5 Sweet Bakes for Mother's Day

Happy Mother’s Day!
Cakes and Bakes for Mother's Day - The Cardiff Cwtch - Pineapple Tray Bake

As with most things right now, it feels like Mother’s Day is on hold – indefinitely. And since it’s usually accompanied by lots of blossom on the trees and those first couple of warm, sunny days – it also kind of feels like Spring itself is on hold for the time being too. My Mum sent a little message on our family whatsapp group the other day telling me and my brother to forget about cards and presents this year – that she’d much rather see us anyway, but can’t. She and my Dad went into isolation on Monday – since they’re both in their sixties (sorry Mum, but the jig is up!) and I’m honestly not sure when we’re all going to be able to crowd around a table together again. It’s all so sad and uncertain – but necessary, of course. I’ll still get to see her from the street, I guess! Plus, I think we’re planning on having a family Facetime on Sunday evening so we can all watch Race Across the World together (have you been watching it? I want the Mum and son team to win!).

Anyway, the good thing is that for a lot of us the enforced isolation doesn’t mean separation from our family – but a hell of a lot more time spent together! So, even if you’re Mum’s already driving you mental from all the extra time spent together – here are five sweet bakes to surprise her with this Mother’s Day. 💛

Cakes and Bakes for Mother's Day - The Cardiff Cwtch - Pineapple Flowers

Pineapple and Coconut Traybake

Quite possibly one of my favourite bakes ever, this Pineapple and Coconut Tray-bake is minimum effort, maximum impact – and tastes lovely too. The pineapple cake looks nothing special when it comes out of the oven, but gets a serious glow-up with a thick layer of creamy, coconut frosting, and yellow flowers made from dried coconut rounds.

I’ve even got a video of me making this cake (and Bungle scoffing half of the pineapple used to make it…) over on my IGTV.

Cakes and Bakes for Mother's Day - The Cardiff Cwtch - Chocolate Brownies Extra Gooey

Perfectly Gooey Chocolate Brownies

Who can resist a plated pyramid of Perfectly Gooey, Chocolate Brownies as big as Duplo Blocks? Not I. There are a tonne of chocolate brownie recipes out there – and I’ve tried a fair few myself – but this is my go-to. If you like your brownie with a slightly molten middle, then this is the one for you and yo momma.

Cakes and Bakes for Mother's Day - The Cardiff Cwtch - Lemon and Rose Drizzle Cake

Lemon and Rose Drizzle Cake

Everyone loves a good lemon drizzle cake; they’re a guaranteed crowd-pleaser and they’re pretty difficult to cock up. This Lemon and Rose Drizzle Cake gets a slight floral pick-me-up from some dried rose petals. The rose takes the slight bite out of the lemon – so if you’re a fan of a drizzle cake on the sweet side rather than the sour side, then this one’s for you.

Cakes and Bakes for Mother's Day - The Cardiff Cwtch - Coffe, Maple and Walnut Cake

Coffee, Maple and Walnut Cake

Yep, that’s a Father’s Day card in the shot – but this Coffee, Maple and Walnut Cake is perfect for Mums too. A hefty glug of maple syrup and some brown sugar gives it a slightly sweeter, vanilla latte kind of taste.

Cakes and Bakes for Mother's Day - The Cardiff Cwtch - Strawberry Picnic Cake

Strawberry Picnic Cake

Another one of my favourite easy bakes – this Strawberry Picnic Traybake divides up perfectly into sweet, snack-sized pink cakes. Perfect to share out between the family with a blob of whipped cream and tea and coffee after a bang-up Mother’s Day Roast. 🙂

Happy Mother’s Day to all the amazing Mums, soon-to-be Mums and should-be Mums out there, but most of all to my lovely mama. Stay safe everyone x

My Spring Makeup Picks

Everything I’m putting on my face now that winter’s out of the way…
Spring Makeup - The Cardiff Cwtch - Welsh Beauty Bloggers

Just when I was starting to get that spring feeling – y’know, that, “I can’t wait to hang up my winter coat, ditch the boots and get out and about” kind of feeling (also, the “I should probably think about shaving my legs” kind of feeling…) – the country goes into bloody lock-down. I mean, typical, right? And while I’m absolutely all for holing up indoors for a while in the interest of my own health and that of those around me… I’m really bummed out that I’m not going to be able to do all the things that pull me out of hibernation and cheer me up this time of year. Instead there’s just this weird vibe in the air that things are about to change for the worse for a while, but it’s hard to tell exactly how much worse, when and for how long. I don’t like it.

Anyway, before things went a little bit mental and everyone started going to ground with fifty packs of bog roll, I had a little shake-up of my makeup bag. Anticipating warmer weather and more time spent outdoors on the horizon (ha ha), I decided to switch out a few products and repurchase some old favourites ahead of spring.

