Tag Archives: cake decorating

Chocolate Christmas Pudding Cupcakes

Christmas pudding cupcakes
As I am sure you all know by now, I love a good cupcake especially ones that are very easy to make but look impressive at the same time. These Chocolate Christmas Pudding Cupcakes really hit the spot on both accounts!
They are a basic chocolate cupcake underneath topped with glacé icing, fondant holly leaves and half a glacé cherry each. They are so simple even children could make them!
Time is of the essence at this time of year with present shopping, card writing, present wrapping, nativity plays and so on, you sometimes just need a quick festive thing to make for presents (your children’s teachers!) or an impromptu festive gathering. These are quite quick and easy to make and are sure to please everyone.
Chocolate Christmas Pudding Cupcakes
Ingredients (makes 12)
For the cakes
  • 125g unsalted butter, softened
  • 125g caster sugar
  • 2 large free range eggs
  • 100g self-raising flour
  • 25g cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
For the decoration

 

  • 200g icing sugar (plus extra for dusting)
  • 20-30ml of cold water
  • 100g of green fondant icing
  • 6 glacé cherries, cut in half

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C and line a cupcake/muffin tin (I used this one) with cupcake cases
  2. In a food processor or in a big mixing bowl with a handheld whisk, add in the ingredients for the cakes and mix together until a batter is formed
  3. Divide the mixture equally between the cupcake cases and then bang the cupcake tin on your work surface to remove any air in the cake mix. Place in the oven and bake for about 20 minutes until a knife inserted into the middle of the cakes comes out clean.
  4. Once cooked, remove from the oven and allow to cool at room temperature. Remove them from the cupcake tin as so as it is cool enough to do so and set aside.
  5. Meanwhile, make the holly leaves. Dust some icing sugar on your work surface. Next, roll out the green fondant to about half a cm thick, then using a holly leaf cutter (I used this one), cut out the 24 leaves individually and set aside to harden for a few minutes while the cakes cool and while you make the glacé icing.
  6. To make the glacé icing, put the icing sugar and a small amount of the cold water into a bowl and whisk until a smooth thick paste is formed. Add a tiny bit more water or icing sugar if required.
  7. Using a teaspoon, spoon the icing on the top of the cooled cupcakes, followed by two holly leaves and a half of a glacé cherry each. Set aside and allow to set for as long as you have. Store at room temperature. Eat and enjoy!

What festive bakes/cakes are you making in preparation for Christmas?

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Great Bloggers Bake Off: Chocolate Piñata Cake

Piñata cake

Wow! What a great final it was in the Great British Bake Off! Who guessed that Nancy was going to win? My money was on Richard but the luck was not with him during the final unfortunately. For the last great bloggers bake off, Jenny from Mummy Mishaps has challenged us to make our own showstopper.

Piñata cake

Therefore, I would like to present you with my technical showstopping chocolate piñata cake! I am calling it a technical showstopper as during the final, the bakers had to make 12 mini Victoria sponges as part of the technical challenge. A piñata cake is basically a Victoria sponge with a hole in the middle and some extra decoration to make it look really special. I have seen them for ages on Pinterest and always thought they might be quite hard to make, however I could not believe how easy and quick it was to do. Daniel was in the kitchen with me and happily played in his walker while I got on with it.

Chocolate Piñata Cake
Ingredients (makes 1 large 8 inch cake)
For the cake
  • 200g unsalted butter, softened
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 150g self raising flour
  • 50g cocoa powder
  • 1tsp baking powder
  • 4 large free range eggs
For the filling and outside decoration

 

  • 125g unsalted butter, softened
  • 250g icing sugar
  • 100g milk chocolate, melted
  • 1 large bag of Minstrels
  • 2 large bags of Skittles/Smarties for the filling and the top

Method

 

  1. Grease and line two 8 inch sandwich tins and set aside. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
  2. In a food processor, add in all the cake ingredients then mix until combined.
  3. Divide the cake evenly between the two tins and then bake for 20-25mins until a knife comes out clean from each cake. Leave in the tins then set aside until completely cool.
  4. Meanwhile, make the buttercream. In a food processor, add in the butter, icing sugar and melted chocolate until combined. Add a splash of water if needed until you have a spreadable consistency. Set aside.
  5. Once the cakes have cooled, remove them from the tins and using a chef’s ring (or a cup/small saucer) draw a circle on both cakes with a sharp knife. Do not cut all the way through the cake. You only need a tiny bit. Remove some cake from both these circles but do not remove too much otherwise your cake will fall apart.
6. Add some sweets into the middle of one of the circles. As much as you can fit in and still get other cake on top. Then spread buttercream on the outer edge next to sweets then put other cake on top. Using a palette knife, cover with buttercream and then decorate with the rest of the sweets. Allow to set at room temperature then eat and enjoy!
* you may not want to go to dentist immediately after eating this cake LOL!
Thank you to Jenny for organising the Great Bloggers Bake Off again!

