About my baking challenge

I discovered the joy of baking for the first time ever in 2013, shortly after my dear mum passed away from cancer. During 2014 I tried to bring these two things together in a positive way , have fun and raise some money for Ashgate Hospice in Chesterfield where my mum passed away. Throughout the year I tried out new techniques and recipes from time to time ... and then sold some of my bakes for charity in my workplace. Since then I have continued to bake with some ups and downs .. and this blog charts my baking experiences, good and bad!

Tuesday 24 May 2016

Warrington Clandestine Cake Club - Fit For A Queen!

Hi everyone ...
Long time no post from me, but I've been inspired to post this evening as I have just got home from this evening's meeting of the Warrington Clandestine Cake Club ... and what a brilliant time we had!!
Due to various personal reasons I haven't been to a meeting of the CCC for quite a long time; but I decided to attend this one as following the departure of the previous lovely co-ordinator, the running of the branch has been taken over by my former colleague Jen Perry and her baking buddy Mitch Poole. Indeed several of us from the office decided to go along to support them.

The theme was

Cakes Fit For A Queen

.. to celebrate the Queen's recent 90th birthday.

There was a right royal turn out with almost 20 bakers in attendance plus quite a few guests, and a stunning variety  of cakes on offer including (but not limited to)

Royal Red Velvet cake
Victoria sponge
Various yummy sponges with cream and berries
Mc Fraisier Cake
Trifle cheesecake
Carrot cake
Orange and seed cake
Vanilla and coconut cake
Ginger cake
Chocolate biscuit cake
Lamington sponge
Orange drizzle cake

I made a variation on an orange drizzle cake with orange buttercream icing and filling, inspired by the fact that last year's GBBO winner Nadiya was recently commissioned to make something along similar lines (but rather grander!) for the Queen's actual birthday celebration!

The event was held in the Gallery Café, Bank Quay House, Sankey Street in Warrington, and it was a great location ... the room was large and airy with a big table for us all to sit around; and Mei who owns and runs the café was really lovely and helpful.

A special mention should go to our new organiser Jen Perry, who  has recently left work with us at Warrington  Borough Council to start up her own afternoon tea and vintage china hire business - Room Forty.
Jen contributed some of her lovely vintage china place settings, cake stands and other decorations to set up the table, making for a lovely setting.  Also although all the cakes were fabulous Jen had also gone the extra mile to create a "showstopper" Royal Red Velvet cake with a sculptured chocolate crown!!

All in all we had a fantastic evening ... can't wait for the next one!

I'll be back soon with the recipe for the orange drizzle cake ...

Sunday 20 December 2015

A real showstopper!

I haven't really had either the opportunity or the inclination to do much baking this year, as my dear dad was very ill through most of the year with cancer, until sadly he passed away in November. We live in Liverpool and he was in and out of hospital in Derbyshire, so trying to help him, keep an eye on him and travel whilst still doing a full time job has been a bit of a challenge over the past months. Although it's still early days, I thought I would like to try to get back into some baking, and was provided with the ideal opportunity when my department at work announced a "Christmas crafty" competition, to take place on the same day as our departmental Christmas buffet. So I thought I would try to kill two birds with one stone, and bake some kind of "showstopper" to contribute to both events. As my baking skills are not enormous I thought it must be something that could provide a "wow" factor but would not be too difficult ... so I settled on trying to make a gravity defying cake!

Black Forest Surprise Gravity Defying Cake

For the cake:
50g cocoa
6 tbsp boiling water
3 eggs
2 tbsp milk
175g self raising flour
1 rounded tsp baking powder
100g softened unsalted butter
300g caster sugar

For the filling:
100g softened unsalted butter
200g icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
3-4 tbsp morello cherry jam (I used Sainsbury's Taste The Difference Morello Cherry Conserve)
1-2 tsp kirsch liqueur
For the icing:
150g (6oz) dark chocolate broken into small pieces
150ml pouring double cream

For the truffles:
300g dark chocolate  broken into small pieces
50g softened unsalted butter
300g thick double cream
2 tsp kirsch (or to taste)
Cocoa powder and choclate vermicelli to decorate

Decoration (optional):
Gold ribbon
Gold edible glitter.

