The Black Forest Gateau

Chocolate works with many flavours, but the combination of chocolate and cherry is magical. This combination is at the heart of the ultimate in retro cakes, the Black Forest Gateau.


Whilst the version from the freezers of supermarkets is fine, I think this tops them all with layers of speckled chocolate cake brushed with a cherry glaze and covered with sweetened cream. I found this great sour cherry conserve which has chunks of sour cherry inside. I apply this liberally on the sponge as it is the only source of cherry flavour. Feel free to change this up by making cherry compote or a cherry syrup instead. Kirsch, a cherry liqueur, can also be used.

If you want to put cherries in each layer, I suggest using frozen cherries, which are readily available, and cooking them down with some water, sugar, lemon juice, lemon zest and cherry conserve until it is thick, sticky and the cherries are soft. Drain the syrup away and paint the sponges using this instead.

150g dark chocolate, melted

1 tbsp instant coffee granules

1 tbsp milk

6 eggs

175g granulated sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

180g self-raising flour

250g high quality sour cherry conserve

600ml double cream

75g granulated sugar

100g dark chocolate

Preheat the oven to 190°C. Line the base of 2 20cm deep loose bottomed round tins with baking parchment and set aside.

Melt the chocolate in the microwave on 30 second blasts, stirring after each blast, reducing the time to 20 seconds once it starts to melt. Add the milk and coffee, stir to combine and set aside to cool briefly.

Whisk the 6 eggs with the sugar until it is thick, mousse-like and when you draw a figure of eight with the whisk, it is visible before sinking back slowly. Add the cooled chocolate, the vanilla extract and sift in the self-raising flour, and working quickly, fold through until everything is combined. If the chocolate is not mixing through, using just 1 whisk in the electric whisk, whisk until the sponge is even.

Divide the sponge mix between the 2 tins and bake for 20 minutes until a skewer inserted comes out clean. Allow to cool in the tins for 10 minutes before removing and cooling completely on a wire rack. Once cooled, use a serrated knife to divide the sponges in half, cutting off any peaks so that each top half lays flat.

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Mix 4 tablespoons of the cherry conserve with some boiling water until it is loose. Paint each exposed side of the sponge with the conserve and place one bottom half on your serving plate or cake stand.


Whip the double cream with the sugar until it forms thick but soft peaks. Do not overwhip.

Spread another 3 tablespoons of the conserve on the sponge and then top with some of the whipped cream. Sandwich another layer on top, repeating this layering process, finishing on a top half of sponge and around half of the cream left.


Transfer some of the cream into a piping bag fitted with a large star nozzle. Spread the top with some cream and then spread the rest around the side. Finish by piping 8 large peaks of the cream on the top with one in the centre. Carefully dot some of the conserve on each peak and create a ring of 8 dots between the cream on the top.

Scrape the back of a knife against the bar of chocolate to create chocolate sprinkles and dust over the cake. Keep in the fridge and it is best eaten the day after.


Meringue Kisses

How to make Meringue Kisses

My favourite desserts always contain meringues. I love that the crisp exterior hides a pillowy soft and sweet sticky centre that goes well with some whipped cream and fruit. And these little meringues are perfect for a garden party on a sunny day like today. You can serve them dipped in chocolate, with cream and fruit or crush them up into Eton Mess.

Meringue kisses, as they are affectionately known, are small meringues that are bursting with colour. Gel colouring pastes are used and the inside of the piping bag is painted so that the meringue kisses are striped. Cute as they are, I didn’t have any colours so made a paste with cocoa powder and boiling water and painted it, letting it cool before applying. Eventually it dissolved through the meringue mix and I ended up with chocolate meringues, not a problem however. The process is the exact same if you are using gel colourings.

Chocolate Ripple MeringuesMeringue Kisses

Some of the meringues did collapse, which I think means I overwhipped the mixture. I’ve asked around and you can tell if you overwhip the mixture if the meringue starts to lose its glossiness.

You can make really tiny meringues, baked for the same time, and sandwich them together using melted chocolate as the glue. Once you’ve sandwiched them, they will only keep for about an hour before going soggy.

Meringues Sorted Meringues

And here are how the masters do it on Youtube. Check out some more meringue recipes here:

½ tsp lemon juice

2 egg whites

150g granulated sugar

½ tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp cocoa powder mixed with 1 tbsp boiling water, cooled completely

Preheat the oven to 140°C. Cut out a sheet of baking parchment to fit your baking tray.

Squeeze the lemon juice into a large bowl and use kitchen roll to rub it around the bowl. Use a metal bowl since plastic bowls tend to retain a film of grease that can prevent your meringues from whisking up to full volume.

Add the egg whites and whisk until it forms soft peaks. Then add the sugar gradually and continue to whip until the meringue looks shiny. Test the meringue by lifting out the whisk and the meringue should only just flop over on the whisk. Dab the whisk onto the baking tray and stick down the parchment using the mixture.

Paint 4 vertical lines of the cocoa powder mixture (or gel food colouring paste, if you are using) into a piping bag fitted with a large star nozzle. Carefully transfer the meringue into the piping bag, trying not to distort the stripes. A friend to hold the bag completely open would be useful.

Apply pressure on the bag to form a strong star shape. Avoid pushing down when you are done and do not hold the piping bag too close to the tray. Keep the bag vertical and continue until you have used up the mixture.

Bake for 30 – 40 minutes until you can lift the meringues off the tray without sticking and the outside has crisped up completely. These meringues should not brown at all, the only colour comes from the cocoa powder.

A final reminder about the Food to Love Challenge. This challenge is all about the food you love to eat. The challenge is to make a sweet or savoury dish that contains your most favourite ingredient. Here are the rules:


  • Enter via Twitter and must include #TSCSmartCookie
  • A picture of your dish must be included, stating the ingredient you love
  • You must follow me on Twitter – @CakeBoy626
  • Challenge ends on Friday 10th April at 23:59

Three Course Meal for under £5 and #TSCSmartCookie Results

Inspired by the Twitter chat I hosted on “Food Pricing”, I set up a challenge to create a 3 course meal for under £5 (or US $7.50). The challenge ended this week and I had 3 amazing entries, but before I get to that, I completed this challenge myself and here are the results:

Starter: Baked Vegetable Samosas

Baked Vegetable Samosas

These little savoury parcels are a perfect small bite to tantalise the palate. A spicy vegetable filling is made incredibly simple by using tinned vegetables, shop-bought mild curry powder and spring roll pastry (filo pastry would also work). Baking is a much healthier and safer way to make these samosas and the hardest bit is filling them. You can make these even smaller and they would make great canapés or nibbles.

