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Peggy Porschen Cakes in Bloom Review

Peggy Porschen Cakes in Bloom

It’s no big secret that I’m a huge fan of Peggy Porschen.  She makes the most amazingly beautiful cakes with the most amazingly beautiful sugar flowers.

I used to spend ages carefully studying the gorgeous floral tiered wedding cakes that filled the large windows of her pastel pink parlour in Belgravia. Just take a peak at the stunning cakes displayed in her parlour windows, and you’ll know exactly what I mean. They’re breathtaking.

“If only I could make those one day” I thought.

So imagine my surprise when I received an email from the Peggy Porschen Academy inviting me attend an Anemone flower and cake decorating course!  Seriously! I could hardly contain myself.

Peggy Porschen Anemone Cake

My anemone cake that I made with Peggy during her course.

 

Over the course of the day Peggy taught our class everything we needed to know in order to make a picture perfect cake fit for a wedding or anniversary. I left the course with a gorgeous cake complete with three beautiful sugarpaste anemone flowers. I’ll tell you all about the course in another post, but for now lets focus on sugarpaste flowers.

I was so pleased with the way my anemone flowers turned out after Peggy’s course that I couldn’t’ wait to learn how to make other types of flowers.  I was thrilled to find out that Peggy Porschen was releasing a new book filled entirely with sugarpaste flowers, and instructions on how to make them!

Cakes in Bloom, Exquisite Sugarcraft Flowers for All Occasions was released last year (just about the same that time I put my blog on hiatus, hence the late review).  It’s a stunning book packed full of beautiful realistic looking sugar flowers, and detailed instructions on exactly how to make them. This is definitely Peggy’s most advanced and specialised book that she’s released. In addition to step by step instructions and photos showing you exactly how to make the flowers, there’s also several cake recipes as well. But the main focus of Cakes in Bloom is the sugar flowers.

Peggy Porschen Flowers

There’s a huge variety of flowers to learn in this book.  From tiny stephanotis blossoms, to large English roses and exotic orchids.  You’ll make the folks at Kew Gardens jealous by the time you finish making them all!

I love that this book has flowers and techniques suitable for all levels, and that you don’t have to be a professional cake decorator to make them. If you’re just starting to learn how to make sugar flowers, you can easily start off by making hand formed rose buds which are perfect for cupcakes and don’t require any specialty equipment like cutters and wire.

Cakes in Bloom, Exquisite Sugarcraft Flowers for All Occasions

Peggy Porschen Mini Rose Cakes

A selection of the flowers that Peggy has included in the book are:

Peonies
Roses
Anemones
Pansies
Sweetpeas
Orchids
Hydrangeas

Peggy Porschen David Austin Rose

To give you a better idea of what’s exactly in Peggy’s new book, and the level of detail included in it I’ve done a little video review to show you. I filmed this review over a year ago, and at the time Cakes in Bloom hadn’t come out yet, so just ignore that part.

Watch my Cakes in Bloom, Exquisite Sugarcraft Flowers for All Occasions below:

Cakes in Bloom, Exquisite Sugarcraft Flowers for All Occasions is available to purchase from Amazon UK here, and Amazon US here.

If you sugar flowers aren’t really your thing, Peggy is releasing her newest book Love Layer Cakes next Month, and it’s sure to be filled with even more delicious recipes.

Thanks to Quadrille Publishing for sending me a review copy of Cakes in Bloom.

Peggy Porschen Roses

Coconut Banana Protein Pancakes

Coconut Banana Protein Pancakes

My favourite meal of the day has always been breakfast. The funny thing is, I rarely eat it. Working full time in London means waking up at ridiculous o’clock each morning, and rushing out the door so I don’t miss my train. By the time I finally get around to eating something it’s usually about 10am, and involves lukewarm soggy toast while I stare blankly at my computer screen. The fact that I rarely get to sit down and enjoy a nice breakfast makes it all the more special when I actually do get to.

