Cakes fit for a Queen

Mary Berry's Queen Cakes from her book Fast Cakes: Baking made easy-in minutes!

My daughter's preschool is having a Jubilee Party tomorrow and the parents were asked to help supply the feast! Unfortunately Mini-Baker will be unable to attend. Long story, but I couldn't let the other kids down after I had signed up to bring fairy cakes.

When recently flipping through my copy of Fast Cakes (my first ever baking book!) I came upon Queen Cakes. How perfect is that??

So, of course I made them. I realised though after I made them I had completely left out the baking powder so if you make them yours might rise a bit more then mine did! oops. Because of the self-rising flour they were completely fine. Still light and very good.

For the preschool I did a basic icing and tinted it red and used the golden spray I had left over from these whoopie pies to make it a bit royal! :0) I kept the decorations simple as kids are just going to eat them up and not care what they look like!

These really are fast cakes as it's about 10 minutes to prepare them and only 15 minutes in a preheated oven! Also I would say they are perfect for making with kids and you can have your kids decorate them for the Jubilee! If you don't have kids these make a perfect treat for the Jubilee!! Enjoy!!

Queen Cakes: 

4oz (100g) soft margarine (I used Flora)
4oz (100g) caster sugar
4oz (100g) self-rising flour
2 eggs
1 level tsp baking powder

Heat the oven to 400F/200C/gas 6. Have about 18 paper cases in the muffin/bun tin; the number of cases required will vary slightly if the cakes are to be iced or extra ingredients added.

Put all the ingredients in a bowl and beat by hand for 2-3 minutes or for seconds with a hand held mixer or until well blended and smooth.

Divide between the paper cases and bake in the oven for about 15 minutes until the cakes are well-risen and golden brown. Lift out and cool on a wire rack.

There are a lot of variations you can use with this simple easy recipe. If you want to ice them put a little less batter in the case so it has a rim and it makes it easier to ice. Make up 2-3oz (50-75g) icing sugar with a little water and flavoring. Pour it over the top of the cakes and decorate, as you like. I tinted my with red food dye and sprayed with an edible gold spray.

The official Diamond Jubilee Emblem
The official emblem for The Queen's Diamond Jubilee in 2012 is the winning design following a national competition for children aged between 6 and 14. It was drawn by 10-year-old Katherine Dewar, from Chester.
The official emblem is available, free of charge, for download from this website. (website no longer exists 1.2.2016)

Sticky Sticky Buns!!

I have wanted to make these forever and I don’t know why I've waited so long! 

These are gooey, sticky, and extremely sugary! 

Check out my previous post, Joanne Chang’s book Flour, or this website to get the recipe for the basic brioche dough that you need to make these. 

What follows are the ingredients and instructions to create these Sticky Sticky Buns! 

Thank you Joanne for sharing these with the world! Enjoy!!

Sticky Sticky Buns:


  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks; 170 grams, 6 ounces) unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 cups (345 grams) firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup (110 grams) honey
  • 1/3 cup (80 grams) heavy cream
  • 1/3 cup (80 grams) water
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Basic Brioche Dough, recipe in previous post
  • 1/4 cup (55 grams) light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup (50 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup (100 grams) pecan halves, toasted and chopped


First, make the goo. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Whisk in the brown sugar and cook, stirring, to combine (it may look separated, that's ok). Remove from the heat and whisk in the honey, cream, water, and salt. Strain to remove any undissolved lumps of brown sugar. Let cool for about 30 minutes, or until cooled to room temperature. You should have about 3 cups. (The mixture can be made up to 2 weeks in advance and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator.)
Divide the dough in half. Use half for this recipe and reserve the other half for another use.
On a floured work surface, roll out the brioche into rectangle about 12 by 16 inches and 1/4-inch thick. It will have the consistency of cold, damp Play-Doh and should be fairly easy to roll. Position the rectangle so a short side is facing you.
Goo, filling, ready for rolling, all rolled up

In a small bowl, stir together the brown sugar, granulated sugar, cinnamon, and half of the pecans. Sprinkle this mixture evenly over the entire surface of the dough. Starting from the short side farthest from you and working your way down, roll up the rectangle like a jelly roll. Try to roll tightly, so you have a nice round spiral. Trim off about 1/4- inch from each end of the roll to make them even.

