Hello… long time no blogging, It’s been a while !

Hiya ! … yep it’s me, not been on here for a while, about a year and a half I reckon.img_7573

It’s not you…its me you know, I haven’t been sure for a while where this blog was going, and also I have been getting my head down and getting my career back on track after my redundancy at Spring studios in 2015…. More on that in 2017.

well for those in the know, I have been working at the Biscuiteers baking company since April 2015, (based in my manor of south London)  who are pretty much famous the world over for their hand iced biscuit collections, with concessions in some fine retail outlets.

I Myself am not involved in the biscuit side, but rather the cake side, as they have two marvellous boutiques bakeries in Notting hill and Northcote road, clapham, I supply  & develop ranges of Macarons, tarts, cakes and tray bakes for their cafe options, and have been involved in setting up a pastry team to take this forward, so you can imagine, a lot of stuff to do and no time for blogging my fancies online .

Looking back on some of the posts on here I have not been too sure if this was for me anymore, It all seems a bit all over the place, a few marzipan figures here, some tarts, a bit of gluten-free, some dodgy baking innuendo and really bad iPhone photos, but I have decided to make 2017 the year I give it ago again, some posts I have written will be trashed in a “eww what was I thinking kinda frame of mind’ ..& I will try to restore some order and continuity, probably giving some more time over to Gluten free items and other free from sweet lovelies.

I am removing some of my categories and tidying up the space here… it’s like my 15-year-old selfs bedroom, things I liked for about 5 minutes and the shoved under the bed  or in the sock draw  (in the case of this blog, the side bar)

So anyhow, enough of the babbling, lets see if I can give this another go.. so looking forward to starting “The Cake-Shaker” .2 and seeing where it goes, and If you have any ideas of what you would like to see, or anything you want to find out more about… just drop me a message.

I’ll get a “Happy new year”  in to you all  in early, and see you in 2017.

Heres a few highlights from 2016.


Blondie bombshell in a (salty nutshell) White chocolate & salted peanut butter Blondie.

So you have the brownies Right ? .. all gooey and sweet, dark and chocolatey…and er.. Brownie-ish ?

But what about the light side, not the dark ? well don’t panic, if its white chocolate you like, here’s the recipe for you !

Now because white chocolate is quite sweet, I decided to stick my salty nuts in my recipe, ( yes I know, sorry about that, I can’t help myself)

So here’s a blondie recipe using peanut butter, plus salted peanuts… I like that whole contrast between sweet & salty, thats why one of my guilty pleasures is a chocolate digestive with a bit of strong cheddar on.. (trust me, it’s similar) 😉

Leave to cool., cut to desired size ...and scoff ;)

A salty mouthful with a sweet punch, what’s not to love ? 😉

Just like brownies are, you know …well,  brown, blondes get their name from the sandy colour of the final cake, more so with the peanut butter in this case.


A an 8 inch square cake tin

A bowl of water over a saucepan of hot (not boiling water)

stirring spoon or whisk

A separate mixing bowl to mix all together in.


150g white chocolate.

160g butter

200g  crunchy peanut butter

120g soft brown sugar

1oog plain flour

1/2  teaspoon baking powder.

(For gluten-free use 130g gluten-free flour, or 100g fine rice flour + 2 tablespoons of rapeseed oil)

180g salted peanuts.

2 pinches of sea salt.

1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon.

4 eggs.


Place a bowl over a pan of hot water (make sure bowl isn’t touching water)

Place the butter, peanut butter and white chocolate in the bowl and leave to melt while stirring, add  2 pinches of sea salt & cinnamon.

When melted take of heat, stir in the sugar, then beat in the eggs, then fold in the flour & baking powder.

Pour into your  tin lined with parchment, then sprinkle over the rest of the nuts.

Bake at 160c (155 fan) for 40-45 minutes, test with a small knife or skewer, if it’s slightly tacky that’s fine, not wet.

Leave to cool.


Click on any image to enlarge.



Add salted or unsalted Cashews for a smokier flavour ( see photo below ), or honey roasted peanuts on top for a totally different flavour, salted Almonds are great too.

Add some dark chocolate chips into the mix ( about 150g ) or top with a dark chocolate ganache (recipe below) to get a “salted snicker bar” type Blondie.

Serve warm with vanilla ice cream or any ice creamy prefer, with warm chocolate sauce (recipe below)


100ml single cream

75g dark chocolate

Teaspoon of golden syrup

Teaspoon of dark cocoa powder

Warm cream in pan with chocolate and syrup, then add cocoa powder until smooth sauce is formed, warm brownie in oven, serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream & the sauce.

Ganache topping.

1ooml single cream

100g dark chocolate

2 teaspoon of honey (or 1 tablespoon of maple syrup)

tablespoon of sunflower or rapeseed oil, or try olive oil for totally different flavour.

Bring cream to the boil,turn down heat add chocolate , stir, then add honey stir in, then slowly add oil.

spread over Blondie and set in fridge.


Same recipe above, but using salted or plain cashews, about 200g sprinkled on top before baking.

