Hansel & Gretel as a child!? Maybe it's because I used to love building Lego houses & the thought of an edible one was just too tempting? The gingerbread itself is really easy to make, you just need a bit of time & patience to construct & decorate it. It's quite therapeutic really, although I think I probably ended up eating more sweeties than ended up on the house! I used mini marshmallows to create the snow, milky way stars for the roof & a mixture of jelly tots, smarties & tooty frooties for the rest of the decoration. I also had some really cute little sugar snowmen & white sugar sprinkles that looked like ice. You can use whatever you want really, let your imagination run wild! I've also included a house template below, I just cut mine out of baking paper.

100g butter
100g demerara sugar
200g golden syrup
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsps bicarbonate of soda
1 egg
500g plain flour
200g icing sugar
Assorted sweets to decorate
Cake board

1. Put the sugar & syrup into a pan & bring it up to boiling point over a gentle heat. Add the bicarb & give it a good stir, it will turn cloudy & froth up a bit so make sure you have room in the pan!

2. Chop the butter into small chunks & put into a large mixing bowl. Add the syrup mixture to the butter & stir until the butter is melted. Beat in the egg, then mix in the flour a little at a time until you end up with quite a stiff dough.

3. Dust a work surface with flour, then roll out the dough to about 5mm thick. Cut out 2 of each of the template shapes & place them onto a baking tray lined with baking paper. Bake in the oven at 170c/GM3 for 10-15 minutes. I baked mine in 3 batches, leaving them to cool completely on the paper

4. Now comes the tricky bit! Firstly trim the sides of each panel, this makes it fit together a little easier. Next mix the icing sugar with a little water until you have a stiff paste. Take one of the side panels, spread a thin layer of icing on the bottom & stick it to the cake board. Repeat with all the sections using the icing as cement, putting the roof on last. You might need to hold this in place for a couple of minutes to leave it to set. Then go wild with the decorating! Leave to set in a cool place.

I love my gingerbread house, although I don't think I could ever bring myself to destroy it! So with that in mind I have wrapped it up & donated it to our annual Christmas charity raffle at work. Hopefully it will go to a good home & it will be happily broken up & devoured, herein fulfilling it's Christmas Gingerbread destiny! Have a good week, see you next time, Rebecca x







8 December 2010

Week 47 - Florentines

Blimey it's cold! Hope you're managing to stay warm & haven't been snowed in, we've had rather pathetic flurry in the Royal Borough so sadly no snow days for me :-( I'm very excited that the Windsor Ice Rink returns this year! It's in Alexandra Gardens in the centre of Windsor, right by the banks of the river, it's a beautiful setting & sure to make you feel in the Christmas spirit. It opens this weekend, take a look at the website for opening times & booking information.

So I'm launching into full on foodie prep for the festive season & this weeks recipe has become a bit of an annual tradition. I really like making foodie gifts at Christmas & these are perfect to take to dinner or a party as a thank you gift. Last year I also made Santa cookies for my friends at work, the idea was to leave them for Santa on Christmas Eve, but if I'm honest I don't think many of them made it out of the office! Florentines are really easy to prepare, but if I'm honest once they come out of the oven they are a little fiddly to finish. But have patience & it'll be well worth it in the end!

150g butter
150g light brown sugar
100g flaked almonds
50g chopped nuts
40g mixed peel
100g glace cherries
100g raisins
150g dark chocolate, melted

1. Melt the butter in a pan, stir in the sugar & heat gently until it dissolves & just starts to bubble. Take off the heat & stir in all the other ingredients.

2. Line a baking sheet with baking paper & place small dollops of the mixture, leaving space in between for them to spread. Bake in the oven at 180c/GM4 for 8-10 minutes.

3. Lift out the oven, slide the paper off onto a wire rack for the florentines to cool. Line the tray with fresh paper & spoon out the next batch.

4. Once all cooked & completely cooled, carefully peel them off the paper, you might need to slide a knife underneath to help. Place them face down on the paper & cover the bottom with the melted chocolate & leave to set.

When the chocolate was completely set I packed them into sellophane gift bag. I bought mine from Morrisons supermarket, but did also notice them in Sainsburys. They were around £2 for a pack of 10, with ribbons & I just added a simple silver gift tag. My batch made 28 florentines, but you could easily half or double the quantities depending on how many you need. Enjoy! Next week I think I'll be trying my hand at some baking construction, until then, Rebecca x




1 December 2010

Week 46 - Red Velvet Cupcakes

Pinch & a punch for the first of the month, it's December so the Christmas countdown starts today! The tree will be going up at the weekend & I'm really looking forward to the party season. We're starting early with our work do tomorrow evening, outfit is sorted, nails are done, just need to work out how exactly you use a velcro roller & I'm ready to go. I bought a gorgeous new pair of heels which are pretty much sky scrapers, even by my standards. I've been off work today so thought I'd better try them out, you should have seen me, teetering round the house in my jammies & a pair of 4 inch heels, actually it's probably best you didn't see me! They're remarkably comfy, but I think as back up I should try & get a pair of those fold able ballet pumps to stick in my handbag...I have a feeling I might have to abandon the stilts at some point!

So entries to my second giveaway closed yesterday & thanks to the random number generator I'm happy to announce the Kel of Writings, Ramblings & Reviews is my lucky winner! Well done Kel, I hope you like the mugs, given the Arctic conditions I hope you enjoy using them to warm up with a nice hot brew? With only 6 weeks left to go in my baking challenge, I'm hoping I can bring you a finale giveaway soon...watch this space.

This weeks recipe is something that I've wanted to try for quite some time & comes from the very beautiful Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook. The red velvet is created by mixing together red food colouring with cocoa powder & vanilla essence to form a paste. Word of advice, do not mistake this as melted chocolate & lick the spoon...eh Mum? I baked this week at my Mum's house & before I could stop her she did exactly that, looked like she'd gone all vampire like & had to spend 20 minutes brushing her teeth!

For the cakes
60g butter
150g caster sugar
1 egg
10g cocoa powder
20ml red food colouring
1/2tsp vanilla essence
120ml whole milk
150g plain flour
1/2tsp salt
1/2tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 1/2tsps white wine vinegar

For the frosting
300g icing sugar
50g butter
125g cream cheese

1. Beat together the butter & sugar until light & fluffy, then beat in the egg. Mix together the cocoa powder, food colouring & vanilla until you have a smooth paste. Add this to the butter mixture & beat well until all combined.