 

 

 

 

 

Great Bloggers Bake Off Week 10 – Thomas’ 2nd Birthday Lightning McQueen Cake

It was the final week of the Great British Bake Off this week and wasn't it a good one. The final three were challenged to make a picnic pie, pretzels and a wedding cake (three layers). As ever, Jenny from Mummy Mishaps and Helen from The Crazy Kitchen are asking us to do something similar. Fortunately for me, the final week of the bake off has landed on a week when I was planning a large baking project anyway. Thomas is 2 years old on the 29th October and his birthday party was today.

Thomas loves cars, buses, planes and most other forms of motorised transport and his favourite film is Cars. Therefore, I decided a couple of months ago to attempt a Lightning McQueen cake for his birthday. Originally, I planned to make a 3D Lightning McQueen cake but could not find a tutorial online that made a good enough replica of Lightning McQueen for me. After a bit of searching I discovered this tin from Wilton and I snapped it up on eBay as soon as I saw it. However, this tin was not going to be big enough to feed 25 toddlers along with friends/family too. Therefore, I borrowed my friend's 12 inch cake tin that she brought from Lakeland a few years ago so that I could make a base layer to sit the car cake on.

I used the recipe here for the 12 inch cake and the recipe here for the car cake. The instructions for the decorating of the car cake is that it should be piped on with buttercream in various colours, however I am not the best at piping so I decided to sugar paste the entire cake. I used white to cover the base cake as it shows off the car the most. Before the base cake was covered, it was cut with a cake slicer and sandwiched back together with strawberry jam. I used about 1.5kg of sugar paste to cover the 12 inch cake. The car cake was covered separately with red sugar paste and then carefully placed onto the base layer, using a black strip of sugar paste to cover the gap. Using the car tin template as a guide I stuck Lighting McQueen's features using more sugar paste with edible glue and then outlined the features using black writing icing. In total, the cake took about 7 hours to do from baking to completely finished over three days.

Everyone loved the cake at the party and could not believe that I had made it. I enjoyed making the cake and it was probably my biggest baking challenge to date. I will now be taking a few weeks off baking for a well deserved break. Thank you to Jenny and Helen for starting the Great Bloggers Bake Off and inspiring me to bake many new things :-)

 

 

Easy Easter Nest Cupcakes

20130321-110603.jpg

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

Forman and Field’s Jubilee Bake Off

You may that remember that last year, I took part in the Forman and Field’s Valentines Cook Off, well this year they have invited me to take part in a Jubilee Bake Off with lots of lovely bloggers. The other bloggers taking part are:

 http://athomewithmrsm.blogspot.co.uk

http://iheartkatiecakes.blogspot.co.uk/

www.renbehan.com

http://www.lavenderandlovage.com

http://www.frugaliciousfood.com/

www.Cupcakesbysarah.co.uk

http://www.workinglondonmummy.com

http://whatkatebaked.blogspot.co.uk/

We have all been lucky enough to be sent a fabulous box of inspiring ingredients and told to bake to our heart’s content in honour of the Queen’s jubilee. In the boxes we received:

ORIGINAL BEANS CRU VIRUNGA 70% DARK CHOCOLATE A new chocolate producer that is rapidly becoming the choice of top Chefs, chocolatiers and restaurants including Marcus Wareing, The Fat Duck, Galvin at Windows and Damian Allsop to namedrop but a few.

DOVE’S FARM FLOUR This general purpose white flour is milled from English wheat grown by organic farmers to Ethical Trade standards which involve a fair price for the farmer and fair treatment of workers, as well as involvement with local communities. This is great for baking pastry, cakes and biscuits.

