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.

 

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.

Happy 1st Birthday Chrome Pole Studio!

09/18

If you follow me on Instagram you may know one of my other passions is aerial fitness (check out my aerial Instargam here!). The two I love and do regularly are pole fitness and aerial hoop.  I’ve been doing it on and off for 10 years and went back properly two years ago. This week marks the first birthday of the the pole school I learn with, Chrome. We had a birthday party at the weekend and I offered to make a cake for the occasion!

It’s a 6″ round vanilla madeira cake and an 8″ round chocolate madeira cake, both made using my recipe here where you can find a link to a cake calculator to work out the mix for different size tins. The 6″ was split with a cake leveller, filled and crumb coated with vanilla buttercream before being iced with Renshaw black sugarpaste. I usually mix up my own colours but I have a few exceptions, black being one of them. Life is too damn short to colour icing that dark so for the sake of my sanity I spend a little more and buy pre-coloured. My buttercream recipe can also be found on my madeira cake recipe page here.

The 8″ round chocolate madeira was split with a cake leveller, filled and crumb coated with lovely chocolate buttercream. This was then iced white with Renshaw Extra (I really like this stuff!) smoothed with Super Sharp Edge Smoothers and left to set overnight. Once the sugarpaste had hardened, I sprayed it using a PME Silver Lustre spray. This was much easier and quicker than hand painting it.

Once that tier had dried, I measured and cut 5 wooden dowels to go into it as the 6″ would be stacked on top. I then carefully lifted this tier and stuck it to the middle of a 10″ round cake drum  which I had iced with black supermarket icing the day before. I tend to use cheaper icing to cover my boards with as it’s not going to be eaten and I don’t have to worry about the strength of the sugarpaste. It doesn’t matter what kind of icing you cover your boards with, just as long as you COVER YOUR DAMN CAKE BOARDS. I stuck the tier down with a thin spread of royal icing. The cement of the cake decorating world.

I then spread a layer of royal icing on top of the 8″ cake, making sure to cover the tops of the dowels, and carefully placed on the 6″ round. I then left this to set and dry a little before decorating.

For the decorations I cut out a lot of stars in different sizes and I made a silver and black starburst by using black flower paste and white Mexican paste which I painted silver with lustre dust and rejuvenator spirit. I also used an acrylic pole dancer topper I got from eBay.

I stuck some of the stars to the cake with royal icing and pushed a few into the sides of the cake once they had dried completely overnight.

I then used double sided tape to add a 15mm silver ribbon to the cake drum and a little tape to add a 25mm black ribbon for the base tier and silver ribbon for the top tier. I finished this off with a string of diamantes which I secured at the back of the cake with a little royal icing.

I also cut out a personalised message and name of the studio using tappit cutters and Mexican paste. I painted these silver the same way I painted the stars.

I’m really pleased with how it turned out and it looked so good at the party!

To learn more about how to stack and decorate a tiered cake, check out my wedding cake course here – currently 50% off!!

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!

 

My TEDx Talk!

08/18

Oh my goodness. It’s finally here! My TEDxFolkestone talk is now live on the TEDx YouTube channel!

Back in June I fulfilled one of my lifetime ambitions by doing a TEDx talk. This is one of my proudest achievements, something I’ve always wanted to do and I’m so happy I get to share it with you all.

My talk is about my journey, mental health and how baking played a big part in it all.
Thank you so much to everyone for all of your kind words and support leading up to this. I’m overwhelmed. Here’s to TEDx 2018.

It was so stressful, but an absolutely brilliant experience that I will remember for the rest of my life!

Britt xo

 

My 30th Birthday!

07/18

This week I had my 30th birthday! It was an absolutely amazing day which consisted of breakfast in bed, a surprise home-made escape room, a trip to the Harry Potter Studio tours and my favourite meal cooked for me. Tim treated me like an absolute Queen and I am so very thankful.

On top of this amazing day, I held a 30th birthday party at the weekend and it was a very special party indeed. It was the Harry Potter/Slytherin themed party I wanted to have when I was 16 but sadly my mum was too ill for it to happen. I knew one day I would make it a reality and it may have taken 13 years to do it, but I’m so glad I did.

I’ve been a Harry Potter fan most of my life, with the first book actually coming out on my 9th birthday! It’s something that means a lot to me, I’ve even got a Deathly Hallows tattoo! So when it came time to make my cake, it was clear there was going to be a lot of green, a few snakes and other magical goodies involved.

