I’ve been a bad girl. It’s exactly three months and four days since I last devoted an ounce of love or attention to my beautiful little blog.
It’s been a roller-coaster of a year and the past few months have been no different — but the wonderful worth-it-all high point has been the finding and buying of my first ever home: a beautiful, ivy-covered cottage built in 1850, and bursting at the seams with good vibes and exciting possibilities.
When I get my hands on the keys (and the amazing double oven that the lovely vendors are so kindly leaving behind), it will be all systems go with baking, cooking, kneading, pickling, roasting and creating all manner of lovingly made treats for family and friends to enjoy when they come a-knocking. It also means I’ll be devoting far more time to sharing it all with you through White Rabbits, so stay tuned.
I thought it only right to kick things off with the recipe I have been promising my friends for weeks now: salted caramel cake with a rich chocolate sponge. This cake was not only enjoyed by one of the most special people in my life for his 30th birthday this summer, it also bagged me the coveted ‘Star Baker’ award at this year’s Macmillan coffee morning.
The salted caramel is incredibly easy to whip up yourself, and the amazing colour, texture and taste is guaranteed to leave you feeling more than a little pleased with yourself.
Preheat your oven to 180c and grease and line two wobbly-bottomed round cake tins
Beat together the sugar and butter in a large mixing bowl until light and fluffy, then add one add one egg at a time, along with the vanilla extract. As always, keep whisking until your arms feel sure to drop off: the success of your cake is largely dependant on how much air you work into the mixture at this stage
When you can whisk no more, sieve in your flour and coco powder and very gently fold. When combined, stir in a glug of the Guinness or coke, being careful not to make it too liquid
Split your mixture between the two cake tins (using the scales to weigh out the mixture evenly), then bake for around 30 minutes. Test with a skewer — if it comes out clean, turn the cakes out onto a wire rack to cool
Using a separate bowl beat your butter until soft, then sieve in your icing sugar — along with a few drops of vanilla extract and a few drops of water. Whisk until luscious and creamy
To make the salted caramel, heat your caster sugar and four tablespoons of water in a saucepan over a gentle heat. When the sugar has dissolved, increase the heat and cook for 2-3 minutes (without stirring), or until golden and slightly thickened. At this point you need to remove the pan from the heat and stir in the cream. (WARNING: the caramel will spit and splutter when you add the cream, so stand back.) Stir in the salt and vanilla extract then leave to cool before adding to your buttercream, leaving a spoonful back for decoration
Spread half of the salted caramel buttercream between the two layers of sponge, then top the cake with the other half. Put the pan back on the heat until the last of your caramel loses its stiffness, then drizzle over the top of the cake using a spoon. And if you’re glitter mad like me, finish off with a sprinkling of edible gold glitter
Enjoy with a hot cuppa and five minutes of peace and quiet*.
Love from Emma xx
*Unlikely for my lovely friend Laura who has been requesting this recipe for weeks — she currently has her hands full with a toddler, a newborn, two dogs, a cat, and a top to bottom house refurb. But cakes like this were made for wonderwomen like her.
The marriage of tea and cake is one of life’s greatest triumphs, most successful partnerships, and incontrovertibly, most harmonious flavour combinations. But what about tea in cake?
I’ve always been a green, jasmine, or rose kinda gal, so when I came across a recipe for green tea cupcakes in my prized Primrose Bakery book, I was more than a little inspired. However, I didn’t fancy the green tea buttercream their sponge was teamed with.
Two of my favorite flavours in Asian cookery are lime and coconut, so the addition of these wonderfully complimentary ingredients to buttercream seemed like a far more logical (and tasty) flavour combination: the result was zingy, refreshing, a little bit unusual ― and, in my opinion, the perfect afternoon treat, without being overly sweet.
