Easter Nest Cake

Baking

Here is the perfect recipe to try this weekend… 

It’s our family’s Easter tradition – we have it every year since we were little! 

Have a go and don’t forget to tag me on your bakes on instagram – @mariablackstone


Ingredients 

6 oz stork margarine (could use proper butter) 

6 oz caster sugar

6 oz self raising flour

3 eggs

1 Tsp vanilla 

2-3 tbsp cocoa

1/2 bar Belgian milk choc

1/4 pint double cream 

4 flakes

Bag mini eggs 

Method

1. Preheat oven to 180*c / 160* fan. Grease and line your tin, I used a ring mould but a deep round 8 inch tin would work well. 
2. Cream the margarine and sugar together until pale and fluffy.

3. Add your eggs one at a time, beating thoroughly in between each one. If it curdles, add a spoonful of your flour.

4. Add your vanilla, then fold in your flour until just combined.

4. Spoon half your mixture into the tin in blobs around the base of your tin.

5. Add a couple of tablespoons of cocoa to the rest of the vanilla mix along with a drop of water (about a tablespoon) and mix together until smooth. It should be a nice chocolatey colour.

6. Add this mixture in blobs in between your vanilla mixture in the tin.

7. Using a skewer or knife, swirl the two mixtures together to create a marbled effect.

8. Bake for 20-25 minutes (dependent on which tin you use, it is cooked when springy to touch and a skewer comes out clean when inserted into the centre. 

9. Leave to cool, meanwhile make your glaze.

10. Melt the milk chocolate and cream in a heatproof bowl, either in a bowl over a pan of barely simmering water (ensure the bowl does not touch the water) or in short bursts in the microwave. 

11. Once fully melted, leave to cool slightly so the mixture thickens up to a nice pouring consistency – it should be thick enough to coat the cake.

12. Place the cooled cake on a cooling rack with a tray underneath and pour over your glaze. 

13. Once covered, chop up your flakes and top the cake to create a nest effect. 

14. Top with mini eggs, and enjoy!


A girl with an appetite for all things creative, 

Maria x

Mini Egg Blondies

Baking, Photography

Hi Everyone, 

Here is an easy and naughty treat to enjoy over the Easter holidays! Perfect to use up  any left over mini eggs – but if I’m honest, it’s more of an excuse to go and buy more mini eggs! 

I was really pleased with how the photos turned out for these. I baked them yesterday evening, by which time all the natural light had gone (I think I was being ambitious, thinking I could make, bake and photograph them in the natural light after I got home from work at 6.30pm!) 

I decided to experiment with flash, I set up the background, put the finished bake in place, though a little warm (I was eager to get to bed) and got the work. I haven’t really shot any food with flash before, apart from my studio arrangements at university. I will definitely continue to practice with this technique as it means I can photograph and cook more for my blog in the evenings. 

My photography work can also be viewed here.

Beautiful background by Woodrow Studios

Ingredients

225g butter

200g white chocolate

175g plain flour

50g golden caster sugar

150g soft brown sugar

3 large eggs

1tsp vanilla extract

2 x 90g bags mini eggs

For decoration (optional)

3 cubes white chocolate

Handful of crushed mini eggs
Method

  1. Line a square tin (approx. 21cm square) and preheat the oven to 180*c / 160 fan.
  2. Chop the butter and chocolate into cubes and melt together in a bowl placed over lightly simmering water. The mixture may split once melted but don’t worry, this will all be combined together into one delicious mixture. Once melted, remove from the heat and leave to cool slightly. 
  3. In a seperate bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar and vanilla until pale and fluffy, you’ll want it to leave a trail on the surface when you lift the whisk. This should take a few minutes. You will probably want to use an electric whisk or mixer for this other wise you’ll be there all night. 
  4. Pour your chocolate and butter into the egg mixture and gently combine together using a spatula. 
  5. Add your flour and fold in until well combined. 
  6. Add your mini eggs and stir.
  7. Pour into your lined tin and bake for about 30-40 minutes depending on the size of your tin. It’s cooked when you can insert a skewer and sticky cake crumbs are left but no raw cake mixture. 
  8. Leave to cool, then drizzle with some extra melted white chocolate and top with crushed mini eggs.
  9. If you can resist, leave in the fridge or somewhere cool overnight to achieve a delicious fudgy texture. In the mean time you can polish off the remaining mini eggs. (Yes, I purposely bought a family sized bag just for the decoration, don’t judge) 
  10. Enjoy! 

Don’t forget to follow my instagram to keep up to date with my foodie adventures. 

A girl with an appetite for all things creative,

Maria x

Banana, cashew butter & dark chocolate tray bake

Baking, Recipes, Uncategorized

Long time, no posting!

I’ve decided that this year I am going to start trying to be kinder to myself.

