NY Crumb Cake!! {guest post}

I've always loved cake! Baking it. Eating it. Discussing it. I like to try new recipes but until recently haven't been that adventurous; inspired by Lisa and all things sweet I thought I'd like to bake a cake a little different to anything I have before.

A few months ago I had the pleasure of visiting Outsider Tart with Lisa (it was her birthday treat!) What an amazing experience - if you haven't been you really should!! There were lots of sweet treats to tempt us and I chose NY crumb cake. It looked amazing and I'd never heard of, let alone tried crumb cake. It was delicious. a sweet, dense sponge with a cinnamon "crumb" topping and icing. Having thoroughly enjoyed the experience I bought the book Baked in America and was thrilled to discover the recipe for NY crumb cake.

It is different to anything I've baked before but the recipe was easy to follow and I followed it to the letter. The only difference being the cake tin. I used a round tin which made a deeper cake which meant it took longer to bake than I expected but the extra wait was worth it! Once baked and cooled I made a simple icing using sugar, milk and vanilla (as recommended in the recipe) and this added the finishing touch. I was extremely pleased with the outcome and will be baking the cake again.

 ~ Lauren

Check out our visit to Outsider Tart!!

Crumb Cake Revisited:
check out the post here!

Spider-Man Birthday Cake!! {guest post}

For years, my sister and I have complained about the bland birthday cakes we've been overcharged for in the supermarkets. So this year, I thought I'd make a big change!

I'd like to think of myself as a competent cook, inspired by my big sister (sadly my mum has never enjoyed cooking, so taught me very little). But baking was something I attempted...well...not that often!  So I set myself a challenge. This year, I was going to make my son's birthday cake!

Okay, so where do you start?  I've been able to turn out a fairly decent cake before, but never really decorated one. But for a birthday cake, it needed to be just right. And so I opened A Passion for Baking by Jo Wheatley. Her vanilla birthday cake is just divine!

My son is really in to Spider-Man, so the design was simple...something even I should be able to manage!  I did cheat by ordering a spider-shaped cookie cutter, but other than that, it was an amazing journey of discovery in to what a complete amateur could do! Okay, it wasn't perfect, but my confidence was boosted when I realized how much I could achieve. So this is the result of my first ever attempt at covering a cake in sugar-paste and piping icing. I would like to think it's not a bad first attempt!

So, confidence boosted, I'm already planning my next cake....

~ Sharon

notes: A Passion for Baking by Jo Wheatley available at Sainsbury's and Amazon

Cherry Chocolate Cupcakes!

Recently it seems like all I've been making is cupcakes! These I made for someone who loves chocolate and cherries. Chocolate and cherry are a great combination, which is why they are often paired together.

Today I am taking a road trip up to Scotland, taking the girls up to spend a week at their grandma’s. I hope this good weather lasts so we can spend time doing fun things!

Since I will be gone for a week I have a few friends helping me out by guest posting! I will be back, hopefully feeling refreshed and ready to get baking!

I always have a list a half a mile long of things I want to make and share. Going to try my hand at making doughnuts, tarts, and of course more cupcakes!

But first these Cherry Chocolate Cupcakes were good. I wasn't sure how the cherry jam mixed in the batter would turn out, if you’d be able to taste it or not, but it was noticeable. Although I might have liked it to be a little bit more.

Well, here they are, enjoy!

Cherry Chocolate Cupcakes

125g butter
100g dark chocolate, broken
300g cherry jam
150g caster sugar
pinch of salt
2 eggs, lightly beaten
150g self-rising flour

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/gas4. Line a cupcake pan with cupcake cases. Melt the butter in a small sauce pan, before it’s completely melted stir in the chocolate. Take off the heat and stir until it’s smooth and add the cherry jam, sugar, salt, and eggs. Stir until well mixed. Fold in the flour.

Divide the mixture between the cases. Bake for 25 minutes or until well risen and a skewer comes out clean. Remove from the oven and cool completely before frosting.