2. With the mixer on a slow speed, beat in half the milk, then half the flour. Repeat with the remaining ingredients until you have a lovely smooth mixture. Finally add the salt, bicarb & vinegar, then turn up the mixer & beat well for a couple of minutes.

3. Line a 12 whole bun tin with paper cases & fill each about 3/4 full with mixture. Bake in the oven at 170c/GM3 for around 20-25 minutes until well risen & springy to the touch. Leave to cool in the tin.

4. To make the frosting, beat the icing sugar & butter together, then add the cream cheese & beat for around 5 minutes until fluffy, spread this frosting all over the top of the cakes when cool.



These are really delicious & as the name suggests, have a lovely velvety texture! Have a good week, I'm giving my Christmas cake it's final drink of brandy before tackling the decorations! See ya, Rebecca x

23 November 2010

Week 45 - Cherry Upside Down Cake

Evening everyone! Hope you're all well? I'm trying to relax (with a glass of red!) after a rather stressful day at work. I had a minor meltdown when I thought I'd lost my 3 year marketing plan presentation I'd been working on for weeks, with only an hour to go before I was due to present it to the whole company...arrgghhh! I was dealing with it quite calmly, but panic quickly set in & my poor colleague who I share an office had to deal with tears which could have quickly descended into a full on tantrum! Turns out our delightful IT system had saved it in a completely random place (to be honest that could have been me, it was late when I left the office last night!) & the presentation was safe & sound. Big sigh of relief, but man alive today has been a long day.

Anyway enough about work, can you believe it's only 31 days until Christmas? I have finally given in & made a start on my Christmas shopping at the weekend. To say thank you for the blog support I've had over the last year, I bought an extra gift which I'm giving away this week. Click here for details. The other thing I need to start planning is how I'm going to decorate the Christmas cake. I think it's ready, there's enough brandy in it, I realised the other day it's been fed the best part of half a bottle! I did say it usually comes with an ABV rating.

So this weeks recipe is my alternative take on a pineapple upside down cake. I love cherries & think they work really well in cakes. I've used my latest find, frozen sweet dark cherries, which I bought from Sainsburys. They are delicious & I've taken to adding them to desserts, yoghurt, as a garnish...anything really.

100g butter
225g self raising flour
100g caster sugar
175g frozen cherries
1 beaten egg
1/2tsp vanilla essence
75-150ml milk

1. Rub in the flour & butter until you get fine breadcrumbs. Stir in the sugar, then the egg & vanilla & enough milk until you get a soft dropping consistency.

2. Grease a loose bottomed cake tin & spread the cherries over the base of the tin. Pour over the cake batter & spread our evenly. Bake in the oven at 180c/GM4 for 1hour - 1hour15 until golden brown & firm to touch. (I'd recommend putting a baking tray on the shelf below in case the cherry juice leaks out!)

3. Leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then turn out carefully onto a rack to cool.

The cherries sink into the cake mix, producing a delicious gooey topping & the cake itself is quite dense & rich. It goes really well with a cup of tea, but it would work equally as well as a dessert served warm with either a good lashing of custard or a scoop of vanilla ice-cream! Hope you enjoy, have a good week & don't forget to enter the giveaway, Rebecca x

17 November 2010

Week 44 - Crumpets

Hello! Welcome to week 44 of Rebecca Bakes Cakes & this week I've decided to try & make it a full on multimedia experience, so I'm going to attempt to include not only pictures, but video into the post! Hold onto your hats, I'm not the most technically minded so anything could happen, apologies I've recorded the video on my HTC phone so it's not going to be the best quality. But before we get to this weeks baking, I wanted to say a big thank you to everyone who has voted so far in the Dorset Cereals Little Blog Awards. If you haven't already voted & would like to, just follow the link on the right or click here...

So as you can probably tell from the picture, or there in lack of, the crumpets weren't exactly a success! Some of my recipes have been far from perfect, but I've somehow managed to salvage them into something that at least tastes good even if it looks a bit iffy. These were beyond recovery...but rather than try & explain it, I'll tell you the story through the medium of video! Scroll down after the recipe...

450g plain flour
1/2 tsp salt
1tsp sugar
7g sachet of fast action yeast
300ml water
300ml milk
As many plain round pastry cutters as you can fit in your frying pan!

1. Sift the flour into a large bowl, stir in the salt, sugar & yeast. Make a well in the centre & add the liquids, beat well until you have a smooth batter. Cover with a tea towel & leave in a warm place for an hour to rise.


So far so good...the batter rose really well!

2. Give it a good stir to knock it back then pour it into a jug to make it easier to pour into the pan.

3. Heat a frying pan over a medium heat, then grease the insides of the pastry cutters with a little oil & place them in the pan to warm up.

4. Pour in enough mixture to half fill the mould & leave to cook for about 8 minutes until lots of little wholes appear on the surface. Pop them out of the moulds & flip them over to cook on the other side for 2 minutes. Lift out & leave to cool on a rack - start the process over again!

Crumpets Take 1, here goes....
video

Want to see what happened?
video
So not exactly a resounding success! I think the pastry cutters weren't helping, so I thought I'd try a slight variation on the crumpet theme...

video
Take 2 managed to produce some bubbles, so the piklets were an improvement on the crumpets, but to be honest they ended up with a consistency somewhat resembling those rubber powerballs I used to have as a kid. After 3 attempts, I cut my losses, gave up & put the kettle on instead! I had heard that crumpets were dead simple to make, so I think I must be missing something? So although there's not really anything to show for this week, I hope the videos of my crumpet incompetence at least gave you a giggle! Onwards & upwards for next week, Rebecca x

10 November 2010

Week 43 - Viennese Biscuits

Afternoon folks, I've had a day off today so I'm feeling all relaxed & am writing this with a cup of tea & one of this weeks biccies! Can you believe that I'm in to the final 10 weeks of my blogging challenge. It's gone so fast, but I'm wondering what to do with all the recipes I've tried over the year? A book maybe? :-) For now I have to concentrate on the final 9 recipes, if anyone has any suggestions please let me know...

