Lifestyle: A Foodie Day in Brighton

I’ve already mentioned it a couple of times on here, but I LOVE Brighton. The atmosphere, the unique shops, the vintage-y house bits and the FOOD. In December I had THE most delicious sandwich, but when me and Libby had a girls day out a few weeks ago when went one step further to damaging my diet. Actually, two steps…

 photo b785ba77-40c4-4066-a26c-c7e8440adb4e_zpszfx0enic.jpg photo 70f42ff4-0781-43a5-a4fc-62746e43b5d7_zpsvjr1x18z.jpgLunch was the Gourmet Burger Kitchen, and my first experience of the chain. I have to say I much prefer Bryon, but it was pretty yummy. The burger was a touch dry, improved with the addition of gooey American cheese and plenty of mustard, and for shoestring fries they were rather moreish. My drink was fab and great value, I highly recommend the elderflower fizz. But burger-wise, Byron blows this place out of the water. And now I’m craving a burger…

 photo 8b381d07-5f4a-4e2c-a5f0-d9725b52e740_zpsl08uastb.jpgCome the end of the afternoon we were starting to crave cake, and stumbled across the cutest little teashop. Catwalk Cakes do amazingly themed wedding cakes, but also tasty afternoon tea-style snacks. They also have a good range of gluten-free and vegan choices too. We shared a huge pot of tea, and ordered a gigantic slice of cake each.

 photo 474fca55-5227-4580-8877-a7e3d623ff13_zpsngoet8iz.jpgLibby had the rainbow cake – and multicoloured it certainly was! This was probably the best rainbow cake I’ve tried as despite all the colouring it wasn’t heavy or dry. It was extremely sweet though!

 photo 2015-02-07 18.20.46_zpsnqdsfkbr.jpgI plumped for the Vegan Blueberry Cake, and am desperate to know what they put in their icing – it was so buttery and creamy! The blueberries gave it a lovely tang, they were sharp and fruity, and the whole thing was pleasantly moist. I’m not always a cake person, but if all cakes were like this I’d be converted!

High on sugar we stumbled back to the train station. I might have only lost 2 pounds in weight that week (and many more from my purse in Boots that day…) but it was worth it!

Are you a fan of an afternoon cake? Where’s your favourite spot?

Baking: Red Velvet Brownie Cake

This was just meant to be a Red Velvet cake, but it came out dense, fudge-y and very Brownie like – so it’s a Brownie cake. To be honest it’s not even particularly red (damn cheap food colouring!) so you could leave the ‘red’ part out and just make a delicious brownie cake…

 photo 2015-02-15 18.57.57_zpsx80zmvsh.jpgI found this recipe particularly easy to make up – no idea why as I’m usually a bit more cautious with baked goods. At dinner time I can happily throw in this, add a bit of that, and feel confident knowing that it won’t be (too) disgusting. To be honest baking scares me in that it is more of an exact science. But I managed this, it worked well, and whilst I won’t use red food colouring in it again, it makes a damn delicious cake. The frosting was pretty yummy too – fresher than normal buttercream, but still sweet and indulgent. The sugar hearts were my nod to Valentine’s – there’s absolutely no need for them, but even I’m impressed with how pretty my Valentine’s cake looks!

 photo 10582b09-fc4f-4818-b215-4f4a02023e21_zpsfqncljjf.jpgIngredients

  • 150g very soft butter
  • 150g sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract (I used Nielsen-Massey)
  • 3 large eggs
  • 50ml yoghurt
  • Red food colouring (if you want a red cake!)
  • 150g self-raising flour (I used Allinson Flour)
  • 75g cocoa powder
  • A splash of milk
  • For the icing: 100g very soft butter, 200g cream cheese, 500g icing sugar, and a drop of vanilla extract

 photo 2015-02-15 12.25.36_zpsjxwsrd0x.jpgBeat the butter until light, then add the sugar and vanilla extract. Keep beating until light and fluffy – I find beating the butter on it’s own first makes this a lot easier. Beat in the eggs a bit at a time.