Dark Chocolate Ganache

100g dark chocolate
100g double cream
150g icing sugar

Gently heat the chocolate and the cream, whisk until the chocolate has melted and the ganache has thickened. Sift in the sugar and whisk until completely smooth. Transfer to a bowl and refrigerate for 30-40 minutes. Spread over the cooled cupcakes using a spatula.

to finish:

Chocolate Sprinkles or curls
12 cherries

Roll the edges of the cupcakes in a plate of sprinkles or choice of topping. Then top each cupcake with a cherry.

notes: Visit Scotland; recipe from Making Cupcakes with Lola by Victoria Jossel & Romy Lewis

Eton Mess Cake

Last summer was a big time for England with the Jubilee and Olympics and I kept seeing Eton Mess Cupcakes everywhere, but never got around to making them.

One day as I was looking around the Baking Mad website, I am usually there checking out the latest giveaways, and stumbled across the Eton Mess Cake in the Cake Recipe section.

It is labeled as an easy cake and it is an easy cake. It’s one of those cakes that you can throw together while making dinner and it’ll be ready for dessert. 

Also with this freak heat wave we’re having it was the perfect cake to bake as it took little time, so I wasn't sitting in front of a hot oven for long. I served it with cream straight from the refrigerator but ice cream would be good too! 

I love the fresh strawberries in cake paired with the crunchy meringue. Of course fresh fruit doesn't always bode well a day later, but it was still a gorgeous cake. As it's a tray bake you can cut into as big or as small of squares as you like! 

Eton Mess Cake

Find the recipe here!

There was a little hiccup in the directions, it didn't say what temperature to pre-heat the oven at, but it does say to bake for 40 minutes. I made an executive decision and pre-heated my oven at 180C and only baked it for 30 minutes. I thought I’d bake it for 30 and check and bake for longer if needed, but it didn't. So, I probably should have only heated the oven to 160/170C? Well, not sure it matters as the cake is baked and it’s good! 

I didn't make my own meringues, I love homemade meringues, but in this case I didn't want to waste egg yolks. I generally only make meringues if I am making ice cream or something as I hate wasting the yolks. I know you can freeze them in an ice cube tray, but I am terrible at remembering things in the freezer. I also used vanilla bean paste instead of pure extract. 

I sometimes forget there are some great online sources for baking. BakingMad(dot)com have an amazing selection for a variety of baking. Even ad-midst this heat wave we are having there is plenty to make like a no-bake-cheesecake? Or homemade ice cream?

If you like the look of this cake why not check out for some lovely cake recipes at a variety of levels and flavors! They have many cakecheesecake, and ice cream ideas & recipes! 

notes: I was asked by to bake something from their site. All opinions are my own for further information on my content policy please see the tab above. 

2 dozen Vegan Cupcakes & a dozen Gluten-Free!

School is almost out for summer! Finally. You know how when you’re young you can’t wait to finish school. Well, what no one tells you is that when you have kids and they are in school it’s like being in school again.

I get up early every morning for “the school run” and stress about everything I don’t have ready or forgot to do the night before. Then I do “the school run” again in the afternoon just to be overwhelmed by the homework and other stuff the school requires of me.

To say the least I am as much ready for summer vacation (summer holiday’s) as my daughter is! Every time something ends it’s a little bittersweet isn't it? I’m thrilled at how much my girls have grown and also a little sad as they will never again be how they are right now.

Baby Baker is going to nursery in the fall and last week was her last day at the toddler group I have taken her to for the past year. It was party day and her good friend is a vegetarian but his mom is vegan. So, to ensure that she could join in the party food I made vegan cupcakes from the infamous Ms. Cupcake’s book The Naughtiest Vegan Cakes in Town!

