Help! My cake didn’t turn out like the recipe……

Have you ever made a cake and you’ve followed the recipe perfectly but it didn’t work out? It happens to the best of us but sometimes there can be very simple things that you don’t think much of that can have a big impact on how your cake or baked good turned out. I thought I’d share a few because over the years I’ve answered readers questions and comments and offered suggestions on why things haven’t turned out.

buttermilk scones

All ovens are different

We’ve lived in a few houses with different ovens but most of them have been old kitchens and old ovens. That got hot quickly. Make a note of how long things take compared to the recipe so that you can adjust the cooking time when you are baking. Keep a close eye on baked goodies when they are in the oven which will also help. This was my favourite oven, my Esse which had a few different sections to cook in. Another thing to consider is if you have a fan forced oven. You can lower the temperature slightly if you are using a fan forced oven or adjust the cooking time or opt not to use the fan while baking a cake.

Position in the oven

The best place for a cake is in the centre of your oven. In fact one of my cookbooks says to have the top of the cake in the middle of the oven for best results. Too close to the top of the oven and it will cook too quickly as the heat rises. Too low down in the oven and it’s going to take too long to bake.

One little change makes a big difference. I’m reading one of the Barefoot Contessa’s cookbooks and she talks about how you should make a recipe first and then once you’ve got it down pat then you can play around with it. Perhaps you tried something different, used a different tin, added a bit extra? All of these things can have a big impact on the end result. So make a recipe first and then play around with it but always be careful with cakes because of the right balance needed with ingredients.


Did the recipe call for self raising and you used plain? Did you use bicarb instead of baking powder? Too much bicarb makes a cake taste funny so be careful. If you want to use gluten free look for a good quality, cup for cup substitute. I also recommend leaving the cake in the tin for longer and to cool before cutting when using gluten free flours. Something else to think about is the brand of flour, not all flours are the same so I tend to stick to the same brand all the time so you can get used to the results and adjust if necessary.

christmas blondie

Cake tin size

If you use a cake tin that’s too big you’ll have a flatter cake or a thinner baked slice. I have a few round cake tins and if the batter doesn’t look that big then I’ll use the smaller 20cm tin but if it’s a lot of batter and a big cake then I’ll do bigger. A square cake tin is also wonderful for cakes, fruit cakes and slices. Well worth grabbing one. Something else to think about is if you use silicone forms. I’ve found that slices can be a bit hit or miss if I use a silicone tray so be careful. Slices that pop in the refrigerator aren’t the problem but because the sides aren’t sturdy and you can bend them you can find filling comes out so be careful especially when making slices with 2 or more layers.

Baking Paper

Out of habit I use baking paper for all of my cookies, slices and cakes. When I’ve run out then I’ll grease and then flour (tip in some flour and then tip it out once the entire inner surface is covered). But baking paper can easily be lifted out and nothing sticks. I can’t live without a roll of it in my kitchen drawer.


Temperature of your ingredients and the temperature of your kitchen can affect your baking. Check to see if your recipe says that the butter should be softened or the eggs should be cold. Little things can affect the finished product.



If you are using an american recipe then be careful with cup measurements as there is a difference between australian and american cup measures. A good online converter can be a great help if you are trying to work out the correct quantities for a recipe. I like to use traditional oven for my conversions. Using measurements in grams can be easier if you have accurate scales or a thermomix. I also have a mug that is pretty accurate that I use when a cup is required and I will never throw out that little mug as it comes in very handy. Remember to flatten off the top of flour with a knife, check measurements and check the recipe to make sure you have read the measurements correctly. Also think about egg size, has the recipe mentioned the egg size? Try to avoid the jumbo eggs in your cake recipes if you can. Save them for frittatas or your egg dishes.

apricots are on

Be careful with substitutes

When a recipe has been made it has been made with the exact ingredients mentioned and measurements. Perhaps you don’t have the right type of flour or milk or you can’t eat a particular food. Google to see if there is a good substitute but remember that you might need to adjust another quantities in the recipe and this will affect the finished product.

