These are a few of my favourite things

cactus flower

Baking and sunshine, sunshine and baking…probably my two bests in the whole world. Apart from maybe a very good margarita on a lovely evening with lovely friends. We're a week back from our yearly soaking of Vitamin D at my mama's beautiful little homestead in Spain. Whilst we were there we had a little birthday bash for my mama - al fresco pasta and sangria with the neighbours, who all brought drums and guitars and friends and kept us dancing under the shooting stars. I made a cake (of course), and took the excuse to make one I've been wanting to try out for ages. The original recipe is from the gorgeous Deliciously Ella, and I altered it slightly….and also somehow managed to make it without the luxury of a food processor, so mine was a bit lumpier but just as divine. It's completely gluten/sugar/dairy free and there wasn't a crumb left uneaten…I promise it tasted totally incredible. It's also quick and easy to make. Total winner.

Smug Chocolate & Strawberry Birthday Cake 

for the cake
5ish small sweet potatoes 
2 cups ground almonds
1/2 cup buckwheat flour
1/2 cup gluten free self raising flour (I like Dove's Farm)
1 cup medjool dates (pitted)
3/4 cup water
1/2 cup maple syrup
4 tbsp raw cacao
1 tbsp cinnamon
1 vanilla bean
pinch of salt

for the icing
5 ripe avocados 
1 very ripe banana
1 cup medjool dates (pitted)
3 tbsp raw cacao
3 tbsp maple syrup
2 cups strawberries
handful of almond flakes
edible flowers and desiccated coconut (optional)

Preheat the oven to 180C. Peel the sweet potatoes, chop into chunks and steam for about 20 mins, until they are really soft. In a large bowl, mix the ground almonds, flours, cacao, cinnamon and salt and set aside. 

Prepare the icing by blitzing all the ingredients in a food processor until smooth and creamy. Or, in my case, pop them in some strange manual chopper and attempt to blitz them until they are as un-lumpy as you can manage… Pop the icing into a bowl, cover and keep in the fridge. 

Place the soft, slightly cooled sweet potatoes, dates, vanilla bean seeds (scraped from the pod - discard the pod), maple syrup & water into a food processor or blender, and blend until smooth. Stir this into the dry ingredients until well combined. Prepare three 8" cake tins (I actually think this would be rad even taller in 6" tins, but that might just be me) by brushing with coconut oil and lining with parchment circles. 

Sitting in the hot hot sun whilst you mix the cake is optional but really helps, I find...

Sitting in the hot hot sun whilst you mix the cake is optional but really helps, I find...

Spoon the batter into three separate tins (I like to measure it out with scales to make sure all three have an even amount) and bake for about 20 mins, until a skewer comes out clean. Cool in the tins 20 mins, then invert onto a cooling rack until completely cool. 

Chop your strawberries and layer your cake with strawberries and the creamy chocolate frosting. I sprinkled some lightly toasted slivered amends and desiccated coconut between the layers too, and topped the cake with more of those plus some yummy edible flowers. Keep in the fridge until serving. ENJOY! God I want to eat it again, right now… 


 

 

Baking Daddy's cake

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Happy birthday to King Squid, my lovely husband Konch. We made him a crazy little cake - chocolate chip funfetti sponges filled with peanut butter cream and vanilla cream frosting. I make cakes eternally but always much more fun to get the littles involved and go a bit bonkers. This time we cut shapes from fondant, left them to dry, then decorated them with edible markers and squished them around the cake. Yummy and fun and a big success… 

dream.....dream dream dream

Very long (week-long...it's a big ask, I know) drumroll please.... as next week I'm going to finally have a proper Cake of Dreams website up! To celebrate I'll be popping a recipe up for my Mexican Chocolate Cronuts. YUP. They are pretty spectacular.... so make sure you check back or your tastebuds will never forgive you. Ever. 

'hot day at the beach' cake by Cake of Dreams

'hot day at the beach' cake by Cake of Dreams

In the meantime if anyone's got an excuse for a party, however weak, check out some recent work on the Facebook page or get in touch via hello@cakeofdreams.co.uk. I would love love love to bake you a cake. Or a cronut. Or ten. Your call.

A lemon cronut and a blueberry bakewell walk into a bar...

A lemon cronut and a blueberry bakewell walk into a bar...

a 4 year old lives in my house...

Four whole years of Pablo to celebrate. He has never not been wonderful, but at 4 he amazes me every day with his humour, intelligence, kindness, sweet nature and impressive dance moves. He is the most adoring and patient older brother and such a thoughtful and affectionate son and friend. Feeling very lucky to be able to share my days with this little dude and his wild imagination.  