LONGMAN’S UNSALTED FARM BUTTER Proper butter from a family run Dairy farm in Somerset.

FORMAN & FIELD LEMON CURD Our own handmade lemon curd from the Forman & Field kitchens. Tarter than most with a good hit of lemon zest so it’s makes for a mighty fine baking ingredient.

CRÈME ANGLAISE More homemade goodness from our kitchens. We make this daily to order with lots of fresh Bourbon vanilla.

ELDERFLOWER LIQUEUR This heavenly elixir is made in small batches with hand-picked elderflowers by Bramley & Gage down in South Devon. They’re a family business with son Michael recently having taken over from his old man Edward.

MULLED PEARS The final contribution from the F&F kitchens, pears poached in a mulled red wine syrup.

From this selection of ingredients I have somehow managed to make three baked treats. Don’t ask me how I found the time but I did. I will now explain what I made, why I was inspired to make it and give the recipe.

Lemon Curd Butterfly Cakes

What is more British than a butterfly cake? I remember having them a lot as a child but they seem to have disappeared out of fashion now. The lemon curd was so delicious I knew I had to make it the start of the show in one bake. These are traditional butterfly cakes minus the cream. All they have is the lemon curd inside of them which can, depending on the lemon curd make them quite tart and not really suitable for children.

Ingredients (makes 12)

  • 125g unsalted butter, softened
  • 125g caster sugar
  • 125g self raising flour
  • 2 large eggs
  • Zest of an unwaxed lemon
  • Juice of half a lemon (or a whole one if you like it sharp)
  • A generous teaspoon full of lemon curd per cake

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 190 degrees C. Put cupcake cakes into a cupcake tray (British flag ones if possible!)
  2. In a food processor, add in all the ingredients except the lemon curd and whizz until a smooth batter is formed. Do not over mix as the cakes will not rise
  3. Spoon the mixture into the prepared cupcake cakes and cook in the oven until lightly golden brown and a knife inserted in them comes out clean. Leave to cool for 10 minutes and then remove to a wire rack until they cool completely.
  4. Once cooled, cut a small disc out of the top of the cupcake and then cut the disc in half. Leave to one side and spoon the lemon curd into the hole you have created in the cake. Put the disc pieces back into hole vertically to create butterfly wings. Decorate the cakes with appropriate jubilee decorations and dive in!

Mulled Pear Crumble with Crème Anglais Ice Cream

I love crumble and am constantly trying to make new variations of them and the mulled pears were calling to me to be put into one. The crème anglais was full of vanilla and as it had a short use by date, I knew I needed to do something to preserve it for longer.  It is the perfect accompaniment to the crumble as the creaminess cuts through the richness of the mulled pears.

Ingredients (makes 1 small ramekin but please adjust recipe to suit whichever bowl you want to use)

For the Crumble

  • 1 and a half mulled pears, chopped into small chunks
  • About 100ml of syrup from the jar of mulled pears
  • 50g unsalted butter, softened and cut into cubes
  • 100g plain flour
  • 50-75g caster sugar, depending on how sweet you like your crumble

For the Ice Cream

  • Jar of Crème Anglais ( or homemade custard)

Method

  1. Pour the Crème Anglais into a suitable container with a lid that can go into the freezer. Pop into the freezer and stir every two – four hours with a fork until completely frozen to prevent large ice crystals forming.
  2. Put the mulled pear chunks into your baking dish and put the syrup into a saucepan. Reduce the syrup until slightly thickened. Do not reduce it too much as it will cook more in the crumble. Set aside and leave to cool.
  3. Meanwhile, make the crumble topping by rubbing the flour and the butter together. Add in the sugar and mix together.
  4. Pour the reduced syrup over the mulled pear chunks and top with the crumble topping. Bake in a 180 degrees C oven until lightly golden brown and bubbling.
  5. Take the ice cream out of the fridge 10-15 minutes before you want to serve it. Serve a generous scoop next to the crumble and tuck in.

GB Dark Chocolate Cake

This is a very quick, made in one bowl simple but amazing chocolate cake. It is moist and very yummy showing the flavour of the dark chocolate to its full potential. I do not usually get this quality chocolate to bake with so I knew I had to show it off in some way. I did add some milk chocolate to mix as I think too much dark chocolate can be overpowering. I decorated the cake with Renshaw’s Great British Icing Pack and followed the instructions on the box to make the Union Jack.  I took this cake to the Merry Hill Centre Mummy Morning  Jubilee Cake Club today and despite the fact it did not win, I still got lots of comments of how moist and delicious the cake was despite the fact I baked it on Sunday night. If you only make one of these baked treats for this coming jubilee weekend, then I urge you to make this one. Everyone will love it!

