Category Archives: blue door bakery

Easy Easter Nest Cupcakes

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Easter is just around the corner and to get you in the mood, I have some inspiration for some easy Easter nest cupcakes that children can easily decorate themselves.

The chocolate cake is actually Nigella Lawson’s Dense Chocolate Loaf Cake recipe. The version I used is here. The recipe makes a massive quantity of cake mix and easily makes 30 cupcakes. I adjusted the cooking temperature to 175 degrees as I have an electric fan oven and baked them for 20 minutes until a knife comes out clean. The mix is very runny and it is easier to pour it into the cake cases before baking. I let the mix stand for an hour before baking and it thickened up slightly, making it easier.

Once cooled, I made up some chocolate buttercream (250g unsalted butter, 500g icing and 100g dark chocolate melted) and decorated the cupcakes using a grass/hair nozzle to give it a twig effect. The grass nozzle is very forgiving and you are almost given permission to not be perfect for the nests as the messier the better! This nozzle is perfect for children to learn basic piping techniques as they can hardly go wrong. This method of decorating does not use as much buttercream as you think and I ended up with some leftover for use another day. I finished the decoration off with my favourite Easter chocolate, Mini Eggs. I am impressed with myself that all the Mini Eggs made it onto the cakes! Where I found the willpower from not to eat them all, I do not know!

What are you baking this Easter? I would love to find out :-)

PS: I am taking these to Blue Door Bakery’s Cake Club tonight. I am looking forward to talking about cake, cake and even more cake!

spring carnival

Review Of The Year 2010

2010 was my first full year of blogging so its seems right that I should look back and reflect on what an amazing year it has been.

In January, I did my first Fresh From The Oven Challenge, making Chocolate Buns. This formed part of my New Year’s resolution’s to be more adventurous in baking and make more bread. I also made cottage pie and did my first ever guest post on Nora’s blog.

In February, I made Valentine’s Cupcakes (that looked like boobies!) for English Mum’s Best Valentine Cupcake competition.  I reviewed my first cookbook, Skye Gyngell’s My Favourite Ingredients and Nora did a guest post on the blog.

Image by Wendy from Peters Yard

In March, I celebrated completing my first year of blogging. The first meeting of the Midlands Food Bloggers was held at Loaf’s HQ in Birmingham, where we cooked pizza’s and tasted Peters Yard’s Crispbreads and Brock Hall Farm’s Goats Cheese for the first time. I went to my first Cupcake workshop at Kiss Me Cupcakes and I hosted my first Fresh From The Oven challenge, Kringel

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In April, I entered and won the Easter Cake Bake and made cupcakes for the Mad Hatter’s Shropshire Tweet Up. Helen did a guest post on the blog and I made croissants for the first and last time!

May started by making the ultimate spring time brunch and a crumble. Pizza Napoletana was the Fresh From The Oven challenge.

In June, Jo’s Kitchen was invited by Miele to do the Masterchef Invention Test at the BBC Summer Good Food Show. Marie and I took on a Giant Cupcake Challenge and I went on an archaeological dig and left my blog in the care of Gary, Linda, Louise and Charlene.

In July, I made my favourite childhood dinner of Fish Fingers, Mashed Potatoes, Peas and Parsley Sauce. I entered my second English Mum’s Big Bake Off and held a competition to win a Masterchef Apron.

In August, I made a sweet version of Fish Fingers, Mash and Ketchup with Mat Follas’s help and went on a foodie trip to Ludlow visiting the Ludlow Food Centre and Ludlow itself. Brioche was this month’s Fresh From The Oven Challenge.

September was a busy month so I only made some cupcakes and garlic and basil focaccia.

In October, I made some spooky Halloween cakes for English Mum’s Autumn Bake Off, went to my first 24 Carrots Farmers Market and attended the second Midlands Food Bloggers Meet Up.

In November, I made Coca-Cola Marinated Steak, with Wedges and Cool Beans, and I went to Jamie’s Italian in Covent Garden, London. I also reviewed the Findus Fresher Taste range of ready meals.

In December, I was invited back to the BBC Good Food Show Winter by Miele. I took part in two cookalongs and met lots of fantastic producers. I went to the new Jamie’s Italian in the Bullring, Birmingham. I learnt how to make pasta for the first time at Loaf and shared my Christmas wishlist with you. Finally, for a late seasonal treat, I shared my Mincemeat Flapjacks recipe.