I was just going to make a batch of the Mint Chocolate Chip ones at my friend’s request. However, a few nights before party day at toddlers, my friend texts to say it’s her boss’s birthday and he can’t have dairy and is a celiac. I was like how convenient. So, I decided to make the Bakewell Tart Cupcakes as well and then divide them each so each party had a variety.

However I didn't fully understand that celiac meant no gluten. So, the night before I had 2 dozen cupcakes baked and ready to be frosted when we concluded my friend’s boss wouldn't be able to have the cupcakes, as I didn't use gluten-free flour.

I wasn't going to let that stop me. So, I made a 3rd batch of cupcakes that were dairy (vegan) and gluten-free! And it all worked out in the end!

I received very positive reactions to these cupcakes! Here's what they had to say... 

“Possibly one of the nicest cupcakes I have ever had! And I've eaten a lot of cake! Thank you so much for sharing with me!” ~ Lauren {Mint Chocolate Chip Cupcake}

“Ummm, so good!” ~ Bex {Bakewell Tart Cupcake – took one home for her husband}

“Best cupcakes I have ever had!” ~ Rebecca {my vegan friend who took all the leftovers home!} Her husband said, “Mm, they’re pretty good actually” which according to her is high praise indeed! ;0)

“Best cupcake I have ever had! I wouldn't have know they were vegan.” ~ Molly’s Mum {Mint Chocolate Chip Cupcake}

“A huge huge thank you to @unitedcakedom fantastic gluten free cakes amazballs as my boss says. Star baker for def” ~ Louise via twitter {friend who requested gluten and dairy free cupcakes for her boss’s birthday}

Who knew vegan cupcakes would be so popular? Well, Ms Cupcake obviously did! I will definitely be making a trip there next time I am in London. The book isn't all cupcakes there are many other type of bakes that are all dairy free and she does tell you how to make them gluten free if need be!! 

Curly Wurly Brownies {Cadbury Week}

Today is the fifth and final day of Cadbury Week here on United Cakedom.

It was a no brainer that I was going to make brownies at some point this week. Brownies are prefect for adding things too, a bit like ice cream.

What I had in mind for these Curly Wurly Brownies was a lasagna type of dessert. Layer of brownie batter, caramel sauce, Curly Wurly’s (like lasagna sheets) and repeat. So that’s exactly what I did.

They turned out completely decadent and delicious!! I liked how the carame/toffee in the Curly Wurly didn't melt completely and so every other bite there’d be a bit of chewy caramel. Yum Yum!!

Its no secret that I love Betty Crocker's fudge brownies, I can only assume it's nostalgia or just that it has a texture I have yet to repeat with a from scratch recipe. If you'd rather not use a box mix for these don't worry. Any recipe would work for these, just double it so you can get 2 layers or just have one layer whatever you want to do!.Have a look in my archives if you don't already have a favorite brownie recipe. Don’t forget, if you choose to use the box mix, you’ll need 2 eggs and vegetable oil to make brownies.

Curly Wurly Brownies

2 boxes of Betty Crocker Fudge Brownie Mix
Caramel Sauce (below)
10 Curly Wurly’s, chilled

Pre-heat the oven to 180C. Line and grease an 8 in (20cm) square pan. 
In 2 separate bowls prepare the brownies according to the instructions on the back of the box. 
Spread one of the brownie mixes at the bottom of prepared tin, smoothing it out as best you can. 
Place some of the caramel sauce in the middle. You could swirl it in. 
Then lay 5-6 curly wurlys across the top. 
Place the remaining brownie batter on the top and repeat with the caramel and curly wurly’s. 
Bake for 60-90 minutes. I know that’s a pretty big range, but it’s a fat brownie and it needs a lot of time. I baked mine for 80 minutes, the middle was cooked but pretty soft so bake longer if you want it firmer.

