Monday, 24 December 2012

Gingerbread House

1 more sleep until Santa comes and we just have some last minute baking left to do and some prep work for tomorrow. The presents are wrapped and my three children are very excited today.

I had my three children working hard last night. They were given the task of decorating their gingerbread houses and they loved every minute of it!

Making gingerbread houses isn't a quick process but it is definitely worthwhile. Nothing beats the smell of gingerbread baking in your oven. I started the process of making my gingerbread houses on Wednesday and we finished on Sunday.... I got distracted.

Basically you need to make the dough and bake the pieces for the house on one day. I assemble my houses over 2 days to ensure that they are structurally sound as last year I had one collapse while we were decorating and I've now been scarred for life. I then leave assembled houses to dry overnight before I let the children decorate them as the children are never exactly gently when applying the decorations. I'll share with you my ginger bread recipe, royal icing recipe and basic template link.

I hope that you can also find the time to make a gingerbread house for yourself or with your family this year or the next.

Merry Christmas xxx

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Saturday, 22 December 2012

Chocolate Chip cookies for Santa

Three more sleeps till Christmas, so now is the time to decide what you are going to leave out for Santa and the reindeers on Christmas eve.

Depending on where you live Santa might need something to warm him up or if its a hot night in Australia Santa is often left with an ice cold beer to quench his thirst. I wonder if anyone ever leaves Santa a healthy snack option on Christmas eve?

In my house Santa often gets a plate of cookies and a cold milo. The reindeers get a bucket of water left out the front for them and a bunch of carrots.

This year Santa is getting some chocolate chip cookies. These cookies are quick and easy to make and store well for up to a week (or so I'm told - mine have never lasted that long).

Enjoy & Merry Christmas xxx
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Thursday, 20 December 2012

Chocolate Banana Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

These cupcakes have not been 'dressed up' for Christmas but they taste great.

Whenever my bananas are over ripe in the fruit bowl and if I don't have time to bake I just put them in the freezer where they turn completely black. Then when I'm ready to use them in my baking I take them out and within an hour they are ready to use.

This super moist cupcake recipe is lovely. It combines the sweetness of ripe mashed bananas with cocoa powder and to make it even more heavenly, the cake is frosted with a smooth and creamy  cream cheese frosting. These cupcakes are very popular in my house and I'm sure you will love them to.

Enjoy xxx

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Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Whimsical Cakehouse Foundation 1 course

This week I had a great day with some fantastic ladies at Whimsical Cakehouse. The class was held in Sweet by Natures premises in Heidelberg West.

I completed their foundation 1 course and have found out about working with ganache to get my cakes just right.

Spending a day away from home without any interruptions was bliss. I was lucky enough to have a fantastic teacher Anita  whom was willing and able to share all her knowledge and those all important hard to come by tips.

Here are some pictures from the day.

Enjoy xxx
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Christmas Shortbread Tree


Not long until Christmas now, only 6 more sleeps to go!. The countdown is on in my house as in many homes all over the world.

Today I thought I would share an easy gift idea. A Christmas shortbread tree is by no means a new idea but it is a great idea none the less. I make these trees each year for my children's teachers and family friends. They are not complicated to make and can be decorated anyway you like.

Enjoy xxx
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Monday, 26 November 2012

Strawberry Cupcakes with Strawberry Frosting

Fresh strawberries make a beautiful summer cupcake. The strawberry shaped lollies on top of my cupcakes are from a lolly shop in Carlton and when I spotted them I just had to use them. They made an easy cupcake topper and were very popular with children and adults alike.

So what makes this cupcake so amazing? Two very important elements: An incredibly moist and light cake that’s loaded with tons of chopped fresh strawberries, and a strawberry buttercream that balances the cupcake perfectly . But don't just stop with strawberry cupcakes by starting with a light and moist vanilla cupcake and tweaking it with different seasonal fruits you can produce some amazing results.

Enjoy xxx
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Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Classic Vanilla Cupcakes

With so many vanilla cupcake recipes out there its hard to know which one to use. I couldn't tell you how many I've tried over the years. After a lot of taste testing this is my favourite basic cupcake recipe, its moist and not at all crumbly.

Hope you enjoy this one as well xxx

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Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Chocolate Peppermint Cupcakes with Choc-Peppermint Twist Buttercream Frosting

Its a winning combination every time. Whether its a slice, a biscuit or a cake,  chocolate and peppermint are always a hit.

The cupcake itself looks intensely rich but when bitten in to is light and fluffy due to the butter milk and not overly chocolatey either (is that a word?)

