When I was younger and living in Singapore, the one quintessentially English thing my mum did (apart from roasts!) was to make scones.
They have a texture between cake and biscuit, which I found a lot nicer than the doughy production made ones.
She got the recipe from a friend of a friend of a friend, and all we know is she is called Sheila. So we have always called them Sheila’s scones.
Last weekend I was at my parents house and made these for myself - for the first time. We deviated a bit from the original recipe too…
450g Self-raising flour
175g Unsalted butter (soft)
50g Caster sugar
2 Eggs (lightly beaten) - plus extra for glaze
Preheat the over to 200 degrees celsius.
In a large bowl, lightly rub in butter with the flower. Be careful not to overwork it. Once done, add in the sugar and raisins.
Then mix in the eggs using your hands. The mixture will still be dry and a bit crumbly. Slowly add milk into the mixture until it just comes together.
Knead it lightly and then turn it out onto a floured surface. Now you can shape the scones how you like - just don’t roll the dough out! I moulded them with my hands, but you could use a knife or a cutter to got a cleaner look, if you wanted.
Once you have finished take a brush and lightly cover the top of all the scones with the whisked egg.
Place the tray in the oven for 10 - 15 minutes or until they have a golden top.
These scones are amazing warm with cream and Jam, but they are nice on their own too. You can substitute the raisins for something else. I am a big fan of glace cherries!
A while ago I posted an image of my rainbow cake and promised to write up about it. Now that I have a bit of spare time during the holidays, I thought I would finish my post on it.
When I was out one night, a friend showed me her amazing rainbow cake and I had to give it a try. I have to say, my first try was an absolute failure. I used natural food colouring and as you can see in the picture.. it was terrible!
The colours were bland and looked worse after baking! After doing some research I decided to go to Squires and get their food gel.
Using a Mary Berry sponge recipe and my new food gels, I started again. For some reason I was in a bit of denial about how much work it would be.
It then dawned on me that I would be making 6 cakes! So I decided to do all the cake batter in one bowl. Which ended up nearly killing my mixer.
I then split the batter into 6 bowls and added the food gel until I got the colour I wanted.
I then baked them two at a time and got ready on making a rediculous amount of cream cheese icing (I doubled the amount I usually make).
And, the finished product! I used sugar stars and edible glitter to decorate.
To give you some idea of how big it is, I took a shot of cutting the cake!
It may look a little dull on the outside, but it was a big contrast to the inside.
In regards to technical difficulty, this cake is very straight forward. It is only time consuming! I have also seen the cake done horizontally using square cakes. Either way, this cake makes enough to feed about 18 people with some big slices.
Perfect for birthdays, I brought it to a dinner party and it went down a treat. Though, be warned… you will be asked to make it again and again!
A while ago, I posted a picture of my first attempts baking cupcakes in teacups. As it is coming up to Christmas and I am strapped for money, I have been thinking of things that I can give as small gifts. So when I stumbled across people baking in teacups, I had to give it a go.
Baking this way is how the cupcake got its name in the first place. In fact, this practice has been around since the 1700’s though the name ‘cupcake’ was first mentioned in 1828.
Finding sets of vintage small teacups is easy at vintage rummage sales, carboot sales and charity shops. The important things to keep in mind is that you should avoid thin bone china as it doesn’t do well in ovens. Another thing is to not use cups that are chipped, have metal rims or harline cracks.
The cups I used seemed pretty ‘normal’ though some people recommend using specific high quality tea cups. Personally, I haven’t had any problems using the ones I got from a charity shop.
The recipe I used was my usual basic vanilla cupcake recipe. Mary Berry advises adding some baking powder to the mixture, so I added 1tsp to the mixture (I use self-raising flour).
As it was my first time baking in teacups, I wasn’t sure how much to fill the cupcakes and also how long it would take. As the cupcakes are larger and also are in ceramic, I knew the baking time would be longer. As it was a test round I put ranging amounts of batter in the three teacups. One Green 1/2, Yellow 3/4, Red 4/5.
For the large cups it took about 35 -40 Minutes. Though, the larger cupcake did need more time, about 5 minutes more, I think. Some recipes have recommended placing the cupcakes in a bain marie to bake. Am very interested to try that method (will let you know how it goes!).
When it is done, they should spring back when touched in the middle and then should be left to cool fully. Once cooled they can be turned out (as they were in the past) or they can be served in the teacup which looks really cute.
I used a basic buttercream icing and covered with star sprinkles. As this was a test batch, I only spread the icing, but think it would look great piped onto the cupcake so it is as high as the rim of the teacup.
They look really delicious and make great gifts. It is also a cute way to serve cupcakes when having tea or dessert. Look forward to making a lot more and will post them on here!
Cake pops have taken the baking world by storm in recent times and I can safely say that this makes me happy. Hailed as the new cupcake, these balls of cake on sticks are not only tasty but exciting to make! They offer the baker freedom to create different flavour combinations and unlimited designs. These range from the classic lollipop sphere to owls and Russian dolls.
Arguably a large majority of noted cake pop bakers hail from the US, but we are lucky to have some big names in the UK too! Clare O’Connell is one half of the mother daughter company POP bakery. Not only does she own a popular baking company (POP Bakery), she has also written a book with great tips and advice for making your own.
Clare kindly took time out of a very busy schedule to answer some questions about creating cake pops and catering for Topshop!
So what got you interested in the world of cake pop making?
