What every unbirthday needs

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It’s not quite my birthday but we’ve been celebrating today. And I’ve had the best unbirthday cakes ever.

 

Unbirthday cake number one

 

 

Unbirthday cake two

 

I’d been wondering what to do with a load of Madeira cake that had defrosted when the freezer was left ajar, and the kids appropriated it nicely!  And then there were the pyrotechnics.

 

Unbirthday pyrotechnics

 

Best unbirthday ever.

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Liven up coffee time!

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I saw these on a newsletter from Not on the High Street, and they just made me laugh. Imagine breaking the news like this:

 

Give them a surprise with their coffee!

 

From my perspective, I thought about inviting people round for coffee and seeing how quickly the gossip the spread! It is only a small village after all.

These are by Sophia Victoria Jay, and I love a number of the products, many of which can be personalised. There are cake stencils, so no one can be in doubt which is your slice, or if you’re thinking of Mother’s Day, then I love the mum star baker version too.

Worth taking a look.

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It’s got my name written all over it!

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Quick browse at Not On the High Street, and there was this beauty:

 

Personalised Cake Tin - great gift for a food lover who wants their name on it

 

It has my name on it, literally and figuratively speaking. But it really does have my name on it. I know it can have your name on it too and, if you love cake as much as me, then why not? Indulge yourself, but makes a great gift for a keen baker.

Or cake eater, if they’re the possessive type.

Or possibly both.

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What are you baking this week?

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What Sunday afternoons are made for

It’s National Baking Week this week, and it’s also turned cold and miserable here which is perfect weather for cake baking and pie making I say!

Plenty of encouragement for us to bake and share, whether you take cake to work, and the best cake sale the school has seen in years. There’s a nice section on baking with kids, which is one way to fill damp half term afternoons that they will love!

I wrote about great books that would most definitely inspire you to bake after the Great British Bake Off finished, and would still think any of these would see you reaching for the mixing bowl! The Hairy Bikers have the sort of pie dish that is just crying out to be deep filled with steak and kidney! My baking this week is going to be mainly of the birthday cake variety, although sadly less Sky High and more 50 Easy Party Cakes.

Oh, and a few pink cupcakes to keep the girly contingent happy!

At the end of the day, I don’t think it really matters what you bake this week, as long as you do. Those around you will love you for it, even if you turn out a simple sponge, a few biscuits, a loaf of bread. Fancy isn’t what counts. Baking with love is all that matters.

Well, that and lashings of buttercream!

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Sweets for your sweets

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Retro sweets for your sweeties
Retro sweets for your sweeties

Last week got a bit healthy in places, so it’s back to the sweet stuff! I wish I didn’t have a sweet tooth, but I do. Generally it likes to be fed good quality chocolate, but just occasionally it will wander over the naff side. If you’ve got a sweet-toothed sweetie to buy for, here’s a few ideas for last minute shopping:

1. I’ve sent big boxes of nostalgic sweets from A Quarter Of to two very different groups of people, but to very similar rave reviews. Both a duo of teenagers and an office group fell upon a box filled with retro sweeties and made short work of the contents. With everything from cola bottles to fruit salads, cola cubes to sherbet fountains, there is something in here that was someone’s childhood favourite. The decade boxes are a different spin, and will induce nostalgia as well as a sugar high!

2. Whilst I am a little concerned at seeing the “Made in the EU” labelling on Green & Black’s chocolate, it is still good tasting chocolate. They make a great combo hamper: Beer & Bars. This could solve arguments, just share out the spoils in an appropriate way! These are nice looking hampers, particularly with St Peters Organic beers, which I think are very attractive looking, not to mention tasty!

3. For the true dark chocolate lover, buy them a selection pack they’ll really appreciate. Try one containing 4 of Willie’s Dark Chocolate Bars, and that should keep them in chocolate rapture through till New Year.

4. It takes a very strong will to resist a great cake, and it would probably make a great surprise on Christmas Day. If you want to stick with the chocolate theme, check out the Pralines Cakes by the Original Hat Box Cake Co or, for what looks like the ultimate indulgence in chocolate cake, then I would go for The Ultimate Christmas Cake from Montezuma’s. Chocolate enrobed, one Drambuie layer, one butterscotch layer, total chocolate heaven!

5. For sweets with crunch, then how about biscuits? Of course you can pop to M&S for a tin, but for something with more foodie credentials, then I could go for the Dark Chocolate & Pistachio Cantucci on offer at Jamie Oliver. If they were out of stock, then could possibly make do with the Dark Chocolate, Ginger & Chilli instead!

6. Never mind a bumper bar of Dairy Milk, I’d like a bag or slab from Melt. Dark, milk or white, there are some really unusual flavour combinations. The milk chocolate with gold and nutmeg both looks and sounds seasonal, and the dark chocolate with red berries and cocoa nibs also looks the part.

So, count the taste, not the calories this Christmas, and treat your sweetie to some good tastes!

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The Friday Five – Baking Time!

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Artisan Bread in 5 minutes a day

I have to say that I have fallen well short of baking time during National Baking Week so far this week! Writing about it has been about as far as I have got! That, and reading about stuff I could be baking, so it only seems right that this week’s Friday Five should all be about baking. So here are 5 that I would want to have to take baking up to the next level.

1. Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day: The Discovery That Revolutionises Home Baking – I’ve already written about baking bread at home this week and I would add this book to your bookshelf if you’re thinking of expanding your breadmaking. This apparently is a very simple way to create fabulous tasting bread every day, for no more effort than it takes to bake a potato. Apparently!

2. Cake Chic by Peggy Porschen – this really is cake decorating at the next level. To be honest, I am not sure I have the patience for this level of decoration, but it doesn’t mean I don’t want to look at glorious creations! This is a great book for dedicated cupcake queens or eager cake decorators, or just aspiration for those of us who have not yet got past buttercream and hundreds and thousands!

3. The Lost Art of Pie Making Made Easy – I would choose this to help me make one of MGG’s favourite foods: chicken pie. And, lets face it, is there any better comfort food than a piping hot pie served straight from the oven? I would think there is something quite comforting and relaxing about making a pie, so this would be therapy and food all at the same time!

4. How to Be a Domestic Goddess: Baking and the Art of Comfort Cooking – still one of my favourite baking books of all time, and I think it should be on every bookshelf of every kitchen. I think I have baked the lemon and cherry loaf about 30 times, not to mention how many batches of the birthday biscuits I’ve knocked up.

5. Hello, Cupcake!: Irresistible Playful Creations Anyone Can Make – this has the cutest looking cover, and I would love to be able to turn out cupcakes like these. And it does say anyone can make them, so it might be worth giving them a go, and buying this for everyone from amateur to hugely experienced baker.

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