BraveTart: Iconic American Desserts by Stella Parks {book review}


Into every generation a slayer is born. A slayer of what vampires? Possibly. However, in this generation a slayer of cake, cookies, brownies, etc..... has been born. She goes by the name of Stella Parks, better known as Bravetart.


I have followed her work on her site by the same name, Bravetart, since I started blogging. I discovered her blog/site when looking for a cookie recipe that made soft cookies and she of course had one, it's still on her blog and you can find it here.


Even back then there were whisperings of a book and now it exists in all it's wonderful glory. The full title of the book is: BraveTart: Iconic American Desserts. Not only do we get gorgeous food photography and recipes we get a history of each one!


I shared this book a while back on my instagram stories because it was a year old (yes I know how behind the times I am) and in those stories I mentioned that the reason I love this book so much is because living abroad there are so many nostalgic treats I miss and now I can just make them at home!

And make them better with the help of Stella because everything is better homemade and she makes everything better!


If I listed everything I wanted to try from this book I would have to list every recipe as if I had the time and money I would do just that. However, I don't have the time or the money .... well not in a short space of time. Anyhow, I will share the top five recipes I plan to try over the next few years..ahem months whatever!

1. Triple Oatmeal Cookies
2. White Layer Cake
3. Coconut Cream Pie
4. Oatmeal Cream Pies
5. McDonald's-Style Apple Turnovers


I don't know how else to say I love this book. So, I will leave the review here with one last sentence.

I love this book; BraveTart.



Learn more about Stella Parks on her site here and follow her on instagram here.


*I purchased my own copy of BraveTart: Iconic American Desserts by Stella Parks, Wayland, retails at $35 and about £21.25 on Amazon.co.uk as this is a very American style book I am not sure it's available at local shops in the UK, but should be in the USA! All opinions are my own, I was not given any compensation nor was I asked to give a positive review, please see my contact/policy page for more information.

Raisin Cake with Apple Syrup {inspired by The Cruel Prince by Holly Black}

My life is always torn between books and baking and on occasion they merge.

This is one of those occasions.


The Cruel Prince was released early this year and everyone went mad for it. I love Holly Black, her Curse Worker series being one of my all time favorites, however fairies and the world of the Faerie have never been my first choice in supernatural worlds, genre, or whatever.

The book is clever and deserves all the praise it has received and I will probably read the rest of the series/trilogy but, I will do so in my own time. One thing about the Faerie world that I like best is the food. Note that if you are a human living in Faerie you sprinkle all your food with salt to counter act any spells or enchantments that may have been placed on the food. After that you are free to enjoy the delicious food they provide, the author mentions our heroine or anti-heroine (Holly Black writes a great anti-hero) eating a raisin cake with apple syrup and I literally had a light bulb moment.

Even if you haven't read the book this cake is worth a try. My apple syrup is a little thick and that was due to my timing of taking pictures, life of a blogger. So, the syrup can be made looser or thicker to match your preference.


Raisin Cake:

160g raisins
60ml apple juice
185g self-raising flour
60g plain flour
150g butter, cubed
140g light brown sugar
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
apple syrup to serve (recipe below)

Heat the oven to 180C/350F - Start by soaking the raisins in the apple juice and leave aside for 10 minutes. While they chilling and soaking up all that juice line the base of a deep 7 in (17cm) round cake tin grease the sides of your tin, I always very lightly grease the baking paper too.

Melt the butter and sugar on a low heat, stirring occasionally until the sugar is dissolved. While it's melting sift both of the flours into a large mixing bowl. Once the butter and sugar mixture is done mix with the raisins and then add to the flour. Add the eggs to the mixture and stir with a spatula/wooden spoon until just combined.

Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin, smooth it down as best as you can. Bake for 45-55 minutes, use the skewer test to confirm it's baked through. It will brown quicker then it will cook, so keep the golden brown color you want place a piece of tin foil over the top to help stop it from burning or becoming too dark on the top.

Leave to cool and make the apple syrup.

Apple Syrup:

2 tart apples, cored, peeled, and sliced thin
100g sugar
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
2 tbsp water

Place all of the ingredients in a saucepan over a medium/high heat and bring to a boil before reducing the heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes or until the apples are soft and the sauce has thickened.

If you aren't using immediately take off the heat and place in a separate bowl as I left it and it thickened a little more then I would have liked. But it's all a personal preference!

Then pour over a slice of raisin cake and enjoy!






