Vanilla Chocolate Chip Whoopie Pies

| IrelandAM, Recipe














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I showed how to bake these on TV3’s Ireland AM on Friday 2nd June

You can watch me make these on my YouTube channel

A whoopie pie is sort of a cross between a cookie and a cake, usually sandwiched with buttercream or marshmallow fluff. I like to turn them into more of a dessert and sandwich them with fresh cream and berries. 

They are so easy to make, an ideal recipe to make with the kids, and don’t need any baking tins or liners – just a flat baking sheet or cookie sheet, lined with greaseproof paper. 

280g Plain Flour
1tsp Bread Soda
1/4tsp Salt
120ml Buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla extract
85g butter (room temp)
140g Caster Sugar
1 egg
Chocolate chips/berries/nuts (topping of choice)

• Preheat oven to 170 degrees
• In a bowl combine flour, bread soda and salt.
• In a measuring jug combine the buttermilk and vanilla. Set both of these aside
• Using a stand mixer or a hand mixer cream the sugar and butter until light and fluffy.
• Add in the egg on medium speed and beat until combined.
• Reduce the speed on the mixer and alternately add in the flour and buttermilk mixes until flour is incorporated.
• With an ice-cream scoop or spoons scoop the batter onto a lined flat baking tray (make sure to leave space between each scoop as they will spread in the oven)
• Top each scoop with chocolate chips, fruit or topping of your choice
• Bake in a preheated oven 170C degrees for 12 minutes.
• Place on a rack to cool
• Once cooled, sandwich with buttercream or whipped cream and enjoy
• You can also add extra fruit to the filling such as chopped strawberries, blueberries or raspberries.

Let me know if you bake them. x


Your wedding cake – your choice!

| Weddings

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Your wedding cake is a focal point at your reception, on view the moment your guests enter the reception room. Family and friends look forward to the point after the meal where you cut the cake together, symbolising your union.  The wedding photographer’s favourite image (although truthfully this photo is usually taken before the guests are in the room!) it is none-the-less the classic wedding moment, the traditional cutting of the cake photo that friends and family love to capture. So what should you consider when you are choosing your wedding cake?


Meet your cake designer
Firstly there are many options when it comes to wedding cakes. You can have one cake, several cakes, dessert table, cupcake towers, a cake made of cheese wheels – anything goes! But the as a newly engaged couple don’t have to worry about that just yet. The most important thing is that once the date of the wedding and the venue have been confirmed, that is the time to approach your preferred cake maker to see if there is availablilty on that date. As you will quickly realise photographers, bands, hairdressers, etc. can be booked months, if not years, in advance, especially in the summer months or bank holiday weekends so get in there and secure your date! Make an appointment for a consultation. Feel free to bring along pictures of cakes you like, fabric samples, colours and inspirations for your wedding. Ideas and flavours can be discussed but the final decision on the style and decoration doesn’t actually have to be fully decided until several months prior to the wedding, so there is no pressure to know exactly what cake you want a year before you are married!

Size matters
Obviously the number of guests you have will have a bearing on the size of the cake required but also consider the size of the room that your reception is in. A small cake will look completely lost in a large ballroom but a small soft-iced cake can look completely charming in a country house setting.  For very large weddings extra cutting cakes can be supplied for the kitchen, saving on the cost of extra decorated tiers on the cake.


Find your style
Look at the style of your venue. Is it a contemporary hotel, a country house, a converted barn? Choose a style of cake that suits the setting as well as your wedding theme.  Some venues suit sharp tall fondant covered cakes and others will suit rustic ‘naked’ cakes (cakes with no outer icing). Are there any distingushing features in the room that can be incorporated into the cake design?

Let’s talk money
Budget-wise, a fondant iced cake will be more expensive than a soft buttercream iced cake. Biscuit cake or fruit cake will be more expensive than madeira sponge cakes. However, biscuit or fruit cake will ‘go further’ than sponge cakes as they are richer and can be cut into smaller portions. Fruit cake is not as popular as it was some years ago and most of our couples opt for a bottom tier of chocolate biscuit and then the other tiers of various flavoured sponge cakes.