Use a bench scraper or a chef's knife to cut the roll into 8 equal pieces, each about 1 1/2-inches wide. (At this point, the unbaked buns can be tightly wrapped in plastic wrap and frozen for up to 1 week. When ready to bake, thaw them, still wrapped, in the refrigerator overnight or at room temperature for 2 to 3 hours, then proceed as directed.)

cut and set in goo

Pour the goo into a 9 by 13-inch baking dish, covering the bottom evenly. Sprinkle the remaining pecans evenly over the surface. Arrange the buns, evenly spaced, in the baking dish. Cover with plastic wrap and put in a warm spot to proof until the dough is puffy, pillowy, and soft and the buns are touching-almost tripled in size, about 2 hours.
Position a rack in the center of the oven, and heat to 350 degrees F.

Bake until golden brown, about 35 to 45 minutes. Let cool in the dish on a wire rack for 20 to 30 minutes. One at a time, invert the buns onto a serving platter, and spoon any extra goo and pecans from the bottom of the dish over the top.

The buns are best served warm or within 4 hours of baking. They can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 day, and then warmed in a 325 degree F oven for 10 to 12 minutes before serving. 

Yummy Yummy Sticky Sticky Buns!!

Brioche Loaf!!

I have had Joanne Chang’s book, Flour (same name as her bakery), for what seems like ages now and I have only got around to baking from it. I have an excessive amount of baking books. 

I have seen other blogs that have a much longer list, but as I am running out of room on my physical bookshelf I am inclined to think my collection excessive. It means I still have a book or two I have never baked from and I am trying to remedy that!

The number one thing I wanted to make in this book was/is her Sticky Sticky Buns, but to do that you need to make a batch of Brioche Dough! So, here’s the recipe for the dough taken from her book. It can also be found on the Food Network USA’s website (be aware that they don't have the full directions to carry one to make this loaf, it stops at the point you would make the sticky sticky buns). This is a first time success! I am very happy with the way the Brioche turned out- very light and moreish. (is that a British thing moreish?) Enjoy!!

Brioche Dough:

  • 2 1/2 cups (350 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more if needed
  • 2 1/4 cups (340 grams) bread flour
  • 1 1/2 packages (3 1/4 teaspoons) active dry yeast or 1-ounce (28 grams) fresh cake yeast
  • 1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon (82 grams) sugar
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup cold water
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 3/8 cups (2 3/4 sticks; 310 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into 10 to 12 pieces
Using a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, combine the all-purpose flour, bread flour, yeast, sugar, salt, water, and 5 of the eggs. Beat on low speed for 3 to 4 minutes, or until all the ingredients are combined. Stop the mixer, as needed, to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl to make sure all the flour is incorporated into the wet ingredients. Once the dough has come together, beat on low speed for another 3 to 4 minutes. The dough will be very stiff and seem quite dry.
With the mixer on low speed, add the butter, 1 piece at a time, mixing after each addition until it disappears into the dough. Continue mixing on low speed for about 10 minutes, stopping the mixer occasionally to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl. It is important for all the butter to be thoroughly mixed into the dough. If necessary, stop the mixer occasionally and break up the dough with your hands to help mix in the butter.

Once the butter is completely incorporated, turn up the speed to medium and beat until the dough becomes sticky, soft, and somewhat shiny, another 15 minutes. It will take some time to come together. It will look shaggy and questionable at the start and then eventually it will turn smooth and silky. Turn the speed to medium-high and beat for about 1 minute. You should hear the dough make a slap-slap-slap sound as it hits the sides of the bowl. Test the dough by pulling at it; it should stretch a bit and have a little give. If it seems wet and loose and more like a batter than a dough, add a few tablespoons of flour and mix until it comes together. If it breaks off into pieces when you pull at it, continue to mix on medium speed for another 2 to 3 minutes, or until it develops more strength and stretches when you grab it. It is ready when you can gather it all together and pick it up in 1 piece.

Put the dough in a large bowl or plastic container and cover it with plastic wrap, pressing the wrap directly onto the surface of the dough. Let the dough proof (that is, grow and develop flavor) in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours or up to overnight At this point you can freeze the dough in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

Here you can choose to make 2 loafs of brioche or make 2 batches of Sticky Sticky Buns or make one loaf and one batch of sticky sticky buns and last but not least if you have her book there are several other treats you can make with this basic dough!!

