Thursday, 31 October 2013

Clandestine Cake Club - Halloween

Are you busy answering the door to all those ‘little darlings’ looking for sweeties? Well, ignore the door and check out what we had at our latest Cake Club meeting.

This was my first one, where I had organised the event and I was a tad nervous truth be told! I had organised the secret venue, emailed everyone and was worried that nobody would turn up. But my fellow cake clubbers did not let me down!

The locus this month was Caffe Borsa in Dundee’s Panmure Street. It’s a regular lunchtime haunt of mine and Jac’s (another Cake Club organiser and author of Tinned Tomatoes) and we usually meet and discuss food blog things.

This night was different though as it was all about enjoying cake and the theme I had set was Halloween. Caffe Borsa usually close at 6 on a Sunday but very kindly agreed to open for us between 7 and 9. The staff could not have been more helpful. They serve great food (their hummus and roasted pepper bagel is delicious) and have lovely coffee. They also serve beer, which Disneyboi (who I dragged along to this one) was imbibing.

Back to the club and there were tasty yet terrifying treats on offer.

A very dark Sjokolad Pepperkaker (spiced chocolate and ginger cake) was served with crosses atop and eyeballs staring out. Sacrily moist and spicy.

A favourite of mine was the brain cake, which was a vanilla and raspberry ripple cake. It was decorated with icing to look like a brain then a ‘blood’ sauce was poured over the top. Gruesomely gorgeous!

A ghost cake served up was a vanilla sponge with jam and ‘brains’ – hidden in the middle – frighteningly flavourful!

Jac brought along a lemon and blueberry cheesecake with fondant eyeballs peering out the top. This kind of reminded me of the cookie monster with the blue colour and googly eyes. It was a very nice cheesecake and a good change to the sponges on offer. Monstrously mouthwatering!

There was a pumpkin bundt cake with chocolate treasure buried inside and skeletons peering out from the middle. Bone chillingly beautiful.

A mummy cake, which was vanilla sponge and fondant decoration, almost looked too good to eat. Spookily salivating.

Brilliantly decorated was the ‘Dunkin’for apples cake – which was vanilla and apple strudel flavour. Murderously moreish.

Last, but not least, was my Pumpkin spice chocolate chip cake. I featured this on Cakeyboi last year, but used a cinnamon buttercream this time instead of the cream cheese frosting. Wickedly wonderful.

The theme of Halloween did lend itself to some very creative bakes. A great time was had by all.

I’d like to thank the staff of Caffe Borsa for opening late and if you are in the Dundee area, pop in for great coffee and atmosphere.

Follow Caffe Borsa on Facebook and Twitter

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Halloween Cartoon - Bat O'Cake

Happy Halloween everyone when it comes! Cakeyboi has his costume dusted off already...

Monday, 28 October 2013

Treat Petite Round Up October

I can’t believe that we are almost at the end of October already!! This month’s Treat Petite theme was of course Halloween. I have to apologise now for anyone who missed the deadline of the 25th, which is a bit early for Halloween I know. But we are off to London again, day after next, and time seems to be running away from me at the moment!!

First out of the gate this month is Ros from at The MoreThan Occasional Baker. Her first Halloween bake for Treat Petite were these delicious Candy Corn Oreo Brownies. The brownies incorporate Candy Corn flavoured Oreos that she picked up on a recent trip the America. They look super fudgy!

Next we have Elizabeth’s from Elizabeth’s Kitchen Diary and her Vampire Lady Fingers. Elizabeth loves Halloween, and after receiving some Cadbury Pebbles to try out, she (and her children) used them as nails in this spooky bake.

My good friend Steph in Toronto, from Kitchen Frolic, entered these very decadent looking Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes. She decorated these with cute little gummy pumpkins. Steph used a cream cheese frosting for these but recommends a buttercream if you want the piped look to last longer.

Laura over at I’d Much Rather Bake Than... entered these Bleeding Cobweb Cupcakes. She added jam to the top of her freshly baked vanilla cakes, then topped this with white chocolate and a cobweb effect. When you cut into them the ‘blood’ starts to trickle down – gruesome and delicious!