Bobbi Brown Vitamin Enriched Face Base Review - The Cardiff Cwtch - Welsh Beauty Bloggers

Bobbi Brown Vitamin Enriched Face Base

I cannot overemphasize my love for this stuff (and you’ve already heard me gushing about it in my Best of The Decade Beauty Post). It’s just a beautiful product, from the delicate citrus scent (such a delight to smooth onto my face in the morning) to its soft, slightly moose-like texture. A small amount on the tip of my finger goes a helluva long way, and it does exactly what it says on the tin jar. It’s an added moisture boost for tired and dry skin (adding a non-greasy glow), and works beautifully as a primer for makeup. Because of the added moisture and vitamin boost, it’s absolutely perfect for winter – but I also love the summery glow it gives so it’s a banger for this time of year too. TOP PRODUCT, what can I say?

IT Cosmetics CC Cream – “Fair”

Another heavy hitter from winter right through to summer is this baby. I made the switch over from Bourjois’ Healthy Mix Foundation to the IT Cosmetics CC Cream around this time last year and I haven’t looked back. It’s just as good as everyone harps on about because it does so much – from the added hydration (I go for the illuminating foundation rather than the matte because I’m all about that glow) and Factor 50 protection, and that’s before you even take into account how hard it hits as a basic foundation. It does a brilliant job of evening out my slightly red skin and smooths over any breakouts – but still allows your own skin to shine through. Oh, and it lasts.

Glossier Cloud Paint Dusk Review - The Cardiff Cwtch - Welsh Beauty Bloggers

Glossier Stretch Concealer – “G12”

I’m not that big a fan of concealer – I’d rather my foundation do all the heavy lifting – but I recently picked up Glossier’s Stretch Concealer for those baggy-eye breakout days. I love it because it doesn’t have that thick, cakey texture that a lot of concealers tend to have. It’s light, it doesn’t dry out my skin and it’s easily build-able depending on how bad the breakout is. I’m not a hundred percent sure whether it’s got any real sticking power – I haven’t really road-tested it on a long day of wear yet – but it’s a good natural, barely there concealer if you’re not a fan of the industrial strength stuff. Great for warmer weather.

Glossier Cloud Paint – “Dusk”

I recently came to the conclusion that I hate powder blush – and not just for the summer, but all year round. It dries out my skin, and trying to find a good shade to create a natural flush seems impossible. I recently gave Glossier’s Cloud Paint a go for the first time (after buying into all the hype) and oh lordy, I’m converted. You barely need any of the stuff to create a soft, natural-looking flush and the shades seem to work well on all skin tones. Having stuck with the shade “Puff” for a while, I fancied trying something a little darker for spring/summer and a little less pink and so I went for “Dusk” and I absolutely love it. Not only does it work well as a blush, but I’ve also used it as more of a bronzer too.

Bourjois Rouge Edition Velvet Review - The Cardiff Cwtch - Welsh Beauty Bloggers

Bourjois Rouge Velvet – “So Hap’Pink”

I might have moved on from my old favourite Bourjois Foundation, but I’m still absolutely gutted that the brand is leaving UK. I’ve struggled to find non-drying matte lipsticks in the past, and the Bourjois Rouge Velvet range has really become my go-to. They’re so beautifully pigmented, they last for ages (but don’t require hard scrubbing to remove!) and – most importantly – they don’t dry out my lips. While everyone was panic-buying hand-sanitzer a couple of weeks ago, I was hightailing it down to Boots to fill my basket with as many Bourjois Rouge Velvet shades as I could get my hands on before they’re gone. “So Hap’Pink” is my new go-to spring lip colour. It’s a bold, rosy pink for cooler skin tones and I love it.

Spring Makeup Picks - The Cardiff Cwtch - Welsh Beauty Bloggers

Have a lovely week whatever you’re up to! And let me know what your favourite Spring Makeup Picks are! 🙂

*This post contains affiliate links; to find out more about what that means and to read my disclaimer, click here.

French Crêpes with Boozy Peach Syrup

Happy Pancake Day!

I was having a chat with my Mum and Dad the other day about our holidays to France when I was a kid (bear with me, things are about to get a little overbearingly Proustian…). I spent most of my childhood summers in the nineties on a Eurocamp Campsite in the woods and (nudie) beach near La Palmyre, where I probably ate the best food of my whole life. We had croissants, bread and jam for breakfast outside the caravan every morning, scoffed “chichi” and “mascot” (*shrugs* I dunno, they were a bit like churros and doughnut sandwiches) bought from the (clothed) vendors strolling up and down the beach, ate “poulet avec frites” (rotisserie chicken and chips) for dinner that my Dad used to pick up from the camp takeaway joint every night, and then – big treat! – we all walked down to the on site bar and crêperie for sugary crêpes and Orangina for a very late afters (how I didn’t have a mouth full of metal fillings by the time I was 15, I have no idea). Oh, and then there were a couple of really special trips into Royan to pick up a paper bag full of fresh macaroons (not macarons!) from the local outdoor market. None of it was anything particularly special or unique – it was all just simple, fresh food done really, really well. And there’s probably not a day that goes by that I don’t think about it… and drool about it.

