Sunday, 29 January 2012

Sticky Chocolate Orange Brownies

I would have to say...apart from the giant cupcakes I seem to do every ten days :) brownies are probably my signature bake. I've found a brilliant recipe and adapted it a little here and there to make it perfect for how I love my brownies. And how do I love them? Sticky, super chocolatey and like big thick tiny slithers in my kitchen!

Work have been complaining that I've neglected them in the bringing of baked goods, so I suppose it was time I feed them up, Christmas was a month ago after all...

I have posted the basic recipe before under Ultimate Brownie Recipe, I wanted to make this batch a bit different so I thought it would be a great excuse to use some of the chocolate left over from Christmas and turn them into chocolate orange brownies. Normally a chocolate orange would not be something that it 'left over' in our house...but we did have about three around Christmas and still have another in the cupboard so all is not lost. only need half of the chocolate orange so the rest is left for you to munch while they're baking! Here I've used the popping candy one but to be honest you'd have to add a sachet of popping candy to it to notice it if you really wanted that crackle.

I bake these for different times each time I make them, sometimes it takes over an hour and sometimes less, and I have burnt a couple of batches from leaving them in thinking they were raw I would normally say an hour is about average. They're always still quite gooey when you take them out but do set once completely cool. It's worth saying that I normally double this can never have too many brownies, fact.


100g unsalted butter
175g caster sugar
75g light brown sugar (soft)
200g dark chocolate
1 tbsp golden syrup
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
100g plain flour
2 tbsp cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 chocolate orange


1. Grease and line your baking tin, I recommend a square one as it's not easy to cut them from a round tin and for some reason I find they just bake better.
2. Place the butter, sugars, chocolate and syrup in a heavy-bottomed saucepan and heat gently until it's all melted and smooth, stirring continuously. Remove from the heat and pour into a bowl to cool. You can speed up this process by placing the bowl in a sink filled with some water.

3. Turn on oven to 180 degrees. Beat together eggs and vanilla extract, then whisk in the cooled chocolate mix.

4. Sieve together the flour, cocoa and baking powder and fold carefully into the chocolate mix. It's best to use a metal spoon or a spatula.

5. Now spoon the mixture into your greased tins, break the chocolate orange segments in half, poke into the tin and spread the mixture back over and bake for 30-60 mintues. I find mine take an hour but it depend how deep your tin is.
6. Leave to cool, cut, eat. Nom!

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Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Leopard Print Giant Cupcake

Another giant cupcakes I hear you say?! I know...the obsession is getting crazy now! But it seems like a bit of a tradition that whenever one of my friends has a birthday...they get a cupcake. I try to make it a surprise too by not telling them or giving any hint as I love the element of surprise!

This one was for one of my best friends Natalie. She's basically makes me sick but I love her lol. So her cake had to be pretty fierce, no delicate flowers for her. And I can't quite explain it but something just said to me....leopard print. I've seen loads of cakes using this with pink and I thought that was a super cute I stole it!

The cake itself is chocolate with vanilla buttercream. I got to use my Norwegian cocoa powder again which I love as it really makes the cake a dark chocolate colour which I find so hard to do with other brands.

The bottom I have to admit took me forever, and I'd twinged my back earlier so it wasn't a pleasant process shall we say - but all worth it :). I made the bottom a very light brown colour using Sugarflair Dark Bown colouring paste, then with some left over fondant I split it into two and added a lot more dark brown to get the chocolate colour, and the other half I made black with Sugarflair Liquorice.

I wasn't sure about how the pattern was looking to begin with but I'm really happy with how it turned out. For the top I used my new favourite Wilton 1M nozzle, I'll stop going on about how amazing it is soon I promise...actually I can't promise that...

I didn't want to make the top too busy as the bottom was like a print so I kept it simple by making a pink fondant heart coloured with a teeny tiny dab of Sugarflair Claret colouring paste. Using some of the left over brown and black I rolled them together to get this twisted candy cane look and shaped it into a smaller heart, and also a bigger one for a boarder and stuck them on with a tiny dab of water. Be careful when using water as if it's visible on a fondant surface and it'll never look smooth! A trick my dad taught me and it's so true.

I dusted the top with gold cake glitter, I've used this so much I need to stock up soon and get some more colours I think I absolutely love them. I finished it off with a little pink bow at the front, only doing a small one at the front and not all the way around as to not ruin the print look.

I'm so happy she loved the cake and it was great to do something a bit sexy! I'm sure they'll be another cupcake up soon...and I still have my Wilton cupcake tin to try out too so keep posted for that one!

Nom! Pin It Now!

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Another Birthday...Another Giant Cupcake!