The icing is choc- peppermint twist. The effect is created by taking a piping bag and half filling it with chocolate buttercream and then taking a second piping bag and half filling it with peppermint buttercream. The 2 bags are then placed in a larger piping bag fitted with a pipping nozzle and piped together, creating the twist. To finish it all off I placed a mini chocolate mint biscuit on top.

Enjoy xxx
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My Favourite Chocolate Buttercream for Cupcakes

I know that I'm saying that this is my favourite chocolate buttercream for cupcakes and it has been for quite sometime, but that doesn't mean I'm not open to other recipes.

There’s just something about the buttery, satiny smooth and sublime taste of this frosting. The combination of butter that is whipped, just enough icing sugar, and a moderate amount of chocolate makes this positively dreamy. It makes me want to lick the frosting off of the cupcakes and pass on the cupcakes themselves. It’s really that good.

You can easily play around with this basic recipe to make a milk  or white chocolate frosting. I just love everything about the texture and flavour ratios of this frosting. The key is giving the butter a good whipping before adding any other ingredients – it creates a fabulously soft and melt-in-your-mouth frosting.

Enjoy xxx
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Monday, 12 November 2012

Basic Buttercream Frosting

A great frosting for cakes and cupcakes alike is buttercream frosting.

I find that the secret to a light buttercream frosting is in the whipping. I'm sorry but a good buttercream requires a mixer. When making my buttercream frostings I whip the butter with the paddle attachment for a good 6 minutes before adding the sugar and flavourings. I mix them for a minute or 2 on low speed to combine the frosting and then I whip it all again for another 6 minutes to get a light texture to my buttercream.

Buttercream is a great frosting as it lends itself to any type of flavouring, be it essences, fresh fruit, crushed cookies or liqueurs. All you may need to adjust is the amount of icing sugar to get the consistency you need.

You can store any unused buttercream in the refrigerator in an airtight container; let it come to room temperature and then give it a quick whip in the mixer before using.

Enjoy xxx
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Saturday, 10 November 2012

Overnewton Country Fair Cake Stall

Hi there, for anybody who is looking for recipes for the cupcakes from the fair today, they will be online by Sunday night. Feel free to look around at my other recipes and in the meantime enjoy your cupcakes.

Update: 11/11/12 - recipe links

Sarah xxx Pin It

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Orange and Poppy Seed Cupcakes

Cupcakes are perfect for every celebration. This particular celebration was my nephews 18th birthday in October.

My nephew Brandon is a an enthusiastic and talented cook and excels in baking. He made his own 18th birthday cake under the guidance of his bakery teacher at school and presented a delicious Ferrero Rocher mud cake complete with lashings of ganache and chocolate I'm making myself hungry.

Anyway back to cupcakes, the beauty of cupcakes is that they can be plain or embellished to suit any occasion and theme. Yon only have to google cupcakes to see that you are only limited by your imagination when decorating these delicious morsels. From bite size to giant cupcakes, you decide the scale and intricacy of what is presented.

Enjoy xxx
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Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Another Lemon Slice

I really love lemon! I have to admit that I'm quite partial to a bit of lemon tang. I never feel quite so guilty after a lemon dessert as I do when I've just had a piece of chocolate, but that's just me.

I've included another lemon slice recipe as I just cant decide which one I like better, Tangy Lemon Squares or this Lemon Slice ...... try them for yourself and let me know.

Enjoy xxx
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Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Perfect Cream Cheese Frosting

This easy and irresistible Cream Cheese Frosting is the perfect topper for everything from carrot cake to red velvet. It not only tastes delicious but is perfect for piping and decorating your cakes or just dolloping on. Depending on the weather in your area you can always add a little more sifted icing sugar to stiffen it up if necessary.

Enjoy xxx
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Monday, 15 October 2012

How to make a fondant dog - tutorial

Last week I made a cake for a  lovely vet nurse from Brimbank Veterinary Clinic. Corrina's dog 'Spoodie' was turning 7 and Spoodie is lucky enough to have a bbq held in honour of his birthday each year. Corrina asked for a cake with a topper in Spoodie's likeness so I went straight to google to get some ideas. 

I came across a great You tube tutorial which gave me the basis to making this cute little dog which I will share with you. I had never tried modeling with fondant before so as this was my first attempt, I was very happy as was 'Spoodie".

Enjoy xxx
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Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Yummy Banana Bread

Reasons to teach your son to cook:

  1. Helps develop intellect.Mathematics (as in measurements, addition, subtraction, multiplication, division and fractions). English (as in vocabulary and reading comprehension, language development). Chemistry or science (as in cause and effect).

