Great Bookish Bake off – Lemon Cake

The cakes I bake and the books I read while baking them.

So even though I spent most of the past year determined not to watch new bake off… Bake Off returned and I watched it. And I don’t know how I feel about it… like it feels wrong… But also… familiar and I don’t know! What does everyone one else think of it? Is it good? Is it not? I don’t know…!
Anyway, one simply doesn’t watch bake off without cake. So, I made a cake. And I cheated a bit and thought you guys might also like a cheaters recipe to cake.

You will need:
A mixing bowl
Two round cake tins
A box of cake mix (I chose Lemon cake)
Ready made icing (yes, that stuff is accidentally dairy free)
A can of Sprite.

And the book of your choice, I was reading Six of Crows which is one of my new favourite books.

This is a great cake hack if you hear the Bake Off theme and think, damn, I should have got some cake in. All you need is one of those cake mix boxes and a 320ml of lemonade, mix the two together, split the mix between the two cake tins and bake for twenty minutes. Which admitedly, doesn’t give you much time to read, especially when you’re working your way through something as exciting as Six of Crows, but there is also the cooling time, so you know.
Once they’re cooked, put them aside and let them cool and then crack into the ready made icing and assemble your cake. My packet mix came with drizzle for the top which I also stuck on because BAKE OFF.
As weird as it sounds, for some reason, adding fizzy drinks to cake mix makes a perfectly risen and moist (sorry) cake! It’s mad but true! Try it!


Also while we’re talking about Bake Off, Veronica Dearly posted this great image the other day and I can’t not!

Giving the #bakeoff a whirl. #gbbo

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Great Bookish Bake off – Cornflake Tart

The cakes I bake and the books I read while baking them. 

Oh it feels like forever since I’ve done one of these posts, it feels even longer since I last ate this creation! In fact, I haven’t had it since I left school at eighteen! Actually, I’ve never seen this served anywhere else other than at school!

Cornflake tart, just like the school dinner ladies used to make!

A post shared by leah-marie smith (@leeeeeeeeah) on

Did anyone else have cornflake tart at school or was it just a west country thing?
For those who didn’t get to experience this, you are in for a treat cos I’m about to tell you exactly how to make it! First though, what on Earth is it?
It is a biscuity/pastry base covered in jam and then topped in cornflakes and golden syrup.
Yes. I know. It’s an odd concept, but bare with me. I used to love this stuff during school dinners and the other day, my brother posted a photo of himself frying cornflakes on Facebook, which naturally was questioned and it turns out, he had acquired a recipe for the very thing we had at school, so I gave it a go whilst reading Unconventional, which, if you are a fan of Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl, I think you might enjoy.
So, let’s a go.

You will need:
A mixing bowl
A cake tin
A frying pan
100g flour
50g butter (I used dairy free, but that’s really up to you)
a shot glass of water
a healthy dollop of golden syrup
10g sugar
Some cornflakes
A knob of butter.

Firstly, put the butter and flour into a mixing bowl and with your hands rub together to form breadcrumbs – see what I mean about being a bit like pastry? Anyway, once you get breadcrumbs, pour in your water shot and with a spoon, mix until you form a ball of dough, kneed the ball of dough until you’re happy with the consistency and then pat into the cake tin, making sure it is flat.

Pop it into the oven for 20 minutes, during which time you can start reading – like I said, I had Unconventional on the go, which is a story about the daughter of a man who runs conventions, you know, like comic con and well she has a meet cute with a guy who ends up being a convention guest and well, its a cute nerd love kind of story and there frankly aren’t enough of those in my life.

Once your base is cooked, set it aside to cool and get your frying pan ready. Drop a knob of butter and let it melt. Then add in the sugar and the golden syrup, stirring until combined, pour in the cornflakes and stir until coated. Leave on the heat while you spread jam over the biscuity base making sure it is completely coated. Spoon the cornflake mixture on top and pop back into the oven for five minutes, which probably doesn’t give you much reading time, but you can at least get the washing up done.

Leave the – what should we call this? Cornflake tart? Whatever, leave the cornflake cake biscuit, pie thing to cool for a few minutes before taking out of the cake tin and then settle down with a slice and the beverage of your choice to finish off another chapter of your book.

Let me know if you had this at school or if you’re trying it, I want to know if this is a national thing or just a my school thing!

Great Bookish Bakeoff – Ginger apple cake


The cakes I bake and the books I read while baking them.

Is anyone else devastated that we’ve now had the last ever bake off as we know it? Whatever happens with the future of baking on TV, these posts will continue because I bloody love cake.

So, here’s the story, I was perusing Facebook, as you do, and I saw a post from someone who had made a cake using a box mix and a can of sprite, so naturally, I had to give that a go too, behold my dairy free ginger apple cake!

