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Sweet Like Chocolate!

Happy Monday!

I realise that not everyone appreciates Monday, seeing as it’s the day that tears us away from our beloved weekends, so I thought what better way to cheer you up than with a new blog post :)

It’s about time  I ventured away from the ordinary cake life and started trying something a little more adventurous. Among the very talented bakers in my family I have an Aunt who loves to experiment with crazy ingredients! As family tradition has it, we spent part of the Christmas period dining in her home, and no one was looking forward to dessert as much as I was. We never have the option of one dessert, but at least two or three choices… My gut chose the Salted Caramel Torte. The other two dessert options don’t even deserve a mention, sorry. Hands down, the torte won over my heart from the first bite.

After almost slipping into sugar shock, I decided that I too needed to master this dessert. Warning: this dessert is not for the faint hearted. A crunchy biscuit base lays underneath a blanket of golden caramel, and smothered in a solid block of  sweet chocolate- this sinful dessert doesn’t even require a side of ice cream. Just like my favourite Red Velvet cake, this tasty treat is one of those once-in-a-while treats.

I admit it didn’t taste exactly like my Aunt’s version (I may have used a Milk chocolate instead of Plain as the recipe suggested), but for a first attempt I was pretty impressed with myself. It was a quick dessert to prepare and the only lengthy part was waiting for the chocolate to solidify in the fridge/freezer. (My recommendation, for best results prepare this dessert overnight and serve the next day) Keep an eye on the Recipe section of my blog for the how-to.

Enjoy!

Tracey xoxo

And here’s a little throwback tune for you too. This was one of my favourite songs as a kid, oh to be young again.

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Pastries in Paris

Bonsoir mon petit Croissants,

I come to you this evening with another belated blog update from my recent travels. One of the beautiful things about living in the UK is that we are just a few hours away from so many amazing European cities. You may have guessed from my greeting that the journey I am reminiscing about is France, Paris to be precise.

I took a casual day trip with two of my close girlfriends to the City of Love. We ventured out on the Metro and visited cafe’s, restaurants and Museums, including the famous Louvre where the Mona Lisa resides. We spent the evening enjoying some fine French cuisine in a restaurant near the Eiffel tower.

I always make it a priority to try street food in every country I visit, so I indulged in some freshly made churros after dinner… Close your eyes and imagine hot churros, straight from the oil, freshly rolled in a bed of sugar, and dipped into a side of chocolate-hazelnut spread. Heaven!

The day wouldn’t have been complete if we didn’t stop at an authentic Parisian bakery to pick up treats for the journey home. The sight of golden, buttery, flaky croissants smiling from behind the glass was a treat I couldn’t resist. (Quite frankly I’m grateful that there was glass between us, because if it hadn’t been for that restriction I would have gladly devoured everything in sight.) The plain croissant choice was easy, but then came the decision between almond croissants, baguettes, tarts, quiche and doughnuts- I must have let at least ten people pass in front of me before I was secure in my decision!  I eventually bought more pain au chocolat and danish pastries than I could carry. Tucking into those tantalizing delicacies on the train back to London was a beautiful end to an eventful day. And believe it or not I was even able to savour some until the next day! Pastries are one sweet treat I haven’t mastered yet, so I’ll be sure to add them to my list of bakes to conquer.

Au Revoir mon amies,

Tracey xoxo

Chocolat

Chocolat

Churros et Chocolat

Boulangerie

Patisseries

Quiche et Patisseries

Tour Eiffel

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25.

The end of February is nigh, and another birthday has passed. Another year wiser.

This month I celebrated my quarter of a century milestone, and what a celebration it was!  A weekend surrounded by friends, family and rich foods, I couldn’t have asked for anything more. The dessert-celebrations began three days before my actual birthday. An elegant dinner followed by a rich Red Velvet cake, smothered in a thick buttercream filling and decorated with royal icing and sugar paste… After three days of dancing, eating and *censored* I decided to spend my actual birthday at home, with Mama.

Red Velvet birthday cake

We started the day by making choc-chip-pancakes-with-a-twist. Okay, so really it was the regular American pancake recipe, with a teaspoon of vanilla extract, grated nutmeg and a handful of chocolate chips- but it was heavenly! Teamed with a  mug of freshly brewed Kenyan Masala tea, we were in brunch haven! Birthday gifts and pancakes, what more could I ask for?  It was like Christmas in February!

Birthday pancakes

I’m looking forward to what my 25th year will bring, hopefully it includes a heck of a lot more baking and blogging!

*Raises cupcake* To my 25th year!   

25.

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Gobble til you Wobble

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Happy Thanksgiving ya’ll!

