Monday, 15 June 2009

Cupcake Crazy

We have been going cupcake crazy in the office since the arrival of the Wilton Cupcake Decorating Kit Cupcakes have been a huge craze for a while now and almost every magazine has photos of gorgeous cupcakes in it.

As many of us here are not professional cake decorators we had resigned ourselves to the fact that we would never be able to re-create these amazing cupcakes but we were to surprise even ourselves.

Inside this kit is everything you will need to get you decorating your own wonderful cupcakes. It includes a variety of nozzles including one that you can use to fill your cupcakes with a yummy filling. It also has the amazing 'Mr Whippy' style nozzle - which is the one you will see in all the glossy mags.

Mr Whippy cupcakes are our personal favourite and anything that sits still in the office is quite often given a new topping!!

We can't wait for the next school fete now as we'll be able to show off our new find!!

Monday, 8 June 2009

The new website....come and take a look

After a year of hard work we have finally launched our new website and the response has been fantastic. Not only do we now have a gallery full of great home bakes to inspire you but also an ever growing hints and tips there really is no excuse not to grab your apron and start baking!

Over the next few months we are going to introduce you to our products and explain, if necessary, how you can get the best out of them. We only choose items that are quick and easy to use but it's not always obvious from the packaging how to use them. So we'll walk you through it and soon you'll be producing more cupcakes, cookies and cakes than you know what to do with!! (of course, if you're very naughty you could just eat them all...yum!)

You may notice that it's no longer a one person business - what started out as an 'at home idea' has rapidly taken off and we are a growing team.

Alison has come on board as our cake decorating expert. Alison owns her own cake decorating business and will be running courses on beginners sugarcraft.

Sarah is a busy mum of 3 and she has come aboard to help fill the website with homebaking hints and tips aswell as helping to organise events at our offices in Castlethorpe, Bucks.

We look forward to hearing your homebaking stories, tips and queries!

Sunday, 1 June 2008

Baking Mad!!

I think that this last week I have gone a bit baking mad!! With it being half term my usual routine has disappeared out of the window (and taken a long holiday in outer mongolia). Having all 3 children at home (plus husband so that makes 4!) means that I haven't had much opportunity to have any 'me time' so I resorted to making lots and lots of goodies (it's a bit like being given parole - as everyone wants to eat what I'm baking so they leave me alone to get on with it!! HOORAH!)

I started the week with some rather disappointing Blueberry Muffins. I'm going to have to admit defeat with these muffins now - it's the third time I've tried to make them and they never ever come out right. I followed that with some chocolate chip cookies - they turned out quite well (well they disappeared pretty quickly so they must have been good!).

Next day I turned out a pretty good, even if I do say so myself, Banana cake - I just love banana cake as it reminds me of when I was growing up. My parents were greengrocers so we often had fruit left over and banana cakes were a speciality. I use a different recipe to my mum (mostly because I keep forgetting to ask for her handwritten copy!) but it tastes just as good.

We had visitors on the Sunday so I decided to make a Key Lime Pie. It's not something I've made before but I thought that it would be a good desert for children and adults alike. I was right - yum yum yum

Next, while the children and men went out for a walk in the pouring rain I opted to stay at home and make something nice for their return (please don't think that I was being particularly altruistic as it was just the best way I could think of of avoiding the walk!!). The Buttermilk Muffins were a success - hugely bad for you as I didn't have buttermilk so substituted it with double cream - but they are oh so delicious. Needless to say they didn't last the afternoon (no one admitted to having more than one though!!).

Monday I made another banana cake just for good measure. Everyone loved it (it's so nice to be appreciated for doing something well - it doesn't happen often!) It also made a great desert (as I had forgotten to make a 'proper' one!).

Tuesday we had more visitors so I tried out my skills at making a fruit cake - turned out well as did the cookies I made!!!! But but but before you get carried away with visions of how my baking always turns out well - learn from my experience...stop while the going is good....

As I had been having such a successful few days in the kitchen I decided to whip up a birthday cake for my husbands birthday. I chose a chocolate cake as I thought it would be easy and the children would appreciate it! I made it and baked it and it looked good. However later in the evening whilst i was looking at the cake (still in it's tin) I realised that it had cracked down the middle and inside it was, shock horror, NOT COOKED AT ALL!! hmmm not exactly what I had planned.

Needless to say Wednesday morning saw a very early trip to Tesco's to buy a chocolate birthday cakes - hmm can't believe I've just admitted to that!!

My baking madness has now slowed down as I think that I may have overdone it over the last few days......mind you I've found a recipe for a chocolate courgette cake that I'm dying to try out....

All of my successful recipes are available at

Monday, 12 May 2008

Baking Disasters!!

Yes, we all have them (well, I hope we all do!!).

It's funny as I had been asking around for ideas to write about for this blog and someone suggested "baking disasters!". I thought that it was a good idea but couldn't bring to mind any real disasters I'd had in the I guess you know what's coming next.

Well, last weekend I decided that I really fancied doing some baking. So I rushed off to the shops to pick up the bits I needed and came back full of the joys of spring ready to get stuck in.

The children were happy out in the garden so I thought it would be perfect to make some blueberry muffins for them to have as a treat later. All went well until I opened the oven to check on them and realised that they weren't quite the vision I had in mind. (bearing in mind that the week previously I had made some fabulous muffins that looked and tasted delicious) The Blueberry muffins would have been better described as Blueberry Pancakes. They were literally flat and looked more like I was cooking cookies not muffins!!

