Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Number-shaped cake mould

This week I used a Lekue silicon mould  to make a cake in the shape of a number 3. These are available from Stangers Cookshop in Jesmond, Newcastle upon Tyne, for hire or purchase and are a treat to use.  The cake slides out of the mould like a greased-up seal.

There is a recipe on the back of the packaging that will make a fairly shallow cake (ignore the references to yeast, it’s a just mistranslation of baking powder). A recipe for an 8 inch sponge works well in the mould – use the whole amount you would split between two sandwich tins. Jess used Lorraine Pascale’s Malteser cake recipe to make this beautiful 9-shaped cake. 

You could of course turn the cake upside down and make a number 6. Sorry if this is blatantly obvious, but I once spent half an hour fuming that my number cookie cutter set was missing a 9….

I used a chocolate Madeira recipe for this number 3, slicing it in half to fill it with buttercream. This would be a quick way of making a cake if someone was 33, like Will Young or Jesus Christ. 

Instead I sandwiched the two halves back into “on its own, number three”, crumb-coated the whole cake and covered it with sugar paste. And that’s it – far easier than cutting out a number shape with a template. Highly recommended.

Wednesday, 7 November 2012


Six years ago I adopted a grey and white kitten, called her Mia and loved her with all my heart.

A semi-feral hard lass from Elswick, Mia was quick to establish herself as top cat in the house. She ruled by the tenet of "spare the rod and spoil the kitten" when William and Isobel joined the family. 

Mia was also a big softie, never happier than when she was curled up on my lap. If another cat had got there first, she'd simply boot them off and take their place. Mia loved tuna, curling up with her best friend Maddie, and making eyes at young men almost to the point of embarrassment.

She also liked running across the road without looking both ways and last weekend her luck finally ran out. She was hit by a car and killed instantly. 

I am grateful for the six years we had together and heartbroken that we don't have more. 

Night night baby girl x

Monday, 5 November 2012

Catherine Wheel Cookies


350g butter, at room temperature
300g caster sugar
2 eggs
550g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
2 heaped teaspoons ground ginger
100g cocoa powder
red food colouring

200g milk chocolate (optional)

Makes about 30
Mix together half of the ingredients: cream 175g butter and 150g sugar until light and creamy. Beat in one egg and a few drops of red food colouring. Sift the ground ginger in with 300g flour then add to the batter, giving you a soft dough.
Repeat the process with the rest of the ingredients: cream together the remaining 175g butter and 150g sugar until light and creamy. Beat in one egg. Sift the cocoa in with 250g flour, then add to the batter, giving you a soft dough.
Shape the two balls of dough into flat rectangles and wrap in cling film. Chill these in the fridge for 20 minutes.

Roll each piece of dough on a floured surface to about half a centimetre thickness, keeping the rectangle shape and both the same size. You might need to trim the edges – keep the offcuts to one side to make other cookies. I had fun with a star-shaped cutter.
Sit one rolled out rectangle of dough on top of the other. Roll up lengthways like a long swiss roll and wrap in cling film. Chill this in the fridge for 30 minutes or longer.

Preheat the oven to 180ºC/160ºC fan oven/gas 4. Slice the dough into approximately 1 cm thick pieces and sit each biscuit on baking parchment on baking sheets. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes then cool on a wire rack.

If you want to go the whole hog, and let’s face it you probably do, gently melt the 200g milk chocolate then dip each biscuit into it. Leave the biscuits bottom-up while the chocolate sets, then enjoy them with a cup of tea or other hot beverage of your choice.