Friday, 22 November 2013

Spiced apple cake

In a previous post, There are few hours in life more agreeable than the ceremony known as afternoon tea”, I said I would publish the spiced apple cake recipe as it was such a hit with both friends and colleagues.

So here goes ...


For the topping:

  • 3 apples (I used Granny Smith apples)
  • 2 teaspoons mixed spice (or if you're in Belgium, the speculoos spice is a great alternative)

For the cake:

  • 225g butter, softened
  • 225g caster sugar
  • 225g self-raising flour
  • ½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • 4 eggs
  • 60ml whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons mixed spice / speculoos spice


Preheat the oven to 170C. Grease a 10 inch (26cm) cake tin and line it with greaseproof paper.

For the topping:

Peel the apples and cut them into wedges. Put the apples and 2 teaspoons spice (whether mixed spice or speculoos) in a saucepan over a low heat for a few minutes to soften a little. 

Place the apple wedges in the base of the cake tin in whatever design you like. If you want a thicker layer of apple, you can do 2 layers of apple on top of each other.

For the cake:

Beat the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour and bicarbonate of soda. Add a tablespoon of the flour mix to the butter mix along with one egg. Mix until combined. Repeat the process until all the flour and eggs have been used. Stir in the milk, vanilla and mixed spice. Mix until combined.

Pour the mixture into the greased cake tin on top of the apples and gently smooth with a spatula. Bake for 40-50 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.

Once out of the oven, leave in the tin for 5-10 minutes, then remove from tin and transfer it to a wire rack to cool completely.

I drizzled some caramel on top of mine which was delicious, but it's also tasty 'au naturel' or with some vanilla or cinnamon sugar sprinkled on top. It is a great seasonal cake with the apples and mixed spice flavours ... autumn in a mouthful.

If you have any leftovers, you can always heat it up and have it as a warm dessert with some vanilla ice cream!

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Anfield football stadium

A teammate from my football team, Amanda, recently turned 40 and as a keen Liverpool football club fan (read: obsessed), it was only natural to make her a Liverpool FC themed cake. My friend and teammate, Tish, is also a keen baker so when there is a birthday in the team we take the opportunity to join forces. Last year we made Amanda a Liverpool football shirt with her name and number on. For her 40th we needed to go bigger and better. So of course, the obvious decision was to make Liverpool's Anfield stadium.

Liverpool beating Leeds United 4-0 ...

We made 3 rectangle chocolate cakes and placed them on top of each other with vanilla buttercream and a thin layer of caramel between each cake. The whole cake was then put in the fridge until it was hard enough to carve into the stadium shape. We started carving in from the top, leaving the bottom layer of cake as the base for the football pitch. After that, the decorating itself was actually quite straightforward - different colour fondant for the pitch, seating, and 'brick' pillars, with piping for the pitch lines and roof detail, and of course the Liverpool FC logo on the front to finish it off.

Anfield stadium (Liverpool Football Club)

Monday, 21 October 2013

“There are few hours in life more agreeable than the ceremony known as afternoon tea”

Spiced apple cake with caramel drizzled on top

I completely agree with the title of this post - a great quote from 'The Portrait of a Lady' by Henry James. So when a friend recently suggested a catch up over tea and cake (she knows that if she suggests cake, I will offer to provide the said cake!), we invited a few friends to join us and it soon turned into 13 people for afternoon tea!

Alongside the multiple pots of English tea, I also made a lemon cake with lemon buttercream, a spiced apple cake drizzled with caramel, a homemade alternative to jammy dodgers, and flapjacks.

Cake leftovers were taken to work the next day and my colleagues are still demanding the recipe for the spiced apple cake, so I will publish that in a later blog post.

The jammy dodgers were sables (French butter biscuits) with good quality raspberry jam inside and a little vanilla sugar sprinkled on top. I used this BBC FOOD recipe. They were delicious !

