Remember Malted Milk?

The cows want it back!

IMG_8449

 

I was recently browsing the biscuit aisle and I spotted a packet of very recognisable biscuits that brought back such big memories from childhood. Sweet little malty biscuits with a design that features a big cow and a little calf- they’re just so enjoyable to eat you know? They bring back such fond childhood memories for me, and I’m so glad these biscuits are still around now! Since I love creating sweet treats that are reminiscent of childhood, I just had to incorporate these cute little biscuits into a new cake. Since I was kind of going with a milk theme, I just had throw in a few of those milk bottle sweets too- do you remember them? Most of the ones you can get these days don’t have that white powdery dusting like you get on jelly babies, and so I was very happy to find some that do- for me that is partly what makes a milk bottle stand out from the crowd!

 

IMG_8301

 

The result was deliciously moist vanilla cake, with Malted milk buttercream, and creamy milk chocolate swirls- what do you think? I absolutely loved creating this cake and it’s got my mind exploding with ideas about all the other cakes I could make using old school biscuits!

 

 

If you want to see how I did it, be sure to check out my little video above and give me a thumbs up if you like it!

 

What is your favourite biscuit from childhood?

 

Claire x

Save

Save

Save

Save

Meringue kisses

 

Meringue kisses…I mean I don’t really get why they call them that- probably because they look like Hershey’s kisses- but I prefer to just call them mini meringues, which is pretty much what they are anyway!

 

I made these this week to form part of the decoration for a lemon meringue cake as they look pretty cool and add a little extra height- just look at those peaks! 🏔👀

 

I made a little recipe video on YouTube to show you exactly how they’re made so that you can have a go yourself, please do go and check it out, I’d love to know what you think!

 

Oh and don’t forget to show me any photos if you do make them, thank you muchly! 💗

 

Claire x

Gluten free mini egg blondies

IMG_7908[1]

 

Everyone loves a few mini eggs at this time of year (or any time to be fair) and they're not around for long so hey you may as well make the most of them whilst they are! Those pretty pastel coloured crisp sugar shells enclosing a solid milk chocolate egg are just the perfect chocolates for decorating Easter themed cakes.

 

I've always bought the Cadburys mini eggs in the past, but since they started changing their recipes and decreasing pack sizes (don't think I didn't notice Mr Cadbury!) I refuse to buy them. This year I spotted that Aldi were selling an own brand version, and being a big fan of Aldi chocolate already, I just had to give them a try. They certainly passed my taste tests, and so I was soon back to stock up my kitchen cupboards. Let the Easter baking commence!

 

IMG_7821[1]

 

Okay so I admit I may have eaten quite a few of them before I actually got around to any baking, but hey I did manage to save just enough for one bake- and a good one too!

 

I'd seen a lot of mini egg brownie recipes around, but I fancied something a little different so thought I'd do the opposite of that and go for blondies. I wanted mine to be really moist and fudgy, with a slight chewyness and I reckon I got it just right- let me know what you think!

 

IMG_7831[1]

 

120g butter, melted

220g light brown sugar

2 medium eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

Pinch of salt

130g gluten free flour

100g mini chocolate eggs, slightly crushed

50g white chocolate, melted

 

  1. Pre-heat your oven to 170C (gas mark 3) and line an 8x8" square tin with baking parchment
  2. In a mixing bowl, stir together the melted butter, sugar, egg, and vanilla extract until well combined. Sift in the flour and salt, and carefully fold in until you get a smooth batter.
  3. Spread your batter evenly into your tin, and sprinkle the crushed chocolate eggs on top
  4. Bake for 20-25 minutes, then remove from the oven and allow to cool in the tin for 10 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack
  5. Once cool, drizzle the melted white chocolate on top...in a decorative fashion :-)
  6. Slice and enjoy!

 

If you have a go at making this recipe, take a quick snap and tag your photo with the hashtag

    #MakingLifeSweeter - I would love to see your own creations on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter!

 

Claire x

The BEST chocolate cake…

Helen's cake

 

...not that I like to brag or anything, it's just a personal favourite of mine! I made this one for my sister's birthday as I know she loves a good chocolate cake, and since I had total free range on this one, it meant I could decorate it in whatever way I wanted to- yippee! After a trip to the cinema to see the remake of Beauty and the Beast last week (which is pretty darn brilliant by the way) my sister said to me 'I'm really looking forward to birthday cake, it's one of the best parts of my birthday now.....pleeeeeeeease make me a cake!!'. Ermm no pressure then! What she said totally made my day though, the fact and she and many other people tell me that the cake is the best part of their birthday makes me beam from ear to ear- that's why I do this thing!

 

Helen's cake close up

 

 

I really wanted to show you the stages involved in decorating a cake such as this, and so I decided to film the whole thing for you to watch. The cake actually took 2-3 hours to decorate but I've condensed that into a 7 minute video- gotta love a time lapse! I had so much fun creating this one and I'm excited to share it with you. Needless to say, the birthday girl was very pleased and the cake soon got gobbled up- it never lasts very long in our family!

 

 

Got any questions? Don't forget to pop them in the comments below and I will happily answer them for you.

