Happy 5th Birthday Pudsey!

11/18

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This post is dedicated to a very special yellow bear. Now, I know what you’re thinking, it’s actually Pudsey’s 30th birthday this week with his first Children in Need appearance being way back in 1985, but I’m talking about a different Pudsey. I’m talking about an icing covered Pudsey mess that changed my life forever in 2010.

If you aren’t aware of the back story, let me set the scene. Back in 2005, my mother had died of Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma, a type of cancer. In the years that followed I had been diagnosed with depression, was put on very strong anti-depressants and after two (thankfully unsuccessful) attempts to take my own life, I realised I wasn’t living, merely existing. In 2010 I was recovering from an appendix operation after getting septicaemia when a friend asked if I would bake a cake for a Children in Need bake sale.

I had never successfully baked a cake before and, not wanting to give anyone food poisoning, I thought my best bet would be a packet mix. I bought a ‘Victoria sponge’ mix, a small block of yellow icing and a pack of squeezy coloured icing tubes. When I got into the kitchen, I realised I didn’t have a round tin so used the next best thing, a square roasting dish. It made perfect sense to me!

I followed the instructions to the letter and waited, Bake Off style, sitting in front of the oven. As I watched it rise, I realised I had been smiling the whole time. As back then my depression was at an all time high, this was unusual for me. But I didn’t question it, I just enjoyed it.

The alarm went off on my phone to tell me the cake was done. I put it on the side and let it cool for about 5 minutes before I simply couldn’t wait any longer and turned it out. I remember thinking it had dipped in the middle but didn’t know what that meant and just assumed that was how it was supposed to be! I rolled out the icing and couldn’t quite figure out how to get it onto the cake, in the end I guess I kind of… threw it on. I squished down the edges and caught it and nicked it so many times with my nails. The edges were cracking and the middle was sagging but it was on. I breathed a sigh of relief. I remember feeling ever so clever at cutting out his eye patch and sticking it down with water (that was a guess!) Then, as a finishing touch, squeezy tubes at the ready, I made his facial features and distinct colourful spots.

I stood back and looked at him. Pudsey. My Pudsey. I had felt so proud and happy and wonderful. I thought he looked amazing, perfect in fact. I wanted this feeling every single day.

Five years later and I can honestly say every time I turn on my oven, every time I go to my ingredients cupboard, I still get the same feeling now as I did on that day. Whenever I look at my Pudsey cake, I still feel overcome with pride. That cake started something very special.

So, as fitting on his fifth birthday, I decided to recreate Pudsey. I wanted to make him exactly as I saw him that November afternoon. As my way of saying thank you. I owe a lot to that cracked icing, raw mixture, inedible, wrong-shaped cake. So, happy birthday Pudsey. Here’s to many more years.

See the video below for my TEDx talk where I tell my story in full and Pudsey gets a staring role.

Britt xo

Pusey 2015

 

Rice Krispies Christmas Puddings!

11/18

My latest quick video shows you how to make a no- bake sweet festive treat in no time at all!

You will need;

  • 50g unsalted butter
  • 180g marshmallows
  • 100g Rice Krispies
  • 200g milk chocolate
  • 100g white chocolate
  • Holly leaf decorations (I got mine from Sainsbury’s but they are available from most supermarkets)

Method;

  1. Melt the butter and chocolate in a pan.
  2. Add marshmallows and stir until they have melted.
  3. Add in your Rice Krispies. Take off the heat and stir well.
  4. Once they have cooled a little, spoon a tablespoon of mixture out into your hands and roll into a ball. Put these on a lined baking tray and then chill for 15 minutes.
  5. Melt your white chocolate and pour into a piping bag. Pipe a little white chocolate on top of each Christmas pud and top with a holly leaf icing decoration.
  6. Pop back in the fridge to firm up for a further 15 minutes.
  7. Enjoy!

They will last a good few weeks in the fridge!

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!

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

Happy baking and Merry Christmas!

Britt xo

All of my online cake decorating courses are currently HALF PRICE! Grab a bargain here.