2 * 20cm (8 inch) loose bottomed sandwich tins
1 baking tray
1 melon baller (optional)
1 Lakeland Anti-Gravity Pouring Cake Kit

a) Truffles
1. Make the truffle mixture by heating the cream in a saucepan until hot (not boiling) and then pouring over the chocolate and butter in a large  bowl. Stir continuously until all the chocolate and butter melts and the mixture is smooth. Add kirsch to taste and stir in. Allow to cool and then refrigerate until firm (2-4 hours).
2. Make the truffles by scooping balls of the truffle mixture, using either a melon baller or teaspoon, and rolling between the palms into a ball. Place the vermicelli and cocoa powder on separate saucers, and roll each truffle in one or the other to coat. Place each completed truffle onto a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper, then refrigerate to chill.

b) Cake
1. 1. Pre-heat the oven to 180°C/160°C fan/Gas 4
2. Grease 2 x 8" sandwich tins and line the bottom with baking parchment.
3. First measure the cocoa and boiling water into a large bowl, and mix well to make a paste.
4. Add the remaining ingredients and beat again until combined.
5. Divide the cake mixture between the prepared tins. Bake in the pre-heated oven for about 30 minutes until well risen and shrinking away from the sides of the tin.
6. Cool in the tin for ten minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
c) Filling/icing
1. Make the buttercream by beating the butter until pale and fluffy (approx. 5 minutes) then adding the icing sugar and vanilla extract, and beating well.
2. Make the chocolate icing by placing the cream and chocolate into a bowl over a saucepan of simmering water (do not allow the bottom of the bowl to touch the water). Stir well until the chocolate is melted and the mixture smooth. Set aside to cool.
d) Assembly
1. Stir a small amount of kirsch into the morello cherry jam. Sandwich the 2 cakes together using the jam and buttercream.
2. Place the sandwiched cakes onto the Lakeland cake base, and insert the anti-gravity kit tube.
3. Cover the cake in choclate icing, and paint chocolate icing over the whole tube.
4. Build up a tower of truffles around the cake,  using a little extra chocolate icing to stick them together.
5. Balance a small gift bag on top of the truffle tower, to make it look as if the truffles are cascading out of the bag.
6. I finished the whole thing off by wrapping a gold mesh ribbon around the cake while the icing was still wet, and attaching a bow using a cocktail stick. I also lightly sprayed the top of the cake and the truffles with gold edible glitter.
This cake was a bit of a hybrid of Mary Berry's very best chocolate cake, crossed with a standard truffle recipe, and my own devising of Black Forest flavouring. The cake itself was delicious, although it did rather crumble - a problem I have quite often and would love to receive any advice on why this may be.
It was the first time I had ever made truffles and they were very easy but OMG were they messy to make ... one recipe advised using disposal gloves when rolling the trufffles, and this really was excellent advice as the mess would have been uncontainable otherwise!
It was also the first time I had used my Lakeland Anti-Gravity Pouring Cake kit - and I would have to say there were a few issues with it. In theory you should assemble the base and rod and then lower your sandwiched cake over the rod onto the base ... even if my cake had not been crumbly to start with I'm sure it would have broken trying to lower it over a rod; and other bakers in my workplace agreed this would  be a fairly dicey procedure. In the event I just stuck the rod into the cake, which meant it was not secured to the base ... luckily it held firm, but this was probably largely due to the density of chocolate icing I used, and may not have been as successful with a different type of icing. I also found that I had to use a LOT of additoinal icing to anchor my truffles in a tower, which was to some extent visible in the finished product.
Another consideraton with this cake was that it was very difficult to transport .... it is too tall for any cake carrier, and I ended up placing it just on a large plate base in the boot of my car and driving VERY CAREFULLY the 15+ miles to work, with particular attention to avoiding speed bumps!!
All that being said, the cake's appearance received a lot of compliments in the office, bagged one of the prizes in the works competition, and was soon demolished once the buffet lunch got into full swing. I'm very glad I had a go, but I'm not sure I'd be in a hurry to do it again!
I would like to enter this offering for  the following baking challenges ....
1. December's Love Cake theme of Festive Fun
2. December's We Should Cocoa theme of Christmas, hosted by Munchies & Munchkins, and Tin & Thyme.
 We should cocoa
3. Lakeland's December #MyLakelandbake, where the theme is Christmas.
Here's hoping it won't be so long next time before I'm back with another bake.

Saturday 24 January 2015

Beginners' Cupcake Decorating Workshop at Windsor Cake Academy

I think after my last large-scale foray into baking for the pre-Christmas charity cake sale I was somewhat "baked out"; so what with that, the Christmas rush and having had laryngitis before Christmas which left me with a troublesome cough and chest infection, I haven't done any baking for quite a few weeks.