Mix the food colouring with the yoghurt, and beat this into the cake mixture. Stir the flour in gradually, followed by the cocoa powder.

Pour into two (lined and greased – thanks W!) deep sandwich tins and bake at 175C for about 30 mins, or until a skewer comes out clean.

 photo 2015-02-15 12.33.02_zps1uoxbnoq.jpgWhilst the cake is cooling, make the icing. Beat the butter until light, then beat in the cream cheese. It’s really, really, really important to beat the butter first – I didn’t, and hence had little buttery lumps throughout the icing. Gradually beat in the icing sugar, and then the vanilla extract. Keep beating until frosting-like…then use it to sandwich your cooled cakes together, and decorate the top and sides.

 photo 11d0e8cc-2ba9-4c94-a3b3-c2d514170a19_zpssieyvtvv.jpgAdd heart-shaped sprinkles if you wish! Then cut a big slab, make a cuppa, snuggle under a blanket, grab a book and enjoy. And remember, for a post-Valentine’s treat, there’s the Hungry House’s promotion currently running, whereby any takeaway order placed on hungryhouse of £15 or more will bag you a movie or TV show from CinemaNow. Me and W treated ourselves last friday (thanks Hungry House!) to a delicious curry followed by The Sex Tape – a hilarious and light-hearted film.

 photo e733a07c-c1cc-4a37-8509-ca73c94fe2d1_zpshmin50nm.jpgDisclaimer: I was provided with some baking goods as part of the Baking Mad campaign, which I genuinely used in this recipe. All opinions are my own, as always, and no money exchanged hands. 

Have your ever made a Red Velvet cake? Baked anything recently? I’m on the lookout for healthier bakes so send me links!

Lifestyle: Tea & Cake at Beckworth Emporium

Or rather, hot chocolate and cake…

 photo cca63e43-51cc-429b-a5fd-cd1a150c39bd_zps797b6b1b.jpgTrying to make the post of our weekends together is getting a little more difficult for myself and boyfriend. He’s entering a busy period at university, lots of project deadlines, lots of group meetings, and I’m undergoing a relatively large project at work. If we know we’ve got a busy weekend, we’ll agree to go out for just a few hours with no distractions. The time means we focus on each other rather than anything else (an important thing in a long distance relationship!), and generally pack those hours with fun and (usually) yummy food.

 photo 2014-11-08170536_zpsca28f49e.jpgLast time I saw him we decided to head into the countryside (along with our good friend Howard) for a little afternoon snack at a local ‘garden centre.’ Beckworth Emporium is so much more than a typical garden centre, with a pretty cool farm shop, lots of gifts, the usual plants, and an impressive eating area. I’m desperate to go for afternoon tea one day, but they look huge. I struggled with the relatively small one I had earlier in the year, so I reckon this would defeat me!

 photo 2014-11-08170436_zps7dead638.jpgI ordered their Ultimate Hot Chocolate with Cream and Marshmallows, alongside their Chocolate & Salted Caramel cake. It might have been chocolate overload, and I might have been on a sugar high for the next few hours, but I have no regrets. Their hot chocolates is one of the best around. Not too rich, but chocolatey and none of the powdery nonsense in the bottom of the cup. The cake was pretty special too. Moist, rich, with a sweet icing just offset enough by the saltiness of the caramel. A huge and generous slice too, you certainly get your monies worth at Beckworth!

 photo 2014-11-08170502_zpsc394d724.jpgThe boys had tea and scones. I’m not really a scone person, but they had no complaints. There was the usual debate over whether to jam them cream, or cream then jam – any advice on this?!

 photo 2014-11-08170747_zpsdfe810c4.jpgI’m hoping to head back to Beckworth Emporium closer to Christmas – they have an ice rink, with incredibly pricing skating lessons. I’ve always loved ice skating, but have next to no confidence, so I’m thinking of going for a lesson or two in the hope of stopping me from holding onto the side. Ice skating followed by hot chocolate, sounds good to me!
 photo 2014-11-08170736_zps9e8a1a45.jpgNow a cheeky request- I’d love it if you could vote for me in the 2015 UK Blog Awards. I’m lucky enough be in the Food, Young Bloggers (not too sure where this entry is) and Lifestyle categories! And if you vote for me I’ll post out cake… 😉

Where’s your favourite place to go for ‘tea’ and cake? 

