Sunday, 1 September 2013

Maya's 3rd Birthday Japanese Tea Party

Looking through Maya's great selection of toys and wonders we have collected over the past 3 years (yes, I can't believe she is 3 already!) it seemed perfect to team everything together... Voila! We had a little Japanese theme in the making.  Cute little Woodland dolls from Lapin and Me, Kewpie, both mini and large picked up from a gorgeous little shop in Copenhagen last year and all the wee little momiji dolls added to the birthday table.  Kewpie is my personal favourite and it seemed just the occasion to use mini K as the cake topper!  I also found this dear little webshop for the yummy Japanese candies.   
I found the lovely vintage kimono fabrics on ebay - cute little stork print in just the vibrant colours I love.

I love the oriental lucky cats and found these gorgeous little erasers which were propped up on the window sill with yummy little treat bags filled with scrumptious treats.

Maya feeling very proud of the fact that she had finally discovered how to blow out the candles on her cake - love her x
Maya's cake was a simple vanilla sponge filled with raspberry jam and a cream cheese frosting! Went down ok as we can see!

These have got to be my favourite from Tofu Cute. Teeny tiny Hello Kitty and friends lollies! :-)
Yes! What can I say - a dressing up party for the Woodland Dolls by the end of the Maya's party! So much fun! :-)

Thursday, 1 August 2013

Chocolate Courgette Loaf Cake

You can just imagine the look on hubbies face when he walked into the kitchen with chocolate, flour and grated courgettes on the kitchen side whilst I was getting stuck in!  A work colleague had been left home alone to take care of the house and amazing garden as it the meantime, the courgette plants started breeding like anything- yes! We were kindly presented with courgettes (all colours) and marrows on a daily basis for around 2 weeks, so I thought I would give the little beauties a go in this wonderful chocolate courgette loaf. It was absolutely amazing! I was thinking hubby would be a bit unsure, but it seemed to have gone down well! 

It was a beautiful texture and the chocolate i'm sure must have helped!
(Recipe adapted from
(This recipe easily makes 2 medium loaf tins worth of cake!)

250g plain flour
375g caster sugar
60g good quality cocoa powder
2 teaspoons bicarbonate of soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon of salt
4 medium eggs
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon (optional)
350ml vegetable oil
340g grated courgettes
75g chopped dark chocolate

1) Preheat the oven to 180C.  Grease and line a 20x30cm baking tin/loaf pan
2) In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, bicarbonate of soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon (if using)
3) Add the eggs and oil and mix until thoroughly incorporated.  Fold in the courgettes and chopped chocolate until well distributed.
4) Pour the mixture into the baking tin
5) Bake for 50-60minutes until a knife inserted comes out clean.
6) Leave to cool for 5-10 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Lazy Sunday Sushi Party

Wherever there's a wee get together, there's always space for a bit of bunting.  We were just having our monthly cousin gathering and of course with my turn coming up, I had left everything until the last minute! ooopps!  Ok, I had always just planned to get a beautiful Sushi platter in, but there are always the other bits and pieces to do too!   Somehow, things get done and all goes according to plan.  Maya had fun watching me put together the lovely fan bunting together.  I just purchased some sheets of origami paper from Paperchase and I was off!  We made some little boats too, which Maya stuck to the walls and a lovely paper lantern bunting which I had stored in my cupboard from a few years ago..Oh, how things come in and handy. ;-)  

Yummy Sushi platter from M&S . I must say, I was so impressed and will be giving this a go again soon..
In addition to the sushi, I prepared some very quick bites - chicken goujon strips with sweet chilli sauce, pork meatballs with sticky plum sauce. :-)

Banana leaves! My new favourite toy... I also love the fact that the remaining ones were frozen and have been used for other occasions. Just make sure they are completely thawed out before cutting or using.  Ahh, so that was my very speedy Sushi lunch - will definitely be exploring this one again! :-) 

Monday, 29 July 2013

Lemon Shortbread Cookies

My love of all things shortbread... I stumbled across a recipe from Tartine and thought it was worth a try. So simple, yet a lovely zingy flavour. All sorts can be added to this recipe, you can leave or add the lemon zest depending on how subtle or strong you'd like the flavour to be.  For me, it's all about the zing, so I actually added a little more zest than needed.  The cornflour in this recipe also gives them a lovely smooth texture.  I have in the past gone for the crunchier versions, with the addition of semolina, but this was just perfect.
Lemon Shortbread Recipe

240g unsalted butter, very soft
65g granulated sugar
240g plain flour
70g cornflour
1/2 tsp salt
Zest of 1 and a half lemons

1/2 tsp vanilla extract
30g fine caster sugar


1) preheat the oven to 160C. Line a 6x10 inch baking sheet

2) Mix the butter and granulated sugar in a bowl. Add the salt, lemon zest and vanilla extract and incorporate well.