However I sprang out of bed with a renewed enthusiasm this morning, as I had booked myself and my friend Christine onto a Beginners' Cupcake Decorating Workshop at Windsor Cake Academy in Warrington. The course was taught by guest tutor Paula from Paula Cake Couture, whose website is full of amazing cake creations!

I was really excited because the pictures of what we were aiming for were so gorgeous .... our goal was to produce something looking like this!!

beginners cupcakes

(picture by Paula Cake Couture)

Our class started at 10 am., and when we arrived we were shown into the cake studio which is set up really nicely with long benches divided into "workstations" comprising a seating space, long beech worktop, and shelving with various bits of equipment tucked underneath. We were invited to don our aprons and get ourselves a drink ... I felt like I was in the GBBO tent!! Every workstation was provided with a box of freshly made cupcakes, and some clingfilm-wrapped fondant icing in various colours.

The room soon filled up with the 15 class participants, and we gathered round for Paula to demonstrate the techniques for making some sugarpaste flowers, butterflies, ladybirds etc., which she explained we should make first so they would have some time to harden into shape before being placed on the iced cupcakes. We then all selected  a few icing cutters, punches and/or moulds from the large selection at the front bench, and off we went to start getting creative, before moving on to piping techniques.  For the frosting we used some industrial cartons of frosting in a variety of colours suited to the flowers and grass we were trying to create.

I had never done anything remotely like this before; but I was soon rolling and cutting using the dinky sugarcraft rolling pin and board provided, and putting my little decorations on a couple of rods to mould them and create dimension while the icing dried out and hardened a little. Before long I was also ladling various frosting colours into piping bags with my chosen nozzles!

Paula showed us various techniques for piping with buttercream frosting; including a rose, beehive, blossom, grass, sunflower (piped around an Oreo biscuit stuck to the top of the cupcake), and a dual-coloured swirl.  She walked around the class helping the participants and answering questions so that we could gather hints and tips to get the most out of what we were trying to do.

Here's the result of my efforts (the deep pink rose is actually a much nice shade thatn the photograph suggests!!) ...

Whilst they are clearly not in the same league as the professional picture, I genuinely don't think they're too bad for a first attempt and I'm actually pretty pleased with them.

In more detail ...

I struggled initially to get the hang of piping grass; but by the time I had completed two cupcakes it was definitely getting better. The secret apparently is to hold the nozzle just above but not touching the cupcake; squeeze for a couple of seconds and then pull quickly upwards to release the blades of grass!  I found it quite slow to pipe though hopefully this will improve with practice ... my friend had the great idea of making cupcakes for a man  in future, with grass and a little foil-wrapped chocolate football on top!
(Nozzle used = No. 233 - Small Grass)

My second style attempt was a rose: this was actually pretty easy and I'm sure I could soon get this looking fairly good with a moderate amount of practice.
(Nozzle used = No. 2D - Drop Flower)

Thirdly I tried a beehive. Tbh this was my least favourite of the lot .. the piped frosting again was easy; but the bee was made using an icing mould rather than a cutter, which I found very difficult to shape and then release from the mould. I also tried to mark its stripes with my edible pen a little too soon while the fondant icing was still quite soft; so I ended up making a replacement bee which I had to mark when I got home. Hence my second cupcake in this style ended up with a flower perched on top!!
(didn't write down this nozzle number!!)

This on the other hand was my absolute favourite of the day .... original and so cute! An Oreo  biscuit was anchored to the top of the cupcake with a blob of icing; then 3-4 layers of iced petals were created attached to the sides of the biscuit.

I think this is a really fabulous design despite being quite time-consuming to pipe; although in real life I think it would be quite difficult to eat as it would require fishing the biscuit off the top first!!
(Nozzle used = No. 352 - Leaf)

Paula said she thought we would probably find this one the most difficult; though strangely I didn't find that to be the case. The main difficulty I had with this was that the afternoon was wearing on by then, so the frosting was getting a little softened; also it involved holding onto the piping bag for a minute or two which softened it up even more! Indeed one of the main lessons of the day was that the consistency of your frosting is crucial ... I think I have always made my buttercream too soft at home in the past.
(Nozzle used = No. 104 - Petal)

Last but by no means least I had a couple of goes at a dual-coloured swirl. I tried this using 2 piping bags inside a third one fitted with a nozzle but I found them quite difficult to align (I  also got me confused at first and put my second colour straight into the outer bag - oops!!). I love the effect though, so I might grab some dual-colour icing bags from Lakeland!! 
(Nozzle used = No. 1M - Open Star)

The session was inevitably followed by a bit of a shopathon in the Windsor Cake Craft Shop - several nozzles + a  nozzle cleaning brush (soooo cute!), plunge cutters, pots of Sugarflair colour pastes, a pack of icing, an edible writing pen and a dinky sugarcraft rolling board somehow fell into my basket; and that point we could go for  a late lunch tired but satisfied!

