Thursday 31 May 2012

Corgi cake balls

The Queen's corgi dogs - just in time for the Jubilee!

I'm planning a fairly ambitious bake for the Jubilee weekend (which is also my mum's birthday) but in the meantime thought I would share this with you. I made corgi dog cake balls! And here's how I did it.

Take one madeira cake that you've already baked, and turn into cake crumbs.

Mix with buttercream to make a play-dough type consistency.

Attempt to make cake pops. Fail completely. Discover the balls keep falling off the sticks and eventually give up and decide to do something else with the damn things.
True story... lol!

Roll out some leftover brown-coloured fondant, and cover the cake ball completely.
Look online for pictures of corgi dogs as you can't quite remember what they look like.
Make a nose and central face stripe from white fondant, and ears from the brown fondant.
Assemble like so.

Take chocolate chips you had bought for another recipe, and insert two point-first as the eyes, and another one as the nose.

Repeat as desired. Do you think they look like corgis? They definitely look like dogs!

I'm planning to include these with my main Jubilee bake but in the meantime I am entering them in the Blogging Jubilee Baking Competition hosted by Homemade by Fleur. The competition is sponsored by Appliances Online .The deadline is June 3rd so you still have a few days to get your entries in!

Because this used up leftover fondant, and ingredients I bought for another recipe, and cake that I would have otherwise thrown away as the cake pops failed, I am entering this into Frugal Food Fridays. I am guest hosting the challenge on behalf of Helen from Fuss Free Flavours from now until the end of June.


Frugal Food Fridays

The lovely Helen at Fuss Free Flavours has invited me to guests host her blogging challenge, Frugal Food Fridays.

This is one I particularly like as it encourages you to use up leftovers, look for cheaper ingredients and even make meals that take less energy or time to cook. In fact, I'll let Helen explain in her own words:

Frugal Food Fridays are all about saving some money, whilst still enjoying great food.
To take part, blog about a food related money saving idea and add your post to the round up Linky.
Please use the logo and also link to this post.
Money saving topics could be:-
  • Dishes using cheaper ingredients – cheap cuts of meat or vegetarian
  • Meals using leftovers
  • Meals using up the ends of packets
  • Substitutions of cheaper ingredients
  • Packed lunches
  • Meals that use less energy to cook
  • Pressure cooking
  • Slow cooking
  • Faster cooking – less oven time for example
  • Batch cooking for the freezer
  • Sustainable foods
  • Food you have grown yourself
  • Meals from reduced food in the supermarket 
Helen is looking for more guest hosts so if you are interested contact her at  helen at fussfreeflavours dot com.

Please include the badge on your blog post and add your post to the Linky below. I'm hosting the challenge until June 30th and look forward to seeing your entries! (And they don't have to be posted on a Friday!)

 You also need to link to the main Frugal Fridays page in order to be able to add a post to the Linky

Details of this challenge should also appear on the Food Blog Diary.

Domino's Triple Chocolate Cookie Challenge

 The nice people at Domino's Pizza invited me to review their new limited edition triple chocolate cookies, and suggested I might want to bake my own cookies and conduct a taste test. In the words of the great Barney Stinson, "Challenge.... Accepted!"
I don't have a failsafe chocolate cookie recipe as it's not something I've actually made for years, so I hunted around online until I found something that I liked the sound of. I couldn't resist trying out these "dark and dangerous" triple chocolate cookies from Canadian Living.

The recipe was extremely fast and simple to make (though my lovely new Kitchenaid definitely speeds up the process!) and I had a batch of these in the oven within minutes of getting home from work. I did halve the quantities given in the recipe as it said it makes 48 servings - though of course that would depend on the size of your cookies.

I weighed out butter and sugar (I ran out of vanilla, oops!), put it in the Kitchenaid and switched it on, added an egg, and then the four, cocoa, baking powder and salt mixture. Hey presto, it was done!

I then added some white chocolate buttons

And a packet of chocolate chips

I used my hands to shape them into balls which I flattened slightly onto a baking sheet.

Here they are, straight from the oven!