And ‘creeping’ back in is Ros from The More Than OccasionalBaker with her Cinnamon and Pumpkin Spice Thumbprint cookies. For these she used Pumpkin Spice Hershey Kisses she picked up on that trip to the US. The cookies themselves are flavoured with mixed spice and cinnamon – they look great.

Then I received an email from Louise over at Crumbs andCorkscrews who entered these Jack Skellington Marshmallow Pops. She dipped her marshmallows in melted white chocolate, popped in a stick and drew on the face of Jack Skellington from ‘Nightmare Before Christmas’. I absolutely love these what with the Disney connection and marshmallows being a favourite of mine.

Penultimately, we have my co-host Kat (from The Baking Explorer) and her entry – Spooky ‘Bone’ Meringues. Kat made meringues in the shape of bones and sandwiched them together with bonemarrow and blood AKA cream and strawberry sauce. I think they look like something from ‘The Walking Dead’ TV show. Brilliant!

And lastly, my own entry! I made cupcakes flavoured with lime, dyed them green and added blueberries to the mix. I call them Booberry and Slime Cupcakes – they tasted devilishly good!

A big, big thank you to everyone who entered Treat Petite this month. Pop over to the blogs for the recipes. And stay tuned to ‘The  Baking Explorer’ to find out what the theme for November will be…

Lisa from United Cakedom entered these delicious looking Pumpkin and Ginger Cupcakes into Treat Petite. She purposely made them early so she could meet our tight deadline and I missed them out! I am so sorry Lisa but here they are in their full glory! As Halloween is her favourite holiday, I hope I didn't spoil it too much...

Saturday, 26 October 2013

When Cakeyboi met James Martin

As part of being a BBC Good Food Show blogger, at the recent show in Glasgow, I was very lucky to be able to interview Mr James Martin, chef, TV presenter, fast car enthusiast and former ‘Strictly’ contestant.

As James is a busy man, the interview was shared between myself and fellow bloggers - Michelle from and Emma from We asked James about the school education of food, his series United Cakes of America, UK food, his restaurant and, well read for yourself....  

Michelle opened with the first question;

Question:        You are quoted for saying that you were ‘rubbish’ at school?

Answer:            I wasn’t at cooking!

Question:       Well yes, but you actually failed at cooking?

Answer:          I failed it because I was dyslexic, and I am still – I failed a lot of things at school because I wasn’t academic and found it hard when it came to reading and stuff – that is why I employ a PA and I  still find it hard. Back then (about 20 odd years ago) it wasn’t really diagnosed, particularly in a school in Yorkshire and I knew there was some issue but I couldn’t really pin-point it.  You go through school and are told you’re thick and stupid but throughout all that and anybody you speak to (and Jackie Stewart was the last person I spoke to about this), he found something that he excelled at and was better at than anybody else. His big thing was shooting and food was my big thing.  

Question:        If you were in charge of school education of food – what would you do differently?

Answer:          Well, you know, cooking is coming back on the curriculum now.  People should be taught how to cook and not necessarily the protein break-up of a lettuce leaf! That has been the issue and that compiles a lot of issues that you get now with kids as they are not told how to cook.  There is a generation gap who have never been taught cooking at school, parents who don’t know how to cook and of course they are now teaching the kids bad habits so it’s a vicious circle which is hard to break. Cookery is an important part of life and you quickly learn when you are at college to fend for yourself, but it is important and I don’t know how important people see it as, but it is one of the many things that we go through struggling as chefs really.  

I then asked James abut his show which was on the Good Food channel recently.

Question:        I was going to ask – I watched your show ‘United Cakes of America’.  Do you think British baking is becoming Americanised?

Answer:          No not really.  This thing is, with American baking, certain elements of it are amazing but the ground basis of baking in the UK is much stronger than the States, however the Americans do it a lot more.  The issue with America is that they use a lot of oils, corn oil – stuff like that and corn syrups, which are predominately high in fat – you are better off using full fat butter to get the same sort of taste, but it is wrong to labelise America and food with burgers and donuts.  It has got some of the greatest food and some of the most amazing restaurants in the world.  There are some incredible places so it was a learning curve for me, so it’s one of those things where you can adapt and change recipes, but I learnt some fascinating things when I was there. 