3) Add in the flour and cornflour until it forms into a dough.  you can use your hands to bring the mixture together.

4) Add the dough into the baking sheet and pat down evenly.  Bake for 30-35 minutes until lightly golden on top. Leave to cool for 5 minutes.

5)  Whilst still warm, sprinkle with the caster sugar and cut into squares or rectangles as preferred.  You must cut them whilst warm, otherwise it will become difficult to cut through and they will break.  Leave to cool in pan before taking out. Enjoy! 

I actually used a tart tin to bake them in, but either that or a baking sheet will be fine.

Thursday, 11 July 2013

Muesli Breakfast Cookies

Wow, these were super easy to make and what a great start to the day or perhaps elevensies, if they make til then!  I adapted the recipe from  

3 cups toasted muesli
75g plain flour
100g melted butter 
1/3 cup honey
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1. Preheat the oven to 170C.  Line 2 baking sheets with greaseproof paper and lay out muesli onto baking sheets.  Toast for around 5 minutes until slightly golden.  Keep a watch to make sure it doesn't burn.
2.  Remove from the sheets and allow to cool for 5-10 minutes.  
3. Combine muesli and flour into a bowl. 
4.  Whisk together the butter, honey, cinnamon and egg.
5.  Add the mixture to the muesli and mix well.  Set aside for 15 minutes.
6.  Using a tablespoon (or teaspoon if you prefer smaller cookies) and add spoonfuls of the mixture to the trays. Flatten.  Ensure you leave an inch gap between.
7. Bake for 10 minutes.  Cool for 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack.  Allow to cool completely. 

They can be very fragile when transferring to the tray, so you can leave to cool for longer if required.

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Flourless Chocolate Cookies

 Wasn't quite sure how these would turn out...What? No flour?!
They were pretty impressive and almost reminded me of a chocolate brownie. mmmmmm
  I have since reduced the espresso powder to the below, as the flavour was quite intense.  This definitely made a difference from the first batch.  
Easy peasy recipe which is great for the beginner too... :-)

Sunday, 2 June 2013

Cinnamon Swirly Buns

So, having rustled these up a few times in the past, I thought I would go for the simple cinnamon filling this time. It was an absolute treat, both when just baked and having cooled down...yes, there were still some left at that stage.  The recipe is this one here, but I left out the chocolate and just added the cinnamon instead and left out the choc. Either way they are yum!

Monday, 27 May 2013

Choco Almond Banana Loaf

Wow, it seems like such a long time since I had baked a cake... It has all been about cookies and breads recently.  This time, I tried to use some semi ripe(!) bananas instead of the usual 'ripe' the recipes call for and I personally think this gave a great balance of flavour with just a hint of banana rather than the very sweet banana taste.  I actually loved it this time around - each to their own hey!

The loaf was lovely and moist inside and I loved the texture of the almonds..  I am an almond lover!
Such a simple recipe which I adapted from Simply Recipes.


4 semi ripe bananas, mashed (or ripe if you prefer!)
190g plain flour
80g butter, melted
150g granulated sugar
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 & 1/2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt
50g chopped dark chocolate
70g flaked almonds

1) Preheat the oven to 175C. 
2) Line a 4x8" loaf pan with baking paper
3) Using a large mixing bowl, mix the bananas and the butter
4) Mix in the sugar, egg, baking powder,  salt and vanilla
5) Add in the flour 
6) Gently stir through the chocolate and flaked almonds
7) Bake for 60-70 minutes until a skewer inserted comes out clean
8) Leave to cool in the pan for 15-20 minutes and transfer to a cooling rack.

Saturday, 25 May 2013

Blueberry & Lemon Brioche

Following the success of the previous batch of brioche baked at the weekend, it was time to start experimenting.  My daughter, Maya, is totally obsessed with brioche of any sort and I thought this would be a tasty alternative to the chocolate variety she loves!  And... they were a great hit, both mummy and Maya very pleased with the result of these tasty lemon and blueberry treats.  I think the filling of the blueberries would work equally as well in the Swirly Chocolate Buns which I made earlier in the year.

A touch of lemon drizzle was added to half of these but some I left with just the dusting of icing sugar.  So pretty. 

In the action!


