Nanaimo Bars…anyone?! πŸ‡¨πŸ‡¦πŸπŸ˜‹

If you’re Canadian….you’ll know exactly what a Nanaimo Bar is. For the rest of you, you’ll need a lesson! The good ‘ol Nanaimo Bar is a no bake dessert or as the Brits call them ‘traybake’ featuring a chocolate, coconut and nutty, graham cracker biscuit base, with a rich custard buttercream centre, topped with dark chocolate and perhaps another sprinkling of nuts. They’re very sweet, but that’s offset by the saltiness of the base. So it’s just dessert perfection. You can’t have too much at one time. Well I certainly can’t and I have some sweet tooth!

The last few years I’ve really been missing home, and how much of my heart belongs there…in more ways than one πŸ’•πŸ”₯ 😞 And I’ve noticed I’ve been becoming that little bit extra Canadian lately. Like really getting even more patriotic than I usually have about it. Anyway.

I initially signed up to a Facebook group called Canadians in the UK, in order to get a bit of advice on my immigration etc. Then I started noticing posts about all the Canadian treats that people were really missing, so I decided to put that to rights! So I’m delighted to showcase my gorgeous Nanaimo Bars, presented in bite sized pieces, and ready to ship ALL over the UK. Better yet…they’re vegan!

And for the non Canadians..

Nanaimo (pronounced Na-nye-mo) Bars are named after a city on Vancouver Island, British Columbia. It’s a beautiful little place, and if you ever get a chance to find yourself on the West Coast, you should take a trip across. I’m pretty sure there is some debate as to who actually invented the treat, or if it really came from there, but the general consensus is ‘who cares?!’ They’ve become a national point of pride and gosh darn it every Canadian knows exactly what it is, regardless of the variations. Every time I have made these for my British/Scottish friends. They’ve always gone down a treat!

So I introduce to you, my gloriously vegan version of this Canadian classic. Because when I have the opportunity to save an animals life and contribute to saving our planet, I’m there! And what’s even better, making it vegan does NOT compromise on taste and authenticity. And did I mention I bake my own graham crackers? Yup. You got to give them a try. Order yours today!!! Here!

πŸπŸ‡¨πŸ‡¦

Cake Prices, Sick kids, and Gratitude!

Hellllo my loves. It’s been awhile…as per usual 😳

I was woken up at 4 this morning by whimpering and a tiny little ‘mommy’ you just KNOW that it’s not going to be good. I should’ve known when I went up to bed and checked on my babies that my eldest wasn’t feeling so hot… not literally because she was roasting! But also she has a tendency to bundle up even when the weather is warm. I touched her little brother’s skin and he was cool…mostly because he was in nothing but his underwear and no covers on. So I went to bed HOPING it was just a case of too many clothes and bedcovers. I was wrong. It’s a tummy bug. So now I’m in a slight frenzy. I’m trying to organise childcare and or shift changes.

It’s good! It’s covered, and panic is over! Kyle unfortunately is on training shifts for work this week too so trying to get out of that wouldn’t have been too easy either. So now I’m crazy cleaning the house, using bleach on every door handle, crevice, and every other surface that can and will be bleached! I’ve hoovered the entire house, sterilised the kitchen and bathroom..and when I’m in the cleaning frenzy…I just want EVERYTHING done! I even got my workout in. Leg day. I’m feeling it now.

I managed to swap shifts so I took the close, which I do love to do, and on days like today, a constant supply of coffee is a wonderful and much needed bonus of the job😜 And on a plus! I only have 2 cakes this week…until I face the storm of the next 3 weeks of cakes after that 😳😬

Anyway…pricing!

Right my guys, I know I don’t have to justify my prices. I know. And for the most part I have pretty cool customers who actually do realise the extent of what goes in to making a cake. But for those of you who cheekily, yes cheekily! tell me that they not paying ‘HOW MUCH?! It’s just CAKE!’ This one’s for you…and also to those new bakers that don’t think they’re charging enough. YOU’RE NOT…know your worth my loves!