Question:        Good fun – was it a Cadillac you were driving?

Answer:          That was fun – a 1958 Cadillac

Michelle asked the next question;

Question:        Your new restaurant in Manchester is Modern British and champions locally sourced product as well.  How important is that to you and what do you do to promote that to other people?

Answer:          I was a pig farmer for 20- years of my life so if I didn’t use local produce then I would get my arse kicked by my family!  I did a series last year/this year on great British food and flew all around the UK and that is going to get commissioned next year as well.  I’m a big fan of local producers, there is some amazing stuff around the world but there is some amazing stuff here in the UK that we produce and should particularly use and nurture.  Some of them are the greatest ingredients in the world.

Emma, from Food and Drink Glasgow asked;

Question:        If you were on a dessert island, what sort of foods would you have as your food?

Answer:          Dairy milk – but the old fashioned dairy milk – not the new smooth type!

Michelle asked James;

Question:        What do you think of the Scottish diet?

Answer:          That’s a difficult one because when we did the series I know how good the larder is in Scotland - it has got some of the greatest ingredients in the world right on the doorstep and we don’t appreciate it.  98% of langoustines in Scotland are exported and that is one of the many things.  Raspberries for example are produced in 6 square miles in Scotland – there is nowhere else better for that and you can literally label produce – the lists are endless and I think it is sporadic in terms of whether you enjoy it, as a nation and England as well – everywhere.  We don’t really appreciate what is on our doorstep and the programs I am doing let you see what we have on our doorstep and how we use it.
Question:        Where are your favourite restaurants in Scotland?

Answer:          I like Tom Kitchin’s – I’m a good mate of Tom’s and we both used to work for the same guy (Pierre Koffmann) who probably looks upon us as the two sons he’s got.   He is a fantastic guy and Tom’s a great cook – inspirational for many youngsters.  He’s good and a nice guy with it.

Question:        What about Glasgow – have you eaten out much here?

Answer:          I didn’t get a chance last night – I just flew straight in – I haven’t really eaten out in Glasgow to be honest.  The last time I was here I went further north and went to the langoustine fishing event – I like to go to places like that and have langoustines and lemons.

I then pitched in with the following;

Question:        What about Smokies from the town of Arbroath?

Answer:          Yes the Spinks’ – I have always been a fan of Arbroath Smokies. I have always championed that.  You’ve got to have them hot in newspaper, straight out of the smoker, hot with butter.

Question:        Is there anyone on Saturday Kitchen – living or dead – you would like to see on the show?

Answer:          I would like to see my grandma – she was the inspiration for me when I was younger.  She passed away about 12 years ago now – I would have liked to have seen what she made of it.  She was a big Strictly fan as well so I would have liked to have seen what she made of that too.

Michelle then posed;

Question:        In 1996 you started on the show ‘Ready, Steady, Cook’.  If you were given this bag of 5 ingredients, what would you make from them?

                        Rack of lamb, sweet potato, butter, cheese, almonds, dark chocolate

Answer:          Probably do a herb crusted rack of lamb - use herbs/mustard/almonds for the rack of lamb and do a little sweet potato gnocchi with flour – Moroccan style with cumin for spices and would probably just eat the bloody chocolate!

Question:        If you stopped filming Saturday Kitchen tomorrow – what would you do?

Answer:          Have a lie in!  I would like to do a bit more racing next year.  I did a mini championship, I did the Goodwood revival.  I did some pretty good races last year and had some good wins but I don’t know.  Saturday takes over your life quite a lot and it’s a big responsibility and when you have restaurants as well it means being busy on Friday too.  On a busy day I can get up at 5 am in the morning and finish at 1 pm and then drive to the restaurant and still be there at 1 am in the morning.  So it’s a bloody long day.

Question:        How do you balance everything?

Answer:           By having good staff – you can’t do it on your own – the key to success of anything is the team behind you helping you.

And last but not least, I love to throw in a Cakeyboi curve ball question! I asked the following;

Question:        Who is your favourite cartoon character?

Answer:          The Ant Hill Mob – Dastardly and Mutley

From that we can guess James is a fan of Wacky Races!