Well I hope that helps. I also recommend a really good book on cakes can be such a help to have in your kitchen. I love the Australian Women’s Weekly Cake books because they have great advice, tips and photos and I always find their cakes contain lots of photos to help you. It’s handy to have a good reference book in your kitchen to help you.

Happy baking!!!!!!!!

blueberry cake + lemon glaze

One of the best things about holidays is that you have more time to get into the kitchen and bake. I know it’s not everyone’s cup of tea but it’s one way I love to spend my time. I spent a lot of time in there making toast and dinners but baking a cake is much more satisfying and enjoyable…with a sweet reward at the end. I found a recipe for blueberry cake in my CWA trusty cookbook and decided to have a play with it.

I am also in the midst of 2 weekends cooking for other people. So I set aside half the cake and divided into 2 containers and froze. I’ve been making dinners to freeze for a few local families and this way have dinner and dessert sorted. Yesterday I did my pineapple fruit cake and it is also a great way to avoid eating the whole cake. Not that it really happens around here because I have helpers that finish everything off. You can find some of my favourite recipes to make for other people here.


4.0 from 1 reviews
blueberry cake + lemon glaze
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 8
What you'll need
  • 60g (1/4 cup) butter
  • 150g (3/4 cup) caster sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 lemon - zest and juice
  • 100g (1/3 cup) natural yoghurt
  • 200g (1½ cups) self raising flour
  • 1½ cups blueberries (I used frozen)
  • Lemon Glaze
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 tsp butter/margarine
  • 50g (1/4 cup) sugar
  1. Cream the butter and sugar together. Add the egg and combine. Then add in yoghurt, lemon juice, zest and gently combine. Mix in the flour and gently stir. Then add blueberries. Be careful not to break them up.
  2. Pour into a lined round cake tin (I used a 20cm tin) and bake in a preheated 180C oven for at least 40-45 minutes.
  3. When the cake is nearly finished cooking combine the lemon juice, butter and sugar and heat on a low heat until sugar is disolved. Set aside.
  4. When cake is cooked in the centre remove from the oven, pour over the glaze and serve. This would be delicious as a dessert with ice cream or cream or just as an afternoon treat.


first dress for spring/summer

You might remember last year I made this little dress. It is definitely one of the most popular in her wardrobe and so I decided to make another one. That and I wanted to work on my zipper skills. If I can avoid sewing a pattern with a zipper in it then I will but I do need to face my fears.

The pattern is Ellie Mae Designs K143 which I picked up on eBay. I made the size xs (again) and it’s a perfect fit for my little size 5/6. The fabric I used this time was from the Handmade range by Bonnie & Camille and the red spotty fabric is from another range by Bonnie & Camille.

I followed the pattern exactly but just used a shorter zip (because that’s all I had and I had a little girl busting to wear the dress today).

I hung up the dress to put on her later and then she came into the room. ‘Oh—–my—–gawd, you made it for me’. We do prefer to say ‘oh my gosh’ in this house and she was clearly excited (and has been watching a tv show with my big girls). This is someone who has come so far with her speech in her first year at school. I overheard her playing earlier in the week and she was saying ‘I sorry, I don’t love you anymore’. Not sure where she heard it but it made me laugh.

Anyway if you’re looking for a little summer dress I really think this is a great pattern as it’s not fiddly. The pockets are a big hit and it’s a great dress for wearing on any occasion. This took me 3 sessions in my sewing room (mainly because it’s so hard to get an hour in there on my own). One to cut it, one to piece bodice and skirt and then I finished the rest early one morning before most of the house got up.

when kids have other ideas

Yesterday I finally finished this quilt (I’ll do another blog post on it with all the details and the ladies who made blocks). I thought I’d use the washing line to photograph it. It’s a big quilt. So I hung it up and my littlest man decided it was put up just for him to run under.

And so he’d go back and forth under the quilt having a great time.

I finished photographing and went to take it down and that’s when he thought it was also great for squirting water on. I put an end to that fun and put the quilt away.

So it was made for 2 boys and 2 of my boys had quite a fun time playing under it.