Ingredients (makes 1 20cm square cake)

  • 100g dark chocolate, buttons or chop a bar into chunks
  • 100g milk chocolate, buttons or chop a bar into chunks
  • 200g unsalted butter, cut into chunks
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 100g plain flour
  • Pinch of salt
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • Any decorations or toppings you like

Method

  1. Grease and line a 20cm square cake tin and set aside. Preheat the oven to 190 degrees C.
  2. Put the chocolate and the butter in a heatproof bowl over simmering water and melt together, stirring frequently.
  3. Once melted, remove from the heat and stir in the sugar until combined.
  4. Fold in the flour and salt and finally add in the eggs. Stir to combine and pour the batter into the prepared cake tin. The batter will be quite runny but don’t worry as this makes a more moist cake.
  5. Bake in the oven for 40 minutes or so until a knife inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. Once cool, remove from the tin and decorate however you see fit.

Many thanks to Forman and Field for inviting me to take part in the bake off. I had a great time thinking about and creating the recipes. If you are on Twitter, you can follow all the bake off action using the hashtag #formansjubileebakeoff :-)

Festive Baking

It is the season for excess especially in terms of eating lots of sweet things and this year for me as been no exception. I have made two Christmas Cakes. One for myself and my family and one for some friends. I made my first Christmas Cake last year but did not blog about it as I used Delia’s kit from Waitrose. This year I have made and decorated both cakes completely all by myself.  I used Delia’s recipe which is here and used the techniques I learnt at the cake course I went to at the start of the year to cover the cake. The decorations for both cakes and some of the icing/marzipan was kindly supplied by Dr Oetker.

This Christmas, I have also been busy making cupcakes. I made some vanilla and mince pie cupcakes for a family gathering we had this week. To make the mince pie cupcakes, I added some mincemeat and extra spices to the usual cupcake mix and added some brandy into the buttercream. The idea was inspired by my friend and Cupcake Queen of the Cotswold’s, Louise of Cirencester Cupcakes. My family loved them and I will be making them again soon.

That’s it for my Christmas baking. Please let me know in the comments what you have been making and add links if you have done a post about it. I am always looking to try something new for next Christmas.

I will be back soon with my New Year resolutions post, a cookbook review of the year and a new monthly blogging challenge for everyone. Hope you have a great party tonight, whatever you are doing.

Happy New Year! :-)

Cupcakes by Chrissie Competition Winner

A couple of weeks ago, I told you about a children’s cupcake decorating workshop that I went to with Cupcakes by Chrissie. I had a fantastic time. Over the last two weeks, I have been running a competition to win a workshop with Chrissie and learn how to decorate fabulous cupcakes yourself.

In total, there were 16 entrants to the competition:  Cupcakes by Chrissie Competition Entrants who gave the correct answer to the following question:

What is the number of the Wilton piping nozzle used to make the grass on my cupcakes?

A) 244

B) 211

C) 233

The answer is C – 233. Well done to everyone who got the answer correct. The winner was selected by Random.org and I am pleased to announce that it is Natalie Cullip. Well done to Natalie. I will be in touch soon with what you need to do next. Thanks to everyone for taking part.

Happy Cooking! (or Baking!) :-)

Cupcakes by Chrissie Review and a Competition!

Last weekend, I was lucky enough to be invited to review and take part in a Children’s cupcake decoration class run by Chrissie of Cupcakes by Chrissie in her Birmingham home. Chrissie started baking cakes for her son and his friends in 2005 and the business grew from there. After a trip to New York, where she was introduced to the American cupcake, Chrissie decided to use her home economist background to teach students how to make pretty, sophisticated and elegant cupcakes for all occasions.

