My little one is about to turn 1!!! On Christmas Day…… yes I know I know it was a miracle, he decided to come out a month early 😍. Best Christmas present ever for my husband and I. To help make the month special for him, I’ve been on a mission to have something nice with his friends each week in December. My son already bounces of the walls….. crawling around everywhere. As it is the first time he is trying Cake, I have been looking into more healthier options for him. Inspired by the Spanish December super sunny weather. I decided to stick to fresh fruit. So the recipe I have here is full of berries inside to sweeten the cake and reduce the sugar. And the decorations are fresh fruit with a cream cheese frosting. I love this recipe the cake is moist and airy and the frosting is light and creamy. Great as a first taster to the world of sweetness 😋
My son loved it he dug his tiny little hands in. Quiet as ever munching on the big strawberry on top and trying to pick up cake with his little spoon. It was great to see him try something new. However at the end he attempted to stick the hungry little fondant caterpillar into his mouth 😩(the whole low in sugar theme was about to go out the window).
Hope you get to try this recipe if not for someone little, I think you will enjoy it as a lighter option.
250g plain flour
1 and 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsb bicarbonate of soda
1 tsb vanilla extract
150g mixed berries
200g cream cheese
3 small cups of icing sugar
1/2 tsb of vanilla extract
1. Preheat fan oven to 170 degrees Celsius. Grease a 20cm cake tin.
2. Cream together the sugar and butter. Add the egg yolks and vanilla extract.
3. Whisk the egg whites separately. And then mix into your mixture.
4. Dust the fruit with a little of your flour. This is really important to prevent the fruit sinking to the bottom.
5. Mix the baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and flour.
6. Once well mixed, spoon in the mixed fruit. Can be frozen or fresh.
7. Pour into your cake tin and put in the oven for 35-40 minutes or until ready. When checking the cake with a cake tester, I recommend you test it in a couple of places as you maybe touching the fruit rather than the cake.
1. With an electric mixer cream butter once soft add the cream cheese and mix. I recommend you keep the cream cheese and butter out of the fridge an hour before you use. If it seems lumpy warm the bottle, gently over warm water on the stove.
2. Add in the icing and vanilla extract.
3. Once the cake is cooled add the frosting.
I love this time of year. That aromatic, gorgeous smell of fruit cake baking at home, puts you in that Christmas spirit. My husband is not a fan of fruit cake, but the smell of it baking in the oven, he just loves. Those fruity, cinnamon, nutmeg aromas that it releases. And I’m sure you will agree with me, on how delicious and juicy, the Spanish lemons and oranges are!! What better way to make a fruit cake, with such fresh ingredients. I’m just in awe of the stunning trees with the biggest and brightest colours I’ve seen. My favourite place to eat is in Estepona square, or Marbella, Plaza de los Naranjos (oranges). You can sit in the square surrounded by orange trees. What better way to have lunch or coffee with fresh aromas. Mmmmmm…..
Ok let’s get back to fruit cake! As we have just mentioned the fruit here is too good to waste. So grate off the lemon and orange zest. And squeeze those juices and let’s use it to soak your fruit for your cake in.
There are a few watch outs when baking a fruit cake. Especially when we don’t always bake one throughout the year. In the past, where I have got it wrong, I ended up either with a dry fruit cake or a cake with fruit all on the bottom, or the outside being baked more than the inside. Causing a raw middle or the sides to be over baked that the raisins got burnt!
To help prevent these problems, you need to take time not to forget a few vital preparation steps. Such as:
1. To prevent the mixed fruit drying out. Heat to the boil and simmer the mixed fruit with brandy or tea (for a non-alcoholic cake), for about 10 minutes. I add the lemon and orange juices and the zest to this too. Leave over night ideally or till cooled before you mix in with the cake mixture.
2. To help the cake bake at the right temperature throughout. Tie a damp cloth around your baking tin. This helps prevent the outside getting over baked.
3. Put a heating core in the middle of your tin, before adding the mixture. This helps heat your cake mixture evenly, throughout the tin. Preventing the middle of the cake being under baked compared to the outside.
4. Take the time to cut out baking parchment to put on the bottom and sides of your tin. As you will need to cool the cake in the tin later. So makes it a lot easier to take out after.
5. To prevent the fruit sinking to the bottom of the cake. Dust the fruit with flour just before you mix it in with the mixture.
6. That beautiful spice to your cake. If you can’t find mixed spices (I had this problem at the store). So I mixed up some ginger, cardamom, nutmeg, cinnamon). And added bay leaves to the boiling fruit mixture.
7. Once your cake is cooled. Make a few holes on top with a toothpick. Wrap it in baking parchment and then foil. Feeding the cake with 2 tsp of brandy or strong tea once a week. Keep in an airtight container. Do not feed it for 24 hours before you want to cover with royal icing. This will prevent the icing from getting moist.
