Category: Best for Baking

Add a little glitz to your cakes with these stunning cake toppers

Add a little glitz to your cakes with these stunning cake toppers

Talking Tables cake Toppers 2

The moment I saw these cake toppers I knew I had to share them with you. I mean how cool are they? The font, the colours, the style! They’ll look great on any cake and what’s more when you’re in a rush a plain and simple cake can instantly become divine!
Talking Tables cake Toppers 5

I received the Talking Tables newsletter about them just last night when I was actually sitting down to write up a post on Rhubarb jam but I just couldn’t wait to share them.

I’ve been shooting for Talking Tables for a few years now so I’m no stranger to their fantastic and top end products (just head on over to their website  and loads of the shots you’ll see there are styled by me – the silver bath is one of my favourites. Actually this is my all time favorite styled shot which is happens to be a TT shot and is bouncing around Pinterest like mad at the mo) But this is the first time I’ve seen these cake toppers and I know that I’ll be putting an order in soon.

Talking Tables Cake Toppers post

Alice, the product developer has a really good eye for detail. I love it that this range has something for everyone whether you’re getting married, baking something special for your partner or just want to add a bit of ‘Sparkle‘ to your day. Talking Tables cake Toppers 3

You can choose the gold ‘Love’ heart and cover the cake in gold! How amazing does this cake look? I’ve been seeing gold cakes everywhere since I went to The Squires Cake Show back in March. Maybe Silver is catching up with the metallics cake trends too!

Talking Tables Toppers 1The toppers are really easy to insert. I’ve used many of Talking Tables’ other cake toppers on shoots in the past – just check out the ponies! These ones can be wiped clean ready for the next big celebration.

TT LEt's party topper

So which is your favorite? I think mine is the ‘Let’s Party’! It has so many uses.

EmmaMT x

Disclaimer: I did not receive any product for this post and these are not my styled shots or cakes so I can’t take the credit. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Talking Tables didn’t even know I was going to write this post so that will be a nice surprise for them won’t it? 

 

Almond shortbread recipe and the cute button cookie cutter

Almond shortbread recipe and the cute button cookie cutterAlmond shortbread recipe

Who doesn’t love the soft, crumbly, buttery taste of shortbread? It’s one of those melt in the mouth biscuits which- according to Beau, I don’t make nearly often enough. That and freezer cookies! 

I was requested to make a batch and when I had some leftover ground almonds I thought that they’d work well together – I’m a bit obsessed with almonds at the mo!  And my almond shortbread recipe was developed and loved. They were deeelsh. After the on-going shortbread fiasco of a few years ago I decided that now was the perfect time to have a play with my new button cookie cutter stamp.

Button cookie stamp

Almond shortbread recipe

My friend Emma (is it me or is everyone called Emma nowadays?) set up her own cookie stamp business Emma Jane’s Bakery, just before the birth of her daughter and she asked if I would like to have a play with one of the designs. Of course I jumped at the chance. I mean how great are they? Emma asked me to choose one and I have to say that I struggled. They’re all really cute. I went for this simple swirl design as I thought it would work on so many levels – biscuits for friends, christmas gingerbread gifts for teachers, shortbread for demanding eleven year old daughters!

Emma Jane's bakeryAs well as doing button cookie stamps (there’s eight to choose from) Emma also does a stamp for weddings, Christmas and she can even personalise them too. “Made by EmmaMT” sounds pretty good to me, but you can have baby’s names and birthdate for christenings, Mr & Mrs and the date for weddings, company logos – the list is endless. Go have a look and see.

Almond shortbread recipe

Almond Shortbread Recipe

  • 200g unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 100g Caster sugar
  • 35g ground almonds
  • 225g plain flour (plus a bit extra for rolling out)
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  1. Mix the butter and sugar until completely combined.
  2. In a separate bowl sieve the ground almonds and flour and stir to combine.
  3. Add the dry ingredients and almond extract to sugar and butter and mix until just combined. The less mixing you do the better and more crumbly the shortbread will be.
  4. Line a baking tray with silicon paper.
  5. Roll out the dough so it is around 1cm thick. Using the button stamp imprint the pattern into the dough. If your dough is really sticky give the stamp a light dusting of flour. Then use the circle cutter to cut out around each patterned biscuit. I found that by cutting the circles after imprinting the pattern I got a nice neat circle button. When I cut out the circle then tried to do the pattern I squished the shape and it wasn’t round anymore.
  6. Continue patterning and cutting till you have used all the dough up. Remove the excess dough from around the shortbread buttons then carefully lift each biscuit and place it onto the baking tray.
  7. Chill the shortbread on the baking tray for 30 minutes. This will prevent the biscuits from spreading and losing their shape whist baking.
  8. Pre-heat your oven to 160ºC (Fan oven140ºC) and bake the shortbread for 12 minutes. The edges will start to go slightly golden at the edges. If they go brown they’re overdone. 
  9. Remove from the oven and place on a cooling tray to cool down completely.
  10. Eat them all up!

