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Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas cake angels,

Just posting a quick message to say that I hope you’re all having a beautiful day with your friends and families, and eating yourselves silly!

In the UK the traditional way to end a Christmas dinner is with Christmas pudding, but having a strong dislike for any form of fruit cake I decided to whip up a Red Velvet cake instead. Meanwhile, my Aunt made a Lemon tart, which was the perfect palette-cleansing-ending to a hefty meal.  {Recipes will soon be updated, for the adventurous among you.}

This was my first sampling of Lemon Tart, and although the pastry looked thick and heavy, it was actually light in texture and not too sweet at all. The bitter-sweet tang of the lemon was a refreshing end to a long day of feasting, which in turn was washed down with a glass of wine :)

Which Christmas desserts did you have this year?

Love & Christmas cheer,

Tracey xoxo

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas!

Lemon Tart

Lemon Tart

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Herman the German Friendship Cake

Hello my cake angels,

Today is a very special day (besides being two days til Christmas) because it’s my 1st Bloggerversary. Exactly one year ago today I began this blogging hobby of mine, and I’m sure you can all relate when I say that I had planned to use every waking hour to blog! Sadly my more taxing commitments in life prevented me from doing so, but nevertheless I have loved blogging and discovering other blogs. So thank you to those of you who have either read one, two or all of my blogs posts. Watching my Stats grow over the past year has really made me smile :)

In today’s post I want to focus on one particularly interesting gift a friend gave to me- Herman the German Friendship cake. I thought this would be an appropriate blog post for all the new blogger-friends I’ve made over the past year. [WARNING: If you lack patience then this recipe is not for you!] …When I was handed the bag I was told that the cake hadn’t been baked yet; it was in the form of a Sourdough yeast and it had to be looked after for a number of days before I could bake it. Without a moments hesitation I took Herman home and got myself acquainted with the instructions…

The first stages...

The first stages…

I soon discovered that this recipe was much more like a Science project than anything else- it would be 9 days before I could even bake the cake, and in the meanwhile all I had to do was keep the yeast alive. Simple, right? The instructions read as follows:

Day 1: Put me in a large mixing bowl and cover loosely with a tea towel.

Day 2:  Stir well.

Day 3: Stir well.

Day 4: Herman is hungry. Add one cup each of plain flour, sugar and milk. Stir well. 

Day 5: Stir well. 

Day 6: Stir well. 

Day 7: Stir well. 

Day 8: Stir well. 

Day 9: Add the same as Day 4 and stir well. Divide into 4 equal portions and give away to friends with a copy of these instructions. Keep the fourth portion. (It was on this day that I found out my friends were not as enthusiastic about Herman as I was!)

Day 10: Now you’re ready to make the cake.

Yep, it’s not until day 10 that you can really begin to get to work on Herman, but by this time it will occur to you that you’ve kept Herman alive, and all you want to do is bake him! Yes, somewhat sadistic, but cake is cake.

The recipe required me to add apple chunks, melted butter, spices and oil, to name a few. After watching Herman bubble up and grow inside the bowl for the past week I was not surprised to see that the cake batter was not so attractive. And so I waited patiently for the cake to bake, ready to expect the unexpected in terms of taste and appearance… Herman came out of the oven like a heavy weight champ, round and firm on the outside and soft as a cushion when cut open. The apple chunks covered the entire surface and sides of the cake, bobbing their heads amidst the golden brown edges of the cake. Some of the brown sugar had crystallized on the cake top, which gave Herman that little extra crunch.  Having used oil instead of butter, the inside of the cake was extremely moist to touch, unlike most ‘common cake’ recipes that use butter and can either dry out or crumble if not baked well. Now, while some may say that this cake is an acquired taste, I shared my cake with a number of people and they all seemed to love it :)   

Meet Herman :)

Meet Herman :)

Though long-winded and tricky for some, Herman the German Friendship cake is a fun and different way to bake. Check my Recipes page for the full recipe, as well as the Starter Mix (if you want to be the first one to start the chain.) Good luck!

Love & Cupcakes,

Tracey xoxo

Herman the German Friendship cake.

Herman the German Friendship cake.

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Red, White & Blue

Greetings cake-a-holics,

Yes, I’m still here, I have no intention of abandoning you (even if it seems that way)! As you all know, London had a pretty exciting summer as we welcomed the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. I was fortunate enough to be a Games Maker throughout the Olympics, hence my prolonged absence from blogging. Forgive me, please?

The 2012 Games has made it a summer that I will never forget, and I’m sure the same can be said of the amazing Team GB who collected 65 medals in the Olympics, and 120 medals in the Paralympics, making it Team GB’s most successful Paralympics to date! And not to rub it in or anything, but Team GB came third in the medal table for both the Olympics and Paralympics Games! The atmosphere at every venue was electric, but none can compare to the sea of red, white and blue that could be seen in the Olympic park. It was patriotism at its best, and I was overjoyed to be a part of it :)

Now that all the pandemonium has subsided I can’t help but think that I have a serious case of post-Olympic-blues. It’s a serious illness guys, don’t laugh. The only way that I could begin to heal my wounds is to bake! This week I made vanilla cupcakes with a cream cheese frosting, and attempted to dye the cakes half red, half blue. The colours didn’t come out as strong as I had hoped, but I award myself 6/10 for effort! The texture of the cakes remained light and fluffy, and the cream cheese frosting was mixed with just the right amount of sweetness to compliment the cake.