 

Until next time! :-)

 

Claire x

 

 

Lemon Madeira Loaf with Lavender Earl Grey Icing

I've had a nearly-full packet of dried culinary lavender sitting on my kitchen shelf for months now after buying it for a cake I made a while back, and I decided it was time to put some of it to use again. Not that it's going to go off or anything, but maybe it will loose it's flavour and scent over time- does that actually happen?! Anyway, Mothers Day seemed like a perfect excuse to bake a cake, and what better than a classic madeira cake. My mum loves a simple loaf cake topped with glace icing left to dry out so that it goes all crunchy and cracks when you cut the first slice, and so I knew this would be the perfect cake to make. I like to add a little lemon zest to my madeira, and it's such a Springtime flavour you know? I decided to keep the lavender for the icing, as I didn't want it to be too overpowering. I also thought the addition of Earl grey tea would also add an extra dimension to the cake, and I have paired it once before with lavender which was a great success.

 

Lemon Madeira 1

 

The cake itself turned out beautiful, with a lovely crack right down the centre- the sign of a good loaf cake I say! I spread over the icing whilst the cake was still warm so that it dried out fairly quickly to leave a deliciously crunchy top. My mum was certainly pleased anyway!

 

For the cake:

175g butter, softened

175g caster sugar

3 large eggs

grated zest of one lemon

250g self raising flour

For the icing:

100g icing sugar

1/2 tsp dried culinary lavender

1/2 tsp Earl grey tea

Water to mix

 

  1. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, then gradually beat in the eggs.
  2. Sift the flour in the mixture, and fold in gently until incorporated. Carefully fold in the lemon zest
  3. Transfer the mixture into a 900g loaf cake tin that has been lined with greaseproof paper.
  4. Bake at 170C/Gas mark 3 for approximately one hour until a skewer inserted comes out clean. Leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes before removing and allowing to finish cooling completely on a wire rack.
  5. For the icing, grind the lavender and earl grey tea leaves in a coffee grinder or using a pestle and mortar. Combine this with the icing sugar and add small amounts of water until you have a thick but pourable icing. Spread this over the top of the cake allowing it to drip down the sides a little. Finish with a sprinkling of the dried lavender- perfect!

 

Let me know how you get on!

 

Claire x

 

 

 

What’s the deal with gluten?

Gluten, you've probably heard a lot about it in recent years, particularly with what may seem like an increasing trend for 'gluten free' foods, but do you actually know what it is?

 

Gluten is found in many baked goods, and it is one of the main structure builders along with starch and and egg proteins. Gluten is found in flour in the form of two proteins, glutenin and gliadin. These proteins combine to form gluten when water is added. Glutenin is said to provide strength, and gliadin is said to provide the stretchiness and elasticity to gluten. You could also describe gluten as being part solid, part liquid because it displays the properties of both. Scientists refer to it as being viscoelastic, which means it can stretch and change shape without any breakages or tears, and it has an ablility to spring back to it's original shape, like an elastic band would do- pretty cool really! This allows it to trap and hold gases inside the dough, which contribute towards the final texture of the baked good. Although gluten may have got a bit of a bad reputation, it's a pretty unique protein.

 

Baked goods each differ in their gluten requirements, and the protein is more important in certain products. Generally, yeast-raised baked goods such as bread require more gluten than say pastries. However, that being said, it is possible for bread to have too much gluten, which causes it to be tough and chewy, with a low volume, and the inability to form a thin and soft crust. It is also possible for pastries to not have enough gluten, causing pastry shells to break and crumble easily, cakes to collapse, and scones to spread and flatten out rather than rise up. Therefore it is important to understand the role that gluten plays in your baked good to determine requirements. It's all about acareful balance of ingredients!

 

So is gluten bad for you?

 

For the majority of people, no it's not. I'm a firm believer that nothing is technically 'bad' for you as such, but we tend to put things into categories such as 'good' or 'bad'. Remember that foods labelled 'gluten free' are not necessarily healthier.  However, there are some of us who actually have an intolerence to gluten, and so eating foods that contain gluten can cause illness. Coeliac disease is an autoimmune disorder, whereby the body reacts by damaging the small intestine if even the smallest amount of gluten is consumed. Since the body absorbs nutrients in the small intestine, people with coeliac disease may suffer the symptoms of malnutrition. In this case, a strict gluten free diet is required.

 

Flours that contain gluten include wheat, rye, barley, spelt, and semolina- just to name a few. Gluten is most commonly found in bread and other baked goods, however you may also find it in soups, sauces, cereals, spice mixes and even beer! If you're avoiding gluten in your diet, always check the label first!

 

A few examples of gluten free flours include cornflour, potato flour, rice flour, soya flour, coconut flour, gram flour, and buckwheat flour. If you're baking gluten free, there are gluten free flour mixes which are a quick and easy substitute for regular flour in your recipe, however you can also make your own mix if you're feeling adventurous!

 

Have you ever tried baking gluten free, and if so, what were your results? I'd love to hear from you so please do share your thoughts.

 

Thank you for reading, and if you have a question that you would like me to answer then be sure to pop it in the comments below so that I can add it to my list!

 

Claire x