Five on Friday: My Five Favorite Baking Ingredients

As a blogger I start a lot of my posts out with I love love love this or that. Apparently that's annoying. There was a person on twitter saying so. Ever since then I try really hard not to gush about my favorite types or flavors of bakes too much or in that way. I try to be a bit more natural about it.

However I do have a handful of favorite baking ingredients. If I had to choose between these five things I would have to walk away as I couldn't decide I love all of them!!


An apple a day keeps the doctor away! It counts if they are baked in pastry or cake or cookies!! 


Works so well in bakes!! It's got a bit of heat and always makes me think of fall/winter! 

Peanut Butter:

Reminds me of my childhood and tastes great paired with chocolate or on it's own!! 


You either love it or you hate it!! 


I not only love drinking coffee, but I love coffee flavored cakes, frosting, ice cream, and so on!

What are your favorite things to bake with? 


Most Expensive Brownies Ever {aka Amazing Brownies}

With a title like that you may be thinking that these brownies are made with gold or silver. Close, but no they are made with raw coconut oil, coconut sugar, ground almonds, and avocado.

All those ingredients are a little on the pricey side. Now before I made these I had a few questions.

First, do I spend the extra money on trying them out? Second, will they be as good as promised therefore making them worth the effort and the money? And third, what the heck is coconut oil?

The answers? Clearly I decided that I would dish out the cash to try them out and yes they are as good as promised and worth the effort and money. And coconut oil is a substance that has many uses. You can eat it, but it’s also a great way to keep your hair and skin healthy. Apparently. Who knew, right?

The brownies are expensive to make therefore I wouldn't be making these everyday however for a special almost healthy treat I would totally make these again. They are also a great way for those who gluten intolerant. To make it dairy free use dairy free dark chocolate!

Expensive Brownies:

100g coconut oil
300g dark chocolate
290g coconut sugar/nectar
100g ground almonds
1 tsp baking powder
1 avocado, smooshed
pinch of salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 eggs

Heat the oven to 180C and line an 8 in/20 cm square pan with greaseproof paper. Melt the coconut oil and chocolate together in a large saucepan. Take it off the heat and allow to cool slightly before adding in the rest of the ingredients. It does make it easier if you gently beat the eggs and vanilla together before adding in. Fold it all together until just combined. Pour into the prepared tin and bake for 26-30 minutes. The less you cook them the gooeier they are and the more you cook them the more cake like they are. These need to be cooked for a minimum of 26 minutes. The top should have a nice shine, but it will be a bit wobbly if shook. If you cook it for a little longer then it won’t be noticeably wobbly. Cool for at least 20 minutes before serving up! You could top with yogurt, fruit, ice cream, crème fraiche, whipped cream, or a drizzle of caramel sauce?

notes: recipe adapted from Love, Tanya by Tanya Burr. Please see previous post for the book review! I am complaining about the cost, it's just not every day I fork out 6 GBP for 1 ingredient (coconut oil) and the other ingredients aren't necessarily cheap either. Therefore these are the most expensive brownies I have every made! 


Love, Tanya by Tanya Burr {book review}

This isn't a baking book or a cookbook per-say, but it’s a book written by Tanya Burr who made a name for herself on YouTube. As a person trying to make a name for myself in the food blogger world, I admire people like Tanya who have succeeded in her topic and medium!

She starts out with giving us a background of how she grew up and how from a young age she had a love of dressing up and being in charge! A typical characteristic of an older sister! I know I have one.

After finishing school she found a job at a make-up counter and with help from friends started a YouTube channel giving tutorials on how to achieve different looks.

When she started it wasn't to become a big YouTube star, but as it started to take off and her views and subscribers started going up she was smart about it and made so good business deals. Today she not only has a successful YouTube channel but her own make-up line and now her own book!

The rest of the book is focused on fashion, beauty, and lifestyle tips and recommendations. There is also a section on baking/cooking, self-confidence and YouTube!