I was always interested in making cakes. I had a small business that I was nearly going to really go for making cupcakes with kids, called little bakers and then I found the product [cake pops] and realised they would be a better idea.
I love how varied your designs are, where do you get your inspiration from?
We take inspiration from customers mostly, almost all the things we have come up with have been because of customer requests.
So something like the Russian dolls were for the Urban Outfitters press day, they wanted something Russian inspired for their autumn winter collection etc.
Why do you think cake pops have become so popular recently?
Convenient food, the fact that they are on a stick, and also an overload of cupcakes meant there was a big gap in the market for a new confectionary piece. It’s also great how much you can customise them!
What are some of the big companies that you have catered for and what did you make?
Topshop all the time, making leopard POPs.
I’m doing lots of fashion stuff this week, Grazia magazine, Karen Millan, Hennes and Topshop, all wanting snowflake POPs for the Christmas period. The more interesting POPs are normally private customers though, they can be more inventive.
What is your next goes or hope for your business?
I hope to sell lots of the new book and then come up with a new concept for a POP 3! It’s out in February and I am sooo proud of it!
What one piece of advice would you give to someone trying to make cake pops for the first time?
Patience is the key, they do take a lot of trial and error. If I think about my first ones that I was making for a very important meeting and they were all lumpy but they still loved them.
All top POP secrets will be in the new book though!
And finally, what is your personal favourite of your cake pops at the moment?
My new favourite are the Russian dolls in leopard print and spikes, also the snow babies I am loving, so cute!
Check out the POP bakery website and get ordering! I can’t resist and have to order the Russian Dolls POPs.
It always seems that the moment you are low on money, there are about a million people’s birthdays and housewarmings to go to.
I always like to get people something so I have started baking gifts instead! I have found that people really like them. In particular, the fact that they are homemade always goes down a treat.
So, as mentioned in my last baking entry I have fallen in love with the Hummingbird Bakery cookbook. The Strawberry Cheesecake cupcakes looked so tasty (they do combine cheesecake and cupcakes…) so had to give it a shot.
First time I did these, I deviated from the recipe and found that they weren’t that great. This time I followed it exactly, including the amount of strawberries! The only difference was that I put a little batter in the casing before putting a chopped strawberry in.
I then covered the strawberries with more batter, making sure none were showing through. I find that if you bake with fruit and they aren’t covered they will burn and taste terrible..
Making the icing was simple. It is like buttercream icing, but with philidelphia cream cheese in it too. Make sure to get the full fat cheese or it will not work.
Once the cupcakes are iced, I sprinkled on crushed digestives on top. These were really popular and the whole batch were gone in a day. It is a pretty straightforward recipe, and doesn’t take long to do. I really recommend trying it out! You can find the recipe here
Asked by thetellersoundsthealarm
Haha, I hadn’t thought about it until then either, but it does make lemon cupcakes taste a lot better!
I have also heard of hollowing cupcakes out and filling it with small fruit or more icing too. Too many options!
Since coming back from Asia and being jobless, I have actually spent a lot of time baking. One thing that I have started baking, is Cake Pops. These are basically little cakes on sticks, kind of like a lollipop (hence the name).
These can be decorated in lots of different ways but, as I have only just started, I have stuck to the basic shape first! Bakerella offers some great ideas, and I am really up for trying them now I have ‘mastered’ the basics.
There are lots of recipes out there for making cakepops, but I followed Bakerella’s method which is:
Most things can be found in any supermarket, apart from Candy Melts which I bought from Hobbycraft. The one thing to remember is to have a lot of time to do this as there is a lot of cooling time needed!
To start, bake the cake and let it cool. Once cooled you break it up into a bowl:
We did ours by hand because..well…how often do you bake something then get to destroy it?!
After that, you are meant to put in half a tub of butter cream icing (though we used less) and mix it together. It then needs to be left to stand for a while so it can be then rolled into balls. They then need to be in the fridge for a while to cool again.
In this time you melt some of the candy melts (we did this by blasting it in the microwave for 30s intervals). Once they are melted you dip one end of your lollipop stick in the candy melt, and then stick it into your cakepop. This should secure the stick to the cake:
At this time it is still ok to have them resting ‘stick up’. Then put them in the fridge to cool. First time I did it I put them in the freezer for about half an hour. This was not long enough and I lost about half my cakepops.. was pretty upsetting.
The next time I left it in the fridge overnight which was much much better. I recommend doing that instead!
Now you have the cake pop you can get decorating. The basic way is to coat the cakepop in the candy melts, so it looks like a lollipop.
I read tonnes of blogs on this before I started, and everyone said that it is harder than it looks. I can confirm that it really is.
The one big problem is that candy melts are quite thick and cool quickly. Because of this, it is hard to coat the cakepops and if it coats too thick it will crack. To deal with this I put vegetable oil in. I actually put a fair bit in. After that it was much easier to coat!
Once dipped, tap the stick to get all the excess off and then stand them up by the stick (using polystyrene or something else that will hold the lollipop stick) to set.
If you want to add anything else (like sprinkles) do it before it sets. I used sprinkles and edible glitter.
The second time I did this was for a murder mystery dinner party, these went down so well and it was great to have them ready in advance. There are some that aren’t coated in the below picture since Dave hate’s any form of icing (boo!):
Just bought more candy melt colours and some regal ice to try something more adventurous. Just need to decide and have some time to make them :D