Thursday, 21 June 2012

‘R’ is for…..Rocky Road Brownies with all the extras.

Chocolate brownie base baked with biscuit, marshmallows and pecan nuts. Topped with soft chocolate fudge then covered with all the extras! enjoy :)

I have opted for an old favorite with this recipe, combining a brownie with a rocky road topping, using lots of different sweets and nuts. My gang along with their friends always enjoyed this treat, although I am not so sure all the sugar and E numbers were a good idea when they were all hyped up afterwards.
When my children were little they always enjoyed making a birthday cake for their dad. I tried to persuade them to make something different, but they insisted it had to be a sponge cake filled with jam, iced and then the best part for them was the topping. Sticking as many different sweets as they could find on top of the sticky icing. I always had to buy more than was needed as kids like they do would put one sweet on top, then 2 in their mouths! I would confront them and say 'have you got a sweet in your mouth' and they would look at me all doe eyed with a look of 'Who me?' while still chewing ...ho hum
On each birthday we would decorate the kitchen, put the pressies in pride of place an the table along with the cake and candles. we would call the birthday boy/girl into the kitchen light the candles and sing Happy Birthday.
After opening presents the cake would be cut and eaten.....all this before school, naughty mum for giving them cake for their breakfast!!!! 
With their Dad's cake my children would decorate it with all his favorite sweets so cake cut we could find ourselves munching on wine gums, liquorice allsorts, skittles, tooty fruities, fruit gums and all the chocolaty stuff too.....what a good way to start the day, although I am not sure what their teachers thought when they got to school all hyper!!!!


  • 6oz butter, cubed
  • 4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
  • 4 eggs
  • 12oz sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup s/r flour
  • 1tsp baking powder 
  • fudge or chocolate spread
  • lots of sweets, chocs, nuts, marshmallows and crushed biscuits of your choice

  • In a microwave, melt butter and chocolate, stir until smooth; cool for 10 minutes.
  • In a large bowl, beat the eggs, sugar and vanilla until blended. Stir in chocolate mixture. Gradually add flour until well blended.
  • Spread into a greased 13-in. x 9-in. baking pan. Bake at 180c fan 160c, gas mark4for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. 
  • When cool spread with your favorite fudge or chocolate spread
  • Sprinkle with the marshmallows, chocolate chips and walnuts
  • Eat and enjoy....then watch the calories for a week after :)

Thursday, 7 June 2012

'Q' is for.... Quandong, Lamington Roll

The inspiration for this cake was 2 very special trips I took to Australia. The first was way back in 2005, a family trip of milestones, my children had reached 21, 18 and 13years old, my husband 50 and we had been married for 25 was to be our last family holiday together. We had a lovely time seeing all the sights and being adventurous, well apart from me that is. While my family were doing all things scary like skydiving and climbing Sydney bridge I opted out as I had a fear of heights.So while they did these once in a lifetime challenges I spent my time travelling around Sydney Harbour on the many little boats and ferries.  On my return home I regretted not joining my family in the walk over the bridge, and vowed one day  I would return and face my fears. 
So in  June 2009 I returned and walked that bridge....and as I got to the summit I cannot begin to describe the elation and sense of pride I had in myself. It was a spiritual moment and as I looked down through the bridge then across the harbour I suddenly realised I had left that awful fear of heights behind. I now wear a little gold charm of the bridge around my neck and in times of fear or uncertainty I hold the little charm and it reminds me that I have faced my fears once and I can do so again.

Quandongs are a native bush fruit that are quite tart in flavour, so a good choice for the letter Q. I have been unable to purchase any here in the UK, but after some research I found they are of the peach family and have a tart taste like peach, apricot and rhubarb. 
I wanted to create an essence of Australia, so I used peaches, apricots and passion fruit to give tartness to the recipe, like a quandong would. A light sponge cake and coconut which are used to create Lamington cakes. And I have included some little meringues as a tribute to the Pavlova, which was created in Australia . The passion fruit is also for the passion I have for a wonderful city. Thank you Sydney for giving me some confidence back, and for you I have created this cake as a tribute :) x

3 eggs
85gr castor sugar
85gr plain flour and I tsp baking powder sieved together
300gr double cream
Apricot conserve
 fresh apricots chop 2 and slice 2
3 fresh peaches chop 2 and slice 1
Pulp of 2 passion fruits
Tblsp dessicated coconut
a few small meringues halved


  1. Heat oven to 200C/fan 180C/gas 6. Grease and line a 30 x 24cm Swiss roll tin with nonstick paper. Put the eggs and sugar into a large bowl and beat with electric beaters until thick and light, about 5 mins. Fold in the flour and baking powder. Tip into the tin, tilt to level the mix, then bake for 12-15 mins until golden and just springy. Turn onto another sheet of paper, dusted with 1 tbsp caster sugar. Roll the paper up inside the sponge, then leave to cool completely. 
  2. Whip the cream until stiff. Unroll the sponge, spread with apricot conserve the half of the whipped cream,top with the chopped fruits and pulp of 1 passion fruit, then roll up. Pipe cream on top, sprinkle coconut over then decorate with sliced fruits and .passion fruit. yumm .....enjoy x
Lamingtons are a quintessential part of every Australian's childhood. The little sponge cake is dipped in chocolate icing and then rolled in desiccated coconut.These little treats are sold at school fairs and bake sales around the country.These days Lamingtons are also commercially produced however they don't taste as good as the homemade versions.