This week I had some good news, the blog has been nominated in the Dorset Cereals Little Blog Awards! It's a monthly award & voting takes place throughout November. So if you like my blog & enjoy reading then please vote & spread the word. You could also be in with a chance of winning a delicious Dorset Cereals goodie bag too! Click here to vote or follow the link on the right, thank you x

I thought we'd go all continental like this week with a Viennese Biscuit, they were meant to be Viennese Fingers but it didn't quite go to plan! These were really easy to make, they're pretty much a very short shortbread & this recipe came from my vintage Be-Ro book. Once you've made the mixture, you are meant to put it into a piping bag with a rosette nozzle & pipe 6cm strips of mixture onto a baking tray. Well I have a piping gun & could not for the life of me squeeze anything out of it as the mixture was so stiff, so I popped it in the microwave for 10 seconds! That seemed to do the trick, but rather than keep their traditional spiky shape, as soon as I put them in the oven they flopped into a splat!

150g butter
50g caster sugar
150g self raising flour
Few drops vanilla essence
100g plain chocolate

1. Cream together the butter & sugar, make sure it's really well beaten & soft.

2. Stir in the flour & vanilla. Scoop it into a piping bag or gun & pipe 6cm strips onto a baking tray lined with baking paper. Bake in the oven at 160c/GM3 for 15 minutes until just golden.

3. Leave to cool & crisp up, then melt the chocolate & dip one end of each biscuit.

So they may not have the shape of the shop bought ones, but they are delicious none the less. Let me know if or how you managed to get yours to keep their shape! Have a good week, don't forget to vote, Rebecca x

3 November 2010

Week 42 - Toffee Apples

Evening everyone, how are you adjusting to the clocks going back? I'm not liking the dark evenings, it feels like I'm leaving work in the middle of the night! Never mind only what, 6 months until we're back on BST?!

So it's Guy Fawkes Night this Friday & I thought I'd mark the occasion with a Bonfire Night treat. I'm not quite sure why I associate toffee apples with this time of year, but I do remember as a kid nagging Mum to buy one for me (I also liked the chocolate ones that were covered in sprinkles!) Growing up in a small town in Northumberland, Bonfire Night was a big deal, it started with a candle lit procession through town up to the bonfire, then a fireworks display that was sure to bring out the oohs & aahs! The event was usually newsworthy for the local paper & yours truly even got her picture in the paper one year. We've dug it out of the Hodgson archive & here it is. Yes I do look like the Michelin man, Northumberland in November is a very cold place!

So question of the week...you probably know the start of the rhyme, but do you know how it finishes?

Remember remember the 5th of November, gunpowder, treason & plot. I see no reason why the gunpowder treason should ever be forgot.


Useless information of the week over, back to the baking...Now I know these aren't strictly cake, but I'm exercising creative licence & I have made the toffee from scratch, so there was some element of cooking involved :-) This recipe came from my traditional 1970's Good Housekeeping cookbook, can't go wrong!

450g demerera sugar
50g butter
10ml vinegar
15ml golden syrup
150ml water
6-8 apples & lolly sticks

1. Put all the ingredients (except the apples!) into a large heavy bottomed saucepan. Heat gently until the butter & sugar have dissolved, then turn up the heat & boil it rapidly for 5-8 minutes. The recipe said to use a sugar thermometer, but I don't have one. I tested it by dropping a small dollop into a glass of cold water, if it holds together & set immediately then it's ready to use.

2. Stick the lolly stick into the apple, then dunk it in the toffee, be very careful, hot sugar can be lethal! Lift it out & keep twirling it to even out the toffee, then dunk it in a bowl of cold water for 10 seconds, still twirling. Place it onto a piece of baking parchment to set completely. If your toffee sets in the pan before you can coat all the apples, simply put it back on the heat & bring it up to the boil again.

Do you know these almost didn't happen, there wasn't a lolly stick to be found in my local area, I ended up having to buy ice lollies just to get the sticks! It was either that or spearing them with a plastic fork. I hope you enjoy them & sorry but I can't be held responsible if the toffee causes havoc with your fillings! Have a fun Bonfire Night & please remember the fireworks code (that's the public service announcement for this week!) Take care, Rebecca x

28 October 2010

Week 41 - Chocolate Raspberry Muffins

Hello, how are we all this week? I can't believe how quickly the weeks are whizzing by & to be honest I've been so busy with the day job there's nothing much exciting been happening! So this week I've decided to stay true to the cake & just share this weeks recipe with you. Oh & by way of a public service announcement, don't forget the clocks go back this Sunday, an extra hour in bed...yey!!

125g butter
200g caster sugar
2 eggs
175g plain flour
1tsp baking powder
1tsp bicarbonate of soda
35g cocoa powder
250ml greek yoghurt
100g raspberries (fresh or frozen)

1. Melt the butter, beat in the sugar then the eggs, finally stir in the yoghurt.

2. Sift in the flour, baking powder, bicarb & cocoa powder & fold the ingredients together.

3. Line a bun tin with paper cases & spoon in the mixture. Finally sprinkle the raspberries over the top of each muffin & bake in the oven at 180c/GM4 for around 20 minutes. Leave to cool in the tin for a few minutes, then lift out onto a rack.

I think these are delicious, the sharp raspberries really balance the sweet chocolate & the yoghurt gives them a lovely soft texture. Hope you enjoy them! Don't spook yourselves too much this halloween & I'll see you next week with a bonfire night treat, not strictly cake, but something I've always wanted to have a go at making! Until then, Rebecca x

20 October 2010

Week 40 - Apple Cider Cake

I have to start this weeks post with a confession & apology! Last week I mentioned I would be making something for my best friends birthday & it would be a bit of a challenge for me...I wasn't wrong there. As a result I had to turn up to my BF's birthday dinner, sans cake! Dear readers, my experience last weekend has just confirmed that I really can't do pastry. At the request of my BF I attempted to make Profiteroles, my mum had said she'd made them years ago & thought they were pretty straight forward, how hard can it be I thought...silly Rebecca! Here's a picture & yes I am a little embarrassed to call myself a home baker after this...


Needless to say I didn't bother filling them with cream & topping them with chocolate. Mum was suitably confused as to what went wrong & as she was stuck in the house poorly, decided to have a go herself. This is what she produced...
All I can say is good work Mum! I also got to taste one & they were delicious, maybe I should hand over the reins to Mum, could always change the blog to Val Bakes Cakes!

