I can’t quite believe that my 3rd Bake Club has been and gone already. I’ve had such fun organising them and meeting lots of new people who have a passion for baking just like me. We always end up chattering away and losing track of the time.
This month the theme was ‘Queen’s Jubilee’, which is rather helpful of course as this links in very nicely with the Jubilee Competition that I am running on my blog at the moment. So I’m hoping that a round up of all the cakes might help to give you a little bit of inspiration to get baking. After all a bank holiday is the perfect time to get into the kitchen with the additional day off. As usual my guests completely exceeded my expectations with their creations. All fabulous and suitably regal. So if you are ready, lets indulge.
First up was Christina’s fruit decorated chocolate fudge cake. Christina tells me that she got the recipe from this months Good Housekeeping. She halved the quantities because it said the cake would serve 40!!! As you can see it was still pretty sizable, but a much more manageable. It was chocoholics dream with the rich chocolate sponge and white chocolate buttercream and it tasted amazing.
Then came Abi’s orange flavoured crown cake with fresh fruit, white chocolate and raspberry coulis. Abi explained that she had combined a number of recipes to make the various parts to this cake. The orange taste was incredible. You could really taste fresh orange with every bite. I love the idea of using sponge fingers around the cake too.
Then Vicky brought a Almond and rhubarb loaf cake made with rhubarb from her own garden. Now you can’t get more British than that! The flavours were gorgeous. I could really taste the almond and cinnamon that had been added.
Lastly, there was my white chocolate and elderflower victoria sponge cake. I used a Nigella victoria sponge cake recipe, (which can be found on pg 26 of her cookbook, How to Eat) and added 2 tbsp of elderflower cordial to the cake batter and 3 tbsp of cordial to the fresh cream that I whipped up to fill and top the cake with. I also drizzled melted white chocolate on the cream in the middle of the cake and again in the top. Don’t hold back with the white chocolate, just go for it. The little white chocolate crowns were an idea I got from talented Sew White. You can see a little video on how to make them here. They were great fun to do and I was very pleased with the final cake.
As June is the perfect time to hunt for fresh elderflower you could always make your own cordial. I will be doing this for sure. Karen from Lavender and Loveage has a great recipe over on her blog.
Next Bake Club and New Ideas
I’m feeling more experienced now having run 3 Bake Clubs and it’s been great getting a feel for what people want and how they run. I’ve had a few ideas which I hope will make my Bake Club even better than before. Let me know what you think.
- Running a charity Bake Club twice a year, starting next month. On the 13th June the theme is ‘bake it pink‘ and all entrance fees will be going to a Breast Cancer Care. My very good friend Anna will be coming along to support the evening. Anna found out late 2010 that she had breast cancer and endured an incredibly hard year battling the disease. Her strength and courage has been an ongoing inspiration to me and I tell her on a regular basis that I think she is amazing. She has even signed up to do the London Marathon next year! There will be some time allocated to allow Anna to share her experience and talk about breast cancer awareness on the night.
- Organising a number of talks/presentations for the next few Bake Clubs, as I really think there is room for everyone to learn more from each other and from any special guests that I might get in. I’m not talking anything that will take away too much time, just 20 mins focusing on a particular baking related subject. For example at either the July or August Bake Club one guest has already offered to share her macaroon tips.
- Investigating avenues to donate any left over cake to a local old people’s home if guests do not wish to take all the cake home with them.
How to book for the June charity Bake Club:
Here are all the details you need, but essentially all you need to do is drop me a line at: email@example.com
Bake Club dates for your diary:
- 18th July 2012
- 29th Aug 2012
Both based in Sevenoaks
Finally, the great thing about my white chocolate and elderflower victoria sponge cake is that I can also enter it into two blog challenges this month. Tea Time Treats hosted by Karen from Lavender and Lovage and Kate from What Kate Baked has gone all floral this month so the elderflower in my cake certainly counts there. Also, the Forever Nigella blog challenge created by Maison Cupcake and hosted this month by Nelly’s Cupcakes has a Jubilee theme. So thank you to Nigella for the fantastic and extremely easy sponge recipe which made a fab base to my cake and qualified me to enter Forever Nigella this month.
My blog is 6 months old on the 10th April! It only seems like yesterday that I was sitting on this very same chair at my computer wondering if I should take the plunge and start my own blog. I was scared. Mostly of opening up a window into my life for others to see. What would people think of me? What if nobody read my blog? Why would anyone want to read about me? But deep down I had a bubble of excitement. I could imagine how wonderful it would feel to inspire others to bake and maybe people would like what I write and enjoy reading it! So I went for it and it’s safe to say I have not looked back.
In the 6 months of writing my blog, I feel like I have come so far. I had no idea how much fun it would be or how I would feel writing about something I love in my own way without any rules. I have had unwavering encouragement from my family and friends and I have made so many new friends both online and face to face. There is a fantastic blogging community out there which is incredibly supportive, and I have loved becoming part of this. Planning my posts, baking, photographing what I have made and writing about it is now a very important part of my week. People often ask me where I want to go with this blog, and although I can’t give a precise answer, I do know that it is a fabulous adventure which keeps getting better and I am thoroughly enjoying the ride.