Recipe: Mini Victoria Sponges

I love a classic cake. There’s something so comforting about it’s plain flavour, and it’s simplicity to make. No fancy sugarwork, no strenuous beating or mixing. Just a simple mix, a few minutes in the oven, a quick slice and swipe of jam, and it’s ready. These mini Victoria sponges are a cute take on the absolute classic recipe, and they honestly couldn’t be easier. Just be careful to watch the oven like a hawk as they burn slightly easier.

 photo 2014-10-27094604_zps57fe405a.jpgI have a special mini cake tin, but you could easily use a muffin tin. I also skipped away from the traditional jam only, adding whipped cream. I’m the one with a really muscley right arm, and a skinny left one…

 photo 2014-10-27094555_zps303953ce.jpgIngredients

  • 250g very soft butter
  • 250g caster sugar (you shouldn’t use granulated here as it makes the sponge speckly with a funny texture)
  • 4 large eggs
  • 250g self raising flour
  • 4 tablespoons of milk

 photo 2014-10-25164740_zps5525e904.jpgA super simple sponge based on Nigella’s recipe from How to be a Domesticated Goddess; cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, with a spoon of flour in between each. Then fold in the flour, and thin with milk.

Pour into your greased and lined mini cake tins (or cupcake cases) and bake at 170C for 15 minutes. Of course, you could always make a larger cake; just increase the cooking time to around 25 minutes. Cool, then slice in half and fill. Enjoy with a good cup of tea.

 photo 2014-10-27094545_zps2682de4d.jpgTalking of tea. I went to a really stereotypical greasy spoon the other day. You know the type – full English is £4 and comes in two minutes. All lovely, however when I asked for a pot of English Breakfast tea I was taken to a shelf of all very posh herbal teas. When I told the waiter/chef/cleaner man that just standard tea would be great, if they have any, a dusty pot of tetley was produced from a cupboard. Why?! Nothing is wrong with normal tea, it’s not something to hide away!
 photo 2014-10-27094538_zpsb8121398.jpg

Anyway, tea rant over! What’s your favourite classic cake?

Lifestyle: Girly Date at The Chocolate Cafe, Canterbury

Looking back I didn’t visit the Chocolate Cafe in my second year at university, which is strange because I loved it in my first year. Me and my boyfriend would go on an evening, after a meal out, and cuddle up on one of the many armchairs dotted around. Chatting and catching up, coupled with hot chocolate. The waffles made it just about perfect.

 photo d5940928-cb76-49b2-b175-671d9b54f23c_zpse3027a74.jpgWhen I went to visit my university girls last weekend (I miss them so much!) the Chocolate Cafe was number one on our list for eats. To be honest, I’d have loved a visit to Pork & Co too, but you can’t have everything. And I did go and buy five bags of pork scratchings…Anyway, the Chocolate Cafe it was, after a visit to the new Primark, and the accidental purchase of a new winter coat.

 photo 93b14776-8d77-445c-a721-da5e9b919c2d_zps203d5cb4.jpgIt being suddenly Autumn, suddenly cold, and suddenly very rainy (24 hours earlier I’d been in a pub garden in a t-shirt?!), we were rather hungry, so descended on the savoury items, and the cakes, and the drinks. I pushed the boat out – hot chocolate, mozzarella and prosciutto toastie, and a green tea cake. Others went slightly healthier, choosing tea or juice. But damn, that hot chocolate was worth it! Perfectly thick, almost like melted chocolate but a little more liquid, smooth, and a great chocolatey flavour without being too sweet. Yum. The sandwich was good for a place specialising in the sweet side of things, although it could have been a little hotter, and the cheese wasn’t melted enough. Yummy combination of flavours though, and packed with filling for the price.