All in all it was a really fun and informative session, and my friend also enjoyed it which was good to know as it was her Christmas present from me! I would definitely consider doing more workshops in future, and would recommend both Windsor Cake Academy ( an excellent studio space) and Paula Cake Couture (brilliant designs and tuition).

Time will tell whether you see any creations on here using my new found skills!

Sunday 14 December 2014

Nigella's chocolate Guinness cake + Baileys cream cheese frosting

I recall a colleague making a chocolate Guinness cake at a previous work event and it generated a lot of interest; so I decided to have a go at baking one for my charity cake sale a couple of weeks ago. 

I Googled around for a recipe and found this one by Nigella which seemed to have got rave reviews ... Nigella also describes it on her blog as "magnificent in its dark majesty", which sounded pretty tempting to me.

I made the cake exactly according to Nigella's recipe, but I adjusted the frosting slightly as I wanted to incorporate Baileys, and I also wanted a classic cream cheese frosting (whereas Nigella's includes cream - some reviewers said it was a bit runny).

Nigella's Chocolate Guinness Cake (with Pauline's Baileys cream cheese frosting)

From Nigella's website - also featured in Feast

250 ml Guinness
250g unsalted butter
75g cocoa powder
400g caster sugar
142 ml sour cream
2 large eggs
1 tbsp vanilla extract
275g plain flour
2.5 tsp bicarbonate of soda

For the frosting:
300g cream cheese
150g icing sugar
A good glug of Baileys

1 * 9" (23cm) springform or loose-bottomed cake tin.

1. Preheat the oven to 180 C/ 160C (fan)/Gas mark 4; and grease and line the cake tin.
2. Pour the Guinness into a large saucepan, add the butter and heat until the butter melts.

3. Then whisk in the cocoa powder and sugar. Beat the sour cream with the eggs and vanilla in a separate bowl and then pour in to the butter mixture. Finally whisk in the flour and bicarb of soda.

4. Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and bake for 45-60 minutes.

5. Leave to cool completely in the tin on a cooling rack, as it is quite a damp cake.

6. Whip the cream cheese until smooth, then beat in the sieved icing sugar. Add the Baileys to taste and beat until light and frothy. Spread over the top of the cold cake.

This cake was easy to make, but I didn't get on too well with beating everything together in the pan - I actually transferred my beery mixture into my K Mix stand mixer bowl before beating in the rest of the ingredients. I also found that it needed a good hour to bake.

I changed the icing and have to admit that it went rather runny so didn't look the best ... though that is not the reason why there is no picture of the iced cake. As the icing was dairy I took it to work in a cool bag to spread on the cake immediately before serving in my cake sale ... and people were queueing up to sample a slice so I never got chance to take a photo!  I never got to taste this cake at all, but the feedback was very complimentary with one colleague describing it as "exceptional", so it appears to have turned out alright!


Friday 12 December 2014

Christmas isn't Christmas without ... Terry's Chocolate Orange Cake

Almost everyone loves a Terry's chocolate orange at Christmas, so I decided to incorporate one into my pre-Christmas charity cake sale.  This cake went down an absolute storm at my cake sale, to the extent I could be tempted to start up a new sideline :-)

I love the idea of chocolate orange cake and have previously made one with orange buttercream; but this time I decided to go for chocolate orange sponge filled with orange curd with cointreau, and also filled and topped with chocolate orange ganache.

The main problem with chocolate orange baking is the scarce availability of orange flavoured dark chocolate ... most available makes eg. Lindt are filled with crunchy orange pieces rather than suffused with orange flavouring. Terry's chocolate orange is definitely the way to go; but the dark ones are only available in the shops in the run up to Christmas, and even then are not that easy to find. In my opinion milk chocolate would be too sweet in combination with orange for baking ...lovely for eating, but when it comes to frosting a cake dark is definitely required! So if anyone from Terry's reads this ... PLEASE make your dark chocolate oranges available all year round - they are fab both for baking and eating!!