One thing I have learnt in the last 6 months, is that the blogging world is full of awards. Which is a great because whilst writing a blog is a fantastic thing to do, it is also a lot of hard work behind the scenes. I have had many late nights baking, writing, formatting and organising blog posts to ensure that my blog is the best I can make it. I’m a bit of a perfectionist!
Many of these awards are based on votes from readers, and I kind of wish they weren’t as I’m just not used to canvasing for votes. However, last week I found out that I have been shortlisted out of 12,000 nominations for the ‘Tasty’ category in the Britmum’s Brilliance in Blogging awards which I am so chuffed about, I just could not keep it quiet.
So firstly I need to say a big thank you to everyone who nominated me in the first instance. It feels amazing to have made the shortlist it really does. I am 1 of 20 shortlisted blogs in this category. The next stage is to become 1 of 8 finalists which would mean an invitation to an awards ceremony in London, (and therefore a new dress) where a panel of high profile judges pick the final winner. Being a finalist would be incredible. Just having that recognition for my blog would be such an achievement and would mean lots of new and exciting exposure for my blog.
But I’m not just going to ask you to vote for me, I’m going to give you good reason to take the time and vote for me. In celebration of my blog being 6 months old and for making the Brilliance in Blogging shortlist I have created the most scrumptious celebration cake you ever did see (and taste). Inspired by my favorite summer flower, my love of pink champagne and a my very dear friend Anna (because its pink and has champers in it) I have come up with a cake that will make any celebration one to remember. I made it mini sized because that was perfect for me, and it is my celebration cake after all. But also I think there is something special and understated about making an individual sized cake for someone. It’s not over the top, yet all the effort and sentiment is still there in extremely cute proportions.
How to vote:
So here is how to vote if you would like to. Click on the BIB logo below and you will be taken to a survey monkey form. Scroll down to the ‘Tasty’ shortlist (it’s not that far down, category number 2) and click next to Homemade By Fleur. Scroll to the bottom and click submit and that’s it. A big thank you to anyone in advance who votes xxx I’ll let you know how I get on.
Recipe: Mini Pistachio and Rose Celebration Cake with Pink Champagne Buttercream
What you will need:
- 2tsp rose syrup (I used Star Kay white rose water)
- 120 ml whole milk
- 120g plain flour
- 100g sugar
- 1.5 tsp baking powder
- 40g unsalted butter
- 30g pistachio nuts (25g for cake, 5g for decoration on top) finely chopped. I put mine in the food processor for 1-2 mins
- 2 x 11cm sandwich cake tins greased and lined
- large metal spoon
Pink Champagne Buttercream
I prefer not to have too much buttercream on my cake, but if you like lashings of it, you might want to double these quantities.
- 40g unsalted butter
- 165g icing sugar
- 25ml pink champagne (there should be plenty left in the bottle to pour yourself a glass once you have finished the cake :-))
- Pink food colouring (optional)
- Palette knife
- 150g royal icing sugar
- 1-2 tsp water
- Pink and green food colouring (most supermarkets sell natural colours although I did not use them on this occasion)
- Small rose and leaf icing tips
- Icing bags
How to make:
- Preheat your oven to 170c/325f/gas 3
- Put the flour, sugar, baking powder and butter in an electric mixer and combine with a paddle attachment until thoroughly mixed in and has a sand like consistency
- Slowly add the milk, then the rose water, then the eggs
- When you have a smooth batter, fold in the chopped pistachio with a large metal spoon ( remember to save a bit for the decoration)
- Divide the batter between the two cake tins, gently smooth over and put in the oven for 25-30 mins. To check that they are done stick a knife in both cakes and it will come out clean if baked. If not, pop back in for another 5 mins
- Let the cakes cool in the tins for 5 mins, then turn out onto a cooling rack
- Whilst cooling you can make the buttercream. For this just add the icing sugar and soft butter to a bowl and start to mix with an electric mixer. Then add the champagne slowly. Once all the champagne has been added, add a few drops of pink food colouring. I just did one drop at a time as I knew I wanted a light pink. Once you are happy with the colour, continue to mix the buttercream for another 5 mins or so. This step is quite important as it stops your buttercream from being grainy and gives it a light fluffy texture
- Once your cakes are cool slice off any bumps that have risen up on the top of each sponge. Then slice each sponge in half lengthways. Then fill each layer with butter cream and build up your 4 layer cake.
- Then use a small palette knife to cover the outside of the cake with the remainder of the buttercream. I used upwards motions in the side of the cake
- Sprinkle your remaining chopped pistachio around the top of the cake, then make your royal icing by mixing the royal icing sugar and water together until it forms soft peaks. It is probably best to add the water slowly and watching the icing come together. You may need a little less or more water than I have suggested
- Divide your royal icing into two and colour one dark pink and the other one green. To make a rose I watched a couple of You Tube videos, this video is a good one. Essentially you start with the fat part of the icing tip at the bottom and pipe a small closed circle. In some videos they used a flower pin to do this, I just had my cake on a turntable and moved it round as I went. You then start to add on the petals piping 3 around on the first layer and then 4/5 on the second layer. I does not look like a rose to start with but quickly becomes recognisable. I needed a few practice goes first and I piped mine straight onto the cake when I was ready.
