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Tasty Tuesday: Red Velvet Valentine Cupcakes

Yes, you read it right…today is the return of Tasty Tuesday and it’s a Valentines special at that!! I may have mentioned my love for Cupcake Jemma before but I’ve finally got my hands on the cupcake book she’s done with Jamie Oliver and it’s fab! After some contemplation I decided to go with her red velvet cake recipe and not only make them into cupcakes, but use a tin mum and dad got me that makes heart-shaped miniature cakes!

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The only thing I would change is the amount of red food gel I used to make it a more vibrant red but other than that – they are yummy!

You will need:

For the cake (makes 24):

  • 235g self-raising flour
  • 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
  • 250g caster sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • 270g unsalted butter, softened
  • 4 large eggs
  • 3 tablespoons buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon red food colour gel
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cider vinegar

For the butter cream icing:

  • 250g butter
  • 500g icing sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

If you prefer cream cheese icing:

  • 150g unsalted butter, softened
  • 240g cream cheese
  • 840g icing sugar

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Method:

  1. Pre heat your oven to 170fan/375F/gas 5.
  2. Line cupcake tin or any other tin you’d like – TIP OF THE DAY, if you’re using a tin like the heart one above that doesn’t use liners, use a cake release spray. It works so much better than using the normal greasing method and the cakes fall out when baked – it’s one of my must have items.
  3. Sift the dry ingredients (apart from the bicarb) and 3/4 teaspoon of fine sea salt into a mixing bowl.
  4. Add the butter and eggs and beat for 60 seconds.
  5. In a separate bowl mix the buttermilk, vanilla extract and red food colouring and then add to the cake mix and beat for another minute.
  6. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and give it one more mix.
  7. In a cup, mix the bicarb with the vinegar – as soon as you do this it will start to fizz. Work quickly and add the fizzing mixture into the cake batter and combine.
  8. Fill you cases and bake in the oven for 20 minutes.
  9. Leave to cool and transfer to a wire rack.

 

For both icing options, sift the icing sugar and combine all ingredients, keep mixing until you get your desired colour. The longer you mix, the whiter your icing will become.

 

Finish off with sprinkles or any decoration of your choice and enjoy!

Happy Valentines you lovely lot!

#hairlesshannah

 

 

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My baking essentials

2018 is going to see me trying my very best to get a blog post up every week and have a mixture of topics again to get my creative juices flowing. So, we are starting today with a post about my baking essentials, things that I need when I’m baking and would recommend you have too if you’re looking for an easier baking life!

  1. A decent mixer.

I’m lucky enough to live with mum who loves to bake too and several years ago invested in a Kenwood mixer which is a-maz-ing! But you don’t need to spend hundreds of pounds, I just think, for me especially, having a mixer do the hard work for you eliminates a whole load of time and stress!

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2. A range of spatulas, spoons and pallet knives.

Regardless of what you’re baking, at some point you are going to need to scrape out that tiny morsel that’s left in the bowl or smooth on some icing onto a cake. Therefore, having a range of equipment is always handy.

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3. Weighing scales and measuring jugs and spoons.

We have electric scales which I find to be much more accurate and reliable (unless the batteries run out halfway through the weighing process!) A decent measuring jug which you can read clearly and spoons to get those table and teaspoon measurement just right are also important to have to hand. I recently got some cup measurements from Tiger because so many recipes that I find online often come with American measurements and rather than having to figure out the English measurement, its easier to have your own cup measurements. I think I only paid £1 for it, so it really didn’t break the bank.

jugs

4. Turntable.

This changed my life! Seriously, I am not exaggerating here! Putting a crumb coat on a layer cake and then finalising the icing takes a lot of work and turning so being able to pop my cake on the turntable and spin away makes the whole process SO much easier – if  haven’t got one, this would be my top piece of equipment I’d advise you to buy!

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5. Side scrapers and icing smoothers!

I feel more like a painter decorator here and believe me, until a year or so ago, I wouldn’t have had these in my cupboards but they do make icing cakes and finishing them professionally much easier. Before getting a scraper I used a pallet knife to smooth the side of my cakes which does work well but can take a lot of practice and patience where as with your cake on a turntable you can scrape away quickly and efficiently and feel like a pro at the same time! Also, since starting to make cakes covered in fondant icing, I purchased an icing smoother to get rid of any little lumps and bumps and ensure the surface is ready for decorating. Again, I got mine from Home Bargains for around £2.

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6. Cake lifter and cake leveller.

These were two of my Christmas presents and I must admit, I haven’t used them yet but can’t wait to! I find levelling cakes quiet tricky and seeing a leveller used on Bake Off  made it seem so easy – I’ll let you know! Also, one of my issues tends to be lifting and moving my iced cakes from surface to surface so again, this should help me a great deal.

