Time To Talk Day 2018

01/18

Time to Talk Day, run by Time to Change, will take place on Thursday 1st February 2018.

The aim is to get as many people as possible across England talking about mental health. By joining together on one day, we can break the silence that often surrounds mental health, and show that talking about this once-taboo issue doesn’t need to be difficult.

The aim of Time to Talk Day is to get as many people as possible across England talking about mental health. By joining together on one day, we can break the silence that often surrounds mental health, and show that talking about this once-taboo issue doesn’t need to be difficult. With tens of thousands of individuals and hundreds of organisations speaking out together at the same time, we can make a huge impact and show that it really is time to talk.

Those of you who know my story will know how important raising awareness for mental health issues is to me. (Make sure to check out my article Baking My Way Out Of Depression.)

When I first started baking and long before I started blogging, I was suffering very badly with depression and anxiety. I was on strong medication and I really couldn’t see a way out. I didn’t talk to anyone about my mental health. I didn’t want sympathy, I just wanted to ‘get on with it.’

But I was wrong.

Talking to someone is the most important thing. If it’s a friend, a loved one, a colleague, it doesn’t matter. You can’t keep things bottled up and expect them to go away. I wish I had known that sooner, then maybe I wouldn’t have gone through years of medicated heartbreak.

1 in 4 of us will have a mental health problem. That’s an awful lot. It isn’t something to shy away from. The more we talk about what’s going on in our heads the better. It’s time to break down any barrier, get rid of any stigma and just have a chat.

When I had depression, I can remember being in college and a friend of a friend telling people she had been diagnosed with bi-polar. This was over 10 years ago and it wasn’t spoken about very much at all then. No one knew what to do, what to say. But that’s the thing, you don’t have to say anything specific. I’ve had a few people approach me over the years who knew me when I was at my lowest and openly admit ‘we didn’t know what to say.’ Little did they know a simple ‘are you ok?’ and a good cup of tea would have been a great start.

Now, years later, I want to help change the way mental health is spoken about and break down any stigma attached to it. I’ve worked with Time to Change in a few campaigns now, such as their Small Things campaign last year and now Time To Talk Day 2016 with Good Morning Britain. I’m very proud to be doing stuff with this fantastic charity.

As it’s #TimeToTalk day, I wanted to share this video my fiancé Tim and I took part in with the mental health organisation Time to Change back in 2015.
My mental health has suffered somewhat over the years since I was 16 and whilst I am pleased to say I am in a much better place than I have ever been, the darkness that nearly consumed me and so many other people face every day is nothing to be ashamed or embarrassed of.
The more we talk about our mental health, the more we can de-stigmatise it.
I can remember not wanting to tell my manager at the time that I was in such a bad place. I was scared I would lose my job for fear of looking ‘unreliable’. It was only after I had that initial conversation with him though I discovered how supportive he and the company I used to work for were.
If you’re struggling, please talk to someone.

My partner, Tim, is the person I can talk to about anything. It doesn’t matter if it’s big and emotional or small and trivial, he listens. Sometimes, he knows there’s nothing he can say to help and that’s great too, just getting it out in the open is usually enough. But, we look at what’s going on and try to do something about it.

So, take the opportunity today to start a conversation. Sit down with a friend, send them a text, show up at their door with a pack of custard creams, it’s up to you. It all starts with those three little words:

“How are you?”

You’re not a burden, you’re not being awkward, you’re not alone. You are you and you are amazing.

Britt xo

 

Happy 5th Birthday to She Who Bakes!

01/18
Today is a very special day for me! My little blog has tuned five years old! On this day back in 2013, I published my first ever baking blog post. I had no idea back then what it would become or where it would take me. I didn’t start it for a purpose or a reason, I started it to make myself smile in a time when there were more dark days than light.
 
Those who have followed me for a while may know my story. You will often hear me say that I ‘baked my way out of depression’ and it’s true. Teaching myself how to bake, creating cakes and writing about them got me out of such a bad time in my life and I’m so grateful for it.
Before I found a passion and creative spark, I was two suicide attempts down and on a whole host of medication just to keep me going. All that is different now.
 
I may not get time to bake as much as I used to but each and every time turn the oven on and start to weigh out ingredients, I absolutely love it.
Now I can also say I am a published author, with my first book ‘Cakes, Bakes & Business’ getting to number one in two Amazon charts. My mum would be so very proud of me.
 
I just wanted to personally say a massive thank you to everyone reading this. Thank you to every one of you who reads my blogs, has read my book, uses my recipes, tips or tutorials, watches my videos and likes what I do. Whether you have been following me for all five years, five months or even five days, I am so grateful to you all.
 
I look forward to many more wonderful years of She Who Bakes.
 
Happy baking,
 
Britt xo

Book Signing and Q&A at Iced Jems!

