Tag Archives: baking

Rainbow Cakes


In the wake of the stupendous news from the other side of the pond (or from your own side of the pond, or the top of the pond, or round the back of the pond… it all depends where you’re standing), and with Pride celebrations happening across the world this weekend, I’m seeing wall-to-wall rainbows all over my social media. I’m delighted to see them. Wordpress is flying a rainbow banner at the top of the very page I’m typing on. Half my Facebook friends have rainbow profile pictures. My online world is a brighter place.

And it made me think – remember when I made beautiful rainbow cakes?

You don’t?!

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Look at these glorious beasts. I’ve only made them once, but I feel like I nailed it.

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Rainbow Close Lilac 2

Let this post serve as a reminder that I once made these, and they were awesome. If you want to make your own, I put together a Rainbow Icing Tutorial that you can have a look at. It uses more than one piping bag, and will make a dent in your patience reserves, there’s no denying it.

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Rainbow Post-Icing

You, too, can get your Pride on in the form of cake. If you can convince a baking fanatic friend to make them for you, all the better.

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Be warned, though. People can come over a bit funny when faced with so much rainbow.

Rainbow Ruth


Brain Cakes


Remember the time I made cakes that looked like brains?

brain-cakes-plate

The unavoidable answer to that question is ‘no, what are you talking about?’ because I never did write a blog post about them. Until now!

I only have phone photos – and low lighting phone photos at that – but you’ll be able to get the idea. These were a Hallowe’en project. The G man and I dressed up as Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry.

zombies

Zombie Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry, of course. Paul Zombiewood and Mary Deady, to give them the names the G man dreamed (or nightmared) up.

A plate of brain cakes seemed like the kind of thing Mary Berry would do if she was a zombie, so I put some together to serve as a prop, in case the floral jacket wasn’t clue enough to our Hallowe’en identities.

brain-cake

The cupcake on the bottom is your basic vanilla sponge. I also made cake pops with the same batter – half as many cake pops as cupcakes. Then, when everything was baked and cooled, I sliced the cake pops in half, so I had half-spheres to perch on top of the cakes. These were the base for my brains. I liked this much better than having a solid lump of icing on top of every one – combined with the cake and jam, it would have been seriously, teeth-grindingly sweet. There is only so far I’m willing to sacrifice taste for style, you know.

I made a vanilla buttercream, which I dyed a lilac-grey colour, then added a touch of red dye until the icing was a slighly mottled pink-grey – like raw meat. Appetising, no? I mixed it up too far, actually,  so the end result was more pink than anything else. I suppose that did make them look a bit healthier, and your discerning zombie would eat nothing but the healthiest brains available, preferably free-range and organic ones.

brain-cakes

I filled each cake with strawberry jam, leaving a big splodge on top of the cake to stick my half-cake pops to. Once they were all on, it was time to decorate – if I’d made the brains first, then tried to stick them on, I’d definitely have flattened and smudged the icing. The brain detail was piped on top with a fine nozzle. It was painstaking work, it must be said. I applied a straight line right across the middle, then used a back and forth looping motion to fill in each half, with any gaps being filled by extra little lines and loops.

They came out suitably gory, just right for a Hallowe’en party. For a last-minute idea (hence the lack of photos), they ended up being pretty great. This year I’ll be more prepared.

Unless Paul Zombiewood resurfaces and eats my actual brains.


Stilton and Cranberry Scones


Or maybe they should be called Boxing Day Scones. Or Leftover Cheeseboard Scones. Both work, though they may be a bit literal. I whipped these up on Boxing Day with some cheese that was languishing in the fridge – it was one of my better ideas (and, between you and me, that’s saying something).

 

Stilton-Scones-Top

 

 

They were made and cooling in 45 minutes. Scones really are low maintenance, and they deliver. Oh boy, do they deliver. Here’s the drill – you can make 12 small scones with these amounts, or fewer bigger scones if you feel that way inclined.

 

  • 300g plain flour
  • 1 heaped tbsp baking powder
  • pinch sea salt
  • 60g cold butter, cubed
  • 150g stilton with cranberries
  • 200ml cold milk – this is variable, so proceed with caution
  • 1 extra tablespoon milk, for glazing the tops of the scones

 

Preheat the oven to a hot 220C. Line a baking sheet with paper or foil,and dust very lightly with flour.

 

Mix the flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl. Drop in the butter and rub in with the tips of your fingers. Pinch, lift, rub and drop back into the bowl. Reflect on the past generations of people who have made scones just this way. That part’s optional, but it’s what I always do. Crumble in the cheese – don’t worry about getting it reeeeeeally crumbly, it’ll get broken up a bit in the next step, too.

 

Pour in the first 100ml of milk, and mix and cut in with a knife. Add just enough milk so that the dough is ready to hold together, and starts making big clumps but not so much that it’s sticky. The knife is good because you can scrape the dough off on the side of the bowl if it sticks too much, and because you can cut in to any parts of the mix that look too waterlogged. Or milklogged, as it may be. Bring the dough together in the bowl with your hands until you have one, slightly crumbly, ball.

 

Lightly flour your worksurface, and tip the dough out. Knead two or three times, so it all holds together, and pat out flat. No need to roll. You want a circle of dough about 2cm thick.   Cut out the desired size of scones until you can’t make any more, re-rolling the scraps as you need to. Don’t twist the cutter – a straight push down does the trick, and when you lift the scone might stay inside, or might drop back onto the surface. Either is fine. When you only have a little left, roll it up gently and pat down to make a mini scone. Often, this is the best one. Put all the scones on the baking sheet as you go along.

 

Stilton-Scones

Spot the tiny, leftover dough scone? It looks kind of like a hot cross bun…

 

Brush the tops – but not the sides – with milk, sparingly. Milk running down the sides is one of the things that will stop you getting a good rise.   Bake for ten minutes, or a few minutes longer if needed, until golden brown on top. Some of the cranberries might scorch a little – that’s OK. It’s just extra oven love.   Cool for ten minutes, and serve – with butter or cream cheese, if you want. They’re not bad just plain, but I’m a fiend for butter on my scones. An absolute fiend, I tell you.

 

See how easy that was? You can sub in other kinds of cheese, but personally I love the low-key, salty stilton with these sweet little bursts of cranberry. Plus, I don’t really like fruity stilton on its own – it’s much better in a scone. Muuuuuuch better.


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