Same recipe above, but using salted or plain cashews, about 200g sprinkled on top before baking.

It’s been the best of times, the worst of times, now time for exciting new opportunity times…goodbye Spring studios !

..... It was all downhill fromm here on ;)

….. It was all downhill from here on 😉

What’s this all about you may ask ?

Well it all began with a magpie ………….

I woke up on the Monday morning a few weeks ago, ready for the week ahead, eating my half a grapefruit for breakfast (a tradition I carry on from my grandmother) and I was staring into our garden, thinking “looks nice out does that”

Then a magpie landed straight in front of my view on our bird bath. Now in most cases I’m not particulary superstitious, or even remotly religious, but for some reason I always find myself saluting a lone magpie 3 times, you know, just incase like.

The whole spell was broken by a wood pigeon swooping down and starting to knock seven bells out of said Magpie, which spilled out on to the lawn, my money was on the pigeon, it looked pissed.

Sooo anyhow, off to work I went after the avian punch up at the bird bath, on my bike to a normal Monday work routine. When I arrived at the studios I started stuffing the bar in the restaurant with cookies & brownies, sorting out that weeks al a carte menu, and going through the days production sheet to see what clients I was to be stuffing all things sweet and gooey down that day.

That afternoon as I was walking across the restaurant to adjust my muffins, ( they always seem to get a bit unruly ) When a young lady from HR handed me an envelope and sat me down, I was to be put on a two-week redundancy notice due to a change in business and cost cutting…..Well first of all I was like “EH?” then I was “OH!” Then the news settled in and I was surprised to feel quite calm and a bit tingly, almost excited for some strange reason.

To be honest, I sort of saw this coming, the studios had changed, become even more successful, they were streamlining areas and saving money to put into other areas that were more successful, the restaurant was the smallest part of the operations, and they decided to save my wages and just out source the pastry side of things, I was basically a luxury that didn’t make sense on paper, I get that business is business, the restaurant is still going, just without a pastry chef, like a lot of restaurants do.

I had a great run at the studios, 8 years of association ( with a 7 month gap where I worked at love Bakery in 2010 )

It was so different to my previous 20 years in the world of corporate fine dining, I worked entirely on my own, I didn’t even have a head chef or restaurant or catering manager above me, I was treated as a creative, and allowed to go down my own path with the full support of the studios (which I did have during times when it was really needed especially during one period there)

So thank you Spring studios for giving me a time in my career where I forged my own identity in my profession & for allowing me to grow, there’s no hard feelings at all, I made many friends who will be with me in the years to come.

So my two weeks notice period passed real quick, in a blink of an eye I now find myself unemployed.

So what next ?

I have been very lucky in the support I have had from friends & family, lots have given me leads to where to send my CV so big wet kiss to all those, who gave me messages of support & sent my CV to people they think might be interested in little ole me.

I used all my social media accounts to announce my redundancy & promote my CV and job ability, the response there has been brillliant ! especially on LinkedIn, I posted a piece about my redundancy which proved very popular, and now have a folder full of new connections and agents I didn’t have before.

I now have interviews lined up & the promise of some work trials ( not going to say much incase I jinx them )

The one thing about the studios is that catering is not their main business, they are not a catering company, so one thing I am looking forward to is hopefully working for a company who’s main business is catering, like I used to, I did miss being part of a large brigade of chefs to be honest, so I’m looking forward to being part of one again soon.

I also now have to think about how I can help myself, I have an idea about away to expand this very blog and the Cake-Shaker name, it’s early days yet, but watch this space 😉

Don’t worry, there are a still a few recipes to go up on here, I have the photo’s in the bag and the recipes to write up…obviously I now have the time to do it and no excuses .

Anyway ….. F%*@**G  MAGPIE !!  😉



Click on link below for my farewell to Spring slide show 🙂


Cookie dough, the way to go, the recipe I’m most asked for.

Cookie Jenga annyone ?

Cookie Jenga annyone ?

Yes yes… I know there are hundreds of cookie dough recipes out there these days, but it’s my most asked for recipe.  So I have been procrastinating about posting this recipe ever since I started this blog, I don’t know why, it’s not like I am being overly protective of it or don’t want to share.

And here It is, I think my main reason for posting now is due to pure laziness, once it’s here I no longer have to scribble it down for people who asks me for it at work, just point them in this direction.

I truly do not know where this recipe originated from, but as usual it’s one thats been tinkered with over the past decade, it used to contain oats, but I did away with that so it was more soft and chewy, This version has chocolate chips in, the most popular one I sell.  But it is a really versatile recipe and you can customise it how you ever you want, I’ll leave some ideas at the end of this post.

I can’t tell you how many of these I have made over the years, but for a charity event I made 3000 one day a few  years ago, ! Oh my goodness ! I think I didn’t get my sense of smell back to normal for at least a week, I could just smell cookie dough for ages afterwards !