01/18

I feel so very fortunate to have some of the most amazing people in my life. One of whom is Jemma, who runs a shop called Iced Jems. I say shop, it’s more of a fully realised pastel dream filled from top to bottom with all of your cake based desires. Jemma and I have been close friends for a number of years now and I am very grateful to have her and her unwavering support in my life. She is one of the people responsible for me writing a book in the first place!

I’ve taught classes at Jemma’s shop up in Stourbridge over the years and *spoiler alert* I may be back later this year teaching again (watch this space). So when my book came out and we spoke about me doing a book signing and Q&A event in her beautiful store, I was so excited!

The event took place last Saturday 27th January and I had such an amazing time! I really enjoyed chatting to super talented and passionate bakers about taking the next step in their cake career. A massive thank you so much to everyone for coming to say hi!

I’ve been overwhelmed at the support and kind words for my book Cakes, Bakes & Business! 

Thank you again to Jemma for hosting and thank you of course to my wonderful future husband Tim for coming along to support me as always!

I met some incredible people and had such a wonderful time.

Britt xo

How To Make A Rainbow Cake

01/18

Rainbow cakes are one of my favourites! I love how they look when you cut into them. This week I was tasked to make an interesting rainbow cake for my friend’s husband. Interesting because it was colourful and rainbow on the inside, and black, dark purple and covered in skulls on the outside! You can check this cake out here.

When I was making it I popped a few ‘work in progress’ shots on social media and had a lot of questions about how to make a rainbow cake. There are lots of different videos and tutorials available online but this is a quick rundown of how I make one.

Firstly you’ll need a good cake recipe that’s easy to colour. I use a classic madeira recipe which you can find here. What I tend to do with rainbow cakes and other coloured layer cakes, is whatever tin size I’m using, in this case a 7″ round, I will double that recipe in total to make all six layers out of, as that makes for a nice height. You can of course use more mix for a deeper cake but this is what I have found works best for me.

First you want to line your tin(s). I do this with cake release and greaseproof paper, to save time, I use pre cut greaseproof paper circles and strips of greaseproof paper. You can find out more about how I line cake tins here.

I have four 7″ round tins as I bake a lot but this process can be done if you’ve got the one tin, you’ll just need to work on your timings a little. I will explain as we go. So, based on the assumption you have more than one tin of the size you like you firstly need to go ahead and make your cake mix. As I say, I double my recipe for this. Then you want to split the cake mix into 6 bowls (or however many colours you’re doing!) I use a deep ice cream scoop to help me do this to keep it even.

Then you want to colour them using good quality, concentrated food colouring. I don’t recommend supermarket colourings for this as they are mostly water and don’t give a strong colour. Instead I recommend Sugarflair. I’ve been using them since I started baking and I love them. You only need a little bit of colour as it’s very concentrated so it goes a long way and lasts ages! I’m using the following colours;

Sugarflair Red Extra, Sugarflair Egyptian Orange, Sugarflair Melon, Sugarflair Party Green, Sugarflair Ice Blue and Sugarflair Grape Violet.

Add the colour using a cocktail stick and mix well. Then pour into as many cake tins as you have and bake until they are done. If you’re using my madeira recipe I recommend to bake the layers at 140C for around 20 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean. Remember, each layer will be a lot smaller than normal so don’t worry about too much of a rise, although you should get a nice thickness.

If you’ve only got the one tin you will need to do things slightly differently. As soon as you’ve made your cake mix you have essentially started a timer. If you leave your cake mix out on the side for too long, it may not bake properly, may not rise and may taste tough and dense. However you do have a small amount of time so what I suggest is, instead of halving the recipe, make up the recipe as written and split it into three. Do the first three colours and then once they are baked do the same and make up the second three colours. This minimises the time the cake mix is left out. All the time you are waiting for your tin and for the previous sponge to bake, make sure to store the bowl of cake mix in the fridge covered with cling film. Once each sponge is baked, turn it out onto some greaseproof paper and leave it to cool. Then quickly re-line your tin and bake the next one.

I recommend wrapping each layer in cling film until you are ready to decorate. As they are small cakes they can dry out rather quickly. I tent to double wrap them well in cling film and leave them overnight to ‘firm up’ a little. Then I unwrap each layer as and when I need it.

For all cakes I decorate, I start by levelling my cake. As there may only be a small rise on these, I do so with a sharp serrated knife. If it was a deeper cake and I wanted to split it, I would use a cake leveller, but a knife is fine for this. I can then eat any cake trimmings with a cuppa!

To decorate, start with a thin cake card the same size as your cake (in this case 7″) and spread a little buttercream on top of it. Then place down the first later on top, for this cake it will be the purple layer and then you can start filling my cake.

