#ShareTheLove of baking this Christmas

I love to #ShareTheLove of baking at Christmas with friends and family. Sometimes this is with a simple baked cookie, or gingerbread. I have made jam and cakes and even my own mincemeat. This year I wanted to get the boy involved and #ShareTheLove of baking and decided that I would dig out our old family favourite Christmas cake recipe.

Our family recipe for Christmas cake is from our neighbour from when I was very small. Aunty Ursula was the lady in the road that all the kids used to go to for cake and sweet treats. My mum made friends with Ursula not long after we moved to Sussex, and was a source of much of my mum’s baking knowledge. A few years ago I was given the piece of paper with Ursula’s Xmas cake recipe. The paper almost as memorable as the cake itself and since then I have vowed to recreate the cake of my family Christmases.


Ursula’s cake is a lighter fruit cake, which can be baked right up until before Christmas as there is no need to feed the cake, unless you wanted too! I have also slightly altered the ingredients as me and the family don’t like mixed peel so I like to add chopped stem ginger into the mix. The recipe is also in pounds and oz. This is no problem weighing ingredients with digital scales but makes it interesting when trying to buy my ingredients.

I love the boy helping me in the kitchen as I remember helping my Nan who was the real baker of the family. It’s great to #ShareTheLove at Christmas even if the most I can get the boy doing is weighing the ingredients and having a wishing stir. Ok so he also enjoyed licking the spoon and declared the mix a success.

Whitworths are encouraging family’s to #ShareTheLove with the best ingredients and a beautiful story book of family and the true meaning of Christmas. Visit the website  and download this sweet tale, and their cake recipe from the story. Sometimes its good to have time to spend making and baking gifts that you can share with family and friends. I love traditions and maybe one day the boy will #ShareTheLove with his family and have a slice of cake that will remind him of his childhood Christmases too.

Disclaimer we were sent a selection or Whitworths ingredients so that we could bake our cake and share our story with you.

Potter’s Herbals Malt Extract

When I saw this recipe for oat energy bars from Potter’s Herbals and thought it would be a great after school snack for the boy. I am always on the lookout for easy foods for him in the after school hours when he would happily eat everything in the fridge. I was interested to read about the properties of Potters Herbals Malt Extract and finding out about the slow release of the sugars in malt extract mean that this recipe is a perfect energy choice.

Potter’s Herbals Malt Extract ­ a traditional, nutritious and versatile malt extract. Can be spread on bread and toast, added to cereals, used as a replacement for refined sugar in bread, cakes and general cooking, or taken by the spoonful as part of a balanced diet and healthy lifestyle.

  • Made using pure barley extract.
  • Free from artificial colours, flavours and preservatives.
  • Sugar in Potter’s Herbals Malt Extract is in the form of maltose, which converts to glucose during digestion. Glucose is stored as glycogen, which can be readily converted back to glucose for sustaining blood glucose levels and energy release.
  • Prepared by low temperature concentration to preserve the natural ingredients in an easily digestible form.

Potter’s Herbals orange, raisin and cranberry oat energy bar

This protein packed energy bar has the citrus zing of the orange, combined with the sweetness of the dried fruits and the nutty tang of peanut butter. The malt, peanut butter and oats all create a slow release energy bar that will keep you energised throughout the day.

Makes: 12 Prep time: 10-15 minutes, plus cooling Cook time: 20 minutes


100ml orange juice

75g stoned medjool dates, chopped

50g dried cranberries

50g raisins

75g Potter’s Herbals malt extract

75g peanut butter

150g porridge oats

50g pistachios, chopped

potter's herbals


1 Preheat the oven to 180C, 160C fan, gas 4. Grease and line a 20cm square tin with baking paper.  

2 Place the orange juice, dates, cranberries and raisins into a pan, bring to a gentle simmer and cook over a low heat for 5 minutes. Pour into a food processor and whizz until smooth. Pour into a bowl then stir in the malt, peanut butter and porridge oats until combined and sticky. Stir through the pistachios and spoon into the lined tin.  

potters herbals malt extract

3 Flatten down with a spoon and bake for 15 minutes, until just golden around the edges.  Remove from the oven and immediately score into 12 energy bars, then leave fully to cool in the tin. 

4 Once cool remove from the tin and place onto a chopping board. Cut into bars. These can be kept in an airtight container for up to 4 days. 

Tip: For an added treat, you can stir 100g white chocolate chips/chopped white chocolate into the mixture.

potters herbals energy bars

I substituted a few ingredients in my bars as I found I didn’t have raisins so added cherry’s and currants instead. We didn’t add the nuts as the boy is not keen and I think my next batch might have to include banana chips as they are one of the boys favourite. My finished Potter’s Herbals cereal bars smelt amazing and tasted even better, they certainly went down well with the boy who loved the peanut buttery taste.