My ideal breakfast always involves something sweet.  It’s what I grew up with back in Canada, and one of the things I miss the most in the UK.  Traditionally UK breakfasts aren’t sweet like that ones I grew up with, but finding pancakes, waffles or french toast on brunch menus is increasingly common. When I was a kid my favourite breakfast was homemade waffles with fresh strawberries and whipped cream. It’s still my favourite today, although it’s something I rarely have because let’s face it – they’re really not that good for you.

 

Coconut Banana Protein Pancakes

Lately I’ve been trying to find healthier breakfast options that still satisfy my sweet tooth.  I was thrilled to come across a recipe for healthy coconut banana protein pancakes from Becs at Lay The Table. They’re simple, naturally sweet, and surprisingly filling. They’re also dairy, gluten, wheat and sugar free!

I think my favourite thing about these pancakes was the Hey Boo Coconut Jam topping that Becs recommended to be put on top of the pancakes. Coconut jam!  Seriously, where has this been all my life? The coconut jam isn’t sugar free, but I figured a little sugar would be ok considering there’s none in the actual pancakes themselves.

Coconut Banana Protein Pancakes

Coconut Banana Protein Pancakes

I scaled back the recipe and made a few changes, including the addition of some desiccated coconut because I absolutely love coconut. The more the better!

I’ve made these pancakes a few times now for my son and I, and we love them – especially with the coconut jam and some fresh berries on the side.

Coconut Banana Protein Pancakes

Yield: Makes 4 pancakes

Ingredients

  • 1 Banana
  • 1 Large Egg
  • 2 Tbsp Coconut Flour
  • 1 Tbsp Desiccated Coconut
  • 1 Tbsp Almond Milk (optional)
  • 1 tsp Gluten Free Baking Powder
  • 1 tsp Natvia Sweetener (or other sugar free alternative such as Splenda)
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon

Instructions

  1. In a large measuring cup, combine all of the ingredients together using an electric hand blender until well combined. The batter will be thicker than normal pancake batter, but still spreadable. If you think it's too thick you can add a tablespoon of almond milk to thin it down a little.
  2. Pre-heat a non-stick pan on low - medium heat, and allow the batter to rest until the pan is hot.
  3. Coat the pan with non-stick cooking spray*, and pour 1/4 cup of batter onto the hot pan. Because the batter is thicker than normal pancake batter, use a small spatula or spoon to help spread it around in an even circle. Cover with a small pot lid to help seal in the heat and cook the pancake evenly.
  4. Once the pancake begins to turn an even golden brown colour flip it over to cook the other side. Replace the lid, and cover until golden brown on the bottom and cooked throughout.
  5. Repeat the above steps until all of the batter is used.
  6. Serve the pancakes with fresh fruit, coconut jam, lemon curd, or maple syrup.

Notes

* Coconut oil or butter can also be used, but I found my pancakes turned out best with the non-stick cooking spray

http://www.madewithpink.com/2015/04/coconut-banana-protein-pancakes/

Coconut Banana Protein Pancakes

Mini Chocolate Malt Cupcakes

Christmas Tried and Tested: Mini Cupcake Maker Review


It’s official, Christmas is only a month away, and I’m pleased to say I’ve got almost all of my Christmas shopping done – or at least planned.  I’m on fire this year!  I used to love Christmas shopping. I still do, but it seems like the shopping malls are so much more chaotic over here in the UK (especially the parking lots!), so I’ve resorted to doing most of my shopping online this year.  There’s loads of great online shops in the UK that sell some really unique things – something I don’t really remember having when I lived in Canada (yes we had online store, just not very good ones – at the time). So if you’re like me and don’t feel like braving the masses this year, then you’re in luck because I’ve got some great reviews coming your way that should hopefully help ease the shopping process for you!


First up is something I would have killed for when I was younger, and even though I’m a bit older now I still think it’s pretty cool.  This awesome mini pink cupcake maker was sent to me by the fabulous folks over at Find Me A Gift.  It bakes 7 mini cupcakes in a matter of minutes. No need to heat up the oven!  


