Squirrel Cake.

  • By Stacey Smith
  • 05 Dec, 2016

Chocolate and ginger cake with coconut buttercream and ginger biscuit squirrels. 

I thought writing a food blog would be pretty straight forward. I imagined myself whipping up marvelous cakes and gooey brownies in one hand and typing up my blog with the other – done and dusted with in a day!

However there’s one little thing that I forgot to take into account...LIFE! Daily life...shopping, cooking, cleaning and washing, decorating an entire house, not to mention Christmas which I haven’t even started shopping for yet!!!

Which makes me wonder, how the hell everyone else does it! I follow many bloggers who seem to have just as busy lives as me, I work part time, you would think that would give me an advantage! In their photogenic kitchens, good enough for any lifestyle magazine, they whip up marvelous creations whilst juggling their own lives, that probably include most of the above and have little ones running around their ankles, and still they manage to find the time to take perfect pictures, effortlessly thrown together with vintage tea towels and crockery....and I bet they’ve done all their Christmas shopping too.

How do they do it!!

For me, preparing a blog takes a lot of thought, lots and lists and planning, especially with a slightly shabby kitchen. (I can’t wait to get my hands on it!) It has hardly any surface or storage space, the tiles are the same as the ones in the bathroom (can’t wait to tackle that either) my cake and bun tins are over flowing out of a plastic box on the floor, along with my food processor, ice cream maker and china! Taking pretty foodie pictures whilst trying to avoid the messy chaos of a house being decorated isn’t easy either.

What I didn’t take in to consideration is practice. I have been quite lucky up until now where I have been happy enough with recipes first time round and been able to post them fairly quickly.

Enjoying a slice at the Trapps fam Bonfire Night!

However, this squirrel cake has taken 3 attempts and has evolved each time, from using chocolate ganache to Swiss meringue buttercream, from dry sponges and burnt biscuits to what it is now. Ginger squirrels hunting for nuts, hidden in a bed of coconut butter cream snow that hides a warming chocolate and ginger sponge underneath. Ideally eaten snuggled up on the sofa with a cup of hot chocolate in front of the fire or tv...or better yet both!

Although this bake has taken a lot of time, effort and delayed me writing this blog post, I really enjoyed the process. It was also a learning curve, firstly I learnt how to make Swiss meringue butter cream...well almost, and secondly I curdled my butter cream and discovered that it can be saved, and lastly that the next time I plan my blog, I need to take the time practicing my bakes and cakes into consideration.

Chocolate and Ginger Squirrel Cake. 
One for all of you who aren't a fan of traditional Christmas cake, this snowy delight is a perfect alternative just for you!

For the Gingernut Squirrel Biscuits   (Recipe from "The Little Loaf")
This will make more than you need, so you can stamp out more using a regular cookie cutter and save them for later.  
You will Need: 
Squirrel and acorn cookie cutter (I got mine from "The White Stuff")
175g plain white flour
175g wholemeal flour
2 1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 ground cinnamon
1/4 allspice
grating of nutmeg
pinch of salt
100g unsalted butter, fridge cold and cubed
90g soft brown sugar
75g golden caster sugar
1 egg
2 tbsp golden syrup
2 tbsp black treacle
2 cm piece of fresh ginger, finely grated. 
To decorate your squirrels.
50g dark chocolate
50g white chocolate
50g desiccated coconut
small handful of hazelnuts, finely chopped 

Pre-heat the oven to 180C/gas mark 4 
  • In a large bowl mix the flours, spices and salt together.
  • Add the butter and rub between your fingers until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs and then stir in the sugars.
  • In another bowl, mix together the egg, syrup, treacle and grated ginger and add it to the dry mixture. 
  • Knead until the mixtures becomes a smooth dough. 
  • Roll out the dough onto a lightly floured surface to about 5mm thick.
  • Stamp out your squirrels and acorns and place them on a baking tray.
Note: At this point you can add a bit of definition to your squirrels by dotting eyes and adding texture to their tails using a toothpick or a sprinkle of demerara sugar.