At the end of the chapters’s she has sections where she suggests you write down your favorite things and memories.  I think it’s a great idea; it’s an interactive book!

The book is just like her YouTube channel full of many different things! It’s amazing how popular YouTubers are, the other day I saw a magazine full of UK YouTubers! It’s a great way for people to showcase what they know and gain confidence in who they are.

I do have a YouTube channel, but I have yet to really dive into. Just wetting my toes so to speak. Perhaps one day I will get around to making something of it.

Overall I enjoyed reading Tanya’s book. It’s nice to learn more about the person in front of the camera and she really knows her stuff when it comes to makeup and hair and life!

notes: I bought this book, all opinions are my own, for further information please see my contact/policy page! Check back tomorrow as I tried one of her recipes from her baking section! The video below is a video of her Lemon Drizzle cake which is also in her book! 


Five on Friday: 5 Things My Mother Taught Me

In the states Mother's Day isn't until May. However this Sunday is Mother's Day here in the UK and with all the Mother's Day cards and ad's telling us how to treat our mother's this Sunday I can't help but think of my mother so far away in the USA!

So, this Five on Friday I am sharing 5 things my mother taught me. Things that have helped shape me into the person I am today.

How to be a good friend: My mom has the biggest heart. She taught me that everyone needs a friend: someone who listens and gives them time. Putting someone else's needs before yours and helping them when they need it - no matter if it's just to listen or help them move house that's what being a good friend is all about!

Acceptance & Tolerance: he taught me to accept everyone for who they not only for the good in them, but also the bad. Because no one is perfect and we all make mistakes. People come from all sorts of backgrounds and even though we may not understand doesn't mean we shouldn't be nice to them. A smile is all it takes sometimes.

Choices - making my own: I have never been told I couldn't I do something. When I started looking at colleges I applied and was accepted at Washington University in Seattle. My mom sent my non-refundable deposit as I was going to go. Then when I thought about out of state tuition and how much I'd owe when I got out I changed my mind. When I moved to the UK I know she wasn't over the moon about it, but she never once told me or asked me not to go. She has always let me live my own life. She taught me to make my own decisions because she understands that it's my life.

Nothing is better then a good book: Growing up I saw my mom constantly with a book. Children see, children do. My sisters and I are all big readers. She taught me that reading is a great way to expand your mind without having to go anywhere. 

How to Love unconditionally: No one loves me like my mom does. It's not a love that can be replicated. I know that no matter what choices I make my mom will always be there for me. It's something that I hope to pass along to my girls, I hope they know that no matter what their future choices are I will always back them up.

Happy Mother's Day!!

notes: It's important to let your mom know how important she is every day not just on the day we're told to by the card companies! She may already know, but it's nice to hear it! All images are my own, first seen here on unitedcakedom.com


OXO Good Grips Spatula Givaway!!!

Back in the day everyone baked with a wooden spoon. Today even if a recipe tells or suggests a wooden spoon I automatically grab a spatula.

No matter if you are baking by hand or with a stand mixer you will at some point need a spatula. They are perfect for scrapping down bowls and folding in egg whites! They are great to get every last bit of batter out of the bowl and they are even great for smoothing out batter in tins!

Spatulas are taken for granted, but all bakers and cooks need a good spatula. It’s even better when you have a trio of spatulas at your disposal!

OXO have given me the opportunity to giveaway 3 different sizes of there great spatulas!

– this is the spatula you need to get in the bottom of jars and scrapping off the last little bits on the mixers beaters!

– all around great tool! This is the one that will get the most use! It will be your best friend!

– this one is best used when spooning batter or food out of bowls when baking and cooking to make sure you get everything out and basically cleaning the bowl or pan!!

How to enter: Just follow the instructions below! You must be a UK resident with a valid UK address! Giveaway starts today 9th of March 2015 and ends 23rd of March 2015.

notes: In association with OXO, all opinions are my own for further information please see my contact/policy page in the above bar. 


