Themed cakes part deux

In a long overdue post, this recent cake was from a bonfire night/beer festival party.


This weekend saw the first ever Brockley Novtoberfest hosted by super couple David and Rachael. Not only were there themed glasses, a variety of home brews to try, fireworks, but a cake and thing in a jar competition. The Braxfield three stepped up to the occasion each with our own contribution and this is mine.

A black forest castle bundt cake aka Black Forest Chateaux


For the cake:

4 cups Butter, room temperature

3 cups 

2 cup 
sour cream


6 cups
 self-raising flour

1.5 cup
 unsweetened cocoa powder

4 teaspoons 
baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

2 cup

¾ of can of pitted black cherries

3 caps of cassis

For decoration:

1 bowl of vanilla buttercream dyed blue

4 pitted black cherries

Plain chocolate, white chocolate and toffee writing icing.

You will also need one 3D castle mould.


Preheat oven to 160 c. Generously butter the 3D castle mould.

Cream butter and sugar. Beat in sour cream and eggs. Stir together flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt; add dry mix to creamed mixture alternating with the milk. Mix until well blended. Add the cherries and cassis and stir in.

Pour the batter into the mould.

The mould

Bake for 60 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.

Cool overnight and then take out of the mould and put on a cake stand. Pipe the blue buttercream around the edge of the cake to create a sea, and then fill the middle of the cake with the rest of the buttercream.

Then following the lines of the mould decorate the cake using the writing icing. Put some plain chocolate icing in the turrets and place a cherry on top of each turret.

Ta da!



Black Forest Chateaux

Incidentally the cake won best named cake in the awards ceremony!


Themed cakes part 1

Tis the season, well not quite but with the nights drawing in it time for Halloween, Bonfire Night, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and most importantly a themed cake. Whilst trying not to bake whilst I finish writing up, the new job has seen a bake a week which has worryingly developed some kind of office dependence on cake, my own fault really having a wide variety of taste testers is just too tempting for a baker.

I usually take a cake in on a Wednesday and as this Wednesday was Halloween I decided to theme the cake, making a chocolate and ginger graveyard.


For the ginger cake:

200g self-raising flour

200g of caster sugar

1 tsp ground ginger

1 tsp baking powder

55g of soft butter

1 egg

2 tbsp of golden syrup

240ml of hot water

For the decoration:

20 bourbon biscuits bashed into crumbs

1 packet of chocolate orange sticks

1 packet of haribo Halloween sweets

4 ginger finger biscuits

White chocolate writing icing

1 batch of chocolate buttercream


Preheat the oven to 180C/350FGas 4. Grease and line a 28cm x 18cm/11in x 7in baking tin with greaseproof paper.

Blitz all of the ingredients in a food processor.

Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and bake in the middle of the oven for 35–40 minutes, or until golden-brown and the top is springy to the touch. Leave to cool in the tin.

Once the cake has cooled cover in the chocolate buttercream. The break each chocolate orange stick in half and place around the edge of the cake to create a fence.

Take the bashed up bourbon and scatter over the top of the cake, discarding any large lumps. Break the ginger fingers in half and push into the cake so they stand upright. Using writing icing in a tube carefully write onto the gravestones. Then place the ghost haribo sweets around the gravestones.

Aerial graveyard

Ta da!


The final spooky product.

Anonymous vegetables

16th October 2012

The title of this is somewhat misleading as the vegetables I am writing about are not actually anonymous, we are not in the times of early economic botany where explorers would find new plants when abroad, and name them after themselves, these already have names, fennel and kohlrabi, both of which I had heard about, neither of which I had actually seen before.

Since starting my new job at Goldsmiths, I have tried to explore New Cross on my lunch breaks, and whilst I have been to many of the pubs on the high street, I had not come across the allotment before. This rather contemporary take on the greengrocer sells organic local veggies, amazing cakes and pastries and all sorts of deli delights. More importantly they sell veg boxes. Lured into the concept of the veg box 5 years ago when I first moved to London, it had started to seem an extravagance that Lewisham Market could replace both cheaply and with more variety. However the allotment veg and fruit box seemed reasonable at £12, and very convienient as I can collect it on my lunch break without much hassle, which when you have a full time job and a PhD to finish is very important.

This week saw the arrival of my first allotment veg and fruit box, and what delights it held, enough fruit to last me two weeks, as well as being able to make a cake from some of it, and enough vegetables to create lunches and dinners too! But as it common with the veg box you have no control over what might appear and this week I got these two beauties.