The Cruel Prince by Holly Black
synopsis - Of course I want to be like them. They're beautiful as blades forged in some divine fire. They will live forever.
And Cardan is even more beautiful than the rest. I hate him more than all the others. I hate him so much that sometimes when I look at him, I can hardly breathe.
One terrible morning, Jude and her sisters see their parents murdered in front of them. The terrifying assassin abducts all three girls to the world of Faerie, where Jude is installed in the royal court but mocked and tormented by the Faerie royalty for being mortal. 
As Jude grows older, she realises that she will need to take part in the dangerous deceptions of the fey to ever truly belong.
But the stairway to power is fraught with shadows and betrayal. And looming over all is the infuriating, arrogant and charismatic Prince Cardan . . . 






*All opinions are my own, I bought my own copy of The Cruel Prince from amazon for my Kindle. For more information see my contact/policy page above!

Fairy Loot - Monthly Box Subscription - Young Adult Fantasy Books & Stuff {review}

Fairy Loot is a monthly book subscription box that provides a new usually hard back young adult novel along with 5-6 other book related items.


Recently I have been reading a lot more, I still do bake (new post coming soon!) and that lead me to start following more and more book bloggers and instagram accounts and by doing so I was introduced to the monthly subscription book box.

There are so many based in the states and the cost of shipping was half the cost of the box and out of my budget for such a thing. So, I started researching UK based ones. There are so many out there, some come with chocolate and tea or an old out of print book, but Fairy Loot caught my eye.

The boxes always seemed to be full of fun things and the themes were interesting. So, I took the plunge and bought the June box - Rebels in Ballgowns.

Which was a great box that came with a great book. I found the characters interesting and I will be curious to see how the develop in the following books. My only niggle about this book is the big cliff hanger. I don't like cliffhangers in books. Anyway, it's not enough reason to not give the book a read!


Grace and Fury by Tracy Banghart

synopsis - In a world where women have no rights, sisters Serina and Nomi face two very different fates: one in the palace, the other on an island prison where women must fight to survive.
Serina has spent her whole life preparing to become a Grace - selected to stand by the heir to the throne as a shining example of the perfect woman.
But her headstrong and rebellious younger sister has a dangerous secret, and one wrong move could cost both sisters everything.
Can Serina fight? And will Nomi win?

It also came with a beautiful masquerade mask necklace, a candle from Geeky Clean inspired by Nevernight by Jay Kristoff, a pillowcase designed by Miss Phi inspired by Stephanie Garber's Legendary, a book journal designed by FictionTea Designs with art work by Stella's Bookish Art, magnetic bookmarks featuring the characters from Shatter Me, and a cool iron on patch with a bookish quote and made by Ink and Wonder.

Then I twiddled my thumbs as debated to by the July box the theme The Power Within. This box had the same quality of products all book themed. However, it's the book I am really after and the extra stuff is exactly that extra.


This one came with a fun magic color changing mug designed by Little Inking Designs with a quote from Falling Kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes. Again from Geeky Clean there was a room spray that smells like lavender and books! Then there was a tea towel that had a quote from And I Darken by Kiersten White, there was also a vinyl sticker that says "One Eldr" it comes from Sky in the Deep by Adrienne Young and means "breath fire."  And last, but not least a pen that is a broomstick and has a Harry Potter quote.

Then most importantly the book! It has sprayed edges and is signed by the author! I haven't had a chance to read this one, but I am looking forward to it!


Heart of Thorns by Bree Barton

synopsis - In the ancient river kingdom, where touch is a battlefield and bodies the instruments of war, Mia Rose has pledged her life to hunting Gwyrach: women who can manipulate flesh, bones, breath, and blood. The same women who killed her mother without a single scratch.
But when Mia's father announces an alliance with the royal family, she is forced to trade in her knives and trousers for a sumptuous silk gown. Determined to forge her own path forward, Mia plots a daring escape, but could never predict the greatest betrayal of all: her own body. Mia possesses the very magic she has sworn to destroy.
Now, as she untangles the secrets of her past, Mia must learn to trust her heart…even if it kills her.


Now the biggest debate is do I buy the next box? I mean it's Pirate themed!!

Overall I have enjoyed both of these boxes, and even if you haven't heard of some of the books they referenced it's a great way to get introduced to new authors and books!

For more pics of the Rebels in Ballgowns (June 2018 box) click here!


