Tonka beans will blow your mind. As a long time fan of vanilla (So much so, if I was on Saturday Kitchen it would be my heaven ingredient), I would go as far to say tonka bean is like vanilla but better. Yes, better than vanilla! It has a similar natural sweetness but it also has more depth of flavour, almost a tobacco/smokeyness to it. A very interesting taste that marries perfectly to baking. I would say its an easy substitute for vanilla in most recipes. Tonka beans are really easy to get hold of online and not that expensive, they have a long shelf life and come looking like big black seeds which need finely grating before adding to your bake. In this recipe I have married them with coconut which taste really exotic and different, really unique.
Sometimes I get a baking itch I just need to scratch! This does happen quite often. The shop just always seems SO far away though. In these situations, I tend to start rummaging around in the cupboards to see what I have left that I can turn into a sweet treat. Occasionally it will be a disaster but most of the time something delicious pops out the oven. But once in a blue moon, an unexpected masterpiece is produced! Something truly life changing. I had some left over dates after Christmas and half a bag of desiccated coconut, then I discovered some pistachios from a wedding cake order the week before. Perfect for popping into a cookie… So now I had decided on what to bake I went to grab everything else I needed but, shock horror, I only had light brown muscavado sugar left. Agh! But I threw caution to the wind and used it anyway. I’m so glad I did! The cookies were soft, chunky, chewy. Totally delicious!
Some days I love to spend the whole day in the kitchen working towards a sugary sweet beast of a cake. Some days I just want something there and then, without sacrificing my day (Not that my days revolve around much anyway, looking at dogs in silly outfits on Instagram, reading Daily Mail online gossip column in secret… whoops!). These little treats are the perfect throw-together-in-10-minute yummies. I have to admit I have worked my way through quite a few coconut macaroon recipes trying to find baking bohemia, the crispy outside and the slightly soggy sugary innards. Hurrah! I have achieved it here! The top tip is condensed milk. Any excuse to use condensed milk is a winner with me (I licked the lid clean and now have a cut tongue to prove it. It is like crack in a tin.). A mix of coconut flakes and desiccated coconut gives the best texture too. If you don’t have limes, you can leave them out. Feel free to swap white chocolate for dark or milk too, go crazy. They are also a great option for the gluten free of you out there.
This is the cake I did for my friend Donna Aplin who’s mum was getting married today! Although this morning was pretty murky, thankfully the sun came out for them this afternoon. There wasn’t much of a brief to work to except that she wanted lemon and orange featured in the colours and this is what I came up with. A Summery treat with the top layer being coconut caramel and the bottom layer is strawberry and white chocolate.
I remember when I started baking and being told that baking is a science, its not like cooking where you can throw a little bit of this or that and it will probably be a taste sensation. You have to stick to the recipe or it will be a disaster! I’ve come to learn (often the hard way) that actually, you can go against the rules and shake things up if you understand how your ingredients work. So I’m going to tell you what I have learnt about different kinds of sugar when baking and how you can confidently change them around in a recipe.
These little lovelies I made for a garden party I went to today, my brothers girlfriends parents threw a Summer (the sun made a brief appearance..) BBQ and I obviously couldn’t turn up empty handed. I spent hours making a brown sugar custard tart with roasted strawberries. Being a smart arse I didn’t bother to read the recipe and rather too late realised the pastry had to rest for 4 hours, then roll, then rest again for 2 hours, then blind bake for 40 minutes (at this point I went to bed, I needed resting as well as the pastry), allow to cool completely, make the custard, back in the oven for 40 minutes…. Phew! It tasted ahmazing but anything which involved 13 egg yolks and 700ml of double cream would do I guess. I also whipped up a simple white chocolate and raspberry sponge and these gluten free courgette and coconut cupcakes.
Happy new year cake lovers! What better way to destroy your good intentions than by baking this delightful and delicious celebration cake! I did this nutty little number to take to a NYE party thrown by my gorgeous couple friends, Jona and Eilis (who can be seen taking a mahoosive bite out of the cake a little further down this page). The party was great fun, too much fun considering I didn’t get out of bed again until midday on 2nd January… Opps!! Now I’m sitting on the sofa with only one day left before I have to go back to work and normal life resumes. I am totally sulking. Big time. I love my job, don’t get me wrong but I really love lying in bed till silly o’clock, planning my days around what I’m going to eat next. 16 days ago I sat thinking, wowza, I have 17 days off!! 17 days! 17! Days! Whole days! 17! I had so many plans to do amazing things, finish off making cushion covers for the BF’s flat, make my first dress, write loads of inspiring posts for this blog, go on lots of long walks to burn off the Xmas calories. Did I do any of this? No. I felt like it would never pass and I would be on an eternal holiday, I constantly put everything off because I had SO much time to get it all done! Surprisingly, it passed… Turns out that having fun makes time go really quickly. Bring on Christmas 2015 when the boy might finally get his cushion covers…
This cake was ordered for a special birthday celebration, a gluten free banana cake sandwiched with dulce du leche, coated with coconut buttercream and topped with white chocolate shards scattered with sugar balls! If you would like to enquire about ordering a cake, please use the contact form on this site.
This week, I leave my job! Super duper exciting stuff as now I am in touching distance of working for Le Creuset (every time I think about it I scream a little inside). It is going to be such a joy to spend everyday working with a product I love and use myself so expect some Le Creuset popping up in future cake shoots! I now have a few spare days this week so what to do… Bake would be the obvs answer. However, I’m struggling for people to off load my baking bounty to. My mum can only eat so much and two days a week she won’t touch cake as she is following the 5:2 diet constantly, I don’t work in an office so there are no work colleagues to snaffle my sugary treats and the BF lives 150 miles away. I can’t take it to my fitness classes, this would be pretty counter productive and don’t want to be the cause for everyone regaining the weight they have just spent an hour burning off. So what do I do? Eat it all myself (I have been known to consume industrial portion sizes of cake but a whole one? Not yet…)? Track down long-lost relatives who hopefully have a sweet tooth?! Bake or not to bake, that is the question…
Ola! I have finally recovered enough from my raucous Barcelona hen do to bake cake. It took a lot of sleep, paracetamol and carbs but I’m finally there! My girls absolutely know how to PARTY. I, however, seem to be loosing the power to keep up (Going straight from the airport after no sleep from all night clubbing? Not me, I was in bed my midnight, natch). However my inability to keep up raving meant I had more time to discover Barcelona and hunt down some sweet treats. It is scorchio in Spain (obvs) so cake smothered in meltable butter cream is not ideal, it’s all about the pastry, creme patisserie and deep fried sugariness. I discovered these deeeelish mini dough balls coated in cinnamon and sugar at an indoors market. Crispy on the outside, billowing white fluffy insides. They were so good they made me giddy.