Anyway onto more successful cakes & this weeks recipe. This week is National Baking Week & Thursday is also Apple Day. Apple Day was founded in 1990 by Common Ground to celebrate apples, orchards & local distinctiveness, what better excuse for an apple cider cake? This recipe is one I've had in my scrap book for a number of years, I think it originally came from BBC Good Food magazine.

For the cake
330ml cider
150g unsalted butter
300g plain flour
2tsps bicarbonate of soda
1tsp mixed spice
1tsp ground cinnamon
4 apples, peeled & grated
150g soft brown sugar
2 eggs
200g sultanas or raisins

For the topping
250g marscapone
1tsp cinnamon

1. Put the cider into a pan & simmer it until it reduces by about two thirds. Place to one side to cool a little.

2. Melt the butter, then stir in the grated apple & sugar. Stir in the eggs & sultanas, then finally sift in the flour & spice & fold together.

3. Pour the mixture into a buttered springform tin & bake in the oven at 180c/GM4 for 45-60 minutes. You need to keep an eye on it, the top of mine over browned a little! It's done when a skewer stuck in the middle of the cake comes out clean.

4. Beat the marscapone with the cinnamon until soft, spread it all over the top of the cake when it's completely cold.

I love this cake, the apples & cider give it a really moist texture. Hope you enjoy it & if anyone else is inspired by National Baking Week I'd love to hear what you create. See you next week, Rebecca x

13 October 2010

Week 39 - Christmas Cake

Hello, how are we all? So bad news out of the way first, I didn't win the Brownie Bake Off :-( Lets get straight on to happier news from cake towers!!

You may remember a couple of months back I told you I'd joined a gym to try & counteract all the cake I was scoffing as a result of this challenge. Well it was a 6 week trial & in true me style I got bored & have decided not to join up full time, so that leaves a big exercise shaped hole in my week. You might not know this, but as well as being an amateur baker & fluffy marketer, I'm also a tap dancer & go to a class once a week! Inspired by Strictly starting again I decided I'd have a go at a new dance class. I say dance, it's aerobics really, but takes it's moves from a number of different dance styles & it's the new 'thing' to do apparently. It's ZUMBA & quite honestly it's bonkers! You really have to leave your self consciousness at the door & are encouraged to shake what your Mama gave you as much as possible (sadly mine shakes in different directions at the same time!) It's a brilliant work out & a lot of fun, I've never laughed so much through a class before, I'll definitely be going back. I hope I won't get bored of it, I'm starting to run short of exercise options!

Now you may look at the title of this weeks post & think, give over, it's only October I can't possibly think about Christmas yet? But it's exactly the right time to make the cake, especially if you're like me & want it to marinade in brandy for the next 10 weeks. This is a bit of a tradition in the Hodgson household & usually comes with a ABV rating!  The recipe is taken from an old Good Housekeeping cook book that has been in the family for years.
225g currants
225g sultanas
225g raisins
100g mixed peel
100g glace cherries chopped
50g flaked almonds
225g plain flour
1tsp mixed spice
225g butter
225g soft brown sugar
Grated rind of a lemon
4 eggs, beaten
2tbsps brandy

1. Cream the butter, sugar & lemon rind until light & fluffy, then add the eggs a little at a time, beating as you go. Fold in flour, spice & brandy, finally mix in the fruit & nuts.

2. Cut out a piece of baking paper to line the bottom of the tin, then cut another piece that will fit around the inside of the tin. Pour the mixture into the prepared tin & bake in the oven at 150c/GM3 for 3 3/4 - 4 hours. To stop the top over browning I cover it with a piece of baking paper after about an hour and a half.

3. When cooked, lift it out & leave to cool completely in the tin. I leave mine in the baking paper & store it in an airtight tin. About a week later, poke holes in the top of the cake using a skewer, then drizzle a tablespoon of brandy over the top. Repeat once a week (or as often as you like!) until Christmas.

I usually decorate my cake the week before Christmas, so I'll keep you posted about my decoration of choice this year. Enjoy your week, I'll be back with a treat I'm creating for my best friends birthday...it's set to be a challenge for me! Till then, Rebecca x

6 October 2010

Week 38 - Lemon Drizzle Cake

Evening! It's been a busy week this week with lots to tell you, but first I'd like to say thanks to those of you who shared your Victoria Sponge secrets. It really was the most pathetic excuse for a cake, but I think I've picked up a good few tips & will be testing them out in the coming weeks. I'll let you know how I get on...

So as well as the weekly recipe, I've also been practising for the Great Brownie Bake Off this Saturday. I've just about perfected the recipe so bring on the competition! You can find more details about the event here If you're in the area come along, it looks like a great line up of demonstrations from various bakers as well as appearance by Edd, winner of the Great British Bake Off. Fingers crossed, results next week.

Thanks to everyone who voted in my poll last week, it was a bit of a contest between Peanut Butter Cookies & Lemon Drizzle Cake, poor old Carrot Cake didn't seem to get a look in! Lemon Drizzle won, so here's my take on the tea time classic. This week I was kindly sent a selection of products from Total Greek Yoghurt to experiment with in my baking. I have used yoghurt before in muffins & it really does give a delicious soft texture. So I thought I'd try adding it to a Lemon Drizzle Cake, it's the perfect addition to ensure a squidgy, gooey cake...for me, exactly what Lemon Drizzle should be!

300g plain flour
200g caster sugar
170g butter melted
250ml Total Greek Yoghurt
2 eggs
1 heaped tsp baking powder
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 lemons zested & juiced
100g granulated sugar

1. Beat together the sugar & eggs, add the melted butter, yoghurt & lemon zest. Finally stir in the flour, baking powder & bicarb.

2. Pour into a baking tin & bake at 180c/GM5 for around 45-55 minutes until well risen & golden on the top. Leave to cool for 10 minutes in the tin, then lift out onto a rack.

3. To make the drizzle, mix together the lemon juice & granulated sugar. Once cooled, using a skewer poke small holes into the top of the cake, then pour over the drizzle. This doesn't have to be exact as it will all seep through the cake. Leave it to set & you should have a gorgeous sugar crust on the top!

