Tuesday 28 August 2018

Vegan Chocolate Baby Shower Cake

One of my friends has just had her second baby, another boy, the day before her own birthday. We - my group of school friends - all went to see her a couple of weeks ago for a combined birthday and baby shower celebration.

I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to go until the last minute as we already had two other things on that weekend - a relative visiting and my father in law’s birthday - but we were able to arrange things so that we were able to go.

Making cakes for celebrations when we get together is usually my thing so I couldn’t turn up empty handed, but I didn’t have the confidence I would have enough time in between taking care of my five month old to make anything really elaborate so I decided to keep it simple.

One of my friends is vegan and I remembered seeing a recipe for a vegan chocolate cake in Tea with Bea, the recipe book from the Bea's of Bloomsbury café.

I'm also publishing this recipe on my new parenting blog, Mini Moo Life - if you're interested in all things baby, parenting and family related, hop on over and have a look! Or follow the blog on Twitter @MiniMoo_Life or Instagram @mini_moo_life.

I used white wine vinegar instead of the red wine vinegar given in the recipe as I had a bottle in the cupboard already (and white wine vinegar is often used in vegan baking so I knew it would be ok). I made a simple vegan buttercream from Pure dairy-free spread, icing sugar and cocoa powder.

The guideline cooking time was given as 40-55 minutes with an extra 5-10 minutes if necessary, which is quite a large range. I found the cake needed the full 65 minutes, in fact I think I left it in even for slightly longer and it was still really light and moist.

I bought a gold cake pick with the word 'baby' from my local party store to go in the top and sprinkled the top with edible gold lustre dust. The cake tasted really good - if you are new to vegan baking and need reassuring, this cake tastes even better than a lot of non-vegan chocolate cakes!

Here's what I did
To make one 8 or 9 inch cake you need:

275g plain flour
100g cocoa powder
2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
450ml soya milk
2 tsp red wine vinegar (I used white wine vinegar)
320g caster sugar
320ml sunflower oil (I used vegetable oil)
2 tbsp. vanilla extract

For the buttercream
200g vegan spread eg Pure
400g icing sugar

Here's what I did

Preheat oven to 160C. Mix the flour, cocoa powder, bicarb of soda, baking powder and salt in a large bowl.

In another bowl, mix the soya milk, vinegar, sugar, oil and vanilla, whisking until combined.

Fold into the dry ingredients and mix well.

Grease an 8 or 9 inch cake tin and spoon in the prepared mixture and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour (I've increased the cooking time slightly from the original recipe). Test the middle with a skewer and bake for another 5-10 minutes if needed.

Allow to cool in the tin then turn out onto a baking rack.

When cool, make the buttercream - cream together the marg and icing sugar. Carefully slice the cake through the middle and spread with the buttercream.

You can spread buttercream over the top and around the sides as well if you wish; I left mine plain and decorated the top with edible gold lustre powder.

I'm sharing this with the final We Should Cocoa linkup over at Tin and Thyme and also with CookBlogShare over at Easy Peasy Foodie.

9 Summer Chocolate Recipes for We Should Cocoa #WeShouldCocoa #chocolate #recipesCook Blog Share Linky

Monday 27 August 2018

Meal Planning Monday 2018 Week 35

Last week was pretty rubbish as my husband has been not feeling well for several days so I didn't make most of the meals I'd planned, or either of the desserts as we didn't go to the party. It's meant I have lots of random ingredients in the fridge to freeze or use up!

This weekend should be quite exciting though as my little girl turns six months and we are going to begin weaning. I've decided to do a mixture of puree and baby led weaning (where you give them pieces of food to pick up and eat as they wish) but starting with purees. I've got a couple of Annabel Karmel books which recommend starting with just a couple of spoonfuls of carrot puree once a day around lunchtime, and progressing from there. I've been making purees and putting them in the freezer so will make a list of what I plan to give baby S each day so I don't forget!

Monday - bank holiday
Lunch - crumpets
Dinner - chicken and bacon pie (ready made) with mashed potato and veg

rest of pie which I think will last two days, with chips

meatballs and pasta with homemade basil pesto

chicken curry

Tacos - either chicken or fish with potato wedges

Lunch fresh pasta with garlic bread
Dinner sausage casserole

Lunch bacon sandwich for us; and carrot puree for baby S
Dinner Spanish style chicken bake, based on this recipe

Sunday 26 August 2018

Music and Drumkit Birthday Card

I made this card for a relative who is a musician; it can be hard to make cards for men that aren't just fairly generic so if a guy I know has a particular hobby (or in this case, it's his profession) I try to theme cards accordingly.

