Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Zeppelin on Xylophones!

When I saw this I knew I had to share it with you.  Remember these kids are only 7-14 years old!   I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

Rock On!  

Monday, 23 February 2015

Vanilla Cake with Cooked Cream Cheese Frosting

I've been doing some research on cake recipes that don't use butter.  I mean, what if one day you find you need emergency cake and don't have enough butter?  We must have a contingency plan, or in this case, contingency cake.

Fear not, I've got a special Vanilla Cake recipe for just such an emergency. 

VANILLA CAKE made with canola oil

1 1/4 cups plain flour
1 cup (caster) sugar
1 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
pinch of salt
two eggs - room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup plus 2 Tablespoons canola oil (sunflower or corn oil will work, too)

Heat the oven to 350F/180C.  Grease and flour a 9 inch round cake pan. Place a circle of baking paper in the bottom of the tin so the cake comes out easily.

Place the sugar and oil in a large mixing bowl and beat until they are well combined.  Add the eggs and beat until the mixture is light and fluffy.  Beat in the salt, baking powder, and vanilla.  Mix in the milk and gradually add the flour mixing until all the ingredients are combined.  Pour into the prepared cake pan and bake for 30-40 minutes or until the cake is a light golden colour and well risen.   Remove the cake from the tin, take off the baking paper circle, and place the cake on a wire rack to cool COMPLETELY before frosting.

So, if you don't have enough butter to make the cake, you probably are running low on icing sugar, too.   We can cope with that.  Here is a delicious frosting recipe that doesn't use icing sugar at all!  


2 Tablespoons plain flour
1/2 cup milk 
1/2 cup (caster or granulated) sugar
4 ounces cream cheese*
4 ounces butter or margarine - slightly softened*
1 teaspoon vanilla essence

Place the flour and sugar in a small saucepan and stir well to combine. Gradually add the milk, stirring constantly to make sure there are no lumps of flour.  Place the saucepan over a low heat and bring up to the boil.  Stir this mixture continuously until it is cooked and very thick.  Remove from the heat, pour into a bowl and refrigerate for about an hour.

When the flour mixture is completely cooled, place it in a mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer for a minute or two.  Gradually add the cream cheese and soft butter a spoonful at a time.  Add the vanilla essence and beat until the frosting is light and fluffy.  

Chill the frosting while you prepare the cake.  I sliced my cake in half to make two layers because I was taking the cake to my Mum-n-Law's house for afternoon tea.  A filled cake is much easier to transport so I used the frosting to make a 'cake sandwich' and didn't frost the top of the cake.  

I like to store all cakes made with cream cheese frosting in the refrigerator. Be sure to place your cake in an airtight container to keep it moist and fresh.  I even wrap mine in plastic wrap before putting it in a plastic cake box. 

*If you prefer, you can omit the butter in the frosting recipe and use 8 ounces of cream cheese. 

Fat-Free Creamy Soup

As you know, I don't do 'DIET' but sometimes, after a particularly naughty weekend, I find I don't want anymore rich food.  This is a quick soup I made for my lunch today that doesn't contain any fat, cream, or butter but it still has a rich creamy texture.  

The magic ingredient is potato.... here's how I make it:

Peel and cut into smallish pieces:

2 carrots
1 large potato
1 onion

Place the vegetables into a sauce pan with 1 good quality stock cube and enough water to cover the vegetables.  

Add any herbs you like.  I used...

1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
Pinch of dried thyme

Cover the pan and cook over a low heat until the vegetables are very tender.  If you like to add a little heat to your soup, add 1 teaspoon HOME MADE CHILI SEASONING

Remove the saucepan from the heat and puree the vegetables and stock together until smooth and creamy.  I use a stick blender for this but you can always use a food processor.  Return the soup to the heat and bring it back up to a simmer before serving.  That's it, creamy, fat free and not naughty at all!

Saturday, 21 February 2015

Volcano Cake

They always say never drive drunk.  My new motto is 'Never bake when distracted'.   I have no idea what I was thinking about when I made this cake.  I did everything wrong!

I put the flour in the batter at the wrong time.  I used the wrong size pan.  I am not sure if I pre-heated the oven so it had to be baked for ages. And this is what happened.

I baked a volcano!  I feel very lucky it turned into a cake at all.

I've done some serious trimming, made some decadent frosting, and crossed my fingers hoping that it will all be fine in the end.  I'll keep you posted.

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Pancake Day - Part 2

I know a lot of my readers prefer to weigh ingredients rather than use American cup measurements so here is the recipe for Fluffy Pancakes in grams and litres.


200 grams plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 Tablespoons caster sugar
1 Tablespoon light brown sugar
pinch salt
1 egg
200 ml milk
30 grams melted butter 

I've got an idea...
CLICK HERE to see the original recipe from Baking Bar.

Have a delicious Pancake Day!  

Pancake Day!

Today is Shrove Tuesday,  Mardi Gras, or as most of us say, Pancake Day!   It was always a big day when I was a kid growing up in a tiny town in the middle of America. The local Lions Club usually had a big Pancake Day Dinner to raise money for charity and everyone would show up.  It was one of the biggest social events of the year. 

As I said, it was a VERY small town and a long time ago.  Now, living in Britain, I find that Pancake Day is still a big deal.  Most people continue to honour the tradition of making pancakes. Instead of the the fat, fluffy version we have in the States, crepes seem to be the pancake of choice.  There are lots of topping options but most people simply squeeze over a few drops of lemon juice and sprinkle them with sugar before eating them.  

Americans may think flapjacks (not even the same thing in the UK) are our invention but I am sure we nicked the idea from the Scottish immigrants. There are loads of old recipes for drop scones and Scotch Pancakes that look exactly like our maple syrup soaked griddle cakes.  

That's the great thing about food, it is a historical link to our homelands and ancient traditions which we share with people all over the world...without even knowing it.   The American Diner is the new big thing here in Britain.  They are popping up like mushrooms all over the place.  I must say I am tempted to visit one and order a 'Short Stack' just to see what they bring out. 


Short Stack = Two Pancakes
Stack of Cakes = Three Pancakes

Monday, 9 February 2015

The Accountant's Helper

Some tasks require complete concentration and attention to detail, preparing tax returns for example.  It takes every little grey cell I have just to read and make sense of the manuals.   I was doing just that this morning ...well trying to do that this morning, when there was an almighty kerfuffle under my chair!

Some one was going mad under there... kicking, wriggling, and squirming.  How are you suppose to work with all this carrying on?

No, this photo isn't the wrong way around, this is the Dust Bunny going bonkers! When I put my hand down to stop him, he attacked the nicest possible way, of course. 

When I scolded him, he hid his face... well he thought he was hidden.  

Finally, after about five minutes of madness, he just collapsed... all wriggled out.  He slept the rest of the day and I continued with the accounting.  I think I need a different assistant!