 photo 7b148e76-2ac5-4cfc-af97-b2affd48b4f0_zps21e44236.jpgNow my cake! Oh my cake. You probably can’t tell from these awful photos, complete with instagram filter (whoops!) but it was more cheesecake than cake. A light, slightly crunchy base, topped with a green tea cream, and then topped with a thick layer of white chocolate and lemon mousse. It was unlike anything I’ve ever eaten before, but it was utterly delicious. So light and refreshing, whilst being utterly indulgent.

 photo 65bb55ec-1f81-4963-a1fe-74988c9b88dc_zpsdb1d1d94.jpgOf course, I couldn’t stand paying by the chocolate display and not pick up a few, so I used “The Anniversary” as an excuse. I can’t remember what I picked out now, apart from a Blue Cheese and Walnut invention – so it’ll be a surprise when we dig in! We’ve eaten chocolates from there before in the past and they’ve delighted with their flavour combinations, so I’m looking forward to these. I’m hoping to have a few more chocolatey posts up over the next few weeks, as I’ve found some lovely little places which you *have* to visit!

Are you a chocolate lover?

Baking: Citrus Loaf with Mojito Marmalade

Ah September. The month of cosy jumpers (thought not this year!), Great British Bake Off, and horrible house spiders. When I’m not brandishing a hoover, shoe, or heavy object I’ve been baking this month – bake off always puts me in the mood for something yummy, and there’s only so many nights that a jar of nutella can keep me company. Quick bakes are something I’m always looking for due to working full time, and this fits the bill perfectly. Stir up the mix whilst my dinner is cooking, bake whilst I eat, then let the icing set and cake cool whilst I clean up after myself. My kind of cake.

 photo 11a1e97a-4b3b-48ae-b101-7f6f76ec7c17_zpsb9e6897d.jpgI love baking with all things citrusy, since moving away from home the vast majority of my food comes seasoned with zingy lemon as it’s a substance banned from my family household – my sister is seriously allergic. Yep, we’re the weird allergy family. No tomatoes for me, no citrus for her (including cleaning products) and even my mum has joined in, with reactions to dairy, fish and strawberries. Safe to say mealtimes can sometimes be tricky! But no matter, because away from home I indulge my citrus passion.

 photo dad5a366-ad7a-4bb1-aa49-29c1e237d0c8_zps22cbb439.jpgThis weekend I finally had the opportunity to bake with some Mojito Marmalade* I was sent ages ago from Funky Food Gifts (my new favourite site – I’m desperate for these, these and this). I have to say I was a littleeeee disappointed. It actually just tastes like a lemon curd with bits – no lime zing, no minty hit. Certainly no alcoholic punch, so if you’re after a mojito flavoured cake I’d wait til I publish the recipe I’m working on. But its a nice lemony flavour, and I’d definitely buy lemon marmalade to make this cake again.

Now, onto the bake! Grab from your cupboards:

  • A jar of lemon marmalade – about 1/3 to go in the cake, and the rest on top.
  • 175g very soft butter
  • 90g sugar
  • Zest of 1 lemon (and you’ll need the juice too)
  • 3 eggs
  • 190g flour
  • 2 teaspoon baking powder
  • And for the topping – the rest of the marmalade, 2-3 tablespoons of sugar, and a knob of butter

 photo c5f67bad-5426-4a84-975f-19d8f0a472ef_zpsafaa4b36.jpg photo 7994fc70-6b4c-4c5d-ab7a-647bcd4e4dd4_zpsca158f04.jpgStart by beating your sugar, butter and zest together until light and fluffy. I go for the wooden spoon – my thinking is the more calories you burn through the baking, the more cake you can eat.