Bonfire Cupcakes

11/18

These Bonfire Cupcakes are super simple to make and look really effective! Perfect for a bonfire and fireworks night! A step by step video on how to make these is below.

For this, I’m using my flat topped chocolate cupcakes which are perfect for decorating. You can find the recipe here.

I’m using brown cupcake cases and concentrated Sugarflair food colouring in Red Extra, Tangerine and Melon. Also my open star nozzle is a 1M and using large disposable piping bags. All equipment is available from Iced Jems.

You will need;

  • 12 cupcakes
  • 250g unsalted butter
  • 500g icing sugar
  • Matchmakers (I’m using the orange ones)
  • Red, orange and yellow food colouring
  • Piping bag
  • Open star nozzle – 1M

Method;

  1. Cream the butter for a few minutes
  2. Add in the icing sugar and mix well
  3. If flavouring your buttercream, put the flavouring in now
  4. Divide the buttercream into three bowls
  5. Colour the buttercream red, orange and yellow
  6. Fit a piping bag with an open star nozzle
  7. Put the piping bag into a stand or pint glass
  8. Fill with all three colours
  9. Squeeze down the buttercream and twist the bag at the top to stop buttercream coming out
  10. Starting in the middle of the cupcake, squeeze out a large star shape
  11. Then, from the outside squeeze the buttercream out and go around the outside of the star twice and into the middle
  12. Stop squeezing and pull away
  13. Using halves of Matchmakers press them into the sides of the buttercream swirl to create a ‘bonfire’ look

Store in a cool, dry room in a cake/cupcake box and enjoy within 2-3 days!

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!

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

Happy baking!

Britt xo

How To Make A Bonfire Cake For Fireworks Night

11/18

This is my favourite time of the year! From Halloween, comes Bonfire Night, leading up to Christmas! The best are months in my opinion. This Bonfire Cake is simple to make and fantastic to look at, making it the perfect show stopper to make for your parties this season! Click here for the tutorial on the matching cupcakes.

I have used my chocolate madeira cake recipe but feel free to use any flavour you like! I would recommend using a strong and stable cake that is suitable for carving and stacking, which is what a madeira is perfect for.

The models and decorations (Guy, hedgehogs and leaves) can be made ahead of time. Use modelling paste for stability and keep in a cake box or another container that the air can get to (not in a sealed box, otherwise they may melt). For more on types of icing, check out my blog post here.

Once baked and decorated, this cake will last 4-5 days. Make sure to properly crumb coat so no air can get into the cake and make it dry. You can read more about my cake timelines here.

Equipment

  • Wilton Wonder Mould Tin/7″ round tin
  • 8″ round thin cake card
  • 11″ round drum
  • 1kg orange sugar paste (For the board)
  • Brown, yellow, peach, orange, black and white modelling paste
  • Paintbrushes
  • Edible glue
  • Small palette knife
  • Small piping nozzle
  • Large rolling pin
  • Icing spacers
  • Royal icing
  • Cornflour
  • Small circle cutters
  • Brown and white dust colours
  • Rejuvenator spirit
  • Paint palette
  • Leaf cutters & veiners
  • 4 packs of Matchmakers
  • Chocolate buttercream
  • 1 meter 15mm brown ribbon
  • Double sided tape
  • Small rolling pin

For the board

Paint your board with water.

Knead your orange sugarpaste until it’s a workable consistency. If the icing is sticky or your hands are very warm, sprinkle lightly with cornflour. Lightly dust your smooth work surface also to prevent it sticking.

Roll out your sugar paste to a 1/4 of an inch thickness. If it helps, you can use icing spacers which are perfect for this.

To keep the sugar paste from sticking, lift and move it around as you roll. Add more cornflour if needed.

Gently lift icing over rolling pin to move and lower it onto your damp board and push down to secure. Cut around your board with a sharp knife to remove the excess icing. Apply double sided tape to the outside rim of the board and stick on your 15mm brown ribbon.

For the cake

Bake your favourite chocolate madeira (you can find my recipe here) in either a Wilton Wonder Mould Tin or two 7″ round cakes, stacked and carved into a pyramid shape. Cut a small ledge into the front of your cake for your ‘Guy’ to sit.