Having never cooked with them before and after some googling and consultation with friends and family I decided to try out the following two recipes:

For lunch: Middle Eastern Chickpea and Kohlrabi stew


1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp ground coriander

1/2 tsp chili flakes

1/2 tsp ground turmeric

2 tbsps olive oil

1 kohlrabi diced

1 can chickpeas, drained

1 can chopped tomatoes

1/2 lb tomatoes

1 aubergine, peeled and diced

500ml vegetable stock

Pinch of salt, pepper and parsley



Fry the spices together in a pan, add the olive oil and diced kohlrabi and sauté for 5 minutes.

Add all of the other ingredients and simmer for 20-30 minutes.

Serve over rice, with bread or on its own.

I tupperware tubbed this so fast I forgot to photograph, it was very yummy, although after eating it for a week I could have used some variety.

For Sunday dinner: Fennel Gratin

1 large fennel bulb

1 garlic clove

pinch of nutmeg

100ml of double cream

25g of grated parmesan cheese



Heat oven to 200C and put a pan of salted water on to boil.


Trim the fennel tops, then cut into wedges. Boil for 5-6 mins, then drain well.

Fennel Gratin pre oven

Arrange in an ovenproof dish, season and sprinkle with nutmeg. Stir the garlic into the cream and pour over the fennel. Top with the Parmesan, then bake for 20 mins until golden.

I served this with roast chicken and it was delicious.

Stuffed (us and the chicken)

September 4th

I had invited my best London friend and her husband round for dinner before they jetted off on their second summer holiday! Shocking I know. I had recently seen a cooking show where someone did saltimbocca, and rather than cooking veal, I decided to do a similar dish, stuffing chicken and wrapping it in pancetta. But what to stuff the chicken with?

I decided to stuff it with a mixture of sundried tomatoes, basil and olives blended to form a paste. This would then be served with whole-wheat spaghetti tossed with spinach and cream cheese.

I didn’t follow a recipe but here is what I did:


3 chicken breasts

12 slices of pancetta

1 tsp of light cream cheese

3 tsps of sundried tomato paste

3 tsps of black olive paste or olive tapenade

a handful of shredded basil leaves

pinch of black pepper


Slit the chicken breasts down the middle and lay open.

Mix the cream cheese, basil, tomato paste and olive paste. Stuff into the inside of the chicken breasts and close.

Lay out 4 slices of pancetta to almost the same width as the chicken breast, making sure that the pancetta overlaps slightly. Then lay the chicken breast onto the pancetta and roll up, like a sausage roll, so it looks like this:

wrapped and ready to go

Bake in the oven for 30 mins or until the juices run clear. I served it with boiled whole-wheat spaghetti tossed with some more light cream cheese, sundried tomato paste and a bag of spinach. Unfortunately it was gobbled down so fast I didn’t get any pictures. If i would do anything differently it would be to make more of a sauce for the spaghetti, otherwise yumtastic.

In case you are interested this meal was sandwiched between a starter of homemade garlic and rosemary pizza bread, and meringue fruit sandwiches. It should be noted that I did not make the meringues, despite spending hours trying to the previous sunday, the skill still eludes me. It was accompanied with both red and rose wine, and Budweiser and Cobra beer, so something for everyone.

Birthdays and odd combinations

On Thursday my mum’s partner Steve turned 60. On Saturday we are all trundling down to the Sussex countryside to celebrate, and I’m in charge of the cake!! I was to be quite honest a little excited, with no parameters other than its not to be decorated I could do anything. Well Steve is known for his love of unusual food combinations. One Easter we had a fantastic Mayan chilli chocolate cake in the shape of a Mayan temple. Last Christmas was every kind of local berry gin you could imagine. So inspired by the chilli and the fruit I decided I wanted to make a chilli chocolate cake but, as Steve doesn’t have a big sweet tooth, with some fruit in it. So googling away I came across this. I figured I could just adapt it to make it into a cake. Now I’m known a little for my kitchen disasters as much as my baking (tempura vegetables, a very desperate chocolate finger house cake using kinder chocolate, the list goes on) so having little time to practice I decided to make a mini version of the cake, as I went along in order to make sure it tasted great and worked out.

