Monday, 21 July 2014

Chocolate Malteser and Matchstick cake

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This was Ethan's birthday cake of choice this year.  It's got two key ingredients: Maltesers and Matchsticks but you could substitute with Smarties and Cadbury Fingers or Maltesers on the sides and top.  It is completely impractical.  Cutting it is a nightmare, but it looks good without much effort.

I'm going to split the recipe into two bits, the cake bits and the buttercream and decorating bits.

The cake

This is a deep sponge that is light in texture.  I'm sure this is possible using the all in one technique but the ingredients one at a time doesn't take much longer - that's the way my mum made cakes and she made a Victoria sponge or similar every other day.

You will need two 8" (20cm) cake tins.  I have non-stick tins with removable bases.  I swear they aren't properly non-stick.  I line and grease the base but if your tins are not non stick then grease the tins and then shake a mixture of flour and cocoa powder over the surface of the tins.  My mum had cake tins and she always greased and floured them.  I'm lazy and use Lakeland's magic paper that doesn't need greasing. 

Ingredients

  • 225g margarine (Stork in a tub is what I use)
  • 250g caster sugar
  • 225g self-raising flour (I used Marriages)
  • 2 tsps baking powder
  • 4 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 4 eggs (I used large eggs)
  • 6 tbsp milk (I used skimmed)
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract (not essence)
  • pinch of salt (I forgot this)

Method

  • You can pre-heat your oven now to 160˚C fan (or 180˚C conventional oven) or if you have a speedy oven then wait until the folding stage.
  • Beat margarine and sugar until light and fluffy.  This is not a quick process and the mixture does become bigger in volume and lighter in colour.  I turn the mixer on high for a few minutes.
  • Add the eggs one at a time and beat well after each addition.  This will curdle.  You can avoid this by adding a little flour with each egg or you can live with the curdling.  You will fix the curdling before it goes into the oven.  Trust me.
  • Stir in the milk and vanilla.
  • Add the flour, cocoa, salt and baking powder (ideally by sieving into the mixture).  
  • Fold together using metal spoon.  If your mixture curdled earlier it is this process that can undo this - so keep going until you fix this (I resorted to a bit of stirring as well as folding).
  • Divide between tins and pop in the oven for 30-35 minutes on the middle shelf.  Take out when an inserted skewer is clean when inserted and removed. 

The decoration

This is essentially a very unhealthy chocolate buttercream that you can stick things to.

Ingredients

  • 250g softened unsalted butter
  • 500g icing sugar
  • 100g dark chocolate
  • Maltesers/Matchsticks or whatever you want to stick to your cake.

Method

  • Melt the chocolate in a bain marie or carefully in the microwave.
  • Beat the sugar and icing sugar together.  If using a mixer then go easy because otherwise you'll be wearing the icing sugar.  Once it's combined then you can turn up the volume until it's light and fluffy.  Be careful not to over mix.
  • Add the cooled, melted chocolate and beat for a further two minutes.

To add the decoration to the cake you need to carefully sandwich the cooled cakes together using the buttercream and then cover the cake with buttercream on the top and sides.  If you have leftover buttercream it can be frozen.

Stick decorations carefully into the buttercream et voilĂ .

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I store it in the fridge because of the buttercream but I'm not sure that's necessary.

 

 

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Barbaric mother

Me: "I've sent off for the tickets for your jazz concert so you'll have to play in it"
Ethan: "What if I crack my head open?"
Me:"Then we'll get it sewn up."
Ethan:"What if the operation is on the same day."
Me:"They won't operate on a Saturday. And anyway if you have blood pouring out of your head during the concert, the jazz people won't mind. It'll be something to add interest."
Ethan:"My mum's barbaric."

Monday, 23 June 2014

The Ultimate Anti-Allergy No Bake Cake

Hannah needed to bake cakes to take to school on her birthday.

Her school mates have various allergies, intolerances and dietary musts. 

This recipe is gluten free, dairy free, lactose free and vegan which I consider to be a triumph of recipe manipulation and creative thought.

I give you the Rice Krispie cake.