Yes, I want to loose weight and look great (I am off to Sri Lanka in 4 weeks and still don’t have my bikini body) but as young women there is so much pressure to be a certain way, and I simply get miserable when I realise I don’t fit the bill.

I read an article by Angelica Malin on About Time Magazine. Check it out here – she mentions that we all need a re-tox. A fabulous idea, which got me thinking. Instead of being so hard on myself I will change my outlook on life. I will do more exercise because I enjoy it, and not beat myself up when I’m too tired to go because of my fatigue. I will not eat all the biscuits at work because they are there and I’m bored. However, I will have a few cubes of chocolate in the evening because I really need something to satisfy me. Life is about balance, and if I eat healthy food that I really enjoy, go swimming and to the gym, because this lifts my mood and makes me feel fabulous, I can still eat a slice of cake or a dessert at the weekend because I really want it.

We all need to be kinder to ourselves. We all have busy lives, life is too short to spend hours in the gym, and deprive yourself of that bit of cake that you REALLY want but shouldn’t eat because your Instagram feed is full of pictures of girls that have better bodies than you.

Saying no to something simply makes us feel guilty when we do have it, and we only want it all the more because someone tells us we shouldn’t. So have that bit of cake, chocolate bar, or that biscuit that you want to dip into your mid-morning cup of tea. Just don’t go crazy. Life is all about balance!

Anyway…

I wanted to take a picture of something today, and thought about making a banana traybake with some black bananas that have been floating around the fridge for a bit too long. This is made with out sugar or butter/fat so a little bit better for us but still delicious. It has a texture between a traybake and blondie. I had a piece tonight with some warm custard. Really quick and easy to whip up, and great to pack into your lunchbox for an afternoon sweet-treat.

 

Ingredients

  • 2 ripe bananas – mashed (the blacker the better)
  • 60g sweetener – I used Sukrin Gold, as this is similar to brown sugar. You could substitute this for light brown sugar, or an alternative sweetner.
  • 120g full fat Total Greek yoghurt
  • 1 large egg
  • 5 tablespoons milk
  • 115g cashew butter – you could also use peanut butter
  • 220g self raising flour
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt
  • 100g dark chocolate – chopped into chunks
  • 25g chopped, toasted hazelnuts

To decorate – 3-4 cubes dark chocolate, melted

Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 180*c/160*c fan and line a tin with non-stick parchment paper.
  2. In a bowl mix together the banana, sweetener, yoghurt, egg, and milk until well combined.
  3. Add the cashew butter and vanilla extract and mix again.
  4. Fold in the flour, salt and cinnamon.
  5. Mix in the dark chocolate chunks.
  6. Pour the batter into your lined tin, smooth out and push all the way to the corners.
  7. Sprinkle the top with the toasted, chopped hazelnuts
  8. Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes or until it’s springy to touch and a skewer comes out clean.
  9. Remove from the oven and leave to cool. Once cool, use a fork to drizzle the top with the melted dark chocolate.

banana-tray-bake-1-web-copy

 

Enjoy it,

A girl with an appetite for all things creative,

Maria x

Christmas Gingerbread Fridge Cake

Baking, Recipes, Uncategorized

Here’s a super quick recipe for you to try over the festive period. Perfect to use up chocolate from the selection boxes and biscuits left over from the biscuit tins. It’s ridiculously indulgent, but it is Christmas after all, and Christmas is all about excess!

Ingredients

200g milk or dark chocolate (or a mixture), chopped

150g butter, cubed

100g shortbread fingers

100g gingernut biscuits

100g dried cranberries

25 g pistachios

1tbsp golden syrup

1/2 tsp orange extract

For the topping

100g milk chocolate, melted

1 pack of mini gingerbread men (aprox. 25)

Method

  1. In a bowl, over a pan of simmering water, melt together the butter, chocolate, golden syrup & orange extract.
  2. Crush your biscuits roughly with a rolling pin or food processor. I like the biscuit to be quite chunky. Roughly chop the cranberries & pistachios.
  3. Mix the biscuits, cranberries and pistachios into the melted chocolate mixture.
  4. Pour into a square tin lined with greaseproof paper, and press down so the mixture is even and pushed into the corners.
  5. Leave to set in the fridge, then pour the melted milk chocolate overn the top. Top with your mini gingerbread men.
  6. Leave to set in the fridge again, then slice into squares.
  7. Enjoy!

gingerbread-tiffin-1-web

A girl with an appetite for all things creative,

Maria x

Happy Birthday Doris

Baking, Photography, Uncategorized

A cake I made for a friend’s grandmas 99th birthday. Happy Birthday Doris.

Vanilla sponge filled with butter cream & summer berry jam. Topped with fresh berries, macarons & fresh flowers.

If you’d like me to make you a cake, please get in touch.