  • Pop them in the oven for 10 - 15 minutes or until lightly golden.
  • Once baked let them cool slightly on the tray before moving them on to a wire rack to cool completely.  
  • To decorate your squirrels, melt the white and dark chocolate separately, in a bowl over a pan of simmering water on a low heat. 
  • Once melted remove from the heat  and dip your squirrel's tails in to the chocolate and sprinkle with desiccated coconut or hazelnuts - I did a mixture of both. 
  • Set to one side and allow the chocolate to cool completely.

Chocolate and Ginger Cake   (Recipe adapted from BBC Good Food, Black Forest Gateau)
Makes a 20cm, 3 layer cake. 
175g unsalted butter
200g 70% dark chocolate
2 cm piece fresh ginger, grated
300g plain white flour
25g cocoa powder
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 1/2 ground ginger
1/2 ground cinnamon
1/4 allspice
grating of nutmeg
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
200g natural yogurt
Grease and line 3 20cm cake tin
Pre-heat the oven to 180c/gas mark 4
  • In a large bowl, mix the flour, cocoa powder, spices and bicarb together.
  • In a bowl over a pan of simmering water over a low heat, melt the butter and chocolate together, stir in the grated ginger and a pinch of salt. Once melted set the bowl aside to allow to cool slightly. 
  • In another bowl, whisk the eggs, yogurt and vanilla, add the chocolate mixture and whisk again until well combined. 
  • Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and with an electric whisk, whisk all the ingredients together until smooth and lump free. 
  • Divide the mixture between the 3 cake tins and bake in the over for 25 - 30 minutes. 
  • Once baked, leave to cool in the tins for about 10 minutes before turning them out and leaving to cool completely on wire racks.

For the chocolate and ginger buttercream
300g Icing sugar
150g unsalted butter, softened
2 1/2 ground ginger
1/2 cinnamon
3 tbsp milk

  • With an electric whisk, whisk the butter until soft.
  • Whilst whisking, gradually add the icing sugar until well combined.
  • Add the cocoa powder and spices and whisk until its light and fluffy.
  • If the buttercream is a little stiff, add a the milk a tablespoon at a time until its the right consistency. 
For the coconut buttercream
300g Icing sugar
150g unsalted butter, softened
75g coconut milk
  • With an electric whisk, whisk the butter until soft. 
  • Whilst whisking, gradually add the icing sugar until well combined.
  • Add the coconut milk and whisk until light and fluffy. 
To assemble  
  • Dollop a smidge of buttercream onto your cake stand and place one of the sponges on top, flat side up.
  • Take half of the chocolate and ginger buttercream (or not as much if you wish) and spread evenly over the top of the sponge. 
  • Place the second sponge on top of that, flat side up and spread the rest of the buttercream (or as little as you wan) over the top and place the last sponge on top, again flat side up. 
  • Before covering the cake completely with coconut buttercream, you need to crumb it first. To do this, take some of the coconut buttercream and coat the top and sides of the cake until you have a naked cake effect. 
  • Pop the crumbed cake in the fridge for about an hour. 
  • After an hour, take the cake out of the fridge and spread the the remaining coconut butter over the top and sides. As its supposed to look like snow it doesn't have to be too neat. 
  • Finally to decorate, sprinkle the cake all over with desiccated coconut and place the gingernut squirrels and acorns on top however you wish, and finish with a scattering of hazelnuts. 

I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. 

So called after my love of raspberries and rabbits...but not in the crazy kind of way I don’t actually own a rabbit. To me raspberries and rabbits are so quintessentially British.....
Please click on my picture to find out more About Me!


By Stacey Smith 15 May, 2017

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To brighten up this grey and wet Monday I thought I would bring spring back with a long overdue blog post, showcasing the delights of the frozen pea in three spring recipes.

