Monday, 27 May 2013

Oreo cupcakes

Our 10 year old son recently went away on a school residential, and as a coming home treat I decided to make him some Oreo cupcakes. He rather adores these creamy, chocolatey biscuits and always manages to sneak a packet into the shopping trolley whenever he comes to the supermarket with me. I'd not made these particular cupcakes before and had no idea how they would turn out; would the surprise Oreo at the bottom of each cake be a melty, soggy mess, or even worse, a burnt offering? But, nothing ventured, nothing gained, and the results were just as I hoped. These are incredibly easy to make and, if you decide to make them, will be a huge hit.



100g plain flour
20g cocoa powder
140g caster sugar
1.5 tsps baking powder
40g unsalted butter
120ml whole milk
1 egg
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
12 Oreo biscuits


180g icing sugar
80g unsalted butter, softened
1tbsp milk

12 hole muffin tin, lined with cases

1. Preheat the oven to 170 degrees/gas 3.

2. Put the flour, cocoa powder, sugar, baking powder, and butter in an electric mixer with a paddle attachment and beat on a slow speed until you have a sandy consistency and everything is combined.

3. Whisk the milk, egg and vanilla together in a jug and add to the flour mixture, beat to combine and then turn the mixer up to high speed to get rid of any lumps.

4. Twist each Oreo biscuit in half and place each half with cream on in the bottom of the muffin cases (cream side up). Place the remaining halves in a freezer bag and, with a rolling pin, beat to a rubble.

5. Spoon the cake mixture on top of each Oreo and bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes. Leave the cakes to cool slightly in the tray before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

6. Meanwhile, make the buttercream by whizzing together the icing sugar, butter and milk until it's smooth and soft in consistency. Gently stir in the rubbly Oreos before spooning the cream on top of each cupcake. I decorated each cake with a mini Oreo placed at a jaunty angle, but you can decorate yours however you wish.

7. Enjoy!

Friday, 8 March 2013

Rich, squidgy chocolate cake

As well as being really simple to make, this cake, for me, has all the essential elements that a wicked chocolate cake should have: melting, luscious and mood-enhancingly good. I would normally make a cake like this on special occasions, or when family/friends are coming to tea, but, on the way to school one morning I mentioned to my son that I would be doing some baking and asked him what sort of cake he would like me to make. "I'd love a big, gooey chocolate cake", he replied. So voilĂ , this is what he (and the rest of us) ended up with.



230g butter, softened
230g soft, light brown sugar
4 large eggs
170 self-raising flour
60g good quality cocoa powder
2 tbsps milk


170g icing sugar
60g good quality cocoa powder
115g butter, softened
1 tbsp milk

Grease and line two 20cm round cake tins

1. Preheat the oven to 180 degs/170 degs fan/gas mark 4

2. Cream the butter and sugar together in an electric mixer, or with a hand-held whisk, until light and fluffy.

3. Add the eggs one at a time, with a spoonful of the flour/cocoa to prevent the mixture from curdling.

4. Fold in the remaining flour/cocoa with a metal spoon, and add the milk.

5. Divide the mixture equally between the two cake tins and bake for approximately 20 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the middle of the sponge, comes out clean.

6. Leave to cool in the tins for 10 minutes before turning out onto a wire cooling rack.

7. To make the buttercream, simply mix the icing sugar, cocoa powder and butter together in an electric mixer, or with a hand-held whisk until smooth. Add the milk to give a softer consistency.

8. Once the sponges are cold, divide the buttercream in half. Use one half to sandwich them together, and the other half to spread over the top. Adorn with whatever decorations you like; in this case, I used some grated white chocolate.

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Sticky ginger cake

This is one of those cakes that's quick and dead easy to make. It's also one of those cakes that gets better and better after three or four days in the tin, as the pungent ginger flavour and moistness of the sponge intensify beautifully. It's dark, rich and sticky and adds a welcome hint of warmth on a cold winter's day.


225g self-raising flour
115g soft, dark brown sugar
4 tsps ground ginger (you can add more for extra zing if you like)
1tsp bicarbonate of soda
55g butter
115g golden syrup
1 egg
200ml milk

1. Preheat the oven to 150 degs C/gas mark 2 and line a 20cm (8inch) cake tin with baking paper.

2. Sieve the flour, sugar, ginger and bicarbonate of soda into a bowl.

3. In a small pan, gently heat the butter and syrup until melted. Beat the egg into the milk.

4. Gradually pour the butter and syrup into the flour mixture and stir well. Pour in the egg and milk mixture and combine until smooth.