Five on Friday: 20 Tips on Traveling Abroad with Children under 10.

This was going to be 5 top tips on traveling with kids abroad, but it turned out I had a few more then that so even though it’s a Five on Friday it’s a 20 on Friday.

As a parent you know your child best you know what keeps them entertained and what sets them off. It’s this time to indulge them, with in reason of course. If they want to run around the plane clearly not a great idea but getting them out of their seat and walking around is a good idea.

Before flying: Things to check with your airline
Check with your airline for general information on suggested times to be at the airport. Currently it’s 3 hours ahead of time for flights abroad. I would suggest this anyway as it is one less thing to stress about.

Be aware of liquid limits. It is in my opinion to just not pack any liquid or lotions in your carry on. That includes make up things like mascara. If you can’t fly without lotion or hand sanitizers consider buying them once you get through security.  I’d rather spend a little extra then have to surrender the item just to have re-buy them later. If you do take them in your carry on make sure they are with in the limits, which is only about 100 ml’s and they are already in clear plastic bags.

Check to see what you can take as a carry-on. Make sure your bags are the right sizes. Sometimes you are aloud to take one bag and one purse/bag/coat/laptop bag/diaper bag. This all depends on your airline. Double check if a buggy/stroller is considered a carry-on or extra luggage as well.

Traveling with under 5’s:

  1. Make sure you pack spare clothes and have a few plastic bags packed in your carry on for said dirty clothes.

  1. Don’t forget about you!! Make sure you pack a spare shirt or two in your carry on, for the unexpected “accidents.”

  1. Take an extra diaper/nappy or two; you know to be on the safe side.

  1. Wipes are also a must! They not only clean up bottoms but sticky fingers too! 

  1. Toys are a tricky one, because no matter what you bring they will want that one toy you left behind. Try choosing their favorite 1 or 2 toys and a couple of activity things. Pinterest is a great place to find ideas for your child’s age. A lot of airplanes show kids movies these days if you are lucky enough to have a child who sits for cartoons!

  1. When going through security if there is a family line, use it. It’s just more forgiving when going through with children and buggies and numerous carry-ons.

  1. Make sure they have easy on and off shoes. They may be asked to take them off.

  1. Before boarding if your children have energy to spare let them let it out. With in reason and with regards to safety of course. It will be expected that they sit nicely for numerous hours depending on how long your flight, let them get it out.

Traveling with 5-10’s

  1. Similar to above pack a spare outfit and pajamas in their bags along with extra socks and underwear. If your bags go missing you at least don’t have to rush out to buy new things right away. I also suggest doing this for you as well.

  1. If your children read, pack a book that can be left behind if need be; same with coloring books and other activities.

  1. With this age group pack less then you think you’ll need. Once they get to their new location they won’t want to play with that bag of toys they thought they couldn't go with out.

  1. At this age you need to prep them for going through customs and make sure they know it isn't something to joke about.

General Tips: 

  1. Dress them in comfy, but easy to change outfits. Socks are a must!

  1. Bring chewy sweets or gum for older kids and bottles for babies (or breast feed on take-off and landings) to help with ears popping. My girls are fine on take off, but really terrible on landings.

  1. Plane food isn't great - bring snacks and lunch type foods for your child. Avoid peanut butter for allergy reasons and any fruit brought on the plane must be consumed or left on plane. They will not allow you to bring fruit through customs.

  1. Cups with lids are a must, but pack them empty same with bottles. Even for your older child get them a sports water bottle or something.

  1. Embrace technology. Handheld gaming consoles and tablets are your friends.

  1. Get them a comfy pair of headphones for above technology and for in air movies.

  1. Encourage them to sleep, bring favorite blankets and/or stuffed animals if they need them to sleep and you have room in your carry on.