I can hear you saying "What about the butter Cardus? How can you make these without butter?" Well I substituted a vegan sunflower spread.

You're probably also thinking "What about the chocolate - that has dairy in it surely?" Not if you're careful, check the ingredients and choose dark chocolate.

What you might not know, and what was a surprise to me was that regular Rice Krispies contain barley which contains gluten. I wonder if the manufacturers realise they are missing out on the lucrative GF market. Anyway, Kallo (the rice cake kings) make whole grain Rice Krispies.

All of these dietary adjustments will add cost to your cakes so if you don't have to, don't make the adjustments.

Makes 12-18

Ideally you'll use a couple of 12 hole bun or muffin tins and cupcake or muffin cases.

Ingredients
200g non dairy dark chocolate
50g vegan sunflower spread
3tbsp golden syrup
100-150g Kallo Rice Krispies

Method
In a Bain Marie or using one minute burst in medium power microwave melt chocolate, spread and golden syrup.

When melted, stir in Rice Krispies a few at a time. Keep adding until the mixture looks right to you. Just 100g of Rice Krispies gives you a richer, more chocolatey cake and 150g will give you a thinner chocolate coating.

When Krispies are coated in choc, spoon into cupcake cases and then pop in fridge to set.

Voila! Cakes for almost every dietary requirement.

Sunday, 8 June 2014

Body image

I was somewhat taken aback today.

An unknown brand that sells vintage homeware and a few dresses asked women for "Your dress size, height, and any body hang ups you have." 

I was amazed by the response they got.  So many women with so many different shapes and sizes who are unhappy with their bodies.

Have a look for yourself, here.

If you don't want to jump in to Facebook, here's a taster.