Caramel Sauce

2 tbsp cold water
100g caster sugar
120g double cream
25g unsalted butter

Put the water and caster sugar in a heavy-bottomed saucepan and heat gently to dissolve, swirling but never stirring the contents. Once the sugar is dissolved, turn the heat up to high and bring to the boil. Cook until the caramel turns amber, then watch like a hawk until it turns dark, then whisk in the cream. Careful not to splash, add the butter and whisk until smooth. Cool before using.

notes: This is the last day of my Cadbury Week. I had a lot of fun concocting these recipes/ideas. If you have been inspired and have made a Cadbury inspired treat or if you already have Cadbury inspired treats to share please email me (unitedcakedom(@)gmail(.)com) a picture, a few words about your creation and a link if you are a blogger and I will do a round up post if I get any response!; Caramel sauce comes from The Whoopie Pie Book by Claire Ptak; And last but not least I will remind you once again that this post and this week has not been sponsored by Cadbury’s!

Monday: Picnic - PicnicDoodle Salad
Tuesday: Double Decker - Double Decker Pillow Cookies
Wednesday: Star Bar - Star Bar Cake
Thursday: Cherry Ripe - Cherry Ripe Cupcakes

Cherry Ripe Cupcakes! {Cadbury Week}

Today is day 4 of Cadbury Week here on United Cakedom and the featured bar is one that hails from Australia….the Cherry Ripe!

If you have never heard of a Cherry Ripe before you probably don’t live nor have ever visited in Australia. Although I have done either and discovered these at a small business in Reading called The Strange Sweet Shop. It’s where I locally source any American things I miss from home.

A Cherry Ripe is Australia’s oldest chocolate bar, originally produced by a company called MacRoberston’s until Cadbury bought the out in 1967. It’s sort of like a cherry Bounty, but so much better!

I knew I wanted to use the Cherry Ripe in Cadbury Week even though they are hard to get a hold of. My first thought was the coconut and cherries and it automatically reminded me of German Chocolate Cake in the states. German Chocolate Cake isn’t really German, but it is a chocolate cake sandwiched and topped with a coconut & pecan mixture.

So, it’s a chocolate cupcake with a cherry coconut concoction on top covered in a chocolate ganache. Sound good? It is! I think I would tweak the cherry coconut concoction a little bit next time… just check the recipe below!

Chocolate Cupcakes:

100g Cadbury Bournville Dark Chocolate
175g butter, cubed
225g caster sugar
4 medium eggs
100g self-rising flour
2 ½ tbsp Cadbury Bournville Cocoa Powder
pinch of salt

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/gas4; line your muffin tin with cupcake wrappers. Melt the chocolate and butter together in your preferred method (in a heat proof bowl over simmering water or in a micowave) Once it’s all melted remove from the heat and stir in the sugar let it cool for about 10 minutes. Beat with a hand mixer for 3 minutes and then add the eggs one at a time beating for 10 seconds in between each egg. Sift in the flour, cocoa powder, and salt. Beat until well blended. Then bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes. Use the skewer test to be sure that the batter is completely baked. Cool completely. While it’s cooling get on with the…

Cherry Coconut topping:

600g Glace Cherries
125g condensed milk
150g desiccated coconut
½ tsp almond extract (I should have used a whole tsp)
½ tsp vanilla extract (I should have used a whole tsp here too)

Place cherries in a food processor and give it a pulse or two before adding the condensed milk, coconut, and extracts. I only used half a tsp of each, but I wish I had used a bit more to give it a stronger flavor. Give it a few more pulses until combined and done. It’s nice to have a few chunks of the cherries in the mixture.

Chocolate Ganache:

100g Cadbury Bournville Dark Chocolate
100ml double cream

In a small saucepan gently melt the chocolate over a low heat. Before the chocolate is completely melted turn off the heat and stir until it’s completely melted. Pour in the cream and gently whisk until glossy and smooth!

