Tag Archives: cake

Time for celebratory cake. But definitely no custard!

Gosh, another award!  Big thanks to Lorraine at Tidlidim for nominating me for the ‘One Lovely Blog’ Award. I was beaming from ear to ear when I picked up this message.

The blogging world is still pretty new to me. This is only the second time I’ve been nominated (I say ‘only’ – it is two more times than I ever dreamed of!).  It gives me a real buzz!

It is so motivational, knowing that someone enjoys reading my blog as much as I like writing it. There are some fantastic bloggers out there who have been nominated for more awards than there are letters in the alphabet! All credit to them, too. Maintaining a vibrant blog that people want to keep reading and returning to is such a commitment, and some people keep going for years and years.

But most of all , what a lovely way for bloggers to give each other praise and recognition.

Anyway, as part of accepting the award I have to share seven facts about myself:

  1. I absolutely positively can not make custard. Yes, the instant, fool-proof, anybody-can-make-it kind.  I am a reasonably  competent cook and can do most things I’ve set my mind to in the kitchen, including jams, pastry, and sweets, cakes, and all kinds of complicated curries and savoury dishes.  But instant custard and me just don’t get on.  We can’t all be perfect all the time!
  2. I very nearly went to Madagascar in my early twenties to do some marine volunteering. I chickened out because the cost seemed astronomical to a poor, newly graduated student without a job, and the whole thing just seemed overwhelming.  I really wish I’d been braver and just gone for it.  Although perhaps it’s for the best…I’d have fallen in love with the sea and never left if I’d started diving back then!
  3. I ‘had my colours done’ a few years ago – a special treat girly day with my mum and sister to find out which colours suited us. I loved it!  I am what is known as a ‘Sprinter-Winter’.  Thankfully I love the colours that suit me and already wore a lot of them, so I didn’t need to clear out my wardrobe (is that ‘thankfully’ or ‘unfortunately’?!)
  4. I swam in a competitive swimming club when I was young. Bananas were great energy food, so I ate a lot of them over the years…it got to the point where I physically couldn’t eat them anymore.  I can manage it now, but it took a gap of about 10 years to even contemplate it!
  5. I really want to try silk painting. I love silk scarves and would love to try to create my own.  Only abstract stuff though – I really can’t draw well enough for anything more!
  6. I did a dual honours undergraduate degree, which meant two dissertations. One of them was on the socio-cultural representation of family in Disney films over the years.  There is a lot more to those films than catchy songs, let me tell you!
  7. I am a real believer in essential oils and their properties. I am in the process of completing a course about aromatherapy, and I find it utterly fascinating.

And the bit of the process I most enjoy…sharing fifteen of my favourite bloggers with you.  Some I feel I’m getting to know almost like friends, some I’ve only just had the pleasure of ‘meeting’.  But I find all of them interesting and inspiring and a pleasure to read and share with.  So I would love to nominate them for the ‘One Lovely Blog’ Award, if they’d like to accept.  Passing the baton on, I nominate:

  1. http://miradordesign.wordpress.com/
  2. http://indahs.com/
  3. http://dewetswild.com/
  4. http://linsdoodles.wordpress.com/
  5. http://figmentsofadutchess.com/
  6. http://travelingmarketer.me/
  7. http://largeself.com/
  8. http://jennifernicholewells.com/
  9. http://www.katescreativespace.com/
  10. http://mywordwall.wordpress.com/
  11. http://exploratorius.us/
  12. http://bythebriny.wordpress.com/
  13. http://theurgetowander.com/
  14. http://beautyalongtheroad.wordpress.com/
  15. http://traveltalesoflife.com/

The rules – for anyone amongst my nominees who would like to play – are simple:

  • Thank the person who nominated you for the award.
  • Add the One Lovely Blog award logo to your post.
  • Share 7 facts or things about yourself.
  • Nominate 15 bloggers you admire and inform nominees by commenting on their blog.

And as a little Brucie-bonus extra fact, if you know me at all, you will know that no celebration with me is complete without cake!  I take it as a big compliment that one of my friends recently said to me and another friend ‘you guys never stop baking!  Is there ever a time when you don’t have cake in the house?’  Of course there isn’t always cake, but it does seem a vital addition to girly nights and celebration occasions.

And as it happens, I’m off for a girly night-in later with a bunch of friends.  A Leonardo di Caprio film marathon is expected –he’s not my cup of tea, but the hostess gets to choose, which is fair enough!  I think a bottle of fizz and some of this freshly baked orange and ricotta drizzle cake will be the perfect take along treats.  Much nicer than chewy popcorn and sugary drinks! So thanks once again, Lorraine; any excuse to eat cake is a good one in my book.  I hope you’ll all be joining me in a little slice of cake at some point over the weekend, whatever else you’ve got planned!

006a_060 copy

The way to a girl’s heart is through her cake tins.