For more pics of The Power Within (July 2018 box) click here


Pssst -I made a video of the coloring changing mug for IGTV


For a unboxing video of the June box check out my youtube channel here


And if you want to get your very own box check out Fairy Loot here! - Price is £26 - £32.95 including tax and shipping


*All opinions are my own, I was not given any compensation for this review, both boxes were purchased by myself; please see my contact/policy page for more information.

The Body Shop - Reading, England

Growing up I had a huge thing for lip balms. In fact I had a whole caboodle full of them! So, when I think of The Body Shop the first thing that comes to mind is lip balms. 


After my visit to my local branch last week (for a blogger event) there is a lot more to think of when thinking of The Body Shop. 

Firstly of their campaign against animal testing. 


They still need help to reach their goal of 8 million signatures on their petition to ban Animal Testing.  You don't have to visit a branch to sign, you can do it online via their website

Secondly, although I will never not think of their lip balms, I now have a bigger range of products to consider when shopping there. 


Starting with their new body yogurts and face mists! I love a body butter, probably the second thing I think of after lip balms when thinking of The Body Shop, but I find them too buttery and thick for the summer. The body yogurts are smooth and go on so easily and smell delicious. Banana is the scent of the season (also limited edition), but it also comes in almond, mango, strawberry, rose, and moringa 'flavors'. 


The face mists come in varying scents and do slightly different things, but in this heat wave they are essential in helping keeping your face cool and collected. They would be good for anytime of the year really; especially if you work in an office where your co-workers are constantly messing with the thermostat, ahem, and one minute you are hot and the next cool.

Both of these products are worth checking out on your next visit to their store or online. There is also a new extended men's range and of course all the products in scents you've come to love are still available. The beloved body butters can now be personalised for yourself or as a great gift! 


Not only do The Body Shop provide some great products you can use them knowing they aren't tested on animals. 

I was particularly drawn to the satsuma scent and bought a few things for my hand bag! It was a fun night with fellow bloggers and friends, it's always nice to be invited somewhere you already love and admire. Also, on the night Wagamama's provided us with food! Full meals that were delicious along with some samples of their starters! 


*I was invited to visit my local branch of The Body Shop as a blogger for the #gobananas launch, I was not asked to write a review nor was I compensated financially, I was provided with a gift bag with a few products to try out. 


Visit The Body Shop - Reading 
The Oracle, Unit 24, Broad St, Reading RG1 2AG

(Wagamama's is also located in the Oracle on the Riverside!)

Summer Reading List (to-be-read list)

I love a good book.

I know this is a blog titled United Cakedom, but in my head in the world of United Cakedom would have a library that would rival the one Beast gives to Beauty in the movie.

It's been the hottest and longest summer England has seen in years. To be precise since the summer of 1976! So, I am a little late in writing a summer reading list, but again it's England and my kids haven't finished school yet. This Friday is their last day and then they will be free for 6 glorious weeks!

Now, I have been keeping track of the books I read to see how many I can read in a year. I am averaging about 5 a month so, I am going to list 6 books here that I plan to read between now and the beginning of September.

So, without further ado.....


Competence by Gail Carriger 

synopsis - Accidentally abandoned! All alone in Singapore, proper Miss Primrose Tunstell must steal helium to save her airship, the Spotted Custard, in a scheme involving a lovesick werecat and a fake fish tail. When she uncovers rumors of a new kind of vampire, Prim and the Custard crew embark on a mission to Peru. There, they encounter airship pirates and strange atmospheric phenomena, and are mistaken for representatives of the Spanish Inquisition. Forced into extreme subterfuge (and some rather ridiculous outfits) Prim must also answer three of life's most challenging questions: Can the perfect book club give a man back his soul?Will her brother ever stop wearing his idiotic velvet fez?And can the amount of lard in Christmas pudding save an entire species?

- I haven't actually bought this yet, but I will be picking it up this week and will probably devour it right away. I have loved every single book that Gail Carriger has written and that I have read. There are a few I haven't, but that will change I am sure over time!


#Girlboss by Sophia Amoruso 

synopsis - In the space of ten years, Sophia Amoruso has gone from high-school dropout to founder and Executive Chairman of Nasty Gal, one of the fastest-growing retailers in the world.
Sophia's never been a typical executive, or a typical anything, and she's written #GIRLBOSS for other girls like her: outsiders (and insiders) seeking a unique path to success.
Filled with brazen wake-up calls, cunning and frank observations, and behind-the-scenes stories from Nasty Gal's meteoric rise, #GIRLBOSS covers a lot of ground. It proves that success doesn't come from where you went to college or how popular you were in school. Success is about trusting your instincts and following your gut, knowing which rules to follow and which to break.
Inspiring, motivating and empowering, #GIRLBOSS will give you the kick up the ass you need to reach your potential.