The main elements of this card come from a set of die cuts I bought that you press out from a sheet, I'm afraid I can't remember the brand! The musical notes and stave across the top come from a sheet of outline stickers (I think they are Anita's) and the backing paper is actually from a 6x6 paper pack with an Oriental theme - I thought this one would work with the reds in the drum kit and happy birthday square.

I'm sharing this with:
Allsorts challenge - music
Dream Factory (Die Traumfabrik) - Save the last dance
Jo's Scrap Shack - anything goes
Crazy 4 Challenges - masculine

Wednesday 22 August 2018

Peach Melba Cheesecake for a summer party

Cheesecake seems to be my default dessert in the summer as it's light and creamy, and you can add all sorts of flavours - my husband prefers chocolate desserts but I don't want to cook with chocolate that much when the weather is hot!

Last weekend we went to his aunt and uncle's house for a family party and I was asked if I could make a dessert. Cheesecake is usually popular and easy to make, so I chose a peach melba cheesecake recipe from a book called Cheesecake by Hannah Miles.

I was buying the ingredients several days in advance and have found fresh raspberries go mouldy very quickly before, so decided to use tinned; I also had tinned peaches in the cupboard so decided to use those instead of fresh. Finally I decided not to make the glaze to go on top - so here's what I did.

for the base
300g malted milk biscuits
150g butter, melted
300g tin of raspberries in syrup, drained - reserve a few for the decoration

for the filling
4 sheets leaf gelatine
410g tin of peach slices in juice or syrup, drained
100g caster sugar
200g cream cheese
250g ricotta
150ml double cream

for the topping
half a 410g tin of peach slices in juice or syrup, drained
a few raspberries to decorate

I didn't make the glaze to go on the top partly due to lack of time but partly as I didn't think I fancied it - it looked like a thin layer of jelly essentially. If you want to find out how to do that part have a look at the book.

Crush the biscuits in a blender in a few batches.

Melt the butter in a small pan or in a microwave-proof bowl in the microwave and stir in the biscuits.

Press into the bottom of a loose-bottomed cake or tart tin, pressing some of the biscuit up the sides to form a crust. Spread the raspberries over the biscuit base.

Soften the gelatine leaves in a bowl of water for 5 minutes or according to pack instructions.

Meanwhile puree the peaches in a food processor and set aside.

Mix the sugar, cream cheese and ricotta in a large bowl until creamy.

Heat the cream in a small pan until it is just warm. Squeeze the water out of the gelatine leaves and stir into the cream, mixing until all the gelatine has dissolved. Whisk into the cheese mixture in the bowl and then fold in the peach puree.

Pour onto the prepared base and leave overnight in the fridge to set.

Just before you want to serve, decorate the top of the cheesecake with the peach slices and reserved raspberries.

This cheesecake was really light and creamy, with a nice flavour from the peaches and a burst of raspberry on the base. It disappeared quite quickly at our family lunch!

I'm sending this to Baking Crumbs hosted by Only Crumbs Remain
 and  CookBlogShare hosted by Glutarama

Only Crumbs RemainCook Blog Share

Tuesday 21 August 2018

Meal Planning Monday 2018 Week 34

The mini moo (baby S) and I had a nice few days last week with my parents visiting though my mum was ill on their last day which put paid to our plans to going out for lunch and a date night with my husband in the evening.

chicken tacos with leftover chicken from the roast I did at the weekend

marinaded tuna steak from this recipe for me, sausage and chips for him

meatballs and pasta with homemade basil pesto

chicken and bacon pie and mashed potato

Spanish style chicken bake, based on this recipe

Lunch/Dinner - BBQ with family. I need to take a dessert so plan to make a white chocolate and strawberry marquise

Lunch - fresh pasta we didn't have last week
Dinner - sausage casserole with mashed potato
Dessert - chocolate cheesecake trifle based on this recipe (but without the Baileys)

Saturday 18 August 2018

Storecupboard Apple Sauce and Cinnamon Cake

This cake is made from ingredients you probably already have at home - or you might only need to buy one extra ingredient - so is great for those last-minute 'I need to make a cake' moments. It's also incredibly moist and really tasty so I think this is something I will be making again!