To finish:

Cherry Ripe (optional)
12 Glace Cherries (optional)

Top each cupcake with a heaped tablespoon of the cherry coconut topping and spread as best you can. Then gently pour over the chocolate ganche. You can place a sheet of baking paper underneath the cupcakes to catch any drips, but as the ganche makes just enough to cover the cupcakes you’ll want to be a little careful not to waste too much. If you happen to have a Cherry Ripe chop it up into 12 pieces and place on top of each cupcake or you could place a glace cherry on top of each. I chose to do neither because that’s how I roll. Actually I didn’t have a cherry ripe and even though I saved glace cherries to top with I still liked how they looked plain!

notes: The Strange Sweet Shop website; cupcake recipe is from Making Cupcakes with Lola’s; I know yesterday I used a cake mix for my cake and today I am using a from scratch recipe. It can be interchangeable. If you don’t have time grab a box of chocolate cupcakes and top away! Sometimes box mixes give people a chance to be creative with out the hassle of getting the cake right. Cherry Ripe filling was found in Jenny Colgan’s The Loveliest Chocolate Shop in Paris (great read btw); how many times did I type Australia???; Please take a special note that this post and week are not sponsored by Cadbury in any way shape or form. It’s all because I just wanted to have a little fun!

Monday: Picnic - PicnicDoodle Salad
Tuesday: Double Decker - Double Decker Pillow Cookies
Wednesday: Star Bar - Star Bar Cake

Star Bar Cake {Cadbury Week}

Today is the third day of Cadbury Week here on United Cakedom! I thought I would feature my favorite Cadbury bar since arriving on the shores of England. The Star Bar!! It has a peanut butter like middle, which is what immediately drew me in.

The Star Bar has gone by many names! It was popular in the 60's and 70's no surprise why they might have liked a chocolate bar called Star Bar! It was shortly re-named a Nudge before becoming a Peanut Boost in the 80's. It's now back to Star Bar... whatever the name it's still a great chocolate bar!

This cake is made from a box mix. I know shock and horror and condemn me for all time. You don’t have to use a box mix you can use whatever chocolate cake you’d like. I’m just sharing with you how I made it.

I choose to use a box mix for a few reasons. 1. Time. It was easy to just follow the instructions, throw the batter in prepared tins, bake, and done. 2. It’s been hot. So, I didn't want to spend too much time in front of a preheating oven etc… 3. Cake mixes aren't all that bad. The cake since made with oil is always moist and has a great crumb. It’s also a great base when wanting to highlight other flavors. Like the peanut mousse that I use to sandwich between the layers and top with.

It was pretty delicious. I shared it with my mom friends and the rest was taken to my husband’s office. I didn't hear any complaints only the humming noise that comes when people are enjoying a lovely piece of cake.

Star Bar Cake

1 pkg of Betty Crocker Devil’s Food Cake Mix (or your favorite chocolate cake)

Follow the instructions on the package.

Peanut Mousse

145g cream cheese
1 cup golden icing sugar
1 cup crunchy peanut butter
1 tbsp whole milk

Beat the cream cheese until light and creamy. Gradually add the icing sugar and mix until smooth. Add the peanut butter and the milk and beat until combined. The mixture should be fluffy!

Caramel Sauce

2 tbsp cold water
100g caster sugar
120g double cream
25g unsalted butter

Put the water and caster sugar in a heavy-bottomed saucepan and heat gently to dissolve, swirling but never stirring the contents. Once the sugar is dissolved, turn the heat up to high and bring to the boil. Cook until the caramel turns amber, then watch like a hawk until it turns dark, then whisk in the cream. Careful not to splash, add the butter and whisk until smooth. Cool before using.

To finish:

2-3 Star Bars.

