Substituting cake and pudding mix in cupcake recipes

My super flatmate and his lovely girlfriend gave me this very cool book for my recent birthday:

Intoxicated Cupcakes by Kate Legere

41 cupcake recipes that feature alcohol in one form or another! From cupcakes based on all sorts of sweet and fruity cocktails to some rather intriguing entries including hot toddy cupcakes, Bloody Mary cupcakes, wine and cheese cupcakes, dark stout cupcakes – even Jägerbomb cupcakes!

I baked my first batch of Intoxicated Cupcakes on the weekend: Tooty-Fruity Sangria Cupcakes. Both the cupcake and the icing feature red wine, and the fruit comes from fruit cocktail in the cupcakes and chunky marmalade in the icing.

The only trick was the recipe called for 1 box of of yellow cake mix and 1 package of instant vanilla pudding mix. I turned out to be correct in my assumption that these were too American for any of my local supermarkets to stock so I hunted down some alternatives on the good old interwebs.

For any UK bakers who want to make one of the few recipes in this book that call for either of these mixes, you can successfully substitute them as follows:

Substitute 1 (18.25 ounce) box yellow cake mix
with Suzanne McMinn’s Homemade Yellow Cake Mix
+ 1 tsp vanilla extract

Substitute 1 (5 ounce) package instant vanilla pudding mix
with 1.5 cups of Brown Eyed Baker’s DIY Instant Vanilla Pudding Mix
(I used 1 tsp vanilla extract instead of real vanilla beans)

Both of these call for dried milk powder which you can buy from TescoSainsbury’s or Waitrose.

The sangria cupcakes went down a treat with both friends and work colleagues. :) I look forward to trying some of the other recipes soon!

Sangria cupcakes!

Anzac biscuits

I made Anzac biscuits on the weekend. :)

Anzac biscuits


  • 1 cup plain flour
  • 1 cup rolled oats (whole ones! these don’t seem to be as common in the UK as they are in Aus)
  • 1 cup desiccated coconut
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • salt
  • 1/4 cup golden syrup
  • 125g unsalted butter, cubed
  • 1 teaspoon bicarb soda
  • 2 tablespoons boiling water


  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C and line two baking trays with baking paper. (Work in batches if you only have one.)
  2. Combine the flour, oats, coconut, sugar and a pinch of salt in a mixing bowl. Make a well in the centre.
  3. Place the golden syrup and butter in a small saucepan and stir over low heat until the butter has melted. In a cup, dissolve the bicarb soda in the boiling water and add to the butter mixture. The mixture will foam a little.
  4. Pour the butter mixture into the well in the centre of the dry ingredients and stir until combined. The mixture should hold together but be slightly on the crumbly side – add a little extra flour if it’s too wet or a little extra water if it’s too dry to hold together.
  5. Roll tablespoonfuls of the mixture into balls and place on the prepared trays. Leave at least 3cm between each to allow for spreading.
  6. Bake for 12-15 min or until golden. Allow to cool on the trays for a few minutes before transferring to wire racks to cool completely. Story in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks. Makes about 30 biscuits.

Recipe from “The Perfect Cookbook” by David Herbert.

Homemade okonomiyaki

Tonight we made okonomiyaki following this recipe with a few tweaks:


  • 1 cup plain flour
  • 10g sachet dashi/bonito powder (dashino-moto)
  • ~180ml water
  • 2 eggs
  • half a Chinese cabbage, thinly sliced
  • 2 spring onions, sliced
  • 150g cooked shrimp (bought frozen and thawed naturally)
  • cooking oil (we used sesame)
  • Kewpie mayonnaise
  • okonomi sauce
  • seaweed flakes (aonori)

(We couldn’t get bonito flakes! The shops were only selling giant bags and it’s not worth us buying that much.)


  1. Whisk flour, dashi powder, eggs and water together in a big bowl until smooth and runny (add a little more water if you need to to get the right consistency).
  2. Mix in cabbage, onion and shrimp.
  3. Oil and heat a non-stick pan.
  4. Add half the mixture from the bowl and flatten with a spatula to form a pancake about 1.5cm thick / 30cm across.
  5. Cook for about 3 minutes, flip, cook for 3 minutes on the other side, then flip back to cook for about 2 more minutes.
  6. Pop the pancake on a plate and drizzle with Kewpie mayonnaise, okonomi sauce and sprinkle with seaweed flakes (and bonito flakes if you have them!)
  7. Repeat steps 3-6 for the second pancake.
  8. Serve with a crisp Japanese beer!

Homemade okonomiyaki

They were so huge we couldn’t finish them. Next time we might just make one and serve it with a a salad with yuzu dressing and some salmon sashimi. Mmmmm.

Homemade iced green tea

I like drinking the cans of unsweetened iced green tea you can get from Asian groceries and some Asian restaurants so I worked out how to make the same sort of thing at home.

It’s super easy. Just pop two green tea bags in a 1L jug and fill with cold water. (I use tap water, but you could use filtered water if you want. In London I would recommend filtered. :P) Cover with cling wrap, pop it in the fridge and leave to brew for 4-6 hours or overnight. After that, remove the tea bags, pour and enjoy!

It’s very refreshing, especially in the warmer months, and it’s a healthy way to rehydrate because it contains all the antioxidants of green tea without any kj/calories (if you’re worried about that sort of thing). I used to use “Yoko Japanese Style Green Tea Steamed Dry Sen Cha” but I’m sure any kind of green tea bags would do the trick. I tried it with Madame Flavour’s Green Jasmine and Pear a couple of times and that was lovely.

Green Jasmine and Pear

Someone has also recommended trying it with oolong which I must do one day.