  • Emma Maudsley I'm a 12-14, big boobs - struggle to get something that fits waist AND across chest. Needs some "give" in the fabric otherwise I have yo buy a 16 and then get a saggy waistline!! I'm also 5ft 10 so length in body of a dress important 
    Like · Reply · 15 · 2 hrs
    • 4 Replies · 53 mins
  • Jayne White I think most women over the age of eighteen have a bit of a 'thing' about exposing their upper arms. I reckon if you could stock a co-ordinating range of cute little shrug cardigans or bolero jackets, they would go down a storm. (I am a size 24 and have no waist, so the dresses aren't for me just now, but I'm working on it!) x
    Like · Reply · 22 · 2 hrs
  • Elaine Denning THIS...THIS RIGHT HERE needs to go viral. Real shapes, real sizes, REAL WOMEN.
    Like · Reply · 12 · 2 hrs
  • Sharron Cobain 5'2" size 14.. I have no hang ups as I'm perfect down to the very last stretch mark and flabby bit! Luv who u are girls.... X
    Like · Reply · 8 · 1 hr
  • Karen Maddison Please get something short sleeved that covers the bingo wings 
    Like · Reply · 6 · 2 hrs
  • Liz Faulkner Size 22 5ft 8 - tummy and upper arms x
    Like · Reply · 6 · 2 hrs
    • 2 Replies · 51 mins
  • Linda Worsley 5'4 size 20 people don't make nice dresses for the larger ladies xxx
    Like · Reply · 5 · 2 hrs
  • Sandra 'maude' Green 5'2" size 18. I hate me upper arms! x
    Like · Reply · 5 · 2 hrs
  • Sharon Griffin i am always keen to find dresses that conceal the tummy area and also upper arm as worry about the wobbly bingo wings ;] i am a size 10 but as i am getting older i feel more self conscious about certain areas so am always searching for flattering dresses that cleverly disguise those wobbly bits x
    Like · Reply · 4 · 2 hrs
  • Katharine Haigh Dress size 16/18, 5'1 post pregnancy body so things are wobbly. Dresses need to be the right length or they look silly. I'm not a fan of my middle or the top of my arms so i prefer when the dress is fitted under boob and not waist. Also like a matching...See More
    Like · Reply · 3 · 1 hr
  • Christie Louise Barnes 5'6 size 10-12. Struggle with dresses because im VERY small chested. Dont fit even smallest of bras well so dresses look awful. Plus my waist is a size 8 & my hips a size 12 :S
    Like · Reply · 3 · 1 hr
  • Tina Jasmine Wright Size 16. 5ft 10. Dresses never come to calf length because of my height. Problem areas apple shaped. X
    Like · Reply · 3 · 2 hrs
  • Britt Lee-Crawshaw 16/18 on the bottom and 20/22 on top half, 5ft 8", I can never find any dresses that fit on my hips amd my bust because they're different sizes. So frustrating!
    Like · Reply · 3 · 2 hrs
  • Claire Mcgrath Givens This is me in one of your size 16 dresses. I'm 5 '2 and can't wear heels due to a disability. Felt great in this dress. X
    Claire Mcgrath Givens's photo.
    Like · Reply · 2 · 1 hr
  • Genien Neen Blackwood 5ft 2 size 12 /14 36dd bust .wobbly tummy was a size 18 lost three half stone still got the wobbly tummy
    Like · Reply · 2 · 1 hr
  • Sarah Oxby 5 foot 11 - I have trouble with dresses being long enough and the waist actually being in the tight place!
    Like · Reply · 2 · 1 hr
  • Gill Calleja 22, have big top arms ! sick of dress always being sleeveless or capped  not everyone wants to show off the flabby arms x
    Like · Reply · 2 · 1 hr
  • Shelley Mcgarry hi  im a size 16 5ft 7inch 38dd/e. my hang up is all the loose skin I have due to weight loss. I struggle to find clothes to fit properly as I have to accommodate it  xx
    Like · Reply · 2 · 1 hr
  • Jess Flaherty I'm a size 6 or 8 and 5ft 2", so it's hard to find clothes I feel sexy in. I hate my flat chest and knobbly knees. 
    The thing I hate most, however, is the term "real" women. EVERY woman is real, no matter what her body type.
    Like · Reply · 2 · 1 hr
  • Mistique D. Primar I am 5'3" and a size 18 in dresses. My biggest problem is that that I have large breasts and it is difficult to find something that doesn't make me look larger in that area, or something that fits there, and in my waist.
    Like · Reply · 2 · 2 hrs
  • Michelle Morgan 18 / 20 my arms are my bug please stock the little cardigans xxxx
    Like · Reply · 2 · 2 hrs
  • Erin Lou Size 14-16, 5ft 3. Large bust is a pain cause usually have to size up for a fit which can be baggy at waist.
    Like · Reply · 2 · 2 hrs
  • Anne Monk 5ft 5 ,18, tops of arms and legs mainly
    Like · Reply · 2 · 2 hrs
  • Mandy Roche 5 ft 3 and size 16/18. my hang ups are hanging down lol. i like to hide my wings and disguise my "spare tyre"! xx
    Like · Reply · 1 · 24 mins
  • Ellie Louise 14-16 5 ft 11 belly and thighs and arms. Longing for a dress that covers my arms, the ones that half like half sleeves.
