Hi! Welcome to my blog. I am a major foodie, with a haphazard cooking philosophy, currently making that transition from cooking and baking for friends and family to 'wonder if I could make this my career'. Follow me for recipes, the outcomes of a few experiments, and general lovely foodiness. Opinions, reviews and recommendations are all my own.

Thursday 16 October 2014

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

With Halloween just around the corner, I wanted to revisit a post that should have been uploaded last year, but I seriously ran out on time and then it became irrelevant (no big surprise there). Now what we do know, is that I am a massive big kid at heart, and I get super excited about things like fireworks on bonfire night, stockings on Christmas morning, and pumpkin carvings at Halloween. Last year I pestered Gary to get a pumpkin, and bless him he indulged my whim, and even carved 'Eric' for me. For my part, I promised that Eric's insides would be put to good use, and not being one to waste anything, I set about finding the best recipes for the pumpkin flesh and the seeds. 

Tip: After carving out the pumpkin, I diced the flesh and put it in a tupperware container filled with water in the fridge, where it kept fresh for four days until I used it to make pumpkin pies. Likewise, I cleaned off all the seeds and kept them in water too for a couple of days until I was ready to roast them.

I read up quite a bit about the best way to roast pumpkin seeds, and then combined all the hints and tips I found. When it came to it, the recipe pieced together resulted in beautiful, moreish crunchy seeds, which for as long as they lasted seriously quashed my crisp habit - now that takes something. 

I seasoned my seeds with paprika and sea salt, but you could really experiment with any flavour combination here, I'm thinking maybe garlic powder, or parmesan, you could even try a sweeter flavour, such a cinnamon with a little sugar or maple syrup!

I strongly recommend that you roast your pumpkin seeds after the jack-o-lanterns have been carved, they really are far too tasty to waste! 

(quantities are a guideline - adapt based on size of pumpkin and personal tastes)

Seeds from one medium pumpkin, strings removed, washed and cleaned
1 tsp salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp rock salt


Bring a pan of water to the boil...

Add a teaspoon of salt and stir in...

Add the pumpkin seeds, and bring the pan down to a simmer for 10 minutes...

Meanwhile, in a bowl, mix together the olive oil, paprika, and salt...

After 10 minutes, drain the seeds, and pat down with kitchen paper to remove any excess water...

Add the seeds to the seasoning and mix until all are coated...

Transfer the seeds to a baking tray and spread evenly. Bake at 180 degrees for around 15 minutes until crispy. Check the seeds after 10 minutes, they should be golden on the outside, and the inner seed should be a golden brown too. If the inner seeds go too dark they will burn and taste bitter...

Remove from the oven when crispy, and transfer to kitchen towel to soak up excess oil. These are delicious hot, and equally good cold - if they last that long! 

Paprika Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

Tuesday 29 July 2014

The Renshaw Birthday Cake Challenge

Recently I was contacted by Renshaw Baking to take part in their new Birthday Cake Challenge - to create and decorate a birthday cake using Renshaw products. Renshaw have a brilliant range of colours available now, you can see them for yourselves over at their online store.
For the challenge, I personally chose to use their white ready to roll icing, simply because I like to colour the fondant myself to get the exact shade for my designs. One of the designs I had planned needed shades of the same colour too, so this was a better option. I use Sugarflair gel-based colours, and they colour white fondant really easily, simply by kneading the colour through the paste, you need very little to get the desired colour, and the gels don't alter the consistency of the fondant.
Renshaw also sent me some of their new Flower and Modelling Paste, a stiffer more mailable paste that is perfect for creating delicate sugar flowers. It is also great to use with silicone moulds, as it holds it's shape when taken out of the mould, and sets nice and hard too.
To demonstrate the versatility of these products, I created two cakes using them. The first was a fun Tropical Beach Cake, based specifically on a Goan Beach, and the second a pretty floral 30th Birthday Cake.
Tropical Goan Beach Cake

This cake was so much fun to make! The recipient loves tropical beach holidays, and in particular holidays in Goa. One of the special requests from her daughter was to include a cow, as Goa is quite renowned for it's 'Beach Cows'!
I used the fondant to cover the cake and create the ombre effect waves around the edges. I also used fondant to model the cow. The modelling paste helped to create the stiffer bark and leaves of the palm tree, and the smaller details, including using a silicone mould to create the shells that decorated the edges of the cake. A little light muscavado sugar to act as sand, and voila! Tropical Beach fun!
Pretty Floral 30th Birthday Cake

The joy of this design was in the simplicity, and the Flower and Modelling Paste is a great staple for creating thinner more delicate petals for flowers. Like fondant, it can be coloured with gels to any shade, and by adding petal dust you can get a really pretty petal-like effect. We based the colour pallet on the hydrangea-type flowers that adorn the centre of the 30. I really like this design, and can see it adapted for different ages, flowers and colour pallets - the possibilities are endless!

Wednesday 11 June 2014

The Pantry Door Update - 11th June

... This **** Just Got Real... 

That's pretty much the thought that has occupied my mind the last two weeks, as I've juggled work, sales targets, housework, baking cakes, decorating cakes, not to mention all those little day to day things that pop up. It has suddenly occurred to me (forgive me I can be a little slow on the uptake sometimes) that I am now running a business. Yikes! A business no less that is taking off at something of a pace, and I'm am equal parts thrilled and terrified. Ok, maybe more on the side of thrilled, however I am very aware that my customers are no longer just my friends, but people I have never met before. Anxiety about letting people down is creeping in, and I have had to give myself a few stern talkings-to lately, as has Gary. 