I’ve made my own birthday cake since I first started baking and it’s always something I look forward to designing and making each year. Here are some of the cakes I’ve made over the years.

 

This years cake was a vanilla madeira ’30’ numbered cake made using tins I hired from my local cake shop. You can read more about how to bake and ice number cakes in my blog post here. I actually referred to this post several times while making this!

The buttercream was a vanilla buttercream I coloured green to match my outward Slytherin theme. All the decorations were handmade and edible and made from either modelling paste or Mexican paste. The modelling paste was used for the bulk of the toppers with the Mexican paste being used for the wings of the Golden Snitch, stars and tappit cutter message. You can read more about putting messages onto cakes using tappit cutters here.

The cakes themselves were iced using Renshaw Extra which I coloured ivory and dusted cocoa powder onto the edges. The footprints were painted with black powder colour iced with rejuvenator spirit.

I then sprayed the whole thing with pearl lustre spray to give it a little magical sparkle.

I really love how it turned out and it looked great as a centrepiece at the party!!

More pictures below including some party pics!!

Happy baking!

Britt xo

Llama Birthday Cake!

05/18

My friend Jodie is obsessed with llamas and alpacas. I think if she had her way she would move to a farm and live, surrounded by them. It’s her birthday this month and, as one of the perks of being friends with She Who Bakes, I wanted to surprise her with a birthday cake for her party at the weekend.

I knew I wanted to make something llama based but I had no idea where to start. I had thought I would make a lovely chocolatey drip cake and buy a toy llama to stick on top that she could keep, but then one evening as I was scrolling through Instagram, my cake problems were solved!

I had seen a new post by one of my favourite talented bakers. Billie from Sweetie Darling. She had just posted a tutorial to make a llama cake on her YouTube channel! It was like cakey fate. So, following her fantastic tutorial (that you can find here) I made this lovely llama cake for my equally lovely friend Jodie!

 

I wanted a super tall cake so I started by making two 6″ round madeira cakes; one vanilla and one chocolate. I split these both into three sections as always and then I stacked them alternately, filling with lovely cream coloured vanilla buttercream. I then crumb coated the whole thing twice, chilling briefly in between coats and then it was time to decorate!

I followed all of Billie’s instructions you can find on her YouTube video with the only exception that I covered the side of cake with a small panel of sugarpaste instead of icing the whole thing (which she said was absolutely fine!). It was all explained so well, and I absolutely adore the end result!

Happy Birthday Jodie! I hope you enjoyed eating Larry the Llama as much as I enjoyed making him!

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!

No Bake Recipes

05/18

In the heat of summer when you fancy a sweet treat but can’t bear the thought of putting the oven on, no bake recipes are the way to go! I’ve compiled my favourite oven-free creations below, simply click on the picture to be taken to the full recipe and method.

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

Peanut Butter Cups by She Who Bakes

Snickers Cereal Bars by She Who BakesMint Aero Cheesecake Recipe

Kinder Bueno FudgeCustard Cream Cheesecake

Mini Egg Rocky Road Recipe by She Who Bakesfrozen banana chocolate peanut butter bites

Daim Fridge Cakespeanut butter chocolate squares

Cookie Dough Stuffed Oreoscoconut ice

Valentine's Strawberry CreamsAfter Eight Mint Chocolate Bark

Creme Egg Brownies

03/18

I absolutely love Creme Eggs. I think they are a fab little Easter treat and I love baking with them. I’m seeing a few friends and loved ones over the Easter holidays so I thought I would bake up something tasty to take with me and share with them!

I’ve made a few tasty recipes with them in the past including Creme Egg Cookies and Creme Egg Cake but one recipe I found on the Cadbury UK Facebook page years ago for Creme Egg Brownies came out so perfect the time I made it, I return to it time and time again. I mean, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it right? You can find the full recipe here.

You can always, of course, use your favourite brownie recipe for this too. Just add in the Creme Eggs halfway through baking! I’ve made it before with my Triple Threat Brownies and it’s come out equally as delicious!

The following pictures are taking from my Instagram stories which I highly recommend to watch as I often post how to videos and step by step tutorials whenever I’m in the kitchen.

