Tank Cake

It’s September and my partner’s birthday is getting close… I usually bake him a massive cake to celebrate it but I have no idea what to bake this year. He likes tanks and anything WWI and WWII related so last year I made a huge tank cake. I want to share it with you as it’s a pride and joy of mine.

For the ingredients I just baked 2 recipes of vanilla sponge cakes and 1 chocolate sponge.

I had the idea to create a sort of camo pattern cake so I separated the vanilla cake mix in two and added some green food coloring to one half. That gave me 3 colors to work with: natural sponge cake, colored green and the brown of the chocolate cake.

I baked 3 sponges using 3 different cake tins. The large rectangular one will be the base, the big round will be the body and the small round will be the top. 

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Once the cakes cooled down I piled them up sticking them with buttercream and proceeded to cut the shape of a tank. Once I finished cutting bits off (and eating them) I covered it all with green buttercream. It looked like this:

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I added some Oreo biscuits to create the wheels of the tank and Kit-kat bars to create the tracks covering the tank wheels. I think they look really good!

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I added some more cookies and other biscuits to add more detail and then I piped on hinges, bolts, plaques and other details with butterceam to make it look more “real”

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And here is the result!

Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that I crushed half a pack of digestive biscuits to create the sand underneath the tank and I forgot to take a picture of it but I also bought green plastic soldiers to put all around the tank as a decoration. Ta dah!

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Mojito Cupcakes

Summer is pretty much gone and I hate cold drinks in winter, so I had to work out another way to have a Mojito cocktail without ice… So what better than cupcakes???

These are delicious and they are very original, outside the typical chocolate, vanilla and strawberry cupcakes you see everywhere. Let’s start with the ingredients!

Ingredients

125ml milk

10g mind leafs (crushed)

190g flour

1 1/2 tsp rising powder

114g butter

250g sugar

2 eggs

2-3 tbsp white rum (2 if you want it soft, 3 if you want it porpper! Your choice)

The zest of 1 1/2 limes

A pinch of salt

You might want extra mint leafs and an extra lime to decorate.

For the buttercream

170g butter

250g icing sugar

1 tbsp of lime juice

1 1/2 tbsp white rum

 

How to proceed

Preheat your oven at 180ºC

Pour the milk in a saucepan with the crushed mint leafs, heat it up and take it off the hob once it start boiling. Cover with cling film and leave to rest for 30 minutes, then sift the milk and leave to cool for a further 30 minutes or until completely cold.

Mix the wet ingredients and dry ingredients separately and then combine together.

Add the completely cool and sifted milk to the mix and combine until uniform.

Prepare your cupcake tray with liners and fill them 3/4 in.

Put in the oven until golden or until an inserted screwer comes out clean. Usually it takes 20-25 minutes depending the oven so keep an eye on them!

Once cooked leave them to cool on a cooling rack. Meantime you can prepare the buttercream.

Mix all the liquid ingredients together and add the sifted icing sugar little by little while combining together. You can add few drops of yellow or green food colouring to give them a more vivid appearance, like this. But in this case I haven’t.

When the cupcakes are completely cold proceed to pipe the buttercream on them, use your favourite nozzle or simply do it with a spatula giving them a smooth finish. Add some mint leafs and/or slices of lime to decorate and you’re ready to go! You can also use lime candy like this to decorate them in a more sweet manner.

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Coffee Cake

I am a big fan of coffee. There was a time in my life I had coffee running through my veins instead of blood. Unfortunately this had to change… I’m on only 3 cups a day now, it was hard work!

Anyway, let’s get to it! This is a really deep luxurious coffee cake, very delicious. The recipe serves 8 (or 6 if I’m included) and I got it from Mary Berry’s book One Step Ahead.

Ingredients

225g very soft butter (plus some extra to grease the tins)

225g light muscovado sugar or caster sugar

225g self-raising flour

1 tsp baking powder

4 large eggs

4 level tsp instant coffee (dissolved in 1 tbsp boiling water)

For the coffee icing

175g soft butter

350g icing sugar

4 level tsp instant coffee (again dissolved in 1 tbsp boiling water)

How to proceed

Preheat the oven to 180ºC. Butter and line the base of two deep 20cm (8in) sandwich cake tins.

Measure all the cake ingredients, except the coffee, into a large mixing bowl and beat together until smooth.

Stir in the dissolved coffee until thoroughly blended.

Divide the mixture evenly between the two prepared tins and level the tops.

Bake in the preheated oven for about 25–30 minutes until golden brown, shrinking away from the sides of the tin and the sponge springs back when lightly pressed.

To make the icing

Mix the butter and sugar together in a mixing bowl and beat together until smooth.

Beat in the dissolved coffee and divide into four.