Place one layer of the cake on your stand/plate and cover with a little more then half of the peanut mousse. Place top layer on and press down slightly. Cover the top with the rest of the peanut mousse. Chop up the Star Bars and sprinkle over the top. Then drizzle the caramel on top and enjoy!!

notes: Sorry about the jumping from US measurements of cups to UK grams etc... the peanut mousse was adapted from All Cakes Considered by Melissa Gray. This caramel sauce always works out for me, it comes from The Whoopie Pie Book by Claire Ptak. I know I already said this but this post is not sponsored by Cadbury, it's all done by me! Oh and in the Republic of Ireland it's known as a Moro Peanut bar and Canada and Germany it's known as a Wunderbar. Cadbury needs to make up it's mind! ;0)

Monday: Picnic - PicnicDoodle Salad
Tuesday: Double Decker - Double Decker Pillow Cookies

Double Decker Pillow Cookies {Cadbury Week}

Today is the second day of Cadbury Week here on United Cakedom!! Today features the Double Decker.

The Double Decker is the chocolate bar we buy in bulk before we fly back to the states for a visit. It’s just that good that we feel we have to share it with everyone we love. They are obviously missing out on a great treat.

Maybe it’s a bit rude to share it… as it’s not readily available to them nor do we get back often. It’s like giving them a taste of something and taking it away again. Ah well.

I saw Pillow Cookies on Bakerella’s site ages ago and when thinking about how I wanted to use the Double Decker in baking it’s the first thing that came to mind. So, I made Double Decker Pillow Cookies.

I adapted the recipe to better fit a UK audience using grams instead of cups. However when scooping out the batter I use a ½ cup so not completely UK friendly. I did my best!!

The cookies turned out amazing!! I wish I had followed the instructions a little closer when it came to chilling the prepared cookies before baking. These spread a little more then I would have liked, but no harm done. The are still amazing!!  

Cadbury Double Decker Pillow Cookies

3 Double Deckers
230g  butter, room temperature
275g light brown sugar
2 large eggs, plus 1 egg yolk, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
360g cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
handful of rice cereal

Cut up the Double Deckers into 1 in squares, you will have about of bar left. I made 9 cookies, but I could have made 10.

Beat butter with a mixer until creamy. Add brown sugar and beat until smooth. Add the lightly beaten eggs gradually. Then add the vanilla. Beat until smooth.
Combine flour, baking powder, soda and salt in a medium bowl and stir together with a wire whisk. Add flour to butter mixture and beat until combined. Gently fold in the rice cereal. Let dough chill covered in the refrigerator for at least an hour.

Preheat oven to 170C/350F about 10 minutes before taking out of the fridge. Use a ½ cup measuring cup to scoop out the batter. It might be a bit tough to get out as it’s chilled so pack the cup with a spoon. Work quickly so the dough remains chilled or make one cookie at a time so the rest of the dough remains cold. I didn’t stick to this rule too closely and I think that’s why mine spread so much. I should have stuck them in the fridge for a few minutes before baking. Which is what you can do to stop the spreading.

Make an indention and place a 1 inch square Double Decker in the center. Press down gently and work the remaining dough around the candy bar piece. You can use your hands to shape the dough into a ball. Prepare 5 or 6 cookies at a time using a large baking sheet (15 X 20) and bake at  170C/350F for about 18 minutes. Return the remaining dough to the refrigerator until time to bake the second batch.

Cool on the baking sheet for a few minutes and then cool completely on a wire rack. Then enjoy!!

notes: Bakerella’s Brownie Pillow Cookies; as I said in my previous post these are not sponsored by Cadbury in anyway! Just me having a bit of fun with one of Britain's favorite brands. 

Monday: Picnic - PicnicDoodle Salad

PicnicDoodle Salad {Cadbury Week}

Today is the first day of Cadbury Week here on United Cakedom! I thought I'd kick off the week with the perfect picnic dessert salad! We've definitely had the weather for it recently!

In the states there is a dessert salad called Snickerdoodle salad. It's Cool Whip, Snickers, and apples. I thought I'd Cabury it with Cadbury's Picnics instead of Snickers!

This simple dessert/treat is something I remember having since I was a kid. It's so super easy and so super delicious I am happy to finally be sharing it with you!!