So there you have it, delicious Lemon Drizzle Cake & as its got yoghurt in it, we can kid ourselves it's healthy. I'll be trying out a few other things with the yoghurt including a dessert my Kiwi colleague recommended called Ambrosia (no not custard), which looks like a variation on an Eton Mess! Enjoy, till next week, Rebecca x

29 September 2010

Week 37 - Victoria Sponge (attempt 1!)

Hello! I'm so excited, after weeks of procrastinating & deliberating over colours I am now the proud owner of a shiny new Kitchen Aid mixer! It's an absolute lump of a thing, but it's soooo pretty. I think it's going to take a bit of trial & error to get the best out of it, it's a bit different from my battered old food processor. I love having such an icon in my kitchen, makes me feel like a proper grown up! The next big decision was what to make this week to christen it? I settled on a classic Victoria Sponge cake which to be honest I've never had much success with in the past. I thought I'd see if the Kitchen Aid helped me any, short answer...it didn't!

I'm not really quite sure where I'm going wrong? The mixture did seem a little lumpy, but it rose quite well (but dropped back just as quickly!) The texture is moist, but it was a little on the heavy side. If anyone has any tips on making the perfect Victoria Sponge I'd love to hear them. I will be practising, I want to get to the ultimate cake by week 52! Don't worry it won't just be the same recipe for the next 15 weeks, that would get a bit boring eh? But I'll keep you updated on my progress.

For the cake
100g butter
100g caster sugar
2 eggs
100g self raising flour

For the filling
75g butter
175g icing sugar
3tbsp strawberry jam

1. Cream the butter & sugar until light & fluffy, then beat in the eggs one at a time. Finally fold in the flour.

2. Grease a cake pan & pour in the mixture, spreading it evenly. Bake in the oven at 190c/GM5 for around 20 minutes. Leave to cool on a rack.

3. Cream together the butter & icing sugar to make the butter cream filling. Using a bread knife, cut the cake through the middle, then sandwich the two halves together with the butter cream & jam.

I think I could have split the mixture between 2 tins, maybe I'll try that next time? Granted it's not the most attractive looking cake (not as pretty as the Kitchen Aid!!), but I have to say it tasted good. Just need to improve on the light & fluffiness!

You may have noticed a new feature on the blog, a poll for you dear readers! I'd like you to choose next weeks recipe for me, I've chosen 3 recipes that I haven't yet got round to baking, just vote for your favourite & that's what I'll make next week, simples! Enjoy, Rebecca x


My new baby!

22 September 2010

Week 36 - Fruit Bread

Phew, I'm back from my European tour of the Douwe Egberts offices! It's been an interesting month, I've learnt far more than I ever thought I would about coffee, however I'm really looking forward to having some more time to concentrate on my baking. Apologies, I feel like I've neglected you over the last few weeks & I don't think things have been up to my usual standard. That's probably because I've taken to baking at all hours & I've realised 1am is not my finest hour for creating recipes!

Did you watch the final of the Great British Bake off last night? I don't know how they came to a decision between the final 3, they were so close! I would have been happy whoever won, I kept changing my mind every time they presented another delicious baked goodie. I think my favourite from the final was Ruth's Mint, Ginger & Blackberry cakes, they looked so gorgeous. Just reinforced the fact that I need to go on a cake decorating course to make mine look a little prettier! There's talk of another series for next year...hmm, maybe?? In the meantime I've signed up for the Great Brownie Bake Off that's being hosted by The Chocolate Consultancy on October 9th, so I'll be spending the next 3 weeks perfecting my brownies!

This week, having more time, I decided to have a go at making bread. I've always cheated & used my bread maker, but thats now been banished to the back of the cupboard to make space in my kitchen for my new coffee machine. It was pretty simple to make actually, you just need patience, checking the airing cupboard every 10 minutes to see how it's doing is probably not ideal! I decided to go for a rich fruit bread that I could either eat for breakfast or afternoon tea.

250g strong white bread flour
35g butter melted
35g caster sugar
1/2 tsp salt
7g sachet dried yeast
1 egg beaten
1 tsp ground cinnamon
35g sultanas
30g mixed peel
75ml milk mixed with 75ml water
Zest of 1 orange & 1 lemon (plus a little squeeze of lemon juice

1. Put the flour, sugar, salt, yeast, butter & egg into a large bowl. Add the liquid a little at a time, once it's all combined, stir for at least 3 minutes. Tip out the dough onto a surface dusted with flour & knead for a further 5 minutes. Add a little more flour if needed to get a smooth elastic dough. Pop it back in the bowl & leave to rise for 1.5 hours.


2. Mix the fruit, spice & zest together in a bowl. Tip out the dough back onto the board & combine the fruit mixture into the dough. Shape it into a sausage & place it on a baking tray lined with parchment. Leave to rise for another hour.


3. Bake in the oven at 220c/GM7 for 20 minutes until golden brown. Lift out & leave to cool on a rack.

I'm so chuffed with my first from scratch loaf of bread. It's delicious sliced, toasted & smothered in butter, I can highly recommend it! Have a good week everyone, see you next week, Rebecca x

p.s. has anyone else made their Christmas cake yet? I'm starting to stress it's nearly October & I haven't made mine yet...I'm losing valuable alcohol soaking time!!

15 September 2010

Week 35 - Mars Bar Cupcakes

Evening! I'm back from Belgium just long enough to rustle up this weeks recipe. I also bring good news! You may remember a while back I created a recipe for Malteser Cookies for a competition that was being run by MyDish. Well sadly I didn't win, so no shiny new Kitchen Aid mixer for me, but I was a runner up! That means I have a parcel of chocolate goodies heading my way...as if I didn't have enough calories to deal with every week :-) Here's the link to the original post, it's a dead simple recipe to make, so why not have a go yourself?


You may have noticed that this week is National Cupcake Week (it's also Scottish Food Fortnight & Organic Food Fortnight!), so it only seemed right to make some sort of cupcake. Sweeties have often been a source of inspiration for recipes so this week I'm paying homage to the good old Mars Bar. I found them great to bake with, the nougat bit stays soft, but the caramel turns into lovely chewy toffee. Yum!