And maybe it IS just cake….but it’s also so much more than that.

Absolutely my cakes aren’t affordable for everyone. That’s just life. Some people don’t think a birthday cake is a justifiable expense. And that’s okay too. I get it. I do! I know how hard we all work for our money. Im lucky enough to be able to create cakes for my kids that I don’t have to shell out my hard earned money for..But I would absolutely buy art work from my favourite artists. And I always pay that little bit extra to support local businesses where I can. Because I can appreciate that it’s taken years to hone their skills. (Or not..some people seem just naturally talented πŸ™„) Art supplies, like cake supplies aren’t cheap. Groceries aren’t cheap. So let’s give y’all an idea of a standard cake…

8 inch is my most popular. I always try to keep my costs down…don’t we all?

Butter has gone up…like a crazy amount, eggs, sugar, electricity for the ovens….doesn’t come cheap. We all know this. Sooo let’s say I make an 8 inch cake. The ingredients alone cost me Β£10, then adding on fondant, cake boards, ribbon, boxes, electricity. That’s another Β£10.00. This is all before I even start physically making the cake. And I charge for my time…I now pay myself Β£10 an hour. 5years ago…it was about Β£2. And sometimes, I still only make about Β£5 an hour. I can guarantee 99% of people wouldn’t get out of bed for that kinda wage. Am I right?!

I have to go shopping for all these groceries and wash all the dishes and clean the kitchen…and bake the cake…so I give myself an hour for that alone. So now we’re at Β£30. I haven’t even STARTED decorating at this point. I don’t even charge for the research, the back and forth conversations between myself and my customer. And sometimes…that takes a VERY long time.

Decorating can take anywhere from 1 hour, to 8 hours and beyond. And that’s just for a birthday cake! Even a drip cake that can take just an hour to decorate…will cost more because once you load it with sweets and chocolates, the cost of the sweets alone will bring the price of the cake up quite substantially.

So let’s say I spend 5 hours on a cake. Average for a bespoke cake. That includes filling, and covering the cake in fondant. Making the decorations etc. That’s another Β£40 of my time. Now we’re at Β£70

Also, I’m a business. Shouldn’t I make a profit as well? So I give myself 30% profit. 70+21=91…

And I’m laughing already because for a standard 8inch cake I generally charge Β£65!

So your average 8inch cake is looking like Β£90.00 And guess what?! I usually still don’t charge that. Generally quite a bit less. So I try really hard for my ego not to get in the way. And I tell myself that the people that complain and are rude…They’re not my customers. But I’m tired of not realising my worth. I don’t haggle anymore. I respect myself and my business enough to know when to let things go, and lately I’ve learned that a LOT in my personal life too. And if a cake is not meant for me, that’s cool. I move on. With grace, and always a kind word. Because I’m above that. I don’t let someone else’s opinions demean my work. At the end of the day. I’m an artist. And isn’t beauty always in the eye of the beholder? We can’t please everyone. And that’s ok. Because I think I’m pretty damn good most of the time anyway πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™€οΈπŸ˜πŸ₯°

So before you knock someone’s prices, please think about what goes in to them. Ask yourself if you’d work for any less. And more importantly, if you don’t agree, move on, keep your opinions to yourself. Because really, what good comes of it. And I URGE everyone to make at least one celebration cake yourself, to the best of your ability. So you can see just how much love, effort, and work goes in to each order. It’s not as glamorous a job as you’d think πŸ™ˆπŸ˜

And on a more pleasant note… I’ve been feeling so incredibly grateful and humbled for all the orders that I have been receiving lately. I was worried when I moved down from Thurso that the work wouldn’t come. But word of mouth is a wonderful thing. And I put my trust in the universe and just knew that if I put everything in her hands, All would be well. And as always. It is. Because letting go, giving in, and having faith is the best thing you can do. Always.

