Cupcake Noir

Moving away from my usual chocolate cake recipe, I decided to experiment with a denser, darker cake that is melt-in-your-mouth moist.

This is my Noir “death by chocolate” cake – with buttermilk.



Carrot Cake

I have around six different carrot cake recipes – from Nigella and Jenny Morris to various baking bibles to my mom’s tried and trusted recipe.

So what you do when you can’t decide on your favourite?  You take the best bits from each recipe to create your own recipe, of course.

Preeeeeeeeeeeesenting…………  Leo’s Carrot Cake with

  • finely grated carrots (of course)
  • finely grated apple
  • sunflower seeds
  • orange juice & zest
  • desiccated coconut
  • cream cheese topping with chopped nuts


A grown-up experience

Take one cupcake, add dark chocolate ganache (Lindt) and top with malted puff from Woolies.  And you get…



A different kind of cake

Whenever I take my kids to a birthday party, I always take a peek at the choice of birthday cake.  And more often than not the parent opted for a beautifully crafted sugar paste birthday cake, which is a truly gorgeous sight, but that nobody eats.

You see… whenever I bake, my measure of success is how quickly my creation is eaten…  but that’s not the moral of this story.

When my son turned four this year, I started planning his cake and had so many ideas.  But in the end I listened to my little guy and made him his special Bugs-Jelly-Cake.

A different kind of cake

A different kind of cake

And despite the fact that I really wanted to make him a treasure chest or recreate a scene from Cars, I knew that he probably wouldn’t eat it… and isn’t that what being the birthday boy is all about?

So I made several layers of jelly – patiently waiting for each layer to set before adding the next layer and the bugs in between.  It took me two days.  And when he blew out the candles his “cake” was served to all the guests with custard.

It just goes to show:  You don’t have to bake a cake to make your kid happy on his birthday.  We just need to listen to what they – not we – REALLY want.

Scones, heavenly scones

I’ve always stuggled to bake a good scone.  My batch always comes out too hard or uncooked or too flat…

Then I came across a range of scone recipes in a book called “The Ultimate Book of Baking” by Heilie Pienaar, and when I had to bake some post-birthday-party breakfast scones for a few hungry and hung-over thirty-somethings I knew just where to turn for help.

The basic recipe (without my changes)

Heilie’s Butter Scones

  • 500 ml cake flour
  • 2 ml salt
  • 15 ml (1 tbsp) baking powder
  • 45 ml (4 tbsp) castor sugar
  • 80 g butter
  • 1 XL egg
  • 100 ml milk
  1. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt together.  Add the sugar and mix well.
  2. Rub the butter into the dry mixture until it resembles fine breadcrumbs.
  3. Whisk the egg and milk together; then – working as quickly as you can – cut into the dry ingredients with a knife.
  4. Press to a thickness of about 2 cm and cut out with a cookie cutter.
  5. Bake on a greased baking tray in a preheated oven at 200 °C for 12 – 15 minutes, or until golden brown.
  6. Turn out onto wire cooling racks.

My Changes

  1. I added a cup of grated cheese (approximately 100 g) to the dry ingredients.
  2. I also made a slightly wetter dough with about 175 ml milk (instead of the given 100 ml).
  3. Instead of using a cookie cutter, I baked the scones in a muffin tray.
  4. And instead of glazing the tops, I melted 10 ml marmite and 4 tbsp (45 ml) butter and spooned this mix over the piping hot scones when they came out of the oven.

The verdict:

Scone purists may not agree with my changes and preference to a slightly wetter and stickier dough, but the scones came out light and airy while the cheese and savoury topping provided a lovely breakfast bite with tea.