And how good are the school holidays? I have just loved the easy mornings, one big girl cooking for me, time to get on the treadmill (more walk than jog), bacon and eggs for breakfast and doing things that we like doing. I hear that there is a big weekend of sports on this weekend and I’m already planning some girl time at the shops with my girls and some sewing time.


he’s still a big puppy!

Well my not so little puppy is about to turn 8 months old on Monday….and he’s as big as they come. We did think he’d be medium size but there’s nothing medium about him. But there’s just more of him to love. My littlest miss loves to lie on his tummy and there is plenty of room for that and he loves it. He really has a sense for people. He’s so gentle with her and my grandma. He just knows to tone it down with them.

We enjoy dog training once a week and are learning lots of new things. We don’t always listen, well he doesn’t always listen, I do. And I went from someone who said I will never get a bum bag for my dog treats but wouldn’t you know it…there I am each week with my doggy bum bag full of chicken and a bit of cheese which he likes.

We’re back to the groomers this week for another wash and tidy up and hopefully a clip all over. He came back to me last time smelling so beautiful and fluffed up like a big fluff ball.

We had to buy an XXL crate for him at night as the L one I bought he quickly outgrew. But to tell you the truth I didn’t use crate training but now have him in the crate overnight which is a great thing and he loves it. Nice and cosy in there and still big enough for him.

The kids love him. He obeys my hubby who is the boss. I’m just the one who does all the care and picks up the poo poos but he knows who his is master is. And you’ll notice he’s on his lead in this photo. That’s because it’s a run for freedom once he’s outside! He really is the perfect addition for our family.


kids cooking day

Well to celebrate the end of term we have a cooking day here today! I asked the kids what they would like to make and they settled on sushi and cake. Great for a friday night dinner. For sushi I have 2 recipes that we like to use – the first one is when I have time up my sleeve to roast the capsicum. You’ll find the recipe here.


And we have a quick sushi recipe which is our midweek – get it on the table – recipe, you’ll find it here 

And for the cake we are using one of my favourites….never lets me down…..and always so buttery.   I use white wings gluten free flour for the most perfect gluten free version. Recipe is here

apricot after

If you’re about to start school holidays then enjoy the lazy mornings and a rest from uniforms, school lunches and routine! I know we’re looking forward to some pyjama mornings around here and a break from the school run! Happy holidays……………

one term of homeschooling under our belt

Well tomorrow is the last day of term. That has gone so fast. The days and weeks have just flown by. How have we gone? Well. Pretty well I think considering I’ve had my L plates on. There have been some hard days and lots of really good days.

I started out just planning each week rather than daily but now I sit down and plan out the week and then each day. I put the day’s work on a little note card for each of the twins so they know what they need to work through.

Next term we’ll be using a set curriculum for year 3 from the US but adapt a few things like history and geography and maths. This was a big decision but I think this will reassure me that we’re getting through enough work and also provide a bit more structure for them rather than me telling them what they need to do. Fingers crossed on that one. We’re also picking up Latin which should be fun since I’ve never learnt it but I have the answer book so we can all learn together.

We’ve been to the theatre with home schoolers, done an athletics carnival, a first aid morning, attended weekday Mass twice (so much for going weekly!) and most of the time we stick to our plans.

We’ve discovered ArtVenture and art videos on youtube. We read in the car and do spelling bees as well. We have the tv off most days just to keep everyone on task, we play and we’re relaxed. One of the goals of homeschool was to take out the stress of school for one little person and we’ve succeeded. Somedays I think to myself I’m sure they would have covered more work during a school day but some days we get through so much and research things and are doing our own research projects and assignments and are working on different things. We are back to learning piano which is fun and a learning curve for me but one that they are enjoying. And we love going to the library when it’s nice and quiet and sometimes we’re the only ones there. We see our friends at parties, playdates, rugby, when we’re visiting school and making new friends at homeschool activities.

It is exhausting, I won’t lie, but it is also a great way to let your kids learn at their pace and focus on what they want to do. We don’t fight over putting on uniforms or getting out the door in the morning. Each has their own strengths and it’s great to let them work ahead of where they would be in a classroom but also take the time to sit with them and help them where they need it.