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7. Decorating stock!

I make sure I have lots of different cupcake cases, sprinkles, flags, boxes, gel colours all ready to go to suit the orders I get or what I fancy making that day. If I see a bargain in a shop, I tend to buy it and keep it for those being emergencies. They don’t take up much space but enable you to get creative when baking and of course, make it colourful and look inviting which is what you want for your bakes.

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8. Cooks blow torch!

Now, this is not an essential but it’s what my brother got me for Christmas because, quite simply, I liked the idea of having one! In the next few weeks I will be making some lemon meringue pies and will use it on them and will let you know what it’s like and if my house is still standing at the end of it!

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9. Decent baking trays and tins and pre cut baking paper.

Having a variety of tins, trays and moulds allows you to have at your fingertips what you need. I am lucky to have inherited several moulds and tins so do have a vast collection. I must admit I don’t use the silicon ones very much but mum always raves about them so I should give them ago.

Again, a little cheat here, but I do like to use the pre cut baking circles for tins as it’s quick and easy but obviously having a normal roll of baking paper is always needed for differing shapes of tins and trays. Little hint – if using a mould shape such as a pram or dinosaur – you know the ones I mean, please don’t just use your normal wipe of butter to make it non stick – it doesn’t work! You can buy a special anti stick spray, make sure you get all the nooks and crannies and it’ll work a treat!

10. Piping bags, nozzles and other decorating tools.

Since baking a lot more I have taught myself how to pipe a lot better and that works much more easily if you have piping bags and nozzles to choose from. As always, practice makes perfect but it’s a fun hobby to have! I have used a dual piping bag once to get two colours piped on to create an effect but this is something I need to rehearse more. I also have letter stencils, little plastic knives to work fondant details with, edible glue and paintbrushes which mean I can paint on details if needed.

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11. Something nice to display your bakes on or in.

Spending so much time on baking needs to be rewarded with displaying your creation beautifully. We used Lakeland vouchers we had to buy a display dome but we do also have several lovely air tight tins and plates which make all the difference when you open them to reveal your creation.

So there you have it. My top 10 baking essentials – what are yours? Have I missed any that you wouldn’t dare miss off? I’d love to know!

Happy baking all!

#hairlesshannah

Introducing Sunshine Makes & Bakes

I am very excited to finally be able to let you in on something I’ve been working on! If this is your first time reading my blog, let me fill you in on my story so far.

My name is Hannah, 31 years old and I have both ME/CFS and alopecia. I was living and working in Dubai as a primary teacher when I became ill and had to fly home. I have moved back in with my parents and for two years have been totally dependant on them financially, emotionally and physically. Alopecia has robbed me of my hair, eyebrows and eyelashes and ME has robbed me of my independence, confidence as well as many other aspects of my life.

Before becoming ill I had no idea about the ‘spoonie’ community however, now I would class myself as a fully fledged spoonie. So let me explain; a spoonie is someone with a chronic illness. You start the day with a certain amount of spoons and as your day progresses and you do activities, you use up your spoons until you have none left or are in negative numbers! Spoons are often not refundable by sleep, sleep is often unrefreshing so pacing becomes the best option which is a hard lesson to learn.

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One of the things I have found the toughest is my lack of independence and relying on my parents to support me financially. So, a few months ago a little idea came to mind – maybe I could use my spoons to my advantage and set up a little business that I could control. I love to bake and I love to be creative and one of my sayings since getting ill has been, make your own sunshine. And so that is when Sunshine Makes and Bakes was born.

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Behind the scenes I have slowly, at my own pace, set up a little studio at home and begun to make crafts and bake cakes to sell and so far it’s been a revelation. It’s given me back some independence and given me a purpose again. I am in control so if I don’t have enough spoons, I don’t have to make or bake that day and if I am having an okay day, I can spend fifteen minutes, half an hour or even an hour working on my products. There’s no pressure of letting people down, it’s like a hobby that I control.

A website has now been created and I am ready to go live! I will be posting UK wide but if you’d rather collect and avoid postage fees that fine too. Obviously for cake orders it will be collection only. To ensure I am pacing myself I ask for 10 days notice on orders so I can ensure my health remains the priority. I am SO excited to share my wares with you and hope you might like what you see enough to make a little order!

There are many different items available – greetings cards, photographic cards using my own photos, framed and unframed button and scrabble art, magnets, magnetic pegs, Christmas card sets and gift tags and a wide range of baked, scrummy goods! I am happy to personalise orders – crafts and bakes –  and to talk through ideas you may have about products to ensure you get the most sunshine from every order you place. As they say – if you don’t ask you will never know!