I tried to work out what I had done wrong and realised that when I had added the baking powder I used a tub where the label had come off. Investigating further I realised that it wasn't baking powder at all but bicarbinate of soda - which, unfotunately, doesn't do the same job!!

Boo hoo.... I was so disappointed.

Fortunately the children still ate them as they tasted nice despite there rather embarrasing appearance!

Lessons learnt this week;

1. always make sure I am using the correct ingredients
2. don't even think that I don't have baking disasters (as that was just asking for trouble)
and 3. don't assume that just because lasts weeks bakes were fantastic that this weeks will turn out equally well!!

Right, I'm off to bake (yes, again) but this time I will take my time and make sure I pay more attention to what I am doing!!!

Watch this space....

Tuesday, 15 April 2008

Ulterior Motives

When my daughter was younger we went through a stage where all she would eat was cheesy pasta and beans on toast. There was no way she would even entertain the idea of trying any vegetables! Instead of spending my days trying to force feed her foods she obviously didn't want to eat I decided to be a little bit sneaky!!

Carrot Cake!!

Ok, so it's a cake but it was the nearest I was going to get to feeding her veg. I found a recipe and, hey presto, she loved it! Four years later and (this may be a total coincedence) she is now a fantastic eater and has a particular fondness for, yes you've guessed it, carrots (raw and cooked!)

Fortunately my boys have been good eaters since they were babies so I haven't had to resort to these tactics again but carrot cake remains a firm favourite with the whole family (closely followed by courgette cake!!)

Here's the carrot cake recipe;

140g unsalted butter
140g soft brown sugar
2 large free range eggs
225g SR Flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
Juice of 1 orange
175g grated carrot
1 teaspoon vanilla essence

Heat oven the 190C/Gas Mark 5
Grease and line 7in tin

Cream together the butter and sugar.
Beat in the eggs
Fold in the flour, baking powder, orange juice, grated carrot (if necessary pat it dry first) and vanilla
Place into tin and bake for 45-50 mins until golden brown

Cool before removing from tin

I don't think it is really necessary to top the cake with anything as it is lovely and moist as it is. If you really want icing how about making a glace icing using the juice of an orange rather than water!!

Sunday, 13 April 2008

Here today.....scone tomorrow!!!

Everyone has something they can't seem to do but desperately wants to. With regards baking my biggest annoyance was that I couldn't seem to make scones that rise. For a while now I've been frustrated that I couldn't make scones properly - I go to local coffee shops where the scones are beautifully risen and taste gorgeous but all I could produce was something that slightly resembled a pancake!

My scones weren't high enough to split open and fill with jam or cream so we had to settle with either putting this on top of the scone or sandwiching two together!

After quite a few months of boring everyone I knew with this I have finally had my eureka moment. This morning whilst the children were busy bouncing on the trampoline (or bounceoline as they call it) I decided to do some baking (as then I could do something useful whilst also being able to watch them through the kitchen window!)

I searched amongst my, numerous, recipe books and landed upon a recipe for scones that I hadn't tried before and armed with my new knowledge (use chilled butter, cold hands and don't play with the mixture too much) I got stuck in!

I started to do as the recipe suggested and rubbed the butter and flour together with my fingers but got bored with this and put it in the mixer instead. Did the same job with much less effort!! Once I had added all the ingredients I made sure that I only mixed it enough to bind everything together and used my hands, not a rolling pin, to flatten the dough out slightly ready to be cut. Using my new pastry cutters (just round but slightly deeper than my cookie cutters) I made 10 scones. I placed them on an oven tray and, to my utter astonishment, put them in the oven and watched them RISE!!!! Hoorah

I even took some photos of them as I am so proud! It may be a small achievement to some to me it proves that perservence pays off!! They tasted gorgeous too so I'll be whipping up another batch sometime soon to show off to all my friends.

Here's the recipe;

Preheat oven to 200C/ Gas Mark 6
Grease baking tray

400g Plain Flour
Pinch of salt
3 teaspoons baking powder
2 tablespoons caster sugar
85g chilled butter

Rub the above ingredients together until they resemble fine breadcrumbs (or alternatively place in your mixer!!)

1 teaspoon lemon juice
7fl oz milk
2 eggs

Whisk the above ingredients together in a jug

Make a hole in the middle of the dry ingredients and stir in the liquid mixture until the ingredients bind together (do not overmix!)

Turn out the dough onto a floured surface.

Press the dough out until about 3cm think. Cut out using a round cutter and place onto the baking tray.

Bake for 12 mins or until golden brown.

Saturday, 5 April 2008

must stop baking or at least stop eating it!!

Sometimes the urge to bake a cake or some cookies just hits me and I quickly throw one together for an afternoon snack (great except I probably eat my daily allowance of calories whilst doing so as my will power is non-existent when cake mixture is involved!!)
However these are the times I like the best! This is when I feel like a 'real' mum (just like my own mum infact) providing for my brood!! Sometimes we all bake together (which can be quite tense as more mixture goes over the table, floor and cupboards than in the cake cases!) but it's great to know that they are having fun whilst also learning skills that will be very useful to them in later life (tidying up though is not one of them!)
We're also creating memories that they'll (hopefully) cherish forever. I'll always remember my mum producing wonderful cakes and desserts. Every Sunday morning I can see her wearing her apron and spending hours in the kitchen turning out a wonderful roast dinner and a fab dessert!! hmnmmm This is how I would like my children to remember me - looking after them, caring for them and making the best apple crumble ever (I can hope!!)


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