Posts Tagged ‘baking’


Whilst the rain battered down on Glasgow, I spent Friday afternoon baking. I’ve had a low month so it was comforting to have a small goal to work towards. The task was a random cake commission for a 40th birthday – a pair of old-skool classics: Pacman and Ghostie. I used the classic sponge recipe and made a lemon cake for the Pacman and a chocolate cake for the Ghostie.

Cake mix

Cream 6oz of butter with 6oz of castor sugar. Blend in 6oz self raising flour, 1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder and 3 beaten eggs. Spoon mixture between two 8inch cake tins.

Lemon cake – add grated rind of 1 lemon and 2 tablespoons of lemon juice.

Chocolate cake – add 1 tablespoon cocoa powder and 1 tablespoon warm water.

Bake at gas mark 3 for 25 minutes. It’s ready when springy.


House artist Lee helped me to carve and ice the cakes. I used lemon butter icing (yum!) for the inside of the Pacman cake: beat together 8oz icing sugar, 4oz butter and 1 tablespoon lemon juice. I sandwiched the two cakes together with the lemon butter icing and a layer of jam. To the butter icing I added some yellow food colouring and blended well. (Had to make extra icing to cover the cake) Lee cut the Pacman mouth and iced the cake. A chocolate button was used for his cheeky eye.

For the Ghostie cake, I made chocolate butter icing: blend together 8oz icing sugar, 4oz butter and 1 tablespoon cocoa powder. Add some warm water if the mix is too stiff. This icing sandwiched the cakes together along with a thin layer of jam. Lee carefully cut the Ghostie shape. He iced the top with plain butter icing with added blue food colouring. I love Ghostie’s eyes – marshmallows and chocolate buttons give him a cool look.

I am rather proud of these guys. They were fun to make and reminded me of those wet afternoons stuck indoors playing the ZX Spectrum or an Atari. I wonder if today I’d have the patience to sit and wait for a game to load while the screen flickers and the sound ‘bing bongs’?

I once read an interesting pop-psychology piece that examined the use of retro in adult culture. It suggested our love of retro comes from a need to find a piece of stability in an ever-changing, seemingly violent world. Retro objects and art gives us a reminder of the past – a safe, happy time, free from modern pressures. I’m sure that every generation feels that fear of the world – that mankind is on the edge of meltdown between wars and moral chaos. It’s been felt as far back as the Romans. Once in a uni class we read excerpts from diaries where Romans bemoan the decline of moral order amidst violence and littering. 

Retro has been around for longer than the 1980s. During the 18th and 19th century, ancient Greek and Roman culture became an inspiration for art, architecture, fashion and literature. OK, it’s vague to compare 1980s retro and 1890s classical antiquity, but it shows looking to the past gives us imagery to influence our current styles. Retro reminds us how far we’ve come; from playing Pong in our bedrooms where we dreamed of a future with limitless technology, to a world in which these dreams are coming true. I love retro – the past is full of design classics that deserve a place in the future.


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Pear, nut and choclate cake

I had a late night urge to bake. Some pears on the verge of turning had to be used, so I set to work adapting a recipe from Good Food magazine. The recipe called for hazelnuts but I substituted these with Brazil nuts and walnuts. It’s a fast, easy recipe put together in the food processor.

Preheat oven to 140c/Gas mark 3.

Grind 100g/4oz Brazil nuts and walnuts in a food processor until fine.

Add 140g/5oz self-raising flour and pulse briefly.

Add 175g/6oz butter and mix until it forms crumbs.

Put in 140g/5oz caster sugar and two large eggs and pulse again.

Peel, core and chop two pears and stir into the mixture. Roughly chop 50g/2oz dark chocolate and stir through.

Spoon the cake mixture into a 20cm round cake tin (make sure you line with baking parchment).

Peel, core and thinly slice two pears. Place these on top of the cake mixure and press down.

Bake in the oven for 50-60 minutes.

Just perfect for a cold, wet Scottish night. Enjoy!

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Vintage inspiration

I’ve been given some lovely vintage gifts this week. My friend Rae gave me the Be-Ro Home Recipes book – a book still available in ‘new’ format from Be-Ro today. She was given it by one of her clients who sadly passed away. She thought I’d make good use of it and enjoy baking the recipes. I’m delighted as I’ve not got a basic recipe book with traditional staple baking in it.

I also received this fab hat from Lee – it’s so cute. Rae pointed out that it resembles something Miss Marple would wear (never a bad thing) but sadly it doesn’t fit my big heid. I am disappointed and wonder who on earth ever squeezed their noggin into it!

My final find of the week is an apron belonging to my mother. She must have left it here sometime ago, it was hiding in my towel drawer. It is a cute vintage shape and I must copy to the pattern to make my own. Recently my Mum was complaining that these types of aprons are so hard to find and she like half-aprons like this. I saw ones in a vintage shop but at £8 a go I gave it a miss.

I’m rather pleased with the way these photos have turned out, it’s the first time I’ve used my new mobile phone to take pictures. Fiona and I had a rare time on Sunday night playing with Bluetooth – first time either of us had tried it (technophobes!). We sat in a restaurant in Xscape eating away and trying to send each other old photos. Fiona narrowly escaped sending a photo of me dressed as Velma from ScoobyDoo to some random person. We never realised that Bluetooth allows you to connect to complete strangers. We were rather spooked to find that someone in the crowded restaurant had named their phone Negro Hunter. It was so creepy and at this point we decided to switch our phones off and order dessert. After that we needed a sweet taste in our mouths.

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