You know I can't resist making my family and friends giant cupcakes so my stepmum's birthday was no exception! I don't think I've been able to make her a birthday cake before shockingly so I thought it was about time I rectified that.

This would also be a great time to squeeze in some cake time with my brother, he connects me with baking so I always try to get him involved with something every time I come down. I had to bake the cake before I arrived this time as I wouldn't have time to do it all there,  but he could help with the decorating, the best bit in his eyes as he gets to eat the decorations along the way!

I wasn't able to bring all of my decorating stuff with me obviously, so I took a few bits I thought would look nice but wasn't able to take any fondant, or buy any the next day so for the first time I decided to buttercream the was a new experience and while it was tricky to get it looking neat, I thought it made it look a bit more like a cupcake case as you could see the grooves more.

I did the bottom in vanilla buttercream and the top in pink using Claret Sugarflair food colouring paste. It's really strong so I only needed a dab of it. I love how nice it looks when using the 1M Wilton nozzle, it may have permanently replaced my other nozzle I've been using...sorry other nozzle but you're out!

I wanted it to be cute, but quite simple for my brother to decorate as I wanted him to do most of it on his own for her. I brought some white and pink sugar pearls, ricepaper butterflies, white chocolate stars and gold cake glitter.

I did help a bit but mostly he put all of the bits on himself, I did most of the glitter as it's so easy for that stuff to go EVERYWHERE!

Bless I think he did a great job on decorating his first giant cupcake for his mum and she loved it. It's worth saying that my little brother cannot keep secrets....he can't physically hold the words in his mouth it's so funny, and even though his mum knew about the cake - he decided it was a surprise and didn't actually tell her one thing about it until she saw it so he was super chuffed he kept it as a 'complete' surprise! :) Pin It Now!

Sunday, 15 January 2012

Mini Cupcake Maker Baking Session

I was sent this super cute mini cupcake maker from Find Me A Gift a little while ago and I've been meaning to give it a proper review ages ago but a lot of stuff came up and it had to be set aside for a while. I was also holding it back to try out with my niece as it just screams her, anything pink girly and sweet! I knew she would be the toughest critic.

It would also be a great time to try out her new mixing bowl set I got her for Christmas, the bowl is shaped like a cupcake case, it's soooo cute. It came with a cupcake mix, which I usually hate using, but as it was part of her set I thought we could give it a go for ease. The mix was a standard vanilla mix, but we added some smarties to make them more child-appealing.

So the maker, it makes mini cupcakes, we put the batter in on its own, naked! As they're made for mini cupcakes it would have been difficult to find cases to fit but I suppose you could use the petit four cases you get in the shops. The cupcakes cook in 3-5 minutes, I did at them for about 5 I would say but probably not more than 7 for ones we probably over-filled. The lid is also domed so the cakes don't stick and burn to the top which helps.

It reminded me a little of when I was younger and had a microwave oven, who seriously - 18 mintues to cook a couple of chocolate muffins? That's insane! But the magic came back! It's also a lot safer so kids can actually help with spooning in the mix etc, but the baker gets very hot so you have to be very careful! (Don't you love my niece's whisking technique? About to start a fire I love it!)

I had heard from other people that sometimes the cupcakes could be raw in the middle so I was a little anxious as to how they would turn out and I'll be honest I wasn't expecting much. And I have to say, they came out brilliant, they popped out of the holes with ease and cooled in minutes. This is particularly important when baking with a child, you can't let them get bored so you don't want to leave the decorating time too long.

We made up  some runny icing and I set her up with an assortment of cute decorations. My niece is the most well behaved girly I have ever met so I had no worries about letting her loose with cake glitter, sprinkles, rice-paper butterflies and sugar balls.

She got stuck into the decorating and couldn't wait to eat them! I was even surprised by how they tasted, it was odd to have one that didn't come in a case though. I was really impressed with her decoration skills too I'll make a cake decorator out of her yet :D

Overall I loved the cupcake maker, but I would say I wouldn't use it for myself as I love using cases and they're quite small and I prefer to do them all at once if possible. But I think it's absolutely perfect for children, fast baking time, cooling time...and eating time! It looks really cute and is easier for them to use than attempting the oven. My niece has now inherited does match her baking stuff after all. Pick one up online for £19.99

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Saturday, 14 January 2012

Baking Buys - Viking Edition

I've been promising this post for AGES I know, so I thought I better hurry up and get it done while I still remember what I bought. These are items I bought in Norway, they have some great cooking /baking items that you just don't get here.