Makes 12 medium samosas

  • 1 red onion, diced – £0.14
  • 1 x 400g tin of chickpeas, drained – £0.55
  • 1 x 300g tin of sliced carrots, drained and chopped into bitesize pieces – £0.19
  • 1 x 600g tin of sliced new potatoes, drained and diced – £0.60
  • 100g frozen sweetcorn – £0.11
  • 100g frozen peas – £0.10
  • 1 tbsp mild curry powder
  • 6 sheets of spring roll pastry – £0.33
  • Salt and pepper

Total Cost: £2.02, cost for Two: £0.34

Prepare the filling by cooking all the vegetables in a medium frying pan with the curry powder and some water. Season to taste and pour out to cool. When ready to serve, preheat the oven to 200°C. Cut the pastry into 2 rectangles. By imagining the bottom half of the rectangle is a square, fold in half along the diagonal so that the bottom edge of the rectangle meets the left hand edge. Fold the pastry upwards, keeping that same bottom edge on the left. Dampen the top face with water slightly and fold into the samosa shape. Fill well with the cooled filling and bake for 18 minutes, turning halfway through.

Main: Spiced Pork Burger with Red Cabbage Coleslaw and Sweet Potato Fries


Burgers are becoming something much grander than just fast food and from a van. Some restaurants in the heart of cities now celebrate the burger and it’s quickly becoming an artisan product. The bun, the choice of meat, the method of cooking, the accompaniments all make the burger what it is. Pork is rarely used in burgers and because of the price limit, I bumped up the flavour with spice and I finish it in the oven to keep it juicy.

Serves 2

  • 280g pork mince – £1
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into fries – £0.67
  • ¼ red cabbage, shredded finely – £0.13
  • ¼ white cabbage, shredded finely – £0.18
  • ½ carrot, cut into thin strips -£0.04
  • 3 radishes, cut into matchstick slices – £0.20
  • 1 egg yolk – £0.04
  • 100ml olive oil – £0.35
  • 1 tbsp wholegrain mustard – £0.05
  • ½ red onion – £0.07
  • 1 tomato, sliced into 6 rounds – £0.13
  • 2 lettuce leaves – £0.06
  • 2 wholemeal buns – £0.33
  • Salt and pepper

Cost for Two: £3.25

Preheat the oven to 200°C. Drizzle the chopped sweet potato with oil and season well. Bake until softened and browned. For the mustard mayonnaise, whisk the egg yolk with a pinch of salt and the wholegrain mustard. Gradually drizzle in the oil, whisking constantly. When it thickens and has a spreading consistency, toss about two-thirds of it with the prepared vegetables, except the onion, tomato and lettuce. Set aside.


Mix the pork mince with the paprika and form into two equal sized patties. Season one side well and place seasoned-side down into the pan. Season the other side and turn only when the burger moves freely from the base. Once both sides are browned, place the burgers onto a baking tray and bake until the juices run clear. Slice the buns in half and place into the pan the burgers were cooked in to warm up. Spread the base with some of the mayonnaise, top with some lettuce, tomato, onion slices, the burger, the other half of the bun and skewer together. Serve with some of the coleslaw and sweet potato fries.

Dessert: Deconstructed Lemon Meringue Pie


Deconstructed desserts were once the height of fashion in the restaurant world. Take the elements of a classic dessert, cook them individually and amalgamate into a new dessert. The best deconstructions will think about new ways to convey flavour, the presentation and the texture, something which I tried to consider in my facsimile of a lemon meringue pie. I’ll admit that it wasn’t a substantial dessert however it was light and a nice way to end the meal.

Makes 4 servings

  • 150ml whole milk – £0.06
  • 1 egg – £0.08
  • 2 tbsp granulated sugar – £0.02
  • 2 tbsp plain flour – £0.01
  • 50g lemon curd – £0.07
  • 50g plain flour – £0.02
  • 30g margarine – £0.06
  • 20g granulated sugar – £0.02
  • 50g porridge oats – £0.06
  • 1 egg white – £0.04
  • 50g granulated sugar – £0.05

Total Cost: £0.49, cost for Two: £0.24

Start with the pastry cream by warming up the milk. Whisk the egg, sugar and flour together and gradually add the milk, stirring continuously. Return to the heat, whisking until it thickens. Then fold through the lemon curd and place a sheet of clingfilm on the surface and allow to cool. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Rub together the flour, margarine and sugar together until it resembles a crumble topping. Stir through the porridge oats and start to press together on the baking tray. Bake for around 15 minutes until browned. Once cool, break up into smaller chunks and set aside. Over a pan of simmering water, in a heatproof bowl, whisk the egg white with the granulated sugar until the meringue is thick and glossy. Construct your deconstruction however you want.

Total Cost for Two: £3.83


My winner of this challenge was Philippa Alison from Pippa and Food. Whilst Becky from Becksbake and Dee from Jay and Dee both entered superb dishes, with the sweet potato chips making another appearance from Becky and an Egyptian theme running through Dee’s meal, Philippa took a vegan spin on the challenge and that tipped the balance in my favour.

 Becky Main Dee Main

Here is her 3 course meal and the link to the post:

Starter: Butternut and Squash Soup

Main: Tomato and Basil Pasta

Dessert: Stuffed Apples

I loved seeing the creativity of all 3 entries and I would love to see more entries for my ‘Food to Love’ challenge. This challenge is all about the food you love to eat. The challenge is to make a sweet or savoury dish that contains your most favourite ingredient. Here are the rules:

  • Enter via Twitter and must include #TSCSmartCookie
  • A picture of your dish must be included, stating the ingredient you love
  • You must follow me on Twitter – @CakeBoy626
  • Challenge ends on Friday 10th April at 23:59

TSCSmartCookie Challenge Update


Unfortunately I’ve had no time to bake this week and I have no planned posts this week. However I thought I’d use this post to promote the current food challenges running on the blog.