  2. Develops self confidence and self esteem. Just knowing that he can perform some tasks in the kitchen from the start to finish enables him to develop self  esteem and self confidence.

  3. Teaches the importance of following directions or instructions. 

  4. Teaches him to eat healthy foods and teaches him a sense of responsibility. When your child knows how to cook, he will eventually learn about the nutritional value and the health benefits that he gets from a particular food. 

  5. Teaching your child how to cook can develop his passion for cooking that can be financially rewarding for him in the future. 

My reason for teaching my son to cook......I'm teaching my son to cook because his father hasn't got a clue!

On Saturday I took my son and godson to the movies. Before I left I let my husband know that I had banana bread cooking in the oven and asked him to listen out for the oven timer beeping. I also told my daughter (5 years old) that when she hears the oven timer beep to get Daddy as the banana bread will be cooked.

During the movie I looked at the time. It was about 15 minutes after the banana bread should have been cooked.  So I sent my husband a text message asking him to tip the banana bread out of the pan and on to the wire rack I had left out on the bench.Later that night I met up with my husband and daughters for dinner and asked  him if he had taken my banana bread out of the oven. He replied, 'no, but I turned the oven off'. He didn't see the need to actually take the banana bread out of the oven , in his mind turning the oven off was sufficient. It didn't occur to him that it may continue to cook in a hot oven!  This is a man that runs his own very successful business but clearly he has no idea in the kitchen.

Anyway, I made another yummy banana bread on Sunday  morning.

Enjoy xxx

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Sunday, 7 October 2012

Peanut Butter & Choc Chip Slice

School holidays are over here in Melbourne and the children are back at school Monday. While I love having my son home from school and I love not rushing to be at kinder by 8.15 in the morning, after 2 weeks I'm ready  to get back into a routine. Its hard work trying to 'enjoy' the school holidays. Between doing activities with the children, keeping up with the day to day jobs and work,(let alone blogging), I'm still tired. I did manage to get some baking done over the holidays I guess I had to feed the children something - boy can they eat!

Last weekend was the AFL grand final. Most people that are interested in football end up at a bbq or something similar to enjoy the game and catch up with family or friends. The children and I headed to a close friends house for lunch and a few drinks. Whilst my husband headed off to a work colleagues function. Never one to arrive empty handed I set about making some slices and a dessert to take along.

I am always trying new recipes as I get tired of making the same things. When I'm preparing a few things for friends or family I normally mix it up a bit, a few old favourites and one or two new things. I mention this because I just want to point out that I am not an expert cook but I can confidently say I cook decent and edible food. No cook is perfect and even professional chefs have their share of disasters and mishaps in the kitchen, and I am no exception. I also have visual proof for you!

For  once  in my life I actually followed a recipe and look what happened. It was late, (well after midnight) by the time I got around to doing the chocolate top on this slice. I even checked the recipe twice because I had a feeling there wasn't enough copha melted in to the chocolate. However I forged ahead anyway and the next morning when I went to cut the slice the top cracked. I definitely wasn't putting this slice on the platter but it still tasted good and was eaten by my family within 3 days. I will make this slice again, with some minor adjustments to make it presentable and pass it on to you. In the mean time though here's a recipe that actually works!

Enjoy xxx
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Monday, 1 October 2012

How to make a chocolate shell for your giant cupcake

A popular cake at the moment is the giant cupcake. Several companies make the pans for this cake, I have seen Wilton, Ecko, Bakers Secret, Fox Run and a silicone moulds available in shops. I have been walking past this tin in the shops for some months now and finally gave in a bought a Wilton giant cupcake tin in early September. Eager to try out my new purchase I volunteered to make my sister-in-laws birthday cake (she turned 21 again this year, lucky girl!).

A favourite cake combination of mine is chocolate and peppermint. So what better way to suprise people then to cut through a white chocolate shell to find chocolate cake and then to take a bite and discover that your pink roses are peppermint flavoured. Delicious.

Enjoy xxx
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Friday, 28 September 2012

Sunday Morning Pancakes

Every Sunday morning at my house pancakes are on the menu for breakfast. Sundays are special family time in our house. Sunday is the only day we are all together for breakfast as my husband leaves well before 7am each morning and works most Saturdays also.