 There's only two here that I didn't buy but was given. The fist is my cupcake chopping board, I absolutely love it. And it's the only one not from Norway. It's a Christmas present from my brother, I forgot that I asked for it until he reminded me so it was a nice surprise. I didn't expect it to be so big I forgot that it's made from brilliant wood so has a good level of chunk on it, perfect for all my baking needs. If you hadn't realised by now...I love cupcakes!

I mentioned in a previous post that my second cousin gave me her gingerbread house cutter set. I hate having to measure it all out with baking paper templates they also end up wonky. So cutters are perfect, and Norway is the land of gingerbread so I knew they'd have some so it was a lovely surprise to be given two sets! Christmas kind of passed us by this year so I already can't wait to try them out this year! This leads nicely to new cookie cutters, with gingerbread in mind of course. Norwegians love their moose, anything that can feature a moose, they sell. Oven mitts, car sticks, cheese slicers (yes I have one!) and also cookie cutters. So I just HAD to buy one :D. Also they love using pig shapes at Christmas, they're huge on marzipan and they always come in the shape of a pig...I think it's because they're Christmas dish is rib of obviously you shape marzipan this way? Either way they love it, so another addition to the gingerbread cutters family, welcome.

Finally some Wilton nozzles! I have a couple already but not THE all know which one I mean... 1M! I've thought about buying it online for ages but as you can't actually see how big they are I'm worried that they won't make a big enough swirl. None of my local cake decorating shops (not that there are many) stock this one so I was so happy to spot it over there. I bought it without hesitation, I also picked up another big swirly one 1B and 252 that makes buttercream hearts! I'll post some pictures as soon as I have a chance to give it a go.

Now doughnuts....we all love them, I could eat them everyday. But I usually find them so hard to make as I never knew you could get a little cutter for them! I always end up having to cute a round cutter and a shot glass to get it to work so this will make them far easier to make...probably not the best idea after Christmas but who cares!

The other item is brilliant and I never knew it existed. It's for turning and hooking the doughnuts, amazing! I always try to do it with two random pieces of cutlery and just hope it works.

One item I couldn't find was a Goro Iron. It's a type of biscuit you make using an iron, a bit like when you make waffles but obviously like a biscuit. They're a bit like my krumkaker but flat with a cute pattern. I will keep looking as I will be going back regular at the moment, I will not be beaten!

I stopped at my favourite cake decorating shop there Cacas. It's beautiful and girly and I could happily live there and they're really helpful too.  It's quite expensive when you work it our in English but so nice to find a shop where it's all in one place. I did find a brilliant bargain, these Wilton cake decorating yearbooks, five for £20 when one there costs £17! They've got some amazing ideas so I'm sure I'll rip one off sooner or later so keep your eyes peeled! Pin It Now!

Thursday, 12 January 2012

Thinking Light - Green Tea?

I know I'm a massive lobbyist of indulgent baking, and that isn't about to change. But I feel so bloated after Christmas that I need to detox a bit! My baking will remain full fat and full gorgeous..I'll just have to make more people share my treats with me so I don't eat them all myself :D

Basically I'm going to try to mainly eat a bit healthier, cut off extra fat, hit the gym more (as I am paying for it!) and make better choices.

One thing I've always been intrigued about is green tea, has anyone tried it? I'm known for HATING tea and coffee as I hate the flavour but green tea isn't like that at all and I have had a few cups before but never stuck it out as I was a bit younger more into Fanta!

It's great for cleansing your system (without staining your teeth!), and a lot better than full on coffee. My brother drinks it as he doesn't let coffee into his system after 8 pm and I think this could be a good idea when it comes to dieting and detoxing in general right?

I've never really known much about this tea before so I did a little research on Twinings.
- Key difference between green and black teas? Green isn't oxidised, whereas black tea is ("oxidation" is just the natural reaction of the tea with air that affects strength and colour in black teas)
- The leaves often go through a short period of withering to remove moisture
- The leaves are lightly steamed or pan-fried to stop the tea oxidising
- Twisting or rolling follows, freeing the aromatic juices that you'll enjoy later!
- The leaves are naturally dried or gently heated, removing nearly all moisture
- Finally, leaves are graded by quality
"Thought to have been 'discovered' by Emperor Shen-nung in 2737 BC!"

Twinings to me is the ultimate tea brand, if I ever were to fall in love with regular tea, which is shocking that I don't as it goes hand in hand with cake - then I think it would be this Twinings New Green Teas box I'd be picking up from the aisle.

Also working in an office most people have a cup every hour or so, it gets a bit boring sitting with my squash all of the time.
Actually Twinings are offering a free sample of green tea on their website at the moment, it's always nice to have a little extra isn't it, you can also buy it online too :)

They're also packed full of antioxidents, I'm really trying to make small changes to help my body function a little better, so as I can't quite give up the cake...then indulging building up my personal little tea shop could always help, even if just a little.