DSC_2574

A girl with an appetite for all things creative,

Maria x

Dippy Egg Cakes

Baking, Food, Photography, Recipes

Easter may have come and gone but this recipe is perfect to use up those mini eggs and indulge just once more before we get back to working on our summer bodies! Easter is usually all about chocolate, and don’t get me wrong I LOVE chocolate, but the Creme Egg brownies have been done so I wanted to go down a different route. Easter is also about spring, yellow is the colour that comes to mind for me – daffodils, tulips and Easter chicks!

These cupcakes are inspired by the humble dippy egg, seeing as Easter is all about eggs! They have a surprise centre. A delicious, tangy lemon and passion fruit curd, that ooze like a dippy egg when cut, or bitten in to. There are a few parts to the recipe, but these can be made the day before, and assembled the next day. After all holidays are about being relaxed and fun, so why not get in your kitchen and have a go.

Makes 12

Ingredients

Sponge

6oz butter/margarine

6oz caster sugar

3 eggs

6oz self raising flour

Tsp lemon extract

Lemon curd 

I only used half for this recipe, but why not serve the rest with some meringues and cream, or spread on toast?

Zest and juice of 2 lemons

65g sugar

90g butter

4 egg yolks

Pinch of salt

4 passion fruits

Frosting

100g White Chocolate

140ml double cream (I used half an elmlea carton)

Method

Lemon Curd

1. Add the zest, juice, butter, sugar and salt in a small saucepan, and heat gently until the butter has melted and the sugar has dissolved.

2. Meanwhile whisk the egg yolks in a bowl, once the mixture in the pan has melted I added this to the egg yolks and whisked. How about making some Easter chick meringues with the left over egg whites?

3. Add this back to the saucepan and whisk continuously on a low heat until thickened, and bubbles start to appear. Ensure you whisk all the time, otherwise you’ll end up with scrambled egg!

4. Pour this into a heatproof bowl, and cover with cling film, making sure the film touches the curd directly, to stop a skin forming. Once cool enough refrigerate.

5. Once cool, scoop the flesh of four passion fruits and stir into the curd, set this aside in the fridge until ready to use.

Frosting

1. Melt the white chocolate, you can either do this in a bowl over a pan of simmering water, or in a microwave. If using a microwave, ensure you don’t burn the chocolate as it has a high sugar content.

2. Add the cream to the chocolate and using an electric whisk (or a hand whisk and some muscle) whisk the mixture till light and fluffy. It should be thick enough to resemble a light buttercream. Be careful not to over whisk, otherwise the cream will split.

3. Set aside in the fridge until ready to assemble.

Sponges

1. Preheat the oven to 180 or 160 fan and line a 12 hole cupcake pan with 12 cases.

2. I used a kitchen aid, but you can use an electric whisk or do it by hand. Beat the butter and sugar until pale and creamy.

3. Add the eggs one at a time, beating in between to ensure each egg is encorporated to avoid curdling. If it curdles, add some flour and continue. Mix in the lemon extract at this point. I used a Sainsburys taste the difference one.

4. Add the flour, and mix enough to encorporate all the flour, but don’t over mix other wise your cakes will be tough.

5. Spoon the mixture into the cases, and bake for around 20-25 minutes or until light and springy, and a skewer comes out clean.

6. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely.

Assembly

1. Using an apple corer, or a knife cut out a hole in the centre of each cake. The deeper the more lemon curd you can fit in! Yummy!

2. Fill the holes with the curd, you can use a piping bag or a teaspoon. I found the curd was fairly runny, so using a teaspoon was easier than a piping bag.

3. Top the cakes with a spoonful of the frosting, and smooth over with a pallette knife. I aimed for a dome, to look a bit like an egg shape.

4. Top with freeze dried raspberries, and mini eggs. However, you can top with whatever you like. This for me is what baking is about! I like the tang of the dried raspberries, but you could top with a little fresh passion fruit, some flakes of white chocolate or whatever you fancy!

Check my other post for instructions on how to make the Easter chick meringues, 🐥🐣.

I hope you get in the kitchen and have a go at these, it seems complicated, but if you take it in steps its achievable  and you can impress all your friends. Feel free to send me pictures of your bakes!

A girl with an appetite for all things creative,

Maria x

Freshly Baked Bread

Baking, Food, Photography, Uncategorized

Nothing quite beats the smell of freshly baked bread filling the house. My dad is the bread baker in our house (sees himself as a bit of a Paul Hollywood, which is funny as he’s actually called Paul. He has taken over from mum and this loaf he made this weekend was pretty spectacular.

BreadBread 2

I decided to change things up on here, post pictures and maybe even some short films of food & things (especially now I’ve got my new camera). So there won’t always be a recipe but I’m hoping this small change will allow me to post more, be more creative and give you recipes that I’m really proud of, rather than rushing to put something crummy up (excuse the pun). If I don’t like this new way of doing things I’ll change it back!

A girl with a creative appetite,

Maria x