I arrived at 9.30am to be greeted warmly by Chrissie and taken into her lovely home. All the classes are run from her beautiful kitchen and I was soon joined by five other ladies, all of whom had taken classes with Chrissie before. Our first task, after we had drunk our cup of coffee, was to learn how to make the perfect ball out of sugar paste. This would be the base for all our models as the day went on and it was a technique we all needed to master. It took me a little while but I got there in the end! We started making a racing car as our first model, where we took our balls of sugar paste and make them into flat sausage shapes to form the basis of the car. We used the end of a piping nozzle to make the wheels and another ball of sugar paste, with a flattened bottom to make the helmet.

After finishing the racing car, we moved onto a cow, a pig and a rabbit. All of which we made in a similar way. You started off with a ball of sugar paste for the body and another for the head. The heads were all shaped slightly differently depending on the animal involved. We made ears using leaf cutters or freehand with a craft knife. The arms and the legs were all sort of flat sausage shapes with pads made for their paws and feet. Everything was stuck together using edible glue and detailing was done either by using a small paintbrush or tiny bits of black sugar paste.

We spent approximately 30 minutes on each model. To give us a break, we used a mould to make a tatty teddy, which is made by pushing grey sugar paste into the mould and leaving it to set in the freezer for a couple of minutes. We then used  silver lustre dust and black sugar paste to bring out the detail. To finish, we could either make a brown teddy in the same method as the other animals or we could make a caterpillar. I decided to make the caterpillar as it was just different sized balls of sugar paste. To finish, we used a grass piping nozzle to pipe grass on 3 or 4 of our cupcakes and used buttercream/ sugar paste circles to top the rest.

We left after 5 hours of cake decorating fun, leaving Chrissie with a messy kitchen, clutching our goodie bags containing cupcake cases and full instructions to make cupcakes ourselves at home. We all had a fantastic time and I cannot wait to make cupcakes like these again soon. Thank you to Chrissie for her excellent tuition and patience.  It was great fun! :-)

Many thanks to Beth from Jam and Cream PR for arranging it for me to attend the class :-)

About the classes:

Cupcake classes cost £50 per person and include all equipment and 12 cupcakes to take away.

Classes are held in Castle Vale, Birmingham 9:45am – 1:30pm.

For a full list of upcoming classes please see here for details.

You can find Cupcakes by Chrissie on:

Twitter:  @CakesbyChrissie

Facebook:  http://www.facebook.com/pages/Cupcakes-by-Chrissie/252159928841

Contact Details:

By email: info@cupcakesbychrissie.com

By phone: 07701025647

Its Competition Time!

If you would like a chance to win a cupcake class of your choice from Chrissie, all you need to do is answer the question correctly below:

What is the number of the Wilton piping nozzle used to make the grass on my cupcakes?

A) 244

B) 211

C) 233

Please email your answer to joskitchen@hotmail.co.uk by 12 noon BST on Monday 1st August 2011 and leave a comment in the comments form below (with a Twitter username, if you have one) telling me you done so. All the correct answers will go into a draw and the winner will be selected using Random.org. The winner will be informed via email and/or Twitter as soon as possible after the competition has closed.

This competition has now closed. Thanks to everyone who entered

Terms and Conditions

  1. The winner will select a class of their choice to attend from the list here.
  2. Competition is open to UK Residents only.
  3. The winner must be able to make their own way to Birmingham (just off J6, M6 near Star City and Fort Shopping Centre) for the class.
  4. The same competition is also running on the Midlands Food Bloggers blog but there will be only be 1 winner picked from all entries from both blogs. 
  5. The judges decision is final.
  6. Any questions, please email joskitchen@hotmail.co.uk

Cookbook Review: Mitch Turner’s Cake Masterclass and a Dr Oetker Giveaway

As most of you know by now, I love baking and decorating cakes and I am always on the look out to learn new techniques and get inspiration from everywhere. Therefore, I was very happy when I asked if I would like to review Mitch Turner’s Cake Masterclass: The Ultimate Guide to Cake Decorating Perfection.

 Mitch Turner is the owner of The Little Venice Cake Company which she set up in 1999 after leaving Harvey Nichols where she worked as a Patisserie Buyer. She has made cakes for Gordon Ramsay, Pierce Brosnan, Cheryl Cole, David Beckham and Her Majesty The Queen. Cake Masterclass is her fourth book, following on from her three previous international best-sellers including Spectacular Cakes and Fantastic Party Cakes.