** All the cakes pictured above where from fantastic clients who had no issues with the prices of their cakes πŸ₯°

My ‘Go To’ Vanilla Cake including a recipe!

My most requested cake has got to be my vanilla cake. It’s generally paired with a thin layer of Raspberry Conserve and a lovely thick layer of my melt in the mouth Swiss Meringue Buttercream.

I’ve been making this cake for years and I love it because it’s very easily adaptable, it’s great for making structured cakes, and it retains its moisture….even if you over bake it πŸ™ˆ (Hey, it’s happens! 😬)

There is a lot of sugar in it…although it’s not a crazy sweet cake…which makes a lovely crunchy top when you take it out the oven. This is my husband’s favourite part and I’ll sometimes cut it off for him to enjoy.

The reason the cake is so lovely and moist (I don’t enjoy that word either!) is because I don’t use egg yolks, which can easily dry a cake out if too much is used. It’s an all butter cake with milk added as well. It’s definitely a must try.

I feel somewhat guilty talking about how delicious it as, especially as I’ve gone vegan quite recently. I’ve been making all sorts of gorgeous desserts using just plant based ingredients, and they are incredibly tasty. You literally wouldn’t even know the difference. So I’ll share my ‘old’ recipe…and if you’re interested in trying vegan recipes, let me know. I’d be happy to share them! I make a super tasty vegan cupcake too πŸ₯°

So without further ado..

Here’s my Vanilla Sponge Cake Recipe! Please let me know if you’ve tried it. I’d LOVE to hear your thoughts πŸ’•

I used to line my cake tins but it’s such a faff!! Now I just pour a bit of vegetable oil in to my pans, give it a swirl, sprinkle in some flour…BAM…done. No sticking, easy to release πŸ™ŒπŸ» This recipe will give you one lovely tall 8inch cake. I bake it in two tins. If I want an extra tall 6inch cake I just use 3 or 4 6inch round cake tins.

Print Recipe
5 from 1 vote

Vanilla Cake Recipe

Gorgeous vanilla cake that’s so versatile, easy, and just plain scrumptious!
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time45 mins
Total Time1 hr 5 mins
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Cake, Vanilla, Vanilla Cake Recipe

Ingredients

  • 8 Oz Unsalted Butter
  • 21 oz Granulated Sugar
  • 12 oz Milk
  • 6 Egg Whites
  • 16 oz Plain/All Purpose Flour
  • 2 1/4 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1 Tbs Vanilla Extract

Instructions

  • Preheat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius. My oven runs hot so I bake at 150 degrees. This will ensure a lovely flat top as well which means less waste!
    Grease your pans with a some vegetable oil and flour (no parchment needed, your cakes will pop right out!) Cream your butter and sugar until light in colour and fluffy in texture. Add your vanilla extract.  
  • Add the egg whites slowly, then whip until very airy. 
  • In the meantime combine the flour, salt and baking powder in a bowl. You don’t need to sift...I’ve tested this multiple times and the outcome isn’t worth the hassle of sifting 
  • Add 1/4 of the flour mixture to the eggs, then alternate with the milk, ending with the flour mixture. It’s totally normal to have a almost curdled looking batter when adding the milk. Once you finish with the flour, you won’t even notice. 
  • Pour into prepared 8inch pans. 
  • Bake for 45 minutes. This might require more baking time. This will depend on the size of cake tin you use as well as how hot your oven runs. 

Caker’s Block (it’s a thing)

You guys!! Sometimes I get a cake order, and I just can’t WAIT to get started on it…I’ll still procrasticake…absolutely, but I still get super excited about it. I get asked to make cakes exactly to the customer’s specifications….I get asked to replicate certain cakes. And then I get asked to make cakes with a certain theme, etc and to just have artistic license. And I LOVE those cakes…except when I get writer’s block….but for the cake maker. And I will google and google some more. Then I’ll procrastinate, then some more. Then I’ll exhaust all my google searches. And nothing. I just CANNOT for the life of me, figure out what the hell I’m going to do.