It was great to meet James and chat with him. I ducked away just after the interview and watched as he took to the stage to cook in the Supertheatre. He is every inch the professional, but still is a down to earth guy and very easy to chat to. Thanks James!

And a big thank you to my friend Denise for transcribing the interview from my iPhone. You saved me lots of time!!

Friday, 25 October 2013

Halloween Cartoon Time - S'pie'der!

Looks like Pie has his Halloween outfit sorted...

Thursday, 24 October 2013

Spooky Cookies!

chocolate fondant cookies

These are very simple and easy Halloween cookies that kids can help out with. They also make great handmade treats to hand out to Trick or Treaters (or guisers as well call them in Scotland!)

The cookies themselves are just a simple chocolate cookie dough rolled out very thin then baked. The decoration is sugar fondant icing rolled out also very thinly and adhered to the biscuits with good old water.

The last thing I used to decorate them was black sugar which I picked up in TK Maxx. But there are plenty of black tubes of icing on the market at the moment which would work just as well.

Here’s how I made them;

Yield: 24 cookies approx

150 grams plain flour
75 grams unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
Pinch of salt
170 grams butter
280 grams granulated sugar
1 egg
Adapted from

To decorate:
Sugar fondant icing
Black icing (or sugar if you can get it)

Sift together the flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt, set aside.
In the bowl of a mixer, mix together the butter and sugar. Don’t over beat as this can make the cookies fluffy, which you don’t want. Add in the egg and beat until incorporated. Gradually mix in the flour until a ball of dough has formed.

Divide the ball in two and wrap each half in clingfilm and pop into the fridge for half an hour to firm up.

Preheat the oven to 180c. Line a couple of cookie sheets with greaseproof paper and take the chilled dough out of the fridge. Roll it out on a floured surface ( I roll mines on top of greaseproof paper) to about ½ cm thick. Cut out in the shape of your choice and place on to the cookie sheets.

When done, pop into the oven for 8 to 10 minutes then remove and allow to cool fully on wire racks.

Whilst the cookies are cooling, roll out your chosen colour of fondant to about ¼ cm thick and cut out with the same size of cookie cutter you used before (as the cookies spread a little they will now be a bit bigger than the cutter itself). To adhere the fondant discs to the cooled cookies, simply rub water over one side of the disc and press this wet side to the cookie, rubbing the top so it sticks all over.

And to decorate, use a little icing to stick black sugar, cut shaped from different coloured fondant etc.

And there you have Spooky Cookies. Enjoy!

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Our Day at the BBC Good Food Show Scotland 2013

Last Sunday, Disneyboi and I ventured down to Glasgow for the BBC Good Food Show Scotland, held at the SECC. Sadly, I could make only one day of the event, but was excited nonetheless. It was an early start getting up just after 6am, travelling down and reaching our venue around 10ish.

As you may remember, I was selected to be a BBC Good Food Show blogger. This meant Cakeyboi was there as ‘media’. We walked in, me sporting my press pass and we initially had a wander round, trying to get our bearings.

After this we went into the VIP lounge area where there were exclusive events happening. One that we saw was a talk called “From bean to bar” from the people at ‘The Chocolate Tree’ artisan chocolate makers based in Edinburgh. We learned about the chocolate making process and tasted different strengths of chocolate and munched on a cocoa bean.

After this we took another walk about the exhibits, but then I had to head off to meet ‘Flo’ who was taking me backstage of the Supertheatre.

The Supertheatre is where celebrity chefs cook live on stage and chat with the audience. And lurking backstage was none other than James Morton of Great British Bake Off fame.

I chatted to him for a couple of minutes and spoke about Darling’s Coffee Shop in Arbroath where I live. James recently visited here and filmed with them, as they are in the running for an award ‘Community Project of the Year’. We both said what great work they do and that hopefully Sharlene and her team win. James will be at the award ceremony himself he said.

Then myself, and a couple of other BBC Good Food Show bloggers, were lucky enough to meet James Martin, he of ‘Saturday Kitchen’ fame and interviewed him. I will bring you the interview with James very soon.