 photo a6a699d2-aea1-4bae-b746-5fc6668018d9_zpsa6f2dde1.jpg photo d1fb67eb-d2b7-46ba-ad31-3614585bbc04_zps8c28122c.jpgBeat through the eggs, then add the marmalade and lemon juice.

 photo b7a8ccb2-2f74-4524-95c4-4108cea41882_zpsc089110a.jpgSift the flour and baking powder together, into the mixing bowl, and stir lightly to combine everything.

 photo a352033c-5a6d-410f-9931-1f7611c23c94_zpsbfa6a444.jpgPour into a greased loaf tin, and bake at 175g for about 30 minutes. Due to the marmalade content, you may want to cover the top as it does catch a little (I also haven’t gotten used to this oven – hence the burnt edge!).

 photo 76fdeadf-3c83-4a80-838e-71b150470530_zpsa115c8f4.jpgOnce its risen and golden, remove from the oven, cool for ten minutes then untin onto a plate. Heat the marmalade, stir through the knob of butter and sugar, and pour over the cake. Leave to cool – the icing is sticky, so it won’t completely set.

Eat and enjoy – it’s a moist and sticky loaf, full of lemon flavour, and it keeps wonderfully well in a tin. Well, it would if your boyfriend wasn’t eating it for breakfast…

Have you been baking along with Bake Off?

 

What’s Occurring Wednesday: Modern Street Food and a Traditional Village Show

It’s no secret that both me and my boyfriend are massive foodies, and it shouldn’t come as a surprise that some part of our weekends always revolves around food. Whether it’s a trip to a farmer’s market or cooking a nice meal together, food is a big part of relaxing together. These past two weekends have been no different, though we’ve done completely different things!

 photo 2014-09-13093105_zps8795a740.jpg photo 2014-09-13150354_zpsb756f772.jpgThis past weekend was his village’s first “annual” show, and my it was very traditional. Lots of classes to enter (I was unfortunately unable to enter due to not living in the parish), an old-fashioned tombola, and lots of lovely cups of tea being handed around. I was quite taken with the vegetable classes, until I noticed the table with all the dahlias on. These are my absolute favourite flower, so I got a bit snap-happy. Definitely prettier than the ‘funny shaped vegetable’ class!

 photo 2014-09-13150222_zpscf8356a1.jpg photo 2014-09-13150145_zps6a3c57b6.jpg photo 2014-09-13150111_zps368cabb0.jpg photo 2014-09-13150039_zps437ef433.jpg photo 2014-09-13150001_zpsace7f21f.jpg photo 2014-09-13145910_zps54dc8b87.jpgOf course we also spent plenty of time near the Cakes and Bakes classes. My boyfriend actually entered two – the Victoria Sponge, and the Decorated Cupcakes. Now I personally think the sponge class was a bit of a con – it was a set recipe, but not one of them worked. Very little rise to the sponges, though I’m sure they tasted delicious. Cupcakes, now they are more my thing. Turns out they’re my boyfriends thing too, as his Caramel Apple Cupcakes won first prize! And don’t they look delicious?

 photo 2014-09-13093140_zps2fc9557c.jpg photo 2014-09-13093226_zps98ea998f.jpg photo 2014-09-13093125_zpse195806e.jpgMaybe if you all ask nicely he’ll share his winning recipe?!

 photo 2014-09-13144744_zps78bc8f5d.jpgOutside we were impressed by the ‘Heaviest Pumpkin’ class – look at the size of that beast! Though take a look at the perfectly round orange one in the corner; we suspect this was a bought-in specimen!

