Cupcake heaven

We have been really inspired by a cupcake site on the internet and so I bought various PDF guides that they sell. These cakes were created by Jo, our accounts person, using inspirations from Carina and also some ideas of her own.

Cupcakes have a wonderful way of making people smile – often on a glum day. Offering round a plate of cakes in the office brings out smiles from all of us! My younger daughter, Emily, is a huge cake making fan and she had said that making people at university and her current job placement, pretty cakes has had excellent results!

Vanilla cupcakes recipe:
(makes 12 cupcakes)

  • 110g butter
  • 110g caster sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 110g self raising flour
  • 1tsp vanilla
  • 1-2 tbsp milk


  • 140g butter
  • 280g Icing sugar
  • 1-2tbsp milk

Cream the butter and sugar – add the eggs a little at a time. Then add the flour and vanilla, add a little bit of milk. Pile into cake cases and bake for about 20 minutes in a medium oven. Allow to cool thoroughly before icing.

The variety of ways that these are decorated all use sugar paste but they have had touches of the metallic food paints and decorations that we sell. Our cake department is growing every week now so if you enjoy playing with cakes it might be worth a browse around!  

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Doggy treats!

Now if I ever wanted to launch these as a commercial product – I know one little chap that would happily endorse them – if only I could keep his nose away from them long enough to show them on TV. These liver treats are Welly’s idea of heaven.

Forget tedious old store bought goodies in bone shapes or sticks – better even than rawhide or smelly socks (yes another bad habit Wellington). These treats are simple to make and I have yet to find a four legged friend that doesn’t go crazy when they are near enough to smell – Welly can find them even when they are sealed in a plastic bag! 

  • Cover some thinly sliced liver with boiling water and boil for about 15 minutes or so.
  • Rinse the liver well as it looks a bit manky (technical term?) and improves when you give it a good rinsing.
  • Arrange the liver flat onto a baking sheet and bake in a moderate oven for about 15-20 minutes.
  • Once they have cooked – break into bite sized pieces and store in an airtight container… which the dog can’t reach!

As you can see from our photo shoot, Welly was driven mad by the smell and when we pretended not to be looking… sneakily photographed him in
 the act of stealing the goods!!!




Caramel apple cake

This week it is decidedly nippy and, therefore, cake weather! This caramel apple cake is a lovely light but rich cake, if such a thing is possible, and is perfect to have with a nice cup of tea on a cold afternoon. I know, because I did after we’d taken the photo!

To make the cake:

  • 500g Flour
  • 2tsp baking Powder
  • 1tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 2tsp cinnamon
  • 1tsp ground all spice
  • 1tsp ground cloves
  • 300g butter (room temp)
  • 500g caster sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 500g apple sauce (2 small shop bought jars if you must, or homemade)
  1. Line 3 x 8 inch tins and preheat oven to 180º (160º fan oven).
  2. Mix flour, baking powder, bicarbonate and spice in one bowl and put to one side.
  3. Cream butter and sugar, then gradually add eggs, then fold in flour mixture until combined.
  4. Finally add the apple sauce until just combined.
  5. Pour mixture into your 3 tins and pop in the oven for about 40 minutes.
  6. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely before decorating.

Cream cheese frosting

  • 120g cream cheese (I used Philadelphia, but a low fat option can be used)
  • 120g butter (room temperature)
  • 250g Icing sugar (more or less can be added depending on how sweet you want it)
  • 1tsp vanilla extract

Combine all in a bowl using an electric mixture until smooth.

Caramel sauce

  • 120g light brown sugar
  • 120g butter
  • 100ml full cream milk or double cream

Melt the sugar and butter in a sauce pan for about 5 minutes, being careful not to burn the sauce, then stir in milk or cream and stir until a smooth consistency is achieved, about 2 minutes.

Finally, layer your cake with the frosting then cover completely (as I have done) or you could add more frosting between layers and just cover the top of the cake. Now comes the best bit… pour over the caramel sauce! Yum yum…!


A real Valentine’s ‘sweet heart’!

These sweet little cakes would make a great Valentine themed treat. The mould is available from our website and you just put one on top of another to make little layered cakes – cute don’t you think? The great thing about making an edible present for Valentine’s day is that you both get to eat it!

Chocolate Hearts

To make the cakes:

  • 60g cocoa powder
  • 240ml boiling water
  • 175g all purpose flour
  • 2tsp baking powder
  • 1/4tsp salt
  • 115g butter
  • 200g sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 190º C.

  1. Mix cocoa powder into boiling water.
  2. In a separate bowl combine the flour, baking powder and salt.
  3. Cream the butter and sugar, then add the eggs one at a time and finally add vanilla.
  4. Sift the flour mixture into butter, sugar and egg mixture and combine, then add the cocoa mixture and combine.
  5. Spoon into heart cases and then once these are full fill a few ordinary cupcake cases and bake for about 15mins.

Chocolate Fudge Topping

  • 120g dark chocolate
  • 150g butter
  • 160g icing sugar
  • 1tsp vanilla extract
  1. Melt the chocolate in a bowl over simmering water or in a microwave.
  2. Cream the butter, sugar and vanilla.
  3. Combine both mixtures together.
  4. Then pipe or spread over cooled cakes.

These hearts were decorated with pink fondant roses, but if you wanted a simpler feel, you could use chocolate buttons or any other decorations you have.


A warming winter soup

Whatever did we do before the butternut squash? This rich, creamy vegetable is so versatile I can’t remember life before it arrived on the scene and yet it is a relatively recent addition to our shopping lists in this country. Roasted, toasted, puréed or mashed its lovely golden colour and rich taste make it a very valuable veg.

Butternut squash soup is an absolute winner for me as it tastes rich and creamy – yet contains no cream or milk and can be a very healthy meal.

To make the soup:

  • 1 butternut squash
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 1 large potato, peeled and diced
  • 2 tbl spoon of olive oil
  • A knob of butter
  • 1 pint of vegetable stock
  • 3 tsp ground cumin
  • Season to taste
  1. Peel the butternut squash. Discard the pulp in the centre and chop the remaining flesh into chunks.
  2. Heat the oil in a large saucepan, add the onion, butternut squash and potato and the butter and cook until brown and caramelised.
  3. As the mixture starts to caramelise, add the garlic, taking care not to let it catch and burn, and the cumin.
  4. Pour in the stock and simmer for 20 minutes. Remove from the heat, leave to cool slightly and then blend using a food processor or one of those really useful hand blenders.

This makes a thick soup that you may want to dilute more with some water. If I’m going to freeze it (and it freezes very well) I leave it like this to save space and dilute it when I defrost it.

Variations on a theme…

I’ve also developed some variations on the above recipe. Adding a leek or two is a nice change, but a current favourite is adding a sweet potato instead of the ordinary potato. This makes for an even more wonderful colour and lovely flavour.

Another option that I am currently mad about is adding 2 tsp of smoked paprika and just one of cumin. This adds a wonderful smoky warmth and quite transforms the soup.

If you serve this as a starter then a swirl of cream or dollop of crème fraîche looks nice, or some artistically ‘dribbled’ pesto is good too!