21 Oct 2014

How Not To Decorate a Cake


How not to decorate cake


I’m one of those people that believes with the right tuition and enough practise, I can do anything I put my mind to. I’m quite good at picking things up and am a fast learner. So I had a go at decorating cake!  As you can see from the exhibits above, it didn’t go too well but I’m at a stage now where I can laugh at myself and mock my futile attempt! And I don’t mind if you have a laugh too.

Those lob-sided strips are meant to be frills and the side of the cake isn’t meant to be lumpy, I swear! I think the top surface is probably the best bit as I got a near smooth consistency there, so let’s just say that part is promising. If you read my last post, you'll already know my reason for attempting!

My hat goes off to the real cake makers and decorators out there who decorate cake every day! Just rolling that icing out without it sticking to your work-top is a challenge in itself! And then getting it over the cake so not only does it not tear but falls in the right place? – Don’t get me started!

Anyway, I cannot leave without showing you which stuff I chose to do the [bad] job… Renshaw Ready-to-Roll Icing was easy enough to use. Just a shame I have No skillZ in using the stuff! Yet.


7 Oct 2014

Nigella's Victoria Sponge

Nigella victoria spong

Nigella victoria sponge sandwich

It's my little one's Christening in a few weeks and I've been battling with the decision of whether to make the cake for the Christening or not. Part of me cannot be bothered with the added pressure that a cake for a celebration brings and the other side of me feels it will be an absolute sin to have a shop-bought sponge cake sitting on my table, to those who know I bake! What will the people say, when my apple-crumble fans or my cheesecake fans ask if I baked the cake and I say, 'no, Marks & Spencer did'. That's not going to help my street cred' now, is it. But on the other hand, I've got so much other stuff going on, do I really have the time? Not really.

You see, baking the cake is NOT the problem, it's the decoration! It's all that icing and fondant stuff! I've not done that stuff before! I see loads of people posting their cake decorating tutorials online, making it seem so simple, but I know I will find it a faff and just an extra step before you can eat the darn cake.

So you know what, I'm going to see how it goes. Take it a step at a time and if my practise runs go well, I will go ahead and make the Christening cake! Take baby steps! So, to start off with, let's get practising on the perfect sponge, in my opinion. This one below keeps winning for me. Adapted from How To Be A Domestic Goddess.

10 Sep 2014

Kit : Essential Baking Tools

Essential baking tools, my top 7 kit | www.bakeandthecity.blogspot.co.uk
9" cake tin, hand mixer, grease proof, baking beans, wooden spoon

I have a small number of things that I really rely on nowadays for baking. A few items that find useful and I cannot compromise on. So, I thought I'd put them all together for you, seeing as some of you are still checking my first Kit post and we've come a little way since then.



1. I never realised how valuable my spring-form loose bottom cake tin would be. This particular size (22cm) can be translated over cakes and Cheesecakes alike leaving easy clean edges when presentation is the key.

2. Silicone Pastry/Basting Brush. I'm always using this, it gets a nice thin coat of oil/melted butter/sugar/chocolate/syrup/ you get the idea, over the surface. I find it easy to clean too, compared to a bristle brush version.

3. These are from my hand mixer. I was solely using a trusty wooden spoon for many years before converting to this. Biggest advantage: Time! Oh yes, it saves me loads and prevents a tired wrist from all that manual mixing  ;-)

4. Too many recipes called for greaseproof paper or parchment of some kind and me previously using tin foil as a substitute just wasn't cutting it. I was trying to be frugal by never buying it, but believe me, I'm loving the benefits (peels gracefully off the edges of cakey Brownies, easing Lemon Drizzle cake out of tight loaf tins, etc.) and I keep a roll in the drawer now.

5. Baking Beans. Needed for blind baking tarts/pie bottoms.

6. My Own Spoon. This spoon is a bit like Kryptonite to the other half, with its bright pink handle. He does not use it and that's perfect for me leaving it exclusive for my baking and not his oily culinary concoctions!

7. Now something a little bit unorthodox for a British kitchen – Cup size measures. I got these because they were so cheap to buy and allowed me to quickly use a US or Australian recipe without having to convert the ingredients on my iPhone App to metric scale. There are loads of US recipes I stumble on so it just makes sense to keep some of these handy! 

27 Aug 2014

Perfect Flapjacks /Oat Bars

Flapjacks Granola oat bar www.bakeandthecity.blogspot.co.uk

Here is a recipe I am going to file under 'instant gratification'!! With only five key ingredients this was in my belly after 55 minutes of me mixing the last ingredient. For me this will be a chewy flapjack recipe I will be using again and again. Adding the hazelnuts, ginger and lemon zest really sets this apart from your ordinary flapjack. And it's a great use of porridge oats! I don't know about you, but I don't think I've ever had porridge oats for breakfast. I'm more of a cereal girl, like Cornflakes, Alpen, Shreddies, that type of stuff.

So here we are, Perfect Flapjacks!

13 Aug 2014

Not quite Dehlia's Lemon Drizzle Cake

Lemon drizzle loaf www.bakeandthecity.blogspot.co.uk

Lemon drizzle loaf www.bakeandthecity.blogspot.co.uk

If you haven't baked Lemon Drizzle cake yet, what are you waiting for? Here is a more rustic version I've created. Or in other words – the messy icing and crumbs everywhere version. It's far from a beautifully crafted Dehlia Smith version (we love you Dehlia), but who cares – as most importantly it tasted so good, so I'm okay with that ...and looks aren't everything!

You will need a loaf tin, sorry. It's so annoying when a recipe calls for equipment you don't have, isn't it? But if you are fortunate to have this piece of kit... continue. The recipe calls for the zest of one lemon. Yes, use all of one lemon, don't worry, it's not too lemony.