(The recipe for vanilla cupcakes can be found on the Recipes page, and the cream cheese frosting is the same recipe used for Carrot cake and Red Velvet cake. I used two tablespoons of red dye and two blue so I guess it’s a matter of trial and error.)

Are you drooling yet?

The final ingredient… a good ol’ British brew!

And here are a few snaps from my time at the Olympics… #Iwasthere. (All pictures are my own, so please reference back to this website if you choose to share them).

Love, Tea & British cupcakes,

Tracey xoxo

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For a Good Cause

Hello cake lovers,

Apologies for another late start to the month, my cake-infused life is getting busier by the day! Today’s post is dedicated to my late ‘Grampa’, Anthony A. Beeko and an amazing charity, Cancer Research UK.

Two and a half weeks ago I took part in a 4K sponsored run to raise money for Cancer Research UK. (I ran the race on 1.07.2012 in 22min 15sec.) and 2.07.2012 was the 5yr. anniversary of my Grampa’s death. He passed away from Cancer of the colon, so this charity is the best one for me to support. I had been trying to persuade myself for the past 3yrs. that I would run this race and it wasn’t until a few months ago that my friend, S, signed up and encouraged me to join her.

I’ve spent the past few weeks encouraging my friends and family to sponsor me and so far I’ve raised £200, £100 more than my target :) Even though the 4K run was an achievement in itself I decided to set myself an extra goal- for every friend/family member that sponsored me £10 or more I would bake them a cake of their choice. (No one can resist cake, so I knew this would be a good bribe!) So far I’ve baked five cakes and I have another eight or so to bake! With every cake I’ve baked the money has come from my own pocket, and every penny donated has gone to charity.

The actual day of the race was so much fun- there was a Zumba instructor who helped us warm up; the Mayor of the City came to encourage us, and everyone who participated was in such good spirits. After the race, myself and S indulged in a little post-workout treat of McD’s and Red Velvet cupcakes at the Fallen Angel bakery :) …Don’t judge us, I can feel you judging us! You gotta live a little!

My donation page is still open for sponsorship so feel free to drop some pennies my way. It’s for a good cause.

http://raceforlifesponsorme.org/traceytrace

Love cupcakes & a cure for Cancer,

Tracey xoxo

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The Big Apple Crumble

Hello cake lovers,

I didn’t forget about you! I’ve spent the past three weeks in New York City on vacation, and celebrating a friend’s wedding. I had every intention of blogging whilst I was out there but I’m not ashamed to say that I got caught up in the excitement of the Big Apple…

I stayed with family whilst in the States, only to arrive and find out that my Mother had told her sister that I would cook and bake regularly! (Thanks Mother.) So during my first week I treated my family to one of my favourite desserts, an apple crumble.

There’s nothing like the sweet and sour fusion of almost-crunchy apples resting underneath a roof of buttery crumble topping, with a sprinkling of cinnamon and nutmeg. I wouldn’t do this blog-post justice without providing the recipe, bon appétit!

Over the next week I’ll be uploading a few other posts about desserts that I discovered in NYC so keep your eyes open.

Love & Big Apple Crumble,

Tracey xoxo

The Big Apple Crumble

Apple Crumble

Green Apples

½ tsp ground ginger – 1tsp

½ tsp ground cinnamon – 1 tsp

½ tsp ground nutmeg – 1tsp

3oz Caster Sugar – 6oz

8oz Plain Flour – 1pound

3oz Unsalted Butter – 6oz

2oz Brown Sugar – 4oz

Walnuts OR Chopped mixed nuts (Optional)

N.B. The measurements on the left are to make a small portion, and the measurements on the right are for a larger portion.

  1. Wash, peel and dice the apples into small squares and place into a saucepan. (I prefer to use green apples as they provide the sour kick, whilst the crumble adds the sweeter element.)
  2. Add the brown sugar, nutmeg and ginger to the apples and cook on the lowest heat for 5-7mins, stirring continuously. Remove from the heat once the apples are slightly soft.
  3. Place the flour, caster sugar, butter and cinnamon in a mixing bowl and use your hands to mix the ingredients together, whilst creating ‘crumbs’ in your fingertips.
  4. Pour the apples into a flat (Pyrex) dish (Optional: sprinkle nuts over the top of the apples), and layer the flour evenly over the apples.
  5. Place the crumble in the oven on a medium heat, no time specification. Check on the crumble every 10minutes by tapping the top of the crumble with your finger; it will have finished baking when the crumble is firm and golden brown.

Can you resist the buttery crumble...

Serve with vanilla ice-cream or custard.

Triple vision!

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Leaning Tower of Pancakes!