My first impression of the book was how pretty and detailed the cover was. Its beautiful. The book is divided into six sections, Essential Equipment, Cake Baking, Fillings and Frostings, Careful Covering and Stacking, Masterclass and a Cake Gallery. The most useful sections for the amateur cake baker are the equipment section, covering and stacking and the masterclass section, where Mitch reveals some of her decorating secrets such as how to do run outs, make flowers and hand piping. The cake gallery is useful for inspiration, however I think most of the ideas are slightly beyond the average amateur cake decorator despite Mitch’s detailed instructions.

To test out the recipes in the book, I decided to make Cinnamon and White Chocolate Cupcakes. I am not usually one for making flavoured cupcakes, I prefer simple vanilla however these sounded quite good so I gave them a go.  The making of the cupcakes was easy. The recipe was spot on. However, I had some concerns with the white chocolate buttercream. Normally I use 250g of unsalted butter to 50og of icing sugar to ice 12 cupcakes. This recipe called for 175g of unsalted butter to 300g icing sugar, with 100g of white chocolate melted to ice 24 cupcakes.  As it was quite late on a work night when I was making these, I decided to palette knife the icing onto the cakes, as piping was a bit beyond me at this point. It turned out that there was enough icing in the end, however I think if I had used my normal Wilton 1M nozzle, there would not have been enough icing for the cakes.  I took the cakes to work and everyone loved them. The cinnamon was not overpowering and the white chocolate icing complimented it fantastically.  I decorated the cupcakes with decorations I have recently received from Dr Oetker: Wafer Daisies and Polka Dots.

Overall, I was very impressed with Mitch Turner’s Cake Masterclass. I think it is useful addition to any cake bakers bookshelf as it has the perfect mix of techniques and inspiration.

Many Thanks to Melissa from Jacqui Small for sending me the book to review. It is much appreciated.

Dr Oetker Giveaway!

Dr Oetker have given  me lots of goodies that I can giveaway to one lucky Jo’s Kitchen reader. You can win a Bunny Cookie Kit, a Cupcake Kit, an Egg Decorating Kit, Chocolate Writing icing, Chocolate Chips and Fun Baking Cases. Everything you need to get busy in the kitchen with the kids this Easter holiday. To be in with a chance of winning, all you need to do is leave a comment on this post by 8pm on Tuesday 19th April. The winner will then be chosen using Random.org and the items will then be posted out to you, hopefully in time for Easter weekend. The giveaway is open to UK residents only as although Dr Oetker supplied the goodies, I am paying the postage to get the items to you. Any questions, please contact me at joskitchen@hotmaiil.co.uk.

Until next time,

Happy Cooking (or Baking!) :-)


Happy 2nd Birthday!

I have been blogging for two years today. I cannot believe it myself. It has passed by so fast. What started as a simple blog just for sharing my recipes has turned into the foodie adventure of my life. I liked food and cooking before I started but my passion has now reached new levels and I cannot get enough. I would like to thank everyone whose support and understanding has made this blog possible: Stuart, my parents, my stepdad, my sister and the rest of my family, my friends, my work colleagues, fellow bloggers, my Twitter friends and you, especially you, my readers. It would not be possible without you! :-)

Sorry for getting gushy but you are all simply amazing and  I do not usually say it enough. Over the past two months, Marie and I have completed a beginners cake decorating course at a local cake shop in Halesowen. We learnt how to decorate a traditional fruitcake. My efforts are above and it is Jo’s Kitchen first birthday cake. I hope you all like it. Cake decorating does not come naturally to me as I am quite heavy handed but I will persevere over the coming months.

Giveaway Time!

As a thank you for your continued support, I have decided to host my first international giveaway. To win an exclusive Jo’s Kitchen apron modelled by myself above, all you need to do is leave a comment on this post by midday (GMT) on Monday 14th March 2011. The competition is open to everyone  in the UK, Rep of Ireland, Europe,  North America and Canada. You will gain extra entries by tweeting this post on Twitter using the following text ‘I would like to win an @Jos_Kitchen Apron http://wp.me/pAFKO-k8‘ and by sharing the giveaway on Facebook using the button below. You must leave a separate comment for each entry, letting me know you have shared via Facebook or Twitter. The winner will be selected using Random.org.

This giveaway is now closed. Many thanks for all the entries. The winner will be announced tomorrow Tuesday 15th March on another post.

Good luck everyone and thank you for continued support

Happy Cooking! :-)

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