Sunday, 3 June 2012

'Q' is for.....Queen of Cakes

My entry for Good to Know Recipes magazines competition 'Jubilee Queen of Cakes'

Hello everyone :) So we are well into the Jubilee celebrations now, I am just watching the flotilla on the Thames, the Queen looks radiant. I was lucky enough a few weeks ago to attend the pageant in the grounds of Windsor Castle...'All the Queens Horses'. Its being screened on TV this evening and is a feast for the eyes :)
Today I am going to blow my own trumpet and share with you my day at Good to Know Recipes magazines offices in Central London, where the final judging took place on Friday. But first I need to start this story from the beginning.
I started this blog way back in January. I had become poorly at the beginning of December and I was told by my consultant that it was going to be a while for me to bounce back. I spent most days asleep or playing couch potato. My creativity with my art had got up and gone and I was feeling sorry for myself. Even going for a short 10 minute walk was an effort. I have always enjoyed baking and decided I could just about meet the challenge of a cake each a-z of cakes. There have been some weeks that I was unable to push myself , but he ho we are up to Q now.....and yes there will be a new recipe for 'Q'is for....later this week:)
This cake was originally made way back on a dull January day. I decided on the colours and flavours and it was only when I finished it that I realised I had created a Jubilee Cake!
Its funny how things happen as I had started this to give me something to focus on and never once did I ever think I would receive so many mails and comments from friends and strangers as I have, let alone come second in a competition with a food magazine:) But I did and I had the most amazing day.
Me with 2 of the judges. Ruth Clemens on the right and Victoria Threader on the left

 I received a mail from the Magazine on Monday afternoon to tell me I was one of the finalists. I had to re-create my cake and take it with me to their offices for 9.30am on Friday. One minor problem.....Cakes, trains and rush hour are not the best combination. Oh well if I got there and it resembled a trifle then so be it.
Lots of panicky moments making the cake, as I put it together and placed the coconut marzipan over the top  I felt the cake slip. But a little tweaking and it was saved:)
Gino D'Acampo was there to judge as well.....hes a cheeky chappy  with a good sense of humour.

I arrived on time with the cake in one piece thankfully. A general introduction and tea with the staff and judges, then setting up time. I was surprised how chilled I was. We then had 2 masterclasses. We made funny face cupcakes with Victoria, and cookie ice lollies with Ruth.

 Gino then arrived to have lunch with us all before judging the cakes. I enjoyed the friendly banter, hen it was off to the terrace to sip tea and take in the view of the London skyline...its a shame it was such a grey day.

We were then called back for the winner to be announced. Sam won the first prize and I came in second....I was happy with that as I never thought for one moment that I would get this far. When I sent my entry off I did not give it another thought, so it was a lovely surprise to get this far.
Me and Sam she won the first prize

after the judging

Sams prize winning cakes....a worthy winner x

We both took away a hamper of sugar craft goodies, including Ruth's new book, and a goodie bag from)Victoria which included all the equipment we needed to make here lovely cupcakes :)
A day to remember....oh and I won a stove as did Sam!!! 
Thank you to everyone at Good to Know Recipes for a fantastic day...hugs 4 smiles love M xx
If you want to find out more go to.....

Saturday, 2 June 2012

'P' is for....Pizza Pavlova

When I lived at home I baked on a Saturday morning and usually made lunch as well. The family favorite was pizza, in those days there was not so much choice in the supermarket  as there is now, ready meals and  Pizza were limited and quite expensive. So after making a few batches of rock buns and fairy cakes out would come the bread flour to make dough. While I kneaded it seemed for hours until I reached the right elasticity I would have the TV on and watch Noel Edmund's 'Multi Coloured Swap Shop'. If you remember that program then you are roughly the same age as me! 
I enjoyed making and eating these muddled up pizza creations....I would add as many different toppings as I could find....I made a few mistakes with my savoury combinations .....they made their way to the bin! The best bit of my morning then was walking away from the kitchen and leaving my mum to clear up while I got ready to go out and party! nowadays I have to clear up my own mess!
Sundays would find my mum making meringues, she was not really a cook but she always managed a good balance of crispiness and stickiness in her little cakes. My job would be to whisk the cream for the filling, which I hated doing as she made me do it by hand.....but it was worth it as come tea time they would be on the table and mmmmm delicious.
In this recipe I have used meringue for the base, red coloured whisked cream to look like tomato sauce, the fruit represents the mixed ingredients used on a pizza, grated chocolate for cheese and sliced chocolate mini rolls to represent pepperoni!!! So the regular pavlova goes all regular fruity  pizza :) Enjoy.....hugs 4 smiles M xx
for meringue base
2 egg whites
4oz castor sugar

Pre heat oven to 150C
Line a baking sheet with baking parchment
To make the meringue, place the egg whites in a large bowl and, using an electric hand whisk on a low speed, begin whisking.
Continue for about 2 minutes, until the whites are foamy, then switch the speed to medium and carry on whisking for 1 more minute.
Now turn the speed to high and continue whisking until the egg whites reach the stiff-peak stage. Next, whisk the sugar in on fast speed, a little at a time (about a dessertspoon), until you have a stiff and glossy mixture.
Place onto a lined baking sheet and with the back of a spoon push into a circular base shape
Place on the centre shelf of the oven and immediately reduce the heat to 140°C and bake for 40 minutes.
After that, turn the oven off and leave the meringues to dry out in the warmth of the oven for 4 hours or overnight
Double cream
Red food colouring
4 different fruits of your choice
White chocolate grated
3 Mini chocolate rolls, sliced
Whip cream until thick and add food colouring. Spread over meringue base.
Arrange fruit on top
Sprinkle on the grated chocolate then pop sliced chocolate rolls on top to finish off. Keep the chocolate rolls in the fridge, they slice easier when cold :)
Have a go this weekend, you could use just blueberries, strawberries and white chocolate for a Jubilee theme!