I totally panic at some point. I don’t want to let my customer down. But then they’ve given me all the information I need. But my vision is lacking. So it was for this particular cake. I was asked to make a cake for a 70 year old woman who loves to craft, especially needle felting and papercraft. She loves her garden birds etc etc. So initially I’m like ‘yeah, sure! Leave it with me!’ Then the closer it gets I’m like ‘sake..what can I do?!’ And I’ve baked the cake. I’ve torted it, filled it, and now I’m staring at a naked cake. Wondering what in God’s name I’m going to make of it. So I start with one element…how about ‘felt’ birds?! That way it incorporates the craft and her love of garden birds. Sure, I’ll make a couple of garden birds, maybe a finch or robin, easy! So I do that, make them look a little like they’re a bit wooly. Now how do I incorporate some paper craft…yes! Wafer paper! So I decide on colours and I go with my favourites. Duck egg blue, pale pink, and gold.

Thankfully because of my love of crafting, I own a few paper punches. So I cover the cake in duck egg blue fondant, and look for my craft punches. Except I only have white wafer paper, and I REALLY want to make gold. So I try a technique really hoping it will work (because the cake is being picked up in about 2 hours….MY LIFE! )

So I take my trex (vegetable fat/shortening) and smear it over my punched paper. Lightly mind you. I don’t want globs of fat everywhere. I then used my gorgeous shimmer gold by Faye Cahill and used a really fluffy brush and dusted it over the paper.

And it worked perfectly! I made some gorgeous white ribbon roses that I also made from wafer paper and then just gave them a quick dusting of pink with my airbrush. I put on some finishing touches, and I was pleasantly surprised with the result. So sometimes…you just have to wing it. Because we can’t always have the most perfect ideas! No matter how hard you try, sometimes the inspiration is lacking. But also, sometimes you find your best work when you’re working under pressure. So don’t stress..after all my loves…it is JUST cake at the end of the day. And god knows one’s life will NOT be ruined over one dodgy cake. It sucks balls when a customer does complains…but unfortunately, that’s just life. It happens. You learn, and hopefully you get better. In this case, thankfully, I had a very happy customer.. Thanks Elisabeth! πŸ˜‰πŸ₯°

I was pretty pleased with the outcome too. Let’s hope that’s the last of the caker’s block for sometime πŸ€ͺ

Pancake Tuesday and the best Recipe for it!!

I’m alllllways so NOT ahead of the game when it comes to all the days I need to remember. I literally question my adulting skills on a daily basis πŸ™„ so of course, you’re getting your pancake recipe at the end of the day, as I didn’t realise it was Shrove Tuesday until the morning of. And at that point I was trying to get myself ready for work, and the kids ready for school…so pancakes will be a snack later….maybe…but to be honest, they’re so easy and tasty, you’ll be be bound to use the recipe regularly!

My kids love pancakes. I’ve never been a huge fan. CrΓ©pes, absolutely. I remember loving having pancakes for dinner as a kid. My mom used to sprinkle them with sugar and lemon juice and roll them up, then we’d eat them with all the sugary goodness dripping down our fingers. Beautiful ❀️

I’ve tried so many different recipes in the past using both dairy and non dairy options and this one beats them all! Hands down. My kids absolutely love them, as do I. And Kyle happens to enjoy them too, but he gets a bit weird when you mention the word vegan 🌱 so in his head I think he thinks he doesn’t enjoy them, but he does…and the kids just don’t like them when he tries to make them his way πŸ™„πŸ˜‚ they’re also fussy little toe rags at the best of times. Not even kidding, Kyle once made them his signature pasta dish and made out that the Christmas elves had made it….and then it was ‘soooo delicious!! Much better than dad’s!’ 😳πŸ€ͺπŸ˜‚ Anyway…Pancakes!

