Monday, 1 September 2014

Butternut squash cake with vanilla buttercream

I made a surprise birthday cake for my cousin Carine’s 30th last month. It was my first time doing some serious sugar crafting and cake decorating. I was originally going to do just a veggie patch with different veggies. But then decided to go the extra mile and also have a go at making a mini Carine!

The cake was a challenge (it actually caused a few arguments at home!) but I mostly enjoyed the process. A lot of love went into it and I was really chuffed with the outcome. I was itching to get started on another cake decorating project straight after finishing this one! I already have loads of ideas of how to improve and want to challenge myself some more.

Carine was truely surprised at her birthday meal and she was delighted with the cake :-)

Carine's 30th birthday cake

Carine's veggie patch cake

I chose to do a butternut squash cake with vanilla buttercream, as know this is one of Carine’s favourite cakes of mine. It then occurred to me that I haven’t shared this recipe yet. Even though this is one of the first bakes I ever tried that was successful. So here it is, better late than never!

I use this Halloween pumpkin cake recipe but substitute the pumpkin for butternut squash. I then top the cake with buttercream but you could use this cream cheese recipe instead.


For the cake:

150g self-raising flour
150g muscovado sugar
1 + ½ tsp mixed spice
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
85g sultanas, chopped
¼ tsp salt
2 eggs
100g butter, melted
Zest of ½ an orange
½ tbsp orange juice
250g butternut squash flesh, grated
For the topping:

8 oz unsalted butter
16 oz icing sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract

1. Heat oven to 180 Celsius/fan 160 Celsius/gas 4.
Grease and line a small roasting tin with baking parchment.
2. Put the flour, sugar, spice, bicarbonate of soda, sultanas and salt into a large bowl and combine.
3. In another bowl, beat the eggs into the melted butter, stir in the orange zest and juice.
4. Then mix with the dry ingredients until combined.
Stir in the butternut squash flesh.
5. Pour the batter into the prepared tin and bake for 45 minutes,
or until golden and springy to the touch.
6. Cool cake completely.
7. Whilst cake is cooling, make the topping.
Beat butter until creamy.
Add extract and mix.
Add icing sugar then mix until thick and creamy.
8. Spread buttercream on top of cake.





Saturday, 30 August 2014

Orange Cake with Orange Buttercream

A while ago, I tried making an Orange cake which turned out very pleasant to eat. I fancied making it again for a BBQ we had recently. It was a great way to use up leftover oranges from making a carrot cake for my bestie Tor’s birthday. Recipe for Carrot cake with Cream cheese frosting can be found here.


Tor's birthday, 9/8/14


PicMonkey Collage
Orange Cake for BBQ, 23/8/14

I use this recipe for Orange cake with orange butter icing and wanted to share with you! I've tweaked some quantities of the ingredients following recommendations in the recipe's comments. This is a lovely cake with a subtle orange flavour. Something a little bit different but still tasting like a familiar sponge cake.



Orange cake
250g plain flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons baking powder
250g caster sugar
100ml milk
100ml orange juice
125ml vegetable oil
3 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons grated orange zest

Orange buttercream
85g butter, softened
250g icing sugar
2 tablespoons juice of an orange
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon zest of an orange

Optional decoration
Orange jelly sweets





 1. Preheat oven to 180°C / Gas 4.
Grease and line two 20cm round cake tins.
2. In a measuring jug, combine milk, orange juice, oil, eggs and orange zest.
3. Sift flour, salt and baking powder into a large bowl.
Mix in sugar.
4. Make a well in the centre and pour in the milk mixture.
Stir until thoroughly combined.
5. Divide cake mixture between the two prepared tins.
6. Bake in the preheated oven for 35 minutes,
or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.
Allow to cool.
7. To make Orange Butter Icing:
Cream butter until smooth.
Gradually beat in icing sugar.
Beat until light and fluffy.
Beat in 2 tablespoons orange juice to bring to spreading consistency.
Stir in vanilla extract and orange zest.
8. Spread over cooled cakes.
Sandwich the cakes together.
Decorate with sweets (if using).





Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Carrot cake with Cream cheese frosting

I ended up with a lot of carrots that needed using up. As usual, I look for a recipe to use them up. I don’t usually make carrot cake, as prefer making butternut squash cake (of which i will have to put the recipe up). I fancied a change and the challenge. I haven’t really had good carrot cake before. I usually find them underwhelming and disappointing. Either insipidly dry or horribly dense and wet.