I made this cake when my parents came to visit - we'd had a busy weekend and I hadn't really thought about what food we would eat until two days before, so quickly did an online shop. I thought it would be nice to have some cake while they were here but hadn't thought about it in time to add anything to my shopping list, so decided to find a recipe using what I had in the house.

I have a recipe book I love called United Cakes of America, which has a different cake or pie representing every state, which I haven't used for a little while. It has a recipe from West Virginia for apple butter cake which I decided to adapt.

Apple butter is like apple sauce but creamier and more concentrated in flavour and more like a spread. I didn't have any and while you can get it in the UK, it's not something you can just pick up in Tesco. I did have a jar of apple sauce in the fridge so decided to use that, and the cake turned out really well. I also added more cinnamon to the mixture as the recipe only called for a quarter of a teaspoon which I didn't think was very much.

The filling for this cake also looked very elaborate - a buttercream that involved using milk, flour and sugar, heated in a pan -I usually just mix butter and icing sugar! I didn't have a lot of time so decided to make my usual easy buttercream but flavoured with cinnamon, as in the recipe, but also add a splash of apple juice.

The top of this cake would look nice decorated with sliced apple but again as I was only using storecupboard ingredients I didn't have any. Here's what I did - I'm calling this an original recipe as it was so far removed from the one in the book!

This makes a pretty deep 8 inch cake.

140g butter or margarine, softened
425g caster sugar
3 eggs
340g self-raising flour
pinch of salt
1 level teaspoon ground cinnamon
60ml milk
270g jar apple sauce
1 tsp vanilla flavouring

for the buttercream:
400g icing sugar, sifted
200g butter or margarine, softened
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tbsp. apple juice

Preheat oven to 180C and grease two 8-inch or 9-inch cake tins.

Cream together the butter and sugar then beat in the eggs one at a time.

Fold in the flour, along with the salt and cinnamon.

Carefully fold in the milk, and then the apple sauce and vanilla flavouring until the mixture is well combined.

Spoon into the two cake tins and bake for 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the pans, then turn onto a baking rack to finish cooling.

To make the buttercream, cream together the butter and icing sugar with the cinnamon and apple juice.

When the cakes are cool, spread the filling in between the two layers and also on the top if you like (you will need to increase the quantity if you also want to ice the top and sides of the cake).

This cake kept beautifully moist for a few days and I really enjoyed it - you can taste both the cinnamon and the apple.

I'm sending this to Baking Crumbs hosted by Only Crumbs Remain
Love Cake at Jibber Jabber UK
CookBlogShare hosted by the Peachicks Bakery

Only Crumbs Remain Cook Blog Share

Monday 13 August 2018

Meal Planning Monday 2018 Week 33

We had a really busy but fun weekend, visiting a friend in Cheltenham for her birthday and baby shower then with my husband's family for his dad's birthday. I was really tired on Sunday night and had a half hour nap which is a very rare thing for me to do! This morning I'm firing on all cylinders doing lots of admin (we came home to find my car on our driveway had a puncture, I need to make a doctor's appointment, finish unpacking from the weekend and so on). Baby S has just fallen asleep so I'm now doing this week's meal plan and online shop, as my parents are coming to stay from Wednesday and at the moment I've got no idea what we are eating!

tikka chicken steaks

beef medallions with a peppercorn sauce

 Lunch - beans on toast as it's easy for when my parents arrive
Dinner - chicken in a red wine and boursin sauce I keep meaning to make but cancelling

Lunch - possibly out
Dinner - spaghetti bolognese

Lunch - ham and cheese toasties
Dinner - might be out at the cinema, not sure yet as they don't release the listings for Fridays until two days before which always really annoys me! Assuming I am at home for dinner we will have the gammon steaks I intended to do recently but didn't.

Lunch - fresh pasta and garlic bread
Dinner - roast beef and Yorkshire puddings

Lunch - with my husband's family
Dinner - probably something easy like frozen pizza

Wednesday 8 August 2018

Homemade Iced Hazelnut / Caramel Latte

It's well known that during pregnancy some women develop cravings and others gain an aversion to foods they previously liked. I didn't really experience either so it was quite a surprise when I developed a post-natal taste for coffee.