Split and fill your cake with your desired buttercream or ganache and secure your cake to the thin board using buttercream.

Lightly coat your cake with buttercream or ganache.

Fix this to your cake drum with a little royal icing.

Starting at the back, apply your Matchmakers to your coated cake in the style of a bonfire. Continue all the way around and add a second layer on top. Then fill in any gaps you may have with smaller cut pieces of Matchmakers.

bonfire-2

For the leaves

Roll out your yellow, brown and orange modelling paste and cut out lots of different sized leaves. Shape these if desired by twisting them around a cocktail stick and leave to dry on foam. When these are dry, stick onto your cake using a little edible glue.

For the hedgehogs

Roll balls of brown modelling paste and shape and pinch the front into a cone. Using small scissors, snip into the back of the hedgehog to create the spikes. Roll two small white balls of modelling paste for the background of the eyes. Roll three small balls of black modelling paste and glue into place for the middle of the eyes and nose.

bonfire-1

For the Guy

Roll a thick sausage of brown modelling paste and cut up the middle 3/4 of the way. Round off the bottoms of the two halves. These will be the legs. Bend the legs onto a thick piece of foam so it is ‘sitting down.’ Leave this to dry.

Roll a ball of yellow modelling paste and shape into a thick teardrop. This will become the torso. Mark a line down the middle with a small palette knife and indent ‘buttons’ using a small piping nozzle. Leave this to dry.

Roll out a square of brown modelling paste, not too thin and shape this around the torso shape to make the back and collar of the coat. Apply with a little edible glue.

Roll two sausages of brown modelling paste and affix to the outside of the coat to create the arms. Then wrap a small strip of brown modelling paste around the bottom of the arms to create cuffs. Apply with a little edible glue.

Roll two balls of black modelling paste and flatten them to become shoes and stick these to the bottom of the legs. Then wrap a small strip of black modelling paste around the bottom of the legs/top of the shoes to create boots. Apply with a little edible glue.

Roll two smaller balls of black modelling paste and again, flatten slightly. Cut into the side to create a ‘thumb’ and shape the rest of the ball to become a ‘glove’. Repeat with the second ball and apply with a little edible glue.

Roll a ball of peach modelling paste for the head and leave to dry. Once dried, apply a smaller ball of peach modelling paste to the front of the face to become the nose. Roll a small sausage of brown modelling paste and apply under the nose to create the moustache, make some hair lines in the moustache with your small palette knife.

Paint on the eyes and eyebrows using dust colours mixed with a little rejuvenator spirit. Roll out two strips of brown modelling paste and affix to the sides of the head to create hair. And finally roll out a large circle of brown modelling paste and a thick smaller circle of brown modelling paste and affix to the top of the head to create the hat.

Roll out a long strip of yellow modelling paste and lay strips of brown modelling paste horizontally across. Roll over it all again to create the striped scarf effect. Cut to size to fit your guy and apply with a little edible glue.

Give it a go and let me know how you get on, either on Facebook or Twitter or Instagram.

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!

All of my Online Cake Decorating Courses are currently 50% off! Grab a bargain here.

Happy baking!

Britt xo

 

Happy Halloween 2018!

10/18

It’s that time of year again! Time to get SPOOKY!

Halloween, and Autumn in general, is my favourite time of the year. I love everything about it. From the crisp mornings to the falling leaves, the nights drawing in, all pumpkin everything and of course, Halloween itself.

My husband Tim and I throw a Halloween party every year and despite 2018 being a pretty big year for us already party-wise what with my Harry Potter themed 30th, our wedding and reception, nothing was going to stop us from throwing our annual spooktacular!

This year we went even bigger with actual scare actors dressed and made up like zombies to scare greet our guests as they arrived, an experimental lab gone wrong bathroom complete with body on a stretcher, a haunted graveyard stairwell and a funeral parlour-esque party zone!

With a bit of a zombie theme going on, we decided it was only fitting for the newlyweds to go as a zombie bride and groom!