For the green tea sponge
150ml semi-skimmed milk
4 green tea teabags
110g unsalted butter
225g granulated sugar
2 large eggs
125g self-raising flour
120g plain flour
For the lime and coconut buttercream
115g unsalted butter
2 tbsp fresh squeezed lime juice
Grated zest of 1-2 limes (2 tsp)
50g icing sugar
Handful of desiccated coconut
Make the magic happen:
Start by heating your milk in a saucepan over a medium heat until it starts to boil, then remove from the heat and add the teabags. Cover with clingfilm and leave to stew for at least 30 minutes
Preheat your oven to 180C/160C fan/gas mark 4 and grease and line a 450g loaf tin with baking parchment so that a little hangs over the sides
Once the teabags have been left to stew, remove them from the milk and squeeze any excess liquid into the pan
In a separate bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until pale and smooth, then add the eggs one at a time, mixing after each one
Sift both types of flour into a separate bowl and stir well. Add a third of the flour mixture to the creamed butter and sugar and beat, followed by a third of the tea-infused milk and beat again. Repeat these steps until all of the flour and milk is combined
Pour the mixture into the greased and lined loaf tin and bake for around 35 minutes, or until golden brown
In the meantime, sift your icing sugar into a bowl containing the softened butter and beat until light and fluffy. Add the lime juice, zest and coconut, and mix well
Use a skewer to test your sponge. If it comes out clean, you’re good to go. You can use the overhanging baking parchment to lift the sponge clean out of the tin, then leave to cool before topping with the buttercream and adding an obligatory sprinkle of edible glitter
I found the white chocolate drop eyes a tad scary!
One recipe that I just had to try out for the Christmas Fayre was that most festive of treats: gingerbread men. I’d never made gingerbread before, and what with it being Christmas and all, I figured they’d sell like hot cakes.
It turns out, they’re pretty bloody distressing. Making them was fine, but getting them to lift off the cutting board without losing their arms (finally achieved by using my very thinnest fish slice) was a nightmare. And as it turns out, I’m pretty rubbish at decorating gingerbread too (something I did not foresee). Luckily we’d bought some really pretty presentation bags for the cake stall (and I’d made them in three sizes), so I decided to group them up and sell them as gingerbread families ― largely disguising their appearance.
It worked: the gingerbread families sold out incredibly quickly, and my friend’s eight year old son said they were the best gingerbread men/women/children he’d ever tasted. Winner.
So if you want to whip up some gingerbread men of your own this festive season, you’ll need:
12oz plain flour, plus extra for rolling out
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 tsp ground ginger (or more if you like a stronger flavour)
1 tsp ground cinnamon
6oz light soft brown sugar
1 free-range egg
4 tbsp golden syrup
Make the magic happen:
Preheat your oven to 180C and line two baking trays with greaseproof paper
Sift all of your dry ingredients (flour, bicarbonate of soda, ginger and cinnamon) into a large bowl and mix together
Add the butter and blend until the mix starts to resemble breadcrumbs, then stir in the sugar
Lightly beat together the egg and golden syrup, form a well in your breadcrumb mix, then add the liquid into the well – mixing in more and more of the mixture until a soft dough is formed
Tip the dough onto a floured board and knead briefly until smooth. Wrap in clingfim and leave to chill in the fridge for around 15 minutes
Remove from the fridge (and the clingfilm!) and roll out to a thickness of 0.5cm
Ready for cutting
Cut out the gingerbread men using shaped cutters
Gingerbread family – or the three wise men?
Place on the baking trays, leaving a gap between each shape
Room to grow
Bake in a preheated oven for 12-15 minutes, or until lightly golden-brown. Leave to cool on the tray for 10 minutes, then move to a wire rack to finish cooling
Leave to cool
Organise into families if the fancy takes you
I’ve got all my sisters with me
Once cool, decorate however you like. I melted chocolate and painted on trousers, then sprinkled over hundreds and thousands. I also gave some of them smartie buttons. You could use icing, jelly tots, or anything that takes your fancy
Selling like hot cakes…
Scoff with a cuppa, or buy festive little bags and make your own gingerbread families.