 photo 2014-09-13150654_zps2250ba99.jpgThe weekend before was significantly less traditional. In line with my aim of getting out more during my placement year, when I found out about a Street Food festival in the next town/village from me there was no question about what we’d be doing. Reigate Street Eats it was! Now I didn’t take many photos, for the simple fact that it took place in a tunnel, it was dark (and slightly smoky, thanks to the pub who set up a BBQ and clearly didn’t know quite how to use it). We also didn’t eat much, only (horror!) sampling one vendor. We did have a massive curry planned for that evening after all!

 photo 2014-09-06131702_zps93760273.jpg photo 2014-09-06131832_zpsbdcbefdd.jpgHaving spent much of the summers of my young teenage years in Turkey, I was excited to find out that The Tinderbox were doing Lahmacun. I immediately sent out a tweet pretty much begging for a tomato-free version, and after a bit of a mixup at the van I had my hands on something I’d been craving for over four years.  Spicy mince pressed into excellent dough, served in a wood burner, then scattered with lemon, pine-nuts, herbs, seasoned yoghurt and pine nuts before being folded. What could be better?!

 photo 2014-09-06131754_zpsf6eaf407.jpg photo 2014-09-06131740_zps67dfa056.jpg photo 2014-09-06130328_zps650b30cc.jpgStreet food at its finest – fresh, hot and tasty, easy to eat, quick to make, relatively healthy and extremely tasty. Thanks for making a tomato-allergic girl very happy Tinderbox! And just look at the woodburning van too – we want one! Having experienced one street food festival I’ve got my eyes set on some of the London ones now – where’s best to go?

Have you been a foodie lately? Would you like to see a recipe for Caramel Apple Cupcakes? Trust me, they were delicious!

Restaurant Review: Hula Juice Bar, Edinburgh

 photo 2014-06-19133846_zpsca93462d.jpgI’ll be totally honest with you, this is one of my favourite places. Ever. This may sound like an over exaggeration, but it really, really isn’t. I’ve had some wonderful moments with my boyfriend in this little cafe, chatty lunches, romantic brunches, and more than one cake stop. Its only downfall is that it’s in Edinburgh, and I live in the Midlands. Needless to say we visited virtually every day on both our holidays to Edinburgh and I have no doubt we’ll continue to do so.

 photo 2014-06-19124453_zpse373bd43.jpg photo 2014-06-19124447_zps92a1745e.jpgThe menu isn’t exactly varied, but its got enough variety to keep everyone happy (especially in the juice department!), and they will happily make changes to menu items – although only for dietary requirements during busy periods like the Fringe. I’ve tried a couple of the juices and smoothies and although I have my favourites, none of them have been bad.

 photo 2014-06-19130601_zpsfb30a92e.jpg photo 2014-06-19130537_zps0fd4262e.jpg photo 2014-06-19131039_zps270c5d86.jpgMy favourite meal there has to be lunch – or the soup with cheese and toast to be precise. They generally do two different soups a day, one is always vegetarian, and there’s generally one that is gluten-free. My favourite? The Potato & Haggis. Its smooth apart from the Haggis-y lumps, not sweet (a huge problem with soups for me) and with a great pepperiness. Great in the August rain or the June heatwave. And the cheese on toast…I think the photo just says it all! It’s amazing, though the bread itself is gorgeously oaty. Needs to be tried to be believed! I’ve had other gorgeous soups (Mushroom & Stilton springs to mind) and my boyfriend really enjoyed his photographed here, I think it was Courgette and Pea.

 photo 2014-06-21095517_zps5b7e4b3f.jpg photo 2014-06-21095539_zps1c8a21f3.jpgWe’ve also visited for Brunch, which was delightful. Not so delightful was paying the bill at 10.20am and realising we still had to pack and be out of the apartment (the other end of the Royal Mile) by 11am… We both ordered porridge. Bananas, honey and cinnamon for him. Chocolate and chilli for me. Both combinations were great, but I loved mine. Sweet, rich and the perfect amount of spice to wake me up, I have to create a similar recipe! I was daring and went for a green juice – the Tah-ti Kicks – and really enjoyed it. I’m definitely going to try converting myself to green juices!