Enjoy!

EmmaMT x

Almond shortbread recipe

Disclaimer: The cute button cookie stamp in this post was sent to me by Emma Jane’s Bakery (Thanks Emma. I’m gonna have fun using this one) All thoughts and opinions are entirely my own.

 

WIN: Pyrex bundle giveaway

WIN a Pyrex bundle giveaway

PYREX COMP

“Wowzers!” I hear you cry! Can I win all of that! Well yes you can.

Pyrex is 100 years old this year so when they asked if I would like to do a giveaway here on CakesBakesAndCookies.com I jumped at the chance. I mean what baker doesn’t love a bit of Pyrex kitchen kit?

So, what’s in the bundle?

The big bowl

I’ve had a 3.0L Pyrex Glass Bowl,small Pyrex bowl and Pyrex jug in my ‘essential’ kit for as long as I can remember. I use the large bowl to mix ALL my cake mixes in as I now use my hand held whisk for practically everything. That big bowl is the perfect size for cakes up to 10″ and you can’t say that about many mixing bowls!

The Small bowl

The small 1 litre Pyrex Bowl,  I have is so old now. It’s got a ton of scratches at the bottom where I mix eggs for omelettes and have done so since Tim and I first moved in together. So, it must be about 18 years old! Boy am I showing my age now! The thing I use it for most of all now is warming up butter. I shared this Mary Berry tip a few years ago where you place cold butter from the fridge in the bowl then add tepid water and leave it for ten minutes so the butter softens up to room temperature. My kitchen is so cold – especially in the winter so I do this for most cakes. The softer the butter the better the cake mix.

Pyrex giveaway mixing bowls

The Small Jug

The small 0.5 l Pyrex Jug is what I use to measure (no brainer really!) but I also always break my eggs into this jug when making cakes. It’s become a bit of a ritual habit for me. Do you know that when you break eggs into a glass container any tiny bits of shell that get in the mix sink to the bottom, so you can lift the jug up and look underneath to check that there aren’t any fragments lurking down there.  I used to have the big 1 litre Pyrex jug but I dropped it and was really gutted. It’s another great sized piece that has so many uses. I must replace that some time!Pyrex giveaway jug

Kitchen lab precise measure

This is a really clever device. It was new to me but since I’ve had my hands on it I’ve used it tons. The Pyrex test tube design  has this clever rubber base so it can stand up while you measure really small amounts of liquid into it so, when a cake calls for 4 tea spoons of vanilla essence you can measure them in one go. It can measure up to 50ml, 1 ½ Fl. Oz, 6 tea spoons and 3 tablespoons, handy when you’re baking big cakes. You don’t loose count when you measure in one go!

Pyrex giveaway  measuring small liquidBaking tray

I love baking trays. I don’t know any keen baker who doesn’t. You just can’t have enough of them can you? This Pyrex asimetriA BAKING TRAY  has a raised surface and is designed to give you an even distribution of heat so those cookies will all come out the same. It’s a really good size. I can get 30 cookies on just this one tray.

Pyrex giveaway - baking tray

Loaf tin

This Pyrex asimetriA Loaf tin is the only part of this bundle I haven’t baked with yet. I’m thinking about doing a long thin cheesecake with it next month with a line of cherries down the centre. What do you think? It’s not your traditional size loaf tin. It’s longer (26cm) which I really like. It gives you a point of difference… and more cake. What would you bake with one of these?

Pyrex giveaway - loaf tin

Muffin tin

This Pyrex asimetriA MUFFIN TRAY has really tall, straight sides. I’m a bit rubbish when it comes to muffins. They never seem to rise up as much as I’d like, but when I used this tin to make cupcakes a couple of weeks ago they came out really neat and even – just what I wanted. The straighter the sides of the cake wells the more professional the cakes look in my opinion.