May 2014 brought in 18 orders, against a forecasted 6 - June looks set to equal that, despite being on holiday for 10 days of the month. Last week I delivered my first 5 tier wedding cake, amongst several other projects, and after a hard week, seeing the bride and groom cut the cake (I was invited to the evening party) reaffirmed all the hard work, and cemented that fact that wedding cakes is where I wanted to be. I think I really needed that. 

We have some fun cakes lined up this week before we hit the sun and sand of Majorca, here's a recap of what's been happening the last few weeks...

30th Birthday and 2nd Birthday Cupcakes

Birthday Boy Cupcakes

Defibrillator Cake - for an Office party 

Elvis Cake

Frozen Cake - all characters were handmade

Marmite Jar Cake

Mickey Mouse Cake

Peppa Pig and Friends Cake

Pigs In Mud Cake

Vintage Styled Cake

Wakeboarding Cake - the only direction I was given was the photo on the left...
And last but by no means least - here are a few snaps of the wedding cake delivered to the Sandpiper Hotel on Saturday....
There were 100 vanilla cupcakes, marbled to match the colour and pattern on the bridesmaid dresses. Both the frosting and the cake inside had the marble effect

The 5 Tier Wedding Cake

The toppers were handmade, to represent the bride and groom in their day jobs, him with his overalls, and her with marigolds and an apron

The second to top tier had an monogrammed panel with the bride and grooms initials

The inside of the cake was also marbled to match the bridesmaid dresses

Monday 26 May 2014

The Pantry Door Update - 26th May

Just a quick post from me tonight to share the latest goings-on from our kitchen - it's been a really busy week, so lots to share, and I'm in the middle of prepping toppers and flowers for the next two weeks to get a jump on orders. Here's what we've done recently...

Cookie Monster Cake

F.R.I.E.N.D.S Themed Cupcakes

More F.R.I.E.N.D.S Themed Cupcakes

Minion Cake

Minion Cupcakes

Monster High Cake with Clawdeen Wolf

New York New York Cake

Tatty Teddy Christening Cake

Vintage Style Mini Cupcakes - 72 in total!
Hope you have all had a lovely Bank Holiday! x

Sunday 11 May 2014

The Pantry Door Sunday Update - 11th May

Well! That was a busy two weeks! Cakes, weddings, visitors, bank holidays, and a whole lot of day job too! The biggest news this weekend however is this - on Friday, the local council came out to assess my home kitchen for running the business, and I am pleased to say not only did we pass the inspection, but were awarded the full 5 stars! Phew, that's another hurdle overcome!

I must say, this is one of the reasons that I put off setting up for so long - having been told by so many people I can't do this or I can't have that - there were so many reasons given to me as why my beautiful kitchen would not be suitable. And they were all wrong. In truth, the local environmental health team are more concerned with your procedures for managing hygiene, and CBC have been great from my first enquiry, offering both advice and reassurance throughout. If anyone else is in a similar position and not sure about taking the next step, my advice is pick up the phone, and talk to the experts - you'll be surprised how supportive they can be. 

So now everything is 100% in place, the council, the tax man, and the customers! Here's the fun bit, this is what we have been making in the kitchen these past two weeks... 

iPhone Cake - complete with apps and the birthday girl taking a 'selfie'

Damask Print 50th Birthday Cupcakes

Metallic Gold and Ivory Wedding Cake with Gold Edged Sugar Roses

Mixed Cupcakes for a Mechanic

Dirty Dancing Movie Reel Cake - with Edible Pictures

Dairy Free 'In The Night Garden' Cake

Star Trek 'Enterprise in the Galaxy' Cake

Subaru Cake

Sunday 27 April 2014

The Pantry Door Sunday Update - April 27th

As promised, here is a glimpse of what we've been up to this week! As our first official month of trading draws to a close, I am feeling really positive about the progress we have made. Gary and I have had a lot of discussions about the best way to approach turning this cake decorating malarkey into a business. The two key objectives for our first year are to test whether people are prepared to pay the full price for our product (it seems that yes they are!) and to see how it fits in and around my day job, which to be fair, has to take priority as it is what pays the bills. To this end we agreed not to advertise or seek out business, but just to build a reputation and customer base built on recommendation. 

We have forecast a modest 6 cakes per month - roughly what I'd been doing for friends before we turned into a business. This month we surpassed that and delivered 8 cakes. For May we have 16 booked. Yikes! We are already taking orders 6 - 8 months in advance, people I've never heard of are contacting me to order cakes, so the recommendation plan must be working! This next month will be really testing, as not only do we have so many cake orders, but my day job commitments this month are pretty huge and require a lot of travel too. That being said, some of the requests are epic, and there are going to be some really great designs to share! 

And talking of sharing, here is this week's offering... a chocolate Mini Cooper, and an Oreo flavoured Oreo cake for a lover of - you guessed it - Oreos! 

Thanks for reading - next week's projects include a classic sci-fi series, an even more classic movie, and my forth wedding cake! 

Happy Sunday! xx