Food Blogger Smart Cookie Challenge:


I’d love to see how smart you can be with your shopping so food bloggers and readers alike, please tag me on Twitter with your results (@CakeBoy626). You can have as long as you want to prepare, any ingredient can be used, any food can be made as long as it comes under £5 (or US $7.50). The rules of the challenge

  • There must be 3 courses, starter, main and dessert
  • It must come under the price range of £5 (US $7.50) per person
  • Herbs, spices and seasonings do not count in the price
  • Entries must include #BloggerSmartCookie
  • You must follow me on Twitter – @CakeBoy626
  • Challenge ends on 27th March 2015

It isn’t a competition however I will be posting the recipes for my favourite 3 course meal on the blog so you can cook along at home!

The School Cook Smart Cookie Challenge 2: Food to Love:


This challenge is all about the food you love to eat. The challenge is to make a sweet or savoury dish that contains your most favourite ingredient. Here are the rules:

  • Enter via Twitter and must include #TSCSmartCookie
  • A picture of your dish must be included, stating the ingredient you love
  • You must follow me on Twitter – @CakeBoy626
  • Challenge ends on Friday 10th April at 23:59

I will be posting my favourite recipe on the blog. Good luck!

Ma Lai Gao

Steamed Malaysian Sponge Cake and ‘Food to Love’ Challenge

It’s Mother’s Day, the day when all children give their mothers, and grandmothers, gifts to say thank you. Whilst it’s all good and well buying a bouquet of flowers or a massive box of chocolates, I think the best gifts are homemade, the ones that mean something to them and show love and care. I chose to make their favourite cake, Steamed Malaysian Sponge Cake.

Ma Lai Gao

I have to admit that this is my favourite cake as well because it is just so simple. There’s no need to serve this cake with anything except a cup of tea and its flavour shines through. It is traditionally served as a dim sum dish, the Chinese equivalent of afternoon tea, and like most dim sum, it is steamed rather than baked. This leads to a wonderfully fluffy texture.

You’d expect a steamed Chinese cake to contain some odd ingredient that you don’t have in the cupboard because many Chinese cakes tend to be whisked sponges and contain either cream of tartar or ammonium bicarbonate, both of which are replacements for baking powder. However there is nothing out of the ordinary here, except from maybe custard powder but this is still readily available. For a darker sponge, brown sugar is used and this also lends a deeper caramel flavour. I keep it easy by using granulated sugar.


The cake is simple and easy enough to be made completely by hand. It uses American cup measures and this is the perfect ratio. I suggest investing in a set of these and they make baking quite a lot easier and it means I do not have to convert American recipes into metric!

320g self-raising flour (2 ½ cups of all purpose flour, 3 tsp baking powder, ¼ tsp salt)

½ tsp salt

2 tbsp custard powder

½ tsp baking powder

100g margarine

300g granulated sugar (1.5 cups)

80ml sunflower oil – any flavourless oil will do

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 tbsp honey

5 eggs

Prepare your tins. You can use baking tins but I like using metal containers. They are quite shallow so it cooks relatively quickly. Grease 2 with oil and line with some parchment.

Into a large bowl, sift together the self-raising flour, salt, the custard powder and baking powder. Set aside.

In another bowl, cream together the margarine, sugar and oil until it has turned a few shades lighter and is fluffy. Mix in the vanilla and honey until incorporated.


Beat in the eggs one by one. The mixture will feel thicker with the addition of each egg. Continue to mix until it forms a smooth paste. If the mixture has curdled and looks lumpy, add 1 tablespoon of the dry ingredients.

Preheat the steamer following either of these methods:

  • I find the best way is to fill a wok with water about 2 inches high and bring to the boil, just make sure it does not touch the steamer. Bamboo steaming baskets, like the ones below, impart a slight flavour during steaming. Best for large cakes
  • If you cannot find these cheaply, find a colander that holds your baking tin well – this means it does not move around too much – and a saucepan that can hold the colander. Place an upturned plate into the saucepan, and fill the pan with water and bring to the boil. Make sure the saucepan has a well fitted lid. Best for individual cakes

Add the dry ingredients all at once and fold into the batter. You may need to add a tablespoon of water to the cake batter as it is very thick.

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Divide between the 2 containers and place each into their own steamer basket. Steam for 20 minutes and the test is the same as baked cakes, if a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean, they are done.


This sponge is best served warm, so heat the sponge in the microwave to have that authentic Chinese dim sum feeling.

The School Cook Smart Cookie Challenge 2: Food to Love


I am launching my 2nd Smart Cookie Challenge today, all about the food we love. The challenge is to make a sweet or savoury dish that contains your most favourite ingredient. Here are the rules:

  • Enter via Twitter and must include #TSCSmartCookie
  • A picture of your dish must be included, stating the ingredient you love
  • You must follow me on Twitter – @CakeBoy626
  • Challenge ends on Friday 10th April at 23:59

I will be posting my favourite recipe on the blog. Good luck!

Peanut Butter Cups

Homemade Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups

Every time I go shopping, I see this glimmer of a bright orange packaging. I go over and I see Reeses’ Peanut Butter cups. A traditionally American treat, peanut butter cups have crossed over the Atlantic to grace our British shelves. Despite their popularity, there are many recipes out there to make them yourselves and are ridiculously full of sugar, so I’ve tried many recipes and found the perfect one (after trying many times, and realising that I hadn’t found the perfect one by last Sunday).

Reeses PBC

The chocolate can be tempered to create a shiny and glossy finish however this is not a necessary step. If you wish to temper the dark chocolate, click here. Do not use cooking chocolate: it just doesn’t work as well in the recipes I’ve tried. Stick to the bars and I suggest not buying luxurious chocolate either as the peanut butter filling is quite powerful.

Peanut Butter Cups

You will require 12 cupcakes cases, and a tin to line them, or use silicone moulds.

Thanks to Design*Sponge for the inspiration for this recipe.

600g dark chocolate, split into 250g and 350g; you may need more however

220g smooth peanut butter

45g icing sugar

100g Digestive biscuits, crushed into a powder

½ tsp table salt

Line a 12-hole cupcake tin with the 12 paper cases and set aside.

Melt the first batch of chocolate either in the microwave or over a pan of simmering water. Remove from the heat and allow to cool briefly. You can temper the chocolate if you prefer.