Pyrex giveaway - muffin tray

 Sandwich tins

These Pyrex asimetriA sandwich tins are probably the most useful size you can get – or at least they’re the size I use the most. So with that in mind I now have four 8″ sandwich tins. Great for layered cakes or rainbow cakes. These sit inside each other for handy storage and bake a chocolate victoria sponge cake perfectly – as I did last month. Great quality and non-stickability.Pyrex sandwich tins

 The GIVEAWAY

So, basically I have these essentials in my baking cupboard and they get a ton of regular use. So do you want some? These are all up for grabs in one lovely big giveaway bundle. You can win……

  • 1 x Large 3 litre Pyrex Mixing Bowl (rrp £4.99)
  • 1 x Small Pyrex bowl (rrp £2.99)
  • 1 x Pyrex jug (rrp £2.99)
  • 1 x Kitchen lab presice measure (rrp £6.99)
  • 1 x Baking tray (£8.99)
  • 1 x Muffin tin (£11.99)
  • 2 x round sandwich cake tins (rrp £8.99 each)
  • 1 x long loaf tin (rrp £6.99)

So that’s over £60 worth of baking goodness.

To win all you have to do is share a comment below with what you would bake using this fabulous Pyrex bundle AND enter your name into the Rafflecopter random number generator on the pink link below.

Click here to enter the  giveaway

and don’t forget to leave a comment! 
 

I wish you the best of luck

Emma x

Terms and Conditions

This Pyrex giveaway ends at 11.59pm on 21st May 2015. The prize consists of 1 x Large 3 litre Pyrex Mixing Bowl, 1 x Small Pyrex bowl, 1x Pyrex jug,1 x Kitchen lab presice measure, 1 x Baking tray, 1x Muffin tin, 2 x round sandwich cake tins,1 x long loaf tin. It is open to UK entrants only (sorry).  Leaving a blog post comment is a mandatory entry option. This prize is offered by Pyrex and is hosted on CakesBakesAndCookies.com. Please note that CakesBakesAndCookies.com is not responsible for sponsors that do not fulfill their prizes. A winner will be selected by the Rafflecopter widget and that person will be notified within 7 days. The products offered for the giveaway are free of charge, no purchase necessary. I do not share or sell information and will use any information only for the purpose of contacting the winner.

Disclosure: I have not been paid for this post. Pyrex very kindly sent me this set of bakewares for review on CakesBakesAndCookies.com and will provice a duplicate set which will be sent to the giveaway winner. All thoughts and opinions are my own and are true and honest.  

FAQ: How to use Sugar Syrup on Cakes?

FAQ: How to use Sugar Syrup on Cakes?

Sugar Syrup

Ahhh Sugar Syrup. My new and most amazing discovery! It’s the small things that seem to make the biggest difference in my baking. I hadn’t even heard of sugar syrup until I went to the Peggy Porschen sugar roses class last year. I mean I had heard of it but I just thought it was something people added to give a cake more taste – like with lemon cakes and the like, but no. I was wrong.

What sugar syrup does

One of the ladies at the sugar roses class had also been to one of the Peggy Porschen cake baking classes and she mentioned how sugar syrup had completely changed her cakes. They’re now super moist. The trick – as she told me, is to brush sugar syrup directly onto a warm cake once it comes out of the oven. This basically stops the cake from continuing to bake in it’s very hot tin once it’s removed from the oven – preventing it from drying out. The added water keeps the cake super moist.

So armed with this information I gave it a go and do you know what? It’s worked on every single cake I’ve made so far! Madeira cake, chocolate cake, Victoria sponge cake and even cupcakes – actually especially cupcakes!

The Ingredients

I’ve tried out a few different recipes but the general rule of thumb is to use the same amount in grams of sugar as millilitres in water then add a dash of flavour. The following quantity is suitable for an 8″ cake. You will have some left over though. Don’t be tempted to use it all.

  • 100g sugar – granulated/ caster/ golden – anything goes
  • 100ml water
  • ½ tsp vanilla essence / lemon juice / almond/ orange essence
  1. In a saucepan heat the water and sugar until the sugar is completely dissolved. Let it simmer for 2-3 minutes then add the flavour and leave to cool. I make my sugar syrup when the cake goes into the oven.
  2. Once your cake is removed from the oven let it sit for 5 minutes then use a pastry brush to brush the sugar syrup over the entire cake. You only need to cover each area of the cake once and avoid soaking the cake or you will end up with a big soggy mess not a nice moist cake. Make sure you get the edges of the cake covered as they tend to dry out the most.
  3. Leave for a further 10 minutes before turning your cake out onto a rack to cool completely.

