2012 in review

Goodbye 2012 and Hello 2013! It feels like I was just seeing the New Year 2012 when low and behold we're celebrating another one. Is it me or is time on fast forward right now? It seems like the 90's were just the other day...


UK Cake shows 2013

The baking boom of recent years has been great for us baking fans, the shops are filled to the brim with cooking and baking merchandise and the number of cake shows has increased from 2 per year to 6 per year...and counting!


Christmas gift guide

Mr Star Bakery and I have agreed on a 'no presents' rule this Christmas. When I say agreed I mean forced but hey ho, who am I to nitpick? So instead I have converted my wish list into some lovely baking related gifts you can buy the baking enthusiast in your life.

And you know, if any 'extras' happen to fall into your basket then I'll gratefully accept presents you wish to send to me ;)


Vanilla tablet recipe

Nothing says Christmas like homemade gifts. There's nothing like receiving a gift wrapped package stuffed with sweet treats or bottle filled with home brewed wine. Knowing that someone had taken the time out to make you a gift is what the festive season is all about.

As I get older I get more frugal at Christmas (much to my children's dismay no doubt). I no longer see the value of buying countless toys for under the tree as no sooner are they ripped open than they're forgotten as the next unopened package calls out to them. It's hard to be frugal with the kids but I'm trying to fill the run up to the big day with festive style activities and involve them in making our presents for other people.


My Mum, the lady that started it all

One of the many cakes my Mum made

Today's a strange day for me. Every year, just as I'm getting my festive spirit on...I hit a standstill. The reason? Today marks the anniversary of the day my Mum passed away.

This year is 'Year 9 post-Mum'. It's weird to think that so much has now happened in my life since my Mum passed, yet I know full well I wouldn't be the person I am today without her presence in my life. She never got to meet 3 of her 4 grandchildren, she never got to see me start my baking journey or watch her children become the people they are today.


Star Wars wreath

I found this little plastic style Christmas wreath at the pound shop last year and I had an idea about weaving sweets treats throughout the gaps to make it look bright and colourful but then I ran out of time.

Then I saw my eldest son's Stormtrooper toys on the floor whilst tidying up and had an idea...


Yule log 'Forever Nigella' style

When I was compiling my baking wishlist last week I completely forgot to add on a recipe for the classic Yule Log. The tradition of the Yule Log has been around since the early 1800's, and is more common in European countries, but it's a very simple and delicious cake to make so I thought I'd document my 1st attempt and show you all how easy it is.


Peanut butter and butterscotch chip cookies

My friend Trista (a fellow US expat) hosted a lovely Potter-themed-Thanksgiving-style get together which featured board games, great company and more importantly my 1st ever try of homemade butterbeer (which was AMAZING! Trista's husband Rob is like a real life Heston Blumenthal!).


My baking wishlist

At any given time I have at *least* 15 recipes I'm dying to try out and websites like Pinterest have done nothing but feed my recipe hoarding addiction. So I thought I'd share an few that I'm hoping to try throughout December - I might not make them all but I'll have fun trying:

1. Peanutella - My friend Kerry from Kerry Cooks recently made homemade nutella. It was like eating lqiuid heaven from a spoon. I've decided I couldn't possibly better her attempt but I might just try this peanutty version from Smitten Kitchen.

2. Oreo stuffed funfetti cookies - anything Oreo stuffed is gonna be a winner in my book but this recipe goes to the top of the list when it's paired with rainbow sprinkles. Did I mention they're stuffed with Oreos?

3. Peanut butter pie - this pie has been on my list a long time. It may be the yankie snob in me but I want to wait until I can get some proper American peanut butter to try it out so I've been putting it off. I love this version from Budget Gourmet Mom as the additional ganache topping would help even out the sweetness of the peanut butter (just don't tell my sweet tooth I said that).

4. Chocolate caramel tarts - since I started working at Sweet Success I've noticed in influx of regulars who buy Buttercsotch flavouring. I never knew what it was used for until we started to accompany it with a caramel tart recipe. The recipe makes a tart which harks back to the days when caramel tarts were served at school and My Baking Addiction has created a chocolate version which looks incredible.

5. Chocolate peanut butter fudge - Ok, so I've just discovered I have a peanutty theme going on with this post but who cares? I bloomin love 'em! This recipe from one of my fave bakers Brown Eyed Baker is probably going to be a staple for my homemade gifts this year. I mean, who doesn't love fudge?? If you answered yes, please take yourself to the back of the baking class.

What recipes are you dying to try? Does anyone have any I could add to my list?