Take a spoon, or a pastry brush, and generously line the paper cases with the melted chocolate. If the sides are too thin, it will simply crack and peel away with the cases. If the chocolate is tempered, place into a cool room to set, otherwise place into the fridge until the chocolate has set up.

In a separate bowl, mix together the peanut butter, icing sugar, crushed digestive biscuits and the salt until it is even. It will be quite lumpy and thick but this is expected.

Take the chocolate cases out from the fridge. Separate the filling into 12 equal pieces. Using slightly wet hands, manipulate the peanut butter filling into the case such that it is in the centre, but does not touch the edge. It shouldn’t come above the height of the case either. Repeat for all 12 and return to the fridge.

Melt the remaining chocolate in the same way. Spoon the chocolate into each case until it reaches the top of each paper case. Return to the fridge until it is set.

Lift out each of the peanut butter cups from the tin and serve.

Food Blogger Smart Cookie Challenge Update:

Whilst I’ve had a lot of interest from the food blogging community, I’ve had just 2 entries so far, but they’ve both been very good. I hope that I get more over the next few weeks. There are still 19 days to enter, and I have now opened this competition up to anybody interested.

I have copied the rules/brief and placed them here:

I’d love to see how smart you can be with your shopping so food bloggers and readers alike, please tag me on Twitter with your results (@CakeBoy626). You can have as long as you want to prepare, any ingredient can be used, any food can be made as long as it comes under £5 (or US $7.50). The rules of the challenge

  • There must be 3 courses, starter, main and dessert
  • It must come under the price range of £5 (US $7.50) per person
  • Herbs, spices and seasonings do not count in the price
  • Entries must include #BloggerSmartCookie
  • You must follow me on Twitter – @CakeBoy626
  • Challenge ends on 27th March 2015

It isn’t a competition however I will be posting the recipes for my favourite 3 course meal on the blog so you can cook along at home!


How to be a Smart Cookie in the Kitchen with Money

NOTE: For unknown reasons, the embedded tweets are not showing. The content of the tweets can be seen but it doesn’t look as slick as I would have liked.

Recently I was lucky enough to be able to host a Twitter chat for Food Bloggers and I dealt with the topic of ‘Food Pricing’. It was an amazing hour of questioning and answering and a fascinating insight into how other food bloggers think. I chose the topic because I was always going to write this post, and there’s nothing with some extra contributions from like-minded people. I started the conversation with this question:

It was an interesting way to start because I instantly got the feel of the bloggers from their responses. And they responded quickly. Here were some of my favourite responses, alongside some good tips as well.

Then we got into the nitty gritty, and I asked the bloggers this question about their essential food purchases.

Next I started my favourite debate of all, the organic and free-range debate. I am certain that free-range and organic products are better quality, but when you go through as many eggs as we do in my house, it’s just not feasible to spend £1 on a pack of 6 free-range eggs when I can spend £1.35 on 15 eggs. Here’s what the food bloggers thought:

My fourth question of the night put a spin on the topic of ‘food pricing’ as I asked the bloggers what ingredient they would spend the money on and there were some very interesting answers, some of which I would never think of.

My final question proposed the question of cheap secrets to making great food. And we had some amazing answers, and here is a selection of my favourites.

Many people think that cooking food from fresh is expensive. I think we confuse expensive with time-consuming as well. I’ll admit buying ingredients fresh is a lot of money expended each week but I truly believe it is possible to eat well for less. Keeping a few key ingredients in the cupboards and freezers mean that you can cook both cheap and healthy meals. And I’ve got some of my tips for cooking on the cheap as well as some more contributions from our food bloggers.

Frozen fruit and vegetables are better than fresh

So many people are strangely afraid of buying frozen fruit and vegetables. We all buy frozen peas but we never reach out further than a bag of sweetcorn. It’s not as if they are bad quality, in fact tinned and frozen, I believe, are better than fresh. Frozen fruit and vegetables will still keep many of their health benefits because they are frozen soon after they are harvested so they retain all their goodness. They are also much cheaper than buying fresh, so I hope that I’ve persuaded you to buy frozen rather than fresh.

Throw overripe bananas, bread past its best and pork belly into the freezer

It sounds like the world’s weirdest shopping list but these 3 ingredients are my secret to creating quick easy meals.

Instant Banana Ice Cream


Chop and throw 3 frozen bananas into a food processor and blitz together until the bananas are well mixed. Add one tablespoon of milk and a drop of vanilla extract and mix until incorporated. Serve.

Sesame Pork on Toast

Defrost 8 slices of bread in the microwave. They should be still frozen and not soft. In a food processor, mix together 300g lean pork mince, an egg, a clove of garlic, a 2cm piece of ginger grated, 1 whole chilli, spring onion, white pepper, 1 teaspoon of Chinese five spice and salt until it turns into a paste. Spread the pork mixture on the bread in a thin layer, coat in sesame seed and deep-fry in moderately hot oil for 2-3 minutes until the pork is cooked through and the bread toasted.

Instant Pork Belly Slices

A frozen slab of pork belly cuts up into thin slices much easier. Using a sharp knife, cut thin slices from your frozen pork belly and pan-fry or stir-fry as a quick dinner.

Keep tins of pulses in the cupboard

Beans and chickpeas are a great healthy, nutritious and cheap way to bulk out ragouts and any soups on the cheap. Here’s a ridiculously simple recipe for a Bean Chilli con Carne:

1 red onion, chopped into small dice

1 red pepper, chopped into small dice

1 tbsp oil

1 tsp chilli powder

500g lean beef

450g (equal mix) of haricot beans, cannellini beans and chickpeas , drained

1 x 400g tin of chopped tomatoes

200ml chicken stock; make from ½ chicken stock cube with boiling water

1 tbsp tomato puree

1 tbsp cornflour, mixed with 1 tbsp cold water

Fry the onion and pepper in the oil on a low heat for 10 – 15 minutes until they are softened. Turn up the heat and add the chilli powder and cook for a few minutes. Add the mince and cook until the meat has browned. Make sure that there are no large clumps of meat left in the pan.

Add in the beans and chickpeas, chopped tomatoes, chicken stock and tomato puree. Fill the tin of tomatoes halfway full of water and slosh it around to get the rest of the tomatoes and add to the pan. Simmer over a low heat for 15 – 20 minutes. Then mix in the cornflour slurry and stir through.