Top tip: I use a bristle brush as it is easier to control the sugar syrup than with a silicon one. It also stops you adding too much in one go.

SUGAR SYRUP recipe

Another sugar syrup tip.

Another time I saw sugar syrup being used was at the Squires Kitchen cake show. During her workshop Helen Mansey brushed her cake (which was baked the day before) with sugar syrup when she was stacking the layers. She added a light coating of syrup to the top of each cake using a pastry brush in exactly the same way as described above before she covered each cake layer with chocolate ganache. I’ve never seen that done before but she said that it keeps the cake moist as she bakes a cake on a Monday and decorates it ready for delivery on Friday/Saturday. She said the cake would still be okay to eat a week after the wedding. I’m not sure cake would last that long in my house but it’s good to know.

So, do you use sugar syrup? What flavours do you use? I’d love to know. Just leave a comment below and share your tried and tested recipes with the whole baking gang.

EmmaMT

x


Kitchen Gadgets Review: Russell Hobbs Aura 6 in 1 hand held blender

Russell Hobbs Aura 6 in 1 hand held blender

I love to test a kitchen gadget but especially when it’s one that helps with your baking. This Russell Hobbs Aura 6 in 1 hand held whisk is really clever. It has the ability to perform six tasks.

    • Processing
    • Creaming
    • Slicing
    • Shredding
    • Blending
    • Whisking

The Aura has a 600W  motor so it’s got the perfect amount of power to handle anything from whisking egg whites to grating cheese.

There are two attachments for the main stick. A stainless Steel blending leg which is for making smoothies, soups and pancake mixes till they are really smooth and creamy and a stainless steel whisk which will make really light work of egg whites for meringues.

Why it’s a winner

What makes this gadget a winner in my eyes is the 1.2 litre processing bowl. It’s just like having a food processor but without the cost or the weight! The three attachments that fit into the jug are the processing blade which is great for mixing up cake mixes and doughs – or in this post’s case, crushing biscuits into crumbs in a matter of seconds for a cheese cake base; the creaming disk which is for creating the smoothest of sauces and mayonnaise and the slicing / shredding disk which is great for grating carrots, cheese, courgettes etc- coleslaw anyone?  The list of what it can do goes on and on.

IMG_2651IMG_2643IMG_2644

Russell Hobbs sent me this Aura to test and set me the challenge of making a cheesecake with it and I have to say I haven’t stopped using it since. I’m currently making up a pancake recipe for a post I’m doing for Achica for pancake day and the stick blender made light work of mixing up all the different combinations I tried – and there were a lot! More on that in February. I also made a triple chocolate mouse to take to a friends last week and that involved a lot of whisking which the whisk handled with ease.

“So what about the cheesecake?”

I hear you cry? Well I made it. Chocolate cheesecake is my all time favorite cake (at the moment) I may have mentioned that before. So that’s what I made. But Tim doesn’t like it and the girls won’t touch cheesecake at all so…….. can you guess where this is going? I ate half of an 8″ double chocolate cheesecake on my own! And worst of all I didn’t even take a photo of it as my camera wasn’t working!!! So I decided to improve on my recipe when I was invited for a Christmas lunch with the Tennis mums, and that way I couldn’t eat the whole thing on my own. This time I made a chocolate cherry cheesecake and it was deelish. Maybe even better than the first one!  Half of that cheesecake came home (thanks to a delivery from Caroline – thanks hun) so I got to take pics with my now fixed camera and I very quickly took the rest round to my sisters…… after I had eaten another couple of slices. I really need to add a few more miles to my runs!

So here’s the recipe. It’s dead easy to make but even easier to eat and makes a great desert whether it’s Christmas, Easter or just for the hell of it.

Chocolate Cherry Cheesecake recipe

Chocolate cherry cheesecake recipe

For the base

  • 100g digestive biscuits – crushed to smitherines
  • 40g butter

For the cake

  • 600g full fat cream cheese (low fat ones just don’t work!)
  • 115g Caster sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 2 large eggs – separated
  • 280ml double cream
  • 100g dark chocolate
  • 1 tin of cherries drained – but keep the juice to one side.