Jammy Dodgers

My Mum is a great baker (and in fact a great chef in general). Growing up we were spoilt with freshly baked goods, and flapjacks are one of her specialities. A few years ago she passed me the recipe and I have had so much success with them - whether for afternoon teas or taking along to football matches as post-match sustenance. They are super easy to make so maybe I will share the recipe at some point ...
I ran out of time so the lemon cake was very simply decorated - lemon buttercream with citrus sugar sprinkled on top. Despite the presentation, it was still tasty.

Lemon cake with lemon buttercream

Friday, 18 October 2013

Commissioner Potočnik celebrates 10 years of HEAL

(c) HEAL/De Ribaucourt Photography
The Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL) recently celebrated their 10 year anniversary and I was lucky enough to be asked to make cakes for this occasion. The EU Commissioner for Environment, Janez Potočnik, was on hand to cut the main cake which was decorated with the HEAL logo.

Janez Potočnik, EU Commissioner for Environment
(c) HEAL/De Ribaucourt Photography

The logo cake was chocolate sponge with a chocolate buttercream filling and decorated with fondant and royal icing. The second cake was an organic spiced apple cake.

Organic spiced apple cake

Commissioner Potočnik with HEAL President, Dr. Peter van den Hazel, and HEAL Executive Director, Génon K. Jensen
(c) HEAL/De Ribaucourt Photography

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

A pun-ful cake conversation

When I was first thinking of starting a cake blog and potentially a side-business, I was discussing potential names with my close friends. To get the creative juices flowing, I offered a free batch of cupcakes to whoever came up with my favourite name. I love a good pun so when "For Goodness Cake!" was suggested, that was it - competition over. The winner got to choose what flavour cupcakes she received which led to a conversation between myself and the winner's housemate. As you can see, the baking puns escalated somewhat ...

She has said carrot but she has time to change her mind ... and as her batter half I'm sure you can have some influence.

Love the cake puns! I'm glad she rose to the cake challenge!

She did indeed rise to the occasion - I could even call her my muse ... well if the choux fits. Thanks for your offer of help, there's so much stuff on the business side that I knead to know about. I have some good ideas etc but you know what they say about the best made flans ... ok, ok, enough of the cake puns. I'm sorry, I'll stop. Doughnut forsake me! Ha, sorry - what can I say, I'm a gluten for punishment ...

Ahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha! Stop! You’re taking the biscuit! 

Ok, ok, I'll stop. It's the yeast I can do.

Scone-sidering the cir-cream-stances, I’ll let you off.

Oooh I do I d'eclair that was a good one. There really are hundreds and thousands of cake puns! This is getting a trifle out of hand now though with us egging each other on - we should probably stop the waffle. I'm having muffin more to do with this. 
I've tried raisin the standard, but the currant puns are getting pretty stale. I piped up too early with all my ideas and you've stollen some good ones - maybe we'll have to sponge off someone else now...

Did we miss any cake puns? Can you whisk up any new ones? If so, you butter write them in the comments below!

Monday, 9 September 2013

Brussels Childbirth Trust 'Small Talk' magazine feature

The other day a colleague of mine asked if I made cakes. Well yes, I do actually. Why do you ask? She had seen my name in a magazine. The Brussels Childbirth Trust (BCT) publish a magazine, 'Small Talk', every two months and the September/October edition has a feature on celebration cakes; in particular children's birthday cakes. 

A few months ago I made cakes for the 1st birthday of a friend's daughter. I did a lemon buttercream jungle themed cake (with Sophie the Giraffe) for the adults and then a sugar- and dairy-free banana cake for the babies. My friend was so pleased with the cakes that she had recommended me for the BCT cake feature.

Big thanks to Nic for the lovely recommendation!

BCT Small Talk Sept/Oct magazine cover

The 2-page spread with my recommendation, photo and photo credit
Recommendation (Thanks Nic!)

Sophie the Giraffe and friends
Sugar- and dairy-free banana cake with fresh berries

Friday, 6 September 2013

Christian Louboutin shoe

Until now, this has been the most challenging and time-consuming of my cakes. The shoebox was cake and the shoe was made from gum paste. Gum paste is a similar texture to fondant but it dries very hard so it is great for making figurines, flowers, cake toppers, and shoes.