750g plain flour
140g butter at room temperature
7g pack yeast
40ml warm water
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
330g light brown sugar (divided into 2 batches)
250ml warm milk 
3 eggs
3 tablespoons golden or maple syrup
1 teaspoon salt
250g fresh blueberries
zest of 2 lemons
a few drops of sunflower oil

(Optional Lemon drizzle)
Icing sugar 50g
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Icing sugar for dusting (optional)

1) Using a large bowl, add the yeast, granulated sugar and warm water.  Leave for 10-15 minutes until dissolved.
2) Add half of the brown sugar, desired syrup, eggs and the milk.  Mix well.
3)  Add the flour and salt to the mixture.
4) Knead until smooth.  Lightly grease a bowl with the sunflower oil and add the ball of dough.  Wrap clingfilm over the bowl and leave to rise for 1-2 hours, until doubled in size.
5) Roll out the dough into a large rectangle (30x40cm approx)
6) Sprinkle with lemon zest, sugar and blueberries and very tightly roll.
7)  Cut into approximately 12-16 slices and insert into the muffin pan.  These will expand so don't overfill them!  Leave to rest for 30 minutes
8) Preheat the oven to 175C.
9) Bake for 30-35 minutes until golden brown and well risen.
10) Leave to cool
11) Mix icing sugar with fresh lemon juice and drizzle over the top of the brioche or dust with icing sugar.

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Carrot Cookies

Having tried the latest concoction of these supermarket cookies, I couldn't wait to get started and with carrot cake as one of my favourites, these had to be a winner.
Cake like cookies, with a handful of golden raisins and little chopped nuts thrown into the mixture gave them yummy gem centres.

I loved these cookies but would perhaps flatten the cookie mixture whilst popping onto the trays, to make then a little thinner.  Either way - they are lovely, i'm sure!

Carrot Cookie Recipe
260g plain flour
125g sugar
110g butter
1 egg
fine zest of 1 lemon
60g finely grated carrots
50g golden raisins
30g chopped nuts (optional)
1 teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt

Preheat the oven to 205C
Line 2 baking sheets with greaseproof paper
Add flour, salt and baking powder into a bowl. Set aside
Cream together the butter and sugar
Add and mix in the egg
Gently stir in the grated carrots, lemon zest, nuts and raisins.
Add in the dry ingredients. Mix until incorporated
Drop tablespoon fulls of mixture onto sheets, leaving an inch gap

Bake for 10-12 minutes until lightly golden brown

Monday, 13 May 2013

Cinnamon Toast Cookies

Oh the smell of these cookies was just divine!  It reminded me of Christmas, with all the lovely cinnamon fragrances.  When they were baking in the oven, I literally could not wait to get started!  They were no disappointment either and went down a little treat with my nightly cuppa! Stored in an airtight container, they remained fresh and full of flavour. ...well, that's if they last that long!  

I actually found this adapted recipe from Baker Royal but omitted the cream cheese, which seemed to work equally as well.


320g plain flour
225g butter, softened
65g brown sugar
65g granulated sugar
1 egg
1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
pinch of salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons cinnamon

1 tablespoon cinnamon
50g granulated sugar

1. Add flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon into a bowl and set aside.
2. Cream the sugars and butter until light and fluffy. Slowly add the egg and egg yolk.  Mix well.
3.  Add in the maple syrup and vanilla extract until combined.
4.  Add the flour mixture and fold until completely incorporated.
5. Divide the dough into 2 logs and roll in greaseproof paper.
6.  Chill for atleast an hour.
7. Preheat the oven to 175C and line 2 baking sheets with silicone mate or baking paper.
8. Slice the dough into 1/4inch thick rounds and place onto lined baking sheets.  Leave an inch gap between for spreading.
9. Mix the topping and cover the tops of all the cookies.
10. Bake for 10-12 minutes until lightly brown around the edges.
11. Leave for 5-10minutes until cooled, them transfer to a wire rack.

Saturday, 11 May 2013

Brownie Birthday Cake

Ahh, Sonia's birthday cake for the weekend could not be anything but these gooey chocolate brownies all stacked up!
My favourite recipe with a crunch of the chopped almonds inside, even made the grown ups happy! 

Pasteis De Nata (Portugese Custard Tarts)

I had experimented with freezing the left over egg yolks from the pavlovas I had been rustling up earlier and thought it was time to give them a go! Wow! I shall definitely be doing this again.  I have read about perhaps whisking each egg yolk in a small amount of sugar before freezing, but I didn't do any of that and they seemed to be fine.
This is about as close I feel I could get to this recipe but I will keep up with the experimenting to try and get a better flakier pastry as the ones in Porto last year.  On the whole a fab recipe from
I amended the quantity of pastry but other than that, it worked a treat! 

It is fine to fill them to around two thirds full as they totally rise and then deflate! 

  • 350g packet puff pastry
  • 225ml (8 fl oz) milk
  • 3 tablespoons cornflour
  • 200g (7 oz) caster sugar
  • 1 vanilla pod
  • 6 egg yolks

Prep Time 20 mins

Sunday, 5 May 2013

Chewy Lemon Cookies

I don't think I need to explain but these have got to be the most devine lemon cookies I have ever tried.... Go on, see for yourself! So simple too!