In the meantime, I ordered the cookies from Domino's, and a pizza and a couple of side orders too. The cookies sell for £3.50 for a box of four, and arrive warm. I encouraged my taste testers to dig in and give me comments to compare my home-baked cookies to Domino's own. These are the Domino's cookies:

The two cookies looked quite different - mine were larger and flatter whereas the ones from Domino were smaller and deeper - and also perfectly round, so it wasn't hard to spot which ones were mine. Comments that described the cookies I made included:

"Nicey chewy"
"A bit crumbly"
"Not too sweet"
"Has a slight chewiness which is nice"

Comments on the Domino's cookies:
"Very gooey"
"Melts in your mouth"
"Very sweet"
"More like a chocolate brownie on the inside"

Overall the taste testers decided that while the two cookies were very different, they didn't have an overall preference (I hope they weren't just being nice!). It's definitely nice to have them arrive warm and ready prepared (after all, how many people ordering a pizza are going to bother baking their own cookies?!) but they are not something I would order every time I have a pizza. But Domino's triple chocolate cookies were definitely a hit and I recommend you try them! (And I have to say, when eaten on the following day, the Domino's cookies definitely have the better texture).

Disclaimer: Dominos provided the cookies free of charge for review. I was not required to write a positive review and was encouraged to express my own opinion.

Monday 28 May 2012

Vegan chocolate brownies

Still haven't finished posting everything I made for my birthday party back in April... as I mentioned previously, I wanted to make sure there were some vegan options at my birthday party. I wanted something quick and easy and thought you can't go wrong with chocolate brownies (though my boyfriend would disagree!)

Once again I turned to the internet and came across this recipe for vegan chocolate brownies. They were described as "very gooey" in the recipe, which always bodes well in my opinion - I'd rather my brownies were undercooked than overcooked!

As with most brownie recipes, you generally bung everything into a bowl and stir. Perfect! So I mixed the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and cocoa powder.


Pour in water, vegetable oil and vanilla. In fact this isn't much different to the vegan cupcake recipe I used! (That's my excuse for using the same photo below on both blog posts... I honestly can't tell which of the two recipes it was!) 

I might be from this recipe... I might be from the cupcakes. 

Pour into a loose-bottomed square pan and bake.

Cut into chunks and you're done!

 I thought these brownies turned out really well - quite gooey as the recipe suggested and with a lovely flavour. I'd make these again whether they were for a vegan or not!

June update:The letter for this month's Alphabakes is V and since this post isn't too old (and we do accept existing posts) I am entering it in this month's challenge.


Sunday 27 May 2012

Alphabakes roundup - H - May 2012

Here's what you've all been waiting for.... the round-up of fabulous entries we've had for this month's Alphabakes, where the letter we asked you to incorporate into your bakes was H.

I was expecting plenty of honey and hazelnut recipes and we did get a few of those- but all unique in their own way. In addition, there were some really imaginative entries!

Dave from Baking Beats kicked us off in style this month with a Chocolate and Hazelnut cake. The simple name belies the elaborate decoration – I love the pattern and the caramelised hazelnuts on top!

Dom from Belleau Kitchen used honey as his ‘H’ ingredient and sent us this Honey, Almond and Orange Cake, which he describes as “bloody amazing” – and I think we would all agree with you there, Dom!

My entry was next and this month’s letter was a great opportunity to publish a blog post I hadn’t gotten around to writing, even though I baked the cake a while ago. Believe it or not, under all this bling there is a Hummingbird Cake – read the full post to find out why I thought it would be a good idea to spray it gold!

LilMsSquirrel (aka Becks) went for a branded product beginning with H for her main ingredients – let’s hear it for these Hellman’s Banana and Raspberry Blondies! Using mayonnaise is a way to make brownies or blondies lower in fat and this is something I think I will definitely have to try; Becks says these come in at only 92 calories a piece!

Suelle from MainlyBaking made these Rhubarb and Hazelnut Tarts with a delicious-sounding hazelnut frangipane, and she says the combination of flavours was definitely a success. I might have to make a note of rhubarb if “r” comes up as the Alphabakes letter!

I couldn’t let my crazy gold cake be my only entry for Alphabakes this month, and purely by chance one week in May at my cake decorating class we made… handbag cakes

Zoe from Bake for Happy Kids sent us these Honey Walnut Cakes, which look relatively easy to make so would be great for a family baking session! And if you want to add a sophisticated topping, she also gives a recipe for honey roasted nuts – yum!

Anuja from Simple Baking gave us this Wholewheat and Honey Cake which she made in a bundt tin, which I think looks just wonderful when it’s sliced. In fact can I have a piece of this now please? :-)

I was hoping we would get one of these for Alphabakes, and Kate from Turquoise Lemons didn’t let us down! Have you heard of Herman the German friendship cake? Herman is a sourdough starter that you feed until he makes enough for you to pass on the starter to three friends – as well as making the cake of course! The cake is apple and cinnamon flavour and looks delicious – if anyone has a spare Herman starter they want to send my way!

