Monday, 30 March 2015

Review: Cakes By Robin

Review: Cakes By Robin

I don't often – actually EVER – make pretty sugarcraft cakes. I fully admit this is because I haven't the patience or considerable skills required to create something like that. My children however love character cakes and they often request them on their birthdays – I have given in only once! So when I received an email offering me a cake to review I very nearly said no (the last thing we need more of in my house is cake!) but my daughter made puppy dog eyes at me until I relented.

I am so glad I did. An absolutely adorable cake arrived at my door from Cakes by Robin – a company that specialises in creating bespoke cakes, cupcakes and cookies for all kinds of events and occasions. I had no expectations prior to receiving the cake so opening the box was a lovely surprise – and was followed by lots of squealing from my excitable 8 year old. The cake was so pretty it felt like sacrilege to slice into it – so we simply admired it for some time! The detailing and decoration were so lovely and the finish was perfect (this is why these cakes have me running for the hills).

But while the cake made a wonderful table centrepiece, I had to intervene in the end. My daughter was all for naming the bunny and keeping it as a pet you see. Then we finally sliced into the cake to reveal a beautiful chocolate interior – not sure why I thought it was going to be aVictoria Sponge! It is not very often that sugarcraft cakes taste as good as they look but this one was delicious, fresh and chocolatey with a lovely sponge. I donated the cake to my son's nursery and I can say that it made a small band of kidlets (and the nursery staff) very, VERY, happy.

Cakes By Robin start at £30 for a birthday cake, while bespoke wedding cakes start from £350. You can browse the gallery of cakes for inspiration. Gluten-free cakes are also available.

Disclosure: I received this Easter cake free of charge for the purposes of this review; all opinions are my own.

Chilli prawn noodles #FiveMinuteMeal

Five minute Chilli prawn noodles

I don't often use shortcuts when cooking. If anything I try to make it harder for myself by taking on complicated multi-step recipes, making my own pastry and so on. But a challenge posed by Argos recently had me thinking... can you make a meal in five minutes? The answer is you can and it will be absolutely delicious but you will need to employ some cunning shortcuts.

I was introduced to frozen herbs, spices and vegetables at a Sainsbury's event in which the lovely Shelina Permalloo cooked some amazing meals using frozen ingredients. They are really useful in cutting down prep time –and, in the case of frozen chopped onions, tears! I love having some on standby for when I am really pressed for time but, to be absolutely truthful, half the fun of cooking is in the preparation, in the ritual of chopping and mincing and accidentally rubbing your eyes with chilli fingers (not so much the last one).

But anyway, back to our five minute meal. After a bit of dithering I settled on chilli prawn noodles – a favourite takeaway meal of mine (from our not-so-local Japanese restaurant). My version is a little simplified but no less delicious and if you are looking for something a little bit spicy, filling and easy you can't go wrong with this recipe. You can view a video of me preparing it on YouTube (try to ignore the kids making noise in the background. If you ask kids to be quiet they will do the exact opposite...)

Make this meal super-healthy and low carb by replacing the noodles with courgetti (zucchini noodles). Simply stir the courgetti in after the dish has cooked to coat them in the spicy sauce. One large courgette will probably be enough to serve two but you can always add more if you like.

Five minute Chilli prawn noodles

Five minute chilli prawn noodles
Serves 2
300g | 10.5oz straight-to-wok egg noodles (chilli flavoured if you prefer)
200g | 7oz raw king prawns
200g | 7oz  (1/2 can) cherry tomatoes in their juice (or use fresh cherry tomatoes, halved)
100g | 3.5oz frozen chopped onions
2 tsp frozen chopped garlic
1-2 tsp frozen chopped red chillies (more, or less to taste)
1 tsp frozen chopped ginger
1 tbsp ketchup (or sriracha if you like it spicy)
1-2 tsp sugar
2 tbsp soy sauce
1-2 tbsp vegetable oil
Fresh basil (preferably Thai basil if you can get hold of some)
Freshly ground pepper 
Optional extras: sliced red and green peppers, sugar snap peas, thinly sliced carrot

  1. Heat a couple of tablespoons of vegetable oil in a wok. Once the oil is hot, add the frozen onion, garlic, chilli and ginger. Fry, stirring for a minute.
  2. Add the raw prawns and stir in the ketchup and sugar. Add the soy sauce and cherry tomatoes, stirring them in and breaking them up with your spoon. Cook for 3 minutes.
  3. Once the prawns are mostly pink add the noodles and stir them in to coat in the sauce. 
  4. Serve with a sprinkling of fresh basil and a little freshly ground pepper.
Five minute Chilli prawn noodles