We also make lots of food, put on tasty snacks and sweet treats and I, of course, make a dessert. This year I continued the haunted graveyard theme from the stairwell and transferred that to a 3 tier cake!

Here’s how it was made –

I wanted a bright colour sponge inside to contrast with the black and grey icing on the outside, I also wanted a crowd pleasing flavour everyone would like so I went with a classic madeira cake recipe and coloured it red using Sugarflair Party Green. I wrapped the cakes in clingfilm and let them sit overnight. Then the following day I split the cakes and filled them with a contrasting purple vanilla buttercream by using the recipe here and colouring it with Sugarflair Grape Violet.

I then crumb coated the cakes with buttercream and covered the tiers in a later of marbled white and black Renshaw Sugarpaste (I’ve got an article on how to do that here on Food Heaven) and smoothed them with Flexi Smoothers (I’ve got an article about them here). I then let them firm up overnight. Once this was set, I dowelled the bottom two tiers and stacked carefully, sticking together with royal icing.

I made the little pumpkins and gravestones out of Karen Davis Marshmallow Paste which I find great for modelling. I’ve got a little tutorial on how to make the pumpkins here. I just stopped before doing the face. The gravestones were made using a variety of gravestone cutters I have collected over the years.

The fully edible (but I’m gonna keep it forever instead) church topper I made using Renshaw pre-coloured black modelling paste (because life is far too short to colour anything that dark) and this metal church cutter set I got years ago. I made little windows using yellow modelling paste and little ghosts using a silicone mould and white modelling paste. I stuck everything down with black royal icing.

I finished the cake with black 25mm ribbon, a black sugarpaste covered 12″ cake board and 15mm black ribbon around the outside of that, stuck down with double sided sticky tape.

I really loved making this cake and I loved how it looked on the table at the party!

Check out last years cake here and below for more pictures from this year’s Halloween party and have a look at my Instagram for all the videos!

Happy Halloween!

Britt xo

Halloween Recipes & Tutorials

10/18

I love Halloween! Below are some of my Halloween themed and Pumpkin flavoured recipes. I’m adding more all the time so make sure to check back! Click on the picture below to be taken to the recipe.

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!

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

Happy Halloween and happy baking!

Britt xo

Halloween CookiesPumpkin & Ginger Cookies by She Who Bakes

Pumpkin Spice Slicetumblr_inline_ne65cfK8y41qf7teq

tumblr_inline_ncihtpXyVH1qf7teqtumblr_inline_nd6sljZ2ye1qf7teq

tumblr_inline_nbpdht5aa71qf7teqHow To Make A Pumpkin Cupcake For Halloween by She Who Bakes

How To Make A Jack Skellington Cupcake For Halloween by She Who Bakes How To Make A Cauldron Cupcake For Halloween by She Who Bakes

How To Make Pumpkin Spice by She Who Bakes

How To Make A Cauldron Cake for Halloween by She Who Bakes

 

 

Ideal Home Show – Christmas 2018!

10/18

I’m so pleased to announce this year I will be demonstrating at the Ideal Home Show Christmas! I’ll be on stage at The Christmas Kitchen in the Eat & Drink Festival section showing you how to make a giant cupcake Christmas tree on Friday 23rd November at 1:45pm and on Sunday 25th November at 10:45am!

I would love for you to join me in the festivities! I’ve been given a 2 for 1 offer on tickets exclusively for my readers! Simply head over to the Ideal Home Show Christmas website and use my code – SWB241

This year’s show is set to be the best edition to date, bringing together all of the seasonal essentials to help you create the ultimate Christmas at home. Surrounded by trees and covered in twinkling lights, you’ll feel like you’ve stepped into a fairy tale yuletide celebration. As you walk show, you can discover the most imaginative and awe-inspiring Christmas products available this year – including everything you could possibly wish for to douse your home in Christmas magic. With over 600 exhibitors, you’re sure to find some new festive favourites – from hand-crafted gifts and hanging decorations, to home decor and hampers for the foodies. Plus, your ticket will also get you free access to Eat & Drink Festival Christmas, offering the ultimate festive foodie experience, with top celebrity chefs Rosemary Shrager, Theo Randall, Aldo Zilli, Rachel Green and Ed Baines as well as yours truly, all on hand to offer their top tips and expert advice on perfecting the ultimate festive feast.