I make quite a bit at work..this will last a couple of days, if that ;)

I make quite a bit at work..this will last a couple of days, if that 😉

They are now a consent staple where I work, there is always a jar on the bar in the restaurant, or I sometimes send them into studios where clients are working, still warm on the baking tray.  One thing you will notice is the amazing aroma, all due to the cinnamon and vanilla …. who needs scented candles, just knock up a batch of these before your guests come around, better than any old potpourri your mum might have 😉

You can make any size you like…big ones, small ones, some as big as your head, just remember to adjust cooking times.


A pre-heated oven at 160c ( 155c fan )

A baking tray lined with a baking mat or parchment

A mixing bowl

Some disposable gloves ( incase you are precious about getting dough under your nails, but optional if you want to lick yourself clean of dough after you have finished )

That is all.

Please note, my actual recipe is for a huge bulk amount for work, so I have scaled it down here, but all pictures are taken at work us using my normal amount, so will look a lot bigger than you will have while making this recipe.

This will make about 10-12 largish cookies or 15-20 smaller, this dough can keep for a week, wrapped in the fridge, and can easily be frozen.

Best eaten while a bit warm out of the oven, or can be kept for 3-4 days in a sealed container

TIP: “Refresh” cookies a few days old by placing in a warm oven for 5 minutes, making the chocolate chips gooey.


320g unsalted butter.

460g soft light brown sugar.

3 eggs, medium.

3 tablespoons of milk

540g Self raising flour + 1 teaspoon baking powder

2 teaspoons of vanilla essence

2 teaspoons of ground cinnamon.

200g dark chocolate buttons/chips.

200g white chocolate buttons/chips.

(You can add more chocolate if you are feeling naughty)



Beat the butter and sugar until it’s light and fluffy.

Beat in the eggs one at a time until fully incorporated.

Beat in the milk, vanilla, and cinnamon.

fold in the flour.

fold in the chocolate buttons


Place in a container, cover and place in the fridge for a couple of hours to firm up.


For large cookies weigh around 150g of dough, roll into ball and flatten to about 1/2 an inch on tray, place cookies at least 2 inches apart bake at 160c (155c fan ovens) for 15 minutes.

For smaller cookies weigh around 75g dough, roll into balls and flatten as above, bake for around 8-10 minutes.

Leave for 10 mins before eating, I don’t want to be sued for causing lip blisters due to molten chocolate chips 😉


Oat & Raisin

Take out 50g sugar, add 50g oats add 200g raisins instead of chocolate, raisins are nice soaked in rum for a couple of hours before hand if you like (if you want chocolate and oaty cookies, just leave the chocolate buttons in)

White chocolate, cherry and cinnamon

Add 250g white chocolate 150g chopped glace cherries

( you can replace the 1 teaspoon of cinnamon with with two ground ginger for a spicier cookie, or add chopped stem ginger in syrup)

Date and pecan

200g chopped pitted dried dates & 250g chopped pecans add 1 teaspoon of ground cardamom as well as cinnamon..

Christmas cookies.

200g dried cranberries, 250g white chocolate chips, 1 tsp cinnamon, 2 ginger, zest of one clementine.

I will get back to you on a gluten free version, that’s still a work in progress.


click on any image below to enlarge.

©The Cake-Shaker 2015

Fig and berry marshmallow…. With some “Frankenstien brains” thrown in for halloween !

Squares of marshmallow with a campari shot

Squares of marshmallow with a campari shot

Marshmallows …Where DO I start, well they have been around for donkeys years, and get the name from a plant (The Marsh Mallow plant of course)  which the powdered roots were originally used to make a gelatinous medicine for sore throats, & later confections, mainly in the middle east at first.

Then us Europeans got in on the act and started messing about with them, the french mainly  (of course they did, those confectionary geniuses)  and they were then mainly made using gelatine or egg whites. due to the fact the original plant root was a bit hard to come by & wasn’t cheap. It was often flavoured with rose. These days the main bulk of theses spongy morsels is a boiled sugar syrup & gelatine thats flavoured.

Frankenstein Marshmallow braaiiiinnnssss !

Frankenstein Marshmallow braaiiiinnnssss !

Marshmallows have had a resurgence of late, “gourmet marshmallows” as they are known, are made with more natural ingredients, Like fruit purees, chocolate …even alcohol ! ( yes…I like that last one) People have been really inventive with them and coming up with all sorts of concoctions….so of course I had to have a play 😉

The following recipe is made with a gelatine base ( I am not keen on the egg white base)  I know this isn’t really vegetarian friendly, but I will be updating this blog post once I have experimented with other bases like Agar and will keep you informed. But for now I am using a gelatine recipe, using a fruit puree as a flavour, in this case fig and berry, Mainly because at the time I was writing this post, summer had given way to Autumn and I was using these as they were in season.

