3.03.2015

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! 

3.02.2015

the hummingbird bakery: Life is Sweet {book review}

The Hummingbird Bakery has done it again! Life is Sweet is the fourth book published by the infamous bakery and it’s out today!

 The book itself is gorgeous in the familiar pink color and packed with stunning photographs! It caters to a large range of baking skill. It is noted if more experience is recommended or not. However, I don’t think that should ever put someone off trying, if that’s what you want. It’s how we learn!

Life is Sweet has 100 new recipes that showcase exactly what American baking is! Tarek Malouf noticed a lack of American Style baking in the UK and in 2004 he opened The Hummingbird Bakery. There are now five locations throughout London and now a total of 4 books packed with American style bakes.

This new one does not disappoint! It has cakes and of course cupcakes along with a variety of pies, cookies and candies, pancakes, ice cream, puddings and even bread and other savory bakes.

I can’t wait to try:
Upside Down Pear Cake
Pumpkin Chai Cupcakes
Toasted Marshmallow Cupcakes
Peanut Butter and Jelly Cake… oh wait already tried that one (up on the blog tomorrow)
German Chocolate Cake
Strawberry Chiffon Pie
Blueberry Cream Cheese Pie
Soft Molasses Cookies
Vanilla-filled Chocolate Cookies
Birthday Cake Cookies
Turtle Cookies
Coconut Dream Bars
Red Velvet Brownies
Blackberry Limeade Bars
Cinnamon Pancake Cake
Grasshopper Pie Ice Cream
Fresh Peach Ice Cream
Peanut Butter Ice Cream
Sweet Potato Biscuits
Graham Crackers

The graham crackers really appeal to me. It’s because S’more’s really cannot be made without graham crackers and S’more’s are really really good!! All the recipes I have found previously have graham flour, not to be mistaken with gram flour, and graham flour is hard to find over here.


Everything I have ever baked from The Hummingbird Bakery books has turned out perfect. I have given Cake Days as a gift many times over to those who were looking to start out baking. It was the book that taught me a lot about baking. As an American in England it also gave me familiar and nostalgic bakes that I grew up with using UK measurements and ingredients. Which I was grateful for! It was the book that gave me the confidence to start my blog and share my baking experience online.


I guess you could say I owe a lot to them! Life is Sweet will make a great addition to my baking book collection and I am sure it will get used as much as my other Hummingbird Bakery books have!! 

3.01.2015

Spring Reading List

Okay so it's not exactly spring and I completely missed a winter reading list, but since this going to into spring I thought I would title it as a "spring" reading list.

That was a bit of a run on sentence.... anyway as I said in my round-up post this month is going to have a few more posts about books. Some novels and a cook book or two! Don't worry there will still be bakes!

Also Jen from Jen's Food and I are starting a pastry challenge! To be honest I'm not all that great at pastry which is why I wanted to be apart of this monthly challenge! Click on the button in the side bar, it links to Jen's blog where she tells you all about it! I will be getting more information up on here soon.

My Spring Reading List:

Ready Player One
By Ernest Cline
synopsis: It's the year 2044, and the real world has become an ugly place. We're out of oil. We've wrecked the climate. Famine, poverty, and disease are widespread. Like most of humanity, Wade Watts escapes this depressing reality by spending his waking hours jacked into the OASIS, a sprawling virtual utopia where you can be anything you want to be, where you can live and play and fall in love on any of ten thousand planets. And like most of humanity, Wade is obsessed by the ultimate lottery ticket that lies concealed within this alternate reality: OASIS founder James Halliday, who dies with no heir, has promised that control of the OASIS - and his massive fortune - will go to the person who can solve the riddles he has left scattered throughout his creation.

The Lunar ChroniclesCinder, Scarlet, & Cress
By Marissa Meyer
I am excited to start this series!! 
synopsis: Is a series of five young adult fantasy novels Each book entails a new take on an old fairy tale, including Cinderella, Litter Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel, and Snow White. The story takes place in a futuristic world where humans, cyborgs, and androids all coexist. 

The Hundred-Food Journey
By Richard C. Morais
synopsisThe Hundred-foot Journey is the story of Hassan Haji, a boy from Mumbai who embarks, along with his boisterous family, on a picaresque journey first to London and then across Europe, before they ultimately open a restaurant opposite a famous chef, Madame Mallory, in the remote French village of Lumiere. A culinary war ensues, pitting Hassan's Mumbai-toughened father against the imperious Michelin-starred cordon bleu, until Madame Mallory realizes that Hassan is a cook with natural talents far superior to her own. Full of eccentric characters, hilarious cultural mishaps, vivid settings and delicious meals described in rich, sensuous detail, Hassan's charming account lays bare the inner workings of the elite world of French haute cuisine, and provides a life-affirming and poignant coming-of-age tale.

