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Tuesday, 30 August 2016

Get Your Bake On

Hannah Barnes

With the return of The Great British Bake Off and all that eating-a-salad-out-of-a-jar I did last week, I decided it was high time I raided the pantry (formerly known as the cupboard under the stairs) and got my bake on.

I used to be an extremely over ambitious baker and past attempts at this fine British sport have resulted in a giant birthday cupcake which melted upon delivery, some banana muffins that looked largely inedible (but tasted strangely great) and a round of Christmas biscuits you could chip a tooth on. On the whole, my bakes always tasted great – but looked pretty bad. Like, seriously bad.

So, whilst I won’t be signing up for the show any time soon, after purchasing a set of scales and dialing down my expectations – I’ve finally cracked it. I now go for simple, delicious recipes with a huge dollop of patience.

Here’s my take on your basic sponge, split into two portions with different sweet treats thrown in to give you a bit more bang for your buck. I also cheated and used shop bought buttercream and fudge for the toppings. Buttercream is actually something I’m really good at, but I was having a lazier than usual weekend thanks to the bank holiday, so I decided to keep it super simple.

I made both Vanilla & Blueberry and Double Chocolate Chip Sponge Cakes, using a basic sponge recipe to make both mixtures, before separating the two and pimping them up a notch.


4 x eggs
200g plain flour
200 g caster sugar
200g butter
2 tbs baking soda
2 tbs vanilla essence
400g chocolate chips
200g blueberries


Combine sugar and butter into a smooth paste before introducing the eggs and flour gradually. Add baking powder and vanilla essence then separate your mixture evenly into two bowls. Add a whole load of blueberries to one, a heap of chocolate chips to the other and stir each of these in. The blueberries will add some great colour to their mixture, so I like to fold these in slowly and create a marbled effect.

Transfer into bun cases and bake on 180 degrees for 10-15 minutes, then your buns to cool. It took me a long time to learn this simple fact – be patient and wait for them to cool before icing - so I’ll just leave that here for anyone else who has yet to catch on.

Once cooled, use the chocolate fudge topping for the chocolate chip buns and your vanilla buttercream for the blueberry then decorate to taste. I usually add a bit more milk chocolate to the chocolate chip, just to ensure no one defames their double chocolate name, and some white chocolate to the blueberry, for good measure. 

I'm looking forward to watching the pros in another round of Great British Bake Off tomorrow, but I'd be just as exited to hear about all your bakes - share your favourites in the comments section. 

Hannah Barnes / Author & Editor

I keep myself busy with my small business; The Loft Gifts, the period poverty charity I run; The Crimson Wave, writing here and for vaious platforms and a growing menagerie of household pets.


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