Will’s 40th Birthday Cake

Will’s ‘birthday week’ is coming to an end (yes, Will has designated this whole week his birthday week!), so I thought it about time to write up my post about creating his 40th birthday cake. I decided to bake a chocolate cake with buttercream icing, with a fondant covering for decorative purposes. I had never worked with fondant before, so this cake took a lot of hard work and research. I used Mary Berry’s Mary’s Chocolate Cake recipe for the cake and Charlotte’s Lively Kitchen Chocolate Buttercream recipe for the filling and coating.

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Orange French Madeleines

About three weeks ago, I made French madeleines for the second time. Due to lockdowns and the Covid-19 situation, I hadn’t seen my family for 7 months, so I was really looking forward to our trip to Surrey to see them again. Living in Wales, I don’t get to see my family very often at the best of times, so I wanted to bake something nice to take with me. I really enjoyed making French madeleines the first time I tried, so I decided to change the recipe slightly and make orange French madeleines. I followed Mary Berry’s recipe on page 151 of her book 100 Cakes and Bakes, but instead of lemon zest, I added orange zest.

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Bara Brith

At the end of last month, I decided to bake bara brith for the first time. ‘Bara brith’ means ‘speckled bread’ in Welsh. Dw i’n dwlu ar yr enw (I love the name) – it’s such a descriptive name for this fruit cake which features currants and sultanas. I followed Mary Berry’s recipe on page 100 of her book Mary Berry 100 Cakes and Bakes. It’s a pretty simple cake to make and it came out a lovely brown colour. It was really delicious and quite moist, sticky, sweet and fruity. It’s a dense, heavy cake that will fill you up, so it was perfect for our wild camp trip to the Brecon Beacons earlier this month!

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Welsh Cakes

Being able to make Welsh cakes (‘pice ar y maen’ in Welsh) is almost the law being married to a Welshman! My mother-in-law made wonderful, heart-shaped Welsh cakes for our wedding in 2017, and I’ve pretty much been smitten since. She even bought me a pancake pan especially so that I could make these beauties! I’ve made Welsh cakes several times and I never tire of them, as they are so delicious. The recipe I follow is one handed down to me which is known in Will’s family as ‘Mam-gu’s recipe’ (‘mam-gu’ is Welsh for ‘grandmother’). Welsh cakes often have mixed spices in them, but Will’s grandmother didn’t like spice so these are spice free. I’ve not tried one with spice, but all of Will’s family say how much they dislike them, so I’ve always stuck to this recipe. One day I might go rogue and make a batch with spice in it just to see what it tastes like hehe!

Making the Welsh Cakes

Step 1: Gather the ingredients

Here are the ingredients that I used:

  • 283 g self-raising flour
  • 85 g caster sugar
  • 113 g butter (softened)
  • 28 g Trex
  • 1 large egg
  • 72 g sultanas
Welsh Cakes Ingredients
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French Madeleines

These pretty, delicate shell-shaped cakes are just gorgeous to look at, and even more wonderful to eat! I saw contestants in episode nine of the 9th series of The Great British Bake Off bake these little beauties, and I really fancied having a go myself. Do you remember Kim-Joy’s orange bunny madeleines? Just amazing! I must admit, it did seem slightly excessive purchasing a tin especially for this little cake, but it was definitely worth it. I followed Mary Berry’s French Madeleines recipe on page 151 of Mary Berry 100 Cakes and Bakes.

Making the French Madeleines

Step 1: Gather the ingredients

First, I gathered together all of the ingredients. Here’s what I used:

  • 150 g unsalted butter
  • 3 large eggs
  • 150 g caster sugar
  • 150 g self-raising flour
  • 1/2 level tsp baking powder
  • Zest of 1 lemon

To bake the cakes in their characteristic shell shape, you will need to use a madeleine tray. I bought a very good non-stick, 12-hole Lakeland madeleine tray. I really recommend this tray, as the cakes came out so easily from the tin. This recipe makes 30 cakes (athough I only got 26 out of it), so you will need to bake the cakes in batches.

French Madeleine Ingredients
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