You will notice that there isn’t a shopping cart on the website, all orders need to be placed via the contact page. Just let me know what it is you’ve seen that you’d like or something you like that you’d like to personalise and I will then send you an invoice before getting to work on your purchase. The website is best viewed on an iPhone or from your computer, it isn’t fully compatible with iPads yet.

 

So, here’s the link, go get some sunshine in your life!

http://www.sunshinemakesandbakes.co.uk

I am also on social media:

Twitter: @sunshinemandbs

Instagram: @sunshinemakesandbakes

Facebook: @sunshinemakesandbakes

So get following, get liking, get sharing and possibly even get ordering!  Spreading awareness about chronic illness is so important for me and anything you can do to help with this is always much appreciated.

But finally and most importantly, thank you so much for your continued support and well wishes, it keeps me going from day-to-day.

#hairlesshannah

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Mini Egg Cookie Dough Bars

So the Easter Weekend is upon us and I’m sure lots of you will be spending your long weekend/last weekend of the school holidays celebrating with chocolate, entertaining and having some fun! So here is my second Easter baking blog for you to try – super easy, fast and will make everyone happy.

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You Will Need:

  • 275g plain flour
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp cornflour
  • 115g butter/stork
  • 55g granulated sugar
  • 135g light brown sugar
  • 1 medium egg
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 270g mini eggs
  • 100g chocolate chips

 

Method:

  1. Pre heat your oven to 170 fan and prepare your 9×9 square tin by lining it with some grease proof paper ready for use later. Smash up your mini eggs in a sandwich bag using a rolling-pin – do this on a chopping board! Make sure you save a handful of whole mini eggs for decoration later on.

2.  In a bowl, mix together the flour, bicarbonate of soda, salt and cornflour.

3. In a larger bowl melt the butter – I did this in a glass bowl over boiling water on the hob but you could use a large saucepan.

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4. Carefully remove from the heat and put onto a heat proof mat. Add in the granulated and brown sugar and which together until you form a smooth mixture.

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5. Now pop in the egg and vanilla extract and whisk again until smooth then mix in the dry ingredients, smashed up mini eggs and chocolate chips – use a spatula for this part as the cookie dough will form and it will be thick so a whisk would probably die a death!

6. Press the cookie dough mix into the tin and when evenly distributed, pop on the whole mini eggs that you saved to decorate.

7. Place the tin into the oven for around 20-25 minutes until the top on the bake is dry to touch.

8. Place the tin on a wire rack to cool, only remove from the tin after half an hour. Once fully cool, cut into bars the size of your choosing and then you’re good to go!

 

I hope you have a lovely Easter weekend with your loved ones and that my recipes help you to entertain the little ones, please the older ones and use up whatever chocolate you may have left over!

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#hairlesshannah

Guinness Chocolate Cake

Happy St Patrick’s Day!

So, I think we can safely say that many people tonight and over the weekend will be celebrating by both eating and drinking – namely having a pint of Guinness! So what better than combining the two to make a gloriously delicious Guinness cake?!

Two of my friends made this cake for me on my 30th and it was soooo good! Originally it’s a Nigella recipe so I’m sure some of you may have tried it already, but seeing as it’s St Paddy’s Day it just seemed the perfect thing to bake.

You Will Need:

For the cake:

  • 250ml Guinness
  • 250g unsalted butter
  • 75g cocoa
  • 400g caster sugar
  • 1 x 142ml pot of sour cream
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 275g plain flour
  • 2 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda

For the icing:

  • 300g Philadelphia cream cheese
  • 150g icing sugar
  • 125ml double or whipping cream

 

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Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 and grease and line a 23cm springform tin.
  2. Into a large, wide saucepan you need to put the Guinness and slowly add the butter which needs to be sliced thinly. Gently melt.
  3. Now whisk in the cocoa and sugar.
  4. Beat the sour cream with the 2 eggs and vanilla extract and pour into the Guinness mix.
  5. Finally whisk in the flour and bicarbonate of soda and take off the heat.
  6. Pop the cake batter into the tin and bake for 45 minutes – an hour or until a skewer comes out clean.
  7. Place on a cooling rack and let it cool completely before removing the tin – it is a really damp cake so this will take a while.

 

 

While the cake is cooling you can prepare the icing.

  1. Lightly whip the cream cheese until smooth and the add the sieved icing sugar and combine.
  2. Now add the cream and beat once more until it’s smooth and spreadable. When iced the cake should resemble a pint of Guinness with a gorgeous frothy top!

 

Make sure you only ice the cake when it’s completely cooled and then serve and enjoy!

I really hope you’re having a fab day celebrating wherever you are and that this cake can form part of your celebrations for years to come!

Happy weekend.