It turns out that we had another exciting Tuesday in the month of February, last week V-Day and yesterday Shrove Tuesday aka Pancake Day. (If you ask me February is turning out to be a baker’s haven!) All day on Twitter and Facebook people were updating their status about what they were going to drown their pancakes in, what trimmings they would have, and how excited they were to leave work and re-ignite their love with that sacred frying pan.

Flip it. Fold it. Roll it.

Now correct me if I’m wrong but surely eggs, flour, sugar and butter are available to purchase all year round? There are a handful of nations that truly appreciate the beauty of a pancake: A well known delicacy from France, famously known as the Crepe is eaten often, dusted lightly with sugar and spread with a thin layer of chocolate spread. Another famous pancake is the wafer thin Chinese pancake, wrapped around a spoonful of Peking duck, a sprinkling of cucumber and spring onion, and a few droplets of Hoi Sin sauce. Both of these delicacies are regularly devoured in their respective cultures. In fact, even places such as Indonesia, Malaysia and Korea have their own sweet and savoury adaptations of the pancake. (Note to self, learn how to make at least two of these pancakes in time for next year!)

During my last two years of University pancakes were a regular ‘necessity’ in the staple diet for my housemates and I. It is certainly no exaggeration to say that we had freshly made pancakes for breakfast or as a snack at least once a week. Our pancakes were nearly always smothered in ‘Aunt Jemima’s Maple Syrup’, chocolate sauce and a side of strawberries for the healthy kick! Even in my fragile-detoxing-state I’m dreaming ahead to the end of the week when I can treat myself to a well deserved birthday-breakfast, full of treats that soothe and massage my sweet tooth.

Behold, the leaning tower of pancakes!

Despite my week of discipline I still managed to rustle up a stack of ‘leaning pancakes’ for my friends (and I’m proud to say that I didn’t eat a single one!) I delivered them to a friend’s house yesterday evening only to find even more temptation surrounding me, (B’s famous ginger and nut cookies, not pictured). Again, I resisted the urge (I think an applause can be inserted here) and happily watched my friends inhale the pancakes!

Some six years ago on my first visit to NYC I got hooked on the American style pancakes, and I’ve haven’t looked back since. So I guess this wouldn’t be a post worthy of uploading if I didn’t supply the recipe. Bon Appétit.

Love & Pancakes,

Tracey xoxo

 

American Style Pancakes

140g/5oz plain flour

2tbsp baking powder

½ tsp salt

2tbsp caster sugar

3tbsp butter melted

225ml/8fl oz buttermilk/semi-skimmed milk

1 large egg

Optional: sunflower oil for oiling pan

Instructions: Pour the sugar and crack the egg into a bowl and whisk together until smooth. Meanwhile, melt the butter on a low heat and add to the pancake batter once melted. Place the flour, baking powder and salt into one bowl and sieve half of it over the batter. Whisk the entire batter and gradually add the milk and remaining flour in parts. If the batter appears too runny, then sieve in a little extra flour until it is a thicker consistency.

Grease the frying pan with a small drop of sunflower oil or butter, and use a ladle to pour a small amount of batter into the centre of the frying pan. Flip over the pancake when it begins to brown, or to your liking.

Serve with crispy bacon and scrambled eggs for the All-American feel; with a side a ripe and juicy berries for a healthy twist, or you can opt for the sugar-holics menu and serve with chocolate chips and maple syrup.

The foundations of the 'leaning masterpiece'

My work is done!

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It’s That Day… V-Day

It’s that day again- Tuesday. For besotted among you it’s Valentine’s Day, and for the romantically liberated it’s Singles Awareness Day! Rest assured I’m not anti-love and neither am I bitter; on the contraire, this particular day had me writing romantic and thought provoking tweets from dusk til dawn!

Do you want to know what I’ve been earnestly craving to do all day! Bake! All day I day-dreamed of devishly sinful chocolate fudge recipes, and sickly sweet jam delights. The only thing that prevented me from doing so is the fact that I’m a ‘grown-up’ and I had to work *sigh* (Apparently trading in a day’s wage for hours of frivolous baking is not ideal) So I decided to bake after work instead, only to come home and remember that I had baked a batch of dark chocolate brownies the night before. As a cake-a-holic I had to ask myself, ‘do I really need to bake again?’ If I was at my parents’ house I would have whipped up a storm, with the reassurance that it would take less than 48hrs for any baked treat to be devoured. But as I was in my own flat, I thought it wise not to consume a plate of brownies to myself, washed down with a batch of cinnamon cupcakes. It was a hard choice, but I made the right choice and backed away from the flour!

In the past year I’ve seen this day as an excuse to bake to my heart’s content, and as much as I try not to portray myself as the crazy bachelorette who eats excessive amounts of cake, I’m starting to believe that’s who I am! But hey, if I’m enjoying it then why not? Being single is a choice and not a curse, you gotta enjoy it while you can. Love life. Love cake.

Happy Valentines Day!

Tracey xoxo

Enjoying one of the finer things in life: Hot Chocolate!

Another developing addiction.

‘Keep smiling because life is a beautiful thing, and there’s so much to smile about’ -Marilyn Monroe.