Sticky Cider Pecan Cakes with Cinnamon Ice Cream & Salted Caramel

ginger cupcakes

Individual nutty sponge cakes smothered in salted caramel sauce

How to turn a cupcake into something just that little bit more special.

  1. Bake it straight into a non-stick muffin pan for contrast between the outer edge and fluffy middle
  2. Cram it full of crunchy pecans, fiery ginger, a pinch of cinnamon and a splash of cider
  3. Smother it in sticky caramel sauce, lifted with a generous sprinkle of sea salt
  4. Give it the dignity of calling it a little cake, not a cupcake

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Toffee Apple Cake Pops

toffee_cake_pops

How do you like them apples? Sticky, soft & super sweet cake pops

‘An apple a day keeps the doctor away’ – Old English Proverb

From its grand entrance into records as the original forbidden fruit to the more pedestrian prescription as a daily dose of vitamins and minerals, the apple has held an important place in history. It’s the fabled fruit that fell in front of Newton, supposedly helping him to form his theory of gravity, the present that children traditionally take in for teachers and the iconic logo for a brand that irreversibly changed the course of technology. The apple of one’s eye is a most cherished possession and this simple fruit has been the subject of numerous phrases and sayings across the ages.

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Individual sticky toffee puddings with vanilla bean ice cream

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Sticky toffee pudding with vanilla bean ice cream

In 1990, the world was a very different place. Nelson Mandela had just been released from prison, Margaret Thatcher was still in power, and the Hubble Space telescope was launched into orbit. This was the dawn of the information age, with the world wide web just a year away and science set to change beyond recognition (though it’s fair to say both technology and taste still had a fair way to go). Despite some major world-changing events taking place at the time, media of more immediate concern to my six-year-old self were such pressing issues as which magazine to buy (Horse & Pony, of course), what was on at the cinema (Home Alone), what to listen to on the radio (Madonna’s Vogue) and what to fight with my older brother over to watch on TV.

Amongst the various cartoons, BBC dramas and other viewing termed suitable by our parents, Delia Smith was a firm family favourite. This was an era post Fanny Cradock, yet nearly a decade before the likes of Jamie and Nigella first appeared on our screens, launching a whole new wave of kitchen enthusiasts and the start of our current obsession with cookery programmes. While Nigella flirts and slurps and Jamie rips and rummages his way through a kitchen strewn with fabulous foods from around the world, Delia portioned everything into perfect little pre-prepared white bowls, carefully instructing us step-by-step and introducing the early 90s viewer to such exotic ingredients as anchovies (pronounced with a Loyd Grossman-esque long ‘o’ which always made us giggle). Continue reading

Toffee popcorn cake with chocolate ganache & hidden ‘pop’

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Toffee popcorn cake with hidden ‘pop’

‘The greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.’

Cake is as synonymous with birthdays as parties, presents and singing. That’s not to say it doesn’t serve a purpose at other occasions or celebrations – anyone who reads this blog will know I’m a strong supporter of cake consumption on a pretty much regular basis – but very little can compete with a cake baked specially for a birthday. Whether it’s a simple sponge cake or a more extravagant affair, there’s something incredibly indulgent about a confection created especially for you.

However, while cakes can be beautiful, delicious and a joy to eat, it’s sometimes hard to recreate the utterly magical birthday feeling you get as a child, that sensation of complete surprise and delight. When deciding what to make for a friend’s birthday last week, I wanted to inject just a little bit of that childhood magic back into my baking. A lovingly made cake is a good start, but I needed something to make it extra special.

The answer? Popping candy. Continue reading