The shoe took about 3 days (well, evenings after work at least) to make because each element - outer sole, stiletto heel, inner sole, the sides, etc - had to dry and harden before the next part could be stuck on. I was basing the design on the birthday girl's classic black Louboutin stiletto (which she was conveniently wearing on the night!) but I couldn't find a template for a fully closed shoe - only open toe or strappy. This made it more tricky and there was some definite trial and error involved in creating my own template.

I am a firm believer in detail so I of course included the infamous Louboutin red sole and the little 'Louboutin' sign along with pretend stitching on the inner sole.

Considering it was my first attempt, I was happy with how it turned out.

For the basic process of making a gumpaste shoe, have a look at this. The end result is incredible - way better than mine! I'll have to get practising ...

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Super Mario

This cake was made last year to celebrate the 30th birthday of a big kid who loves Super Mario. To date it is one of my favourite cakes that I've made. It was also a great excuse to play Super Mario again after all these years ... just to remember what the set up looked like of course (coins, boxes, green rolling hills and all).

Busy busy busy

I'm super busy at the moment and as a result I have been really bad at updating this blog ... but I am determined to keep it going so for now (until my life calms down a little - hopefully in the next week or so!) I will be posting a few photos of my favourites out of all the cakes I have made in the past couple of years.

Hope you enjoy looking at them as much as I've enjoyed making them and as much as my friends have enjoyed eating them!

First one coming now ... and it's a SUPER one ...

Friday, 16 August 2013

Chocolate Caramel (Mars Bar) Cake

When my brother was at boarding school (years and years ago) they all had a choice of birthday cake that the cook would make for them. He would always choose the Mars Bar cake - chocolate cake with chocolate sprinkles around the outside and a layer of caramel on top etc. I still remember him telling us about it at the time. The boys clearly thought it was brilliant and a highlight when either themselves or their classmates had a birthday and they could all enjoy this culinary delight.

This week I had yet another birthday celebration with my friends and the birthday girl loves caramel so this seemed like a good time to experiment with my own interpretation of a Mars bar cake. It was a chocolate sponge cake with caramel filling, covered in chocolate buttercream, with slices of Mars bar around the bottom and crushed Mars bar on top with caramel drizzled over. When I was decorating the cake, I was in my own little world and it was only when I finished that I had a sudden realisation that it might in fact be inedibly sweet. Luckily (with small pieces) it was delicious and sweet but without being too sickly - phew!

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

New Facebook Page!

My blog now has its own Facebook page! Make sure you 'LIKE' the page to receive updates of blog posts and other fun cake and bake related treats!

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Colourful Cupcakes

Keen to try the marble cake effect with different colours, I took advantage of a quiet girls' night in to celebrate a friend's birthday to experiment with colourful cupcakes!

I made my usual cupcake batter and then divided it into 5 different bowls. I added a different colouring to each bowl - purple, green, blue, yellow and red. I use food colouring paste rather than the liquid colouring you find in the supermarket - it gives a more intense colour without changing the consistency of the mixture.

Having put a teaspoon of each coloured mixture into each cupcake case, I then used a little cocktail stick to mix the colours a bit so that it wasn't just individual blobs of each colour.

In the end, I think I probably could have mixed the different colours in a bit more (I think I was worried a similar thing would happen to when I over-swirled the Marble Chocolate Cake) but the cakes were certainly colourful ... and the birthday girl enjoyed them!

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Hoegaarden and Orange Cupcakes

Seeing as my first post was about gin and tonic cupcakes, I decided to continue with the alcoholic theme (I promise my posts won't all be about alcoholic cake!) ...