I was sent malt extract to try out this recipe, and would recommend it as a better alternative to refined sugar. Potters Herbals range can be bought online, or in Waitrose, Boots, Holland and Barrett and health food stores. Visit their website for more information.


The Fencing Cake!

The Fencing cake idea came about from a dinner table discussion where the boy announced that he thought as I was at home all day I would have lots of time to make him a cake. After a bit of deliberation I secretly agreed with him and a seed of an idea was formed.

First though you need a little bit of history, as I don’t like cooking, or should I say didn’t like cooking before I left work. I am not a food lover never have been. I do however like a spot of cake, but feeling like I could never make a cake as good as my Nan, my cakes came from packets. I have made some great cakes, but all of them courtesy of my good friend Betty Crocker.

Ok I did have one other attempt at a cake, and with lots of advice from two good friends, one who is a chef, and the other who has done cake courses and made some beautiful cakes. The resulting microwave cake was tasty and looked as planned, a purple octopus cake. The Fencing cake however was going to be a bit more of a challenge, as it was going to have figures.

I set about my research, and after a long discussion with Miss L and a look through some of her modelling and recipe books. A simple sponge recipe with: 220g soft butter, 220g caster sugar, 220g self raising flour, 4 eggs and 100g cocoa powder mixed with hot water, would make the base for my chocolate cake. I cheated and bought some vanilla fudge icing as I have had too many disasters that I wasn’t willing to risk it, this would be my only concession. The ingredients were bought, and with some borrowed tools, cocktail sticks I started what turned out to be a weeks work. I did think about other themes for the boy’s Birthday cake, but there is one thing in his life bigger than all the others so a Fencing cake was the only option.

fencing cake 1

Day 1, and fencer number one. I had my instructions on how to roll and mix the flour paste with the fondant icing, adding colours for the mask, glove and socks. Luckily fencers are mostly white. This proved to make for an easier time, although I still needed some highlight colours. With the help of the book, and sizes for each part, making the first fencer only took 2 hours. I was rather pleased with the results, and adding detail with a food dye pen was a great touch. Confident that number 2 would be ok, I hid him in an airy place to dry out.

fencing cake 2

Day 2, and Fencer number 2. This fencer was going to represent the boy and both Fencers would stand proudly on the cake. I had all my mixed icing, tools and weapons at the ready. But as the first fencer was in a right-handed pose I realised that Fencer 2 would have to be left-handed to add them flat to the cake. There would be no going back now as the boy is a right-handed Fencer! The worst bit was making stripe socks, as my red icing kept melting and going sticky!

fencing cake 3

Day 3 and time to bake! The cake mixed up ok, as I have my lovely new mixer that I treated myself to earlier in the year. It didn’t curdle like other cakes have and was rising beautifully. I wanted the finished cake to be long and skinny like a Fencing pieste, so baked a square cake with plans to chop it in half. A few added touches made, score board, stars and a birthday star, and all was going well.

fencing 4

Day 4 time to put some of the parts together, the cake had baked a bit lop sided but some careful cutting and turning and I managed to get it level. the fudge icing was great and a lovely contrast to the dark cake. Only problem was the crumbs that came off the cake. I was covering this with fondant so know one would ever know! I rolled out my grey icing, and prepared to lift onto the cake. This cake wasn’t small so lifting was a problem. As I got it over the cake it cracked, there was no going back as it was on fudge icing, not like a marzipaned cake that you can remove and try again. I was annoyed with myself, but finished off, trimmed the icing and did the best I could.

fencing cake 5

Day 5, and a restless night worrying about what to do now. My worst fears realised, yes the thunderstorm and high humidity in the night had caused both of the fencers to start to melt. Yes this can happen! A crack across the top and a bodge on the sides and things were not looking good. This is where some creative thinking was needed. A trip to Hobby Craft, and some co-ordinating ribbons which I tacked up on the sewing machine. that was the sides sorted. I rolled more icing for the top to make a pieste to cover the cracks. There was no way the fencers would stand up so taking fencer 2 as it was most like the boy, I set out the top of the cake.

fencing cake

The Fencing cake was finished. I can say it was a labour of love, and something I certainly would do again. I have complete respect for people who make wedding cakes as it must be super nerve-wracking. The best part was the look on my boys face when he saw the cake. I presented it to him at his fencing club, he had no idea at all. They sang Happy Birthday, then all had a piece to share his day.

the cake is finished

So , yes I am at home all day, and yes I can make a cake. If it makes my boy smile than that is all the reward I need. We still have the fencer as the boy doesn’t want to eat him, and now a whole club who want me to make fencers out of icing for them!

This post  is my entry into The Great Denby Cake Off,you can find out more about the competition here



Let’s Bake by Cathryn Dresser

If you and your kids love baking then have a look at this book from former Great British Bake off contestant Cathryn Dresser. Let’s Bake is a new book from Orion Books, packed with 52 fun bright recipes to get your kids into baking.