I am sure there are many other top tips on baking a fruit cake. Please share with me yours.
Here is the fruit cake recipe I use with apples as well!
200g plain flour
200g brown sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1tsp mixed spice
1 tsp cinnamon
2tsp vanilla extract
1tsp almond extract
1 juice of a lemon juice and grated zest
1 juice of an orange and grated zest
300g mixed fruit (sultanas, raisins)
2 apples grated
100ml tea or brandy
1. In a pot add fruit, orange and lemon juice and zest (strain the juices through a sieve, to avoid pips going into the pot). Add the tea or brandy and a couple of bay leaves. Bring to the boil and simmer for 10 minutes. Allow to cool overnight.
2. Pre-heat the oven to 150 degrees Celsius fan. Prepare your 20cm baking tin with grease proof paper, heating core and wrap the tin in a damp dishcloth or newspaper.
3. Mix the butter and sugar. Once mixed add the eggs one at a time, mixing well in between.
4. Dust the fruit with flour. This is such an important step!!
5. Add the rest of the flour, spices, vanilla and almond extract. Mix well.
6. Spoon in the fruit mixture carefully.
7. Pour into the baking tin. Put in the oven for 50 minutes to an hour. Until the centre of the cake is baked.
8. Leave in the baking tin till cooled. Once cool take out of the tin. Wrap in baking paper and then foil. Prick a few holes on top and feed the cake with 2 tsp of brandy or tea once a week.
Ready to enjoy for Christmas 😍
When you have a light, fluffy cupcake it’s a joy to eat and admire, with a delicious buttercream topping!! But not sure if you have suffered from cupcake baking. Argh 😤 the amount of things that can go wrong!! Sunken…. over spillage…..over risen….unequal sizes…… square 😫
I thought I had cracked a good cupcake. But having recently moved to Spain. Everything seemed to go wrong. From not being used to the temperature of my new oven, to not understanding Spanish when buying my cake mixture. After wadding through the Spanish supermarket, with my Google translate at hand. I finally managed to crack a cupcake in Spain 😝.
I have pulled together some top tips to help:
1. Test one out in the oven first. This will help you decide on, how much mixture to put in the cupcake and how long to bake them for.
2. Do it on a low temperature. Around 150 degrees celsius for big cupcakes and mini cupcakes I do it on 140 degrees celsius fan oven. This avoids the cupcakes baking on too high a temperature. Preventing the cake from forming a dome or cracking.
3. It’s so easy when you have all your ingredients on the table to mix up baking powder and bicarbonate of soda, especially if reading it in Spanish. This is super important not to mix up. Too much bicarbonate of soda, can give you a funny taste in your cake. As well as the cake rising too quick.
4. If you don’t have a cupcake baking tray, I tend to double up the cupcake cases. Or you can buy cupcake cases that are lined with grease proofing. They prevent the bottom of the cupcakes having an oily bottom and prevent the cupcake falling over in the oven. Plus it helps keep the shape round. No to square!
5. I use baking parchment on the tray the cupcakes cases sit on. Again this helps remove any of that greasiness you can get when baking cupcakes.
6. To ensure all your cupcakes are the same size. Precision is created with a digital weighing scale to weigh out the mix. In a medium size cupcake holder I tend to weight out 42g and in a mini one I weigh out about 30g. Remember your mixture will rise and you don’t want it to over spill.
7. When placing the cupcakes on the baking tray. Do not put them too close to each other. They need space to do their thing.
8. The most difficult thing to avoid, is not opening the oven door. Just sit and relax with a cup of tea. Avoid opening before 10mins of being in the oven. Otherwise you will have sunken cupcakes.
When you get this right it’s such a joy!! And then you get creative and add other things to your cupcakes. Like yummy ferrero rocher.
At first sight, this chocolatey cake looks so naughty. Simmer down 😃 you can enjoy, without worrying so much. Oh no…. too much sugar….. too much butter…… With the increase in children parties. It has become more important to find recipes that have less butter, sugar and substitutes for nuts. And yet to find a cake that is still tasty and moist. My sister-in-law said she had tried baking healthy cakes for my nieces. But each time they tried it they were not convinced, it was tasty enough to substitute for a “cake” 😜. Then my mum mentioned, she had gone to a party, and couldn’t believe how good a courgette and walnut cake tasted. So here goes, I put it to the test, slightly dubious to start with. But OMG I will never doubt the courgette again!
This recipe is mummies dreams come true. Instead of butter it has olive oil. Instead of nuts for extra flavour, you can use orange zest. It reminds me of Terry’s orange chocolate. And the ingredient that brings it all together, is a courgette. After trying this recipe, you may feel like I do. Why are courgettes underused in cakes???? It gives the cake a beautiful moistness and what’s more your friends will never know you used it, if disguised in chocolate 😋
400g Courgette (1 medium)
175ml Olive oil
2 tsp Vanilla essence
50g Cocoa powder
300g Caster sugar
350g self raising flour
1tsp Orange zest
1. Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius fan and grease a baking tray.