For the Glaze

  • 100g caster sugar
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 200ml the juice from the cherries – add water to make up to 200ml
  1. Line the bottom of an 8″ cake tin with silicon paper. Pre-heat your oven to 160C (140C for fan ovens)
  2. Melt the butter in a saucepan over a low heat and add the biscuit crumbs. Stir till all the crumbs are coated. Press into the bottom of the cake tin and chill in the fridge while making the rest of the cake.
  3. Break the chocolate into small pieces and set in a bowl over a saucepan half filled with simmering water. Make sure that the bowl does not touch the water. Melt the chocolate then set aside to cool a little.
  4. Whisk the cream till it’s thick; but not solid then add the rest of the cake ingredients. Slowly add the cooled chocolate. I wanted there to be a few lines of plain cheesecake in with the chocolate cheesecake but I over mixed it!
  5. Finally add the drained cherries and mix – then pour the mixture over the biscuit base. Pop in the oven for 45 minutes. It will look a bit wobbly on top when it’s done. This is right. It will continue to set once out of the oven so just look for the edges of the cake to be coming away from the cake tin ever so slightly. Set aside to cool. The middle of the cake will sink a little. I like that. It means the glaze won’t dribble over the edge.
  6. To make the glaze place the cherry juice in a saucepan over a low heat and add the sugar. Stir until dissolved. Add the flour slowly. I use a mini sieve to sprinkle it over the top of the liquid gradually and mix well as I add more. That way I don’t get lumps. Lumpy glaze. Yuck! Continue to stir and allow the mixture to bubble gently for 4-5 minutes. Set aside to cool a little before pouring over the still warm cheesecake (which is still in the tin)
  7. Leave the cake with the glaze to cool completely then chill in the fridge over night (or for at least four hours).
  8. Remove the cake from the tin by placing a small bowl on your worktop and placing the cake tin on top. Press the cake tin down from the sides so the cake comes out. You should be able to remove the cake from the base of the cake tin but it’s not really necessary.
  9. Serve and eat within two days.

The first video review

I’ve been thinking about doing short 5 minute video reviews of kitchen gadgets on the blog for a while now so this seemed like the perfect time. It’s not long and it’s not professional but I hope you like it. Here’s the Russell Hobbs Aura 6 in 1 hand held blender

Enjoy!

EmmaMT x

Disclaimer: The product in this post was provided by  Russell Hobbs  (Thanks you guys I love it) All thoughts and opinions and entirely my own.

 

Best for Baking: Silicone piping bag

 Silicone piping bags. Why I’m a new convert to after making these chocolate cupcakes

Silicon piping bag

Silicon piping bag

I must have walked past these silicone piping bags a ton of times. They sell them at Hobbycraft (a regular haunt of mine) and they’re available on Amazon too. I’ve always just used disposable piping bags in the past as I think they’re really easy to handle and just chuck away rather than clean up all that greasy butter cream when you’re done. But I figured at £5 it was worth a try. Good decision.

I had some cupcakes to make for Free Cakes For Kids so I thought that it was the perfect testing opportunity. When I make cupcakes for outside friends and family I measure the cake mix into each cupcake case. I know that sounds a bit OCD but it’s the only way I can get them almost even. I do try to be professional! The way I do this is by measuring each cupcake as I go. When using this piping bag it was a doddle.  The silicone piping bag has a smooth inside so the ingredients can be squirted out easily but it has a lightly textured outside so your sticky/wet hands can still grip it firmly. I have to admit I was surprised how easy it was to handle and control.

Silicon piping bag

When I fill a piping bag with cake mix I place it in a large jug, fold the edges over the top and then fill. If I’m filling a smaller bag I simply use a tall glass. This has been the easiest and cleanest way to fill a bag. Make sure that the bottom is folded up so no mixture can escape while you’re filling and if you need to stop half way through filling or decorating you can just pop it back in the jug or glass. Silicon piping bag

You can see how easy it is to fill cupcake cases using the silicone piping bag below. See? Not a drop out of place! Silicon piping bag

Once the cupcakes were baked and cool I added the buttercream topping. Test number 2. Again I made up the chocolate butter cream and filled the bag. This time I added a piping tip. As it’s a large tip I had to cut quite a bit off the end of the silicone piping bag so I think I would need to buy a second bag if I wanted to use it with some of my smaller royal icing tips but as I don’t use them that often I’ll see how I go.

Silicon piping bag

I was really happy with the end result. I think these are probably some of the most even looking cupcakes I’ve ever made and I put that down to using the silicone piping bag. So marks out of 10? I’d give it 8. Silicon piping bag

The end result was 24 pretty and yummy cupcakes boxed up and ready to deliver.

Super-flex silicone piping bag is available from Amazon.co.uk

Do you have and use a silicone piping bag? What do you think about them compared with disposable ones? I’d love to know.

EmmaMT

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