Anyway, I was complaining about peaches other day – and how it’s really difficult to get a good one here in the UK. In France I remember picking up ones from the market that were practically the size of my head when I was a kid, and that were so juicy that most of it would be running down your arm and spilling in your lap as you ate it. It just seems impossible to find that kind of quality produce here in the UK, and it made me a little sad and nostalgic for those holidays – and the food – from my childhood. And so I made pancakes… which should probably be the solution to all of life’s problems.

These Crêpes are wafer thin with a perfectly crispy, frilly edge and would be absolutely delicious topped with just about anything, but as I said, I was feeling a bit nostalgic and so I whipped up a boozy peach syrup to go with mine. They’re a little bit like Crêpes Suzette, but not quite. 🙂

French Crepes with Boozy Peach Syrup

Ingredients

For the Crêpes:

  • 150g plain flour
  • 200ml milk
  • 2 eggs, whisked
  • 30g melted butter

For the Boozy Peach Syrup:

  • 3 peaches
  • 150ml cold water
  • 100g butter
  • 50g caster sugar
  • zest of one lemon
  • 50ml alcohol of your choice (I used schnapps).
  • Top with a handful of flaked almonds

 

Method
  1. First, chop the peaches and then finely blitz in a food processor with the cold water. Sieve the peach juice through a muslin cloth to remove any lumps and bumps.
  2. Grab a saucepan and then bring the peach juice to the boil with the butter, sugar and lemon zest. Turn down the heat and gently simmer for about 20 minutes until the everything is reduced to a syrup.
  3. Whip up the Crêpes: whisk together the flour, milk, eggs and melted butter until you get a smooth batter without lumps. Fry each Crêpe in a little melted butter on a high heat for about a minute on both sides, and then serve up drizzled in peach syrup.

Dydd Crempog Hapus! Happy Pancake Day! 💛💛💛

Birthday Brownies

….or, y’know, a Wednesday. I won’t tell.
Best Ever Chocolate Brownies - The Cardiff Cwtch

Happy Friday! And Happy Birthday to my (not so little) brother, who’s turning 31 tomorrow (…and then it’s my birthday on Sunday, but I’m not going to mention how old I’ll be turning… yeesh). He’s a big fan of the chocolate brownie in all it’s glory and so naturally, I had to bake him some to celebrate. Trouble is, until recently I was yet to find my holy grail brownie recipe. You know, one that’s both basic and brilliant enough to pull out of your sleeve when you need it most (you know, “bring a cake” coffee mornings, bake sales, Wednesdays…) – one that doesn’t require any fancy ingredients, just the stuff that you’ve got stashed in your kitchen cupboard. Slightly crisp around the edges, but deliciously gooey in the middle. Perfecto.

A couple of weeks ago, Sunny came back from work with a rough print out of a chocolate brownie recipe that been pinging around the office via email which claimed to make the best ever brownies. I mean, you can trawl the internet for hours searching through millions of recipes claiming to make the best ever brownies, or sift through cook books – but, the truth is, I’m far more likely to pay attention to recipes on scraps of paper that are passed from person to person. Those kind of recipes are gold dust. And so, I gave it a go one Sunday and by ‘eck, they’re good. And adaptable – which is exactly the kind of basic and brilliant recipe I love. One that I can fiddle around with to my heart’s content; throw in any filling or flavours I fancy, and top with whatever I like – which on this occasion was plenty of extra chocolate, toasted marshmallows, honeycomb and some birthday sprinkles. 🙂

Birthday Brownies - The Cardiff Cwtch

Birthday Brownies

Super chocolaty, and with aaaaaall the trimmings.
Ingredients
  • 200g butter
  • 200g milk dark chocolate
  • 140g plain flour
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 tbsp baking powder
  • 50g chocolate chips
  • 50g marshmallows
  • Honeycomb pieces (I found mine in Tesco)
  • Rainbow sprinkles
Best Ever Chocolate Brownie Recipe - The Cardiff Cwtch
Method
  1. First off, turn on your oven and set it to 180°C, and grease and line a deep baking tin.
  2. Break up your chocolate and pop it into a microwavable mixing bowl, along with the butter. Melt them together in the microwave for about a minute and a half. Stir to combine, and then leave to cool for a couple of minutes.
  3. In another bowl, whisk together the eggs and caster sugar. Slowly pour the egg mix into the melted butter and chocolate mix, stirring as you go.
  4. Sift together the flour and baking powder, and then add to the rest of the mix – stirring until everything is smooth and mixed together.
  5. Pour the mix into the tin, and then bake in the oven for 25 minutes. When it comes out, it should have slight cracks around the edge and might have a bit of a wobble in the middle (…am I describing myself here?) – that’s fine, it’s cooked – it just needs a couple of hours in the tin to cool and set.
  6. Sprinkle with chocolate chips, honeycomb, marshmallow and sprinkles – using a blowtorch to singe the marshmallows.
  7. Store it in a tin, and NOT in the fridge.
Crisp and gooey chocolate chip brownies - The Cardiff Cwtch

