Monday, 25 November 2013

Christmas Welsh Cakes and Kenwood Secret Family Recipes

As regular readers (hello Mum!) know, I'm very partial to a Welsh Cake. 

Over the years I've developed variations of the traditional sweet, warmly spiced little cakes, all based upon my Nana's recipe, found in an old scrapbook belonging to Mum. With Christmas just round the corner it was time to bake a Yuletide version. Tempted as I was to simply sprinkle over copious amounts of sparkle, I've added a festive twist to our family recipe by exchanging the mixed spice for orange zest and currants for cranberries. They make the perfect pick - me - up at this hectic time of year and the ideal festive foodie gift.

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Stir Up Sunday: Guide to Baking a Christmas Cake

It's the cornerstone of Christmas baking. A fabulously festive union of traditional rich fruitcake and decadent decoration. 

Yep, it's time to dust off your largest mixing bowl and flex your triceps: Stir Up Sunday is just days away.  

Convention has it that your mincemeat, Christmas Pud and Cake are all due to be baked on Sunday and even if you only get round to one of the three this weekend, a more genial, satisfying introduction to the Christmas cooking there cannot possibly be.  

Monday, 18 November 2013

A Rugby Ball Cake and Birthday Celebrations

The countdown to Christmas can never truly begin until we've celebrated my brother and sister's birthdays, three days apart at the end of November. This is the watershed between half heartedly compiling Christmas shopping lists and whole heartedly embracing the twinkly lights and hordes of Oxford Street. The turning point between the odd spontaneous shop-bought mince pie and hours spent stirring gigantic bowls of homemade mincemeat with warmed, ready to fill Kilner jars littering every surface. 

And this year was a very special celebration: my brother's thirtieth birthday. 

Friday, 15 November 2013

Lime, Coconut and Pistachio Loaf Cake


I like a cake with a message. A little like those old Royal Mail adverts: 'I saw this and thought of you'.

There's the 'Time-for-a-cuppa, a-natter-and-a-slice-of-tea-loaf' or the 'Congratulations-on-the-birth-of-your-new-baby-boy- Chocolate Cake'. 

Perhaps you've baked a 'Long-rainy-afternoon-holed-up-in-the-kitchen-Rainbow-Cake'. Or, in my case, the 'Best-part-of-an-entire-weekend...' as our little kitchen becomes submerged under hundreds of multicoloured sponges and frosting decorates every surface but the actual layers of cake.

Of course there's the ultimate 'message cake': the birthday cake. Quite a straightforward message that one.

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

What Kate Baked: Kitchen Tales November 2013

It's been a busy few weeks in my little world of caking and baking.

Back in September I was filmed baking my Apple, Hazelnut and Cinnamon Crumble Cake as part of the 'Afford Autunm Food' series from Most Wanted, the lifestyle magazine from Here were my thoughts as I prepared:

'It was time to channel my inner Nigella. Combined with the nerves-of-steel demeanour of the most experienced Blue Peter presenter. 

I was about to be filmed demonstrating a recipe for the very first time. Ever. And the butterflies were having a bit of a rave in my stomach.

That morning I'd been practicing in front of the bathroom mirror: 'Hello-My-Name-Is-Kate-From-What-Kate-Baked...Hello-My-Name-Is-Kate-From-What-Kate-Baked...Hello-My-Name-Is-Kate-From-What-Kate-Baked...' until I had practically chanted myself into a trance. 

Friday, 8 November 2013

Maple Leaf Biscuits

"Whatever he saw, if it was runny or powdery or gooey, in it went"

This quote from Roald Dahl's 'George's Marvellous Medicine' neatly sums up the development of these biscuits. There was flour on every conceivable surface, half opened packets littered around and a messy trail of random ingredients lining the route from the store cupboard to the food mixer.

You might be relieved to know that some of the cupboard contents didn't make the cut, namely the gravy granules, pesto and tomato purée. 

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

"Catherine Wheel" Chocolate Bonfire Cake

What do foil wrapped jacket potatoes, burnt sausages, steaming styrofoam mugs of hot chocolate and Toffee Apples have in common?

(Don't get your hopes up; this isn't a very good joke)

They are Bonfire Night staples. 

I adore Bonfire Night. The dancing flames rising high into the cold Autumnal sky. A field full of strangers 'Ohhing' and 'ahhing' in unison at the fireworks. Trying to write your name from start to finish in Sparklers. And the modern day equivalent: trying to capture it on your smartphone.