When the cakes are cold, slice each cake horizontally in half, giving four layers of cake.

Sit one base on a cake stand and spread with a quarter of the icing mixture. Continue layering up with cake and icing so you finish with icing on top and swirl to give an attractive finish. Or of course you can pipe it in any fancy way if you prefer so, perhaps something like this?

This cake is great, it can be made and iced up to two days ahead, just kept it covered in the fridge. And iced or un-iced, it also freezes well.

It should look something like the photo below. If you are worried about cutting the cakes in half, you can just sandwich the two sponges together with half the icing in the middle and half the icing on top.

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Now, where did I put my coffee pot…?

Minced Beef Pie

This tasty super-easy and economical pie recipe served with mounds of mash and peas and rosemary gravy will quickly become your favourite. Mouth watering!

Ingredients

2 tbsp vegetable oil

500 g beef mince

1 onion

1 tbsp tomato purée

1½ tbsp plain flour (plus extra for dusting)

75 g mushrooms

250 ml stout (or use beef stock if you’re not a fan of beer… who’s not a fan of beer???)

A dash of Worcestershire sauce

400 g shortcrust pastry (1 or 2 ready-made rolls)

1 egg yolk (lightly beaten)

Preparation

Preheat the oven to 200 ºC

Heat the oil in a deep frying pan and fry the beef mince for 4-5 minutes, breaking it up with a wooden spoon as it browns.

Dice the onion and add it to the pan, cook for 2-3 minutes, stir in the tomato purée and cook for 2-3 more minutes, then stir in the flour and cook for a further minute.

Chop the mushrooms and add them to the pan, also add the stout (of beef stock) and a couple of dashes of Worcestershire sauce. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat, cover the pan with a lid and leave to simmer for 20 minutes.

Set aside and leave to cool. Meantime roll out the pastry on a floured work surface until it is slightly larger than the pie dish. From here you have two options:

  • Option #1: just turn the meat mixture into a one litre pie dish and gently drape the pastry over the dish.
  • Option #2: (you will need 2 rolls of shortcrust pasty for this option) Line the pie dish with one roll of pastry, pour the meat mixture in the dish and then cover over the mixture with another roll of pastry. 

Press firmly onto the edges, trim them and then shape the edges into a fluted shape.

Cut some shapes out of the pastry trimmings and decorate the top of the pie, sticking them to the pastry with the beaten egg yolk. (I’ve cut out lovely heart shapes) ❤

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Make three or four slits in the pastry to allow the steam to escape, then brush the pie with the rest of the beaten egg yolk and bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes, or until golden-brown.

Slice pie into wedges and serve with loads of marsh potato, peas and rosemary gravy. Delicious! 

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*We used puff pasty for the pie on this picture -hence the “puffiness” but it turned out as tasty!

Apricot and Almond Tart

I know, I know, it’s been ages since I last posted but this recipe is the perfect excuse to break the ice!

This apricot tart is perfect for the warm and sunny English summer that we are enjoying at the moment. The ricotta gives a very delicious taste to the almond cream and served either warm or cold with a scoop of vanilla ice cream will make your day!

This recipe serves 6 and including preparation will take 1 hour 10 minutes to make. Let’s go!

Ingredients

90 g softened butter

75 g caster sugar

2 tablespoons honey

30 g plain flour

100 g ground almonds

175 g ricotta

1 egg

50 ml rum

1 sheet shortcrust pastry

500 g apricots (washed, stone removed and halved)

90 g blanched almonds

 

Procedure

Preheat the oven to 200 ºC / Gas 6.

Grease a tart tin with butter and line it with the pastry, trim off any excess with a knife.

In a bowl, combine the butter, sugar and honey.

Add the flour, ground almonds, ricotta, egg and rum. Mix well until smooth.

Pour the almond cream mixture over the pastry and level with a spatula.

Place the apricots, skin side up, on the almond cream and gently press them in.

Sprinkle the tart with the blanched almonds and bake in the oven for 50 minutes.

Tip!

You can use tinned apricots if you don’t have fresh ones, it will save you the time of peeling and stoning them. You can also substitute the apricots for peaches, they are sweeter!

Enjoy!

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Orange and Chocolate Sponge Cake

My mum is an amazing baker, all I know I’ve learned it form her. Yesterday it was my birthday and she baked an awesomely looking cake, but I’m far away from her so I couldn’t taste it! I do believe it was really good. Here’s the recipe, I might try and bake it myself whenever I have spare time!

Ingredients

250 g flour
100 ml vegetable oil
3 eggs
1 sachet of raising powder (~ 16g)
a pinch of salt
250 g sugar
200 g chocolate (any type you like)
a whole unwaxed orange
1 yoghurt

Procedure

Preheat the oven 180 C

Separate the egg yolks and whites, beat the whites until they stay firm, keep them on a side.