 photo 2014-06-21150932_zps22c6b153.jpg photo 2014-06-20145234_zpsab6887c6.jpg photo 2014-06-21190140_zps833cdd73.jpgNow, I can’t review Hula without mentioning the cakes. They do a fab selection baked daily, and every time I’ve noticed vegan and gluten-free options. Will had a fabulous looking Vegan Fruit Slice (I didn’t get a look-in), but I generally stick to the brownies. I wasn’t convinced about the Oreo Peanut Butter concoction – both elements were fine on their own, but together it felt a bit confused. The Raspberry Cheesecake Brownie was something else. It was absolutely glorious. So much so  I bought an extra to eat at the top of Arthur’s Seat and another for the train journey home. I’m contemplating baking my own. Or I will be doing as soon as I can afford ingredients!

 photo 2014-06-19133901_zps9367f090.jpg photo 2014-06-19124518_zps9ce46b36.jpgThe prices are reasonable, not the cheapest but the quality is definitely high, the atmosphere is amazing, and unless it’s Fringe its generally not too crowded. It’s definitely my favourite place in Edinburgh, and I highly recommend you visit! Now I’ll be off to crave another Nutty Professor…
 photo 2014-06-19125920_zps0883f3dc.jpg

Would you like to see a Raspberry Cheesecake Brownie Recipe?

 

Baking: BakedIn Carrot Cake*

 photo 2014-05-10164427_zps2d39daa5.jpgI was recently offered the chance to receive and review a cake mix from BakedIn. As some of you may know, I’ve just finished my second year of university with a very stressful few weeks of exams and despite my love of cake I simply had no time to bake…so I jumped at the chance of reviewing this! I received a Carrot & Walnut Cake mix, which I was happy about for two reasons – one, I love carrot cake, and two, this version didn’t contain dried fruit.

 photo 2014-05-10164420_zps8c8ceae9.jpgThe box this comes in is pretty big, at least twice the size of your usual packet mix – to be honest I was a bit taken aback by the size! It does however contain a big which makes up a pretty big portion of the contents.

 photo 2014-05-10164520_zps9cc629eb.jpgThe box contained a good amount of sachets of ingredients – however adding things in at different times made it feel a lot more involved than a packet mix. Whilst this would be great for baking with children, I don’t think it actually saved much time as opposed to just making from scratch – especially as the longest part of making a carrot cake is grating the carrot cake!

My boyfriend wasn’t overly impressed with the tin – it was very difficult to line with the greaseproof provided, and I found the tin to be so thin/weak it buckled when trying to put the cake in the oven, and I actually ended up putting it inside another tin as I was scared it would split. To be perfectly honest I’d prefer a kit half the size (so it fits in a store cupboard for emergencies!) without the tin.

 photo 2014-05-10165254_zps28554298.jpg photo 2014-05-10165323_zps421980cf.jpg photo 2014-05-10165540_zps2f12e1a0.jpg photo 2014-05-10165636_zps5dbc73e8.jpg photo 2014-05-10165803_zps54560ca1.jpg photo 2014-05-10170022_zps1edce90d.jpg photo 2014-05-10192523_zps85cb8c56.jpg photo 2014-05-10193020_zpsc99e56b0.jpgMaking the cake, however, was pretty straightforward following the recipe card. The only slightly dodgy moment was with the icing – I’m not sure that this would ever go ‘light and fluffy’  but it tasted good!

 photo 2014-05-10194315_zpsdfd17005.jpgThey say the proof of the pudding is in the eating, and I have to say this cake did taste good and was demolished by a combination of housemates and family pretty quickly! It was light, satisfying, tasty, and definitely not dry. A little messy as the frosting never really set, and I would have preferred more cinnamon, but other than that I’d happily use this mix again. After receiving this to trial, I also won one of BakedIn Brownie Mixes in a giveaway hosted by Jen from Looks & Lifestyle, so I’m looking forward to trying that out!