Here’s the ingredient list

  • 2 Cups Plain Flour
  • 1 Tbs Sugar
  • 1 Tbs Baking Powder
  • 2 Cups plant based milk (any will do)
    2 tsp cider vinegar

Method:

In a large bowl whisk together the dry ingredients.

In a separate bowl combine the milk and vinegar and let curdle for 5 minutes (this helps the leavening)

Pour the milk mixture in to the flour mixture and whisk until smooth. Ladle into a lightly greased pan or non stick pan. I put the pan on a medium heat. Flip the pancakes when small bubbles start to appear.

My kids eat them with Nutella, Peanut Butter or Jam. I like them with some Soy Yogurt and Granola or Muesli if I’m feeling fancy πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™€οΈπŸ₯°

Enjoy my loves!!! Please let me know what you think πŸ’•

Free Recipes/Tutorials For EVERYONE and a reflection on 2018!

Hey my guys. I’m going to be honest with you. I am SO relieved that 2018 is done. And I KNOW I’m not the only one. I just feel like it was one of my more trying years. Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad it happened. There were a LOT of lessons to be learned. A LOT of self discovery and a lot of GOOD times too. It was a new beginning for Kyle and I. We moved to Inverness and had to adapt and adjust…and so far so good. We’re learning to appreciate each other more, not to take each other for granted, and to communicate!!! And I have high hopes for us.

I still struggle every day with my feelings. I struggle with my depression daily, but most days, I’m doing pretty good. I’m watching my children grow in to amazing human beings. And realising that however much I doubt my parenting abilities, I think we’re doing a pretty alright job of it.

I got my businesswoman pants on and had some interviews and landed a job at Starbucks!!! β˜•οΈ

I work there now part time as a shift supervisor and oh my goodness I am LOVING IT! I’ve met some incredible people and made some great connections. It gives me some breathing space from my hectic home life with cakes, candles and kids…and it’s a sort of refuge. And free coffee…we can’t forget that! πŸ€ͺ I even made a sweet little Starbucks charm bracelet that is available to buy on my Donut Eat Bakery page πŸ˜β˜•οΈ

Starbucks Charm Bracelet

I made the solo driving journey to Cake International in Birmingham to promote my candles from Donut Eat Bakery (Buy One Get One Free at the moment) and the response was soooo fantastic! I learned so much about myself and my abilities on that trip, and I realised my capabilities. A 12 hour drive one way will do that to a gal πŸ˜¬πŸ˜…

I got to spend some quality time with my best friend in Vancouver and we have been talking about our future plans and business ideas…and she’s planning a visit here soon too!! πŸ™ŒπŸ»

So now that I’m writing it all down…I’m realising that 2018 really wasn’t such a bad year. Emotionally and mentally, hell yes! But I’m done with that. I’m putting me first. I’m walking away from the pain and hurt and senseless conversations. I’m going to grow as a person, as a mother, a wife, a friend and just a soul in general. I have so much more of myself to give. And my loves, I’m going to dream. I’m going to make things happen.

This year I haven’t made any resolutions. Not any fitness ones, or even business ones for that matter. I have decided though, that I’m not going to let myself stress and worry about the things that I have no control over. I’m going to live in the now. I’ve got goals in mind of course, but I’m not going to beat myself up if I miss a deadline.

I’m not going to sweat the small stuff. Because my guys, it really is all small stuff. I wholeheartedly believe that we need to ALL live in the now.

I’m going to be the best version of myself that I can be…and all I ask is that you guys do the same. In my opinion, that’s the most important thing. Do everything with love and kindness. Give where you can. Ask for help when you need it, and to quote the Dalai Llama… ‘Our purpose in life is to help others, and if we can’t help them, at least don’t hurt them’. And that really resonates with me.