5. Pour into the lined tin and bake for 50 minutes to an hour, or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.

Wednesday, 20 February 2013


I've used lots of different flapjack recipes over the years but have never been totally satisfied with the results. Some are too sticky, others are too crumbly and a few are too sweet. This recipe, therefore, is an adaptation of all those I've used before but which, I think, gives the perfect result.

These are delicious plain, but I often add a few extras like seeds (pumpkin and sesame are great) and/or chopped dried fruit (dates or apricots work especially well). And for chocolate lovers, why not drizzle a little bit of melted chocolate over the top once the flapjack has been baked and is cold.


360g oats
240g butter
4/5 generous tbsps honey or golden syrup
100g soft, brown sugar (optional for those who like a little extra sweetness)

 20cm x 25cm baking tin, greased and lined.

1. Preheat the oven to 180 degs C/gas mark 4

2. In a large saucepan, melt the butter over a low heat

3. Stir in the oats, honey and fruit/seeds (if using) and mix well

4. Tip the mixture into the baking tin and spread evenly

5. Bake for 15-20 minutes until golden on top

6. Leave to cool in the tin and then cut into squares of whatever size you like.

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Espresso cupcakes

These are a caffeine shot in a cupcake! The almost bitter sponge is offset beautifully by the sweetness of the buttercream, and the chocolate coffee beans add a gorgeous crunch. I wasn't sure if my 9 year old would like these (he loves coffee and walnut cake) but he was as enthusiastic as the rest of us. They went down a storm and I'll certainly be making them again.

Makes 12 - 16 cupcakes


240ml milk
20g instant espresso powder
80g unsalted butter, softened
280g caster sugar
240g plain flour
1 tbsp baking powder
quarter tsp salt
2 large eggs


25ml milk
10g instant espresso powder
270g icing sugar
120g unsalted butter, softened

1. Preheat the oven to 190 degs C and fill a muffin tin with paper cases.

2. Lightly warm the milk, without boiling it, and dissolve the espresso powder in it. Using a freestanding electric mixer with the paddle attachment, beat together the butter, sugar, flour, baking powder and salt on a low speed until they resemble fine breadcrumbs.

3. Pour the coffee flavoured milk into a jug, add the eggs and whisk by hand until combined. Pour three- quarters of the mixture into the dry ingredients and mix together on a low speed, then increase the speed to medium and keep beating until smooth and thick. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, then pour in the rest of the milk mixture. Continue to beat on a medium setting until everything is combined and you have a smooth batter.

4. Divide this between the muffin cases, filling each case by two-thirds. Bake in the oven for 18-20 minutes, or until risen and springy to touch. Leave in the tin for a few minutes and then transfer to a wire rack.

5. To make the buttercream simply beat together the icing sugar and butter until soft and then add the coffee milk mixture (I always add it a little at a time as the mixture can end up being too runny.) Place spoonfuls of buttercream onto the cold cupcakes, smooth the tops and then swirl to finish. Decorate each cake with three chocolate coffee beans.

This recipe comes from Cake Days by The Hummingbird Bakery.

Chunky fudge brownies

Goodness, it's been a while since I last blogged. If truth be told, though, I haven't done much baking over the summer. The days, when hot and sunny, have been spent in the garden (or on holiday in France) and the rest of my time has been spent entertaining the children over the long school holiday. However, I have indulged in a little baking and I've made these brownies twice over the last few months; for a big family lunch, and as an end of year gift for Theo's teachers. Brownies make brilliant gifts; they "travel" well, you can put them in fancy boxes or bags and adorn with pretty ribbon, and the whole process of making them is something my children love to get involved with, too.

These brownies are a twist on the original, although whenever I've made them in the past, I've always replaced the walnuts and made triple chocolate. If baked for just the right time, they retain their unctuous squidginess which contrasts wonderfully with the chunks of fudge.


190g soft, unsalted butter
190g best quality dark chocolate
3 large eggs
half a tbsp vanilla extract
250g caster sugar
115g plain flour
half a tsp salt
150g fudge chunks

tin measuring approx 33 x 23 x 5.5cm
makes about 24

1. Preheat the oven to 180 degs C/gas mark 4. Line your brownie tin with baking parchment.

2. Melt the butter and chocolate together in a large heavy-based pan. In a bowl, or large measuring jug, beat the eggs with the sugar and vanilla. Measure the flour into another bowl and add the salt.

3. When the chocolate mixture has melted, let it cool a bit before beating in the eggs and sugar, and then the fudge chunks and flour. Beat to combine smoothly and then scrape into the brownie tin.

4. Bake for about 15 minutes. When it's ready, the top should be dried to a paler brown speckle, but the middle should still be dark, intense and gooey. And remember, they will still continue to cook as they cool.