I loved the fact that I could use our oven to cook dinner, and at the same time bake dessert using this mini cupcake maker on our countertop.  I ended up making some chocolate malt cupcakes that have been on my “to bake list” for at least two years now. They baked up great in this little machine – nice and moist with perfectly domed tops (which I’m sure also has a lot to do with the recipe).  I think my only point of criticism is that the cupcakes were small – I prefer regular sized cupcakes unless I’m at a party or somewhere where there’ll be multiple desserts.  But I can totally see this cupcake maker becoming the centre of attention at a girls slumber party where everyone could get a chance to bake and decorate a few cupcakes.


Chocolate Malt Cupcakes
Recipe from That Winsome Girl

Cupcake Ingredients:

2 1/4 Cups Flour 
3/4 Cup Cocoa Powder 
1/2 Cup Castor Sugar 
3/4 Cup Brown Sugar, packed
1 1/2 tsp Baking Soda 
1/2 tsp salt 
1 Cup Whole Milk 
1 1/2 Cups Malted Milk Powder 
1 Cup Oil 
3 Eggs, room temperature 
1 Cup Sour Cream, room temperature 
1 tspVanilla Extract

Buttercream Ingredients:

1 Cup Butter,room temperature 
1 Cup Vegetable Shortening (Crisco or Trex), room temperature 
1/2 Cup Malted Milk Powder 
4 Tbsp Cocoa Powder 
5 Cups Icing Sugar, sifted

Instructions:

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line muffin tins (or mini cupcake maker) with paper liners. Whisk together the flour, cocoa, brown and white sugars, baking soda and salt. Set aside.  


2.  In another bowl, whisk the milk and malted milk powder together until the powder is dissolved.   With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat the flour mixture, milk mixture and oil until combined.

3.  Add the eggs, one at a time, beating until each is incorporated.  Add in sour cream and vanilla, and beat just until combined.

4.  Divide batter evenly among the lined cups, filling each 2/3 full. Bake for 18-20 minutes or until a cake tester inserted in centres comes out clean. Cool before icing.

5.  While the cupcakes are cooling, prepare the frosting. In a large mixer bowl, cream the butter and shorting together for several minutes until very light and fluffy. Sprinkle in the malted milk powder and cocoa powder. Whip for 1 minute. Add the powdered sugar a few spoonfuls at a time, letting it incorporate until the frosting becomes thick and stiff before piping onto your cooled cupcakes.    


Overall I was really impressed with the this little gadget.  I can totally see it on the top of many girls Christmas lists this year, especially those aged about 8 – 14, but really anyone can use it.  And at only £16.99 it’s not going to break the bank. As for the recipe, while I thought it was good it wasn’t my favourite.  The flavours were quite subtle, and I prefer a richer more chocolately flavour.  My Malteser (aka Whoppers) loving friends thought they were great though.     

Thanks to Find Me A Gift for providing me with the mini cupcake maker for review. 


Mini Orange Cakes for Bonfire Night

Remember remember the 5th of November………..


