Archives for category: baking

I have been a devotee of the macaron for quite some time, especially since sampling them on a pilgrimage to Laduree in Paris. I have tried to make the little delicacies at home, with limited success. So imagine my delight when I met the lovely Lynne (from Medici Macarons) at Hebden Bridge WI. We soon started talking everything Macaron and Lynne kindly invited me to sit in on a making and baking session.


Session 1 involved me watching Lynne like a hawk (believe me, if you think macarons are expensive then you really do need to see exactly how many stages are involved in making the almond delights and how precarious the process is!). Lynne went on to turn out a beautiful set, practically perfect in every way!

Session 2 started with me opting for a Macaron flavour (I went with lemon) and making a batch of macarons from scratch. Under Lynne’s watchful eye I made the lemon curd secret centre and continued to make the Macaron shells and buttercream. I picked up some magnificent hints and tips on making the batter and filling the shells – end result, not too shabby!


Thanks so much for your time and effort, Lynne (a.k.a the Macaron Queen!). I am officially Medici mad and can’t wait to taste your latest Yorkshire rhubarb and custard creation!

You can find out out more about all things Medici at: or on Facebook at:


I have been a member of the Women’s Institute for about a year now, it’s been a wonderful experience, and I’m delighted to have become a new member at the Manchester group.

When I heard about the plans for a collaborative tea party get together with Oxfam, to coincide with celebrations across the globe for International Women’s Day on March 8th, at my first meeting I knew I wanted to get involved.

Hair today

As we were invited to dress up and sport our most wonderful headwear I decided to make a piece in keeping with the theme and was inspired to make a playing card hair-clip.


The clip was really easy to make, and I am delighted with the result.

Details of how to make this slide can be found at the wonderful Cut-Out-And-Keep website.

Queen of Hearts, Jam Tarts

Next up, what to bake for the tea table! No mad hatters event would ever be complete without a plate of jam tarts so I set about searching for a recipe. I settled on this one from Zoe Makes Cakes, as I liked the cute little heart pastry toppers, which kept with the theme perfectly.

I haven’t made too many jam tarts previously, as I’ve always been a little disappointed with the final result as hot jam spills over the sides of the pastry base. This recipe suggested using a high fruit content jam to counteract this, and I think it worked a treat!


Alice-in-Wonderland Themed Cupcakes

To accompany the tarts I also wanted to bake some cupcakes. I cooked up 12 lemon beauties, using a tried and tested Little Primrose Bakery recipe.

After a bit of research I came up with a few easy decorating ideas, based on the ‘ready-to-roll’ icing method;

Queen of Hearts design
Tea-cup motif
Mushroom (as eaten by Alice)
Tweedle-dum (or was it Tweedle-Dee?)

The cakes were fun, if a little tricky, to decorate, but I had some very complimentary comments from women in group, which was lovely!


Floral Delights

During the course of the afternoon we had a bouquet making demo by the wonderful boutique florist, David Wayman. I took along a jam-jar and got to make a beautiful posy. I usually struggle with making a ‘random’ anything (my inner ocd just takes over!) so it was great to pick up some tips from the expert! Can’t wait to try this out again!


I also assisted Charlie in cutting out fabric for the forthcoming WI banner, so I’m now really looking forward to personalising my fabric square as part of the next WI venture!

All in all, a lovely afternoon for a worthy cause. Well done Manchester WI and Oxfam!

I did it! I vowed that I would and I did! I crafted my first very own home-made Christmas in 2012.

All in all, I made:

6 jars of mulled wine plum jam
6 gift bags of sea salted chocolate snaps
5 knitted scarves
5 packets of sparkling vanilla Christmas cookies
4 knitted ‘rose’ corsages
4 bags of chocolate and cherry almond bark
1 gingerbread gift jar
1 cross-stitch sampler
1 bottle of cranberry-infused vodka

…and a partridge in a pear tree (well, ok, not that last one!).



It’s been such an enjoyable experience choosing patterns, yarns and recipes for friends and family and it was wonderful receiving their heartfelt thanks on Christmas day. It was just as I thought, it did mean more. And cost less.


Starting in August, I knitted my first scarf on holiday in Turkey, in 40+ degree heat! Crafting carried on right up until Christmas Eve and there was only one project which remains unfinished, first for next Christmas then!