    Like · Reply · 1 · 24 mins
  • Jane Henshaw 6ft 1 size 14 would like more midi dresses to fit. Not floor length or above the knee
    Like · Reply · 1 · 34 mins
  • Sheryl Wilson 5'9, size 16/18, hate the tops of my arms, my knees and my belly, actually don't wear dresses at all cuz can never fund anything that flatters all my problem areas and is long enough, also am only 30 so don't want anything 2 old looking, feel like a old woman most of the time as it is, would rather not dress like 1 lol xxx
    Like · Reply · 1 · 35 mins
  • Chloe Morgan Size 14, a meer 4ft 7". Horrible thighs.
    Like · Reply · 1 · 36 mins
  • Gayle Robinson I have a belly, and, at 44 am finding I prefer something with sleeves that hide the tops of my arms - I sunburn there amongst other issues. 5'6'', 38 c ish, so some tummy corsetry would be lovely....or sell your beautiful dresses with those suck-it-all-in knickers!!
    Like · Reply · 1 · 37 mins
  • Michelle AndMike Hart Loving the 6ft plus girls x
    Like · Reply · 1 · 37 mins
  • Jessica Gizmo'is-real Birkett 167cm 
    Size 18
    Hate the tops of my arms usually wear 3/4 sleeves never wear anything showing the tops of my arms x
    Like · Reply · 1 · 40 mins
  • Chelle Bell Jones Size 24, 6'1, 
    Hang ups are the fact it is impossible to buy clothes to fit me
    Like · Reply · 1 · 46 mins
  • Michelle Marie O'Beirne Size 18 6ft 2 ! Dont have any hangups anymore! After 5 children and 30 i might not have a perfect body! But im finaly happy in my own skin
    Like · Reply · 1 · 47 mins
  • Emily Hunt I'm 5ft exactly. Size 18/20. Im a g cup with a littler waist so I like something with give in the top but not a saggy waistline . Also don't like my upper arms .
    Like · Reply · 1 · 50 mins
  • Tanya Russell Size 16, 5ft 7. I have a cup size of G so sometimes have to get size 18 but then its too baggy everywhere else!
    Like · Reply · 1 · 1 hr
  • Janeve Clowes I'm 5'10 size 10 the problem I have is I have a small waist but size e boobs so tops r tight or loose depending on what I decide to settle for. Xx
    Like · Reply · 1 · 1 hr
  • Faith Lee Size 24-26 and I'm 5ft 1. Being short and bigger I find it difficult to find anything in a flattering length that isn't too short or made for someone who is meant to be much taller. Plus finishing anything that doesn't make me look like I'm carrying triplets!
    Like · Reply · 1 · 1 hr
  • Storm Cloud Size 14 on bottom and 18 on top! Boobs too big for waist...hate them lol.
    Like · Reply · 1 · 1 hr
  • Sally Houchen Size14/16 5'5". Body hang ups. Tummy and thighs. Like my boobs (36g) and legs below the knee
    Sally Houchen's photo.
    Like · Reply · 1 · 1 hr
  • Emma Jacqueline Smith 5ft 8 size 18..but that depends on if it's a top and got buttons as boobs are an issue. And hips. Love my curves but alot off cclothes dont like my curves lol xxxx
    Like · Reply · 1 · 1 hr
  • Zara Louise Mead Usually 24 - 28 on top, and usually 22 - 24 below (I know, very odd to say, but it depends on the shops etc...) About 5"5'ish and as for body hang ups, where do I begin?! 
    Like · Reply · 1 · 1 hr
  • Alice Maxwell 5'8 and a bit size 18/20. Big boobs. Hate belly apron after 2 babies
    Like · Reply · 1 · 1 hr
  • Sophie DeMattia I would just love a dress that arrives without stains and a zip that works.please check your email.  one devastated customer here. :|
    Like · Reply · 1 · 1 hr
  • Lynette Drummond 5ft2" - flat chested, tummy from 2 C-sections - size 12/14. Like slash neck designs, but would like to see some dresses with sleeves or little shrugs to go over the sleeveless.
    Like · Reply · 1 · 1 hr
  • Lesley Wybrow I'm 5 foot 11, size 14 and hate my stomach which has a baggy, saggy side after surgery many years ago so I always look lopsided. I love the clothes you sell but don't think they are long enough for my height.
    Like · Reply · 1 · 1 hr
  • Louise Knight Eeerrrrggggghhhhhh.....all of the above x
    Like · Reply · 1 · 1 hr
  • Lynda Webb 5'6. Size 18, large bust, with apple shape! Love clothes that enhances cleavage to take focus away from flabby belly! X
    Like · Reply · 1 · 1 hr · Edited
  • Joanne Jenkins Was Pearson 5ft 2, size 12-14....and too many body hangups to list on here!!!  lol ♡
    Like · Reply · 1 · 1 hr
  • Gemma Conway 5.2" size 10/12 - HATE the top of my arms so even a small sleeve is a make or break when it comes to purchase ��
    Like · Reply · 1 · 1 hr
  • Elizabeth Jones I love that people feel so happy to talk about their hang ups and sizes so openly and there are no horrible judgemental comments. A sign of a good site!!
    Like · Reply · 1 · 1 hr