Green Goddess Burgers, Pea and Broad Bean Spaghetti and Avocado and Pea Hummus.

Starting with the Green Goddess Burger, I first had this at a vegan cafe, packed with spinach and peas it was good, both in its taste and nutrition, but I thought I could do one better. This is my version, whether it qualifies as vegan I’m not sure, but I’ll let you be the judge of that.

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By Stacey Smith 20 Feb, 2017

Valentines Day, the only holiday that seems to have developed a bad rep. Supermarkets bombard us with all things red to force us to be romantic for the day. This may have led to its downfall and is now recognised as a money making scheme. Like most couples I think, Chris and I acknowledge Valentines Day, we do the card and I use it as an excuse to indulge in a chocolate desert. We don’t need to be forced into being romantic as we do nice things for each other regularly, whether its Chris emptying the dish washer or taking me out on Friday night after a couple of horrid days at work. I have to admit however, I couldn’t help feel a tad disappointed when Chris presented me with a box of Weetabix instead of flowers when he walked through the door last Tuesday. I had cleaned out my vase on the off chance.

I think we tolerate Pancake Day more, god forbid you go without a pancake! Then again what about those horrid pancake mixes in those plastic bottles, isn’t that just as bad? I mean after the success of The Great British Bake off who doesn’t have flour, eggs and milk in their fridge nowadays? Also surely its cheaper buy the ingredients if you didn’t!

By Stacey Smith 05 Dec, 2016

I thought writing a food blog would be pretty straight forward. I imagined myself whipping up marvelous cakes and gooey brownies in one hand and typing up my blog with the other – done and dusted with in a day!

By Stacey Smith 03 Oct, 2016
This is my first ever success at making bread, bread that that is crusty on the outside and soft on the inside, bread that I could actually cut slices from. My previous attempts have been knarly, chewy, half baked and pretty much brick like and have since avoided making it, accepting the fact that I didn't posses the knack....until now.

I love bread, the thickly sliced, crusty chewy kind, which is why I'm in love with sourdough at the moment. It contains all these attributes with an added bonus of a sour tangyness that makes it utterly delicious as toast (my favourite way to eat bread) smothered in butter and dunked in soup or as yummy sandwich. So of course I had to have a go at making my own!

I found an extremely easy recipe for sourdough from Mr Jamie Oliver, only needing strong white bread flour and water to make the starter and then simply feeding it daily for about 6 days. The sourdoughs only drawback is that you need to allow time, and theres a few hours proving time to take into consideration also, but I found this very satisfying and rewarding and the wait is definitely worth it...its so scrummy!

With the end result turning out far better than I thought it would (I still half expected it to come out brick like), I wanted to do something different with my sourdough, so I decided to make a "modern" sandwich. 

My chosen filling contained rocket, parma ham, thinly sliced soft goats cheese, blackberries stirred though a drizzle of honey and balsamic vinegar, topped with a sprinkle of chopped walnuts...YUM!

A definite must try!  
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So here goes..(deep breath)

Using my own experiences and realising that life is as unpredictable as “The Great British Bake Off” together with my love of baking and some cuddly woodland creatures I have created a little childrens story. Filled with cake and even more determination that I hope will inspire your little ones to bake, but more importantly to not give up and just keep going whatever life throws at them.

I hope you enjoy!

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Chris and I opted for dinner this time, it was Friday and as I was already meeting him after work for a drink anyway we thought we’d make a night of it. I wasn’t surprised to hear that they were very busy when I phoned to book a table, being Friday and a popular restaurant.  Over the phone I got the impression that the host on the other end was struggling to find anything for us so instead for 7pm I booked it for half 6.

When we arrived we were greeted with a friendly smile and shown to our table. The restaurant however was almost empty, surprising considering the conversation earlier, I was expecting it to be packed!

By Stacey Smith 11 Jul, 2016

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