I used ready made purees in this recipe from Boiron, Funkin purees are also perfect for this recipe (links below)

HALLOWEEN KLAXON !! Yes ! my fave part of the cakey calendar is about to fall upon us as I write, and I couldn’t resist using marshmallow  for halloween treats. It’s spongy texture is perfect to make “flesh like” treats for the creepy season, I also used food pipettes filled with raspberry puree to add a bit of “mad scientist” to them and moulded the mix in some brain chocolate moulds I bought online (I will leave relevant links at the end of the post)

Bloody marshmallow brains ...YUM ! ;)

Bloody marshmallow brains …YUM ! 😉

I flipping loved how they came out ! real creepy like 🙂 I have still used the pipettes in normal squares of marshmallow , so people can squeeze a bit of loveliness over them to add a bit of oomph, I have even used pipettes filled with cocktails (filth !)

You can use any combination of puree you want to, as with all these recipes and this blog, the aim is to get you to experiment yourselves 😉

Now I haven’t really touched on sugar boiling before, so heres a first, you will need a sugar/jam thermometer for this one…and keep it handy, as I have another recipe coming up which will need it soon.


A heavy based saucepan

A Sugar/ Jam thermometer

An eight to ten inch cake tin or brownie pan.

An electric whisk and bowl.


20g gelatin powder or 7 leaves of Dr Oetker size gelatine, soaked in around 150mls of water.

150ml fig Puree 100ml raspberry puree* } You can use any combination of purees as long as you get a combined amount of 240mls liquid.

120g golden syrup

420g caster sugar

180ml water 1/2 tsp lemon juice ( to help the flavours “punch” through the sugar syrup)

Cornflour to dust.


Line your tin with oil or cake release spray, then line the bottom and side with baking parchment (not greaseproof paper) I find this better then cling film as it leaves less creases in the end product…you can dust it with cornflour too.

Mix the gelatine powder, purees & lemon juice together in your mixing bowl and allow the gelatine to soak up the liquid and swell. If using leaves soak them in  the cold water until they have swelled and are spongey (bloomed) Then take them out squeezing out any excess water.

In your pan place the sugar, syrup, water and bring to the boil, continue boiling (washing down sides with a brush and water to stop crystals forming) and using the thermometer, keep boiling until it reaches 120c (hard ball) Take of the heat and leave until it stops bubbling.

Next (and be careful here as you are using a very hot liquid) whisk into puree/gelatine mix, gradually speed up the whisk until its high, and whisk until mix has doubled in size  and is a much lighter colour…almost like bubble gum. If using leaves, pour the syrup over the puree and start whisking, as you add the soaked leaves, they will melt when they hit the heat of the syrup.

Using a greased spoon or spatula ease the marshmallow into your tin, place some more parchment over the top and press down. Leave to cool for at least 4 hours.

If you use the brain moulds, oil the moulds and dust with cornflour, pipe the mallow in each mould and press down to get the mould detail on each one.


when set, turn out the mallow onto a corn floured surface, cut into squares to size you want, you can dust with cornflour or dip in chocolate, or use food pipettes filled with fruit puree or alcohol to add a little something special.

With the brain moulds  you can gently Peel them out the moulds. I brushed them with jam first to make them look “bloody”

You don’ t have to have brain moulds for a Halloween treat, brush squares of marshmallow with an edible skin tone food colour powder, and stick a pipette with red berry coulis in for a “cube of human flesh” … even better, while whisking the mallow, add a bit of green food paste to give a zombie flesh feel.

USEFUL LINKS: –          Food Pipetes        Boiron purees

Brain moulds       Funkin Purees


use the gallery* below to view the method, click on any image to enlarge.

*Note: The amounts look larger than they will for the recipe given above, as I make much larger amounts at work, I have adjusted recipe to give you a smaller amount, but the method shown is the same. Also colour may vary in photos as I have photographed different types I have made over the year, Images are just to illustrate the method

HALLOWEEN “FRANKENSTIEN” BRAINS GALLERY ! Make using recipe as above, will fill at least 8 brain moulds.

© The cake-Shaker 2014

Mastering chocolate with the “Mast brothers – A family cookbook” and falling in love with Brooklyn, NYC. (including my fave recipe, an ingenious chocolate blueberry pie)

The Mast Brothers factory and shop, I was mesmerised by the smells, flavours and feel of the place.

The Mast Brothers factory and shop, I was mesmerised by the smells, flavours and feel of the place.

As you may or may not have noticed, if you’ve been wandering through this blog, is that one of my fave places on the planet is New York city.

I was lucky enough to visit again in March this year with the husband, Terry Ronald, who has been going there for 25 yrs after working out there in the early 90’s, hence we have a New York family of friends as well as the ones back here in London.

This year we explored a  lot more of Brooklyn, which has gone on to become THE place to be in NYC, especially Williamsburg, which our friend Leticia, who’s lucky enough to be a long-standing Brooklyn resident, took us on a tour of. Now Leticia loves her chocolate, & one place she took us to was The Mast brothers chocolate factory and retail shop, and boy, was I blown away by the creativeness & flavours.

The mast Brothers Marvellous book in their retail shop, Brooklyn.

The mast Brothers Marvellous book in their retail shop, Brooklyn.

At Mast brothers we handcraft chocolate in away that seeks to highlight the unique characteristics of its exceptional ingredients, cacao and sugar. Ingredient-focused cooking always respects the process in its entirety: from ground to mouth, farmer to customer, bean to bar.