To make the brioche loaf, line your loaf tin (9x5) with parchment paper or butter the pans liberally. Divide the dough in half and press with your hand into a 9x9 inch square. The dough will feel like cold clammy Play-Doh. Facing the square, fold down the top one-third toward you, and then fold up the bottom one-third, as if folding a letter. Press to join these layers. Turn the folded dough over and place it, seam-side down, in the prepared tin.

Cover lightly with plastic wrap and place in a warm spot to proof for 4-5 hours, or until they have nearly doubled in size. They should have risen to the rim and be rounded on top. It should feel soft, pillowy, and light as if filled with air, which it is!

Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat to 350F/180C
Whisk the remaining egg and gently brush the top of the loaves.
Bake for 25-45 minutes. The time is so wide because if you bake two loaves at a time you will need longer. I however only needed 30 minutes to bake one loaf. Everyone’s oven is different so start checking it at 25 minutes. The tops and sides should be completely golden brown. Let the loaf cool in the pan on a wire rack for 30 minutes; then turn out and leave to cool completely.
The bread can be stored tightly wrapped in plastic wrap at room temp for up to 3 days. After that you can toast it or make a bread pudding! You could also keep it in the freezer for a month!

Double Peanut Butter Paisley Brownies!! by Janet

This recipe comes from the back of a package of Reese's peanut butter chips and it's also available on the website.

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine, softened
1/4 cup REESE'S Creamy Peanut Butter
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup packed light brown sugar
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1-2/3 cups (10-oz. pkg.) REESE'S Peanut Butter Chips
1/2 cup HERSHEY'S Syrup

Heat oven to 350°F. Grease 13x9x2-inch baking pan.

Beat butter and peanut butter in large bowl. Add granulated sugar and brown sugar; beat well. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Blend in vanilla.

Stir together flour, baking powder and salt; mix into peanut butter mixture, blending well. Stir in peanut butter chips. Spread about three quarters of batter in prepared pan; spoon syrup over top, be careful not to go all the way to the edge, stay within about 1/4 in of the edge. Carefully top with remaining batter; swirl with metal spatula or knife for marbled effect.

Bake 35 to 40 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool completely in pan on wire rack. Cut into squares. About 36 brownies.

Dora the Explorer Little Cooks Collection Issue 9!!

Make a lemon loaf cake!!
This issue comes with a placemat and a mini silcone loaf tin.
The recipe like before makes exactly 1 mini loaf. Except that's not true as it also made 3 mini cupcakes!

Pre-heat the oven to 180C/350F/gas4
60g of soft butter and caster sugar beat until light and creamy; beat 1 egg into the butter and sugar mixture; sift 75g of self-rising flour and fold it in with a spoon; carefully grate half a lemon- fold the zest into the mix along with the lemon's juice and 1 tbsp milk. Place the loaf tin on a baking tray and pour in the mix. You may have extra use the silicone cases from issue 1! :0) Bake for an hour. I baked mine in 40 minutes and they were very brown on top!
lemon loaf top...a litte burnt around the edges

still moist and yummy!

Pink Lemonade!!

Summer has finally arrived here on the island commonly known as Great Britain!
It's about time if you ask me!!
The only downer is that it's not really baking weather so to chill out I made some luscious pink lemonade from Peggy Porschen's Baking Boutique book!


so refreshing

Passion Fruit Meringue Cupcakes!! (semi-fail)

Once again my frosting didn’t turn out as I expected. Egg whites and me don’t mix (pun intended) very well. I don’t seem to have much luck with them weather they are in a curd or a frosting…

I couldn’t deicide what I wanted to make for my birthday. Honestly it’s a bit awkward making your own birthday cake. Anyhow I finally decided on these cupcakes from Making Cupcakes with Lola-it meant I got another chance at making a curd and it satisfied one of my favorite flavors at the moment passion fruit!!

I made the curd the night before my birthday, success! Then I made the cupcakes on my birthday, but after a very indulgent meal I wasn’t really in the mood for cake. So, the following day I filled the cupcakes, but again I wasn’t in the mood for cake at all. Weird. I was just going to leave it, but I had hunted down a kitchen blowtorch for the meringue topping and felt I had no choice. Then on top of it I had both my mini bakers on at me about cake!