Bring on our 2nd term! Well bring on the holidays first. I’m hoping to finally get the veggie patch started.

one finished granny stripe

Well this has been my craft project for a few months now. Taking it everywhere I go – waiting for speech, watching swimming and gymnastics, kangaroo valley, the school run. You name it this blanket has been there. It’s taken me a while too even though it’s cot size. So I’m just glad it’s finished as it does feel like it’s been the never-ending blanket.

I used mostly Bendigo 8 ply with the exception of the dark grey which is from Adagio and is the softest of the yarns in the blanket. But after I did the first set of colours I realised it might be a bit too dark for the blanket so I left it out until the last repeat of colours. I did have a few trips to spotlight to match up some cream and dusty pink but apart from that everything was from the stash.

I used the pattern instructions here for a smaller size (I think someone put it on ravelry for cot size) and the edging I just love. Weaving in 50 million ends I did not love but I knew the end was in sight so I did 2 big long sessions on the couch with a needle and scissors. I haven’t blocked this yet but might just do a little bit of blocking to get the corners to sit flat.

I’m so happy with how it turned out and also happy that I can start other projects and get back to some quilt projects too. With all my good intentions this was to go to the family BEFORE the baby was born but the sweet little girl is here now and I need to get this off in the post ASAP!

If you follow me on Instagram then you’ll know I’ve been sharing progress shots and I’ve also got a video on there of how I crochet. Thanks to my girls who filmed it for me one day at swimming.

one pink frilly apron

I had to fight the girls off for this one. A pink and frilly apron that I made for myself because my favourite Cath Kidston apron is getting a bit old and stained these days. I think it’s about 12 years old so it’s gone the distance as far as aprons go.

This one is nice and easy with no pattern pieces to cut just rectangles of fabric and lots of gathering. You can find the instructions here. And if you’re in the mood for creating your own apron find out the details of the Create a Pink Apron competition for the Pink Ribbon Breakfast here. Entries close 21st September so there is still time to get cracking.

chocolate peanut butter brownies

Bakers Corner sent me a big box of chocolate recently and we had a lot of fun baking with it. OK some of it didn’t make it into baked goods because it was just too good to eat. And I’m a big chocoholic.

But I did use some in my favourite brownie recipe. Chocolate Peanut Butter Brownies. These are super fudgy and delicious. I know that you can find all sorts of brownie recipes these days but this is still my failproof never let me down brownie recipe that I’ve been making before I got married and had my family.

You’ll need 200g dark chocolate. We used a bag Nestle Bakers Choice Melts and it meant no breaking up of chocolate. For quality control purposes we did eat 3 buttons from the bag before adding to the saucepan

Add in 100g cubed unsalted butter and melt together. I did this in a small saucepan over a saucepan of boiling water. You can also melt it in a microwave safe bowl for 2 1/2 minutes on medium and stir it a few times in between.

Add in 1 cup of caster sugar and mix well. Add in 2 -3 generous scoops of peanut butter (crunchy or smooth) and mix well. Add in 2 eggs and stir gently. Then add in 2/3 cup sifted self raising flour. Gently fold the flour through making sure it’s all mixed in. Pour into a lined square/lamington tin. Baking a preheated 180C degree oven for about 20-25 minutes.

Leave to cool completely in the tin. Lift out of the tray by the paper and then slice with a clean knife.

Enjoy. You can find lots of chocolate creations or create and share your own with #bakerscorner #bakeityours

another beautiful weekend in kangaroo valley

You might remember we visited Kangaroo Valley last year and thanks to the kind owner we were back there again. The week leading up to the weekend was something out of ‘Alexander and the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day’ ….we had a nasty gastro bug go through most of us and I missed out on a big choir performance for my big girl, tonsilitis and antibiotics for one, last minute dog dramas on the morning we were supposed to leave (and someone’s birthday), I smashed my phone twice in the one day, dropped an iPad out the car door, behaviour went out the window, moods were tense, someone arrived with no shoes, someone else tipped a whole box of jatz and a bag of chips all over the back seat, I broke 2 glasses…it was just like what could go wrong went wrong. I lay awake on Friday thinking why is everything just going out the window this week?