The above quote is from the Mast brothers, A family cookbook, Which I picked up and bought, while at their shop, which in itself is amazing, with glass screens from which behind chocolatiers worked away to the brothers formulas, like chocolate alchemists. Of course we took full advantage of the tasting pieces on offer, and bought a couple of bars for our friend from Manhattan, Michele, who also highly recommended we visit this area & shop too.

Once back in the UK I completely became obsessed with this book (being obsessed with chocolate and with munching as much of it as I can throughout my time here on earth helped) and didn’t waste anytime in trying out some of the recipes, they have away with mixing flavours you wouldn’t think off, including savoury combos, including scallops & pork.

The Photography and design of this book, is just perfect.

The Photography and design of this book, is just perfect.

I like the fact they have gone much further than fair trade, by dealing with the cacao farmers direct & forming a strong relationship with them, so getting the best sourced ingredients for their marvellous creations.

This is something I don’t normally do when I write about a book on here, include my favourite recipe. So below is a recipe for a blueberry and dark chocolate pie, I’ve made it a couple of times, and it’s so simple, and involves a flavour combo and method that I am envious of not coming up with myself.

(I have added a tip on how to make a gluten free version of the crust at the end of the recipe below)

The book will soon be  available locally where I live  in East Dulwich at Roullier white, I raved about it so much to our friend Lawrence , the proprietor, that he checked it out & liked it so much he decided to stock it. (will post a link as soon as it’s available online, or you could visit the shop in ED)

This was one of the best things I bought in NYC on this particular trip  (well that and my vintage ghost busters hoodie I bought for $7 in a Williamsburg thrift shop)  🙂

If you can get hold of a copy please do, its such a lovely book and totally inspiring … even to an old pastry chef who’s been around the block like myself 😉



by Rick & Michael Mast

Published by Little Brown book company, Hachette book group

Available on Amazon and coming soon to Roullier white’s book selection

RECIPE- The Mast brothers chocolate blueberry pie.

You will need: An 8 inch pie dish (or an  loose bottom tart case which I used as I didn’t have a dish)

An oven at 180c, 350f  (160c if using an a fan oven)

ingredients (I have converted from cup measures to grams for us on this side of the pond) 🙂


1 1/2 cups (180g) of plain flour.

6 tablespoons of cocoa powder (dark).

1 teaspoon sea salt.

3/4 (180g)  cups unsalted butter

1/4 (25g)  cup icing sugar

1 egg yolk.

1.5 teaspoons of double cream.


5 cups of fresh Blueberries  (I found 5 Punnets was adequate).

2 onces (90g) of dark chocolate, chopped + extra for shaving over pie after baking.

1 cup (200g)  of castor sugar

4 Tablespoons of cornflour.


Below is a gallery of the how to make the pie, click on any image to enlarge.

Note: I made a gluten free version of the crust by substituting plain flour with  doves farm gluten free flour with 1/4 teaspoon of xanthan gum and 1 teaspoon of orange juice for the crust and left it 15 minutes longer to chill in refrigerator.


Whats long thick, pink in the middle, and lovely in the mouth ? Thats right, a baked Rhubarb and ginger roll !

How rude !

warm, stodgy and fruity ...marvelous

Warm, stodgy and fruity …marvelous !

Well you know me by now, always up for a bit of pudding innuendo.

Well as of the time of writing this post, it’s nearly the end of April and it’s Easter sunday 2014, & typically it’s raining and a bit chilly outside, good old british bank holiday weekend weather 😉

So what a good day for writing up a recipe that warms you up inside.

As you know, I love a bit of Rhubarb, and have already posted a few recipes on here….this blog might as well be called “The Rhubarb-shaker”  ( sounds naughty ) But I decided to make this, as I’ve gone back to making a traditional british pud that I have not made for a long time… A nice suet roll pudding !

You can fill this with what ever tickles your fancy to be honest, Apples and dates, sultanas & spice, pear and blackberry ….or good old-fashioned Jam, as in a jam roly poly. Here I used my favourite again, Rhubarb, mainly as it’s in its zenith in spring & it’s the first seasonal product of the year that’s readily available, You get good old pink forced rhubarb from january to march, then the much firmer and darker outside grown varieties from then on.

It is actually a lovely simple recipe, and you don’t even need to have a special tin to bake it in either as you might think.

This is marvelous served with a thick vanilla custard, Ice cream, or thick vanilla cream.

So if you fancy a hot warm, steamy length of loveliness, this is one for you, have a go and enjoy 😉

Serves about 8-10 can be halved easily to make less.

It’s easy to make this gluten and dairy free  ( see below )


Some baking parchment (not grease proof paper, this isn’t strong enough)

Some tin foil.

Chopping board

Shallow oven tray ( like a swiss roll tray )

An oven preheated to 170c ( 160c for fan ovens )

Someone to share your pudding with …and can take a lot.

RECIPE: Suet pastry

300g self-raising flour

Pinch of salt.