Well, tonight is officially bonfire night in the UK, although the majority of bonfires were probably over the weeekend, there will still be quite a few going on tonight. 
I’ve made up a cute little treat for bonfire night, and best of all they can actually be cooked right in the bonfire! I had made these look like little “carved pumpkins” for Halloween, but wasn’t able to get this post up before then, but ultimately they’re best for bonfire night.
I’d first mentioned these cakes way back in the spring when I made some similar mini cakes baked in Easter eggs. I’d gotten the idea for my Easter egg cakes way back when I was a kid in Girl Guides. We’d all gather around the camp fire and hollow out our oranges before our guide leader came by to pour the cake batter into them. We’d then wrap them in foil and place them in the fire and wait patiently for them to cook before sitting around our toasty warm campfire eating a nice warm little cake.
What fun!
What you’ll need:
– Some large oranges
– Cake batter of your choice – I just used ½ a boxed mix. Vanilla or chocolate will taste the best once combined with the flavour of the orange.
– Nutella or Icing of your choice (optional)
There isn’t really a recipe for these – they’re super easy. Simply cut the top part of a large orange off to create a little lid, and then set that part aside. Next you’ll need to hollow out your orange with a spoon. I used a knife to cut down the insides of my orange in order to help separate the flesh from the peel. Then use the spoon to scoop out the fleshy bit which you can eat. To get your orange really “clean and tidy” inside, use the sharp edge of a spoon to scrape away all the left over fleshy bits from the inside of the peel. I got my oranges perfectly cleaned out so that no fleshy remains were inside, but it really doesn’t matter that much. The less orangey bits left inside, the more room for cake! I also scooped the flesh out of the tops I cut off.
Next fill the cakes about 2/3 full with your prepared cake batter. Use any left over cake batter to make some regular cupcakes. Place the little orange tops back on the oranges and wrap them rightly in foil.
Carefully place the foil covered cakes around the outer edge of your bonfire, making sure that they are surrounded by hot coals, but still easily accessible because you’ll eventually need to get them out!
Alternatively you can cook these at 180ºC (350ºF) in the oven like I did (I couldn’t have a bonfire on the patio of my flat!). I set the foil covered oranges on a cupcake pan to prevent them from rolling around my oven.
The cakes took about 20 minutes to cook in my oven, and they should take about the same in the bonfire. You can check to see if they’re done baking the same way you would a normal cake, but just unwrapping them and sticking a toothpick in to see if it comes out clean.
Once they’re baked and cooled you can take a permanent black marker and draw little faces on them like I did. If you wish, you can top them off with some icing or nutella, but they taste just as good plain.
Enjoy, and have a fabulous bonfire night!

Peggy Porschen’s Heavenly Chocolate Cupcakes



First things first.  It’s national cupcake week.  So obviously you know what that means. Cupcakes. Cupcakes, and more cupcakes.  They’ve been everywhere this week.  On Twitter, on TV, and online – even more than they already were before.  

So as we near the end of cupcake week I figured it was only right that I provide you all with some cupcakes for your viewing (and baking!) pleasure.

But I do have a confession to make. I actually made these cupcakes for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.  I just never managed to post them until now. 

Both the recipe and the decorating idea for these chocolate cupcakes comes from Peggy Porschen’s latest book Boutique Baking.  I’m a huge fan of this book – it’s got a load of great recipes and decorating ideas, and it’s one of the prettiest books I’ve come across lately.  If you’re interested, you can read my review of Boutique Baking here.  


As is the case with every recipe of Peggy’s that I’ve tried, these cupcakes were delicious.  The chocolate cake was so soft and fluffy, and the chocolate cream cheese icing was as well. 

I’ve found that all of the icings on the cupcakes I’ve purchased from Peggy’s parlour are so soft and fluffy that they don’t fair that well in the heat or while being transported home on the train.  While the icing is absolutely delicious, it is very soft and tends to slide off the cupcakes while I carry them around London in their box.

The icing on these cupcakes was so yummy, but it was very soft.  You can see it in my pictures here – the icing started out stiffer, but softened up and started “drooping” a bit while I was taking the pictures because it was so hot in our living room.  But don’t let that detour you from making these – they’re really delicious, so just make sure you keep them in a cool place and don’t bounce them around if you need to transport them anywhere.  Besides, you’ll probably want to keep them all to yourself anyway!

The other thing I loved about these cupcakes was their little decorations.  Aren’t they cute!  And guess what – I made them!  Well, kind of.  They’re made out of sheets of candy paper (rice paper) which is widely available here in the UK.  I picked up a big package of multi coloured sheets in Top Shop of all places.  


I sprayed the candy sheets with a coating of silver lustre spray, and then used a craft punch to punch out the little crowns (in honour of the Diamond Jubilee – although I’ve always been a big fan of crowns in general which is why I had the punch).