Continue to simmer until the sauce has a relatively thick consistency, however you can change this for personal preference.

Cooking fresh, healthy and tasty food does not have to be expensive at all. And I want to set a challenge for you.

Food Blogger Smart Cookie Challenge: Can you cook a 3 course meal for 2 for under £5 (or US $7.50)?

I’d love to see how smart you can be with your shopping so food bloggers and readers alike, please tag me on Twitter with your results (@CakeBoy626). You can have as long as you want to prepare, any ingredient can be used, any food can be made as long as it comes under £5 (or US $7.50). The rules of the challenge

  • There must be 3 courses, starter, main and dessert
  • It must come under the price range of £5 (US $7.50) per person
  • Herbs, spices and seasonings do not count in the price
  • Entries must include #BloggerSmartCookie
  • You must follow me on Twitter – @CakeBoy626
  • Challenge ends on 27th March 2015

It isn’t a competition however I will be posting the recipes for my favourite 3 course meal on the blog so you can cook along at home! Please share this competition around the food blogger network.


Fat Shaming is Not Good. Neither is Juicing. Stop Juicing and Lose Weight Like Me!

It seems that in a society where equality is moving forward, we are going backwards on how we express our opinions. I am constantly seeing tweets and articles about how a celebrity has gained weight and how ugly they look. It’s time this stopped now.

I am all for free speech but there comes a time when saying what you really think about someone’s appearance needs to be tamed. The fact of the matter is saying that I’m fat is really not nice. Besides don’t you think we already know that we are slightly heavier than yourselves?

Think about the word ‘fat’. Yes it’s an adjective but it’s a noun. Calling me ‘fat’ is almost the same as you calling me by my actual name. That’s how primary (and secondary) school nicknames come about. And I’m almost a fully-fledged adult. So I’d think by now I’d outgrown the ‘fat’ boy. Turns out I haven’t. I still get referred to as the ‘fat boy’ and it’s horrible. It completely undermines any form of achievement in my life, whether that be this blog right here or my GCSE examination results. Because I’ll only be that ‘fat boy’.

There’s that common saying in the UK: “Fat people are jolly”. Have you ever thought why we are ‘jolly’ and why ‘jolly’ appears to be a connotation of fat people?

  • Maybe it’s because we are actually happy with ourselves and do not feel the need to look down on others.
  • Maybe it’s because we are eating the food that we like to eat and not forcing ourselves to blend another chia seed and add another scoopful of whey powder to try and make ourselves feel healthier. (Newsflash: eating more fruit might be worse for you because of all those natural sugars. )
  • Maybe it’s because we’ve found a way to hide our emotions behind our fat, so you only see the person I want to show off.
  • Maybe it’s because ‘jolly’ rhymes with ‘ice lolly’ and we’ve all eaten a couple too many of them…

And anyways, why do we feel the need to identify people by their appearance?

“Who are you talking about?”

“Oh that fat guy with the small eyes and glasses”

How about learning my name and sparking a conversation with me instead of whispering behind my back whilst eating your lone lettuce leaf, which you proudly proclaim is the only thing you’ve eaten in a whole 24 hours? Who knows maybe we have something in common?

You’re probably looking for a solution to this problem and really using the term ‘overweight’ is even worse. The words ‘overweight’ and ‘underweight’ put people on a spectrum, the spectrum that defines people as ‘normal’ as if by some miracle they’ve been given a number that lies between 18.5 to 24.9; I am of course referring to the BMI scale. Let me just say this:


And I don’t want to be normal. I want to be myself and be happy with the person I am. It’s a sad day when you cannot live your own life. We’re a nation of large people, there’s no fact denying that. Maybe that’s because




We shouldn’t be torturing ourselves with another smoothie. And on that note, if I see another advert trying to me a Nutribullet, I will throw this blog post in their face. We should just try to enjoy food and not come up with a devilish combination of spinach and blueberries. Take the factor of juicing out. No one would ever make a Spinach and Blueberry Cannelloni, so why do we torture ourselves by drinking them together? It’s almost like we’re a nation of children, incapable of eating fruit and vegetables so once again we have to disguise it in amongst a ton of sugar. Nothing has changed. It’s another fad diet that I am not going to follow.

Blueberries Spinach

Losing weight was once so simple:

  • Reduce the number of calories in and increase the number of calories out.
  • Eat less, move more

I weighed 14 stone (196lbs) in September 2014.

I weigh 12st 13lbs (181lbs) in February 2015.

So what changed in those 5 months?

I attended 1 Zumba class a week – 800 calories burned in an hour


I’ve been going to Zumba for almost 3 years. And it is one of the best motivations to lose weight. Classes are tonnes of fun, you make friends because you share a lot in common and because you share so much in common, you fit in right away. When I knew the moves after about 5 months by heart, I could start pushing myself further trying to reach that 800 calorie burn. And the amount I sweat, I think I surpass that. And it’s not a female thing either. A man came up with it.

I made clever switches in my diet

Simple changes are a great starting point to any weight loss. Try these:

  • Low fat cream cheese instead of full-fat
  • Semi-skimmed milk instead of whole milk
  • One extra piece of fruit a week
  • Bulking out dishes with tinned vegetables
  • Drinking more water

Large to Medium

My old clothes are quite loose and free-flowing. I had to buy an almost completely new wardrobe for myself. Buying new, smaller clothes makes you feel accomplished.

Nothing changed

This sounds contradictory but it is true. I didn’t stop baking. I didn’t stop eating. I made more cake than I had before, see from the amount I’ve posted recently. I just made a conscious effort to watch what went in my body and I expended that energy.


No juicing. No Atkins. No 5:2. No gluten-free. No paleo. No cabbage soup. No chia seeds. No quinoa. No veganism.


Just hard work.

I’d like to thank all those people who called me a ‘fat boy’.

Because today I am a healthier, more athletic and skinnier man.

And I still like cake. In fact I’m sitting here smug having a slice of cake with my cup of tea, only ½ teaspoon of sugar.

Inside of Couronne

Tea-soaked Raisin Couronne with Orange Icing

Valentine’s Day may have passed for another year but that doesn’t mean you can’t still show your love. And I love making bread so I thought I’d devise an original recipe for a couronne.