2. Take off the skin of the courgette and grate.
3. Mix olive oil, sugar, egg, vanilla essence, courgette and orange zest together
4. Mix the flour and cocoa powder together.
5. Combine the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Mix well.
6. Put into the baking tray and bake for 40-50 minutes or until baked.
Meringues used to always be one of my fears to make. Just because, I’m terrible with being extra careful in splitting the egg whites from the yolk. But my husband loves a good Eton mess. So I had no choice but to give it a go. Between my friend, from University and I, we tested out all the tricks on the internet. And shared the learns on What’sApp. And guess what?? It turned out, it’s not actually hard! You just need to use the little tricks. See the troubleshooting guide below. It should give you a crunchy meringue, soft and chewy in the centre. With beautiful shapes that hold. At the end, you will spend most of your time deciding how you want to eat them. My friend loves hers with cream and a berry sauce. I love a mini bite of Eton mess or a great way to top a cupcake!!
3 egg whites
115g caster sugar
1 tsp Vanilla essence (orange zest/ drop of colouring)
1 tsp Cornflour
Troubleshooting guide to good meringues
1. Preheat the oven to 120 degrees Celsius.
2. Use half a lemon to wipe clean your mixing bowl. The acid breaks down any fat deposits on the bowl. This step is so important to help the meringue whisk to form peaks.
3. Using fresh eggs, will help the meringues to keep shape. Crack each egg putting the egg white into a separate bowl. This is to ensure no yolk is mixed in. When you are happy with it, pour into your clean mixing bowl.
4. Whisk the egg whites on a slow speed till they form peaks.
5. Take your time with this step. With half the sugar, add a spoon at a time to the egg white. Increasing the speed. Adding too much sugar, too quick will loose your beautiful peaks. Whisk in the rest of the sugar. Then add a little more lemon juice to help stabilise the mixture.
6. Add the cornflour. This helps give that chewy centre. 😋
7. Add a little vanilla essence and of orange zest or a little colouring.
8. On a baking tray put a dab of meringue mix in the corners. Putting baking parchment on top. This prevents the parchment moving when you pipe shapes.
9. Put the mixture into a piping bag with your favourite nozzle. Pipe away all your friends favourite shapes and sizes.
10. Put in the oven for an hour at 120 degrees Celsius and then lower to 90 degrees Celsius for another 30 minutes.
11. Essential step.
Pour a cup of tea and relax.
12. They will be ready when they lift off the baking parchment and you can tap the bottom.
Merigues now less stressful to make!
Please tell me it’s not just me! My little one is just too fast for me. I just took my eye off him for a few seconds and the next thing I know, he’s managed to grab the salty Ritz box…. crackers all over the the floor and he’s happily munching away 😫. I felt so bad seeing, those little eyes so sad, when I took them out of his hands. He started trying to grab the crumbs off the floor. When I grabbed his hands he tried to push his face against the floor, to try and lick any crumbs. So I was on a mission, to find him a healthy biscuit. Having just come to Spain. I have struggled to find in the shops, handheld food like rice cakes or biscuits for him. In London and Norway, it was so easy to find great baby snacks. Everyone said go to Morrisons in Gibraltar, but I haven’t had the chance to go. I tried Iceland in Marbella. They had so many amazing British food, including a massive aisle for tea 😃. But the baby section, was literally a sad little one module.
So I decided to look into biscuits to bake for him. I managed to find loads made of just plain flour, butter and cheese. But I still wanted to find something more healthy. And then finally, after two days of googling. I found this amazing recipe. It’s so simple, quick and full off oats, apples and bananas. I have even made it with pear instead of apples. Not only that, you can go organic.
My little one can get the sweetness from the apple and bananas, flavours from the vanilla and cinnamon and crunch from the oats! Giving him an energy boost.
Such a win win… happy baby… happy mummy 😍
1 and 1/2 cups thin rolled oats
2 ripe bananas
1/4 cup of puréed apples
A sprinkle of cinnamon powder
1/4 teaspoon of vanilla extract
1. Turn the oven onto 175 degrees Celsius. And line a tray with baking parchment.
2. In a food processor grind the oats to form a powder. Mix in the cinnamon. And then mix in the mashed banana, pureed apple and vanilla extract.
3. Make handheld biscuits, I make them into oblong shaped ones. You know how your little one prefers to hold onto food. Use the shape easiest for them to eat.
4. Pop them onto the tray and bake for 10 minutes. Turn them over and then bake for another 5-10 minutes till golden brown.