You will need:
A mixing bowl
Two round cake tins
A sauce pan
A box of Betty Crocker ginger cake mix
Some icing sugar
Cold water
Three apples
Brown sugar
A can of sprite

First, pour the box of cake mix into a mixing bowl and gradually add the sprite, stirring as you do until you get what resembles cake mix. Split this into two and put them into your cake tins (either line them with baking paper or grease them, whatever!) pop them in the oven on 180 for 25 minutes.
While that’s baking, chop and skin your apples, put them in a sauce pan with cold water, sugar and cinnamon, pop a lid on the pan and leave to boil for 20 minutes or so, which should give you enough time to read something!
I was reading an ARC sent to me called Saying Goodbye to London, honestly, I was finding excuses to not read it, I don’t know if it is the writing style or if it is how unlikable the characters are, but I was struggling. So, I figured I’d reward myself with cake if I got through a couple of chapters.

Once your cake is done (take a moment to be amazed that it worked because I totally did), leave it to cool and see to your apples, what you should have is stewed apples and these are what you are going to stick the cake together with. Create your cake/apple tower and leave it to completely cool before making standard icing, gradually adding water to icing sugar until you end up with smooth icing, drizzle over the top and voila! You have a dairy free cake that tastes like cake and no need to go out finding eggs or oil! Next time you fancy cake but don’t have any of the key ingredients, don’t fret as long as you have something fizzy and a packet mix, you are good to go!

Great Bookish Bake off – Maple Syrup Drizzle Cake


The cakes I bake and the books I read while baking them. 


So, my grandad gifted me a bottle of maple syrup and as bake off no longer exists and I have nothing else cake related to do on a Wednesday I decided to attempt some sort of cake involving maple syrup and came up with this weird but super nice and Autumnal maple syrup drizzle cake!

What you will need:

150g self raising flour
150g brown sugar
150g butter (I used vegan butter but you can use whatever!)
1 table spoon of cinnamon
1 table spoon of Maple Syrup
2 table spoons apple sauce (this was my egg substitute, so either use eggs or whatever other kind of replacement you like)
3 table spoons of water
a mixing bowl
electric whisk
a loaf tin
The book of your choice. I was reading Whispers Underground, the third Rivers of London book – if you’ve never checked out this series before, do it! They’re amazing!

So, in the mixing bowl put the flour, sugar, butter, cinnamon, syrup and sauce into a bowl and start to whisk, once it starts coming together, add the water and continue mixing until you get a nice smooth mixture. Pour into a lined loaf tin and cook on 180 for 45 minutes. Which is ample time for reading! The Rivers of London books are kind of how I imagine life is like for ex Hogwarts students, Peter Grant is after all a police officer who also happens to be a wizard and spends his time solving supernatural crimes in London. If that doesn’t sound awesome enough, the whole thing is just so well written and funny and I did almost a little bit let the cake burn… I didn’t though its all good!
Once the 45 minutes are up, check the loaf is cooked and then stab it a little and pour a bit more maple syrup over the top. Leave it for a few minutes to soak in and then eat that bad boy because dear God, if there was ever something you didn’t know you needed, this is it.

The Great Bookish Bake Off – Eggless Meringue?!


The cakes I bake and the books I read while baking them. 


Yes, you did read that right, this is meringue, as in crispy on the outside, marshmallowy on the inside meringue and not an egg in sight!
Do you ever get the urge for baked goods and then realise you have no ingredients and your nearest super market closed ten minutes ago? Its something I get a lot, its why I should really stop watching Come Dine with Me marathons. They always leave me wanting desert and its always a really inconvenient time of day in which to go get desert. If you’re a seasoned vegan, this recipe won’t be new to you, but if like me, your someone that is fairly new to vegan baking and is also someone who doesn’t tend to have things like egg in the house while watching cooking shows where suddenly pavlova is on offer, this might interest you!

What you will need:
A can of chickpeas,
A mixing bowl,
Caster sugar,
An electric whisk,
A baking tray
Also a book, if you like for when they’re cooking.

I know, I know, you’re hung up on the chickpea thing right? Well, hold up and I’ll splain you a thing.
Open that tin of chickpeas, and drain the contents into the mixing bowl, now, do what you will with those chickpeas, but put them somewhere safe for now because all you really need is the juice. Yes, you read that right. It might sound weird af, but you’re going to need the weird bean water that your chickpeas were living in.
So now you have your bean juice in your mixing bowl, plug in the electric whisk and whisk that bean juice for ten minutes, after a while it starts to look exactly like egg whites! At this point, you should start slowly pouring in the caster sugar while continuing to whisk. You’ll need the same measurement of sugar as you had bean juice, so judge this on the size of your tin. Ya’ll know how meringues work, but basically you need to whisk together until you get the stiff peaks you would with normal meringue. When you’re satisfied, dollop your mixture onto a lined baking tray and cook on 180 degrees for 40-50 minutes, depending on how hot your oven gets, you may want to adjust the time. Mine were ready in 45 minutes!