Spread a little buttercream on top of the cake, and add your second layer (blue), repeat with the rest of the cakes. then pop this in the fridge for 10 minutes or so for the layers to firm up. For filling rainbow cakes, I like to use white buttercream as I find it’s a nice contrast to the colours. You can find my tutorial and recipe for white buttercream here.

Once this is done you can cover your cake however you like! I recommend doing two layers of buttercream on the outside. The first being a crumb coat to seal the cake and keep in the crumbs and then a second final layer. For this cake, I did one layer of white buttercream and then my second layer was black and purple buttercream as per the cake design. Or, if covering in sugarpaste do this after the first crumb coat layer.

Chill briefly between coats to make covering easier!

And there you have it! A rainbow cake! You can see what this particular cake ended up looking like here.

Here’s one I did a few years ago –

There we have it! A rainbow cake! I hope it’s brightened your day. If you’ve got any other questions leave a comment below.

Give it a try and let me know how you get on either on FacebookTwitter or Instagram.

Happy Baking!

Britt xo

If you want to turn your baking hobby into a career, check out my book Cakes, Bakes & Business for everything you need to know about running a successful baking business, including pricing, marketing, insurance and much more!

Egg Free Vegan Meringues

01/18

If you follow my Twitter or Instagram you may know that a few years ago in 2015, I developed a rather severe egg allergy. It happened almost overnight and one day I could eat eggs fine, and the next I was in hospital in agony. The rather bizarre thing was, eggs baked into cakes and cookies etc, I would be absolutely fine with. But scrambled, poached, omelettes and even quiche was out of the question. I would be rolling around in agony and I wasn’t up for that to be honest so I completely cut eggs out of my diet (with the exception of cakes, luckily!). I found a bit of information about this kind of allergy here and here if you’re interested.

Since then I’ve been researching for egg substitutes in goodies that have made me unwell, meringues being one of them.

I saw online that you could actually make meringue from aquafaba, which is the water from a can of chick peas! I was ultimately rather skeptical, but having watched a few videos and read a few blogs, such as this one from Sainsbury’s, I wanted to give it a go myself to see if I could enjoy meringue again!

It had been on my list of things to make but as of late I had been taking a little bit of a baking break, then this afternoon I had made this gorgeous Spanish Chickpea and Spinach Stew by Lazy Cat Kitchen and just as I was about to drain the precious aquafaba down the sink, I remembered; MERINGUE!

It’s ultimately exactly the same process as normal meringue. Whisk up the ‘egg’, in this case aquafaba, add in flavouring and dry ingredients, pop on a baking tray and leave in the oven for 7 days. Ok, only a few hours but it feels a lot longer when you wanna see what it turns out like!

There are lots of different variations on this recipe but I went with a basic meringue of –

  • 1 x 400g can chick peas, drained. (For the actual chick peas, I highly recommend the stew recipe I’ve linked above! It was delicious).
  • 120g Icing Sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla

I’ve seen other recipes with cream of tartar in it, which I should have probably used but I didn’t have any in the cupboard.

Whisk up the aquafaba on a high speed until it goes white, fluffy and has ‘soft peaks’. NOTE: This took longer than it usually does with normal egg whites so persevere and keep at it.

Add in the vanilla and icing sugar one tablespoon at a time.

There are so many options when it comes to meringue designs. You can pipe it into an attractive shape, blob it on using a spoon, make kisses using a star nozzle, the choice is up to you. Whatever you decide, put your meringue onto a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper.

I went with a mixture of kisses and swirls, because why not. I also wanted to add a bit of colour to mine as I love all things bright and colourful.

I fitted a disposable piping bag with a closed star 1J nozzle and painted Sugarflair concentrated food colouring up the sides of the piping bag. For this I used Deep Purple, Aqua Blue and Baby Pink. For more detailed photos on this aspect, check out my other blog post here about dyed buttercream. They piped the same as normal meringue. So far, so good.

I also used a piping bag holder from Iced Jems which has been a life saver. Do you know how many times I’ve dropped a piping bag while trying to fill it one handed? Lots. Lots of times.

 

I then piped my swirls and stars onto a greaseproof paper lined tray and baked at 90ºC fan assisted for 2 hours, then turned the oven off and left them in there until the oven had gone cold. I actually turned the oven off and went out for the evening so I couldn’t tell you exactly how long they were left in there but I would personally leave them in for a further hour at least once your oven is off.

 

The fab thing is, they taste (to me anyway) like ordinary meringues! I’ve not had them in a while now but they certainly taste how I would expect them to! Finally meringue is back on the menu for me and I’m rather happy about it!

Make sure to keep them in an airtight container to stop them going soft. They should last 3-4 days.

Give it a try and let me know how you get on either on FacebookTwitter or Instagram.

Happy Baking!

Britt xo

If you want to turn your baking hobby into a career, check out my book Cakes, Bakes & Business for everything you need to know about running a successful baking business, including pricing, marketing, insurance and much more!

 

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