This year I’ve also gone vegan. My love of animals and of our planet and what we’re doing to our home saddens me so so much. I’ve been vegetarian for over a year…that was the easy part. Veganism is tough when you start out…and I’ve fallen off the wagon a few times! BUT I’m doing the best I can…and that’s all I can do. So I’m starting again. I’m researching recipes, and I’m finding some fantastic sites that promote all that plant based goodness…which means I’ll be bringing you some gorgeous recipes to try too. Trust me…majority of the time, you wouldn’t even know!

So for my cake business, I have an idea I’ve been toying with. I’m thinking of starting a YouTube series making tutorials for absolute beginners. How to properly bake a cake, how to make fillings, assemble the cakes, and some simple decorations. I mean for the ABSOLUTE beginner. Because cakes are expensive and I understand not everyone can afford them. But I also know that I can’t afford to make them for any less than I do. Soooo I’m willing to give you the tools you’ll need to create your own great tasting cakes. With tips and tricks from the trade starting with the very basics. I think cake artists forget (myself included) that we all had to start somewhere, and that we ALL went through the not knowing how, relying on YouTube (which is a GREAT source), and lots and lots of trial and error. So I’m starting with my very favourite Vanilla Cake Recipe. I’ll have y’all make it by following my instructions…and then using that exact recipe. I’ll make a video on how to fill and stack a perfectly perfect round cake. Ya with me? And what’s more… it’s free. So all you have to do, is subscribe to my blog, my YouTube channel, and we’ll go from there. Sound good?! πŸ₯°

I’m looking forward to this my loves! How about you? X

My Vanilla Cake recipe will be published in my next update….so subscribe today so you’re notified as soon as it comes out!

New home, new ventures and my little friend 🐌

Wooop! Finally after months of waiting and some minor (they felt major at the time) setbacks, we’re back on course! We’ve moved in to our new home in Inverness and things are looking up. Moving has definitely taken my mind off of things, especially matters of the heart, and it helps that I’m loving our new home. It’s MUCH smaller than our old place, but I prefer that. It just means trying to be much more creative in finding room to store ALL my cake stuff, and making it more of a home.

I think moving house especially somewhat long distances is stressful at the best of times, but Kyle and I worked as a team…a pretty good one at that, and we got everything packed and unpacked in what felt like far too long…and we’re still working on the unpacking bit. And although we closed a very big chapter in our life story..the next one is going to be even more exciting, I’m sure of it. I’m smiling now just thinking of the move itself. Story time!

Continue reading “New home, new ventures and my little friend 🐌”

Chocolate Brownies

Brownies UK post

I don’t know about you guys, but I have a weakness for chocolate brownies…that’s a bit redundant isn’t it? Aren’t all brownies chocolate?! πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™€οΈ Brownies seem to be the quintessential North American treat so growing up in South Africa, we never really had Brownies. I grew up with Chocolate Crunchies (an Oats and golden syrup type concoction) which are to DIE FOR… *making a mental note to add these to my list of postables* Coconut Ice, Sugary Tablet, Stormjaers (fried doughnuts with raisins, rolled in sugar), oh hell, now I’m having an oil flashback from my youth and I’m gonna share with y’all.

Continue reading “Chocolate Brownies”

Buttercream Flower Wedding Cakes, Heat, and Friendships ❀️

Buttercream flower wedding cake

The past few weeks have been emotionally taxing to say the least. Kyle has been working down south and coming up to see the babies as much as he can…but because life can get in the way, and he’s trying his best to take care of us, he’s had to stay down for a couple of weeks at a time. And they’re missing him. And I know he’s missing them. I just want to stop right now and say a little shout out to ALL those single mamas. Doing this parenting stuff alone for weeks on end is NOT for the faint hearted. It’s crazy! And working from home doesn’t make it any easier. Right now, because we’re having such AMAZING weather (I’m NOT complaining, I swear!) they’ve been soaking up the sun shine….A LOT..and as fabulous as that sounds, it’s taking its toll on all of us.

Continue reading “Buttercream Flower Wedding Cakes, Heat, and Friendships ❀️”