Have I mentioned my almost devotional commitment to cake? I think I might have touched on the fringes of it here, but I do truly, madly, deeply love cake!  My mum baked all through my childhood, and I have lots of happy memories of the most amazingly creative and delicious birthday cakes, as well as still steaming-hot mince pies, slabs of millionaire’s shortbread, sticky ginger cake, and the best coffee and walnut tray-bake I’ve ever eaten.  Cake for me means happy times.

But if I’m completely honest I am not even remotely interested in the dry, flavourless, over-processed, super-long sell-by-date type of cake that you find gracing supermarket shelves the world over.  If I am going to need elasticated trousers as I grow older and fatter, let it be for decent cake!

So I bake my own.  Probably a little too often, but hey, what is life without a little cake! My husband is constantly laughing at my growing obsession with buying different cake tins.  But seriously, what is a girl to do?  How can you possibly make proper mini victoria sponges and mini cheesecakes without the right tray for the job?  I am in love – it is my new favourite!

A little selection of my most used baking essentials...

A little selection of my most used baking essentials…

I am also fortunate to have lots of friends who are also pretty handy in the kitchen (and – just as importantly – understand and empathise with my baking paraphernalia obsession!). With a combination of good timing and good planning, this week saw my birthday coincide with the first meeting of a new social bake club I’ve launched.  I’d been wanting to get it started for a while, and finally got my act together just recently.  Late, crazy nights out do not inspire me at all, but nights in with good friends and good food …well, that’s a different matter!  So here it is, a fortnightly bake club to share things we have made (on a different theme each time), swap recipes, and generally talk food, tips and ideas.

The first session for any new group is always the hardest, I think.  People want it to be fun rather than a burden, so there is often an element of apprehensiveness because nothing is decided yet, and members aren’t quite sure how to make it work well.  But as far as I’m concerned, any opportunity to get together over cake is worth a little ground work to get things ironed out initially!  And as it was my idea, it seemed only fair that I should get the ball rolling.

Cheesecake is a personal favourite of mine, and there are so many different possibilities.  So as the birthday girl, I took the liberty of suggesting that I would provide some bubbly if everyone made their own choice of cheesecake to bring along and share the recipe for.

It was the most fun evening I’ve had for weeks. I expected nothing less from my talented friends, but the cheesecakes were spectacular.  Although not everyone baked on this occasion, those who did brought an impressive and delicious selection.  There was more than enough – and then some! – for everyone.  A super creamy white chocolate and raspberry one, beautifully decorated little mini baked raspberry cheesecakes, a rich baked double chocolate cheesecake, and finally a mouth-watering white chocolate malt cheesecake.

Salty, sweet  deliciousness.  Good job these were mini!

Salty, sweet deliciousness. Good job these were mini!

For my own contribution, I brought a tray of salted caramel mini no-bake cheesecakes to the table, courtesy of the Baker Chick.  I only recently discovered her blog, but I will be back for more inspiration as her recipes are incredible.  We were all very full and utterly contented by the end of the evening.  There was not a lot of room for bubbly, with all the cheesecake on offer, that’s for sure!

First session ice well and truly broken, we decided that for future sessions we would shake things up a bit.  Lovely though it was this time, rather than just sit around eating the fruits of our collective labour, we agreed to get creative in the kitchen when we next meet up.  It seems a little less indulgent that way!

As we are already on the countdown to Christmas (can you believe it?!) we thought Christmas hamper goodies would be fun. Either to gift to others or keep for our own families to make the holiday season extra special. Fruity chutneys and savoury biscuits to go with that boxing day cheeseboard and left over cold cuts of meat.  Peppermint canes for decorating the tree, a festive tipple such as mulled wine or vanilla spiced vodka, Christmas chocolates and cookies.  The ideas were really flowing once we started thinking, so I think our collection will be pretty impressive come Christmas Eve!

So, another year older, but with it comes new opportunities for baking, eating and socialising.  All because of cake!  See, I told you it was good! And if Audrey Hepburn agrees, then I know I’m in good company!

Let’s face it, a nice creamy chocolate cake does a lot for a lot of people; it does for me.

Audrey Hepburn.

one word photo challenge: rainbow.

How hard is it to get a photo of a rainbow?  Well, you have to be pretty lucky with the weather and your timing to get a decent shot of a rainbow arching across the sky.  And my luck has not been good enough yet.  So I thought I’d go foodie instead for my interpretation of Jennifer Nichole Wells’ ‘rainbow’ one word photo challenge.  It’s all about the cake…not so far from the truth in real life when I can get away with it!

006a_062 copy

Rainbow mini cupcakes at the Ramadhan food markets.  I have no idea how they made these, but they looked amazing!

056 copy

A gift from Chinese neighbours, as part of the celebration of Chinese New Year. Seriously luminous rainbow marble cake.  topped with cheese. Yes, cheese; I kid you not. An altogether new taste sensation for me!