I imagine you’ve all been salivating over your roasted turkey, silk smooth gravy; crispy, golden potatoes and mac’n’cheese (with your side of fresh vegetables I hope!) I thought what better dessert for this holiday than a warm, apple treat. There’s something beautiful about eating an apple-based dessert inside a cosy home, while the chilly Autumn season passes by…

I chose an apple-crumble-sponge-cake, otherwise known as the Apple Streusel Cake. The cake is built on a foundation of light and fluffy sponge cake. Topped with a thinly sliced layer of sweet n sour green apples, and a light n crunchy, golden crumble sprinkled on top. This dessert is the perfect end to any heavy meal; it’s not too sweet that you feel the guilt of gluttony, and you can count the apples as part of your 5-a-day! But if you’ve already crossed the line of ‘gobble til ya wobble’ then you may as well add a side of vanilla or toffee ice cream!

Apple Streusel Cake

Happy Turkey day to all my American friends and family all the way from chilly England :)

Have a beautiful day,

Tracey xoxo

 
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The Only Way Is Silicone

For my British readers, fear not! This post is not a spin-off of the UK reality show TOWIE. (Nor am I surfacing my views on plastic surgery.) Seeing as it’s a new month I thought I should venture into something different and do a product review.

For the ardent bakers among you, you may already be aware of the life-changing invention of silicon baking moulds. Long gone are the days when you would have to knock the metal baking tin against the kitchen work surface to liberate your cake! And you can also wave goodbye to the days of scraping out half of your cake from the tin, because silicone moulds are the next best thing. Easy to clean. Easy to turn out the cakes. And if you’re brave enough, you won’t even need to grease the silicone beforehand.

I remember the first time I used a silicone mould in my parent’s gas oven and my Dad asked me if I was trying to burn the house down! Rest assured the silicone will not catch fire and nor will your cake, (well, the cake part isn’t guaranteed, that depends on your own baking skills!) Over the years I’ve upgraded all of my baking tins and I recommend you do so too.

Love & Cupcakes,

Tracey xoxo

The Only Way Is Silicone

The Only Way Is Silicone

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Silver Anniversary

Today is a very special day. Today is my parent’s silver wedding anniversary.

After a jubilant weekend filled with gifts, laughter, fine dining and embarrassing stories, I thought what better way to end their day than with cake! (With a  varied style of decoration, I used the same cake recipe as I did for my sister’s 21st birthday.)

Mumsy. Daddy. I dedicate this post to you. Wishing you many, many more happy years together.

Love, Wedding cake & Marital bliss,

Tracey xoxo

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Forever 21

Greetings cake enthusiasts,

How many of you remember your 21st birthday? I know I do. Truth be told, a number of years later I’m still trying to tell people I’m 21! One of my sisters recently reached this milestone and I happily offered to bake her birthday cake.

Her choice, Lemon Drizzle cake. Her specification, ‘Make it BIG!’

My previous attempt at Lemon Drizzle cake was not fantastic, it took me more than one attempt to realise that my ridiculously stodgy lemon cake was a result of squeezing the lemon juice into the batter, instead of grating in the lemon zest! Alas! Once I had realised the error of my ways I began baking endless supplies of lemon drizzle, making it a new favourite amongst my sister’s cake palette.

I chose to use a Chantilly cream to layer the cakes as I wanted something that would compliment the sweetness of the lemon cake, without overpowering it. I also added strawberries inbetween each layer for a fresh, summer taste. I made the cake without the drizzle topping, supplementing it with the cream. I’m pleased to say that my sister was more than happy with the outcome :) She loved the cake so much that she offered to illustrate the cake for my blog post. You can find more of her illustrations on her blog; www.jessnash.tumblr.com .

Love & Birthday cake,

Tracey xoxo

21st Birthday cake

(Aunty Kay’s) Lemon Drizzle cake

225g Unsalted butter

225g Caster sugar

4 Eggs

225g Self-raising flour

Finely grated zest x1 Lemon 

Chantilly Cream

284ml (10fl oz) Whipping cream

1 Vanilla pod

Icing sugar (Confectioner’s suagr) to taste

 

Preheat the oven to 180° / Gas Mark 4 and grease a loaf tin.

Cream together the butter, sugar and add the eggs one at a time.

Sift the flour into the batter and mix well on a medium speed. Grate in the lemon zest and fold in with a wooden spoon.

Bake the cake for 45-50mins or until fully baked. {If making a small layer cake, separate the batter into two or three parts. However, if you choose to go BIG, make two batches of the recipe.}

For the Chantilly cream, use the electric hand whisk to beat the whipping cream at a high speed and whisk the cream until it thickens. Cut the vanilla pod length ways and add it to the cream, stirring in the pods with a spatular. Add enough icing sugar to give a light and sweet taste, N.B. The vanilla pod will already add a fragrant taste to the cream so don’ty be excessive with the sugar.

To decorate, spread the cream over one slice of cake (ensure that the cake is fully cooled down) and slice strawberries to place on top of the cream. Add the second (and third) layers, repeating the cream and strawberry process. Refridgerate the cake for an hour minimum in order for the cream to set, and voila!

Layer it up!

Sandwich it together