- I am cheating a little as I have already started this book and loving it. It's just a straight forward no bull shit book. I am drawn to it because I am always curious how people get started. I didn't know who she was until the show covering her life showed up on Netflix (yet to be watched, in the middle of Peaky Blinders atm).


The Bedlam Stacks by Natasha Pulley

synopsis - In uncharted Peru, the holy town of Bedlam stands at the edge of a mysterious forest. Deep within are cinchona trees, whose bark yields the only known treatment for malaria.
In 1859, across the Pacific, India is ravaged by the disease. In desperation, the India Office dispatches the injured expeditionary Merrick Tremayne to Bedlam, under orders to return with cinchona cuttings. But there he meets Raphael, an enigmatic priest who is the key to a secret which will prove more valuable than they could ever have imagined.

- When I first picked up this book I didn't even read what it was about, because it's by the same author as The Watchmaker on Filigree Street and I really enjoyed that book. So, I am hoping I haven't been foolish and bought this at full price for nothing!


The Silent Companions by Laura Purcell

synopsis - Newly married, newly widowed Elsie is sent to see out her pregnancy at her late husband's crumbling country estate, The Bridge. 
With her new servants resentful and the local villagers actively hostile, Elsie only has her husband's awkward cousin for company. 
But inside her new home lies a locked room...

- I love a good mystery novel and they are perfect for summer reading! This was an impulse buy. It was there and I was like that sounds interesting into my already full arms of books it went!


Happy Mum Happy Baby by Giovanna Fletcher 

synopsis - Being a mum is an incredible journey, a remarkable experience that changes how we look, how we feel, who we are. As mothers we are strong, protective, proud. We feel a love like no other.
But being a parent can be hard too. It challenges us physically, mentally, emotionally. There are the days where just managing to fit a shower in amidst the endless feeding, entertaining young children and surviving on a lack of sleep feels like an achievement. With so many people ready to offer 'advice' on the best way to parent, it can feel like you are getting it all wrong.
This is not a book about how to have the perfect family experience - Gi would be the first to admit she is winging it just as much as the rest of us - instead it is an honest, upbeat and incredibly personal account of her own experience of having a family. In Happy Mum, Happy Baby Giovanna shares her own journey through parenthood and in doing so, she looks at what it is to be a mother today, encourages you to be confident in yourself as a parent and celebrates how putting a focus on being a happy and confident mum can really make for a happy baby.

- I no longer have baby babies. I have children now. So, I think I might be a bit ahead of this book in my life, but I admire her and her husband and after watching her Youtube series that followed up this book I was curious to what this was all about. I managed to snag the download on my kindle app for 99p. For that price why not check it out!



Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch

synopsis - My name is Peter Grant, and I used to be a probationary constable in that mighty army for justice known to all right-thinking people as the Metropolitan Police Service, and to everyone else as the Filth. Then one night I tried to take a witness statement from a man who was already dead but still disturbingly voluble . . . and that brought me to the attention of Inspector Nightingale, the last wizard in England.
And that, as they say, is where the story really starts.
There's something festering at the heart of the city I love, a malicious, vengeful spirit that's taking ordinary Londoners and twisting them into something awful.
The spirit of riot and rebellion has awakened in the city, and it's falling to me to bring order out of chaos - or die trying.

- I went to Oxford a few weeks back, just for a change of scenery and of course wondered into a book store. I mean I just sort of walked in. And the whole series of this was on display and I have been curious about them for awhile, but couldn't afford all of them at that moment in time so I thought I'd think about as I have a huge TBR stack sitting next to my bed! Then it popped up for 99p on my kindle and then the second one came up for 99p so I have this and the second to get started and see if I will need to download the rest!