A couronne, meaning crown, is a showstopping sweet loaf and I’ve filled mine with tea-soaked dried fruit and topped it with flaked almonds and an orange icing. Now this loaf does require a bit of preparation the night before but it is ridiculously simple.

The soaked fruit becomes plump and bouncy jewels once they’ve soaked overnight but I didn’t throw away the tea either; it was the liquid that I used for the bread. The tea takes on a lot of flavour from the dried fruit and becomes slightly sweet and sticky. However you do have to drain as much of the liquid away from the fruit as possible otherwise it makes twisting the bread into the couronne shape very messy and difficult.

I like kneading the dough by hand but this can be done in a stand mixer with a dough hook.

This petite showstopping loaf cuts into 12 and goes great with a slab of butter alongside a cup of tea.

Inside of Couronne

I entered this loaf in Sunday Bake Club’s Love Yourself Week and you can find their amazing blog by clicking here.

Tea-soaked Fruit

1 English breakfast teabag

2 tsp granulated sugar

400ml boiling water

200g mixed dried fruit – raisins, mixed peel, sultanas, dried cranberries, whatever you want to use

A pinch of ground ginger

Couronne Dough

300g plain flour

1 x 7g sachet of fast-action dried yeast

½ tsp salt

½ tsp ground cinnamon


25g flaked almonds

75g icing sugar

Freshly squeezed juice of ½ an orange

Start your preparation for this loaf the night before. Place the teabag, sugar and boiling water into a large heatproof bowl. Give it a stir to dissolve the sugar and carefully add the mixed dried fruit, without splashing yourself. Stir again, add the ground ginger and cover with clingfilm and place into the fridge to macerate overnight.

Drain the tea and the dried fruit, reserving the liquid. Into a large bowl, add the flour. Place the salt and yeast on opposite sides of the bowl. Add the cinnamon. Mix the flour until everything is well incorporated. Make a well in the centre.

Yeast and Salt

Add around half of the tea liquid to the bowl and begin to bring the dough together into a ball. If the dough is dry, add more of the liquid, slightly slower this time. Continue to mix until the dough comes together. It should be sticky but not wet. Turn out the dough onto a well floured work surface and knead the dough for around 10 minutes by hand or for 5 minutes in a mixer. Avoid adding too much flour. It should be smooth on the outside and when a lightly floured finger presses the dough, it should spring back.

Place into a bowl, cover with a tea towel or clingfilm and allow to prove for around 1 hour or until doubled in size.

Proving Dough

Once proved turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 1 minute. Roll out the dough using a lightly floured rolling pin into a large rectangle. Tack down the closest edge of the dough onto the surface as shown below.

Tacked Dough

Scatter the plump dried fruit onto the dough, leaving an inch gap at the tacked end. At the untacked end, fold over the dough tightly and then tightly roll up the dough. Think like a Swiss roll. Using a dough scraper, cut off the ends to neaten up. Give the dough a light roll and press to even it out.

Take a knife and cut down the centre lengthways completely. Separate the two lengths of dough slightly and then grab hold of the lengths and twist them together. After a few twists, join the two ends together. Flatten them slightly and then knot them together and place the couronne onto a baking tray lined with parchment.

Scatter over a few flaked almonds, making sure they are not pointing upwards. Place the tray into the oven and turn it on to 200°C. As the oven heats up, the bread will prove and then will bake immediately after. In the bottom of the oven, place a roasting tray filled with water. This will turn to steam, creating a softer crust. The couronne will stay in the oven for around 30 minutes, but keep your eye on it from 20 minutes. Check the couronne is done by the colour – it should be a deep golden brown – and the bottom, when tapped, will sound hollow.

Whilst it is baking, make the icing by adding the orange juice to the icing sugar until it is a thick, spreadable consistency.

Once the couronne has baked, transfer to a cooling rack and paint the orange icing onto the couronne liberally. Allow the couronne to cool and the icing to set before slicing.

Tea-soaked Raisin Couronne with Orange Icing

Cooling White Chocolate Mendiants

White Chocolate Mendiants

I’m continuing my exploration into making confectionery this week by giving you my recipe for the simplest little sweet treat you could imagine, and what’s even better they took me a matter of 10 minutes to make in total. These are my White Chocolate Mendiants.

  White Chocolate Mendiants

The great thing about mendiants is that you can put anything on the chocolate and there are endless possibilities. A contrast in texture is always best, so something soft or chewy works well with something crunchy or brittle. Here are some possible combinations you can use, however feel free to mix it up:

  • Sultanas, salted peanuts, dried cranberries
  • Fresh blueberries, dried apricots, chopped hazelnuts
  • Roasted cashews, raisins, mixed peel
  • Desiccated coconut, dried pineapple, pistachios
  • Glace cherries, almonds, crushed digestive biscuits
  • Crystallised ginger, walnuts, golden sultanas

When pairing ingredients together, not only should you think about contrasting textures, but the flavour combination and whether it matches your chocolate. Remember that white chocolate is a lot sweeter than a dark chocolate and that dark chocolate can take relatively strong flavours. Colours are important in making these mendiants look amazing; pair brighter colours with white chocolate and darker tones with dark chocolate.


The recipe is easily scaled up to make more than 10.

100g white chocolate

20g raisins

15g mixed peel

15g flaked almonds

15g roasted cashew nuts

Break up the white chocolate into squares and place into a microwaveable bowl. Melt the white chocolate in the microwave in 30 second blasts, giving it a stir after every 30 seconds. Do not overheat or the chocolate will burn.

Spoon 10 equal circles of white chocolate onto a sheet of baking parchment. If you hold the spoon in the same place when you spoon the chocolate onto the parchment, it will naturally make a circular shape.

Place your toppings on each mendiant as you wish. Make sure that they are spread out, the circle is not distorted and try to create height with your toppings. Place into the fridge to set. They are ready when you touch the chocolate and it is not sticky and has firmed up.

Cooling White Chocolate Mendiants

Lift the mendiants off the parchment, pushing them off the base of the parchment. Put the mendiants onto a plate and serve, accompanying a drink as a sweet treat or as a sweet canapé.


