Tuesday, 16 August 2011


The Great Brisitsh Bake Off has to have been one of the most exhausting and emotional experiences of my life.  Seven years ago I gave birth to my second son, moved house 250 miles and had Christmas all within 2 weeks, it was a walk in the park compared to 'The Bake Off'.

That said, I would not change a thing, actually, I might alter a few recipes, lose some weight and maybe try not to cry so much, but apart from that, Oh yes perhaps sleep more and stress less.  I wouldn’t change a thing.

The whole experience has definitely made me a better baker and given me the confidence to have a go at anything but better still, create my own recipes.  I used to say I could cook because I could follow a recipe but I didn’t have the expertise to devise my own, I can’t stop myself now and I LOVE IT.

When you watch the programme I really hope it comes across how much fun we all had and how well we all got along, I’ve made some great friends from my fellow bakers, we all clicked from day one, infact on the first day of filming someone asked us if we’d all been away together on a team building exercise when in fact we all met in the pub the night before. 

We are all from different walks of life but like minded when it comes to baking.  It was so weird for me to be talking to a 19 years old student about puff pastry and meringue with the same enthusiasm

Week one began with our signature cup cakes. We had 2 hours to produce 24 cup cakes using two different flavours.  I love cardamom and was determinded to get it in somewhere so my first was a Shrikhand Cup Cake.  Shrikhand is an Indian dessert made from strained yoghurt and flavoured with cardamom.  My version used cream cheese and fresh tropical fruit which makes it light and refreshing.

My second was a lemon meringue cupcake.  On the show I pushed the boat out and made lemon curd from scratch, something I’d never done before.  You could of course use a jar from the supermarket instead, sometimes being a good cook is just a matter of knowing when to cheat.

50g Sunflower Margarine
2 tblsp Lemon Curd
1 Egg
125ml Milk
175g Plain Flour
1 1/2tsp Baking Powder
70g Sugar
Zest of 2 Unwaxed Lemons  
2 Egg Whites
300g Sugar
4 tblsp Water
75g Sugar
Juice of 2 Lemons
Zest & Juice of 4 un-waxed Lemons
200g Sugar
100g Butter
 3 Eggs
 1 Egg Yolk

If you’re making the lemon curd, start with that to allow it time to cool. Put the zest, juice, sugar and cubed butter in a double boiler and whisk till the butter melts.
In a jug mix the eggs with a fork then stir them into the lemon.  Allow to cook for about 10 minutes stirring till thick and heavy, remove it from double boiler and leave to cool.

Make the cakes.  Melt the butter in a pan and allow to cool

Combine the flour, baking powder, sugar and lemon zest in a bowl. In a jug measure the milk and add the eggs, butter and lemon curd.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix well. You can use an electric mixer for this.  Divide between 12 cupcake cases and cook for 20-25 mins at 160C.  Once cakes are cooked increase oven to 200C.

Make a lemon syrup by heating the lemon juice and sugar together till just beginning to boil.

When the cakes are cooked, pierce each one with a toothpick a few times and pour over a dessert spoon of lemon syrup.  Top each with a tsp of lemon curd.

Make the meringue topping.  I’ve used a method similar to Italian meringue which uses sugar syrup but with this you put all the ingredients into a heat proof bowl and whisk over boiling water with electric hand whisk for 8 minutes till thick.
Pipe the meringue onto each cake and return to the hot oven till browned. This can take just a minute so keep an eye on them.

The Show Stopper Challenge.

We were asked to create a tiered celebration cake in 4 ½ hours.  It was to be an impressive and elaborate creation that showed our talent and skill as a baker and cake decorator.

Making fiddly fussy pretty little things is really not me so I decided to go with something that 15 years in child care has taught me - cutting and sticking.

To practice making this for the show I made one for a Royal Wedding street party.  I was scared that the original colours might be too bold for Mary and Paul so went for pastels on the day.

Another cheat tip – buy the roll out icing, it’s really not necessary to make it unless you have a camera crew lurking over your shoulder.  This recipe makes 1x4", 1x6" and 2x8" cakes

375ml Sunflower Oil
210g Sugar
375g Plain Flour
150g Coconut
3 tsp Mixed Spice
3 tsp Baking Powder
1 1/2 tsp Bicarb
75g Pecans Chopped
6 eggs
3 tsp Vanilla Paste
375g Carrots grated
1 1/2 x 432g Tins Crushed Pineapple drained

600g Icing Sugar
100g Sunflower Margarine
250g Cream Cheese

4 Ibs Icing Sugar
4 Egg Whites
200g Liquid Glucose
Colour Pastes
Coloured Balls to decorate
Corn Flour for rolling out

Heat Oven to 160c.

Drain the pineapple in a sieve and discard the juice or drink it with lots of ice (and some Malibu!)

In a large bowl, mix together the sugar, flour, coconut, mixed spice, baking powder, bicarb and pecans.
In a jug whisk together the oil, eggs and vanilla paste,
Pour the wet into the dry ingredients and mix well.

Add the grated carrot, pineapple and lime zest and give it a thorough mix till everything is combined.

Divide between lined tins and bake till cooked through.  Times will depend on the sizes of cake tins you use.  On average a 10” tin will take about 30-40 minutes.

Next make the frosting.  In an electric mixer combine the margarine with the sugar then add the cream cheese and vanilla and mix.  Keep in fridge till ready to use.

If you’re making the icing, combine the icing sugar with egg white and liquid glucose in an electric mixer.  Once it comes together remove it to a surface dusted with corn flour and knead by hand to finish. You can keep this in the fridge to firm up a little till you’re ready to use.

Once the cakes are cooled use the frosting to sandwich them together and to stick the icing to them.  I used cutters to make fondant flowers to finish mine but you could just use the frosting, how you decorate it is up to you. 


  1. Fab photos, enjoyed watching GBBO. Your little tarts were a triumph!

  2. I so loved the look of your cupcakes that I've been hunting. Thanks for sharing the recipe. Can't wait to try it

  3. You're welcome, let me know how you get on.

  4. I love love the idea of Shrikhand cupcakes...these look so good..must try them this weekend..thanks!

  5. You're very welcome Kartika, have fun x

  6. love the idea of shrikhand cupcakes!!will try soon!

  7. I love the idea of cardamom-flavoured cupcakes, but I can't see the recipe anywhere?

  8. I wanted to keep something back for me :-) Email me and I'll let you have it