Friday, 29 August 2008

Happy Birthday to me!

Today is my birthday and the baker in me couldn't not bake a cake. I made it as pink and girly as possible, cos I deserve it....hehehe. This cake recipe comes from the book Cakes Galore and is a Golden Buttercream Cake but I added pink colouring instead of yellow. The sponge is light, moist and buttery, finished off with lashings of sweet heavenly buttercream. I couldn't resist adding some pastel spots to finish the cake off with an extra girly touch. I am looking forward to a day full of fun, gifts, cake and quality time with hubby and my son!

To all my fellow bloggers I've cut you all each a virtual slice of my birthday cake, enjoy!

Thursday, 28 August 2008

Award Time

I was thrilled to have received the Arte y Pico award from the lovely Beth from Jam and Clotted Cream, a blog that is truly worth visiting! Thanks Beth I’m flattered.

The rules of the award are:
1. Choose 5 blogs that you consider deserving of this award for their creativity, design, interesting material, and their contribution to the blogging community.
2. Each award has to have the name of the author and a link to his/her blog.
3. Each award winner has to show the award and put the name of and link to the blog that presented her/him with the award.
4. The award winner and the one who has given the prize has to show the link of Arte Y Pico blog so everyone will know the origin of this award.
5. Show these rules.

I would like to present this award to the following blogs:

Maria at Two Peas and Their Pod

Wednesday, 27 August 2008


Hi my fellow bloggers, hope you are all well. I decided to make a few changes and add some extra touches to my blog. Let me know what you think as I appreciate my bloggers feedback! The pink gerbera flower in my header is a pic I myself took a few months back and a favourite flower of mine. At the bottom of my side bar you will also find a quick and easy to use converter, something we will all make good use of. You will also notice that on my side bar I have added my library cookbook collection, which will be updated as and when I visit amazon!

Maria xx

Tuesday, 19 August 2008

Magic Bars

Today I baked what I can only describe as one of the easiest recipes for bar cookies. The recipe is easy as all you do is layer the ingredients which consist of melted butter, digestive crumbs, desiccated coconut, chocolate chips, chopped pecans and the final ingredient being the condensed milk to bind it together. These bars pack a real punch with their rich, sweet, gooey texture and are definitely addictive. Your thinking why are they called Magic Bars??? Just watch them disappear!!

Magic Bars

1/2 cup (113 grams) unsalted butter, melted
1 1/2 cups (150 grams) graham cracker crumbs
1 1/3 cups (90 grams) sweetened flaked or shredded coconut
1 cup (170 grams) semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup (100 grams) chopped walnuts or pecans
1 - 14 ounce (396 grams) can of sweetened condensed milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (177 degrees C) and place the rack in the center of the oven. Have ready a 9 x 9 inch (23 x 23 cm) square baking pan. Set aside.
Melt the butter and pour it into the bottom of your pan. Sprinkle the graham cracker crumbs evenly over the butter. Sprinkle the coconut over the crumbs. Sprinkle the chocolate chips over the coconut. Sprinkle the nuts over the chocolate chips. Finally, drizzle the sweetened condensed milk over all the ingredients. Do not mix the ingredients together, just layer them.
Bake in the preheated oven for about 30 to 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the squares comes out clean. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool. Cut into squares. Store in the refrigerator. These bars can be frozen.
Makes about 16 - 2 inch squares.

Friday, 15 August 2008

Strawberry Bread

I’ve never come across a Strawberry Bread recipe until I was browsing on one of my favourite foodie sites, Joy of Baking (amazing recipes and pics)! It looked wonderfully delish and sounded a perfect summer breakfast to serve my friend who is staying over on Saturday night (I have a feeling that after our late night out partying, this will go down a treat on Sunday morning). This loaf is really as good as it sounds, it’s wonderfully moist with sweet juicy strawberries and studded with crunchy walnuts. If you have some strawberries or are planning on going shopping this weekend, I recommend you to try this “must bake” recipe!

If you would like to re-create this yummy Strawberry Bread, you can find the recipe here.

Thursday, 14 August 2008

Banana Apple Loaf

There are hundreds of cake recipes for banana loaf and I spend half of my baking life trying out new recipes to make use of the ripened bananas sitting in my fruit bowl. This morning I decided to find the perfect recipe in order to use up 2 ripened bananas and also combine apples into the equation. It didn’t take me long and I eventually came across this great recipe for Banana Apple Loaf! This was a “piece of cake” to make, with the fruits and sour cream giving this loaf a gorgeous moist sponge which is bursting with flavour. If you happen to have all the ingredients to hand, this loaf cake really is worth a try. Perfect for breakfast or a mid-afternoon snack with your cup of tea.

Banana Apple Loaf

1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
3 tablespoons sour cream
1/2 cup mashed bananas (2 bananas)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 apples -chopped

Cream together margarine and sugars, beat in eggs thoroughly. Blend in sour cream, banana and vanilla. Combine flour, baking powder, soda and cinnamon. Gradually add to butter mixture.Gently fold in chopped apples. Pour into greased and floured loaf pan. Bake about 1 hour at 375 degrees. Cool before slicing.

Wednesday, 13 August 2008

Hubby's Birthday ~ Buttercup Golden Layer Cake with Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

Yesterday we celebrated my hubby’s 36th birthday and he was spoilt rotten with lots of cards, gifts, cake and love! I decided to bake him a 3 layer cake (a first for me) from my newly purchased Buttercup Bakes at Home book. It is a foolproof cake and wonderfully easy to bake and nothing smells as fragrant as sweet buttery vanilla sponge baking in the oven. The vanilla buttercream frosting is pure heaven and the recipe they use at Magnolia’s famous Manhattan’s bake shop. I finished it off with a sprinkling of chocolate sprinkles to add some extra birthday fun!