Your Guide to Tempering Dark Chocolate

Tempered chocolate is something that sounds really complicated. Whenever you watch TV programmes and they visit chocolatiers to learn about tempering, you always see them pour out the chocolate onto a marble surface. However you don’t need to do that at home. You can temper your own chocolate at home, as long as you have a food thermometer.

Tempering Chocolate

Tempering chocolate has many advantages. Untempered chocolate becomes very dull at room temperature and can become soft or sticky. Tempered chocolate gives slick, professional looking chocolates and that all important snap. With chocolate shards becoming increasingly popular to decorate cakes, it gives great texture and a very professional finish to cakes.

Artisan Chocolates Chocolates

Despite its usefulness, it is a tricky process and one that is a lot easier when you use a greater quantity of chocolate – at least 300g. However you can always save the extra for future use. I use the microwave for this, however the process is the exact same if you prefer melting chocolate over simmering water.

Stage 1: Choose your chocolate

The chocolate should be plain i.e. have no extra flavours or bits inside and personally I feel that you get a better temper with cheaper chocolate. Chocolate chips are not suitable for tempering. The following temperatures are only suitable for dark chocolate; white and milk chocolate have different temperatures due to the lower percentage of cocoa solids.

Dark chocolate

Stage 2: Chop your chocolate finely

This just makes the melting process a lot quicker as a greater surface area is exposed to heat. Set aside ¼ of the chocolate and place the rest into a large microwaveable bowl.

Stage 3: Melt your chocolate to 46°C / 115°F

Melt the chocolate in the microwave in 30 second blasts. Too long and the chocolate could burn. After each 30 second period, stir to ensure even melting. Once it has melted, continue to heat in short bursts until it reaches 46°C.

Stage 4: Add the rest of the chocolate and bring down to 32°C / 90°F

Continue to stir the chocolate to melt the added chocolate and cool the chocolate down. Different brands and differing room temperatures mean that the temperatures are not always perfect. To test if the chocolate has been tempered properly, spread some onto baking parchment. It should start to lose its shine before setting around the edges. This should only take 5 minutes. Do not refrigerate it otherwise it will not tell you if it is tempered.

Stage 5: Using your tempered chocolate

Tempered chocolate has many uses, whether that be for coating chocolate truffles, making artisan chocolates or making chocolate bars or shards. It will cool down so keeping it above a pan of warm water (not touching) can help keep your chocolate in temper.

Over the next few weeks, I will be posting a selection of recipes that use tempered chocolate. You too can become a chocolate master.

Chocolate Cups

 Chocolate Favours

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups


Basic Vanilla Fudge

I’ve finished my month of posting cake recipes and now I move onto a full month, as we approach February (2015 has moved very fast already), of truly sweet treats as I explore the world of confectionery.

I was incredibly daunted at the thought of making confectionery. I imagined myself turning into Willy Wonka and having a sugar factory at home, churning a whole manner of marshmallows, lollipops and other candies out by the truckload and being pretty sick of sugar at the end. I was very much wrong.

Confectionery is something truly special. There’s something pretty magical about bubbling a pot of sugar away and transforming it into a whole manner of different sweets and goodies. And today I’m tackling fudge.

Fudge has been something that I never thought could make at home. I always saw it being hours of constant stirring but I couldn’t be more wrong. It makes the kitchen smell wonderfully buttery and luxurious (as the milk sugars caramelise) and only requires a bit of attention before a vigorous minute of beating. There are many types of fudge out there but I’m keeping it simple with a Basic Vanilla Fudge.

Chocolate and Cherry Fudge Rum and Raisin Fudge

110g butter

450g granulated sugar

200ml milk

2 tsp vanilla extract

100ml water

Line a 1lb loaf tin with baking parchment. Make sure that the baking parchment is firm and upright.

Place all the ingredients into the saucepan. On a medium heat, whilst stirring, dissolve the sugar and melt the butter. When the mixture no longer feels gritty, turn up the heat and bring to the boil, stirring occasionally.

Fudge Temperature

Put a sugar thermometer into the pan, making sure it is not measuring the temperature of the pan but the fudge itself. When the fudge has reached 116°C (or the soft ball stage as it is known), dip the pan into cold water – make sure you stand back and nothing goes into the pan.

If you don’t have a sugar thermometer, here’s Kate (from In The Kitchen With Kate) showing you her fudge recipe and how to test for the soft ball stage.

Allow the fudge to cool for 2 to 3 minutes.

Fudge Cooling

Taking a wooden spoon, beat the fudge vigorously until it thickens into a lump of sugary goodness. This, depending on how good your beating skills are, shouldn’t take too long. It will turn matt in colour and be warm to the touch.

Fudge Beating

Place the fudge into the prepared loaf tin, and using a palette knife, flatten the top so it is level. Then fold over the baking parchment and press the surface down firmly – this will prevent it from crumbling when it comes to cutting it when it’s set. Allow to cool down and set fully.

Vanilla Fudge

Lift out the fudge and cut into as big – or as small – pieces as you want. I think cubes of fudge always look best and they aren’t overwhelmingly sweet on the palate.

Sugar Free Chocolate Brownies

Sugar-Free Chocolate Brownies

I’ve kept up one of my New Year Resolutions already which is to post once a week every Sunday but the second, and much harder one, is to lose a bit more weight. I’d like to lose another stone (14lbs) by the summer, and I am hopeful with having lost 15lbs in the last 5 months of 2014. However with posting once a week, there’s a lot of sweet food in the house!

I became inspired by Davina McCall’s Sugar Free Chocolate Brownies to make my own version of her recipe, which went down incredibly well with my friends, who said they were the best brownies they’ve eaten. Everyone is surprised that there are healthier than your standard brownie when they are so unctuous, fudgy and dense.

Sugar Free Chocolate Brownies

Making them the first time, I used exclusively plain flour with the only raising agent being the air I incorporated. I replaced it with self-raising flour and they were less dense, making it easier to eat. Davina suggests using the highest percentage chocolate you can find but I can only find 70% and she also uses maple syrup. Both of these are very expensive so I bumped up the amount of chocolate and honey to balance everything out. I also add ground almonds for texture.

I had some leftover tiny sugar-coated chocolates from making my Rice Krispie Birthday Cake so I just dotted them around the brownie mixture.