100g castor sugar

Fine Zest of one large orange

150g beef or vegetable suet

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1ooml milk

1 egg ( medium )

(also 1 egg, beaten for brushing)

RECIPE: Filling

200g rhubarb ( about 3 sticks )

4 pieces of  stem ginger in syrup, chopped roughly

1/2 teaspoon of ground cardamom

1 teaspoon ground ginger

2 tablespoons cornflour

100g soft light brown sugar

Juice of 1 large orange ( from one you zested for pastry )

Orange Marmalade for spreading

NOTE: To make gluten and Dairy free use same amount of gluten free flour ( doves farm flour is great) with 1/2 a teaspoon of Xanthan gum & 50ml more milk. Use a gluten free vegetable suet ( non dairy ) Use same method below.


Follow the gallery below of step by step stages on how to make, click on any image to enlarge.

© The cake-shaker 2014

Dead cool, sugar ghouls – Day of the dead sugar skulls

As you would know by now if you have been following this blog, I love a bit of Halloween, and always try to put something up each year. This year is no exception.

Who knew skulls could be so cute !

Who knew skulls could be so cute !

I came across how to make these skulls while trying to look for something a bit different last year, I found the moulds on ebay, they came complete with instructions on how to do them, so this is really about how I found making them.

They take little in the way of ingredients, but I found the amounts a bit vague, so have basically tried to simplify them.

I really enjoyed making them, and have made some more for october this year, they are traditionally made for the mexican day of the dead festivities which is celebrated in the beginning of November. They are made in honour the spirits of dead ancestors who are reputed to visit their relatives and our world at this time. Families make them, sometimes fill them with sweets, & and take them to the graves of relatives as gifts.

Display I made for halloween last year, with Norman, one of my skulls.

Display I made for Halloween last year, with Norman, one of my skulls.

It may all sound rather creepy, but I quite like it, it’s a nice way to feel close to ones ancestors, and its a sugary way to taking the fear out of mortality. ( try licking a sugar skull & you’ll never fear the reaper again ) 🙂

The skulls themselves are not really made for eating, it is just a huge lump of set sugar, you could try to put it in a giant cup tea, but I wouldn’t advise it.

We don’t really celebrate this festival here in the UK, but I think the moulds are great for Halloween, Last year I made two ( who I named Norman & Tebbit ) and placed them in a display, I made a few this year and placed one in a Halloween restaurant display, I’ll decorate and place the others around the place as we go through october.

2013's display using one of the skulls i made this year

2013’s display using one of the skulls I made this year

I have included a link to the company that sell the moulds I bought last year HERE, or you could just find them online somewhere else, you might get a bargain on ebay like I did !

What I like about the skulls is that you can decorate them how ever you want & use your warped imagination. I was inspired by the fabulous colourful mexican decorated skulls last year, but decided to move towards a more gory creepy design this time. I have just shown how to make the base, the rest is up to you… go nuts and be really creepy, scare the shhhhsugar out of everyone and get your spook on !  ( I’d love to see them )


A Mexican sugar skull mould. ( I used an XL mould )

A bowl

Some baking parchment

a couple of 6 inch round cake cards

disposable gloves ( optional )

A warped imagination when decorating 😉


1.250g granulated sugar ( some say castor, but I found this easier and liked the crystalline effect )

1 tablespoon of dried egg white powder or meringue powder ( I used Meri white which is sold in most cake decorating shops )

Some cold water.


Place sugar and powder in bowl.

Gradually sprinkle some cold water in and mix by hand until its like wet sand you make a sand castle with.

A good guide is if you squeeze some in your hand and you leave finger marks in it’s done, if its to sticky, just add a bit more sugar.

Polish the inside of your moulds, pack the sugar in one half and smooth off at the top.

Tip out like you are making a sand castle, I found it easier to turn it onto a cake card covered with baking parchment.

Do the same with the other half.

Leave both halves 24 hours to set.

When set you can pick them up, the inside should still be soft, scoop out the inside with a spoon, leaving about half an inch for the structure on the outside.

leave to dry for another 12 hours.

make a batch of royal icing from this blog. (click here for link)

Stick the two halves together ( fill with sweets for a spooky Halloween suprise )

Leave to dry, then go nuts and decorate however you like 🙂

METHOD GALLERY:  a step by step picture guide.

click on any image to enlarge.

© The cake-shaker 2013

Honey, lavender and orange drizzle cake. Inspired by a bee in my own front garden

A cake that will take me back to summer every time I make it during the winter months

A cake that will take me back to summer every time I make it during the winter months

What ? Another post by me ? so soon after the last one ? Yep, I’m on a run at the moment & don’t want to lose momentum as we rush towards the busy months  at work, usually from October through to December.