Prudence
By Gail Carriger
I have this pre-ordered so will be reading later when it comes out in a week or two! 
synopsis: When Prudence Alessandra Maccon Akeldama (Rue to her friends) is given an unexpected dirigible, she does what any sensible female would under similar circumstances - names it the Spotted Crumpet and floats to India in pursuit of the perfect cup of tea.
But India has more than just tea on offer. Rue stumbles upon a plot involving local dissidents, a kidnapped brigadier's wife and some awfully familiar Scottish werewolves. Faced with a dire crisis and an embarrassing lack of bloomers, what else is a young lady of good breeding to do but turn metanatural and find out everyone's secrets, even thousand-year-old fuzzy ones?

Love Tanya 
by Tanya Burr 
synopsis: Hi everyone and welcome to Love, Tanya! This book is really close to my heart, because it's inspired by my journey to becoming confident and feeling happy about who I am. I wanted to write a book to share the things I've learnt with you - to reveal my top tips on fashion, beauty, love, friendship, YouTube... and loads more! Plus, there is room for you to list your own hopes and dreams alongside mine - so get creative and get involved! I'd love it if this book became a keepsake you can turn to whenever you need some guidance or a little pick me up. I hope you enjoy it! Love, Tanya

the hummingbird bakery: Life is Sweet 
by Tarek Malouf and the hummingbird bakers
synopsis: The brilliant new book from Britain’s favourite bakery – packed with recipes for extra-special treats and surprises. My review will be up tomorrow!! 

Chocolate at Home 
by Will Torrent
synopsis: Covering the history and provenance of chocolate, the varieties available, and the techniques needed to turn it into beautiful and mouthwatering creations, this book will inspire you to try all sorts of chocolate recipes. You will discover how to make a host of delicious ganaches, caramels and pralines. There are also chapters on Cookies, Biscuits & Bakes, and Desserts & Puddings, so that you can put your new knowledge and love of chocolate making to the best use in recipes!

From Season to Season 
by Sophie Dahl 
synopsisBursting with moreish yet nutritious recipes for budding foodies and seasoned gourmets alike, stunning photography and Sophie’s delightfully quirky illustrations, this latest offering promises pleasure, indulgence and of course, simple, good food.

Books I still have to read from my Summer Reading List:

Life after Life by Kate Atkinson
Pretty Good Number One: An American Family Eats Tokyo by Matthew Amster-Burton 

Books I read in the winter: 

The Shining by Stephan King
Red Glove & Black Heart by Holly Black
Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman
Deliciously Decorated by Charlotte White 

notes: images and synopsis's have been taken from various online sources mostly amazon I have bought all of these books except for Deliciously Decorated and Life is Sweet were given to me to review in exchange for the book and I won a copy of Chocolate at Home through a twitter competition. 

2.28.2015

February Round Up: The Going On's and Happenings on United Cakedom

This month started out with flapjacks! I added some chocolate covered cranberries I had picked up at Home Sense. I love that store. It’s dangerous every time I go in there because I always come out with something. They have you backed into a corner because if you find something you like, the chances of them being there when you go back can be slim to none!


Then Sainsbury’s set me their panna cotta mix to try out. I decided to infuse the milk and double cream with black pepper and topped it with caramelized peaches and a drizzle of caramel sauce. It was delicious and inspired by an ice cream I had at an innocent (smoothie) event I attended a couple years ago.


For Valentine’s Day I made a no-bake Chocolate Cherry Tart! It was rich and delicious… one thin slice is all anyone could manage in one sitting. So no one had to worry about pits I used a Cherry Pitter from OXO Good Grips that they sent me to use.


I also received a copy of Deliciously Decorated by Charlotte White to review. The book is full of great decorating tips and tricks! The Giacomo Casanova: Venetian Romance design was my inspiration for these cupcakes:


Other things that inspire me are books!! This month I made Silky’s Pop Cakes inspired by The Enchanted Wood by Enid Blyton. My girls really enjoyed eating something they read about from the book we've been reading before bed.


Speaking of my girls my littlest one turned 5 in the middle of the month and she requested a turquoise butterfly cake. I did my best and she was happy with the result!


February is full of birthdays including my friend Cathy who turned 30! She has a love of Lucky Charms and so as a special birthday treat I made her Lucky Charm Bark! I think she was pretty happy with it! I tried some too and it was pretty tasty, but mostly I loved the colors!


And last but not least I wrote my first Five on Friday in months! I hope to be better at keeping it up and it becomes a regular thing. I brought it back with five pans and tools that I bought, but have yet to use! I get all these great ideas and I buy things I NEED to make said great idea. However, things don’t always go to plan! Does this happen to you too?