Sugar flowers, intricate icing designs and novelty shapes will add to the price as the time and skill it takes to make these has to be factored in to the cost. Fresh flowers can be used and are often a cheaper option than sugar flowers. We work with your florist so that the flowers match your bouquet or room flowers.

The distance the cake maker has to travel to the venue (& back!) and the time required to set up the cake table will also be included in the cake cost, however I would never recommend that you collect and set the cake up yourself. You definitely don’t want that added stress on your wedding day. A cake can be too easily damaged in transit and we have experience in handling delicate cakes and always carry supplies and spares in case of repair emergencies!

Cutting the cake
It’s often overlooked but please discuss with your wedding co-ordinator how you wish the cake to be handled after the cutting ceremony. Too often cakes are completely cut up and given out late in the evening, only for half the cake to end up uneaten in black bin bags!  You have paid a lot of money for that cake so you should get the most out of it. You can request that only half of each tier be portioned, or only specific tiers. You may be too busy on the wedding day to even get a taste of cake to it’s nice to to keep a piece of each tier to have for the following day or maybe keep a top tier to wrap and freeze for their first anniversary or a christening (please ask your cake maker if and how the cake can be preserved) Make sure you leave instructions on what is to be done with any toppers or flowers decorating the cake.










Lemon & Raspberry Layer Cake

| IrelandAM, Recipe

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I demonstrated this recipe on IrelandAm on Friday 7th April

This cake is good at any time but to make it a perfect Easter cake I decorated it with buttercream swirls – we call them rose ruffles – and added some fondant bunny ears.

Alternatively, you could top it with some mini chocolate eggs or chocolate bunnies, or leave it as it is and let the pretty ruffles steal the show!



360g self raising flour
360g caster sugar
360g room temperature butter

6 eggs
Zest of 1 large lemon
1 punnet fresh raspberries
Raspberry jam for filling

Buttercream Icing
800g icing sugar
400g soft butter
Vanilla extract
Food colouring (optional)


  • Preheat oven to 175C
  • Grease and line 3 x 8” sandwich tins
  • In a stand mixer, or using a hand mixer and bowl, mix the flour, sugar, butter and eggs at medium speed until well combined.
  • Add the lemon zest and mix through. Gently fold the raspberries into the mix by hand.
  • Divide the mix between the three 8″ tins and bake for approximately 25 minutes until well risen and browned.
  • When slightly cooled, remove from the tins to a wire rack to cool completely.

To make the buttercream, place the icing sugar, room temperature butter and a drop of vanilla extract into the mixer and starting at a low speed mix until combined and then slowly increase the speed and whip for 4-5 mins to create a soft creamy buttercream. Add colouring if required and mix well.

To assemble the cake, trim the top of the layers if necessary. Place the first layer on your serving plate and spread on an even layer of jam followed by a layer of buttercream. Top with the next sponge layer and repeat, placing the top layer of sponge upside down to give a flat top.

Once the cake is filled lightly coat the outside of the sponge with a thin layer of icing (crumbcoating) to seal in any loose crumbs. Place in the fridge for 10 minutes to firm up and make it easier to finish with the final layer of icing.

Fill a piping bag fitted with a star nozzle (a 1M nozzle is good) with the rest of the icing and starting from the bottom of the cake pipe large swirls in rows all over the cake.



12 baking tips for better cakes

| Bakery Life

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Baking can be a case of trial and error. I’ve had many a baking disaster in my time. With practice you will get better and here are a few basic tips and tricks to help you along.