*T&Cs: Book before 25 November 2018. 2 for 1 tickets offer applies to the adult on the door price only (£19 Weekday/ £21 Weekend). Calls cost 7p per minute plus your company’s access charge. A £1.70 transaction fee applies. Kids age 15 and under go FREE when accompanied by a paying adult (maximum 2). Tickets include free entry to Eat & Drink Festival Christmas.

Getting a clean oven with OvenClean!

10/18

When you’re a baker or you’re using your oven ALL THE TIME, it can get quite greasy, quite quickly. Not only do I really dislike cleaning my oven, but I’m really bad at it! So when OvenClean got in touch and asked if I fancied having my oven sparkle again, I jumped at the chance! I wouldn’t say it’s dirty but it’s certainly well used (and well loved!) and needs a bit of attention. Please don’t judge me for the ‘before’ photo. I’m busy and I hate cleaning haha.

Stuart from OvenClean arrived on time and was really polite and professional. My husband (still not used to saying that yet!) showed Stuart to the kitchen and the oven and he got to work. Turning the oven on to make it warm, which makes the cleaning easier, and taking all the wire racks out to the van to be soaked and scrubbed for a deep clean.

Within two hours Stuart told me he’d finished and when I went into the kitchen to see, for a second I thought he had replaced my oven with a brand new one! I was so impressed. The racks were sparkling, the tray which was once covered in thick charcoal and rust was new again and the inside of the oven looked brilliant. It’s given my oven a brand new lease of life and I can’t wait to get baking in it!

I promise to try to take better care of her now but on the off chance I don’t, I know I’ll be giving OvenClean a call! I can highly recommend them and their services!

Happy baking!

Britt xo

N.B Cleaning service gifted by OvenClean, but my views are my own, impartial and honest.

 

Salted Caramel, Fudge & White Chocolate Cake

09/18

Well, baking season is well and truly upon us! I know for some of us, myself included, baking is a year round joy but with The Great British Bake Off returning to our screens we turn our attention away from the sunny BBQ’s of summer and on to the falling leaves, cosy nights, tasty home bakes and all the joys of Autumn!

This week, I partnered with Bacofoil® to try out their Non-Stick Baking Paper.

I had never used it before but had seen it on the supermarket shelves so I was both intrigued and excited to try it. I wanted to create a recipe that included super sticky ingredients, notorious for sticking to the tin. So I went with three of my favourite flavours; fudge, salted caramel and white chocolate.

With all three ingredients included in the cake, I felt it was a good way to put this product to the test! The Non-Stick Baking Paper felt different to other baking papers I’ve used in the past. This is because it has an innovative and unique Non-Stick textured surface – the little dimples on the paper mean there is less surface area in contact with the bake so everything bakes evenly and food just slides off, making cake mess and cookie disasters a thing of the past! It’s also non-stick on both sides which makes quick baking much easier!

I’m lining my cake tin with Bacofoil® The Non-Stick Baking Paper and as it’s non-stick, there’s no need to grease the tray! This also means it saves on the washing up. Win!

For this bake, you have a choice. Depending on how adventurous you feel.

You can make your own salted caramel, which is actually really simple, the biggest worry is not letting it burn, and if you would like to I have included the ingredients and method below. Or you can use store bought salted caramel sauce. The results are the same, so it’s completely up to you!

Salted caramel ingredients –

  • 225g golden caster sugar
  • 60ml water
  • 175ml double cream
  • 50g unsalted butter
  • 1 ½ teaspoon sea salt

To make the salted caramel:

  • Mix together the water and sugar on a medium heat. Shaking the pan every so often.
  • When it starts to bubble, take it off the heat.
  • Mix in the butter, pour in the double cream and whisk well.
  • Add in the sea salt and leave to cool.