Overall, 2010 was an amazing year. I met so many fantastic people, ate lovely meals, made lots of new recipes and I was lucky enough to review some great products. I cannot wait to see what 2011 will bring. Thank you to all my readers for being along with me for the ride. I hope you will stay with me for 2011. I hope you all have a great night tonight, whatever you are doing. I will see you early in 2011 with my New Year’s resolutions.

Happy New Year! :-)

National Cupcake Week 2010

As this week is National Cupcake Week (13th-19th September), I thought I would take the opportunity to show you some of the cupcakes I have made recently. I have not had much time for baking so I have only made two lots of cupcakes for family gatherings and celebrations.

The ones above are Aston Villa Football Club Cupcakes for my godson Joshua’s 8th Birthday. I brought some claret food colouring off ebay and with my official football colour monitor, Stuart made the cupcakes. Stuart is also a Villa fan so he took much more interest in these cupcakes than any other I have made.

These sunshine yellow cupcakes were made for my Nan’s Birthday BBQ in July. I was inspired to decorate yellow with flying saucer toppers after attending the Cirencester Cupcakes decorating class. I have loved flying saucers since I was a child and I like the texture change they give against the soft cupcake. The others were decorated with blue glitter sprinkles. I used a vanilla cupcake base and vanilla buttercream icing for these and the Aston Villa ones. I believe that with cupcakes simple is best.

What cupcakes have you been making? Have you done anything special for National Cupcake Week? What is your favourite way to decorate cupcakes?

Happy Cooking! :-)

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Giant Cupcake Challenge

I am sure you all must think that this is turning into a cupcake blog. Well, I just want to reassure you that it’s not. I tried to do another post earlier this week, about one of my favourite meals as a child but I have been super busy and was unable to finish writing it so you will just have to wait a bit longer for that one.

Today, I would like to tell you about the challenge of Marie and I’s first paid cupcake and giant cupcake order. Yes, you heard me correctly, giant cupcake. Before we did this, I knew giant cupcakes existed (there is lots of info on the web about them) but I never ever thought I would attempt to make one. Marie and I made the cake for my work colleague, Lisa’s daughter Katie whose 10th Birthday it was and the cake was to share with all her friends and family.

As we had never attempted a giant cupcake before, I did a practice attempt a few days before. The results of which is below. The giant cupcake is effectively 4 Victoria Sponge layers put together and to make it, I used a double quantity of the Victoria Sponge recipe here. The buttercream icing quantity was 1 standard batch of icing which is 500g icing sugar to 250g of unsalted butter. I was not entirely happy with my first attempt. The cake was not as light or fluffy as I hoped but my work colleagues seemed to like it, as it was eaten very quickly. I am glad I made a practice one as it gave me a bit more confidence for the second one.

I was still a bit nervous when it came to make the real one that we were getting paid for, but I need not have worried. The sponge seemed much better this time and the buttercream icing was a much better consistency. I was not brave enough to attempt to pipe the icing on so Marie did that, as she has had much more piping practice than I have. The results were fantastic in my opinion and we just hoped that Lisa and Katie liked it too. Marie made 12 normal sized cupcakes to go with the giant one and it looked lovely with all them on the tray together. Driving the cakes to my work where Lisa was going to collect them from was one of the scariest things I have ever done. I was so concerned that the cakes were going to fall over and lose their decoration however I did manage to get them to work in one piece and Lisa and Katie loved the cakes. Marie is going to start doing more cakes from home, so if you have an event coming up and need cupcakes or a birthday cake and live within 25 miles of the Birmingham B63 postcode, please email joskitchen@hotmail.co.uk and I will put you in contact with Marie.

Many thanks to Sarah from Blue Door Bakery for the loan of the giant cupcake tin.

Tate and Smile!


I have recently been contacted by Lisa who has sent me lots of sugar from Tate and Lyle. Tate and Lyle have a fantastic new website called Tate and Smile which has lots of great recipes and inspiration on it. They also have a Facebook group called We Love Baking which is becoming an excellent baking community so if you love baking as much as I do, you really have to join. I will be doing lots of baking with the sugar soon so stay tuned for more recipes to follow.

Many thanks to Lisa and Tate and Lyle for the sugar.

BBC Summer Good Food Show


The BBC Summer Good Food Show is currently taking place at the NEC and I will be there tomorrow, with my friends Marie and Ali. Miele have invited me to take part in Masterchef Experience, by doing the Invention Test live on stage so if you are at show, please pop along to the Masterchef stage and watch me cooking live at 10am. I am very nervous but also very excited about it. I would like to thank Roxy and Nicola from Miele for the opportunity and I will tell you all about it next week.

Hope you all have a lovely weekend

Happy Cooking! :-)

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