I made the frosting and everything seemed to go well. It was making soft peaks and it says to refrigerate it to further firm it up. I don’t think my soft peaks were peak enough and when it didn’t pipe right I was like right **** it!! I should have listened to my mood; I didn’t want to make them so it didn’t turn out. It shows me that I am really only a recreational baker. I could never do this for a living! Of course when you work in a bakery you have tried and tested recipes that don’t change day to day.

Here is the recipe maybe you’ll have better luck then me! Enjoy!!
This is actually a scone with cream and the passionfruit curd on top!
A nice way to use up the extra curd! Yummy!!
passion fruit curd: Make this in the morning or a day ahead!
3 eggs
1 egg yolk- Save the white for the meringue
100ml (1/2 cup) passion fruit juice, sifted (about 6 fruits)
175g (3/4 cups plus 2 tbsp) caster/superfine sugar
125g (1 stick) butter, cubed

Mix the eggs together in a heatproof bowl.
Boil the juice and sugar together in a saucepan until the sugar has dissolved.
Slowly pour the hot fruit syrup into the eggs stirring briskly and constantly so not to scramble the eggs.
Set the bowl of egg mixture onto a pan of simmering water, as you would if you were melting chocolate, and whisk gently for 20-30 minutes or until thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon.
Remove from the heat and whisk in the butter a few pieces at a time. Let cool then refrigerate for at least 4 hours, over night if possible.
125g (1 cup) self-rising flour
1 tsp baking powder
75g (1/2 cup) ground almonds
100g (6 ½ tbsp) butter, cubed and soft
150g (3/4 cup) caster/superfine sugar
½ tsp vanilla extract
grated zest of ½ lemon
2 eggs
75ml (1/3) cup plain yogurt

Pre-heat the oven to 180C/350F/gas4
Sift the flour and baking powder and stir in almonds.
Beat/cream the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy.
Add the lemon zest then add the eggs one at a time, beat well after each addition.
Add the dry ingredients and yogurt and beat on low until combined.
Bake for 20-25 minutes.
Cool completely before frosting.
frosting fail I didn't even get to use my new kitchen blowtorch :0(
3 egg whites
180g (1 cup) caster/superfine sugar
¼ tsp cream of tartar
½ tsp vanilla extract

Mix the egg whites, sugar and cream of tartar together in a heatproof bowl. Same as with the curd set on top of a pan of simmering water. Whisk until the sugar has dissolved and a sugar thermometer reads 60C/140F.
Remove from the heat and with a hand mixer on low whisk the mixture. Gradually increase the speed to high until stiff, glossy (but not dry) peaks have formed. (It’s here I think I went wrong, patience has never been one of my virtues and I think I sped up my mixer to quick.) Whisk in the vanilla. Refrigerate for 10-15 minutes until firm enough to pipe.

to finish:
When the cupcakes are cool, make a hole in them with a tsp and fill with a dollop of curd.
Spread the meringue on top or fill a piping bag with a star nozzle to pipe the frosting on top of the cooled cupcakes.
Hold a kitchen blowtorch about 10cm/4 in from the meringue and scorch evenly.
Even though the frosting/merinque didn't turn out exactly right they still tasted good! My mini-bakers didn’t care that it wasn't exactly right and ate them up! I just find it frustrating when I spent the time to make something and it didn’t work!
My sister recently had a similar sort of problem as me. Janet made salted caramel cupcakes form Martha Stewarts Cupcake book and nothing turned out except the frosting!
She too wasn’t in the mood, but had bought all the ingredients and to make sure some of them didn’t go off made them anyway.
Carla Hall from season 5 of Top Chef became known for her philosophy of "cooking with love", which she defined as putting one's own care and warmth into food. She believes that if one is happy and calm while cooking, then this will show in the food, making it much better, whereas if one feels otherwise, it will degrade their cuisine. For this reason, she says that, “If you’re not in a good mood, the only thing you should make is a reservation.” (wikipedia) I compeletely agree with her!! I think baking is the same! You must be "in the mood!"

Spring London Bakery Tour!!

Today my friends and I travelled to London to see Wicked at The Apollo Theatre and of course I dragged them along to a couple of bakeries!!