So before it’s Harvest wheat sheafs, ghosts & bats…then santas & reindeer & mince pies, I’ve one more burst of late summer to go, and this was inspired by walking past a big lavender bush in my front garden on my way to work. The lavender was covered in bees, ” Honey” I thought, then I could smell the lavender & thought how the bee was probably going off to dump its pollen in some sort of bee kitchen and rustle up some lavender honey, maybe watch a bit of telly first, read the paper maybe, but do whatever bees do with their mates in the hive to produce the golden loveliness  ( Yes, I am up late writing this and getting delirious )

I had made a lemon drizzle cake earlier that week & thought I could come up with a similar sort of recipe, so came up with this.

I sort of thought the flavours seemed more suited to an almond based cake as they were lighter, a denser flour made cake like the lemon drizzle can take the strong lemon flavour.  I quite like orange with honey,  ( selfish ) & also even though lemon and honey go well, it sort reminds me of a cold and flu remedy, so couldn’t be doing with that.

I used some lavender from the very bush I walked past that morning, it was really aromatic, I think dried lavender flowers are much better than oils, I’ve used both, I don’t mind the oils for baking, but they can be overpowering sometimes.

The Actual bee & Lavender ( That I used in the recipe too ) that inspired me. I took this on my way to work in our front garden, then later the picture inspired the recipe

The actual bee & Lavender that inspired me. I took this on my way to work in our front garden, then later the picture inspired the recipe

So if you have a big bush ……….In your garden I mean, pick some of the flowers now and just leave to dry before storing in a jar or container, It’ll keep for ages !

If you don’t have a big bush, don’t despair… dried lavender flowers are readily available on-line at most bakery suppliers or cake decorating websites.

well here it is, have a bash your self, It can be served warm with Ice cream, or chilled with nothing at all ( though I couldn’t resist a big dollop of clotted cream one time )

Goes down a treat with a cup of earl grey ( get me all sophisticated like ).

Oh & thanks to the bee who gave me the idea, your cheques in the post.


A small sauce pan for the syrup

A  9 or ten inch round cake tin.

Some pre-dried lavender flowers. ( about 5 heads for the recipe )

A mixing bowl and beater.

Oven pre-heated to 160c (155c for fan oven )

RECIPE: – base

500g unsalted butter

300g soft light brown sugar

8 eggs

4 heads of lavender

150g honey

400g ground Almonds

100g fine rice flour

Zest & juice of 1 large orange.

1.5 teaspoons of baking powder

METHOD – base

Beat the butter sugar & together, add the eggs one at a time, continually beating.

Beat in the honey

Fold in the ground almonds & rice flour, baking powder and scrape the flowers of the lavender, fold into the mix with the zest.

Mix in the orange juice.

Place in the baking tin and bake for 35 minutes, until firm and a knife comes out clean when poked in the centre.

RECIPE: – Syrup.

250ml water.

200g caster sugar.

2 tablespoons honey.

Juice from one large orange,  plus half the zest.

1 head of lavender.

METHOD: – Syrup

Dissolve the sugar and honey a small pan with the juice, add the zest and lavender, bring to the boil, then simmer for 2 minutes and take of the heat.

RECIPE: – Icing

110g icing sugar.

2 table-spoons of  orange juice.

gradually add the juice to the sugar until a smooth runny icing is formed, If too runny add more sugar to thicken.


While the cake is still warm, prick all over with a skewer or small sharp knife,  strain the syrup & spoon over the cake, covering the whole surface, right up to the edges.

( If using a loose bottom spring form tin, wrap the bottom in foil to prevent syrup leaking out. )

Next, with a spoon, drizzle over the icing.



click on any image below to enlarge.

© The cake-shaker. 2013

Gluten free, AND dairy free a tolerant victoria fruit sandwich for the Intolerant…and my quest for this recipe.

Gluten free, fat free, not guilt free :)

Gluten free, fat-free, not guilt free 🙂

Now In the last 5 years I have been asked for a lot of gluten-free baked goods as the gluten intolerant population rises. It was unheard of in my earlier years as a chef, but I think it is down to a lot of wheat gluten being used in processed foods over the years  (so I reckon..In Jam for F”s sake! for example, why ! ? ) And I expect it’s also down to better Diagnosis and understanding in the world of medicine.

Now I have also been asked ( more rarely ) for dairy free goods, this is a bit harder, mainly due to fat being what helps incorporate air and also provide moisture and taste, some non dairy fats on the market can be either too wet so not giving great volume, or too greasy oily and waxy, making your baked goods taste like a slice of candle with a dollop of paraffin *boaks*

Now  I know at least one person who is gluten and dairy intolerant, so no fun there, And this is my journey in finding out how best to make the perfect cake without making the recipe miles to fussy. I was lead to a recipe recently on the inter-webby thing, It was verging on hysterics ! It was meant to be a dairy free & wheat free brownie, it had everything under the sun and possibly on mars in it ! Including Avocado, dates, bananas…some scary cocoa substitute (why)..It was nothing like a brownie in the end, just some cake Dr Frankenstein would have been proud of.

It can be done so much easier without going completely of tangent. as I hope to show here.