Ros’s mum Pat made us this beautiful honey cake with honey buttercream icing, decorated with honey bees – aren’t they cute?

Helen from Fuss Free Flavours sent us this Heritage wheat loaf with crimson raisins. The loaf uses einkorn wheat which is a “heritage” wheat -  read her post for an explanation! It’s nice to have a few savoury bakes among all the sweet stuff too!

One thing I like about Alphabakes is that as well as getting ideas for new bakes and ingredients that I might not have made before or used in a while, I’m also discovering totally new things that I’d never even heard of! One of these is haupia – apparently a traditional coconut-based Hawaiian dessert. As I said, I’d never heard of it before, so it was a pleasant surprise to get not one but two of these entered into Alphabakes!

The wonderfully named Cupcake Crazy Gem sent us a Hawaiian Haupia Chocolate Pie which looks absolutely delicious:

And that was immediately followed by Kit fromi-Lost In Austen’s Okinawan Sweet Potato Haupia Pie. I love the fact that you can combine the basic Haupia recipe with all sorts of things whether it’s chocolate or sweet potato or something else. This one has an amazing purple colour which is just a joy to behold.

PiggyBakes (aka Sally) sent us these very more-ish Apple, Sultana and Honey Oat Cookies, just perfect to go with a cup of tea:

  Jen from Blue Kitchen Bakes picked up the savoury baton and sent us this Ham, leek and potato pie – check out the pie dish her boyfriend bought her!
Another new discovery for me is halva cake – have you come across this before? Denise from Magnolia Verandah made this lovely orange halva cake for Mothers’ Day (which in the US was in May – it’s in March in the UK for some reason!). I’m sure her mother-in-law, who was the recipient of the cake, was really impressed.
Jacqueline – otherwise known as my mum – is a keen Alphabakes participant and sent us a sticky honey and ginger cake. Unfortunately I wasn’t there to try any of it –maybe next time!
Herman the German made a second appearance (he’s been a busy little cake!) from a new Alphabakes participant, Jean from Bakingin Franglais. I love the idea of a friendship cake and Herman makes me smile every time. I'm quite curious about what it tastes like now as well!
Another new participant, Snowy from CookbooksGalore, sent us these spelt and honey cakes which look very tempting
   I wasn’t intending to enter my own challenge three times, but in May I had a picnic with my family at Beaulieu and wanted to bake something savoury to take along, so I made these ham and cheese scones. They went down very well!
Hob nobs are one of my favourite biscuits and I can’t believe I never thought of them when I was brainstorming the letter H… luckily Credit Munched was cleverer than me and baked this fabulous batch of homemade hob nobs! Apparently they didn’t last very long in her house….
The wonderfully original Baking Addict – my co-host for Alphabakes – had a brainwave and made us these Hamburgers for this month’s challenge. Look closely however and you will see they are actually cake! Check out her post to see how all the elements came together. Wouldn’t these be great for a Jubilee street party?
  Fleur from Homemade by Fleur used one of my favourite types of chocolate – toblerone – paired with honey to make this toblerone-inspired dinner party dessert. I envy her dinner party guests!
Laure (aka #puddingfairy) from Les Recettes deLorette did us proud with this Heston Blumenthal explosive chocolate cake. It’s frankly outstanding and you must check out the video of her using the paint gun on the cake!
Claire from Under the Blue Gum Tree used herbs for the letter h, and sent us this delicious-looking Courgette, Goats Cheese and Garden Herb Pesto Bread. Looks perfect for a summer picnic!

You can’t have H without Hershey’s and Lottie from Lottie’s World of Cakes and Bakes made us this Hershey’s Kisses Chocolate Tray Bake. I love the pink and chocolate ruffle icing! And the Hershey’s kisses are a lovely finishing touch.

Here’s the second entry from my co-host Ros, aka Baking Addict: Hummingbird Cupcakes with dried pineapple flowers.  I’ve never seen pineapple flowers before but they look relatively simple to make, and go perfectly with the flavours of this cake.
Another bread-based entry and one that sounds absolutely delicious is this hazelnut, apricot and honey wholemeal loaf, from Janice of Farmersgirl Kitchen.
I’m a big fan of chocolate mousse so it’s great to see that Kelly of American Cupcake in London hit upon the idea of a Honeycomb Chocolate Mousse for this month’s Alphabakes. She says it can be easily adapted to be dairy free as well.
  Honey is turning out to be one of the most popular ingredients for this month, but everyone has used it in a very different way. Angela from Garden Tea Cakes and Me baked Honey and Rose Cupcakes, which would be perfect for a summer garden party.