I’ve made a mental list of those who have proved themselves to be ‘make and bake-worthy’ and have already starting researching patterns and recipes for Christmas 2013.

I think I may start crafting for Christmas even earlier this year…

Big thanks to the lovely @wisthelens ladies who have been, and remain, a constant source of inspiration and advice.

Roll on December 2013 – as my Christmas crafting is due to get even bigger and better!!

On Saturday I received a Random Act of Bakeness. What a wonderful thing.

The package arrived whilst we were out at a preview of a friend’s new coffee shop so we returned to find it on the doorstep. I immediately got the ‘what have you been ordering now’ glare from the other half. I couldn’t wait to open the parcel, which was beautifully wrapped in both brown and gift paper and was intrigued to find a biscuit tin within!

I opened the tin and was immediately hit by a wonderful aroma of chocolate and saw 12 fairy cakes, all beautifully iced with buttercream, with a white chocolate button atop each one along with a sweet Tigger and Pooh gift card. How lovely!

Despite a few of the cakes suffering a little in transit it took nothing away from the joy!

All I know about the friendly baker from whom I received my kind gift from is that he/she is called Fran, nothing more, so thank-you, whoever and wherever you are! Your efforts are very much appreciated. We ate some of the cakes with friends at a cycling event yesterday so it was even lovelier to be able to share the joy and all partakers declared cakey-love!

The opportunity to nominate friends, who have been going through a rough time recently, to receive a surprise package of baked love by way of a pick me up, or the opportunity to become a fabulous volunteer, now appears to be closed. However, I’ll be keeping an eye out to see if the bakey project continues!

You can find out more information at:

A great big thank-you to @tillymintboutiq for nominating me to receive this kind gift, following my health issues earlier in the year.

What a simply lovely deed to do for a friend!

Despite the ‘all for scone’ blog title, making scones (and biscuits, for that matter!), has remained my nemesis! Whilst I have become fairly proficient at knocking out cakes of reasonable quality, the baking of those fluffy, round, golden brown numbers, fit to grace any tea table, has eluded me!

One of the things I wanted to achieve this year was to master the art of scone & biscuit making. I managed to turn out some pretty decent ginger shortbreads recently (from the Great British Bake off book), which has helped to address my ‘biscuit phobia’.

So, on to scones! I started last week by looking at the recipe I had been using from ‘The Best of Mrs Beeton’s Cakes & Baking’. Now whilst this may have cut the mustard in 1861, with no raising agent other that self-raising flour, I don’t think the fabulously large beauties that we prefer today could ever be achieved.

So, to Nigella! I made her ‘Lily’s Scones’, found in How to be a Domestic Goddess on p67. And, Bingo! Delighted with the result, airy, light, fluffy… They do look a little like they’ve got cellulite due to the large amount of cream of tartar used, but no judging here people! Strangely, she doesn’t use sugar in this recipe, but I found this surprisingly good! The sugar in the jam more than makes up for the absence in the dough. I suppose you could add 70g caster sugar in though, if you prefer?

I also tried making Kirstie Allsopp’s scones from her Craft book yesterday, these were not so great. to be fair I started handling the dough whilst it was still very wet and hadn’t fully absorbed the liquid, which I don’t think did the resulting scones any favours! Will try again, following the recipe more closely next time! But for now Nigella wins the scone-off!

In other news, I’ve signed up for a quilting class via WISH – Stand by your Jam . The first class was held last Tuesday – a fab group of ladies and one lovely tutor! The aim of the class is to produce one large quilt over 5 practical sessions, outlining  each of the steps required for the process. Unfortunately, I had an initial deer in headlights moment the end of the first class as it’s about 25 years since I last sat behind a sewing machine! However, with a separate ‘tutorial’ from Val I have sewn up my 2 blocks for inclusion in the quilt. Just some final cutting & individual motifs to embroider now, to enable me to identify my blocks in the final piece. Delighted that I stuck with it as ‘making a quilt’ qualifies as one of my lifetime ambitions!

Also, I have recently taken delivery of a new Sublime Stitching embroidery kit from I love the urban crafting style, so I’m really looking forward to pimping my tea towels with tattoo inspired graphics! As their website states, ‘This ain’t your Gramma’s embroidery’… You don’t say!

That’s all the news for now – happy crafting folks!