Tag Archives: birthday cake

Errol and the Blackberry Apple Crumble Cake

23 May

Make this!

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I did, for my Dad’s birthday, and it is THE BEST cake I have had in a very long time.

It made my Dad very happy too 😀

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Partly because it contained all of his favourite things (cinnamon, apples, nuts, berries), and partly because the man likes cake.

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This cake has been at the top of my cake-making bucket list for a few years now, and it is a shame that it took me so long to get round to it!

The fruit is the perfect level of sweetness, the crumble is delightfully cinnamony, and the cake batter itself makes the moistest treat you could hope for!

And! Thanks to the layers of crumble throughout the cake, the fruit doesn’t sink to the bottom! I found this amazing 🙂

The only change I made to the recipe was to substitute pecans for hazelnuts as I (strangely) didn’t have any hazelnuts in. I am excited to make it again with a different mixture of fruit and nuts! Perhaps raspberry and pear crumble cake with chocolate chips in with the crumble? Oooh…

Now, Errol has nothing to do with this fabulous cake other than the fact that he too was meant to be a birthday present. I just had to name this post ‘Errol and the Blackberry Apple Crumble Cake’ because it sounds like a book I would liked to have read when I was younger…

You may recall a post quite a while ago now where I pondered about what to get the love for his birthday. Safe but boring or slightly risky and amazing? I went with amazing 😀 and this is Errol:

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Right!?

So he’s 28 days premature because stealth-pants went routing around some papers I left out and found an Amazon invoice for a book entitled ‘How to Care for your Pet Tortoise’!!!

…Admittedly I left said papers out for him to shred at work and had no idea I’d left the invoice in with them… But yeah, he managed to figure it out from there and figured it would be better to tell the truth than to act surprised on his birthday.

I appreciated that, but of course I was gutted too!!! I had plans to make a huge deal of it on his birthday, presenting the tank to him decorated with balloons and bunting… *sigh*

Still, Errol was received VERY warmly and VERY excitably (is that a word?) so I am super happy that I chose him 😀

Off to the butterfly farm tomorrow and then it’s half term!

Oh I do love this time of year 🙂 🙂 🙂

Decoupage Cows, Panda Cupcakes and Other Nonsense.

30 Apr

The time has finally come, dear readers, to unveil the astonishing piece of art I prepared for Dave’s birthday.

Feast your eyes on this:

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Yes! Gasp you should!

For those of you who are none the wiser about these ‘amoosements’ (one of Dave’s, not mine!), here is an excerpt from my Liebster Award post that hopefully explains the madness succinctly 🙂

So I am very pleased with the result, only I do wish I’d gone for the jeans-style decoupage paper to give the little guy some comfy trews! Dave likes the 70s vibe he’s got going on though, so all is well. I also thought his shoes deserved laces, but… one can go too far…

So yes! The 30th is Dave’s birthday.

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And of course that means cake.

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BUT it is also my babe of a brother’s birthday!!! And that means MORE cake!

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I believe I mentioned how inundated I am with birthdays this month (thank God it is May tomorrow – even if it is a bit ‘say whaaaaat? May already!?’) in my Celebrations of April post… Sorry about all the references to previous posts guys but this whole cownundrum (haaaaaa) has had quite a build up for me 😛

Yes, so as I was saying, a shed-load of birthdays, but I just want to underline the fact that I don’t mean to shadow all of the other special people’s birthdays in favour of Dave’s for any other reason than COWS!!! And LOOK WHAT I MADE!!! Sorry Dave, no offence 😀 cows.

And pandas.

I thought they would please my brother as they are suitably kitsch and all the rest of it. Plus I made one of them a saaaad panda which correlates with one of his most often used quotes 🙂

I would say that they pleased me too, but after laboriously decorating 3 cows and 3 pandas, I defy anyone to get tired of the repetition. Especially when you have a poorly shoulder and… enough moaning. I also made the mistake of stacking the finished articles in a cake tin. MISTAAAAAAAAKE I tell you! The eyes are the hardest parts to do and of course they were all smudged and had to be redone. These cakes are not stackable or easy to travel with. They take patience, love and strong healthy shoulders. But they are adorable :3

It took an awfully long time because the recipe I used did not state how many cakes it was for… So I assumed that if there were going to be enough cakes for two birthdays then I’d have to double the amounts. WRRONG! The mixture was enough for 48 normal-sized cakes. Please bear in mind that the aforementioned recipe was for MINI cupcakes. Mind-blown.

Boredom, by the way, did account for a few of the weirder cakes. I don’t know if you spotted the odd one out on the previous picture? Have another go:

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It’s a dolphin. Yes. Harry Potter also adorned the face of one cupcake, as did farm animals in a hot tub (also featured above) and the love’s artistic impression of himself.

So, moving on to the recipe which I will re-halve so that it is intended to make 24 normal-sized cupcakes 🙂

Serves 24.

Oh! (sorry, so much to fit into this post!) The cake recipe is in cups, the icing isn’t – I hope that isn’t an issue. If it is, I will totally do the honours of converting things for you 😀

For the Cakes:

  • 1 1/2 cup plain flour
  • 2/3 cup cocoa (unsweetened)
  • 1 1/3 cup caster sugar
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil (or other non-flavourful oil)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 2/3 cup hot water

For the Frosting:

  • 400g cream cheese
  • 200g icing sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

For the Decoration:

First of all, a note on decoration: if you’ve taken a look at the recipe I used, you will see that the cupcakes over on there are super beautiful, perfect and all the rest of it. Trust me, if I thought I could find white sanding sugar, a black edible ink pen and pastel confetti sprinkles without too much bother then I would have. The effect is amazing. I improvised with caster sugar, leftover icing and black designer icing which comes in it’s own decorator bag… not as neat but it did the trick.