Books on my to-be-read list: 
Loch of the Dead by Oscar de Muriel (mystery)
A God in Ruins by Kate Atkinson (novel)
The Cows by Dawn O'Porter (novel)
Circe by Madeline Miller (YA)
Endless Beach by Jenny Colgan (novel)


Books I recommend: 
Meddling Kids by Edgar Cantero (Sci-Fi/Mystery/Comedy)
Love & Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch (YA)
All That She Can See by Carrie Hope Fletcher (novel)
Grace and Fury by Tracey Banghart (YA)
The Improbability of Love by Hannah Rothschild

I you want to see how I get on with these books and other books I am reading follow me on instagram where I share pretty much anything and everything! You can find me @unitedcakedom

*I do not own these images they come from either the authors own site or amazon and the synopsis are from the backs of the books.




Peanut Butter Cookies (recipe)


Every thing has a national or international day these days.

Not only is social media a headache to keep up with how are we meant to keep up with all these celebrations of literally everything. I mean today (June 22nd, 2018) alone is National Take your Dog to Work day and National Onion Rings Day and don't forget National Chocolate Eclair Day.  

Now don't get me wrong I have used national days to my advantage. Like the 12th of June is National Peanut Butter Cookie Day so naturally on social media I am that annoying person going 

"Hey Everyone!! It's National Peanut Butter Cookie Day didn't ya know? Why not check out these Peanut Butter Cookies I made and if you want to make them too check the recipe out on my blog now!"


But I forgot all about National Peanut Butter Cookie Day. I was going to share these with you. However that never happened, the day just passed me by. So, here ten days later I am sharing with you some peanut butter cookies.

They are still good cookies even if they weren't eaten nor blogged about on 'their' day. The worst part is I can't shamelessly promote it by claiming its National Peanut Butter Cookie Day. 


Peanut Butter Cookies

160g plain flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
pinch of salt
114g unsalted butter, room temp
150g light brown sugar
50g sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
125g peanut butter, smooth/crunchy
50g-75g salted peanuts
50g peanut butter chips (optional)

Mix the dry ingredients together in a bowl and set aside. 
Beat the butter, and both sugars together until creamy and light. Add the egg and vanilla and beat again until combined. Add the peanut butter and beat to combine. Add the dry ingredients in three batches mixing until just combined in-between each addition. Fold the peanuts and peanut butter chips if using into the cookie dough. 
Cover the cookie dough and chill in the fridge for a minimum of 2 hours or up to 3 days. 

When ready to bake remove from the fridge while you heat the oven to 170C/350F and line the baking trays with grease proof baking paper. 
Scoop out about 2 tablespoons of cookie dough and roll into a ball and place on the prepared baking tray. Once you've used all the dough, gently press down on each one with a fork in a criss-cross pattern. 
Bake for 10-13 minutes depending on your oven. The less you bake the softer the are and the longer the more crispy they are. Because cookies can look under-baked when they come out trust your timer and oven especially if you want softer cookies. 
Leave to cool and enjoy with a glass of cold milk! 


Living on the Veg: A kid's guide to life without meat by Clive Gifford & Jacqueline Meldrum


Over the last few years I have been cooking a minimum two veggie meals a week to accommodate for my child who doesn't particularly like meat. We have discussed her dislike for meat and what her other options are, but this book has been great for her to understand what exactly it means to be a vegetarian and the global impact of her choices. It has also shown her she isn't alone.


Food is one of those topics everyone has an opinion on as we all need it to survive. It's something we are all too happy to judge people, claiming that a food choice that isn't the one we would make as 'weird' or 'gross.' But if we don't talk about food then how do we know what else is out there?


I feel more empowered after reading this book to be able to explain my choices as well as my defend my daughter's choices to people. Like anything it's about educating people and it's best to educate them young and this book is a great introduction to 'living on the veg!'

Not only does it give us a lot of information it also gives us a few recipes to get started with from Jacqueline Meldrum, vegetarian and food blogger at Tinned Tomatoes. My daughters and I choose to make the Puff Pizza Pies for a treat one day after school. They are super easy and easily topped with your favorite vegetables to make the ultimate veggie pizza!


There were other great recipes like these bean burgers and sweet treats like coconut ice! There are so many more options then you think when you are eating veggie, sometimes it's just thinking a little more creatively! Your taste buds will thank you! 


If my review isn't enough to convince you have a look at these other bloggers who have reviewed Living on the Veg!!


*I was provided a copy of Living on the Veg by by Clive Gifford & Jacqueline Meldrum to review by the publisher, Wayland, retails at £12.99 and available now from your local book retailers or online! All opinions are my own, I was not given any other compensation nor was I asked to give a positive review, please see my contact/policy page for more information.


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