I've never been a coffee drinker, unless you count a Starbucks Caramel Macchiato with extra cream, which to me never tasted much like regular coffee as it was so sweet and deliciously caramel-y.. I did occasionally self-medicate with a coffee when I felt extremely tired but it wasn't something I particularly enjoyed drinking. But since having baby S five months ago, I've sometimes found myself swapping my breakfast cup of tea for a coffee, and I've recently gotten an expensive habit of ordering the 250ml bottles of Starbucks Coffee Frappucino in caramel flavour from Tesco when I get my groceries delivered, which at £1.80 a pop soon adds up.

It must be possible to make something similar myself, I thought... a little bit of experimentation later and I've found the perfect iced latte drink to enjoy during the hot summer weather. I made it with hazelnut flavour as that's what I already had in the house, but it would be amazing with caramel, vanilla or any other flavour you want to try.

You need:
ice cubes
coffee - instant works perfectly and makes this super quick to make
Monin hazelnut syrup for coffee (or any other flavour) - see below
cold milk

Make a strong cup of coffee using two teaspoons of instant coffee.

Fill whatever drinking vessel you want to use - I used a cute little jam jar style glass with a straw that I got from Tiger - half full with ice cubes.

Pour over the hot coffee so the glass is half full - the ice cubes will start to melt but this actually makes the coffee the exact right temperature, once you add the milk. Add your flavoured syrup and then top up the glass with milk. Stir and enjoy!

Tuesday 7 August 2018

Unicorn and Balloons Birthday Card

I went a bit unicorn-crazy recently after buying a new rubber stamp and some patterned papers. This card uses one of the papers as backing for the card - it's a busy pattern so I left a bit of white edging around the card.

I then added some die-cut pink balloons and some die-cut blue bunting, which matched the background of the card - I bought both sets of die cuts on Ebay. The 'happy birthday' is from an old set of stamps called Say it with Stamps from All Night Media, stamped onto a piece of pink card which I cut out freehand.

This would be a lovely birthday card for a young girl!

I'm sharing this with:
Penny Black - something beginning with B (balloon)
Outlawz Challenges - Up, up and away
Creative Knockouts - For the kids

Monday 6 August 2018

Meal Planning Monday 2018 Week 32

This past week has been much better (we weren't ill, for a start), we have had nice weather and I've been taking baby S to some new classes like baby signing and one called Music and Me, which was really fun.

The coming week is still a bit up in the air as we may or may not be visiting friends at the weekend - it depends on other plans with my husband's family which we are still trying to pin down.



chicken stuffed with boursin in a red wine sauce I keep planning to make but cancelling

fish chargrill for me and either chicken goujons or pizza for him

Pizza-topped chicken I keep planning to make but cancelling



Sunday 5 August 2018

Tuna Ice Lollies for Cats

Animals have been suffering in the heatwave we've had recently - I've seen several reminders on Facebook not to walk dogs during the hottest part of the day. My cat spent several days moving from one spot in the living room to another, seeking out the coolest bit of floor, so when I saw this idea on the internet (on Facebook again actually) I decided to give it a go.

Tuna ice lollies for cats - whatever will they think of next?! To make these, you simply mix the liquid from a tin of tuna in spring water (rather than brine which is too salty), with a little tap water, and freeze them in ice lolly makers.

To get the lollies out, stand the mould in a bowl of boiling water for a few seconds.

Unfortunately my cat didn't seem particularly interested but I have seen videos on the internet of cats licking these so apparently they do work at least with some animals!

Wednesday 1 August 2018

You're a Koala-ty Friend Koala Card

Here's another animal card made with the same set of stamps from Creative Stamping magazine that I used for this elephant card. The main stamped image is of a koala, with a separate stamp of a branch that I coloured brown with Promarkers, and finally a third stamp of the leaves which I used with green ink.

The sentiment, 'you're a koala-ty friend' is a cute pun and one that makes the card suitable for pretty much any occasion - a birthday or thank you or just a note. As a final touch I added a glitter heart sticker next to the sentiment.

I'm sharing these with the following challenges:

Simon Says where the theme is 'wild things'
Sweet Stampin' - CAS (clean and simple)
Moving along with the times - wild animals