Mango Mousse

  • 4 cups Mango Puree
  • 2 each Thai Chili, split
  • 1 cup Sugar
  • 12 Gelatin Sheets
  • 2 qt Heavy Cream

Mango Gel

  • 1 ¾ cup Mango Puree
  • ¾ cup Water
  • ½ cup Sugar
  • 2 sheets Gelatin

Chocolate Cake

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup Dutch cocoa powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

So following the recipe I made the cake on Thursday night. Mini cake alongside, and its tasted great, so far so good. I substituted buttermilk for yoghurt, as I can never find it in the supermarket, and I’m not sure they even have it in this country.

Preheat the oven to 165 Celsius. Butter a round deep cake tin with a removable bottom. In a large bowl, on the medium speed of an electric mixer, cream the butter until smooth. Add the sugars and beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the egg and beat well, then the buttermilk and vanilla.  Sift the flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt together right into your wet ingredients. Stir together with a spoon until well blended but do not over mix. Scrape down the batter in the bowl, making sure the ingredients are well blended. Pour the batter into the prepared cake tin. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Cool.

So Friday night came and time for the complicated bits. I followed the recipe for the Mango gel and mousse, simultaneously following another recipe for the instructions on how to make the mousse:

Soak the gelatin leaves in cold water.

In a small saucepan, bring the sugar and water to the boil, simmer for 3-4 minutes and remove from the heat. Add the gelatin, which will dissolve immediately.

Peel and coarsely dice the mango and place in a liquidiser with the juice and zest of half orange. Reduce to a purée.

Place the cream in a large bowl and whisk to ribbon stage.

Add the syrup/gelatin and whisk in.

With a metal spoon, beat in the mango purée.

Layer mousse- about 1” inch thick and smooth out with rubber spatula. Pour room temperature gel. Make gel while cake is cooling so you can pour it over the mousse it a liquid state. Allow to set at least 2-4 hours. Best results if allowed to rest overnight.

And this is what I ended up with.


It survived a train journey to mums and being taken out of the cake tin, and although the topping did leak down the side of the cake a little, I was happy with it for a first try, and the verdict was YUM!


Poker food [face]

4th August Poker Food

Any social occasion and you will find me in the kitchen baking or cooking up a storm. The word guests seems to signal to me that this is an occasion to cook for a bunch of people, which takes the pressure off you having to eat it all yourself, after all I don’t want to spend my entire life in a zumba class. We were hosting the regular poker night round ours, and last time I had been accused of making food that wasn’t manly enough. So I quickly whipped up some classic cheese straws from the Be-ro cookbook, adding small chopped bits of fried bacon into half of the mix, to change it up a bit. No photos, I forgot and they were gobbled up so fast I lost the chance. I’ve been making them in various forms since I was about 6 and my Gran taught me how. She taught me most of what I see as staple family foods, Yorkshire puddings, cheese straws, flapjacks, and of course fruitcake. Everytime I visited my Gran as a student she would send me home with a fruitcake that would then last me the term. I’ve taking them camping, eaten them at the cinema, there is nothing more comforting than fruitcake, especially when just out of the oven mmm.  The recipe can be found on the be-ro website if you don’t have access to the 1970s original cookbook.

Anyway.Now that the manly food was out of the way I could concentrate on experimenting with some classics. The week before I had eaten an AMAZING flapjack at a hotel in Somerset, moist, chewy and packed full of dry fruit, it was divine. I wanted flapjacks. I followed this basic recipe found on BBC Food, and added in half a bag of Whitworths dried fruit. I made far too many, but the boys ate them during the week and I took some for my girlfriends on our Dorset mini break, so it went down well. Once again the recipe is a Lorraine Pascale, somewhat a theme for me at the moment, I am somewhat in awe of the woman.


  • 175g/6oz butter
  • 175g/6oz golden syrup
  • 175g/6oz muscovado sugar
  • 350g/12oz porridge oats
  • ½ lemon, finely grated zest
  • pinch ground ginger

 I also added nutmeg and dried fruit.

Preparation method

  • Preheat the oven to 150C/300F/Gas 2 and line a 20cm/8in square baking tin with baking paper.
  • Melt the butter in a medium pan over a low heat. Dip a brush in the butter and brush the baking tin with a little bit of it. Add the golden syrup and sugar to the butter and heat gently. Once the sugar is dissolved and the butter is melted, remove the pan from the heat and stir in the porridge oats, lemon zest and ginger.
  • Pack the mixture into the baking tin and squash down. Bake in the oven for 40 minutes.
  • Once cooked, remove from the oven, leave to cool for 15 minutes, then turn out on to a chopping board and cut into squares.

Ta da! (i didn’t win at poker 😦 )