Is anyone else thinking of trying the whole body cleansing idea? Has it worked?  I was actually also thinking that some people make an Earl Grey cake....I wonder if it would work with green tea?? Maybe in a loaf like the one above?

Images taken from Twinings and
Article commissioned by Performics

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Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Mary Berry's Chocolate Roulade

I finally got to make this chocolate roulade, a little belated but who cares! I've loved it since I saw it on GBBO this year and immediately wanted to master it. However I thought I would save it for a special time, and as it looks quite festive Christmas was the obvious choice.

As I was away I kept it to make for our belated Christmas dinner at home with some family after we arrived back as we still have ALL of the Christmas food left over! We had eight for dinner so it seemed a perfect choice.

The morning of this dinner started badly, I've mislaid the adjustable tin I got for my birthday and I really wanted to use it for this bake. I spent an hour looking for it with no success, it's no annoying when you KNOW something is in your house but - you - just - can't - find - it!! After an hour I gave up and used a deep baking tray...luckily it worked perfectly, I wasn't happy about the idea of going out to buy a ready made dessert last minute.

So I finally managed to get started. I tried to remember what I learned from the GBBO and studying the book furiously. I've never made a cake that needs to be rolled before so I really wasn't sure how it was meant to look at various stages.

Luckily, and somehow miraculously it all kind of went ...perfect! I was also very excited to use my brand new mixer, and got to do a classic mixer shot photo (yes it is a little sad I'm exited about that :D!)

I found rolling it strangely easy too...much easier than I expected and would really recommend anyone who is worried about it to definitely give it a try!

  1. 175g dark chocolate (39% cocoa solids), finely chopped
  2. 6 large free-range eggs, at room temperature
  3. 175g caster sugar
  4. 2 tablespoons cocoa powder 
  5.  For the filling and finishing
  6. 300ml pourable double cream
  7. Icing sugar, for dusting
  8. You will need
  9. 1 x 33 x 23cm swiss roll tin, greased with butter
  10. Non-stick baking paper

Line the base and sides of the buttered tin with non-stick baking paper. If you make a small diagonal snip in each corner of the paper, it will help fit the paper snugly into the corners of the tin.

Put the chocolate in a heatproof bowl and set it over a pan of steaming hot but not boiling water (don't let the base of the bowl touch the hot water). Leave to melt, stirring occasionally.

Remove the bowl from the pan of water and stir until the chocolate is smooth, then leave to cool for about 15 minutes or until just warm. Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF/gas 4.

Separate the eggs, putting the whites in one large mixing bowl and the yolks in another; set the yolks aside. Whisk the egg whites with an electric mixer on high speed until they stand in stiff peaks. If you turn the bowl upside down, the whites should be stiff enough not to fall out.

Put the sugar into the bowl with the egg yolks and whisk using the electric mixer (no need to wash it) on high speed for 2 to 3 minutes or until very thick and pale in colour, and the mixture leaves a ribbonlike trail on itself when the whisk is lifted out.

- I whisked the these in a seperate bowl and changing with the stand mixer is a bit of work for just one bowl so I used my scary old brown mixer. -

Pour the cooled chocolate into the yolk and sugar mixture and gently fold in with a wooden spoon to blend evenly. Add 2 large spoonfuls of the whisked egg whites to the chocolate mixture and stir in gently to loosen the mix, then fold in the remaining egg whites using a large metal spoon. Take care not to knock out the air you have just whisked in.

Sift the cocoa powder over the top and lightly but thoroughly fold it in with the metal spoon. Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and gently move the tin around on the worktop so the mixture finds its own level. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until risen and the top feels firm and slightly crisp when pressed gently with a finger. Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tin; the sponge will fall and crack a little as it cools.

Lay a large piece of non-stick baking paper on the worktop and dust it lightly with icing sugar. Turn the sponge out onto the paper, then carefully peel off the lining paper. Whip the cream for the filling until it just holds its shape.

- As you can see I absolutely COVERED my surface with icing sugar causing my kitchen...and myself to get completely engulfed in it! It also did fill up a few of the cracks which is a shame as I did want a couple more to be visible.  -

Spread the whipped cream over the sponge, leaving a clear edge of about 2cm on all sides. Using a sharp knife, make a shallow cut along one of the short edges.

Roll this cut edge over tightly to start. Use the sugar-dusted paper to help continue the tight rolling by pulling it away from you as you roll. Finish with the join underneath, then lift the roulade onto a serving plate or board using a large wide spatula or 2 fish slices.

