I'm always cooking up all manner of things in the Madhouse Kitchen, both sweet and savoury, but even if I'm a dab hand at making cakes and cookies, I always tend to go for taste over appearance, probably because I often have the Madhouse kids pitching in. When I was given the chance to review Bake Box, a brand new subscription service offering keen bakers a variety of kitchen tools and decorating ingredients, as well as recipe cards and a dedicated website complete with video tutorials, to help you learn your skills and up your game, I was intrigued.
The postie soon dropped off this rather fetching pale purple box decorated with a stylised cake stand filled with delectable-looking cakes. It's a very sturdy box that can be reused for storage, in or out of the kitchen.
But onto to the important bit - the contents !
I glanced at the envelope of recipes and discovered that the theme of this first box is Spots and Stripes - that certainly sounds intriguing - then I went to see what was in the box.
The first thing I saw was a silicon bundt mould, which is very handy because I only have a very small individual sized one, which is a bit of a waste of time. I also spotted a dotty silicon mat, some pink Pro-Gel professional grade food colouring, a dress-shaped cookie cutter, a piping bag and nozzle, some spots and stripes templates, some plungers and a cutter/crimper for sugar paste.
I turned to the recipe cards and was very impressed by how original they are - cute Fashionista Biscuits, a very funky Striped Birthday Cake, Pinwheel Lemon Cupcakes, Chocolate Bundt Cake, a Blueberry Charlotte that looks utterly amazing and a remarkable Polka Dot Swiss Roll. Sophie had a look, smirked and scoffed "yours won't look anything like those" ! Thanks for the vote of confidence, although I must admit, I was thinking myself that they looked rather challenging and used a lot of techniques that I'd never even dreamed of trying to use, such as making spotty cakes !
Well, guess what - I managed, even with the kids helping out ! Admittedly, they don't look absolutely identical but they were a lot of fun to make, tasted great and got a "wow" from the kids when it was time to eat them. Here's our version of the Bundt cake.
And here's our strawberry and blue chocolate butterfly topped Swiss roll. I actually made a Swiss roll ! And it didn't fall apart ! And more to the point, it's spotty !!
The recipe cards have exactly the right tone, giving plenty of guidance to novice bakers but not talking down to confirmed cake-makers. You don't get step-by-step photos but if you head over to the Bake Box website, you can see the video tutorials which make it all look even simpler.
We adapted the recipes slightly (mainly because the kids were too impatient to eat the finished creations and didn't want me to spend too long making them look even prettier !) but they stil looked fantastic and even better, we've already been discussing new ways to incorporate the tecniques into different recipes. The spotty cake in particular really impressed the kids and I was very pleased to pull off a Swiss roll, even without a Swiss roll tin. (I used a roasting tin instead !)
You can subscribe to Bake Box (or buy a one-off box) for £14.99 plus delivery and you'll get a new box every two months. This is the perfect timescale because any more regular than that and you wouldn't have time to try out all the new recipes and techniques. I found myself pushed to my limits so it was a really rewarding experience.
I'll be back to show you more about how we made the cakes, but have a look at www.the-bake-box.com for more info. The next box is now available and has a "springtime in Paris" theme (order by the end of February for delivery in March). This would make a fabulous Mother's Day gift if your mum enjoys pottering about in the kitchen - or you could use it yourself to create a really special cake for your mum instead !
Disclosure : I received a box in order to write an honest review.