As a mental health nurse I find myself supporting people at their lowest point; people who are so unwell the simplest of tasks are so great they almost seem unachievable, people who can be so depressed that they feel there is no hope that there is no happiness. People who the smallest of interactions from yourself can be the brightest part of their day and as a nurse I find I’m not always their nicest of interactions they can have that day as medication is part of my job role and not always favoured by everyone.
I once asked some of my service users what they think I do, as a nurse, I was told your the medication lady, your always in the clinic running about doing stuff, your always writing notes in that office. So I wanted to be more than that, more than the “medication lady” or the “always writing notes” lady; I want to be the cake lady!
So I made it my mission to get out of my office, get from behind my medication trolley and interact, interact and share what makes me happy in hope It can bring happiness to others.
So I bake, I bake with the service users and for the service users and the staff who work so tirelessly and I’d like to think it brings happiness to some, even those who at this time feel very little happiness.
When I’m cooking I find lots of different ingredients and fussing about are not always necessary, especially when cooking with others particularly those with cognitive impairments, sometimes simple is the best. So I tent to stick to one basic sponge cake recipe and work from that.
Me mam’s recipe….
- 4oz Stork or dairy free spread, I like to use Vitalite sunflower spread
- 4oz Caster sugar
- 2 Eggs or Egg replacement
- 4oz Gluten free self raising flour, I’m a bit of a flour tramp I just buy the cheapest or which ones on offer!
- And a drop of vanilla essence
Mix the butter and sugar first, whisk until creamy, add and 1 egg or 1 egg replacement and half the flour, whisk, then add the other egg or egg replacement and the rest of the flour continue whisking adding the vanilla essence until light and yummy looking.
Bake on the middle shelf at 180 C/160 C fan for 15-20 minuets depending on how big you’ve made them and take out once a little colour comes on the top but still spongy.
And that’s it. 5 ingredients one squishy sponge cake.
I use this recipe for both my cupcakes and larger cakes however, due to the gluten free flour not being as bindey as wheat flour the texture can be a bit crumbly so its not always best for making cakes that will be require to hold weight of larger decorations.
Change it up….
I love cake! I could eat it forever and I love almost all cakes, except the classic victoria sponge; I find it so boring and at times very dry (not mine obviously, mines moisty goodness). So I like to experiment with the basic sponge recipe and there is so much out there to experiment with, different filling inside, different butter creams outside and multiple choices of toppings.
But be aware! Not all yummy things that look good are good. I unfortunately made a whoopsy when I made a surprise rainbow sprinkle cake for a friend.
A friend and I were wandering around a supermarket when she spotted a rainbow sponge cake covered in hundreds and thousands; it looked amazing! Obviously I couldn’t have it as it wasn’t gluten free or dairy free, so I thought I would surprise her and make her the cake (but gluten free and dairy free so I could munch it too!).
So using my mam’s sponge recipe I went ahead and baked this 5 tier rainbow sprinkle cake. Dying each sponge a different colour; I cant remember unfortunately which gel dyes I used for the sponge but they didn’t make me unwell so winner!
I used eggs for this recipe as I didn’t have and egg replacement in at the time, I used Asda’s free from self raising flour and Vitalite sunflower spread in the sponge. For the buttercream filling I used Vitalie spread, icing sugar, vanilla essence and Alpro single cream which makes all the difference. The cream adds a smooth rich flavour to the buttercream. I tend not to measure buttercream I just wing it, but I suggest you start with the icing sugar adding a small amount of butter, cream and essence then mix and add more if needs be or more icing sugar if required.
Once stacked I spread more buttercream on the outside and then covered it in sprinkles! Hundreds and thousands of multi colours rainbow magic sprinkles. And that’s when I realised the issue. I didn’t check the ingredients on the sprinkles. I presumed (silly me!) that they were just sugar and colouring, wrong.
The contained wheat. And I had literally covered the entire cake in them.
Well it’s a good job this friend has family and work friends because I couldn’t help her with the cake, such a sad cake day for me. My friend was so happy though an her work friends!
The packet stuff….
I was recently in Hobbycraft when I stumbled across Sugar and Crumbs flavoured butter creams. Initially I thought there no point in looking I have no chance, but to my surprise I did have a chance. There buttercreams are gluten free, nut free and suitable for vegans! And come in some of the most delicious flavours ever including bubblegum, banana split, cheery bakewell, pineapple, pink lemonade the list just keeps going….
It was like being in Willy Wonka’s sweet factory and I could eat everything!
So after many many minuets had passed I finally decided on bubblegum as its been a firm favourite flavour with me forever.
It was really easy to make all you need is butter or butter replacement and some milk or milk replacement, mix up your desired amount and that’s it. Beautiful super flavoured allergy free buttercream. The bubblegum buttercream was white, now i’m unsure if all there flavoured buttercreams are white but it was very easy to colour. I used a small amount of pink gel dye so it looked uber bubblegummy. The sponge was my mam’s recipe, plain as the flavour of the buttercream was very strong and needed no accompaniment.
I will most defiantly be using their buttercream’s again especially as both Hobbycraft and their website have offers on them at the moment, so grab a bag or 6!
I don’t just let my cake consumption be limited to home or work I like to taste the cakes others can make too whilst I’m out and about. And my favourite cake shop at the moment is Teacup Kitchen in Manchester.
I was introduced to Teacup kitchen by a friend who raved about there cakes and told me about a flourless brownie which is unbelievable, so I had to go. And I’ve been back a thousand times since and actually make trips into Manchester just for this cake and now have everyone else I know hooked on their cakes too and the staff now recognise me!
The Teacup Kitchen I regularly visit is in Manchester northern quarter but I have been told there is also a cafe inside Manchester museum which I has more options than the northern quarter cafe, so is a must visit for me very soon. Museums plus cake, winner!
Teacup Kitchen make cakes for everyone, people with no allergies, gluten free cakes and vegan cakes so no matter what issues or intolerance you have you can sit down or take away a cake of your choosing.
Although I am lactose intolerant and currently still on my vegan diet, so sadly no Teacup Kitchen cake at the moment for me, I do get a little naughty and will buy they flourless brownie which isn’t dairy free, but totally worth it. It is the heaviest cake I think I have ever picked up and when I buy 4 or 5 its an exercise in itself to carry them, so the calories I put on eating it are almost free! I have been told that the cakes are quiet expensive, I normally buy 4 and the bill is just under £20 which I am totally willing to pay as there are worth every penny. Their flourless brownie is a stodgy gooey chocolatey triangle of amazingness and I could probably/ have eaten more than my weight in those cakes and will continue as soon as my body shapes up and lets me eat a little dairy again. Defiantly a stop when in Manchester, oh and the staff are delightful too!
I know many would say that food can’t bring you happiness, but I think that’s wrong. I think food can bring happiness, whether it the taste that reminds you of happier times or that smell that makes you smile, food is an emotion inducer and I can’t see why that’s a bad thing.
I say eat cake and be happy!