#hairlesshannah

 

St Patrick’s Day Gold Coin Cupcakes

Sorry this post is a little late but as they say, better late than never!

This is a fun Tasty Tuesday recipe for St Patrick’s Day this Friday, the cupcake recipe is my go to recipe and it’s so easy and delicious every time. These little cakes will be perfect for any St Paddy’s Day celebrations you may be hosting.

You Will Need:

For Cupcakes:

  • 2 eggs
  • 150g self-raising flour
  • 100g butter/margarine
  • 125g caster sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp milk

For Buttercream:

  • 200g butter
  • 400g icing sugar
  • gel food colouring
  • chocolate gold coins
  • green sprinkles

 

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Method:

  1. Pre heat the oven to 190 and line a cupcake tray with cases.
  2. It may not be what everyone would agree with, but I throw all the ingredients, butter, sugar, flour, eggs and milk all in together and mix it up for about 2 minutes.
  3. Then I add the vanilla extract and mix for a further 30 seconds.
  4. Ensure the ingredients are well combined with no lumps.
  5. Now spoon the mix into the cupcake cases evenly – I use two tea spoons to do this.
  6. Bake in the oven for 15-17 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.
  7. Allow to cool on a cooling rack before icing.

 

 

While the cupcakes are cooling you can make the icing.

  1. Add the butter and sieved icing sugar into the bowl and mix for a good 5 minutes. The longer you leave to mix, the whiter the colour.
  2. After 5 minutes, add in the green gel food colouring – keep adding until you have your desired shade.
  3. Continue to mix until well combined.
  4. If you have a piping bag, choose the nozzle you require and set up the piping kit, then spoon in the icing and get piping! If you don’t have a piping kit you can use a sandwich bag and once the icing is in the bag, simply snip the corner off and pipe away!
  5. Once the cupcakes are iced, place a chocolate gold coin in the centre and pop on your green sprinkles to finish them off.
  6. And voila – gorgeous, scrummy St Patrick’s Day cupcakes.

 

Have fun making these and let me know how you get on!

See you Friday!

#hairlesshannah

Tasty Tuesday: Rainbow Cake

So today’s Tasty Tuesday is the recipe for making a rainbow cake. I first tried rainbow cake in Dubai at The Humming Bird bakery and it was immense! I never thought I would be able to make one because it looks so impressive and complicated…BUT…one of the lovely parents of a child I taught in Dubai is a crazy talented baker and she sent me a recipe and you know what, it’s actually not that difficult, if I can do it – you can too!

You will need:

For the cake:

  • 12oz self-raising flour
  • 12oz caster sugar
  • 12oz salted butter
  • 6 eggs
  • drop of vanilla extract
  • gel food colouring

For the icing:

  • 250g butter
  • 500g icing sugar
  • sprinkles/decorations

 

Method:

  1. Cream the fat and sugar together until white and fluffy.

2. Gradually add the flour until well combined.

3. Whisk the eggs in a separate bowl and then pour in a little at a time.

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4. Divide the mix into six bowls – I do this by eye to start with and then use scales to check that the measures are roughly even.

5. Add gel food colouring to each bowl. Using gel colouring is important as it doesn’t change the consistency of the mixture. I used to use Dr Oetker gel initially which is fine, but have recently discovered Wilton gel colouring pots which allow you to only need a tiny bit on the end of a toothpick to give you amazing colour.

6. Pour each mixture into round 18” tins and bake in the oven at 175 for 16 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.

**note** when the cakes come out, don’t be alarmed, they will look brown, especially the blue and green ones – we always say they look like scouring pads! But when you ice them and cut into them the colour is perfect! The cakes will also be rather thin but again, that’s fine due to the amount you will be layering up.

If you want to freeze the cakes you can but pop a piece of grease proof paper between each one first.

7. Mix together the butter and icing sugar to make the buttercream – leave it mixing for 5-7 minutes to make it a whiter colour.

8. Pop the bottom layer onto the plate of stand you will be using as once it’s done it’s a tricky cake to move! Put the buttercream between each layer to the thickness you like.

9. Once the top layer is on, gently put a thin ‘crumb layer’ (thanks Catherine for the tip) over the whole cake and leave for 10-15 minutes. This makes it easier to ice the cake to a better finish as it catches and sticks all of the crumbs!

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10. Put a final layer of icing on the cake and decorate as you like.

11. Serve up to discover the amazing, show stopping cake inside – delicious!

 

And that’s it – cake done! It is time-consuming but I sit down to do all the mixing and colouring and I must admit, it’s quite a therapeutic cake to make! It’s Spring now so colours are starting to emerge in nature so why not bring a little bit of colour into your house – go on, I dare you!

Happy Tuesday!

#hairlesshannah