Anyhoo I hunted around and did manage to find some supplies (in Superdrug and Wilko of all places), so I was on my way.

Terry's Chocolate Orange Cake with cointreau

Adapted from Mary Berry's Very Best Chocolate & Orange Cake in Delicious Magazine

100g unsalted butter, softened
50g cocoa powder
90 ml boiling water
3 large eggs
4 tbsp milk
175g self-raising flour, sifted
1 rounded tsp baking powder
300g caster sugar
Finely grated zest of 1 orange

For the filling and icing:
150g dark Terry's chocolate orange, broken into small pieces
150ml double cream
Several tbsp of orange curd (I used Welsh Roots orange curd with cointreau)

2 * 8" (20cm) round cake tins,greased and with the bases lined with baking parchment.

1. Preheat the oven to 180 C/160 C (fan)/Gas Mark 4. Grease and line the baking tins.
2. Measure the cocoa and boiling water into a large bowl and mix to a paste. Add the rest of the cake ingredients and beat again until combined.
3. Divide the mixture evenly between the prepared cake tins. bake in the pre-heated oven for 20-25 minutes until the sponges are well risen and shrinking away from the sides of the tins.
4. Leave in the tins for approx 10 minutes and then turn out onto a wire rack to cool.
5. To make the chocolate ganache, put the chocolate and cream into a heat-proof bowl, then stand over a pan of simmering water for about 10 minutes, stirring until the chocolate is melted (don't let the bowl touch the water in the pan). Set aside to cool until it thickens to a spreading consistency.
6. Spread the top of one songe thinly with orange curd, then spread with slightly less than half the chocolate ganache. Place the second sponge on top then spread with the remaining ganache. Use a palette knife to swirl the icing evenly.
7. You can add more grated Terry's chocolate orange, or alternatively orange Matchmakers or any chocolate decorations on top. (I didn't bother with this last step as I wanted to keep my costs down while baking for charity).

This was easy to make and was extremely popular ... I never managed to grab a slice for myself as it all went extremely quickly. In fact several people mentioned to me after the event that they were disappointed to have missed out on it, so clearly it fired my colleagues' imaginations! The best I managed was to hoover up a few crumbs off the plate, and a friend took pity and gave me a small forkful from her slice ... on that limited basis  I thought it tasted pretty good.

I am now thinking I may try making some mini versions using my Lakeland mini-Victoria sandwich tin!

I would like to enter this into the following challenges:

Casa Costello

Thanks for visiting.

Tuesday 2 December 2014

Cranberry and white chocolate cupcakes

Whilst putting together my "menu" for my charity bake sale last week, I decided that I wanted a couple of different flavours of cupcakes as they are easy to bake in larger batches (to raise more money!! :-) ). I was really tempted by this recipe I saw on the Hummingbird Bakery blog as it seemed nice and Christmassy, and at the same time allowed me to offer a different flavour from the predominantly chocolate cakes in my repertoire.

I made a slight adjustment to the frosting recipe, but that was primarily for a practical reason as I had some "leftover" white chocolate ganache (see below!)

Cranberry and White Chocolate Cupcakes

Adapted from The Hummingbird Bakery Blog

For the cake:
70g unsalted butter, softened
210g plain flour
250g caster sugar
2 tsp baking powder (the recipe said 1tbsp but I was bit nervous of that!!)
1/2 tsp salt
210 ml milk
2 large eggs
60g dried cranberries
1 tsp grated orange zest

For the frosting: (this differs a bit from the Hummingbird recipe)
2-3 tbsp white chocolate ganache
300g icing sugar, sifted
160g unsalted butter, softened

2 * 12 hole deep muffin tins

1. Preheat the oven to 170°C/150 C(fan)/Gas Mark 3, and line the muffin tins with cupcake cases. The recipe says it makes 12-16 based on using large American-style muffin cases. I wanted to use Christmas style cases and only had medium ones - my mixture made 21 of these in the end!
2. Mix the butter, sugar, flour, baking powder and salt together using a hand-held or free standing mixer until they form a crumb-like consistency.
3. Whisk together the eggs and milk in a separate jug.
4. Gradually pour half the liquid into the crumb mixture with the mixer on low speed and mix thoroughly until combined. Then turn up the mixer to medium and beat until batter is smooth and thick with no lumps. Then turn down the mixer speed and gradually add the rest of the liquid, continuing to beat until the batter is smooth and combined.
5. Add the cranberries and orange zest, and mix until evenly distributed.
6. Spoon batter into prepared cases, filling each one approx. two-thirds full.

7. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the sponge bounces back when lightly touched.  Leave the cakes to cool for a few minutes in the tin, then place on a wire rack to cool completely.
8. Beat the butter for the frosting until light and whippy, then gradually add in the icing sugar, beating until smooth. Add in the white chocolate ganache (or melted chocolate - approx 60g), then turn up the mixer to high speed and beat until light and fluffy.
9. When the cupcakes are completely cold, smooth a generous amount of frosting onto each one and smooth with a palette knife. Decorate each cupcake with a dried cranberry and sprinkle with a little orange zest.

I have always previously made cupcakes using a Victoria sandwich-type recipe, so this was quite different both in the proportions of ingredients and the method of combining. I was a little nervous, but it seemed to work really well. The cupcakes baked really evenly, and rose evenly to give a nice rounded appearance but not too much of a "dome", so they were also easy to decorate.

Personally I though the amount of icing sugar in the original recipe (500g) was a bit excessive so I toned this down, and instead of using melted chocolate I used some chocolate ganache (50% white chocolate, 50% double cream). This was simply because I had originally intended to decorate these with white chocolate ganache, but when I made it it was quite "yellow" in colour and very runny, so I thought I'd better revert to buttercream ... and incorporate the white chocolate flavour so as not to waste it all!!

Overall I was very pleased with these cupcakes - one of them had its wrapper tear in the tin so it was the only cake from my whole charity bake which I kept  back to taste and didn't sell ... I frosted it and then my husband and I split it between us.  The sponge was very light and soft and the flavour yummy .. clearly some of my colleagues agreed as they soon got snapped up!

I would like to enter these Christmas treats into the following challenges:

(hosted this month by Kat at The Baking Explorer, and alternately by Stuart at Cakeyboi)

AlphaBakes (December) - X is for Xmas
(hosted this month by Caroline Makes and alternately by The More Than Occasional  Baker)

Love Cake (December) - December Delights
(hosted by JibberJabber UK)

That's all for today.


Saturday 29 November 2014

Charity Cake Sale

I started the year with the intention of holding occasional sales of single cakes at work to give me the incentive to bake new things and raise money for my mum's charity at the same time. Things started well back in January, but from March onwards I got  embroiled in a very demanding project at work with long working hours, so thinks have kinda fallen by the wayside!

A few of my lovely colleagues had mentioned that they missed my cakes, so I decided to make up for lost time by having a proper cake sale  before the end of the year ... and this week was the ideal opportunity before everyone gets into the Christmas festivities and can't face any more eating :-) So I took two days' leave from work to bake, and held a pre-Christmas Cake cake sale across two floors in my office at Warrington Borough Council on Thursday.

Treats on offer included a mixture of previously baked cakes and new recipes, promoted as follows:

Santa's Tipple
(Chocolate Guinness Cake with Baileys cream cheese frosting)

Tropical Christmas
(Passionfruit and White Chocolate sponge)

Terry's Chocolate Orange Cake

Cranberry and White Chocolate Cupcakes

Lemon Drizzle Traybake

Christmas Sparkle Cupcakes
(vanilla cupcakes with raspberry filling, pink vanilla buttercream and sparkle lustre)

Oops no picture!!

I sent an email around to my colleagues on several floors in the office, but I was a bit apprehensive as to whether the sale would be a success. I was absolutely amazed though ... I got stuck in traffic so only arrived to set up just before the advertised start time, and people were already waiting!! 

You may notice that there are no photos of the actual charity sale table, as my brilliant colleagues were so eager to sample the cakes that the table was surrounded straight away, and I never got chance to take any pics!! In fact I never even got a pic of my iced Guinness cake as I iced it from a chilled container immediately before putting on the table, and it was soon gone!

I could never have anticipated such success - everything was gone in just over an hour, raising a grand total of


I rounded this up to £110 (+£27.50 gift aid) to give a grand total of


So a big thanks to all my colleagues at Warrington Borough Council for making it such a success, and for the kind comments I received about the cakes - they seemed particularly to enjoy the Terry's chocolate orange cake!!

It was quite hard work, and I don't think I've ever done so much washing up in my life, but it was really worth it. My dad was really proud when I told him how much I had raised for the hospice where mum passed away, which made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

Back soon with one or two of the recipes ...