5. Once cool, turn the browines out of the tin, and cut into squares. Then box, bag, or eat as you wish!

This recipe was taken from How To Be A Domestic Goddess by Nigella Lawson

Sunday, 17 June 2012

My super fast Fathers Day Florentines

It's always good, I think, to give something homemade for an occasion like Fathers Day. Fathers Day, like Mothers Day has become so over-hyped and commercialised that it's easy to forget the sentiment and lose the point of what the day is supposed to signify. A homemade gift shows that you've given a bit of thought and put a little effort in to whatever it is you've made and that, alone, is always greatly appreciated. My husband adores Florentines and these are a twist on the traditional version. They are really quick and easy to make, require no baking whatsoever and are great for the children to get involved with. Once made, package them up in a pretty box, or stack them in clear cellophane tied with some beautiful ribbon, and they will make a wonderful gift.

4oz of chocolate makes approximately 9 medium sized Florentines, so increase the quantities if you want to make more!


4oz chocolate (I used 4oz of good quality plain for one batch and 4oz of milk for the second batch)
a handful each of: chopped, roasted hazelnuts; pumpkin seeds; dried cranberries (you could use any dried fruit you like, apricots would work very well); and whole almonds (again, use any nuts you like...pistachio would look beautiful, pecans would be lovely, too)

 1. Line a baking tray with baking parchment.

2. Melt the chocolate in a bowl over a pan of simmering water.

3. When the chocolate has melted, spoon disc shapes onto the lined baking tray.

4. Sprinkle each disc with the nuts, dried fruit and seeds and then put into the fridge to set.

5. When the Florentines have set, peel them away from the paper and package them up as you like. Enjoy!

Monday, 11 June 2012

Coconut and pineapple cupcakes

Whilst the weather of late may have prevented me from sitting on my deck with a chilled glass of malibu and  pineapple, nothing was going to stop me from re-creating a tiny piece of Caribbean heaven in my kitchen! We all know that the seductive and citric aroma of the fabulous, summery pineapple is a perfect accompaniment to the sweet and mildly flavoured coconut, so if you want to to be temporarily transported to the Tropics, give these cupcakes a go!


For the cakes:

120g plain flour
140g caster sugar
1 and a half tsps baking powder
pinch of salt
40g unsalted butter, at room temperature
120ml coconut milk
half a tsp vanilla extract
1 egg
9 tinned pineapple rings, chopped into small pieces
desiccated coconut, to decorate

For the frosting:

250g icing sugar, sifted
80g unsalted butter, at room temperature
25ml coconut milk

a 12-hole cupcake tray, lined with paper cases

Makes 12

1. Preheat the oven to 170 degs C/Gas 3. 

2. Put the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and butter in a freestanding electric mixer with a paddle attachment (or use a handheld electric whisk) and beat on a slow speed until you get a sandy consistency and everything is combined.

3. Mix together the coconut milk and vanilla extract in a separate bowl, then beat into the flour mixture on a medium speed until well combined. Add the egg and beat well, scraping any unmixed ingredients from the side of the bowl with a spatula.

4. Divide the chopped pineapple between the paper cases.

Spoon the cupcake mixture on top until two-thirds full and bake in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes, or until light golden. A skewer inserted in the centre should come out clean. Leave the cupcakes to cool slightly before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

5. To make the coconut frosting, beat the icing sugar and butter together in a freestanding electric mixer with a paddle attachment on a medium speed until the mixture comes together and is well mixed. Turn the mixer down to a slower speed and slowly pour in the coconut milk. Once all the milk has been incorporated, turn the mixer up to a high speed and continue beating until the frosting is light and fluffy.

6. Once the cupcakes are cold, spoon the coconut frosting on top and finish with a sprinkling of desiccated coconut. Enjoy!

This recipe comes from The Hummingbird Bakery cookbook

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Chorizo carbonara

A bit of a cross-cultural recipe this one, using a classic Spanish sausage in a classic Italian pasta sauce. This dish is incredibly easy to put together, extremely satisfying and absolutely delicious...perfect for when you're in a hurry or don't want to spend too much time in the kitchen!

Serves 2

150g spaghetti or linguine
1 tbsp olive oil
150-175g chorizo, chopped into small-ish chunks
2 large egg yolks
100ml double cream
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. Add the pasta to a large pan of boiling, salted water and cook for about 10 minutes, or according to the instructions on the pack.

2. Meanwhile heat the oil in a frying pan. Add the chorizo and fry briskly for about 10 minutes, until crisp and cooked through.