I loved watching the TV series and remember watching Cathryn, she may not have won, but I think all the contestants were amazing in their own way. Cathryn clearly has a love of baking and inspiring the next generation. With two children of her own Cathryn who appeared in the 2012 series has some great ideas on how to get your kids into the kitchen.

lets bake

Let’s Bake is conveniently split into seasons starting with Spring, there are a lovely mix of not just cake recipes but also savoury, breads, and even meal ideas. The boy and I decided that we would like to have a go at making the cheese and Marmite helter skelters. The boy and I are big Marmite fans so these pastry twists would be a fab lunch box treat.

marmite twists

Let’s Bake has a nice balance of full colour pictures so you can see how your finished bake should look. Alongside step by step detailed pictures, top tips and a list of what you will need to complete your baking creation. I think this book has a nice mix of more complicated bakes, alongside the usual easy to create recipes, with plenty of lovely looking cakes. With a hard cover it will not get dog-eared in the kitchen and hopefully survive our messy cooking style. I know the boy will enjoy trying out a few more of the recipes from this book, the terrific tiffin looks particularly appetizing.

lets bake summer

You can buy Let’s Bake now from bookshops and online for RRP £12.99.

Disclaimer we were sent a copy of this book to review, the opinions remain our own and have not been altered.

Baking with Fruit Bowl

We were excited to be sent some samples of Fruit Bowl snacks as I often buy these as a healthy snacks for the boy either as an after school treat, or for his lunch box. We have enjoyed the fruit sea and jungle shapes the most as these little fruity gems have an amazing flavour to them. The boy likes the peelers as these are a fun and different way to enjoy fruit.

fruit bowl fruit snacks

I decided to do something a little different and bake with Fruit Bowl Strawberry Flakes. You can find some interesting recipes here on their website, and I chose to try:

Fruit Flakes Muffins

makes about 12 standard sized muffins

  • 255g plain flour (if using self-raising flour, decrease baking powder to 1 tsp)
  • 15ml (3 tsp) baking powder
  • 2.5ml (0.5 tsp) salt
  • 85 – 100g fine granulated (varying depending on how sweet you like your muffins)
  • 1 egg
  • 240ml Milk
  • 90ml vegetable oil OR 85g butter, melted
  • 100 – 140g Fruit Flakes®, single flavour or mixed

Prepare muffin tins with liners or grease lightly. Preheat the oven to 190 – 200ºc, gas mark 5 – 6. Adjust as necessary for fan assisted ovens. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. In a separate bowl, beat the egg with a fork. Stir in milk followed by the oil/melted butter. Pour all of the liquid ingredients into the dry mixture. Stir until just combined, scraping the sides and bottom of the bowl as you stir. This mixing should only take about 30 seconds – too much mixing and your muffins will be ‘heavy’. The batter will be lumpy but no dry flour should be visible. Add the Fruit Flakes® and mix in using 1 or 2 strokes. Fill the muffin liners 3/4 full. Bake for 20 – 25 minutes until tops are lightly browned and spring back when pressed gently. Allow to cool for several minutes to make it easier to remove them from the tray. Best served warm.

baking with fruit bowl fruit flakes

The boy and I made these muffins together, and I think we may have over mixed our mixture as our muffins came out looking more like little fairy cakes. We had used five packets of Fruit Bowl Strawberry Fruit Flakes, but I think we could have used less as they were very fruity. The taste was lovely and the boy enjoyed having the muffins in his lunch box for school. I have never tried cooking with something like this but I guess it is no different really, to using dried fruit. Looking at other recipe’s on the Fruit Bowl site there are some very different uses for their snacks, from brownies and cookies to scones and caramel fingers!

strawberry fruit flake muffins

I love all the snacks from Fruit Bowl, and the boy has enjoyed finding some new flavours that he hadn’t tried before. He is not so fond of the School Bars for some reason, but I can guarantee if I put Sea Shapes in his lunch box that the packet will always come home empty.

Fruit bowl snacks are available from all the main supermarkets, although not all of them stock the full range. Have a look on the website to see which shops stock which snacks. With all the fruit bowl snacks they have no added sugar and are additive free, so I have no problems recommending them as a healthy alternative to chocolate and sweets, while also making up one of your 5 a day.

Disclaimer, we were sent a selection of snacks to try the opinions remain our own and have not been altered.