Cake ingredients –

  • 300g self raising flour
  • 140g golden caster sugar
  • 140g light brown sugar
  • 285g unsalted butter
  • 75g plain flour
  • 5 eggs
  • 50g melted white chocolate
  • 50g fudge pieces
  • 4 tablespoons salted caramel sauce

To make the cake:

  • Cream together the unsalted butter and sugar.
  • Add in the salted caramel and mix well.
  • Add in the eggs and mix again.
  • Fold in the self-raising flour and plain flour.
  • Pour in the melted white chocolate and add the fudge pieces.
  • Spoon this mixture into a 8” round tin lined with Bacofoil® The Non-Stick Baking Paper.
  • Tap on the side to get out any air bubbles.
  • Bake at 140C for 1 hour 45 minutes or until it is fully baked and a skewer/cake tester comes out clean.

Once the cake is baked, I like to turn it out from the tin soon after removing it from the oven. One of the main reasons I do this is to ensure a nice flat top. If you take the cake out of the tin and leave it to cool upside down on the side (not on a wire rack), then any bumps on the top flatten, leaving you with a lovely flat, even cake to decorate later!

Using oven gloves, as the tin will still be hot, turn out the cake onto a strip of Bacofoil® The Non-Stick Baking Paper on the side. The great thing about Bacofoil® The Non-Stick Baking Paper is that as the paper comes away from the cake so easily, bakes look perfect and nothing sticks to the paper!

Leave to cool completely. I also like to leave my cakes until the next day before cutting into and filling so once the cake has cooled, wrap it well in two layers of cling film and leave overnight.

Decorating the cake:

I’m going to be filling this cake with a salted caramel buttercream but feel free to get as adventurous as you like! A chocolate ganache would work just as well, as would a white chocolate buttercream or something else entirely!

Salted caramel buttercream –

  • 250g unsalted butter
  • 500g icing sugar
  • 2 tablespoons salted caramel

To make the buttercream:

  • Cream the butter on its own for 5 minutes.
  • Add in the icing sugar.
  • Add in the salted caramel and mix well.

Don’t add in any liquid to the buttercream like water or milk. The salted caramel sauce is all it needs.

To split and fill the cake, I recommend to use a cake leveller. They are readily available in cake shops and online. Because I’m using a leveller as opposed to a knife, I feel more comfortable cutting the cake. For this cake, I’m going to split it twice, creating three lovely layers.

Split the cake once about a third of the way up and then again halfway between the first cut and the top of the cake. You can measure if you like but I normally do this by eye! Once cut, carefully take the top two layers off and spread your filling. Then reassemble an take off the top layer, adding more buttercream. Then reassemble and chill in the fridge for 10 minutes. This firms up the buttercream and makes it easier to handle.

Once chilled, spread a layer of buttercream on the top of the cake and a thin layer around the sides, creating the ‘semi-naked’ look.

To finish the cake, melt a little white chocolate and pour onto the top, using a palette knife to push the chocolate to the edge of the cake, allowing it to drip down. Top with rosettes of buttercream (I used a 2D nozzle), white chocolate stars and more fudge pieces.

 

Leave to set and enjoy!

This cake, once baked will last 3-4 days if wrapped well.

I loved working with Bacofoil® The Non-Stick Baking Paper. It made making this cake really easy and it’s a great product I will certainly use again! It’s ideal for all kinds of baking jobs – lining, making and baking and for all types of food – savoury or sweet! The next thing I think I’ll use it for is some chocolate chip cookies!!

For more information about Bacofoil® and all of their products, check out their website www.bacofoil.co.uk

Happy baking!

Britt xo

This is a sponsored post in partnership with Bacofoil®  All views and opinions are my own.

The Importance Of Using Quality Eggs In Baking

09/18

So, a bit of a funny story in case you didn’t know. I’m a baker who is allergic to eggs. I know, I know, how on earth do I cope? Well, I have quite a specific egg allergy (because, of course I do). Sadly as of a few years ago I can no longer have tasty scrambled egg, poached egg, omelettes or quiches, even mayonnaise is out of the question for me! But I can indulge and enjoy cakes, cookies and biscuits.