  • Icing (see above) 
  • Black designer icing
  • Caster sugar
  • Chocolate chips
  • Chocolate buttons
  • Chocolate sprinkles
  1. Preheat the oven to 180°c and prepare a cupcake tray with cupcake cases. 
  2. In a large bowl, mix all of the dry cake ingredients together.
  3. Add the eggs, oil, milk and vanilla. Mix until well combined. Add the hot water, mix and DON’T PANIC! At this stage the concoction in front of you will look like a pool of… well, brown liquid. Have faith! Keep mixing until there is some body to the mixture. It will still seem too fluid, but the cakes turn out gorgeously moist once baked. Just go with it.
  4. Fill the cupcake cases about half way up. They rise A LOT! Then bake for 15-20 minutes, until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cupcakes comes out clean.
  5. While waiting for the cakes to cool, make the icing by mixing the cream cheese with the vanilla until smooth. Then sift in the icing sugar and fold gently to incorporate. This is my brother’s favourite icing 🙂
  6. Prepare a plate of caster sugar and set up all of the other decorating bits in an assembly-line fashion. When the cakes are cool, top them with a heaped teaspoon of the icing, then turn them upside down and gently squish them in the sugar. This will spread the icing evenly over the the cake, so don’t worry too much about perfecting the smoothness of the icing beforehand 🙂
  7. For pandas, use 2 chocolate buttons as eyes and 2 as ears. A chocolate chip for the nose and chocolate sprinkles for the mouth 🙂 then use the handle of a little spoon (or something) to dip in the icing and dab a circle on each eye. Finally, use the black designer icing to draw on the pupils. For cows, it’s pretty much the same except I used 2 chocolate chips as nostrils and I halved chocolate buttons to make cow-like splodges on their faces 🙂 I also chopped up chocolate buttons for their horns.

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Woop!

One last thing before I go.

I am ever, EVER so grateful for this beautiful badge:

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I have neglected wearing too many times. From now on it shall be pinned eternally to… my heart… if not my clothes.

🙂

The Celebrations of April

18 Apr

For a long time I have been in a frustrating funk where cooking is concerned. I’d utterly lost my mojo, motivation and satisfaction.

But! (I hope) this month things are changing, helped along by the multiple birthdays April comes with. My uncle’s, my mom’s, my friend’s, two of my brothers, the love’s step-dad AND his daughter all celebrate their birthday this month! Then come May and June during which the pressure does not reduce much.

So far the uncle, the friend’s and one of the brother’s birthdays have passed and I have made something for two out of three of those occasions. I was adamant that I would make something for my friend but she’s one of those types who plead with you not to make a fuss. Now it’s a very busy time at the moment otherwise I would have done as I pleased despite this, but just mark my words Megan – I will not let this slide 😉

I have used two recipes found online that I have barely altered, and if I made them again I would do exactly the same thing because they are perfect.

The first, which I made for my uncle, is this gorgeous nut brittle. I LOVE nut brittle, but this is the first time I’ve had a go at making it. It all seemed to be going perfectly, but unfortunately I made the mistake (I think) of taking the caramel off the heat too soon. This meant that when I looked in the fridge after leaving it to set overnight, the caramel was slowly oozing it’s way aaaaaall over the place! It was rescued however, by changing the greaseproof paper it was sitting on several times. This got rid of excess sticky stuff to leave nut brittle as it should be. You can use any combination of nuts and seeds that you like, and it has a sumptuous dark chocolate base which is just so necessary! Unfortunately I took no photos 😦 the reason being that at first, I forgot because I have become accustomed to not posting these things, and later because I thought it was ruined… But there are lots of lovely (albeit Christmassy) pictures of the finished article on the link I provided above.

For those of you out there who are caramel experts (which I am definitely not), am I right in thinking my mistake was not boiling the caramel for long enough? Or do you think there is simply too much caramel in ratio to the nuts? It is very sweet so, maybe… Not too sweet for my tastes but maybe some people’s. I’d consider making it with salted nuts actually. Oooh…

Now, I REALLY pushed the boat out for my brother’s birthday! I made a seven-layer rainbow cake which took me an awfully long time – I ended up in the kitchen at 11.30pm exhausted and covered in icing! It was so worth it, but I didn’t reap the full benefits of it there and then as I was so concerned about it having the right effect when it was sliced into.

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IT DID!

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And it was extremely well received!

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At my Grandma’s house…

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Where everyone said it tasted as good as it looks 😀

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There were so many compliments flying around I felt like it was my birthday!

Now I am out of pictures so I guess a little more description would be the way to go… Well, I highly recommend it!

My other brother (who has said that since I’ve made this for Liam I have to outdo myself for his birthday) doesn’t like icing, but he claims the ability to eat bowls of this. It is practically the same icing used for Nigella’s chocolate Guinness cake. As for outdoing myself… I don’t know what to do guys!!! I’m thinking along the lines of cupcakes, and now that this challenge paid off I’d really like another one… But I really will have to get my thinking cap on.

In other words, it is good. Do it.

Watch this space for more recipes 🙂