For the cakes
60g butter
100g caster sugar
1 egg
Few drops of vanilla essence
300g plain flour
1tsp baking powder
1tsp bicarbonate of soda
100-150ml milk
2 Mars Bar Duo's chopped into small chunks

For the topping
80g plain chocolate
2tbsp icing sugar
Dash of milk
1 bag Mars Planets

1. Melt the butter, stir in the sugar, then beat in the egg. Fold in the flour, then add the milk a little at a time until you get a dropping consistency. Finally stir in the chopped up Mars Bars.

2. Line a 12 hole bun tin with paper cases & spoon in the mixture. I made 18 cakes, so had to bake 2 batches. Bake in the oven at 180c/GM5 for around 10-12 minutes. Lift out, leave to cool for a minute, then transfer to a rack.

3. To make the topping melt the chocolate, then stir in the icing sugar adding a little milk to make it smooth. Drizzle over the top of each cake, then top it off with a Mars Planet sweet.

Hope you enjoy what's left of National Cupcake Week, it's a good excuse to eat cake I guess! I'm off to Holland again next week & will be on a mission to get a traditional recipe for Dutch Apple Cake from one of my colleagues. Till next week, Happy Baking, Rebecca x

7 September 2010

Week 34 - Rhubarb & Orange Crumble Cake

Hello! Sorry this is going to be a bit of a short post this week. I'm on a bit of a European tour with work this month & as much as I could ramble on about coffee & my numerous trips to Belgium & Holland, I'm going to just keep it all about the cake!

So last week I mentioned that my good friend had been inspired to bake up a feast over the bank holiday weekend. One of the cakes she made was so delicious, I promised I would make it this week. The recipe came from an old Good Housekeeping recipe book & is made with rhubarb from her own garden (which I think makes it taste even better!) Anne gave me a good tip for preparing the rhubarb so it keeps its shape & doesn't go too mushy. Wash it & cut it into chunks, place it on a baking tray, add a little water, then pop it in the oven on 180c/GM4 for around 15 minutes. Lift it out & leave it cool, then drain off the excess water. Then it's ready to use.

For the cake
125g butter
125g caster sugar
125g self raising flour
2 eggs
Finely grated rind of 1 orange
200g rhubarb (prepared as above)

For the crumble
60g butter
125g plain flour
2 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon

1. Cream together the butter & sugar, gradually beat in the eggs until light & fluffy. Fold in the flour & orange rind. Pour the mixture into a loose bottom cake tin, then spread the prepared rhubarb over the top.

2. To make the crumble rub together the butter & flour until you have something that looks like fine breadcrumbs, then stir in the sugar & cinnamon. Spread the crumble over the top of the rhubarb.

3. Bake in the oven at 190c/GM5 for around 45-50 minutes until the crumble has just started to brown. Lift out & leave to cool before lifting out of the tin.

I served this as a dessert, warm, with a good dollop of cream. It would probably work just as well with custard, or cold with a cup of tea! It's hard to believe I've only got 18 weeks left to go in my baking challenge, the weeks are whizzing by! I hope you're still enjoying all the cakes? Thanks for all your comments, I love hearing from you! Have a good week, I'm off to unpack, then pack again. Take care, Rebecca x

1 September 2010

Week 33 - Oaty Cookies

Hello cookie monsters, here we are for another week of cakiness from the house of Rebecca Bakes Cakes. I hope you all enjoyed the bank holiday weekend, slightly upsetting to think that's it for holidays until Christmas :-( I had a cake filled weekend (even more so than usual!) I went to Cake Britain at The Futures gallery in London, it was organised by the Mad Artist Tea Party & featured an amazing collection of sculptures made entirely out of cake! I've put a few piccies of my favourites at the bottom of the post. It's also made me realise that it's time I prettied my cakes up a bit, so I've been inspired to sign up to a cake decorating class. Need to start researching, but if anyone can recommend one in the Berkshire area, let me know.

The second part of my cake weekend involved an afternoon invite over to my best friends house, with the instruction 'make sure you have an appetite!' I arrived to find Anne had been baking like a mad women, making millionaires shortbread, spiced apple cake & a.n. other cake, that I'm keeping under wraps as I'm going to make it next week! They were all delicious & I must admit it was really nice to be the one being baked for for a change. So just goes to prove, there's a domestic goddess in all of us, just need to find a way to let her out. Good work Anne, you've set your standards high! x

So this weeks recipe is one of my favourites & I've always called them Oaty Cookies, but I took some round to my mum & she described them as rock cakey thingies! I suppose they are a bit like rock cakes, a bit like a flapjack & crispy on the edges so a bit like a cookie. Essentially they don't know what they are really, I think I've created my first cake with an identity crisis! Well whatever they are, they taste delicious...

125g butter
200g caster sugar or demerera sugar for extra crunch!
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
100g plain flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
175g oats
80g sultanas or raisins

1. Cream together the butter & sugar, then beat in the egg & vanilla. Stir in the flour, bicarb & baking powder. Finally stir in the oats & fruit.

2. Place small dollops of mixture onto a baking tray, leaving space for them to spread. Bake in the oven at 180c/GM5 for around 8 - 10 minutes until golden brown. Leave on the tray to set for a few minutes then transfer to a rack to cool.

Hope you enjoy them! Final thing from me this week is to announce the winner of my blog giveaway, the random number generator selected

The Mad House

as my lucky winner, so congratulations, I hope you enjoy the coffee! Thanks to everyone who entered, I loved reading about your favourite cakes, given me a bit of inspiration for weeks to come. Hopefully I'll be able to run another giveaway soon, need to sweet talk another colleague into donating a prize! Enjoy your week, I'm off to Holland for a few days so bring on the waffles...or is that Belgium? Oh I don't know....ta ta, Rebecca x

24 August 2010

Week 32 - Banana Cinnamon Cupcakes

Hey there! So last weeks recipe...it created quite a bit of debate & I'll be honest it's probably the first week in my baking marathon that I've found it difficult to share the cake! Lets put it down to experience & not mention it again :-)

Have you been bitten by the Great British Bake Off bug yet? I've been watching it, going green with envy, not just about all the fab challenges they get to tackle, but also the rainbow selection of Kitchen Aid mixers in their baking tent! I am still yearning after a red one, but haven't yet plucked up the courage to invest that amount of money in a mixer. Do you use one? If you do I'd love to know what you think & if it's worth it, thanks! I think I've already picked my favourite contestant to win, but I'm keeping that to myself for now. By way of consolation, I've signed myself up for the Great Brownie Bake Off, it's being organised by The Chocolate Consultancy & will take place in London at Look Mum No Hands on October 9th. They are encouraging homebakers to get involved & share their best brownie recipe. Click here for more info, I'll let you know how my Brownie recipe comes along, given I set fire to the last batch I made, I think I need some practise!

