North Northamptonshire based food blogger who is obsessed with good food and proper cooking. I'm part of the Midlands Blogging team for the BBC Good Food Shows. This is where I share my own recipes and carry out recipe development and product reviews for brands, including food and wines. Please contact me using the link below.

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Giant cupcake for Tegan

This is one of the three cakes that started my business off.  It was made for my daughter's friend, Tegan, who was celebrating her 11th birthday in March.

The sponge is vanilla with chocolate flavoured fondant covering the base of the cake.  The top is piped with vanilla buttercream swirls in various shades from yellow (her favourite colour) through to a bright and vivid orange.

It's trimmed with fondant flowers and leaves.  The bottom is piped with buttercream 'grass' and I've added a couple of friends to the board; namely a snail (on the left hand side peeping round at you) and just about to crawl onto the log at the front of the cake is a ladybird (with the bright googly eyes!)

Thankfully Tegan loved her cake and all who saw it were pretty impressed too.  Not bad for one of my first attempts at a giant cupcake.

Picture credit goes to my husband Will for making it look so incredibly bright and vibrant.

Sunday, 27 May 2012


We love cheesecake, but the stuff that supermarkets pass off leaves something to be desired, not to mention the frozen ones you can buy (don't get me started on the taste & mushiness of these), so, as requested by some of my friends over on my Facebook page, Freycob's Cakes, here's my recipe.

We were invited to friends for a BBQ today, and this is what I made for dessert to take with us. The conclusion was that this was the BEST cheesecake they've ever tasted!

400g digestive biscuits
200g butter
300ml double cream
600g Philadelphia cream cheese
1 lemon, juice & rind
4tbs caster sugar
Fruit for topping
Caster sugar to taste

1. Crush the Digestive biscuits.
2. Melt the butter.
3. Mix the butter and biscuits together then press firmly into an 20cm (8") springform tin. (I line the base of mine with parchment to make it easier to remove).
4. Place in the fridge for 30 mins to cool & set the butter.
5. Whisk the cream, Philadelphia, lemon juice, rind & sugar together until well combined and thick.
6. Spread on top of the cooled base.
7. Return to the fridge for at least an hour to cool.

You can leave it plain or use berries in season to top the cheesecake or make your own coulis as follows:

8. Blitz a large punnet of blueberries with 100g of frozen raspberries and 50g (or to taste) of caster sugar.
9. You can sieve your fruit if required, or as we like it, leave it as it is.
10. Top your slice of cheesecake with a generous portion of fruit and enjoy!

If you prefer, you can defrost 400g of frozen berries to mix with your sugar to use as your topping.

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Home made vanilla extract

I recently had a go at making my own vanilla extract. I'm an immense fan of Nielsen-Massey but get through so much that at £5.51 a bottle it's getting a bit on the expensive side. So, I read the ingredients list and came up with my own alternative.

* Take some clear alcohol with a minimum 35% alcohol (I used a half bottle of vodka).
* Take out (& drink if you must) a few tablespoons of the vodka.
* I split 5 long premium Madagascan vanilla pods and added them to my bottle.
* I then topped the bottle up with some soft brown sugar, replaced the lid & shook vigorously for several minutes until some of the vanilla seeds had been dislodged from the pods.
* Place the bottle in a dark cupboard & shake well every week for about 6 weeks. You'll see the vodka change colour & darken as it becomes infused.
* The longer you leave it, the better it becomes. Remember to shake it regularly & keep it in a dark place.

You can add more sugar & vodka as you use it, alternatively when you get down to half a bottle, buy another & start again.

Now, Sainsbury's sell their own brand half bottle of vodka (350ml) for £5.80 (as at 15/05/2012). Nielsen-Massey is £5.51 for 118ml. I buy my vanilla pods from Vanilla Mart for £3.25 for 5 pods. I always have soft brown sugar in for making cakes, and a few tablespoons is merely pence.

Therefore for just over £10 you can make almost 3 times the quantity for only twice the price of the GOOD quality vanilla extract.

I've started my bottle of homemade vanilla extract and so far I'm really impressed with the fragrance it's giving off, both in the bottle and also in my baking.

I can see me continuing to make my own in the future now.

Remember to buy really good quality rich dark Madagascan vanilla pods. Buying in quantity from a reputable place such as Vanilla Mart really does make sense. They don't sell the dry, often sad looking vanilla pods that you see in the supermarkets at extortionate prices for 2 pods. I buy mine in packs of 20 (normally packed as 4x5 pods as I make my own delicious vanilla sugar too.

If you do have a go at making your own on my recommendation, please come back & tell me, won't you?

Love & cake


Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Things have moved on

Further travels down the road to launch my little cake making business saw me taking my Chartered Institute of Environmental Health Level 2 Food Hygiene course & exam last week. I'm very proud to say I passed with flying colours with a very respectable 30/30 marks!

I also had my kitchen inspection & have been awarded 5 stars, but I wait my certificate to prove it!

My business cards have arrived, thanks to Vistaprint, & I even ordered myself some post cards to advertise that little bit better.

My boxes were chosen, ordered & delivered. I've gone for a very understated plain white; clean & simple for any occasion, I think!

Apologies for the photo quality as it was taken on my phone, as opposed to my proper camera.

I continue to be graced with trust & the orders continue to arrive at a nice & comfortable pace of a few a month, booked to the end of June now, which is good.

Thank you to everyone supporting me along my journey to create beautiful cakes to celebrate birthdays etc.

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