Fiona from Sweet Thing You Make My Heart Sing was excited to be participating in alphabakes for the first time- welcome! What’s more, she tackled my nemesis and made hazelnut macarons, and they turned out really well! Look forward to seeing you next month, Fiona!
Karen from Lavender and Lovage wrote a very interesting blog post on Fair Trade, which sparked off a lot of debate – check it out if you’re interested. It was prompted by the ingredients she used for her Honey, banana and blueberry breakfast buns – yum!

Cookie Sleuth sent us these hazelnut and chocolate chip cookies which look so delicious I’m sure I couldn’t stop at one – or probably half a dozen either!

Something else I’d never heard of but is apparently quite popular in America (which means it will be taking off here soon!) is hi-hat cakes – I think the name refers to the fact that the icing is piled or piped as high as possible! Baking Addict Ros made this her third entry this month and sent in these very impressive Hi-Hat Marshmallow cupcakes. I bet you get marshmallow all over your nose when you try to eat these!

I was just waiting for someone to pair honey with figs and Lucas @ has done just that, with this delicious honey, fig and blue cheese tart. Did I mention I love blue cheese as well?

Ros’s mum Pat sent us a second entry as well - she sent in a Harvest pie – a shorcrust pastry pie filled with 'harvest' vegetables - onion, red pepper, green pepper, pumpkin, potato, broccoli and carrot. And is that cheese I spy on top as well? It sounds very tasty!

Mel of Sharky Oven Gloves indulged us with a Pear and apple hazelnut crumble. I love anything with a crumble topping!

Remember Fiona from Sweet Thing You Make MyHeart Sing’s hazelnut macarons? She used the leftovers to make Hazelnut Brownies. What a great way to use up leftovers- you can never go wrong with brownies!

Chaya from Bizzy Bakes says she “threw together” this Hash Brown Cake – it looks really tasty and again is something I wouldn’t have thought of for this month’s challenge, even though I love hash browns!

Sarah from Sarah Bakes used Hershey’s kisses in her recipe for these Hershey’s Almond Kiss Cookies – they look very moreish and really cute!

Ros’s mum Pat can’t be outdone by her daughter and sent us a third entry herself! She made hazelnut spirals – these are cookie dough made with ground hazelnuts with a hazelnut spread (nutella) swirl. Extremely chocolatey!

Sarah from Maison Cupcake  made honey and lemon cream cheese popovers – popovers are what we call Yorkshire puddings in the UK (at least I think so!) and I’ve heard they are sometimes served sweet. These sound really lovely – I love her mini bundt tin too!

Another new participant, Debbi from Debbi doesDinner Healthy made a slightly more unhealthy recipe for this month’s Alphabakes – her Hot dog, ham and grilled cheese sandwich looks pretty indulgent but pretty good!

Caroline from Cake, Crumbs and Cooking made us a lovely Floral Honey Cake which looks really moist and delicious and she said her whole house smelled of honey while it was baking.

Daisy from Never Too Sweet for Me introduced me to these Honey Joys – an Australian dessert that remind me a little of cornflake cakes, only nicer!

  The final entry that got in just before the deadline was from my sister Clare, who made these honey lemon cupcakes. I love the piping pattern on the top!

Here are a couple of late entries that came in just after the deadline – and apologies to anyone who tweeted their entry but forgot to email it in. Writing the round up takes a fair bit of work and if your entry isn’t in the inbox, there’s a strong chance I won’t remember it when I’m putting the round up together!
So late but still great are the following:

Miss Cake Baker from What I Baked this Weekend made this honey, sultana and cinnamon cookies which look delicious:

Choclette from the wonderful Chocolate Log Blog made these rhubarb and rose honey cakes or nonettes, which sounds like a really interesting and tasty flavour combination

Liv A Little Bakery sent in these Manuka honey cupcakes with homemade honeycomb- a double whammy of h and something I’d love to try!

 Daisy from NeverTooSweet  made a second entry, but forgot to email it in - BakingAddict just spotted it so I've managed to include it in the round up just before the end of the month! Sorry I didn't see this sooner, Daisy! This is her first ever Hummingbird cake, and I think it turned out really well, don't you?

So that's it for this month's Alphabakes - we had an amazing 50 entries, we seem to be getting more every time, even though the letter was a little more difficult this time! I can't wait to find out what the letter for June is - check out Ros's blog on June 1st!