Tuesday, 15 November 2011


Everyone's talking about the latest trend on the 'cake runway' these days - otherwise known as 'cakepops'. At first these heavenly little balls on a stick look like something only the most professional of chefs could conjure up, but I'll show you that it is actually one of the easiest (and fun!) things to create. Get your kids, nieces and nephews involved during one of those cold, dreary, and boring school holiday days and and have a feast!

MAKES 35 CAKEPOPS (Chocolate and Vanilla)



3 large eggs
100g caster sugar
100g unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking powder
170g self-raising flour
70g cocoa powder

FOR THE CREAM CHEESE FROSTING (taken from the Hummingbird Bakery)

150g icing sugar, sifted
25g unsalted butter, at room temperature
65g cream cheese


100g good quality milk chocolate
100g good quality dark chocolate


Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C and line two sandwich cake pans with parchment paper.

Combine the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Then add the eggs, one at a time, beating continuously.

Add the vanilla extract, baking powder and self raising flour and mix until combined.

Pour half of the mixture into one of the cake pans and add cocoa powder to the rest and mix well. Pour the chocolate cake mixture into the other cake pan and place both pans into the oven for 15-20 mins until cooked.

Allow the cakes to cool completely (this should take around one hour.)

In the meantime make the cream cheese frosting by whisking together the butter and icing sugar. Once combined, add the cream cheese and beat on slow speed until fully combined - do not overbeat the mixture as it may become runny and too thin.

Once the cakes have cooled crumble them into two separate bowls and divide the cream cheese frosting into both bowls (this should be around 2 tablespoons).

This is where it all gets a bit messy...

Start to combine the mixtures with your hands and make balls, around 2cm big and push a lollipop stick through each ball. I found the best way to keep them standing tall and not on their heads was to poke the sticks through a colander so that all of the cakepops are standing upright.

Place the cakepops in the fridge overnight, or for two hours in the freezer.

Once the cakepops are firm make the chocolate syrup to coat the cakepops by breaking up the chocolate and placing in a glass bowl. Pour hot water into a metal pan and make a bain-marie. Place the glass bowl on top of the pan with hot water (making sure the bowl doesn't touch the base of the pan) and allow the chocolate to melt. Stir gently. This should take no more than 5 minutes.

Once the chocolate has melted start dipping and decorating your cakepops with all sorts of interesting sprinkles and iced gems!

Stem Ginger Cookies

I first came across this recipe a few years ago on a web site called Culinary Bazaar. I am so glad that I was smart enough to print out the recipe at the time because the web site no longer exists, and I can't find the recipe anywhere online to give credit where credit is indeed due. I have adapted the original recipe ever so slightly, but it still has the same gorgeous rich but subtle taste of the ginger I made for the very first time. I made a fresh batch a couple of weeks ago and believe me they were gone within 48 hours... they truly are the most delicious little winter treats no one can resist!



2 1/2 cups plain flour
1 tspn bicarbonate of soda
1 1/2 tspn ground ginger
1/4 tspn ground cinnamon
1/4 tspn ground cardamom
1/4 tspn ground cloves
1 cup caster sugar
1/4 cup cinammon sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 egg, beaten
4 tbspn black treacle
1 tspn freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/3 cup crystallised stem ginger, chopped


Preheat the oven to 170 degrees C and line two large baking trays with parchment paper.

Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Then add the egg, treacle and lemon juice and mix well.

Sift in the flour, bicarbonate of soda and spices until the mixture comes together and then add the crystallised ginger.

Roll into 2cm balls and roll into the cinnamon sugar.

Place on baking sheet and press very slightly. Keep a 2cm gap between all the cookies as they will expand.

Bake for around 10-15 minutes - do not over cook, they will still be soft when you take them out of the oven but will harden during the cooling process.

Sunday, 13 November 2011

The Brilliant Little Panasonic SD-2501

Waking up to the smell of freshly baked bread really is a treat, and with so many breadmakers on the market it is hard to choose one that really does all that it says it does on the box. With the Panasonic SD-2501 you can however be sure that you're getting a great deal. Having used the SD-255 in the past I was keen to see how different this newer model really was - and I must say I was pleasantly surprised.

Aesthetically, the new Panasonic SD-2501 has a slightly leaner casing and is visually more appealing than the frumpy old SD-255, so it stands taller and looks a lot nicer than the older model (especially if you invest in the SDZB-2502, which has a sleek stainless steel body.) Apart from all the old tricks it is famous for, the newer model boasts the ability to create gluten-free and brioche loaf at the touch of a button, which is something you can't do with the old model, so that definitely makes life easier. You can also make your own fresh jam and compote. The breadmaker also has a speciality bread  function, allowing you to make rye and spelt loaves, and even comes with a separate blade (which you can also do with the SD-255.) What I love about these breadmakers though is the ability to effortlessly mix and knead dough, it even allows you to knead traditional 'chapatti' flour at the touch of a button, so making fresh chapattis is no longer a laborious task!

But I suppose the thing that really makes this breadmaker a cut above the rest is that the non-stick pan and blade are both coated with diamond particles, which makes the coating much more scratch resistant and increases the longevity of the product than other breadmakers, and is super easy to clean.

All in all a great buy and one that no kitchen should be without! Find it on Amazon today!

My favourite recipe at the moment is the Brioche loaf, so here is the recipe, with of course a few additions!



1 1/4 teaspoon yeast
400g strong white bread flour
2 tablespoons caster sugar
3 tablespoons cinnamon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons milk
1 large egg, beaten
180ml water
50g cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
70g cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes - to add after 55 minutes of kneading
100g raisins - to add after 55 minutes of kneading


Place the yeast into the pan first. Then add the flour, sugars, salt, milk, water and eggs along with the 50g of butter.

Select Menu 11 and press start.

After 55 minutes the machine will beep for 3 minutes - you must open the bread pan and add the additional butter and raisins at this time (if you don't have time to do this then you can add the additional 70g of butter and raisins with the mixture at the beginning, but the quality of the loaf will be different.)

Three hours later empty the loaf tin (be careful to use oven mitts!) and enjoy warm brioche spread with some lovely homemade jam or even butter!