That’s all for February!! March is going to be a bit book heavy as I've been doing a lot of reading! There are reviews and cake and brownies and much more!  

2.27.2015

Five on Friday: Five Baking Pans & Tools that I Haven’t Used

Since I started taking baking a bit more seriously I have inquired an over abundance of baking pans, tins, and tools. Some get used all the time like the 8 inch round and square tins and the brownie pan and even my first bundt tin has seen many bakes! There are ones that have only been used once or twice like the 10-inch square pan and heart doughnut pan. Then there are the ones that have never ever ever been used at all!

I haven’t done a Five on Friday in a while and I kind of wanted to get back into it. Here is a list of five baking pans and tools that I haven’t used … yet.



Twinkie Pan or Canoe Pan:
Somewhere in America
Back a while ago now Hostess announced that they were going bankrupt and some people were freaking out that they wouldn't have their Twinkies and Ding Dongs! In the midst of all the news media I was desperate to get my hands on a Twinkie pan or the generic name canoe pan; for no other reason but to capitalize on the news. My sister managed to get a hold of one for me and she bought one for her. She used it and I posted about it here, but I have never used mine. I made a pretty big deal about getting a hold of one, I suppose I should get creative and make my own Twinkies!

Nordic Ware Cookie Cups Pan
Lakelands
This was an impulse buy. I just saw it and I wanted it. So, I bought it and I have yet to decide what to make in it. Thinking mini fruit pizzas... or something to do with peanut butter and chocolate? 

Marshmallow Cutter
Lakelands
I bought this only last year as I have been meaning to make marshmallows for like ever! I even bought some natural flavorings to make flavored marshmallows and still haven’t gotten around to making them! 

Pie Dish
TK Max
I love the movie Waitress where the main character creates and names pies according to her mood. It’s very inspiring to make pies! However I haven’t even started brainstorming pie ideas yet alone make one! I have a pie tin, but it is not very deep and so I bought this one a while back, as it’s nice and deep, but I haven’t actually got around to using it. I should re-watch it and get inspired again!

Individual Square Pan
Amazon
I bought this as an idea I had for individual cakes. I don’t want to revel too much as it’s still on my to make list. It was purchased 2 ½ years ago! It’s probably about time I get my self-motivated to make my brilliant idea!

notes: I bought all these products, for more information see my contact/policy page. 

2.23.2015

Lucky Charms Bark

It’s funny how sometimes the simplest treats are the best and most popular. Bark is just melted chocolate covered with whatever you want and then smashed into pieces. Simple. 

To be completely honest I used to think bark was a stupid idea. I mean it’s just melted chocolate covered in whatever. It’s like why go through all that to make your own chocolate bar? 

But now, now I get it. Making your own chocolate bar is awesome! You can make it literally whatever you want! Because it’s so versatile it makes a great gift!

My friend has a love, which is somewhat un-natural, for Lucky Charms. Instead of just wrapping a box of Lucky Charms up for her birthday I thought I would try to be creative with them!

I had thought of a few over complicated things and instantly dismissed them because time hasn't been on my side recently. Then I thought, “keep it simple stupid” as the guys on Fast and Loud always say.

That’s when I thought about bark and then I made it for her a week late and then it took me two days and a lot of hand slapping before I got it to her. Hand slapping because I had to keep my husband from stealing it!


Lucky Charms Bark

150g of Lucky Charms cereal
50g of Lucky Charms marshmallows
400g white chocolate
200g milk chocolate

In two separate heat proof bowls gently melt the chocolate. In a tray bake tray lay out the Lucky Charms cereal. Once the chocolate is melted pour over the cereal in any way you like, but so that it covers the cereal completely. Then sprinkle over the marshmallows and gently press down. Leave in the fridge for at least an hour or so to cool before breaking up with a knife. Then bag it up fancy or just bag it up if you’re not giving it away.




notes: I used Chocolate Lucky Charms that I bought at a little newsagents under the parking garage in the Oracle, Reading. They sell lots of American treats and in a pinch that’s where I go! 

2.21.2015

Chocolate Birthday Cake {butterfly}

A little something for the weekend!! I just wanted to share some pictures of my daughter's birthday cake from last weekend.

She turned five. Five is a big deal! It means she's officially left the toddler stage, even if she can still throw a great tantrum and has entered the world of being a proper little girl.

There are a few things I miss about her being little, but I love watching her become herself more! It's the best part of being a parent seeing them grow up and watching them discover who they are even though you already know! 

I was instructed that it had to be a chocolate cake and turquoise and have a butterfly. I think it was a bit more green than blue to be turquoise, but other than that I think I did alright! 






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