Mix the egg yolks with the sugar, when the mixture becomes white-ish mix in the yoghurt and the oil, stir well all toegther.

On a separate bowl sift the flour with the baking powder and a pinch of salt. Then add it to the egg yolks and sugar mix and stir well.

Wash the orange thoroughly, cut off the top and bottom and chop it into chunks to allow you to take the seeds off. Do not peel the orange, throw the chunks in to a food processor until you get a paste, then add it to the eggs and four and mix well.

Now fold in the fluffy egg whites very carefully.

Chop the chocolate in small pieces and add it to the mixture.

Put the batter in a greased oven-prof mould and put it in the oven for around 30 minutes, but keep an eye on it as all the ovens are different. The sponge cake will be ready when a cocktail stick comes out clean.

Let it cool and enjoy!

Tip! You can cover it with melted chocolate, orange-flavoured butter-cream, chocolate mousse or eat it as it is!  Perfect to go with tea.

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Pancakes

Today is Pancake Tuesday! So what else do we deserve for breakfast than fabulous pancakes and a cup of steaming hot coffee? With this recipe you’ll get around 15 pancakes. Let’s do it!

Ingredients

200g (7oz) all purpose flour

1/2 tsp salt

3 tsp raising powder 

1 tsp caster sugar

1 tbs sunflower oil

2 eggs

1 glass of cold milk

Procedure

Sift the flour together with salt, baking powder and sugar.

In another bowl mix two eggs with oil and milk. Add to the flour mix.

Mix quickly and not for a long time, just until any flour crumb disappears.

Heat a flat pan on the hob and pour a table spoon of the mix at the centre of the pan.

Wait for 2-3 minutes or until bubbles appear to the surface. Then turn the pancake and wait until golden brown.

Bubbles are starting to appear.

Bubbles starting to appear on pancake

Pile them up on a plate and you’re ready to go. Serve them with golden syrup, chocolate spread or marmalade. They’re yummy!

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Beer cupcakes with caramelized bacon

I was looking for a manly cupcake recipe. My other half is not the typical man who likes sports and cars, but he does love beer, I wanted to make something to make him share my passion for cupcakes and I came across this recipe: Beer cupcakes with beer butter cream and sprinkled with caramelized bacon. I know this can sound horrendous but it works!

The original recipe is from the US so I had to work out the amounts using online conversion pages.

Ingredients

Cupcakes: 1 ½ cups flour (200g), 2 eggs, 3 tblsp butter (45g), a dash of salt, 1 cup light brown sugar (128g), 1 teasp baking powder, 1 bottle or can of beer* (330ml) ½ teasp baking soda

*You can use any beer but light ones work better. The first time I used Hobgoblin which is quite flavourful and the cake mix got a but too heavy so the cupcakes didn’t rise too much. I recommend any lager or soft ales more than dark ales or stouts.

Butter cream: 1 cup butter (240g) 5 cups icing sugar (640g), 6 tbls beer (90ml)*

*Have extra sugar and beer on hand. Depending on the type of beer and the humidity, you may need to add more sugar or beer depending on how wet or dry it comes out.

Caramelized bacon1 1/4 cups packed brown sugar (160g), 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1 pound sliced bacon (453g)

Procedure

Mix the softened butter and brown sugar in a mixer. Add eggs one at a time, until well mixed.

Mix dry ingredients together. Pour in ¼ of the dry ingredients and mix. Then, pour in some of the beer and mix.

Continue alternating until all ingredients are mixed in.

Pour mixture in cup cake liners

Bake at 180°C for about 25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

While you allow cakes to cool prepare your frosting ingredients. If you don’t let them cool, they will be too wet on the inside.

Cream the butter and about a quarter of your sugar.

Then, just as you did with the cake, alternatively add some beer and then sugar. If it seems to wet, then add more powdered sugar. If it is too dry, then add more beer. 

Directions for caramelized bacon:

Preheat the oven to 190ºC. Prepare a baking sheet by lining it with aluminium foil, then place an oven-safe wire rack on top of the pan.

In a bowl, combine the brown sugar, the cinnamon. Toss them together until the spices are well-distributed.

Take the strips of bacon and dip them it in the mix on both sides one by one, lay the bacon on the oven rack and bake until golden and crisp.

Turn the trips over so they will go crispy on the other side too.

Let the bacon cool, meantime you can put the butter cream on your cupcakes.

When the bacon is cold crash the stripes into little pieces and sprinkle them over the cupcakes

There, you now have a sweet and bitter treat for the man of the house.

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