First stop was Lola's Cupcakes:

blackberry with cream cheese frosting

peanut butter

custard and cream

Lola's in Selfridges
It was hard to choose just one and in theory I didn't have to just choose one, but cupcakes unless you eat them right away don't really keep. So, peanut butter was the flavour of the day. I stole a bite of the other cupcakes, they were all very good too! I like the flavours and the cakes weren't cloggy or cloying. Really enjoyed it!

Wicked at the Apollo Victoria
After the show (my second time seeing it and it was just as good as the first time) we walked for about five minutes to Peggy Porchen's Parlour!! 

luscious lemon

jam cookie

vanilla chiffon

cherry macaroon

Me in front of Peggy's!
Peggy's was beautiful exactly what you expect a bakery to look like! Very pink, simple designs, and yummy cakes on display! I chose a slice of cake and the macaroon. The lemon cake was good not overly lemony, had just the right amount of tang to go with the sweetness of cake. The macaroon was good too!

Over all a very successful day if I do say so myself! It was nice to have a day out with the girls and no kids! We did spend a lot of time talking about our kids as that's what us mothers do, but it was good to be out and feel human again!! :0)

Check out my last London Bakery Tour where I visited Bea's of Bloomsbury, Hummingbird Bakery, and Outsider Tart on the Southbank market!
I still need to share my birthday cupcakes...they didn't turn out exactly how I had planned! That story will be coming soon....

Sugar Cookeis and Granola Bars!! by Janet

If you are in the USA most schools will be out for summer in the next few weeks, if you are in the UK you still have like 2 months! My sister has been busy with making treats for her kids teachers and end of school parties. My birthday was yesterday so I have some fun cupcakes to share with you soon, so until then here is what my sister, Janet has been up too!! ~ Lisa

Apple Cookies
What better way to celebrate Teacher Appreciation Week than with these fun apple cookies?!
I made sugar cookie cutouts with the recipe I found in SprinkleBakes. But you can use your favorite sugar cookie recipe. I found my apple cookie cutter at a local speciality store or on Amazon (US link)
Then, once they were cut, baked, and cooled I made Royal Icing- from Martha Stewart's Cookie book.
I took out 3-6 cups of runny icing and poured them into 3 bowls. I tinted one each red, green, and yellow (with a dab of green). Then I flooded a 3 dozen apples, 1 dozen of each color. Then I tinted about 3/4 C of icing brown for the stems. Then, I slowly added more confectioners sugar to my mixer and blended the remaining icing until it was a thicker consistency. I filled my piping bag and outlined all of the apples with white.

Yummy Granola Bars:

If you're in the UK you can use any chocolate chips
and mini mallows!!

I made these for my daughter's preschool celebration. They were easy and super yummy!
Here is the recipe for the granola bars!
I added mini marshmallows :)
~Janet aka Indiana Baker!

Amalfi Lemon Curd Slice!! from Jamie's Italian

I was recently treated to lunch at Jamie’s Italian in Reading. The number one reason I wanted to go here was for this:

I know right? It's b-e-a-tiful.

It was amazing! Tart and fresh, but very rich! In a good way! The crushed berries were a perfect pairing with the lemon curd. It's was as good as it looks!

Jamie’s Italian has hit the spot with the Amalfi Lemon Curd Slice (smooth lemon curd with toasted pistachios & crushed berries).

This is what inspired me to seek out a recipe to make my own lemon curd. If you check it out I didn't have that much success with it. I haven't given up I just haven't had a chance to try again.

And here’s what else we had:
World's Best Olives, we also had the bread selection.

Ravioli stuffed with prosciutto and potatoes with an aubergine (eggplant), cherry tomato, and pine nut sauce.

Kids Menu: Happy Fish Fingers with Shake Me salad.

My full review is on the Oracle website! (has since been removed due to updates in news feed 1.2.2016)

FYI: Today between 3pm and 5pm at Jamie’s Italian in Reading Gennaro Contaldo will be signing his new book Two Greedy Italians Eat Italy. Check out Jamie’s website for more info.
If you grab a copy of his latest magazine issue you can make your own Jamie's Italian dishes!

note: The Amalfi coast is famed for its production of Limoncello liqueur and the area is a known cultivator of lemons. The correct name is "sfusato amalfitano", and they are typically long and at least double the size of other lemons, with a thick and wrinkled skin and a sweet and juicy flesh without many pips. (wikipedia)