However long they take, you will have time to do a spot of reading! I was finishing off Me Before You by JoJo Moyes – I’ve heard mixed reviews about the movie, anyone seen it? I had mixed feelings about the book, so I’m not sure whether to see it or not… Thoughts?

Anyway, once these are ready, take them out of the oven and let them cool down before enjoying them – they are exactly as you’d imagine meringues to be! So next time you get that Come Dine with Me induced desert feeling and have no eggs (or you’re vegan and you fancy meringues) then give this a go!

Great Bookish Bakeoff – Vegan mug cake?


The cakes I bake and the books I read while baking them. 


Do you ever just think while reading, man, some cake would go great with this, well, wonder no more because I have the perfect recipe for you and you don’t even need to worry about having eggs in your house or time in which to bake something, this is eggless, can be made dairy free and can be cooked in a microwave, I present you with my first ever mug cake.

You will need:
A microwaveable mug/dish etc
4 table spoons of self raising flour
1/4 tea spoon of baking powder
3 tablespoons of the milk of your choice (I went for soya)
2 and 1/2 table spoons of sugar
1 table spoon of oil
A jiff lemon.
And a book. If you happened to be reading when the urge for cake hit.

Firstly, get your bowl/mug/ whatever. Into this you will need to add your dry ingredients and mix and then add your wet ingredients, depending on how lemony you want this depends on how much of your jiff lemon you choose to squirt in there, I went for a tablespoon. I really like lemons though I should point out.
Mix all of that together until it vaguely resembles cake mix and pop it in the microwave for 90 seconds, during which time you can prepare any sides you want to go with it – I added some fresh mango and a dollop of Swedish Glace ice cream to the top of mine. Your microwave will alert you to finished cake and as long as the top is firm, you are good to go! And you don’t even need to stop reading for all that long!

Great Bookish Bakeoff: What the Fox biscuits


The cakes I bake and the books I read while baking them. 

Guys, I’ll be honest, this isn’t a new recipe, but I did kind of want to A) show off how my decorating skills have improved and B) end the debate once and for all, do these look like foxes or do they look like puppies? You decide!


What you will need:
A mixing bowl
A rolling pin
A piping bag
A fox shaped cookie cutter.
For the biscuits:
175g flour (use self raising if you want larger fluffier biscuits or plain if you want more biscuity biscuits)
100g of butter/marg (I used the lactose free stuff being all lactose intolerant and that)
50g caster sugar
2 table spoons of water.
You could add some vanilla essence in there if you’re feeling crazy, but I flavoured the icing so I didn’t bother)
For the icing:
100g butter
200g icing sugar
food colouring (I only had pink to hand)
1 cap full of vanilla essence
and some black writing icing for the faces.
Also the book of your choice. I was reading How Many Letters Are in Goodbye. Which was a bit heavy going, which is why I turned to baking. You can see the review here.

Firstly, weigh out the butter and the sugar, cut the butter into manageable chunks and put it in the mixing bowl, add the sugar and stir until its one big slightly yellowy, sugary paste. Basically, when your arm starts hurting, keep going, you’re probably no where near done. Or, if you’re sensible, you could use a mixer. I have one of those. It is still at my parent’s house. I don’t live there anymore.
Once the butter and sugar is successfully combined, weight out and sieve in the flour, get this all mixed in and then drop in your water and stir until it combines to make a dough. Get your hands in and kneed it about a bit, if its sticky, add more flour and if its dry and crumbly, add more water. Eventually, you should end up with a ball of dough which you will need to chill in the fridge for about an hour.
Which of course is ample reading time!
When you’re hour is up, roll out the dough using your rolling pin on a floured surface to your desired thickness and the cut out using the foxy cookie cutters. You can then arrange these very carefully on a baking tray lined with foil. Bake in a pre heated oven on 180 degrees for 15-20 mins or until they start to look golden and brown. I never understood that kind of instruction until I moved somewhere with a see through oven door. I can watch my food cook now. It’s amazing!

You could wash up during the baking time, or like me, you could return to your book for another fifteen minutes. Either way, you’ll be briefly interrupted by the things being done, but can return to whichever task you prefer while waiting for them to cool. Which could take up to two chapters, I’m just talking from my experience. When you’re done with the two chapters/the cooling, whichever comes first, you will need to prepare your icing. Again, much easier if you have a mixer. I should get on that. When you’re all mixed up, split the icing into two bowls, you’ll need more in one than the other as this is going to be the main body of the foxes and to this one you’ll need to add the food colouring. Of course, you guys will have been clever and bought orange or red colouring, right? Yeah. Thought so.
When the icing is the appropriate colour, add it to a piping bag and dab onto the biscuits to create the impression of fur. Or do what I did. Either way, it’s all good. When you’re foxy bodies are coated, clean out the piping bag, or use a new one if you’re that way inclined and finish off with the non coloured icing and then, add your face details and DONE. You have created foxy biscuits. Or puppy biscuits…