Do you recommend any cake mixes?

 

Baking: Caramel Peanut Butter Cake

 photo 2014-03-16162548_zpse897652a.jpgI’m sitting here typing this post having just eaten huge wedge of this cake, yet the pictures are still making me hungry. That’s how good it is! Its a moist sponge, almost salty with peanut butter, sandwiched with toffee sauce to sweeten and more peanut butter (the type that almost glues your mouth together, both gooey and chewy at the same time), and topped with a dark chocolate. Oh, and remember those wonderful caramelised salted peanuts I talked about on Thursday? Well the cake is topped with those too – there’s even a scattering in the filling.

I first made this cake well over a year ago for my boyfriend’s birthday and have been craving it ever since. The craving finally got too much last weekend – I caved in and made it. This time I remembered to take photos so I can share the recipe – however I apologise for the exceptionally bad quality, as I forgot to use my usual mixing bowl so everything is tinted slightly pink. Whoops.

 photo 2013-01-04113244_zps5b1a361d.jpgAnyway, back to the cake…mmm cake…

This sponge cake mix is exceptionally easy, my version has never failed me. I got the inspiration for the cake from this recipe, but just adapted an already known sponge recipe to include peanut butter (and exclude the ingredients I didn’t have, like yoghurt and more than three eggs!). Everything else is simply a collection of ingredients really, but it all goes so well together, and it looks so impressive. Great as a birthday cake, but I also enjoy it sitting down with a cup of tea after a difficult day of lectures. Its probably my perfect cake actually, so I really suggest you try it!

 photo 2014-03-16161450_zps799fb199.jpgAnd besides, who could resist this?

Ingredients 

  • 150g butter
  • 200g sugar
  • 50g-ish peanut butter
  • 3 eggs
  • 200g flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder (if using plain flour use two)
  • Splash of milk
  • Filling – more peanut butter (around half a tub or enough to generously sandwich the cake), toffee sauce
  • Topping – 100g dark chocolate, the cheapest brand is fine
  • and some caramelised salted peanuts!

Now to make a yummy cake…

Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Ideally you want the butter to be very soft before you start this – I always beat the butter on its own a little bit too!

 photo 2014-03-16105915_zps04ffa18e.jpg Beat in the peanut butter.

 photo 2014-03-16110222_zps25be40da.jpg Now add and beat in the eggs, one by one. I find that occasionally my mix curdles at this point – if this happens everything will still work out fine, but it helps to beat in a tablespoon of flour before continuing with the eggs.

 photo 2014-03-16110619_zpsa90fdcaa.jpg Finally sift in the flour and baking powder, and fold in until just combined. Add a splash of milk – I actually added nearly 100ml of milk in the end.  photo 2014-03-16111024_zpsca9309fe.jpg Divide the mix equally between two lined and greased 10″ sandwich tins. You want these tins to be properly lined as this cake will stick – I have no patience in lining (my lovely boyfriend does this part for me!) but this link is roughly how he does it.

 photo 2014-03-16112045_zps94dcd234.jpg Cook at 180C for 25-30 minutes (mine took 27), until rise and golden brown. A skewer (or sharp knife!) should come out clean when poked in the centre.

 photo 2014-03-16115724_zps44af20a9.jpg Let the cakes cool before you filled them. Then spread the bottom cake generously with peanut butter, and top this with toffee sauce. Scatter over some caramelised peanuts.

 photo 2014-03-16161444_zpsb8e86073.jpg Top with the other cake, then melt the chocolate. Pour over the centre of the cake, and spread out to the edges with a spoon. Scatter over more caramelised peanuts. Eat as a dessert, or with a cup of tea because (insert reason here) or just because you like cake.  photo 2014-03-16162548_zpse897652a.jpgWhats your favourite cake?