  1. Preheat the oven. Before you start baking check the recipe for the correct oven temperature and turn on your oven.
  2. Use room temperature ingredients. Leave out eggs and butter at least 1/2 hour before starting to bake to allow them to come to room temperature. Your ingredients will combine so much easier when they are all at the same temperature.
  3. Check that baking powder is in date and still active. A simple thing to overlook, stale baking powder won’t raise your cake! You can check the freshness by mixing a teaspoon of baking powder in a couple of tablespoons of water. If it fizzes up it should be OK. Be very careful measuring baking powder – too much and the cake will rise up and fall!
  4. Use the best ingredients for the best flavour. Use real butter and free range eggs. Vanilla extract is better than vanilla essence.
  5. Use correct measuring tools. So many recipes go wrong because the ingredients haven’t been measured or weighed properly. Buy a set of measuring spoons and a kitchen scales for exact measuring. Guessing by using a spoon from your cutlery drawer is not a good idea.
  6. Line the cake tin correctly. There’s nothing as frustrating as a beautifully baked cake that won’t come out of the tin, or leaves half the cake behind when you turn it out. Use greaseproof or parchment paper to line the tin, or brush melted butter all over the inside of the tin and sprinkle in some sifted flour tapping the tin to cover all the butter and coat the tin, then tip out the excess.
  7. Use the correct size tin for the recipe. Recipes have been carefully tested so use the exact tin required. Using a smaller tin will result in a deeper cake that will need longer baking, perhaps at a lower temperature. A larger tin will result in a shallower cake that will bake more quickly and could dry out.
  8. Put the mixed cake into the oven immediately. Leaving the mixed cake to sit while waiting for the oven to heat, or putting the cake into a cold oven will affect the raising ingredients in the cake.
  9. Do not open the oven door while the cake is baking! Opening the door before the cake is set may cause the cake to collapse as the rush of cold air rapidly reduces the oven temperature.
  10. To test if the cake is baked see if the cake has come away from the sides of the tin and feels firm and should spring back when you press lightly on top. It should be an even golden brown on top. You can test the inside with a thin skewer. If it comes out clean, the cake is cooked. Please don’t stab the cake with a knife!
  11. If you want to decorate a cake for a special occasion bake the day before. Cool, then wrap in clingfilm leaving it at room temperature to rest. This will firm up the sponge so it won’t fall apart when it comes to filling and decorating. You can brush the cake layers with sugar syrup for extra moistness before decorating. (sugar syrup: place equal quantities of water and sugar in a saucepan. Bring to the boil to dissolve the sugar. Add a few drops of vanilla. Leave to cool and keep in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.)
  12. Finally, do not store a sponge cake in the fridge – unless it is a fresh cream cake. A fridge will make the cake stale quicker (the same happens to bread). Store in an airtight container at room temperature and it will be fine for 2-3 days.





Plum Cake

| IrelandAM, Recipe

plum-cakeThis is the cake I made on TV3’s IrelandAM 3/11/16

This is such an easy bake, using an all-in-one sponge mix base.

The plums can be substituted with lots of other fruits such as apples, pears, peaches, blackberries – the choice is yours!

You could throw on a combination of fruits or use well-drained tinned fruit.

This cake will taste even better the day after baking as the plum juice seeps into the sponge.


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180g plain flour

180g caster sugar

180g butter

3 eggs 

1 tsp baking powder

Drop of vanilla extract

8 plums (halved)

2 Tbsp caster sugar and 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon mixed 

Optional to finish –  melted apricot jam to glaze finished cake, or you can drizzle with an icing sugar and water icing.


Preheat oven to 180 degrees. 

Line the bottom of a 9″ springform cake tin with parchment paper and grease the sides

In a stand mixer (or use a bowl & hand mixer) combine sifted flour, baking powder, sugar, butter, eggs and a drop of vanilla extract. Mix until a smooth cake batter is formed. 

Transfer the batter into your cake tin and smooth off the top. 

Cut the plums into half and remove the stone. 

Place the plums cut side down on top of the cake batter, covering the top, or you can slice the plums and place in a spiral pattern on top

file-03-11-2016-13-32-12Sprinkle on 2 tbsp of the cinnamon sugar mix

Bake in the oven for 45-50 mins until golden brown and sponge baked all the way through. 

To give the cake a shine you can brush the top of the cake with melted apricot jam. Or you can make a thin icing with icing sugar and water and drizzle over the top. 

The cake can be served warm with custard, or leave to cool, drizzle with icing and serve with a nice dollop of whipped cream!