  1. Don’t let anyone else get to you. You are allowed to fly with your children. Children are people too and they can’t be locked away until adulthood.
If you have flown abroad with your children what are things you wish you knew ahead of time? What did you learn worked and didn't work? I would love to hear your tips and tricks!

notes: These tips are based on my experience traveling with my daughters. We have flown when they were 2 and 8 months, again when they were 6 and 4. Both times we had some up’s and down’s, but mostly it went smoothly because I prepared ahead of time. Please check with your airline for any further help!  


Peanut Butter & Jelly Cake {the hummingbird bakery: Life is Sweet}

Yesterday I shared my thoughts with you on the new beautiful Hummingbird Bakery: Life is Sweet cookbook. So, today I am sharing with you the first thing I decided to bake from it. Which just had to be the Peanut Butter and Jelly layer cake!

I grew up on peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and even though I pretty much had them every day for lunch (back when you could take peanut butter to school) I still love them!

The combination of peanut butter and jelly is one that automatically makes brings “America” to mind. Therefore fitting right into everything that the Hummingbird Bakery stands for.

As usual the cake turned out great. Everything I have ever baked from the Hummingbird Bakery books has turned out lovely and exactly has expected.

There was a second attempt with the cake because the first time I didn't follow the instructions and used only 2 tins. The batter was dripping over the sides and all over the oven. Then it wasn't cooking right so, in the end I just dumped it and started again. It may have been okay, but my mood dictated that I start again. Sometimes starting from the beginning is the best way to clear your head and get what you want.

I am glad I did because it turned out lovely. The only teeny tiny gripe was the amount of frosting, but I think if I had used a bit more in between the layers it might have been okay.

It has been consistent with all the hummingbird bakery book that the frosting recipes tend to produce more then needed, but if you half the frosting it just isn't enough. In this situation I would prefer to have more then less.

Peanut Butter & Jelly Cake

110g unsalted butter, softened
380g caster sugar
320g plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
255ml buttermilk
3 large eggs
3 ½ tablespoons of jam, flavor optional

Heat the oven to 170C and line three 8 inch/20 cm round cake pans with baking paper. Beat using a stand or hand mixer the butter, sugar, flour, baking powder, and bicarbonate together until you get a sandy constancy.
In a jug or bowl mix the buttermilk, eggs, and jam (flavor of your choice) together. Then gradually add half of this mixture to the butter mixture and beat on medium until combined. Scraping the sides of the bowl down as you go. Once it’s smooth and has no lumps add the rest and beat until incorporated.
Divide between the tins. If like me, you only have 2 round cake tins, bake 2 then bake the 3rd one. It just takes more time, as you have to bake again and then wait for it to cool. Bake for 20-30 minutes, as ovens vary I would check on yours at 20 minutes then check again in 5 minute increments. It should have a nice golden brown color and spring back when touched. When in doubt use the skewer test. Leave to cool for about 10 minutes before removing from pan and leaving to cool completely before adding the frosting!!

peanut butter frosting:
190g smooth peanut butter
455g full-fat cream cheese, cold
2 tsp vanilla extract
¼ tsp salt
450g icing sugar, sifted
1-3 tablespoons milk
jam, same flavor as chosen above

Beat the peanut butter until lighter in color before adding the cream cheese, vanilla, and salt. Mix for only a minute until combined. I over mixed just a little and it was softer then I would have liked. Add the icing sugar a little at a time, until completely incorporated. Then add one tablespoon of milk one at a time only use if needed.

to finish: Spread a good layer of jam on the first layer and then gently spread 4-5 tablespoons of the frosting on top of that. You don’t have to go to the edges because the next layer will smoosh it out. Then add the second layer and repeat, top with the final layer and cover the whole cake in frosting then enjoy!

notes: Previous post is a review of the newly release hummingbird bakery book Life is Sweet! I love peanut butter. Just wanted to have a note on the bottom like all my other posts.... :0) Also these pictures are just okay, it's a really hard cake to photography. I need to take a photography class! Just another random thought to put here in the "note" section! 


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