On a Sunday morning at least one of my children will crawl in to my bed and whisper not so softly in my ear, "mum, how long until pancakes?". I normally roll back over at this point and pretend to go back to sleep until a second child arrives in the room asking, "mum, how long until pancakes?". At this point I put my head under the pillow and prepare myself for my youngest to wake up. She never says good morning, the first words out of her mouth in the morning is always, "I'm hungrine Mumma". One of her siblings will then tell her that we are having pancakes and she then proceeds to jump up and down saying' "yay! pancakes!, come on Mumma". At this point there is no avoiding it I have to get up, it is pancake day after all!

Enjoy xxx
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Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Farmyard Vanilla Shortbread Cookies Presented By My Sammy

I'm a very proud mother at the moment, let me share with you all as to why.....

Back in August Highpoint Shopping Centre were running a competition for their upcoming 'Fresh Food Campaign'. So I entered a photo of some farmyard inspired cookies that I have made for a number of children's parties. Well the marketing team at Highpoint liked my cookies so we were invited to go down to Highpoint and participate in a photo shoot. Being a little camera shy I took my son along and had him model with the cookies and do the recorded interview as well.

Well the photos are now ready, as is the video. Highpoint has released the video on their website in conjunction with their announcement that the first stage of the Highpoint redevelopment will be opening on the 18th October. This new stage will encompass a full line Woolworths and over 30 additional specialty stores. Not to mention more car parking with direct access into the centre for their grocery shoppers.

So here is the reason for this mother being so proud....

In case you too want to put a smile on the face of someone you love, here is the recipe for a great egg free alternative to sugar cookies. An easy to roll and cut vanilla shortbread cookie, which cooks beautifully and tastes just as good as cookie dough as it does cooked. Cut them into any shape you want and decorate with rolled fondant, royal icing or just eat plain.

Enjoy xxx

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Monday, 24 September 2012

Pinterest - Am I the last to join?

A couple of weeks ago I started hearing a lot about Pinterest. So I went to the website to have a look around and see how it works. I was in HEAVEN! This was exactly what I needed.

I can finally do away with my folder full of images of cakes and decorated treats that I had printed off in case I was in need of inspiration. Finally a place to collect the images that I love for future reference!
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Saturday, 22 September 2012

Citrus Orange Whoopies

What a glorious Melbourne afternoon. Its so nice when spring arrives and you can once again open the windows and let the air flow through the house.

A perfect afternoon treat on a day such as this is a whoopie pie. Not quite a cake, not quite a biscuit. and definitely not a pie.  A whoopie is in a category all its own, however it delivers everything I need in a baked treat.  It has ample amounts of frosting like our beloved cakes and cupcakes; and it's small and compact enough to eat with our hands like a cookie.

Enjoy xxx
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Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Lemon Syrup Cake

This no-fuss cake is fantastic for relaxed entertaining. Serve as afternoon tea or as a light refreshing dessert. The choice is yours.

Enjoy xxx
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Photo credit:

Making a recipe that calls for buttermilk? This simple substitute will mean you wont get caught out again:


  • Milk (just under one cup)
  • 1 Tablespoon white vinegar or lemon juice


1. Place a Tablespoon of white vinegar or lemon juice in a liquid measuring cup.
2. Add enough milk to bring the liquid up to the one-cup line.
3. Let stand for five minute. Then, use as much as your recipe calls for.

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Saturday, 15 September 2012

Apple Shortcake

Lots of things have happened this week, its been a busy one! I finally found time however to have a play around with my NEW camera (can you tell I'm excited?). I got myself an Olympus PEN - EP3. The aim is to learn all the functions, read all the photography blogs and tutorials and become a phenomenal photographer - well we will see about the last one. The point being that although I'm still on the 'auto' setting Ive used my new camera for the above photo and am really happy with the shots I'm getting.

Anyway, on to the apple shortcake. Whenever I decide to make something my options for finding the right recipe are either to go to google or to my mum for recommendations. This time I went to mum. Ive made one apple pie before. After making the pastry myself and then peeling apples, stewing apples and assembling the pie I was very disappointed with the taste and texture. So mum gave me a recommendation for an apple and passionfruit shortcake recipe she has made from a Womens Weekly Cookbook. Am I the only person that just cant a leave a recipe alone? Well after a few tweaks I made My Apple Shortcake which was anything but disappointing!

Enjoy xxx
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Thursday, 13 September 2012

Dusting Sugar

Photo credit:

Tip: Ever wonder why your icing sugar seems to disappear in to your slice or cake within hours of dusting it on? 

