Tag Archives: @amandbrown23

Big Bucks Bake Off 2015

Each year the Eden Shopping centre hosts a food festival and there is a Big Bucks Bake Off which is judged by a celebrity chef/baker. The first year I entered it was Mary Berry but I wasn’t a winner with my lemon and coconut cake. Last year it was Jean Christophe Novelli and again I was unsuccessful with my lemon and blueberry cake. Although I did get some positive feedback from him so that was good enough for me.

For the competition this year the judge was Gregg Wallace and I decided to give it another go. Trying to come up with a cake was easy, after watching a few episodes on Masterchef it was clear that Gregg has an incredibly sweet tooth. I combined a few recipes and came up with a Sticky Toffee Cake with homemade Salted Caramel buttercream. That however was the easy part as I then had to perfect the cake and caramel, both of which I have never made before!

I did a practice run and it went well apart from the cake burning around the edge, and this could not happen to my actual entry as all you could taste was the burnt bits!

First Attempt, a little burnt

First Attempt, a little burnt. Next stop the real one!!

I managed to get the flavours right and apart from the burnt edge, I was happy with the cake itself so on Thursday it was time to bite the bullet and make the one that would become my entry for the competition. I have never really used this method of making a cake before, working with date ‘pulp’ and melted butter but the recipe itself did come together quite easily and the raw mixture was rather tasty.

After over an hour we have Salted caramel!

After over an hour we have Salted caramel!

Flour all sieved and ready to fold!

Flour all sieved and ready to fold!


Eggs, Muscovado sugar and Golden Syrup whisking away

Dates mashed within an inch of their life.

Dates mashed within an inch of their life .

To ensure that the cakes baked evenly I put a tray of steaming water at the bottom of the oven which worked and I was really happy with the sponges as they came out level and not burnt!! After a little rest and a coffee I had to make the Salted Caramel which was another challenge as the method was not one that I have heard of before. I always believed that when making caramel, the one thing that you shouldn’t do is stir the sugar as it will crystalise but the recipe I was following stated that you had to stir the sugar constantly until it eventually becomes an amber liquid. After about an hour and with help from James the sugar finally melted and kind of resembled caramel, so in went the butter, cream and the all important salt.

The easiest part of the recipe was to make the buttercream as it was a basic mixture until I added the salted caramel. This turned it into something so delicious that I could have easily eaten it all but sadly I had to put it on the cake. I decided to pipe the buttercream in the middle of the cake and on the top just to make it look a little fancy, using my large plain piping nozzle. I managed to keep a little of the salted caramel so I piped little droplets between the peaks and finished the cake off with some Thorntons vanilla fudge which I cut up into little squares.


The entries this year were really good and when I dropped my cake off I didn’t think I would have any chance of getting a place. So I was really happy when I managed to get 3rd Place, I was so surprised and Gregg said lovely things about my cake.

Comments about my cake!    FullSizeRender

The winner of the competition was a lovely lady from Cake Club which was also good, although Alison should have won a trophy as her mint humbug cake looked amazing and I know it would have tasted lovely!!

We are going for a clean sweep next year – Fellow Bucks bakers look out!!


Cherry Cookies and Butterfly Buns

It is amazing how time flies; it’s been 2 weeks since I updated my tales of baking!!

The two things I have made recently are White Chocolate and Cherry Cookies and some vanilla Butterfly Buns.

For the cookies, I was using French glace cherries and some bake stable white chocolate chips which I eventually found in Tesco. I got a recipe for vanilla cookies and added my extra ingredients and hoped for the best. They looked promising before going into the oven, but I forgot about how much cookies spread in the oven and 15 minutes later I was left with a slab of cooked cookie dough. Although that isn’t a bad thing really, they did taste nice and that’s the main thing!

cookie              cookies           cookies1

Last Saturday I didn’t know what to make, but as usual I had the urge to bake. This was also the day I decided to try a new product, Stork with Butter. I had read a few things in the world of social media about how good it was, and as shown in the advert on TV the cakes were supposed to bake better, evenly and higher and when has an advert ever promoted a bad product!! So I had to test this out for myself and I decided to make some butterfly buns.

I made the mixture with part self-raising flour and part cornmeal flour as I do like the flavour and texture of the cake it makes. This was a 2 egg mixture and it made 12 good-sized buns, although I did fill them a little unevenly so there were a couple of butterflies with chunky wings, but nothing wrong with that!!

I made the buttercream with Stork with Butter too and I would always just use butter but since I was trying a new thing I had to go the whole hog! Whilst my mixer was beating away I was impressed how quickly it went light, white and fluffy and it passed the Grace test. Once I cut off the tops, that would later become the slightly misshaped wings, I decided to hide a little strawberry jam under the buttercream so everyone got a little surprise. As with all good butterfly buns I finished them with a little dusting of icing sugar and just to add a little or colour I added some hundreds and thousands.

Butterfly 2 Butterfly

Butterfly Buns have been around for a long time and always be, they are a classic and I urge everyone to not forget about these little treasures.



Cake club on Sunday so need to get my thinking cap on as to what to make, theme is teddy bears picnic and its outside. What to make??????

And so it begins….

As I am slightly addicted to baking, I thought that I would use this blog to get all my baking talk out to save my partner having to listen to it all. From The Great British Bake Off to any baking show or book really, I have a real interest in every aspect of baking. If I could spend my life in the kitchen making and baking lovely treats i would. But reality is I need to work in an office but this doesn’t stop the baking planning in my head! For anyone who reads this I hope it is full of tips, ideas and a few things to help you smile. I will be posting pictures of all my bakes and I am happy to offer recipes if anyone likes the look of them.


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