But by Sunday night I was happy and relaxed and we had enjoyed a beautiful weekend. I won’t say relaxing because there is nothing relaxing about taking children away. I always find it amusing to look at other families away from home and see that we are all dealing with the same things. Fighting siblings, someone who didn’t want to leave the house, someone who is hungry/thirsty/needs a toilet/bored/wants the iPad charged and so on.

This time around we decided to explore Berrima ….well after we’d been to Target for a quick trip to pick up a pair of shoes for the boy who came away with none (he had to wear his sister’s trainers into the shop). We did a walk of the area, the Berrima District Museum was fascinating and I enjoyed getting a book which finally put some answers to where our family started life in Australia and where they actually lived. The kids loved the exhibits and it’s only $5 entry for adults and free entry for children. The kids get a fun sheet to fill in which makes them really look at the exhibits and read about them. The war exhibition has iPads and you can search through and find records if you have an ancestor who was in the area and went to war. We were able to find one of ours and his photo and original war records. And afterwards we even managed to drive past the house where most of the family who lived in the area were born and lived. That was so great for me. I go through stages where I fill in more of my family tree on ancestry and am grateful to the certain members of my family who have researched and worked so hard to complete the family trees before me. Even just in the last year or so I’ve discovered trove and have added some newspaper clippings and interesting facts.

We enjoyed a delicious pub lunch at the Surveyor Inn. My big girl ended up sitting just under a picture of Ben Hall the bushranger she had just submitted an assignment on the day before. The food was great and it was so warm and cosy when it was cold and raining outside. No time for the Berrima Patchwork store with 6 little ones in tow but I did manage to find time for the Brown Shutter store which is a treasure trove. I came home with a few little goodies and must visit again. My time was limited with a few ‘helpers’ in the store and waiting outside. So many things in the shop, so little time (and money!).

Saturday night we headed to Bistro 146 for a family night out. Everyone had their best behaviour, the kids meals were a hit, I realised I’m such a stickler for tradition and ordered the barramundi for my main and creme brulee for dessert. It’s what I always seem to order if we eat out at a restaurant. The service was so warm and friendly and the open fire and food was a big hit. It was fully booked the night we went so make sure you book.

Sunday morning we cleaned, well I cleaned and the kids sat in the one spot trying not to make a mess, move a cushion or rug.

We had to visit the fudge shop for some gifts and a lolly for the ride home. Last minute lunch stop (McDonalds at Mittagong with plenty of other travellers) and an easy drive home.

I just love the peace and quiet of kangaroo valley. The air just smells so fresh, the history is wonderful and the people so friendly. Sure it gets busy with people on the weekend but when you are staying you can really just slow down and enjoy the slower pace. I read some books, did some crochet, kept little people clean and fed and got back home with a refreshed attitude (very important) and we were the first ones at school Monday morning (a great improvement from being late at my 2nd drop off lately).

If you haven’t been make sure you get down there. Hampden House is a very special house and every little bit of it is full of history. I love all the little knick knacks and finishing touches. Karen made the most beautiful Victoria sponge and we enjoyed it with a beautiful bottle of champagne (who doesn’t love champagne and cake). And she leaves you with a box of chocolates. There is also a great DVD and VCR collection. Oh yes my kids loved watching Mary Poppins and the ‘old’ ads before the movie on the VCR. Kids these days.

The garden kept them busy (under watchful eyes) and the flowers including the magnolias are so beautiful you just want to whip your camera out

All in all a beautiful weekend despite the dramas beforehand and a very big thank you to Karen the owner for having us back. Lots of happy memories made.