It's a perfect combination of sweet & sour and crunchy & smooth! What more could you ask for??

Please feel free to use whatever candy bar you want! Sometimes I add a tsp or 2 of cinnamon to the whipped cream that's good too!

PicnicDoodle Salad

5 Cadbury Picnics, chopped
4 apples (Granny Smiths work well but any apple will do), chopped
500ml double cream
1 tbsp caster sugar

Chop up the Picnics and the apples. Rule of thumb: for every 1 apple you'll want 2 candy bars. Whip up cream with the sugar. Fold in Picnics and apples. Chill before packing in you're picnic basket! Enjoy!!

notes: Cadbury is not sponsoring this post. I just thought it'd be a bit of fun to showcase Cadbury chocolate bars in some of my favorite desserts! Cadbury Week will run from 15th (Janet's Birthday!) to the 19th! If you have felt inspired or are currently thinking up you're own Cadbury treat please email a picture, a quick description and a link if you're a blogger! I will do a round up post if I get any response!!

Clandestine Cake Club Round Up & Lemon Meringue Cake!

Last night Reading’s CCC had a summer meet up! Our original theme was “Showstoppers” but with the lovely heat wave we've been lucky to have, our group leader/organizer Louise, said to make something we felt comfortable to make in this heat. So, the theme was more summery. We had a lot of lemon! Lemon is just a great representation of summer; it’s refreshing and bright!

Here’s what we all brought:

Rose sponge with Strawberry & Elderflower compote

It was a good night! We ate cake and talked, what is better then that? It's always fun getting to know people! I've only been to one other meeting so I still feel a bit like a newbie. Can't wait until the next meet up!! 

I was originally going to do a belated 4th of July cake. One where when you cut into it looked like the American Flag, but because of the weather and what not I really didn't fancy baking a half of dozen cake layers and hoping the buttercream stood up to the test. So, I went something that still looked great, but took a little less effort and didn't involve buttercream!

Lemon Meringue Cake:

225g butter, room temp
225g caster sugar
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
zest of 2 lemons, unwaxed
225g self-rising flour
pinch of salt
juice of 1 lemon

Preheat the oven to 160C/gas 3. Line and grease x2 - 8in/20cm round tins
Beat the butter a few minutes then add the sugar and beat until light and fluffy. With the lightly beaten eggs in a jug (easier to pour) gradually add the eggs beating well after each addition. With the last bit of beaten egg add the lemon zest. If it curdles a little don’t worry just add a spoonful of the flour before adding all of the flour to the mixture. Add the ground almonds and lemon juice. Divide between the two prepared tins. Bake for 25-30 minutes. To make sure the cakes are done, just do the skewer test! The skewer should come out clean! Let the cakes cool before carefully removing them from the tins. Cool completely on a wire rack.

Lemon Drizzle

Juice of 1 lemon
75g caster sugar

In a small saucepan heat the ingredients together until boiling, then reduce the heat and simmer until for a few minutes until the sugar is dissolved. Set aside until ready to use. This can be made while the cakes are baking.

Italian Meringue

4 egg whites
225g caster sugar
3 tbsp water    

Whisk the egg whites to soft peaks. [When whisking egg whites you always want to be sure that your bowl and whisk are clean and no signs of grease or the whites won’t fluff up. Also you have to be very careful not to break the yolk when separating your eggs as any yolk will stop the whites from fluffing.] Place the sugar and water in a medium saucepan over a med/high heat. Attach a candy thermometer to the side and don’t stir it no matter what. We want it to get to the soft ball stage, 118C it will take a few minutes. Immediately remove from the heat, while the eggs are being whisk, gently pour the sugar mixture down the side of the bowl. If you don’t have a stand mixer you’ll need an extra pair of hands. Continue to whisk until the meringue cools to room temp. should be about 6-7 minutes.

to finish:

4 tbsp Mackays Lemon Curd

Situate your cake wherever it’s going to stay and drizzle half of the lemon drizzle over the top. Leave it for a few minutes before spreading over the lemon curd. Place the other cake layer on top and drizzle over the rest of the lemon drizzle. I piped my meringue all over the top, but you could also use a spatula and create some interesting waves and such! Make it your own! Also it’s very handy to have a kitchen blowtorch! Torch it for a fancy finish!

notes: Find a Clandestine CakeClub near you! They are starting to spread all over the world so if there isn't one near you start your own!!; American Flag cakes (idea was suggested by Cupcake Kelly on Twitter); recipe adapted from John Whaite Bakes by John Whaite; #bakingwithmackays Mackays Lemon Curd

Is Happiness Obtainable? {Why I am a Happify Pioneer}

“Happiness depends upon ourselves.” – Aristotle

I never really thought of happiness as something that I could obtain. I always thought of it as something that just happens to us. Happiness is also something I thought I always had to have.

It’s impossible to be happy all the time, but it’s definitely not good to be sad, stressed, disappointed all the time either. Recently things have become more stressful then usual, just life stuff.

I didn't notice it as it slowly crept up on me. I couldn't switch off at night so I was constantly tired. Taking care of two very active little ones became even more of a challenge and I didn't always have the patience for them.

There were a few other signs spots, ulcers etc... All of these were signs of being stressed and being generally unhappy.

Happify contacted me at a time I desperately needed to step back and take a look at my life. I have been working on my track now for a several weeks. I don’t get on everyday, but as often as I can and every time I come away feeling a little better.

Baking and reading have always been escapes for me, but they don’t allow me to reflect and make changes in my life. Happify has made me think about things and recognize that I do have control of my happiness.

It hasn't necessarily made all the stressful stuff go away, but it’s allowed me to handle it better. It’s allowed me to see what I already have and should be enjoying. I have learned a few simple meditation techniques that has allowed to switch off at night. Which has allowed me to get a full nights sleep. Which isn't just better for me, but everyone around me.  

Want to learn more? Come find me on Happify!!

Dirt Cups

Last week was the Fourth of July and I usually celebrate it somehow. No matter how ironic it is that I am an American celebrating my independence from the very country I have resided in for the last 8 years.

So, I made Dirt Cups for my girls. Not really the red, white, and blue dessert that usually surfaces when the 4th hits, but still just as tasty! I have a very belated patriotic cake to make for Clandestine Cake Club later this week.

Dirt Cups are basically Jello Pudding and Oreo cookies made to look like dirt and then you put gummy worms or insects etc… on the top. For some reason I remember making it Brownies? I was only a Brownie/Girl Scout for a short while. My troop was totally boring just doing a bunch of crafts… no camping or life skills like that. So, not what I had signed up for.

I made it as UK friendly as possible. The only thing I didn't substitute was the Jello Pudding, although the closest thing you could use would be Chocolate Angel Delight and skip the whipped cream.

Dirt Cups

2 cups cold milk
1 pkg of Chocolate Jello Pudding & Pie Filling
250ml of double cream
1 tbsp of caster sugar
345g Oreo cookies (or other chocolate cookies)
gummy worms (snakes or other insects)
cups or bowls

Make pudding according to instructions using the 2 cups of milk.

Whip up the cream and caster sugar until it’s smooth. Once the pudding has sat for 5 minutes fold in the whipped cream and half of the crushed cookies. 

Fill cups/bowls ¾ full and add divide the rest of the cookies on top of each cup.

This is a fun to make with and for kids! Enjoy!! 

notes: Jello Pudding can be found on various online sources and if you are lucky enough to live near a Tesco that has a world food section they now carry a couple shelves worth of American foodstuffs including corn syrups! :0) Can't wait to show you my CCC cake later this week!! Also next week is a themed week... I've made a lot of fun stuff to share with everyone!