Every cook has a signature dish, and the Oreo cookie cake is undoubtedly mine. It’s my favourite cake to make, eat and share, is ridiculously delicious, and (*smug claxon*) couldn’t be more popular. So when it came to deciding what to make for my first ever cake stall at the Keele Christmas Fayre, this came top of the list (but in the form of cupcakes so there was enough to go round!)
Was there ever a finer sight?
Oreo cakes are really fun to make and they always look impressive (and inspire curiosity, as all good cooking should).
To create the cupcake of Kings, you’ll need:
For the mocha sponge
8oz caster sugar
8oz butter (or Stalk)
8oz self-raising flour
A few drops of vanilla essence
2 tbsp quality coco powder
2 heaped tsp instant espresso coffee
For the decoration
6oz icing sugar
One packet of original Oreo cookies
One tub of mini Oreo cookies
3oz unsalted butter
Edible glitter (totally non-negotiable)
Make the magic happen:
Preheat oven to 180C and pop your cupcake cases into a Yorkshire pudding tin to keep them secure
Start by spooning your espresso powder (or instant coffee if you don’t have any) into a cup, then add a little hot water (just enough to dissolve the coffee and to make it pourable), before leaving to cool
Meanwhile, cream together your butter and sugar using an electric hand mix (or fancy pants mixer), then add in your eggs one at a time, mixing as you go. Continue to whisk until light and fluffy
Carefully sift in your flour and coco powder and fold, being careful not to knock the air out
Sprinkle in your vanilla essence along with the cooled coffee, and combine
Add a generous spoonful to each cake case and bake in the centre of a preheated oven for around 20-25 minutes. Remove from the oven and leave to cool
In the meantime, tip all of your original Oreos into a large mixing bowl and crush with a wooden spoon (or blitz in a food processer, leaving a few bits for added crunch)
Make your buttercream by sifting icing sugar into a large mixing bowl containing your softened butter, then cream together. When light and fluffy, add in a few more drops of vanilla essence and tip in your crushed Oreo cookie mixture
It tastes far better than it looks!
Top each cupcake with some of the Oreo buttercream, add a mini Oreo for decoration, and sprinkle generously with edible glitter (trust me, they look so pretty)
Just so darn pretty!
Take into work, share with the family, or use them to make friends: you’ll suddenly become very popular.
Since starting this blog, I’ve cooked more than ever before, and regularly share my offerings with friends and family alike – so it came as no surprise when two of my friends badgered me into having my own cake stall at the Keele Christmas market this year. But I wasn’t going to tackle it alone, and roped my mum (the don of baking) into sharing the sweet responsibility (then promptly ordered some business cards to get the White Rabbits word well and truly out).
I wouldn’t want people to miss out on my recipes now, would I?
The first problem was deciding which cakes to make. I had my heart set on chocolate fridge cake until mum astutely pointed out that without the aid of a fridge, the chocolate would quickly melt (and now you see why I wasn’t doing this alone).
In the end, we settled on:
Oreo cookie cupcakes
Chocolate and peanut butter brownies
Ginger Christmas cake with brandy buttercream
Green tea cake with lime and coconut buttercream
(I will of course be bringing you all of the recipes over the coming weeks!)
Soon into the baking process, we realised that catering for a Christmas fayre was going to be a messy job.
Messy kitchen alert!
By the end of the preparation day, there wasn’t a clear surface in sight. We stayed up until 1 a.m. icing, decorating, and bagging up gingerbread families, and early next morning, we were ready to go and get set up for a festive day of cake.
Let the selling commence!
The fayre was incredibly busy, and it was great to see so many people enjoying our handy work.
A happy customer
It soon became apparent that we should have made a lot more cake! We sold out long before the fayre came to a dusky close – leaving nothing but crumbs in our wake. Success!
In my other gig as editor of Kitchen Bitching, I was recently sent some samples of the new Great British Bakeware to review. Amongst the goodies parcelled prettily on my doorstep was a floral (and utterly gorgeous) muffin tray.