On to this weeks recipe & it's a request from my boyf who celebrates his birthday this week, I don't much like banana in cake, but he does so here goes! They're fairly hearty cupcakes so imagine they would be really good for breakfast. I know not everyone likes frosting so I only decorated about half of them. p.s. do you like the new cake stand?

For the cakes
300g plain flour
100g soft brown sugar
50g butter
1 egg
3 ripe bananas
70g fromage frais
1tsp baking powder
1tsp bicarbonate of soda
1tsp cinnamon
Dash of milk

For the frosting
70g butter
170g icing sugar
Few drops vanilla essence
Dash of milk

1. Melt the butter, stir in the sugar, then beat in the egg. Mash the banana together with the fromage frais & cinnamon, then stir it in to the buttery mixture.

2. Sift in the flour, baking powder & bicarbonate of soda, mix until combined, adding a little dash of milk if it's a bit dry.

3. Line a 12 hole bun tin with paper cases & spoon in the mixture. A batch should make 18 cupcakes. Bake them in the oven at 190c/GM5 for 10-12 minutes until golden brown & well risen, lift out & leave to cool completely

4. To make the frosting, cream together the butter & icing sugar, adding a few drops of vanilla & a little dash of milk to help it along. Top the cupcakes with the frosting, I added a banana chip to the top for decoration.

So Happy Birthday M, hope you enjoy your alternative birthday cakes! Don't forget there's still time to enter my blog giveaway for the chance to win a Senseo coffee machine worth £149.99! See you next week, Rebecca x

16 August 2010

Week 31 - Courgette Cake

I know you've probably read the title of this weeks post & thought I've taken leave of my senses, bear with me on this one & I'll come back to the cake in a bit...

So this week it's my birthday & I got talking to my mum about the birthday cakes she'd created for me when I was a kid & I think this could be a contributing factor to my love of baking! We dug through the Hodgson photo albums & managed to find a few pictures which I thought I'd share with you. Sorry they're a bit grainy, but they are *ahem* years old! My favourite is the chocolate finger house, the recipe came from a promotional Cadbury cookbook, I think I loved it so much it was made for 2 birthdays! The Garfield was made for a birthday BBQ party I had, I think all my friends went home bouncing off the walls, how much food colouring went into that!? The other two were a treasure chest complete with sweetie jewellery & a buttercream covered butterfly. I hope you'll agree she's quite creative! Mum's adamant she's not baking one this year as I'm generating quite enough myself, probably just as well :-)


So to celebrate I thought it would be a good opportunity to offer something back to you readers! I'm launching my first blog giveaway, where you have the chance to win a Senseo coffee machine worth £149.99! Click here, or follow the link at the top of the page for more details. Good luck, you have until 27th August to enter!

Back to this weeks recipe & this definitely was an experiment. I was sent it by a lady I work with, who developed it to deal with the mass of courgettes being grown on her allotment. My honest opinion is that I'm really not sure what I think of it? I don't love it, but I don't hate it either! The courgettes do give it a moist texture (a bit like carrot cake), but like courgettes, it doesn't taste of much, other than a rich, not too sweet sponge cake. I do really like the filling however & would use that again.

For the cake
250g courgettes, grated
2 eggs
125ml sunflower oil
150g caster sugar
225g SR flour
1/2tsp baking powder
1/2tsp bicarbonate of soda

For the filling
200g cream cheese
100g icing sugar
Juice of a lime

1. Beat together the eggs, oil & sugar until fluffy. Then sieve in the flour, baking powder & bicarb & mix well. Finally stir in the grated courgettes. Divide the mixture between 2 sandwich tins & bake in the oven at 200c/GM6 for around 25 minutes, leave to cool completely in the tins before tipping out.

2. To make the filling, mix together the cream cheese & icing sugar, finally stir in the lime juice. Use this mixture to sandwich the 2 cakes together.

So there you have it, courgette cake. Not as green as I was expecting (I was thinking it might come out Hulk coloured!), but for me the jury is out on the final verdict. If anyone tries it, I'd be interested to hear what you think? Have a good week, don't forget to enter the giveaway & feel free to forward the link on. Ta ta, Rebecca x

10 August 2010

Week 30 - Lemon Meringue Cake

Hello! It doesn't seem 5 minutes since my last post, but I'm back on schedule & this weeks recipe is another request but more about that in a bit...

So, after 30 solid weeks of baking it has been proving a little tricky for me to maintain at least some level of will power not just to scoff the lot myself! It was ok whilst I was training for the marathon, but I've decided if I want to keep eating cake, I need to take assertive action. Wait for it, I've only gone & joined a gym! This is a big deal for me who has spent the last 3 years doing everything possible to avoid the gym (I even signed up for a belly dancing course for alternative exercise!) Thankfully this is a different type of gym, it's based around circuits & a workout only lasts 30 minutes...I think even I can manage that. I'll let you know how I get on, but don't worry, there will be no danger of me turning into a health freak gym bunny. Sweet indulgence will continue to week 52!

This weeks recipe was a request from my friend Jo, who is leaving work this week to have a baby. Honestly there's something in the water at our place, we girls are a bit nervous to touch the coffee machine just in case! She told me she's been craving lemon meringue so I thought I'd make this cake from Nigella's Feast cookbook. I've made it once before & it went down a storm, it looks really impressive, but it's actually quite easy (definitely easier to construct than the Black Forest Gateaux I made in week 21) I hope she enjoys it & it satisfies the craving!

125g unsalted butter
4 eggs separated
300g caster sugar
100g plain flour
25g cornflour
1tsp baking powder
1/2tsp bicarbonate of soda
Zest of 1 lemon
4tsps lemon juice
2tsps milk
1/2tsp cream of tartar
150ml whipping cream, whipped!
150g lemon curd

1. Cream together the butter & 100g of the sugar, then beat in the egg yolks. Stir in the flour, cornflour, baking powder, bicarb & lemon zest, finally add the lemon juice & milk. Divide the mixture between 2 sandwich tins, there will just be enough to cover the base of the tin.