Cake Angels, cakes for Mothers Day

I have found a new love for baking in the last few months and have moved from the Mum that would only ever use a packet mix to one who is more than happy to experiment. So when Cake Angels offered to send me some baking goodies I was very excited. I thought Mothers day would be just the opportunity to share my latest bake with you. Made from my new Leiths cookbook, the Chocolate and Fudge cake was a winner, and you can find the recipe in  the Leith’s cooking bible at the bottom of the post.cake angels

This mix makes a lovely fudgy soft chocolate cake. I think it would freeze well but have not tried yet as this cake doesn’t last more than a day in our house! Onto the decoration, and with the help of Cake Angels we made a super cake for our friend Miss L and the rest of the Steel Band. Everyone said how pretty it was and with lots of different types of sprinkles the boy had a great time decorating it. Cake Angels had sent us some icing, which is a great store cupboard item as it has a long shelf life and keeps well once opened for your next cake. The icing wasn’t too sweet like others I have tried and the Vanilla flavour made a nice contrast to the rich chocolate cake.

chocolate cake

We loved all the sprinkles, from the chocolate whirls and hearts, to the pretty pink flowers. The boy decided to use Mario bombs on the cake this time, and thought they looked very effective. Cake Angels have such a great range of decorations that I am sure there is something perfect for every occasion, and I know I will be stocking up on icing, as my only go at making it myself ended in disaster!

The Cake Angel range can be found in your local supermarket and for inspiration why not pop along and look at their Pintrest page, or find them on Facebook, and Twitter.

.Disclaimer, we received a selection of products to review, the opinions remain our own and have not been altered.

Cook it Step by Step from DK books

Cook it Step by Step from DK books is a fun book full of 100b easy to learn and cook recipe’s. With an easy to understand introduction to terms techniques and healthy eating this is a great book to introduce kids to the joys of cooking for themselves. The first 11 pages cover everything from ways to cook, to preparation and other useful terms, before setting off on some fun breakfast recipes. Classics such as eggy bread, ways with eggs and smoothie, each page has a great mix of text and pictures.

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Chapters include Breakfast Bites, Light Bites, Main Meals, and Sweet things, but my favourite has to be the party planning and dinner party pages at the back of the book. I love the suggestions of making place cards stamps with a potato and how to use the recipes inside to make a 3 course meal or even picnic.

The format of this book is typical of the books produced by DK books, and the boy and I will be trying out some of the meal ideas as the boy gets more involved in the kitchen. I will also use this cookbook as I have wanted to make a fridge cake for a while and now I know how!

If you would like the chance to win over £100 of fantastic DK books just like this one then why not take the time to enter my rafflecopter giveaway that ends on #WorldBookDay Thursday 6th March.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Terms & Conditions:
  • The giveaway is open to the UK only
  • It is mandatory to leave a comment in the post comment section answering the question specified. Other tasks completed will gain additional entries. The winner will be checked to make sure they have both left a comment and completed the task for the winning entry.
  • Winner will be drawn by the Rafflecopter randomly.
  • The winner will be sent an e-mail to the e-mail address left at time of entry. The winner will need to reply to the e-mail within 7 days of the notification. Every effort will be made to contact the winner, but if no response is made within the 7 days a new winner will be chosen.
  • The prize details are stated at the top of the Rafflecopter, and no alternatives will be offered.
  • The prize will be posted by the promoter, unfortunately I cannot be held responsible or replace missing parcels. Please contact me if there is a problem.
  • #World Book Day additional terms: please allow 28 days from 6th March 2014 for your prizes to arrive
  • For a simple guide to Rafflecopter, please read Di Coke’s Rafflecopter Guide

Baking with One Stop Craft Shop

Over Christmas we were sent some baking supplies to try from the One Stop Craft Shop. As the name suggests they sell all the craft supplies you could ever need, and also have a great selection of baking tools for use whatever the occasion.

We couldn’t wait to get baking and the Scout Fair seemed the ideal place to start.
Our box of goodies contained a pack of icing stickers, these had a Christmas theme with Santa and snowmen. I have never used these before, they were very easy and effective way to decorate our home-made cakes. The boy was very pleased with his efforts and found the pre printed icing stickers easy to handle and place on the cakes. Plus they not only looked good but tasted pretty nice too.

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We were also sent a Wilton festive roller cutter at £6.75 which we used to make some festive icing shapes. This cutter has 5 different cutting shapes and could also be used to make small festive cookies. You can easily remove the cutters from the handy wheel in order to just make one, or roll along happily for speedy shape cutting!

The final item in our goodie box was a family of Wilton gingerbread family cutters, at £4.75. We had the most fun with these, practicing our gingerbread recipe ready for our gingerbread house. We decided to make gingerbread fencers. With a slight adaptation to how we cut each figure making one arm longer to hold a sword.  The boy and I had great fun, and ended  making over 60 gingerbread biscuits. We made a selection of fencers, spectators and parents, which the fencing club members were very impressed with.

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I was very impressed with the quality of all the baking supplies we were sent, at very reasonable prices. With an impressive range of baking goods as well as crafts on their website I will be investing in a few more fun baking goods in the future.

Disclaimer we were went a sample of goods for review the opinions remain ours and have been unchanged.