I decided on Angela Nilson’s recipe for Carrot Cake as wanted one that used a lot of carrots and didn’t include nuts. This recipe uses almost 300g of carrots and is nut-free. I do like nuts (such as walnuts commonly used in carrot cake) but have never really enjoyed them in carrot cakes.

For this recipe, I didn’t have any wholemeal flour so used plain flour. The carrot cake turned out fine with this substitution. I also didn’t have any quark for the accompanying topping, so used this Cream cheese frosting recipe instead. The frosting is best made on the day the cake will be eaten as it doesn’t keep well at room temperature. It’s fine however kept in the fridge. You could make the cake the day before and then the frosting on the day. I’m no expert to cream cheese frosting. So am open to any recommended recipes, as I think this recipe, although decent, could be improved.

Anyways, Leigh thinks this could be (possibly) the best cake that I have made so far! I am undecided between this carrot cake and my courgette cake as to which one is top. It probably depends on my mood, like Leigh, he rates the carrot cake for its’ dark flavour. I also do love my courgette cake for its’ light flavour.
I love how moist and light this carrot cake is. For me the texture and taste is spot on. Carrot cakes should be more like this.



For the cake

Zest of an orange
3 tbsp of the juice of an orange
140g raisins
125ml rapeseed oil
115g plain flour
115g self-raising flour
1 tsp plus a pinch of baking powder
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 heaped tsp ground cinnamon
140g dark muscovado sugar
280g finely grated carrots
2 eggs

For the frosting

115g (4 ounces) unsalted butter, softened
115g (4 ounces) cream cheese, softened
250g (2 cups) icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract



1. Heat oven to 160°C/fan 140°C.Grease and line a deep 20cm square cake tin.
2. Finely grate the zest from the orange and juice the orange.
Pour the juice over the raisins in a bowl, stir in zest, then leave to soak while you make the cake.
3. Sieve and mix the flours with baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and cinnamon.
3. Separate one of the eggs.
Put the white in a small bowl and the yolk in a large one.
Break the remaining whole egg in with the yolk, then tip in the sugar.
Whisk together for 1-2 mins until thick and foamy.
Slowly pour in the oil and continue to whisk on a low speed until well mixed.
4. Tip in the flour mix, half at a time, and gently stir it into the egg mixture.
The mix will be quite stiff.
Put the extra pinch of baking powder in with the egg white and whisk to soft peaks.
5. Fold the carrot, raisins (and any liquid) into the flour mixture.
Gently fold in the whisked egg white, then pour into the tin.
Jiggle the tin to level the mixture.
6. Bake for 1 hr until risen and firm
or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.
7. Leave to cool in the tin 5 mins, turn out onto a wire rack, peel off the paper, then leave until cold.
8. To make the frosting, beat together the butter and cream cheese.
Add the icing sugar a cup at a time or half the amount at a time.
Beat until smooth and creamy.
Beat in the vanilla extract
9. Swirl the frosting over the cake and cut into 16 squares.
This cake is even better if left well wrapped for a day or two before icing and eating.
Will keep up to 5 days un-iced in an airtight tin, or in the fridge if iced.









Thursday, 19 June 2014

Apricot cake and tea loaf

I had a bag of dried apricots that expired this month and also leftover caramel buttercream to use up. I looked up recipes that used a lot of dried apricots and came across this recipe for Apricot sticky toffee pudding by Chocolate & Zucchini.

I made a round cake and 5 mini tea loaves out of the recipe. I didn’t make the accompanying toffee sauce and opted to use my leftover caramel buttercream (from my chocolate & caramel cake recipe).



I think this is a decent recipe. They are similar to my Date & carrot loaf but are lighter and less dark in flavour. The only thing was the apricots I used weren’t the best. They were tart and quite hard so didn’t meld in the cake as well as they could. I reckon if I used sweeter, juicier and softer dried apricots then the result would be great!

Monday, 16 June 2014

Week of baking fun, family & friends! (9-15/6/14)

Last week has been a busy week for baking!!!