This is because the type of allergy I have unfortunately developed is to uncooked egg proteins. If you get an egg and throw it in a pan for a few minutes it will very probably make me sick, but if you bake it at a high temperature for a longer period of time (as you do in baking and also known as ‘baked’ egg), the higher temperature changes the nature of the proteins enough that my body can tolerate them. Which is pretty cool.

Basically it means that eggs in my breakfast is a no (unless I just have cake for breakfast), but eggs in baking are thankfully a yes!

Laying hen farm. High Park Wall Farm. Barnard Castle. Co. Durham. United Kingdom.

Eggs play such a big role in traditional baking. The fats and proteins in eggs provide flavour, create structure and stability to cakes, add moisture, bind biscuits and cookies, help thicken and emulsify sauces and custards, act as a glue or glaze and even create delicate meringues.

But have you ever really thought about where your eggs come from and what kind you are using in your kitchen?

When I first started baking (and didn’t really know what I was doing) I was using the cheapest ingredients, and to be honest with you, this included using caged eggs. I’m not proud of it now but back then I couldn’t see a difference between the stacks of similarly shaped egg boxes in the supermarket, except for the price. I’d heard of ‘free range’ and ‘high welfare’ eggs but I didn’t really understand what that meant for me, my bakes, or for the chickens.

As my knowledge of baking and the importance of quality ingredients grew, but I learned about the truth of ‘caged eggs’.

The tiny spaces the chickens are confined to sometimes for their entire life makes living conditions uncomfortable and even physically painful. Having such a poor quality of life is not only cruel and unfair, but of course, it impacts the quality of eggs they are able to lay.

When the hens are looked after and cared for properly, given room to roam around, fresh air as well as decent food and living conditions, the eggs they lay are naturally more nutritious and tasty (based on research by Compassion in World Farming on the nutritional value of higher welfare eggs vs. battery/ caged hens. The main benefits seem to be more omega-3, antioxidants and Vitamin E). They are generally deeper in the colour of the yolk and richer with a buttery flavour which makes for a much better and more consistent bake.

But sadly, around 50% of egg laying hens in the UK are still kept in battery cages.

So how can you be sure you’re buying good quality, high welfare eggs?

There are a number of phrases and logos to look out for on packages. The Lion Mark that you see on most eggs shows you that they were laid in Britain and that they keep to food safety standards. Free-range, ‘woodland’ and barn are all phrases you will see on egg boxes, but to know that the chickens have truly been looked after, you need to look out for the RSPCA Assured logo as well.

RSPCA Assured is an ethical food label dedicated to farm animal welfare. It sends assessors and farm livestock officers out to the farms to make sure that they meet strict welfare standards, which lays out the kind of food, shelter and environment that the chickens must have access to. This includes things like plenty of space, perches and litter for dustbathing and foraging.

Once the assessors are sure the farm is following these practices to give the chickens their best life, the eggs are given the special RSPCA Assured mark. This mark can be found on 90% of non-caged eggs sold in the UK, and 50% of all UK eggs, so they are very easy to get hold of. They are only just pennies per egg more than the low quality, low welfare alternatives.

L to R: Graham Atkinson (Contract Supplies Manager, Noble Foods), Stuart Richardson (farmer), Rob Howorth (Freedom Food Assessor). Laying hen farm. High Park Wall Farm. Barnard Castle. Co. Durham. United Kingdom.

I stopped buying caged eggs many years ago and I believe that my bakes have vastly improved in quality and taste since then. As someone who buys eggs regularly as a baking ingredient, it’s important to me to buy the right ones and doing so gives me a sense of doing something good. By buying higher welfare eggs and spending our money wisely, we can all show large corporations (retailers, farmers and the food industry) that happy hens are important to us as consumers.

I implore every baker out there to do their own independent research when it comes to where their ingredients come from and the ethics and welfare standards which surround them. If I could go back in time and use higher welfare eggs sooner, I would.

Happy hens lay better quality eggs, which make better quality bakes. Better for you, better for the chickens.

Happy baking!

Britt xo

Laying hen farm. High Park Wall Farm. Barnard Castle. Co. Durham. United Kingdom.

This is a sponsored post in partnership with RSPCA Assured.  All views and opinions are my own.

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