100g margarine

230g runny honey

170g 70% dark chocolate, chopped finely

125ml milk

½ tsp high-quality vanilla extract

3 eggs

150g self-raising flour

25g ground almonds

Preheat the oven to 170°C. Grease and line a 20cm square baking tin with baking parchment.

Weigh the margarine and runny honey into a saucepan and place over a medium heat until the margarine and honey have become well incorporated. Remove the pan from the heat and add the chopped chocolate. Whisk until it is all combined.

Add the milk and continue to whisk until it is an even mixture. Add the vanilla and eggs. Mix well.

Sift in the self-raising flour and then pour in the ground almonds. Using a spatula, fold in the flour and ground almonds until you can no longer see any specks of flour.

Pour the mixture into the baking tin and give the pan a tap on the work surface to eliminate any large pockets of air. [Here I placed the sugar-coated chocolates on top]

Unbaked Brownies

Bake for 15-20 minutes until the surface has set and is not shiny. Allow to cool in the tin for 5 minutes before removing from the tin to cool completely.

Baked Brownies

Once cooled, cut into 30-36 squares, depending on how many you want to make. They keep for about 3 days.

Rice Krispie Cake

Rice Krispie Birthday Cake

If you’re a bit scared of baking or have never baked before, I have the perfect cake for you. It doesn’t even need baking but it still is a very impressive showstopper. The kids (and the adults) will love it. It’s my recipe for a Rice Krispie Birthday Cake.

This cake is so simple to make, and incredibly versatile since it can be shaped into whatever you want; in my case I made it for a 7th birthday party. Using other little sweets, such as these tiny sugar coated chocolates, can really heighten how attractive it looks.

You can use other cereals, however I just find Rice Krispies mean the cake is easier to shape into your desired shape. Some recipes use marshmallows to help set the Rice Krispies but once the melted marshmallow begins to cool, it becomes ridiculously sticky and hard to work with and shape, so using melted chocolate is much easier (and has less sugar!)

Instead of shaping it with an amount of mixture, you could make a large slab of the cake, set in a disposable foil tray, and then using a serrated knife to cut out your desired shape. This is a lot easier for easier shapes, but you’ll know which is right for you. Find a template online, or mark out the region before you start the recipe.

There are so many recipes out there but this one is failsafe.

Rice Krispie Cake

2 tbsp margarine

1 tbsp golden syrup

250g dark chocolate – you could use milk chocolate instead

300g Rice Krispies

Decorations – any you want, tiny sugar coated chocolates are my favourite, but you could use Smarties, M&Ms, or even white chocolate

Cover a large baking tray with tin foil and set aside. This will be where you assemble the cake.

Place a large heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water. Put the margarine, golden syrup and chocolate into the bowl and stir occasionally until it has completely melted.

Remove from the heat and add the Rice Krispies and stir until each grain is coated completely. If there is still some chocolate mixture that remains, add more Rice Krispies, since we don’t want any excess chocolate.

Pour out about half of the Rice Krispies onto the baking tray and using clean hands, or two palette knifes or spatulas, whichever utensils you want to use to help shape the cake, begin to clump the mixture into your chosen shape.

For a 7, start with the top line: work the Rice Krispies into a straight line along the top edge and make it the width of the tray. Then with the rest of the mixture, and making sure that the join with this top edge cannot be seen by firmly pressing it together, make the diagonal line by repeating the method, except bringing the Rice Krispies down the tray.

Before the cake starts to set, apply your decorations. I’ve used white chocolate chips to mark a border and then the small chocolate buttons to mark stripes across the cake. The cake goes into the fridge, covered with more foil until it is set.

Once set, the cake should be strong enough to lift of the foil and onto a cake board.

Lemon Celebration Loaf Cake

Lemon Celebration Loaf Cake

I came up with this recipe because I had a little bit of lemon curd left in the fridge and wanted to use it all up. Then I tasted some of the cake and was so surprised that it was the moistest, fluffiest and tastiest lemon cake I’d ever made. The cake had an amazing crumb and it was wonderfully golden.

I used a 2lb loaf tin to bake this cake, and used a paper loaf tin liner for ease. Of course you could transfer this cake into round, or square tins, just remember to adjust the baking times accordingly. Loaf tins just mean that nobody complains about getting a bigger or smaller slice.

Lemon Celebration Loaf Cake


180g Stork

180g caster sugar

3 eggs

200g self-raising flour

½ tsp baking powder

25ml milk

50g lemon curd

Zest of ½ a lemon


300ml double cream

2 tbsp icing sugar

50g lemon curd

Preheat the oven to 170°C. Line a 2lb loaf tin with a paper loaf tin liner.

In a large bowl, beat together the Stork and caster sugar until it is combined with an electric whisk. Sieve in 1 tablespoon of the flour. Then add the eggs one by one until the mixture is well combined. This prevents curdling and makes for a lighter cake.

Sieve in the remaining flour and the baking powder and fold until it is incorporated and the cake is smooth. It should feel slightly thicker than a conventional sponge mix. Add the milk, the lemon curd and the lemon zest and using the electric whisk, mix until everything is smooth and well mixed.

Transfer into the lined loaf tin. Smooth out the top of the cake mix, creating a slight dip in the centre, which will rise to make a level top.

Bake in the centre of the oven, placing the tin horizontally in the oven, for about 35-45 minutes, testing the cake’s doneness by inserting a skewer into the centre and it should come out clean.

Allow the sponge to cool in the tin completely so it holds its shape.

Once cooled, split the cake in half lengthways. Instead of having the cake flat on the surface and trying to level it off, hold the sponge up vertically and cut straight down the middle, ensuring that the sponge does not move. This should give more even layers.

Cut Sponge

Whip up the double cream with the icing sugar until it holds thick, but soft peaks. Fold through the lemon curd.

Lemon Cream

Spoon about half of the cream into the centre. Smooth it out, leaving a slight border around the outside so that the cream doesn’t spill out the side and making the filling more weighted towards the centre of the cake before using a palette knife to encourage the cream outwards. Top with the other sponge.

Cake Sandwiched with Cream

Top the sponge with the rest of the cream and ensuring that the cream is weighted towards the centre to give height. Then using the palette knife, touch the cream and lift the knife upwards to create peaks and repeat for the rest of the cream.

Iced Lemon Loaf Cake

Allow the cake to chill in the fridge for about an hour before serving.