2. Beat the egg whites until they form soft peaks, then gradually whisk in the sugar. Divide the mixture between the 2 tins, making sure you completely cover the cake mixture. Make the top of 1 tin smooth, peak the other one with a spoon & sprinkle with sugar. Bake in the oven at 200c/GM6 for around 20 minutes. You need to watch it quite carefully to make sure the meringue doesn't over brown. Lift out & leave to cool completely in the tins.

3. To construct the cake, tip out the cake with the smooth top & place it on a plate meringue side down. Spread the lemon curd over the cake, then smooth over the whipped cream. Place the other cake on top, so the peaked meringue is on top.

I think it's best to keep it in the fridge until you are ready to serve, if it lasts that long!? Now don't tell anyone, but it's my birthday next week. To celebrate I'm hoping to launch the first ever Rebecca Bakes Cakes blog giveaway with a fab prize that will provide you with the perfect accompaniment to cake! Until the, Rebecca x

6 August 2010

Week 29 - Creme Catalan

Ola! Sorry this weeks post is much later than usual, but I've been on a well needed break & have just got back from a fab trip to Barcelona. It's definitely my type of city, it's so focused around a foodie lifestyle that to say I've over indulged would be a bit of an understatement! We were lucky enough that our hotel was next door to Mercat La Bouqueria, a produce market that can be traced as far back as the early 1700's. It was unlike any other market I've ever seen, the care & creativity that went into the displays was incredible. There was the most amazing selection of fresh fruit & vegetables, some of which I'd never seen before! There was also stalls selling cured meats, cheeses & general groceries, alongside good old fashioned butchers & fishmongers. If I lived there I don't think I'd ever set foot inside a supermarket again if I could help it!

Catalans have such a relaxed attitude to food (well to everything really not just food!), I'm pretty sure you could sit & eat tapas all day & no one would bat an eyelid. My particular favourites were Manchago cheese, Iberian ham & tomato bread, as the name would suggest it's toasted bread, spread with fresh tomato paste & drizzled with olive oil...mmm, making myself hungry again. Here are a few of my favourite foodie photos of our trip.



So as you've probably guessed, this weeks recipe is inspired by the trip to Barcelona & is a traditional Catalan dessert. It's really simple to make & involves no baking (sorry feel a bit of a cheat this week!) It would be a great dinner party dessert as you can make it well in advance & just flash it under the grill when ready to serve.

60g sugar
2 egg yolks
1/2 tbsp cornflour
250ml double cream
Zest of 1 lemon
Cinnamon stick

1. Beat together the egg yolks & sugar in a small pan, gradually add the cream, then the lemon zest & cornflour. Whisk in the cornflour, quite vigorously to avoid lumps! Finally add the cinnamon stick.

2. Heat gently, stirring all the time until you start to feel the mixture thicken. As soon as you see even 1 bubble, remove it from the heat, scoop out the cinnamon stick & give it another good whisk before dividing it between 2 ramekins.

3. Pop into the fridge to chill for a couple of hours, then when ready to serve sprinkle a little brown sugar on the top & put under a hot grill until the sugar bubbles.

The lemon & cinnamon are really subtle flavours, but somehow, despite the richness of the cream, give it a fresh light taste. I never seem to have much luck browning things under my grill, so if you have a cooks blow torch, I'd recommend using that instead. I've added one onto my objects of desire list!

Hope you enjoy, I'm off to see if I can rustle up a Sangria from the contents of my fridge/wine rack. See you next week for another recipe request. Have a great weekend amigos! Rebecca x

28 July 2010

Week 28 - Whoopie Pies

So Whoopie Pies are apparently the new cupcake & in my quest to stay at the cutting edge of baking trends *ahem* I've had a crack at making them this week! By the wonders of the internet I have discovered the following things about Whoopie Pies...

1. They originated in the Pennsylvanian Amish community

2. Amish wives would bake them & put them in their husbands lunchboxes, when they discovered the treats they would shout WHOOPIE (I can't imagine a Brit husband getting quite so excited about finding a custard cream!?)

3. The tradition of using Marshmallow Fluff for the filling came from the manufacturers of Fluff featuring it in a Whoopie Pie recipe included in a 1930's cookbook called Yummy Book (I'd love to get hold of a copy of that!)

When I was researching what should go into a Whoopie Pie, I got a bit baffled by all the different options. This recipe was kindly sent to me by Roddas Cornish Clotted Cream & they have given them a distinctly Cornish twist, suggesting you fill them with their cream. I think that sounds like a great suggestion, but for my first attempt I'm staying true to the original & have chosen to make the traditional fluff filling. This part of the recipe is taken from the Marshmallow Fluff website. I chose to use Strawberry Fluff as I thought it would complement the chocolate & the fact it's the most amazing shade of pink!

For the cakes
100g unsalted butter
185g muscovado sugar
1 egg
300g plain flour
1tsp baking powder
1tsp bicarbonate of soda
1tsp vanilla extract
100-150ml milk

For the filling
1/2 jar of marshmallow fluff
130g icing sugar
100g butter
Dash of milk

1. Cream together the butter & sugar, then beat in the egg & vanilla.

2. Sift together all the dry ingredients, then add about half to the butter mixture along with about half the milk, mix well. Add the remaining half of the flour etc & enough milk to make a smooth mixture of dropping consistency.

3. Grease a baking sheet & place on small dollops of the mixture, leaving plenty of space in between for them to expand. I made 24 individual cakes from 1 batch. Bake in the oven at 180c/GM5 for 12-15 minutes until well risen & springy to the touch. Place onto a wire rack to cool completely.

4. To make the filling, cream together the butter & icing sugar, adding a little dash of milk to help it along, then beat in the Marshmallow Fluff until all combined. Match up the cakes into pairs, then use the fluffy filling to sandwich them together. I also added a drizzle of melted dark chocolate to the top!

These are quite possibly the most amazing thing ever! Delicious! They are pretty large, so unless you're feeling hungry I'd suggest sharing one with a friend over a glass of ice cold milk! Hope you enjoy making your own Whoopie *sniggers* I'll hopefully see you next week, I've booked a last minute trip away, so I'm hoping the technology will mean I can keep my unbroken record for a 29th week...until then, Rebecca x