It's what I really enjoy doing and I see it as a way to practice my baking. I love to share what I bake with others :-)

PicMonkey Collage

Family visited from India at the start of the week. I'd found out beforehand that the kids like chocolate cake, so I baked my chocolate & caramel cake for them. We enjoyed this at a family meal at Sky Chinese restaurant in Newcastle.

choc cake

 We visited Alnmouth and Alnwick during the week and was very fortunate to hit a beautiful sunny and warm day. Perfect for the beach!


I received some lovely gifts from India! A pretty kaftan, Tulsi Masala Chai tea, Butter chicken spice mix, Saffron, a CD, make up bag and purse.


It was my friend Laura's birthday on Saturday and I found out she liked lemon cakes. I decided to make something a little bit different with a lemon twist. I made my courgette cake with lemon curd and lemon cream cheese frosting. This cake was my favourite bake of the week. The texture of the cake was spot on and the icing was delicious!

Weather turned out really well again for this occasion. We spent most of the afternoon and evening sat outside in the sunshine at the Ouseburn, Newcastle.


The week ended with my friend Amy's daughter christening on Sunday, where I baked a variety of cupcakes and cookies. I made two types of cupcakes: chocolate with caramel icing and caramelised biscuit cupcake with vanilla buttercream. I also made two types of cookie: peanut butter & chocolate chip cookies and oat & raisin cookies.


All went down very quickly at the Christening which was really lovely to see. And Amy got me these gorgeous flowers as a ‘thank you’.



Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Blueberry muffins

I have used this recipe for blueberry muffins a few times and they always turn out well. Light, soft, fluffy and moist with delicious bursts of blueberry flavour. The recipe states it makes 12 muffins. But I managed to make 12 normal sized muffins and 24 mini muffins from the recipe. So you will get a generous amount of muffins!




 110g butter
250g plain flour
250g caster sugar
2 eggs
125ml milk
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
225g fresh blueberries

1. Preheat oven to 180°C.
Line a muffin tin with paper cases.
2. Sieve flour, baking powder and salt together in a bowl.
3. In another bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
4. Add eggs and beat well.
5. Add milk and flour mixture.
Beat until combined.
6. Stir in blueberries.
7. Fill paper cases 2/3 full.
8. Bake for 25 - 30 minutes.
A skewer inserted in a muffin should come out clean when the muffins are cooked.



Sunday, 1 June 2014

Caramelised biscuit cupcakes

I’ve always enjoyed the Lotus caramelised biscuits you get with a cuppa. You know the ones I mean – the posh continental biscuits in the red packets that are mildly gingerbready with a caramel flavour. They go under different names depending on where you are – Biscoff / Speculoos.


I have heard about the spread made from these crushed up biscuits. What the Americans call ‘cookie butter’. But had never seen it on sale until the other day at Morrisons. I snapped it up and was really excited to try it.


And it did not disappoint. It is every bit as delicious as I imagined it would be! Gorgeously caramely and creamy. Oh so dreamy.

First thing I did when I go home was look up a recipe I could use the spread in. I decided on this recipe from Dash and a Pinch. I made up half the recipe as didn’t want to waste too much of the spread should the recipe fail. So I ended up with 6 cupcakes, of which they were so scrummy, that I can’t wait to make some more!

This has to be, if not my favourite, then one of my favourite cupcakes to make now. If you like the Lotus caramelised biscuits or the spread, then you will love this!



For the cupcakes

1 cup plain flour
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup Lotus caramelised biscuit spread
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
6 Lotus caramelised biscuits (optional)

For the buttercream 

225g unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup Lotus caramelised biscuit spread
4-5 cups icing sugar
2 tablespoons milk


1. Preheat an oven to 175°C, and line a muffin tin with 12 cupcake cases.
2. Place flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt into a bowl.
Mix and set aside.
3. In another bowl, mix oil, sour cream, Lotus caramelised biscuit spread, eggs, and vanilla.
When combined, slowly add dry ingredients.
Fill cupcake cases about 3/4 full and bake for 18-22 minutes.
Cool on a cooling rack, and make the frosting:
4. Put the softened butter and Lotus caramelised biscuit spread into a bowl,
and beat on medium speed until smooth and creamy.
Slowly add the icing sugar until it thickens.
Add milk until you reach you desired consistency.
Frost using a piping bag or spoon the icing onto the cupcakes.
Top each cupcake with half a Lotus caramelised biscuit (if using).

PicMonkey Collage4