Equipment wise you will need;

  • 8×10″ baking tin (I’m using two tins as I’m making two trays of brownies!)
  • greaseproof paper
  • pencil & scissors
  • Cake release

The only difference between what I did and the Cadbury UK recipe is I baked at 180c fan instead of 160c and I baked for about 20 minutes before pushing in the Creme Eggs and baked for a further 10 minutes. It all depends how squishy you want you brownie!

Cut into pieces and enjoy!

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

Happy Easter and 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!

Learning To Love Easter Again

03/18

Learning to love festive occasions after a bereavement can be incredibly hard. Sometimes even more so if the bereavement happened around that time.

Easter was always a fun and loving occasion in my household. Comprising of family time, watching the same films on VHS (if you don’t know what that is, ask someone approaching 30…) and eating a small mountain of chocolate. What’s not to love? Unfortunately however, as the years passed Easter became one of a trio of events I would begin dread in the spring. The other two being Mother’s Day and the day my mum died.

When I sadly lost my mum back in April 2005, it was shortly after Mother’s Day, which was at the start of March and Easter, which was at the end of March. The flowers I had bought her for Mother’s Day were still in a vase on the table, wilting a little, but still colourful. The Easter Egg I had bought her was still sitting on the side, she had been too ill to eat it and said she would enjoy it soon. But of course, she never did.

I remember being lucky that year in that even though I was just 16 however (in my own words) ‘grown up’ I was, my mum had bought me two Easter eggs. Well, one was an egg and the other was a pair of modelled white chocolate shoes. I had eaten the egg on Easter Sunday but the shoes, for some reason, I kept on my shelf. I thought they were too pretty to eat. After mum died I kept those shoes until they disintegrated. It had been one of the last things she had ever bought me and to be honest, it hurt too much to throw it away.

The following year I remember falling apart on Mother’s Day. Even now, years later, Mother’s Day is always a painful occasion for me for obvious reasons. I had grown to accept that a day dedicated to telling your mum how much you love her was going to be painful. But Easter, that was one I didn’t expect to get to me. That year Easter fell right in the middle of the one year anniversary since I lost her. I couldn’t even look at an Easter egg without my eyes filling with tears. I kept remembering the egg she never ate. How long it sat there until I had the courage to throw it away. To me it sounded so silly, it was just chocolate and yet it was affecting me so much.

I had come to realise that March and April were always going to be hard months for me. Mother’s Day, Easter and the anniversary of her death. I always felt that once those were out of the way I could then get on and enjoy the rest of my year. It was like an invisible black mark on my calendar.

When I started baking years later and I started baking for other people, I was asked to make Mother’s Day cupcakes and Easter themed cakes. It was hard at first but then I found a way to channel how I felt into creating tasty bakes for other people. Then, when I stopped making commission cakes, I still continued this by baking Easter themed recipes for my blog. It was a way I found I could enjoy the occasions. That said, even now years later when I work for brands and companies, which is a side of my business I adore, I tend to stay away from anything to do with Mother’s Day. I find I can’t in all good faith write cheerfully about a day which causes me so much pain. Maybe one day I will be able to, but I certainly can’t yet.

It’s been 13 years this year since I last saw my beautiful mum’s face, heard her laugh or was able to ask her advice. I lost her when I was just 16. I have such a big year this year, I’m turning 30 in June, I’m doing a TEDx talk (which has been one of my big ambitions) and I’m marrying the man of my dreams in September. I would give anything for her to come wedding dress shopping with me. My mum and I had such a special relationship, she was a single parent raising me to be the best woman I could be, but she never got to see how her teaching and influence turned out. I think it’s all of these factors which make me realise that I’m still grieving. I’m still feeling the pain of her loss on a daily basis. You may think that 13 years is long enough to ‘get over’ the loss of someone but I assure you it isn’t. I don’t think it’s ever something I’ll ‘get over’. I am, however, working towards being able to think and talk about her in a way which leaves me with a smile on my face, rather than in a tearful mess. Some days are better than others.

What I have learnt over the last 13 years, however, is that I can be happy. I can learn to love special occasions again. I can enjoy Easter with my loved ones.

Spring is such a beautiful time of the year with all of the new growth, the colours emerging and the chance for a new beginning. It may have taken me a while to embrace it again but embrace it I shall. With open arms. That’s what my mum would have wanted.

If you are missing someone, grieving or struggling with a bereavement please talk to someone and please, please be kind to yourself. You are allowed to miss them. You are allowed to think about them. You are allowed to cry. It’s shit, it really is. But I promise, you will be ok.

Happy Easter,

Britt xo

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