The pure icing sugar you buy from the supermarket is very finely milled (10x) so it is easily adsorbed in to the cake. Dusting sugar can be purchased from cake decorating supply shops and is coarser (6x) than icing sugar, it also contains maize starch to stop it from absorbing in to food.  Woolworths and Coles (Australian Supermarkets) now stock 'Queen' vanilla bean dusting sugar which you can try, but be aware if you are dusting more than one cake it can be a little pricey. If you cant get dusting sugar near you try using icing sugar mixture. This is the same texture as pure icing sugar but contains a small amount of cornflour (about 3 percent), this makes it better for dusting than the pure icing sugar. Also if you dont have icing sugar mixture on hand just add 1 teaspoon of cornflour to 1 cup if pure icing sugar and sift it together.

I find the best way to apply dusting sugar is with a small hand held sieve or sifter.

Enjoy xxx

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Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Peppermint Slice

I have had a busy week in the kitchen so far and its only Tuesday afternoon. The neighbours must think I'm going a little nutty. They have had plates of cakes on Sunday and then I tried offering slice to them yesterday to protests of , 'I need to wear bathers next week', bathers-smathers I say, thats next week, this week we eat cake!

Today's post is Peppermint slice. Vanilla base, peppermint centre and chocolate top, something for everybody really. There  are plenty of variations of this slice out there and quite a few 'no bake' options available also. This Peppermint Slice is reminiscent of the bakery style that was sold at the little cafe I used to frequent while at university. I often purchased a piece of Peppermint Slice for the drive home, it helped to ward off the hunger pangs long enough to think about what to cook for dinner when I got home.

Enjoy xxx

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Monday, 10 September 2012

Tangy Lemon Squares

You know the old saying, 'when life gives you lemons  - make lemonade', well in my case it's, 'when your husband gives you lemons - make Tangy Lemon Squares'.

Hubby came home on Saturday with a bag full of lemons that he had collected on a job site. So my son Samuel and I got to work on Saturday night baking some of these delicious squares. Staying motivated to bake on Saturday night was easy, as sitting on the couch and watching our football team Geelong get beaten in an elimination final was more than Samuel and I could bear. At least on Sunday morning when I picked up the paper and saw that Geelong's loss the night before had made front page news I had something to console myself with. I must say that a cup of chamomile tea and a Tangy Lemon Square worked exceptionally well for that purpose. For Samuel it was a piece of toast with tuna , but each to their own!

Enjoy xxx

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Thursday, 6 September 2012

Jelly Slice

It is a classic Australian slice that's fallen a bit out of fashion, I've just discovered it and I love it. I don't mind that its a little bit retro I think it would be awesome for a kids party, its fun, sweet and its pretty as well. It's kind of like an easy cheesecake. The great thing about this slice is the top layer can be made any colour to match your party. The traditional colour is red, but you could  do green for St Paddy's day, pink for a girls party, navy for a nautical theme (just add food colouring to blueberry jelly) and the list goes on.

Enjoy xx
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Saturday, 1 September 2012

Warm Sticky Date Pudding with Butterscotch Sauce

In my family nothing says winter like a warm pudding for dessert. Whether its chocolate, butterscotch, lemon or date there's just something about a warm cake with a good serving of equally warm sauce and then a dollop of something cold and creamy along side it. And its not just my family either, sticky date pudding seems to be a staple in winter on menus in restaurants, cafes and even school catering groups lists. 
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Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Orange Shortbread Swirls

If you are looking to fill up the cookie jar without having to spend hours in the kitchen then this is the recipe for you.

Enjoy xx
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Saturday, 25 August 2012

Chocolate Fudge & Coconut Slice

My mum has been making this slice for as long as I can remember! It was a regular in our lunch boxes and at family gatherings as we were growing up.

Its a quick and easy slice that everyone loves as it is not overly sweet,  and who doesn't love chocolate.
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Monday, 20 August 2012

Super Moist Orange Cupcakes with Orange Cream Cheese Frosting

We all are inspired to bake for different reasons;
  •  a special occasion,
  •  seasonal produce,
  • hunger,
  • or my personal favorite, avoidance of housework. Come on now,who is going to get on your case about not having cleaned the glass or made the beds when there are fresh cupcakes on the kitchen bench! 
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Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Welcome to my blog.....

Ive decided today to delve in to the cyber universe and create my own blog documenting what I love to do best - bake. I spend a lot of time reading other blogs paying tribute to my favourite ingredient in the kitchen, my friend sugar. Im hoping that this blog will become a resource for others to find recipes and ideas that work and do not require you to be a pastry chef to pull off and present well.

I hope you enjoy my posts.

Sarah xx Pin It