- To create leafs, just point the leaf tip close the rose, flat side down and pipe out some icing pulling away as you do and stop piping when it is big enough pulling high to break the icing off
- Give to someone very special and make their day x
If you are inspired by this cake you must also check out fellow blogger Cakeboule’s Tiffiany inspired champagne layer cake. It’s stunning.
I’m also going to send this over to Kate from What Kate Baked to enter the Easter themed Tea Time Treats. This challenge is shared with Karen from Lavender and Lovage. As Easter is a celebration and a time for getting together with the family I think this little cake would make a lovely addition to any table of treats over the Easter weekend.
In the blurb about my blog you will see the words “for busy mums who want to use their creative side”. Well this post is written with that specifically in mind. Yesterday after picking my eldest from school, rushing home, giving all three their tea then dropping eldest at Rainbows, I had 40 whole minutes until I had to pick up. Wow, that is quite a chunk of time for someone like me. I did not want to waste it so I carefully considered what to do. There were lots chores that I could have done like fold the washing, tidy the bedrooms, order my food shop or make some calls but instead I decided to set myself a challenge, and see if I could bake something in that time. ‘Crazy” I hear you say! Yes, I might agree with you there, after all I did not list the obvious option of sitting down and having a cup of tea but once I had the challenge idea in my head, there was no going back, I had to do it.
The requirements were quick, easy and something that the kids would like. Lots of scope there and after a rummage through my fridge and cupboards the decision was made. Little scones with feta, sundried tomato and caramelised balsamic onion. Sweet, salty and tangy all at the same time, making these just a little bit more sophisticated than your average savory scone. You might already know this about me, but I like to create mini sized food. In this case I think the small size makes the scones much more versatile. They are perfect for snack time, picnics (can’t wait now that the weather is improving) jazzing up your lunch and can even be made as little canapés served with chilli jam maybe? They freeze well and can be defrosted and warmed up in a jiffy by using the microwave.
Little scones with feta, sundried tomato and caramelised balsamic onion
Here’s what you will need:
- 200g self raising flour
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 40g/1 1/2 oz butter
- 100ml (3 1/2 fl oz) milk and a little bit extra for brushing the tops of the scones
- 6 sundried tomatoes
- 25g feta cheese
- 1 med onion chopped up finely
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1/2 tbsp sugar
- 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- Small scone cutter
- Greased baking tray
- Pastry brush (I use a silicone one and think they are fab)
Makes about 18 mini scones
So the big question now, is did I manage to make them in the 40 minutes? Well here is how I got on.
How to make:
Time: 40 mins
- First thing I did was to chop the onions up and I did this in my magimix as if I’m giving onion to the kids it has to be really small
- Then I put the chopped onion in a small saucepan with the olive oil and let it cook on a low heat for about 5 mins. I then turned the oven on to 220c/gas 7.
- After 5 mins, add the vinegar and sugar to your onions. Stir regularly and keep on a low heat
Time: 31 mins to go
- Now I put the sundried tomatoes and feta cheese in the magimix and whizzed for about 5 seconds, until a rough paste is made. I kept this to one side and started to make the scones
- In a big mixing bowl add the flour and butter. Mix together either by hand by rubbing through your fingertips, or in the mixer until it looks like breadcrumbs. Add the tomato and feta paste along with the onions which should by now have had about 15 mins to cook in the saucepan and should be nice and soft and have absorbed the sugar and vinegar
Time: 22 mins to go
- Mix the dry ingredients in, and once combined slowly add the milk and mix until a soft dough is formed
- Take the dough out of the bowl and onto a lightly floured surface. Lightly knead and then roll out. Make sure that the dough rolled out thickly (about 3 cm) as this is the secret to lovely high scones. Cut out the scones and place on the baking tray. Bring leftover bits of dough together and roll out again until all the dough is used up
Time: 13 mins to go
As soon as the scones came out, I turned off the oven, placed them onto a cooling rack and ran out the door to do the pick up. I did not have time for the washing up so left the kitchen like a bit of a bombsite.
However, most of it went in the dishwasher, and I had ‘ warm from the oven’ scones to munch on whilst I was doing it. Not so bad after all!
I’m hoping that anybody out there who feels they don’t have time to bake will be inspired by my ‘Crazy Scone Challenge’ and find 40 mins today or tomorrow to get stuck in and create a little something that has the potential to make your day as these little beauties certainly made mine.
These scones can also be entered into the Tea Time Treats blog challenge which is savory or sweet scones! This month the challenge is hosted by Karen from Lavender and Loveage and is shared with Kate from What Kate Baked.