Losing myself in the 1800’s

I don’t watch a lot of TV, not even the news or current affairs anymore and it’s been a long while since I’ve fallen in love with a series. I think Big Love is the last one. Anyway, I was reading this book and Sally recommends watching Lark Rise to Candleford. One episode in and I was hooked. It just draws you in with the wonderful characters and story lines. Even the bigger kids of the house were hooked and looking forward to the next episodes. I ended up buying the DVD pack and managed to get my grandma through all of season 1 in one weekend.

Then I was on instagram and someone mentioned North & South on Netflix. In the space of 2 nights I watched all 4 episodes and was crying and oh so happy at the ending. Another beautiful mini series that just draws you in. North & South is also a history lesson as it takes you to the fictional town of Milton and the cotton mills. I found myself worrying about the starving children and whether the two main characters were finally going to fall in love.

What’s your favourite period drama right now? It can be a bit hard to find them on the Apple tv and I found Lark Rise on iTunes TV shows (until I realised it would be more economical to buy the complete DVD set) and North & South on Netflix and youtube here. I think next on my list is Cranford which also looks good……………

image source and video content property of BBC

entrechat shrug

You might remember I did a review of this book as soon as it arrived. I had been wanting to make this pattern before I had the book and it’s been in my favourites on ravelry for a while. I needed to make something quick and cute for a baby and decided this was the perfect project. I made the size 1 since it will be best worn in warmer weather. The pattern is knit in 1 piece, always a winner with me. And the decorative stitches are super easy to do.

You could probably whip this up in a couple of days but it took me about 3 weeks with a few rows here and there.

I love that you finish the shrug, weave in your ends, add the button and you are done. You should block this but this is how it looks unblocked and it’s come up beautifully. I used Bendigo Luxury in 10 ply in baby blossom and the button was from the button stash (purchased at Spotlight).

The mum is a new sewer so I think a stack of some pretty fabrics to make for a little girl will finish this present off perfectly. Ravelry details are here. You can find the pattern in the book and also on ravelry here to purchase. I loved it so much I’m thinking a 3 month size will be next on the needles. Well once I’ve finished crocheting grandma’s scarf and a baby blanket that I also am doing. So many projects, so little time……….you know how it goes.

magnolias and nearly 2 weeks of homeschool done

How beautiful are the magnolias at the moment. We had a big old tree at the front of our old house that I loved so much and then was thrilled to find not one but two trees here at the new house. Mind you they aren’t as big and the one in the front yard has much smaller flowers but I still love it.

We’ve made it through nearly 2 weeks of homeschooling. Everyone has been asking or messaging to check out how we’ve been going and I’m always happy to report it’s going well. Mornings are more relaxed, we are getting through our work, someone is trying to cover a wall in her artworks and doing a wonderful job of recreating Van Gogh masterpieces. You are able to see where their strengths really lie, the twin bond is even closer and we are having fun. Sometimes I get them to make quizzes for the other person and they have a bit of fun with that trying to make the hardest questions. We use car time for reading, ipads and Q&A on countries and capital cities.  

This week we’ve been reading Mr Popper’s Penguins and Bedknobs and Broomsticks (my copy from primary school which is looking a little old and yellow but I loved that book so much). In Maths we are doing lots of sums and learning to carry over the 1 into the next column, art has been focused on Van Gogh and we are researching a country each for a little geography assignment. No surprise that our rugby  mad boy picked England. No homework is a real bonus for everyone and the little kids love having kids to play with them. I definitely have one super conscientious one and one who needs a bit more encouragement to put the footy down for a while.  Our aim is to hit the year 3 work by term 4  and they are pretty excited about that. It is a learning curve trying to pick the best materials when you start out because you’re not quite sure what will work. We are actually rotating between 4 maths books and my favourite is now the american one which at first I didn’t like and had regretted buying. Go figure! 

But you definitely feel more confident once you’ve started if that reassures anyone out there who is too nervous to start homeschooling. The nerves and worry kind of go away once you get stuck in.

quilted potholder

I loved putting this little project together because I had some mini charm squares. If you haven’t used mini charm squares yet then they really are cute. What I love about this project is that you make it with right sides together and then turn out. It saves you needing binding and is still fun to quilt on your machine.

Find all the instructions and step by step photos here