The Gluten free side of things is pretty easy to be honest, there are a lot of gluten-free flours, doves farm being my favourite, you can also use rice flour or polenta, adding more liquid and the additive Xanthan gum, which is great for giving the structure lacking in the absence of gluten, and is easily available online, and In some supermarkets and health food shops

My experiment pack, the dawn phase is in fact the same as stork. The pure margarine was ok, but a bit to wet for me, In the middle is the handy Xanthan gum

My experiment pack, the dawn phase is in fact the same as stork. The pure margarine was ok, but a bit to wet for me, In the middle is the handy Xanthan gum

The fat is a tricky one, I have tried using some of the soft spreadable soya fats, they taste fine, but lack in volume department, as for making a “butter” Icing, well ..sloppy is the word, unless you like your icing to have a million tons of icing sugar in to make it firm *slight exaggeration face*. Also, be careful and read the labels of these fats, for instance a tub of spreadable stork margarine has added buttermilk..so not so non dairy there then !

The above is from my own personal preference, you may like the spreadable fats..so not dissing it entirely 😉

I settled on two fats, the stork hard margarine in a foil wrap ( no added buttermilk ) & the vegetable fat Trex, a white fat that is 100% fat ! so not one for everyday use, just an occasional treat..unless you want thighs like giant red wood trunks.

A funny story with the stork. I was going to use a margarine called dawn phase, but turns out after an e-mail exchange with Unilever foods  I  had after noticing that the packs of dawn & stork had identical nutritional info and ingredients list on the packs, I discovered they were the same product by unilever, the dawn is mainly for industry use & stork is the retail face of the same fat (they tried to say there was a slight difference, but the facts on the packs can’t be wrong as they say they are EXACTLY the same upon comparison)

Trex is also used in the industry, but is wildly available in supermarkets, especially online. Also I gather it’s used by none other than the famous Humming bird bakery in their dairy free icing.

Trex, totally dairy free, 100% fat so no added water so keeps the crumb moist. Can be a bit waxy, has no flavour so is a clear canvas.

Trex, totally dairy free, 100% fat so no added water so keeps the crumb moist. Can be a bit waxy, has no flavour so is a clear canvas.

One note about all processed vegetable  fats, please make sure there are NO hydrogenated oils in them, these are from the anal glands of the devil ..and are an enemy of your arteries, all the above fats state there are none present, most of these fats mentioned by the way also have less saturated fat than butter

Anyway…don’t I go on !

Here’s the recipe 🙂

Please note: At the time of trying this recipe out I was using an industrial fan oven so the times above were how it worked out.. also make sure your oven is pre heated.

I have added notes to the oven times to allow for this.


Two non stick 8 inch round sandwich tins.

( I bought my sandwich tins from Morrisons supermarket, £2.50 each, used them loads & still going strong. Love a bargain me ! )

a good whisk and bowl.

A determined science look.

oven (fan) at 160c. (conventional) 170c

A piping bag.


400g stork margarine or other hard fat.

400g sugar.

4 eggs

2 tablespoons sunflower oil.

1/2 teaspoon of Xanthan gum

400g gluten-free plain white Self raising flour  ( I used doves farm, but there are a lot of other brands available too, If you can’t find self-raising, use plain flour and add 1.5 teaspoons of  gluten free baking powder )

zest of  1 lemon

teaspoon of vanilla extract.


Grease and flour (GF)  your baking tins, no flour needed if using cake release spray ( dairy free of course )

Cream the fat and the sugar together

slowly add the eggs one at a time and keep beating until all are in.

Sift four ( and baking powder if not using  self-raising ) add zest fold into batter, add oil and vanilla and fold in.

Don’t worry if batter looks too slack or slightly curdled, this is normal & does not affect the finished product.

NOTE: If using trex  instead of stork use 400g fat, but use 500g sugar, 500g flour, and no oil, this is because of its 100% fat content.

Divide between  the two tins and bake at 155c check after 12-15 minutes, you may need to bake for a bit longer as ovens can vary .. they should be ready when you can press the top and it springs back. Or poke a knife or skewer in the centre, if it comes out clean it’s ready.
Turn out on cooling rack.
200g stork or any hard dairy free fat.
400g icing sugar.
80g soya “cream cheese” ( optional for a whiter creamier finish, add extra 50g icing sugar )
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
1 tablespoon orange juice.
1.5 teaspoon cornflour.
Gluten free fruit jam.
fresh fruit for filling ( I used 1 punnet of raspberries & blackberries, use what ever you fancy though )
slowly add the sugar to the fat as not to create an engulfing sugar cloud.
When together beat together harder.
Add vanilla, juice, beat some more.
Beat in cornflour.
If mix seems to wet add more sugar to firm up.
Place in fridge for an hour to chill.
NOTE: ( yes the flex again) if using flex, no need to add cornflour, and only use 300g sugar
place one sandwich half top down on cake card, spread the jam, the arrange the fruit you have chosen.
Pipe over the icing, starting from edge and working into the middle.
place other half of sandwich on top, (top side up) and pat down, chill for half an hour.
Serve on stand and dust with icing sugar, garnish with more fruit if you’re feeling fruity 🙂
click on any image to enlarge.
© The Cake-Shaker 2013