Hubby loved his cake as you can see from the pic above ;o)

Sunday, 10 August 2008

Cheesecake Heaven!

Double Chocolate Orange Cheesecake

Caramel Toffee Cheesecake

This weekend has been one with family visits on both Saturday and Sunday, which involved entertaining. Something which I really enjoy as it involves cooking, baking and an opportunity to try new recipes. I wanted to try out 2 cheesecake recipes and this was the perfect excuse. The Double Chocolate Orange Cheesecake is a dream come true for all those who love the choc/orange combination! This is a rich cheesecake with a mascarpone filling made with a simple no-bake method. I did tweak the recipe and instead of making individual portions, I made a single regular 8inch size. I then added melted orange chocolate to the surface and swirled, giving it the marble effect. My other choice of cheesecake (my favourite of the 2) was a Caramel Toffee Cheesecake, a recipe I found on a wonderful blog and it was love at first sight. This is a truly decadent dessert and one that was enjoyed by my mother in law who now wants the recipe. The freshly made hot caramel sauce poured over before serving was the perfect topping. Words can not describe how good this cheesecake was, infact both of them were a big hit with my guests!

If you would like to re-create both recipes, click on the links below.

Double Chocolate Orange Cheesecake

Caramel Toffee Cheesecake

Wednesday, 6 August 2008

Cinnamon Berry Granola Bars

Last night whilst browsing my August edition of Good Food magazine I came across this granola bar recipe which caught my eye and knew it would be something my boys would enjoy. I haven’t made any granola/flapjacks bars in a while, plus this recipe sounded easy and a perfect excuse to bake. The bars are packed with energy boosting ingredients and great for breakfast on the run, pack lunches or a snack to have with your tea/coffee. I omitted the cranberries and walnuts but added dried apricot pieces. You can pretty much add any dried fruit, seeds or nuts to granola bars!

If you would like to re-create these delicious bars you can find the recipe here.

Tuesday, 5 August 2008

Blackberry and Apple Muffins

My intention was to make a cake today to incorporate my blackberries and apples but on my search for a cake I came across this great recipe for muffins, so muffins it was to be again! Blackberry and apple is one of my favourite combinations together, the perfect marriage of flavours! There seems to be an abundance of blackberries in the UK at the moment (the season has come early) so if you want an excuse to bake something delicious then these muffins fit the bill.

Blackberry and Apple Muffins

Serves: Makes 18 muffins

200g Blackberries

3 Apples

2 Eggs

240ml Milk

120ml Vegetable Oil

200g Caster Sugar

375g Plain Flour (sifted)

4 teaspoons Baking Powder

1 teaspoon Salt

1 teaspoon Ground Cinnamon

50g Demerara sugar

Preheat the oven to 200°C (gas mark 6, 400°F). Place the eggs, oil, sugar and milk in a large mixing bowl and beat together.
Sift flour, salt, baking powder and cinnamon, and add to wet mixture, stir in thoroughly. Peel and core the apples, then cut them into small pieces. Gently stir the apples and blackberries into the mixture. Fill a muffin tray with paper muffin cases, and then fill each case to about two thirds full with the muffin mixture.
Sprinkle sugar over the tops of the muffins. Bake the muffins for 20-25 minutes.

Monday, 4 August 2008

Blueberry and Orange Muffins

The weather has been slightly cooler today so I thought I’d take advantage and do some baking (a hot kitchen is not always a pleasant place to be during summer). My local store had organic blueberries on special offer, I love a bargain and blueberries are a favourite in my home. I decided to make a batch of muffins, which my hubby adores at any time of the day! This particular recipe combines the blueberries with orange zest adding a welcome orangey zing, perfect for a summer breakfast, mid-morning snack, lunch dessert, mid-afternoon snack, evening snack and midnight feast snack.....see I told you hubby will eat them at any time, any place! (And then he moans about his expanding waist

Blueberry and Orange Muffins

Makes 12 standard muffins


2 cups (10 oz/315g self-raising flour

1/2 cup (4 oz/125g) superfine (caster) sugar

1 egg, beaten

1 cup (8 fl oz/250ml) milk

1/4 cup (2 oz/60g) butter, melted

1 tablespoon grated orange zest

3/4 cup (6 oz/185g) fresh or frozen blueberries

Preheat the oven to 400oF (200oc/180oC fan/gas mark 5). Grease 12 standard muffin cups or line them with parchment (baking) paper cases. In a large mixing bowl, sift the flour. Stir through the sugar. Make a well in the center. In another bowl, stir together the egg, milk and butter. Add all at once to the flour mixture along with the orange zest and blueberries. Stir until just moistened (the mixture should be lumpy). Spoon the batter into prepared pans, filling them two-thirds full. Bake until golden brown, about 15-20 minutes. Cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack.

Friday, 1 August 2008

Deluxe Malteser Traybake

I present to you the Deluxe version of Malteser Traybake. I came across this amazing version of the malteser traybake at Ruth's blog, Ruth's Kitchen Experiments (well worth a visit)! Malteser traybake has been a big favourite in my home since its discovery, being so addictive it is polished off within a couple of days (if your lucky). I've had a sneaky nibble when cutting the traybake and know once my boys get a taste there won't be a crumb left on the plate! I can only say that this version will be made many more times and is an overall winner in my books!

If you would like to re-create this highly addictive traybake, you can find the recipe here.