Now, despite being an avid baker, I’d never attempted muffins before, but after a recent trip to Costa (where I discovered their delicious lemon curd muffins), I was keen to better them. And — false modesty aside — I think I have. They’re gooey and delicious inside, and zesty, sweet and sticky on top (with an added crunch from the sugar).
The quantities may sound a little high, but if you want 12 decent sized muffins, rather than 12 teeny cupcakes, throw caution to the wind and get baking up a storm.
For the muffins
400g self-raising flour
200g golden caster sugar
2 large eggs
150ml sunflower oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
120ml homemade or good quality lemon curd
Juice of half a lemon
For the sugar coating
60ml homemade or good quality lemon curd
50g golden caster sugar
Make the magic happen
Preheat your oven to 190C, and grease and line a muffin tin with 12 paper cases
Sieve the flour into a large bowl and mix in the golden caster sugar
It gets more exciting, I promise
In a separate bowl, mix together yours eggs, sunflower oil, milk and vanilla extract
Once combined, make a well in the flour and sugar mix and add a glug of the liquid mix into the centre of the well. Use a wooden spoon to stir this liquid into the surrounding flour and sugar, then continue to add the liquid a little at a time, stirring in more flour and sugar as you go. Add the fresh lemon juice and stir
Fill your muffin cases halfway with batter, then dollop 1 tsp of lemon curd in the middle. Top up with the remaining muffin batter
Tad messy, as baking should be
Once your muffin cases are full, place the tray in a pre heated oven on the middle shelf, being careful not to slam the door
Bake for 20 minutes, or until risen, firm and golden, then leave the muffins to cool
When sufficiently cooled, microwave the lemon curd on high for 1 minute until it’s all gooey and melty. Pop your sugar into a shallow bowl, then take a pasty brush (so much fun) and paint on the melted lemon curd until it covers each muffin
This was SO therapeutic!
Immediately dip the tops of each muffin in the sugar
Kids would LOVE this bit!
Then leave the muffins to set
Oh, do I have to share?
Enjoy with a cup of something hot
Serve with your prettiest tea set
I took these into work today and they were an enormous hit, so I predict your popularity levels will rocket if you’re in a sharing mood.
Top tip: you can adapt this recipe to suit your tastes by adding cherries, raisins, almonds, pecans, or even cherry liqueur at the final mixing stage
Heaven in a bite
Owing to a few too many glasses of cab sav at the weekend, I didn’t get round to cooking nearly as much I should have done — leaving a distinct lack of naughty nibbles to get me through the week. Come yesterday afternoon, all of the lemon and poppy seed cake had gone, and I needed to replenish the sweet treat stocks. I wanted something quick, something super tasty, and something that incorporated the new loaf tin I’d kindly been sent by the lovely Great British Bakeware people. So I settled on chocolate fridge cake.
I adapted a recipe from BBC good food (having never made fridge cake before) and the results were fantastic. I took the gorgeous little squares into work and they went down an absolute storm!
8oz digestive biscuits
10oz quality chocolate (I used a mixture of 50% and 70% cocoa)
3½oz unsalted butter
6oz golden syrup
2 tsp instant espresso powder mixed with a tbsp of water, plus a tsp of brown sugar
Make the magic happen:
Line a loaf tin with cling film, leaving plenty of excess hanging over the sides so you can lift it out once its set
Place the biscuits into a large plastic mixing bowl, then bash the hell out of them with a wooden spoon (this was unbelievably therapeutic)
Pop a separate bowl over a pan of simmering water (being careful not to let the bowl touch the water), and melt the chocolate, butter and syrup together, stirring occasionally
Go on, dip a finger in
Pour in the sweetened espresso mixture and stir. It’s worth pointing out at this stage that it’s largely impossible to adequately mix the gooey chocolate loveliness without getting covered – but that’s no bad thing
Add a caffeine kick
When completely melted, remove from the heat and stir in the bashed up biscuits
Spoon the unctuous mixture into the lined loaf tin, then leave to cool in the fridge overnight
Messy but worth it
Lift out using the cling film, dust with icing sugar, and cut into as many pieces as you’d like