Living in Belgium, it would be unthinkable to not include beer in my cooking at some point. I recently had friends over for a beer and cheese evening so this seemed like the perfect occasion to test out beer cupcakes. I found a recipe for 'white beer cupcakes' - in Belgium the obvious choice was to use Hoegaarden. I altered the recipe slightly so here is my version:


For cakes:
170g unsalted butter 
300g sugar
310g plain flour
2½ tsp baking powder
3 eggs
1 tsp orange zest
240 ml Hoegaarden (white beer)
60ml milk

For buttercream:
140g butter
280g icing sugar
1-2 tbsp milk (depending on desired consistency)
1 tsp orange zest


  • Pre-heat oven at 190º and line your cupcake tray.
  • In a large bowl beat the butter for about 30 seconds. Then add the sugar to the butter and beat until it's light and creamy.
  • Add the eggs individually, beating after each.
  • In a measuring cup, mix the Hoegaarden beer and milk. 
  • In a separate bowl, sift the flour and baking powder together. 
  • Slowly add a bit of the beer/milk liquid into the rest of the cake mixture, followed by some flour so that the mixture does not curdle. Continue to alternate these, ensuring it is all mixed in before adding the next element. End on the flour mixture.
  • Fill cupcake cases about 2/3 full and bake for 18 minutes at 190º until cupcakes are golden and a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean.
While the cakes are cooling, make the buttercream:
  • Beat the butter until creamy and light in colour.
  • Add the icing sugar and orange zest.
  • Depending on how you want to apply the icing, you can add 1-2 tbsp milk to change the consistency - if you are wanting to pipe the buttercream, you will want it more stiff so that it holds its shape.
Finally, on top of the buttercream I sprinkled some citrus sugar that I had in the cupboard. But you could also decorate them with some extra orange zest or a small slice of fresh orange.

I couldn't really taste the Hoegaarden itself (I wouldn't have been able to put my finger on the exact ingredients if I had been blind-testing them) but the beer certainly made the cupcakes very light and moist and the orange zest gave a deliciously refreshing citrus hit. They went down amazingly - many said they were the tastiest cupcakes they had ever tasted ... so definitely a recipe to be repeated!

Monday, 5 August 2013

Gin and Tonic Cupcakes

A couple of days ago I experimented with gin and tonic cupcakes. My official excuse was that a friend (who himself loves G&T) was having a house party (not that I really needed an excuse to turn one of my favourite alcoholic beverages into a cupcake)!

Anyway, I looked up a few recipes for inspiration but the first batch I made were a disaster - totally the wrong consistency - ended up all dry and cracked. So I changed my approach ... I used my normal basic cupcake recipe but instead of vanilla I added tonic water and lime zest. When the cupcakes were hot out of the oven, I used a skewer to put little holes in the top of the cakes and then brushed them with gin. I let the gin soak in and then brushed again ... and again ... and again.

I wanted white icing so instead of a usual buttercream, I used part Crisco (vegetable shortening), part cream cheese, with icing sugar and of course the compulsory gin and lime zest.

The cupcakes were a total success at the party!

Thursday, 1 August 2013

A selection of my cakes and bakes so far ...

Chilli-chocolate cake suitcase with a vanilla cake (with mango and passionfruit filling) globe
(Indian themed flavours)

'Baby-friendly' banana cake decorated with fresh berries for a 1st birthday party (no sugar and no dairy) together with the cake for the adults! 

'Baby-friendly' banana cake decorated with fresh berries for a 1st birthday party 
(no sugar and no dairy)


'Sophie the Giraffe' and friends 


 Fondant polar bears

Movie themed 

Christmas gingerbread house (before I finished decorating the front of the house)!

 Rudolph the Reindeer cake pops

Super Mario ! 

Halloween cupcakes

4 layer caramel chocolate cake - (layers: vanilla, caramel, choco-caramel, chocolate) with caramel buttercream between each cake layer. Topped off with white chocolate piping and mini champagne bottle candles.

  Cake replica of a unique guitar

Personalised Liverpool football shirt

 A simple cake to celebrate Easter

Gumpaste Christian Louboutin shoe

Christian Louboutin cake shoebox and gumpaste shoe

 For a keen runner

 Baby shower

Because sometimes we all need a rainbow and sparkling unicorn in our lives!

Chinese farewell cake 

 Housewarming cupcakes

Halloween pumpkin cake