- I'm really happy with how mine rolled, making the first shallow cut to help with the roll really helped. I really needed the baking paper to help roll it up which worked perfectly. Everyone commented on how light the roulade was and even though we were all stuffed, there was none left over. Success! -


Recipe adapted from Mary's Berry's BBC Recipe.
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Sunday, 8 January 2012

Pandora Giant Cupcake

So here's my first giant cupcake post of the year, knew it wouldn't take me long :)

This week was my best friend's birthday, I was intending on making her a girly gingerbread house to mark the event, but as I've been away I wasn't able to do one in time, and as I know she's always liked my cupcakes I thought that one of these would be a nice second choice.

For my birthday in November she bought me a Pandora bracelet and charm, and as she was a bracelet herself it has now become our thing. She absolutely loves Pandora so it was an easy decision when it came what to buy her for her birthday, charms of course!

I also thought this could be a good theme for her cake. Last year I made her the super pink girly cake, so I wanted to do something different.

I did the base a clean white like the boxes you get the charms in and tied a wine coloured ribbon around it which is another coloured featured in the boxes. The top I used a plain buttercream mix, I used a new piping nozzles I bought in Norway which I will feature in a new Baking Buys post which is overdue. I finally got my hands on the Wilton 1M nozzle which is the ultimate for rose swirl icing nothing else matches up I'm afraid - it is amazing! I always held back from ordering it online as was never sure of how big it was in real life.

Using fondant I made the bracelet and a few charms styled on ones I knew she had/liked. I used the Dr.Oetker silver spray on them to make them look a bit more blingy! I also made the Pandora logo for the front from fondant and the spray which I think really completed the look.

To really make it a bit more special I thought I'd add a cake topper, I haven't done this to a giant cupcake before but I think it turned out really well. I ordered some pearl beads in the colours of her bracelet from eBay and used a few clear sparkly ones too. I'm really getting into these cake toppers now I want to learn how to make wire hearts for them next.

She loved the cake as it was a surprise, I love making cakes for my friends as they're so personal and can always base them on something they really love. Pin It Now!

Monday, 2 January 2012

Is It 2012 Already?

I know everyone says it, but I can't believe the new year has come already, happy new year (or Godt Nytt år) everyone! This year has been crazy in so many ways, new house, new job, new opportunities all round, great experiences and some bad ones too.

 It has to be said that while in a lot of ways it's been a hard year, it will continue for a bit...BUT it has also been a great year in so many ways.
Some of the highlights include...
Baking for Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood (the fact I didn't get through isn't the point! :D)
Getting into a new job I enjoy meaning I get to enjoy life a bit more!
Getting my blog pushed out and about a bit more, getting bits published.
Meeting some great people, getting to know fellow bloggers more.
Spending more time with extended family in Norway.
Amazing trips to Turkey, Brighton, Norway and many more little adventures.
And of course some great baking, cake orders and lots more blog posts!

I don't know if I'm into resolutions as such as I NEVER keep them...BUT,  I will try to
Eat I can eat more cake at weekends!
Be more adventurous with posts, get out of my comfort zone a bit.
Try harder decorating techniques, I really want to get better at old school piping and try more modelling with icing/sugarpaste flowers.
Save some money to do more things that I enjoy, I want to experience so much more this year, constant adventures.
Learn more and get involved with more of our Norwegian traditions, I love them so need to start compiling a bible full of all the little events as most of them include some form of baking.
I guess I don't have as many as I thought anyway!

I'm still in Norway and we spent New Year's Eve at my second cousin's house. We haven't cooked a proper meal all Christmas as we've been so well fed by our family, we really needed to return the favour. Here you have turkey by tradition, which was perfect as we didn't get to do one this year. We did the whole big English Christmas for New Year's dinner complete with stuffing, hasselback potatoes and even little sausages wrapped in bacon, nom!

It's been the best New Year's in a while to be honest, we had a brilliant time and hilarious conversations and stayed at the table until at least 11.00 pm! I also finally found the liking for Baileys which for some reason I've always decided I didn't like...madness! For midnight we took some giant sparklers and champagne down to the lake to watch off the fireworks, it was amazing and great to spend time with family I normally wouldn't. Also see below for a cheesecake shot, it was a success yay! I always worry they won't set properly but thankfully it did and tasted uber nom indeed.

We leave to go home in a few days, it's been so nice being here but I am looking forward to going home and eating a normal diet for a while, the scales will not be looked at for at least a month, but hey it was Christmas and that is what it's all about after all.

I hope everyone had a great time too, I have at least another Norway post to do..I've stocked up on some good baking supplies so stay tuned!

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