The party was to be a jungle birthday boogaloo bbq and demanded an Enormous Crocodile cake so large that I was collapsed in despair at 11pm the night before the birthday as I finally sat down to ice it and realised it wouldn't fit in our fridge assembled. Giant megathanks to local friends with an enviable double doored fridge who saved the day. Pablo got so many incredible presents from his horde of lovely friends, the kids shed their jungley getups and whizzed round the garden nude spraying silly string and trampolining into the giant paddling pool, I managed to sit down and drink half a bottle of prosecco with some like minded parents... a good birthday. 

pink fluffy clouds

I was making a LOVE cake for my lovely friend Lisa's Love-themed birthday party and decided I wanted to put some pink marshmallow hearts on top. You can probably buy these somewhere but it turns out that marshmallows are very easy (and sticky) to make, and quite fun to make with kids. We made pink vanilla hearts but you could go for any flavour or colour or shape, they are super simple. Check out the awesome Marshmallowists for some flavour inspiration... 

the love affair with all things sugary continues...

the love affair with all things sugary continues...

Marshmallows

125g icing sugar (or corn flour) for dusting
400g caster sugar
1 tablespoon golden syrup (you can use corn syrup in the US if you wish)
300ml water
2 tablespoons unflavoured, powdered gelatine (we used Dr Oeteker)
2 egg whites
1 teaspoon good vanilla extract

Dust a dish with icing sugar or corn flour. We used two 8in round tins, because we were making thinner marshmallows, but a 9in square tin would be best. Really dust with loads of icing sugar/corn flour - you may want to line it with parchment first as well, as these things are insanely sticky.  

Heat the caster sugar, golden syrup and 175ml of the water in a saucepan. Ideally use a jam/confectioners thermometer to check the temperature - you want the syrup at 120-130 degrees C. If you don't have a thermometer you can test whether it's ready by whether a small drop of syrup forms a hard ball when dropped into cold water. 

The heating takes 5-10 minutes, so in the meantime prep the gelatine. Place the remaining 125ml water into a heatproof bowl and sprinkle with the gelatine. Heat the bowl over simmering water until the gelatine has completely dissolved. When the syrup is ready, remove from the heat and whisk in the gelatine mixture. Set aside.  

This next bit is super sticky, so try and have some peace to get on with it. I got interrupted by Indy somehow climbing the kitchen stepladder and half falling off again, and little globules of marshmallow flew across my kitchen like ghosts. Fun to clean up...  Whisk the egg whites into soft peaks in a large bowl, then pour in the syrup mixture in a steady, slow stream whilst continuing to whisk, until the whites become stiff. Stir in vanilla (or any other flavours or colours of your choosing). Spread into your prepared tin and refrigerate for about 8 hours. 

Have a bowl of cornflour ready for dusting your hands and the marshmallows as you remove them from the tin. Use cookie cutters or a knife to cut them. We then dipped some of ours in melted dark chocolate and sprinkles for extra yum, and a few got brushed with glitter and made it onto the LOVE cake. My husband is still working his way through the tin of offcuts. They are really delicious and if it wasn't finally summer I wouldn't hesitate to drown some in hot chocolate.  

 

The finished LOVE cake and the exhausted sleeping suntanned Pablo...

Eating the dream

I am now an official full time baker (!!), and the baking me - Cake of Dreams - has been very busy this past month. Here are some of my latest bakes. Now I'm feeling hungry, fantastic...

L-R from top...1. Red velvet supreme with black chocolate marshmallow frosting, for Gus... 2. Strawberry & Lavender buttermilk cake...3.  Chocolate donuts and Lemon cronuts for brunch....4. Cronuts are now my new favourite foodstuff...5. Lemon meringue & vanilla fruit tarts...5. Birthday cake for Roman & Claudia...6. Violet meringues...7. Red velvet supreme for Katie...8. Chocolate fudge with salted caramel buttercream...9. Top view of Gus's cake. 

My Cake of Dreams website is still being finished, but I'm taking orders at hello@cakeofdreams.co.uk

 

sunday sunday

Ok it was actually Saturday Saturday but after a late night and lots of margaritas vs little sleep it felt like a Sunday... We zoomed over to my brother & sister-in-law's in Stokie for the most delicious totally sugarless (!!) spelt cake** (I promise, it was actually nice - check out my epic portion, which I consumed in its entirety) and chats. I gossiped with Z, Uncle X took Pablo to Clissold Park to  jump in some puddles, and Konch and Indy zonked on the sofa in a heap of teething and hangover. Dreamy (literally, for some of us)... I spent my actual Sunday cancelling exciting tea party plans to snuggle with our still feverish Indy. Those teeth need to HURRY.

*Pablo managed to plant himself in a large muddy puddle so he got to go home dressed like a tiny wizard in Konch's cardigan, which he thought was fantastic.

**Anyone wishing to try the dreamy Lemony Hazelnut & Blueberry Cake, it's recipe is from The Telegraph

We made doughnuts...

Sickeningly easy, and luckily we had a BBQ to attend so a good excuse to gift them to someone else before we ate them all... 

If you're hunting for a good recipe for raised doughnuts I highly recommend Lara Ferroni's. Or you can make yummy English jam doughnuts via this post on my blog... 

little one

We had a beautiful first birthday & naming party for Indiana and so many gorgeous friends and family came along. Rebecca, Theo, Mark, Katie D and Katie C were made godparents and helped fill a time capsule for her to open at 18. Lots of pink treats to eat and drink, and Indy adored being the centre of attention and swanned about flirting with everyone all day. 

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