3. Beat the egg yolks and cream together and season lightly.

4. When the pasta is done, drain thoroughly and return to the hot pan. Tip in the chorizo and then the egg mixture. Using two forks, mix the eggy cream into the pasta. It will cook in the heat of the pasta, coating each strand in a light, creamy sauce. Serve straight away with a final twist of black pepper on top.

This recipe comes from River Cottage Everyday, by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall

Friday, 11 May 2012

Jamie's Jammie Dodgers

I hardly ever make biscuits but was inspired to have a go after seeing some incredible looking recipes in the latest Jamie magazine. Britain seems to be a nation of biscuit lovers and there are hundreds of different varieties on the supermarket shelves. We all have our favourites but nothing compares to those that are homemade and the pleasure of stocking up a tin full of buttery, crumbly biscuits that you have made yourself is pretty hard to beat. For my first attempt I decided to go for jammie dodgers...they have always been one of my favourites. You know those big tins of biscuits that you get, especially at Christmas, that, when you take the lid off, are laden with all sorts of amazing delights? I always used to pick out the jammie dodgers first. There was something about the thickness and the sticky jamminess that set them apart from the rest. Another reason for making them is that they are traditionally made in Cwmbran, Wales, which is where my Grandmother comes from, so the dodger has an extra special place in my heart.

The recipe for these biscuits can be found here

I used a lower oven temperature when baking these biscuits (170 degs C/fan oven) and only baked them for 7-10 minutes. You need to keep a careful eye on them as they can be quick to over cook and a couple of minutes can make all the difference between a pale dodger and an overcooked dodger! You can also make them as large or as small as you want...I went for a slightly larger biscuit than stated in the recipe. Whatever you decide, enjoy!

Saturday, 7 April 2012

Daisy cupcakes

I was inspired to make these daisy cupcakes when we were out walking last weekend. We passed a field full of these pretty little flowers which was surprising as they don't normally bloom properly until the warmer summer months. The combination of that yellow disc and those white rays makes for a cheery sight and, even though it's spring and the weather can still be dull and grey, they remind me of sunshine and warmth.

The recipe for these cupcakes, and the buttercream, is exactly the same as for the bubblegum cakes, the only difference being you need yellow food colouring instead of red!

Friday, 30 March 2012

Bubblegum cupcakes

Pink is my favourite colour and yesterday was, for me, definitely a pink day. Not only was I was wearing a new pink top, we are surrounded by different shades of the colour pink at the moment with all the blossom, tulips, hyacinths and other beautiful spring flora. Even the orchid given to me on Mother's Day by Theo, is pink. And, when I was in the supermarket on Wednesday I spotted these cupcake cases which I just had to buy...

I decided to call these cupcakes "bubblegum" because of the prominence of pink, but also because the marshmallows, which nestle among the buttercream, provide a gorgeous, unctuous, chewy texture, and give a hint of bubblegum flavour. I wasn't too sure how Theo would react when he saw these cakes on his arrival home from school, given that he doesn't "do" pink, but the way his face lit up and his loud shout of "WOW" meant that he'd given them his usual seal of approval. Rebecca's reaction..."they look JUST like the cakes in the Hummingbird Bakery!" I had a bit of a *proud* moment.

The sponge for these cupcakes is plain vanilla and I used the recipe in the Hummingbird Bakery cookbook.



120g plain flour
140g caster sugar
1.5 tsps baking powder
pinch of salt
40g unsalted butter, at room temperature120ml whole milk
1 egg
quarter of a tsp vanilla extract


160g icing sugar
80g unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 tbsps milk
quarter tsp vanilla extract
a few drops of red food colouring

a 12 hole muffin tray, lined with paper cases

1. Preheat the oven to 170 degs C/gas mark 3

2. Put the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and butter in a freestanding electric mixer with a paddle attachment (or use a handheld electric whisk) and beat on a slow speed until you get a sandy consistency and everything is combined. Gradually pour in half the milk and beat until the milk is just incorporated.

3. Whisk the egg, vanilla extract and remaining milk together in a separate bowl, then pour into the flour mixture and continue beating until just incorporated (scrape any unmixed ingredients from the side of the bowl with a spatula). Continue mixing for a couple more minutes until the mixture is smooth. Do not overmix.

4. Spoon the mixture into the paper cases until two-thirds full...

...and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until light golden and the sponge springs back when touched. A skewer inserted in the centre should come out clean. Leave the cupcakes to cool slightly in the tray before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

6. To make the buttercream, whisk together the icing sugar and butter until combined and then gradually add the milk to make a soft consistency. Stir in the vanilla extract and enough red food colouring to give you your desired shade of pink. When the cupcakes are cold, spoon the buttercream on top and decorate as you wish. Enjoy!