I do have a few words of caution before you make these cupcakes – see my notes at the bottom of the recipe.


Peggy Porschen’s Heavenly Chocolate Cupcakes

Ingredients:

For the Frosting:

140ml whipping cream 
160g plain chocolate, chopped (min. 53% cocoa) 
1 tbsp glucose 
200g full-fat cream cheese (I used the new Cadbury Chocolate Cream Cheese instead)
200g salted butter, softened 
450g icing sugar, sifted 

For the Cake:

125g plain chocolate, chopped (min. 53% cocoa) 
165ml milk 
285g light brown sugar 
105g unsalted butter, softened 
2 large eggs 
180g plain flour 
pinch of salt 
½ tsp baking powder 
½ tsp baking of soda 
8g cocoa powder

For the Decorations:

2-3 Sheets of rice paper
Edible Pearlised Lustre Spray
Craft Punch

Directions:

Pre-heat the oven 320ºF (160ºC) and prepare your cupcake pans. Set aside and make the icing.

To Make the Icing:

1.  Heat the cream in a small sauce pan until barely simmering. Place the chocolate and glucose into a bowl and pour the hot cream over the top. Whisk carefully until smooth, shiny, and all the chocolate is melted. Leave to set at room temp. The ganache should have the consistency of soft chocolate butter.

2.  Place the cream cheese in a mixing bowl and beat until smooth and creamy, set aside. 

3.  Cream the butter and icing sugar together until very pale and fluffy. Add the ganache, a little at a time, to the buttercream mixture, and mix on medium-high speed until combined. Gently stir 1/3 of the chocolate buttercream into the cream cheese. Slowly whisk the remainder of the buttercream, and add the chocolate cream cheese in two batches.  Make sure not to overwork the frosting, or it will split. Chill until set!

To Make the Cake:

1.  Place the chocolate, milk, and half the sugar in a saucepan and gently bring to a boil while stirring. 

2.  Cream the butter and the remaining sugar until pale and fluffy (at least 5 minutes).  Lightly beat the eggs together then slowly mix into the butter mixture, making sure they don’t curdle.

3.  Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cocoa together, and then add them to the butter mixture in two batches. Mix slowly until just combined. 

4.  Slowly add the hot chocolate mixture into the batter and mix. Scrape the bowl down with a spatula to make sure it’s well combined. The batter should be liquidy.  

Pour into the cases so they’re 2/3 full. Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean.  Let cupcakes fully cool before icing and decorating.

To Decorate: 

1.  Spay the smooth side of your rice paper sheets with a  thin, but even coating of lustre spray.  It might help to weigh the ends of your paper sheets down with butter knives so they don’t curl up because of the moisture.

2.  Let the rice paper sheets dry, and then use your craft punch (mine was from Martha Stewart) to punch out shapes from the edible paper like you would a normal piece of paper.  Set your punched decorations aside.

3.  Pipe the chilled frosting onto your cupcakes using a piping bag and a large star tip, or simply spread it on top with a knife or off set spatula.  Place your edible paper decorations on top.

These decorations are the funnest, and easiest things to make.  What a clever idea – I love that you can make so many different designs!


**  A few notes:  The book says this recipe will make approximately 24 cupcakes, but I only got 16, and I made them the exact same size I make all of my cupcakes.  I can also confirm they were almost identical in size to the ones sold in Peggy’s Parlour, so I’m not sure why the recipe estimated they make 24.

Also, I’m pretty sure I had to bake my cupcakes for closer to 20 minutes before they were fully cooked.

Other than that, I wouldn’t change a thing.  They’re delicious, and I highly recommend making them.

If you do make Peggy’s Heavenly Chocolate Cupcakes and decorate them with a rice paper punch out, I’d love to see a picture of them.  Feel free to leave a comment below with the link, or you can also post them onto my Facebook page here so I can see them!