Have a great weekend everyone – and happy birthday to my baby brother! 🙂

Basic (but banging) Birthday Cake with Buttercream Icing

A moist but structured white sponge cake, and the creamiest buttercream you’ll ever make…
Basic, Plain Birthday Cake with the best ever buttercream icing

Full disclosure; today’s post was supposed to be a recipe for some very Bonfire Night appropriate Smores Brownies (*sigh* they were going to be so good! If you’re looking for some Bonfire Bakes then check out this post…). But, the truth is that Mercury Retrograde found me, and last weekend everything mysteriously went a bit Pete Tong. Now, I’m not really someone who really believes in all that astrology stuff (although, when NASA announced that all the star signs were off and that I was actually a Libra instead of a Scorpio, I was understandably outraged), but on Friday it was like some cosmic switch got flicked and everything suddenly and inexplicably went tits up. I just felt a bit off and then I started making these really stupid mistakes all over the place. I managed to cut my finger and split my nail whilst grating a carrot of all things, my steam mop – out of nowhere – gave up the ghost just when I desperately needed to use it (muddy paw prints, everywhere!), I gave my lounge wall a bruising Glasgow Kiss when I bent over to pick something up, and I even managed to cock up not one, but two very simple bakes when I made a really stupid mathematical error in dividing down quantities. Ugh! What the hell had happened?Desperate to find something to blame my sudden inability to count and to function as a normal human being on, I rolled my eyes as I actually googled the words “Is Mercury in Retrograde?”, and ended up feeling a bit freaked out when – surprise! – it was. It had literally shifted on Thursday night. Spooky, no?

Anyway, thankfully one bake did work out this weekend – and that was Sunny’s birthday cake (on the second attempt…). My husband turned a ripe old age over the weekend, and I always make him a birthday cake (even when he protests), but this year I didn’t really have the time or the ingredients to pull anything particularly fancy out of the bag. So, instead, I pulled out my tried, tested and true recipe for plain old white cake with buttercream frosting. Yes, it’s basic – but sometimes that’s exactly what you need when making a birthday cake. You want a sponge that’s moist and easy to bake, but still has structure to it so you can slice it and stack it and mold it into whatever shape you need it to take. You want a simple but delicious flavour that’s going to suit everyone, and isn’t going to be too sweet once you’ve decorated it. And as for the buttercream, it needs to be thick, it needs to be creamy, it needs to hold its shape and it needs to be sweet – but not sickly. And this is the recipe I reach for when I need a cake that’s all of the above. Basic, but banging. And reliable! …Except for when Mercury moves into Retrograde, apparently… *eye roll*

Plain Birthday Cake with Creamy Buttercream Frosting

Basic (but banging) Birthday Cake with Buttercream Icing

Tried, Tested and True, and your Brand New Birthday Go-To…
Ingredients
  • 175g softened, salted butter
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 3 large eggs, beaten
  • 225g self raising flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 125ml buttermilk
For the Buttercream
  • 250g softened, salted butter
  • 500g icing sugar
  • 100ml double cream

*This should make enough to both sandwich and cover the cake. Make sure you use salted butter – that’s very important!

Method
  1. Set your oven to 180°C and grease a deep, loose-bottomed cake tin (I like to use one with a 15cm diameter for a doorstop slice, without the excess).
  2. In a mixing bowl, cream together your butter and sugar until you get lovely, whipped and creamy mix – the more elbow grease (or electricity if you’re using an electric mixer!) you put in at this stage, the fluffier your cake is going to be.
  3. Pour in the beaten eggs – gradually mixing everything together – then sift in half of the flour.
  4. Next mix in the buttermilk, and then follow it with the last of the flour and finally the baking powder to make a smooth batter.
  5. Bake the cake for about 40 minutes, or until an inserted skewer comes out clean. Leave to cool.
  6. Once the cake has cooled, slice it in half as evenly as you can. Sandwich with a layer of raspberry jam and buttercream, then cover with a smooth, even layer of buttercream – building it up gradually. Decorate with rainbow sprinkles. 🙂

Have a great week everyone! 🙂