I then had to rush front of stage as James was about to do his demo. I met Disneyboi who was already there and we settled down to watch James cook up three dishes – a beetroot salad for starter, braised ox cheek on a bed of barley risotto for main course followed by quince and apple galette.  I think that’s what the three dishes were called, but I was too busy salivating over them.

After this we headed for lunch and had delicious buffalo sandwiches courtesy of Puddledub Buffalo. I had steak and Disneyboi had a burger, but we swapped halfway through so got the best of both delicious worlds!

We took back to the exhibits and I spoke with several, including Morag from Mo’s Cookie Dough, who I wrote about last year. She explained what a great year they had had, and that her cookie dough is now available in Whole Foods and other outlets. Morag kindly gave me some of her delicious cookie dough and I will be baking with this next month, but not in a conventional way! 

I also visited Holly’s Cupcakes who specialise in cake decorating supplies and carry an extensive range of products from cupcake cases, edible glitter, baking pans, food extracts and essences, colourings, you name it. They kindly gave me a goody bag of items which I will enjoy using over the next wee while.

I spoke with the lovely people at Ochil Fudge Pantry who had loads of flavours of their delicious fudge on display. We plumped for Iron Brew flavour, Maple Syrup, Chocolate Lime and Rhubarb Crumble. I have started on all of them as you can see!

Sadly, my experience was over far too soon, but I met lots of exhibitors, bought lots of treats and almost got sozzled on the amount of alcohol sampling which I had to undertake.

A great day was had by myself and Disneyboi and I look forward to next year’s event – and all that may happen in between as an official BBC Good Food Show blogger!

Disclosure Statement - I was not paid to write this post. I received some items free for review purposes. Any opinions expressed are my own.

Monday, 21 October 2013

Booberry and Slime Cupcakes

blueberry and lime cupcakes

These cupcakes were born from an idea I had last Halloween, for Booberry and White Shockolate Cookies. I liked the whole playing with words thing and decided to stick with the Booberry (blueberry) but mix it with Slime (lime). These flavours would go well together in a cupcake I thought.

I based the mix on a simple vanilla cupcake recipe from BBC Food and added fresh blueberries and the zest and juice of one lime (plus some green food colouring).The cupcakes were rather delicious on their own, but to give the full garish effect I added some vanilla buttercream, dyed purple, to match the busted berries in the cakes.

I found some googly eyes on picks to add to the cupcakes. I think the group of them together look like a wee gang of aliens (what is the name for a group of aliens?).

Of course, if you just wanted simple blueberry and lime cupcakes, don’t add the food colouring and you have a much less spooky treat!

Yield: 12 cupcakes

Cupcake Ingredients:
110 grams unsalted butter, softened
110 grams caster sugar
2 eggs
110 grams self-raising flour
Zest of 1 lime
Juice of one lime
Green food colouring (optional)
Adapted from BBC Food

Buttercream Ingredients:
100 grams unsalted butter, softened
200 grams icing sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Purple food colouring (optional)

Preheat the oven to 180C and pop 12 cupcake liners in a cupcake tin.

In a mixer, beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs and beat until the mixture has thickened slightly. Add the lime juice and zest and mix through. Fold in the flour, mixing just until combined (add some food colouring to get a ghastly gree colour if you so wish). Lastly add the blueberries and fold them through evenly.

Place into the oven for 12-15 minutes, until they have just turned a little brown on top, or when a toothpick comes out clean from the centre of each cake. Remove from the oven and allow them to cool fully on a wire rack.

When cooled, peel off the cupcake liners. Make the buttercream by beating together the butter, sugar and vanilla. Add some purple food colouring if you wish.

Pipe the frosting on top of the cakes and you have booberry and slime cupcakes.

The lime and blueberry really work well together and the vanilla buttercream is a nice compliment to the zingy lime. Enjoy!

I'm also entering these into our very own baking challenge 'Treat Petite' hosted (this month) by me, and Kat over at The Baking Explorer. This month's theme is Halloween.

I'm also entering the cupcakes into 'Calendar Cakes', hosted by Laura at Laura Loves Cakes and this month Rachel at Dollybakes, whose theme is 'Wicked'. I think 'Boo'berry and 'S'lime sound pretty wicked don't you?!