Friday, March 19, 2010

CHOCOLATE LAYER CAKE

FILLED WITH HEAVENLY CHOCOLATE PASTRY CREAM & FROSTED WITH CHOCOLATE BUTTERCREAM


Life’s a Feast and mirth its sauce is;
Here each guest shall take his share.

- Elijah Barwell Impey’s Baucis and Philemon, 1811



Trouble seems to be my middle name. No, I don’t mean that I cause trouble. Oh no! I am and always have been good to a fault. I have never gotten in trouble at school, never skipped a day (well, once, but that is a story related elsewhere in this long tale of mine), never cheated, I am a horrible liar, could never rat on a friend, just can’t do it! I am even too good to be true for some people.

What I mean is that I seem to draw trouble to myself like a flame draws the unsuspecting moth, like sunshine draws the flowers up through the dark, damp soil come springtime, like a hot young rising star draws screaming girls. Magnetic! Trouble seems to swirl around me, calling my name, whispering in my ear gently, ever so gently, pulling me into his warm, soothing, hypnotizing embrace. For, no matter what I do, no matter how long I wait, looking for just the right moment, the right configuration, signs from the heavens, trouble seems to trip me up every time, standing over me and chuckling at his own evil joke.

They have been telling me to do it, advising me that turning my blog into a domain would be the cat’s pajamas, that blogging would become smooth, easy sailing, I’d feel a tremendous power over my little baby like never before and that it would be, like a shot in the arm, quick and painless. Well, more like root canal it has turned out to be. As the numbness wears off and your jaw starts to throb, as you turn down that bowl of ice cream, waving it away with a flip of the hand that isn’t clutching at the side of your face, you curl up on the sofa in the dark and wonder why, oh, why you let someone convince you to do this?

This Bat Girl almost threw in the towel....

No, I am not blaming my friends, my husband. No, that would be wrong. They only have my best interests at heart. It’s that old devil Trouble, hovering around uninvited just waiting for me to make a decision, try something new, something bold and brave. And this simple switch, this “click of a button”, this one step deal, has turned into a nightmare, dragging on endlessly, days and days of waiting, nail biting and nervous eating… oh wait, the nervous eating happens anyway, nervous or not…

And Old Mr. Trouble just pushed Mme. Patience off the swing and rubbed her face in the playground dirt. Son hit the “transfer” button on Sunday and… nothing. Pulled up my blog, it stared right back at me. But then I tried to open up a post and… error! And my new domain nowhere to be found! Well, “patience” they cried! Friends on Twitter compared stories, “Piece of cake,” said some, “just hit the button and it was immediate.” Others were less gleeful. “Same thing happened to me,” said Sarah. “I lost my blog and had no new domain and it was days before anything was resolved. Days of craziness and frustration!” Aparna calmed me, telling me her switch happened right away although she lost all of her comments. Crazy! Wouldn’t you think that this should be so much easier?

Trouble sneaking up from behind...

Finally, more than 3 days later – 3 days of hair pulling, nail biting, pacing a trough in these old wooden floors, 3 days of flailing arms, praying to the Blog Gods and cursing everyone else – son finally put a stop to all the madness! “Stop your incessant whining!” he cried and, after seeing that finally neither the blog nor the domain could be found anywhere, he succeeded in simply just flipping it back. Back to my little baby, my lovechild, my blog. And here I am, hoping that Mr. Trouble doesn’t come looking for me, angry that his plans were frustrated by a quick thinking 19 year old. Maybe he’ll show up in the kitchen looking for revenge, watching as I pull out flour and sugar, eggs and cocoa powder from the pantry, rubbing his scaly hands together in anticipation, his steely, hot breath on my neck, knocking my elbow as I measure, pressing down on the scale as I weigh, well, you get the picture. And no, I am not paranoid. I have simply learned from the past that things are never as simple as they promise to be, never as easy as pie and certainly rarely as painless as I could hope for.

And she's back!

So here is to my old, faithful blog. Life is indeed a Feast, but one should stay away from the oysters if the odor is doubtful, not bite into the pastry if it appears a tad too dry, keep away from the fish if rumors abound, avoid cheap champagne at all costs…. stick to what you know best, what you are most comfortable with until you are very sure that everything is tasty and delectable, that the wine is smooth and fruity and the food won’t get stuck in your throat.

Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns… chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.
- Melody Beattie

Well, it has happened before and it will happen again, that I know. But there are just two little things. The first, and the most important, is that I want to thank all my friends from the bottom of my heart for sticking by me through thick and thin these last few very trying, exasperating days, sticking by me and supporting me, encouraging me, calming me down with their kind words and silly jokes. And putting up with the whining, complaining and cursing. To thank you all I baked a cake just for you, luscious, dense with the rich flavor of the best of all chocolate bars, two layers sandwiching cool, silky, fabulous chocolate pastry cream and all covered in my favorite of all chocolate buttercream frostings. Just for you!

And for Simon who, with infinite patience and the occasional slapping me back into sense, I have made these delicate little chocolate muffins drizzled with white chocolate. To be eaten with a tall, ice cold glass of milk or a steaming mug of café au lait.


And second, I do need your help, your advice. From all of you. For the moment Life’s a Feast is back to being a blog, but poor old thing, she’s almost two years old and she’s feeling her age: a wrinkle here, a gray hair there, sagging a bit where she didn’t sag before. My little lady needs a facelift. And I would like your help. Think of yourselves as Dr. Food Blog, aesthetic surgeon to the world of food bloggers! Tell me where I need a nip, where a tuck. A light dye job? Maybe a whole new wardrobe will simply do the trick? I am open to every and all suggestions – kind, polite, well-meant and serious suggestions, please!

Blog Before...

... Blog After!

So please, friends, do tell me what you think! What do you love about my blog, what don’t you like, and what should I change to make it even better? Look? Color? Template? Pages? Images or photography? Writing? I would love your opinions and suggestions before I make any decisions and go about with my total relook. This lady wants to come out looking young, hip and gorgeous! Just simply leave a comment below. And enjoy your slice of cake.


It is not the quantity of the meat but the cheerfulness of the guests, which makes the feast.

- Edward Hyde



PERFECT CHOCOLATE BUTTER CAKE
From Rose Levy Beranbaum’s The Cake Bible

½ cup + 3 Tbs (65 g) unsweetened cocoa powder, lightly spooned into measuring cups
1 cup (250 ml) boiling water
3 large eggs
2 ¼ tsp vanilla
2 ¼ cups + 2 Tbs (235 g) sifted cake flour
1 ½ cups (300 g) sugar
1 Tbs baking powder
¾ tsp salt
1 cup (225 g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature

Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Grease 2 x 9-inch (22 cm) 1 ½-inch (3.8 cm) deep round cake tins, line with parchment paper circles and grease the paper and flour.

In a medium-sized bowl, whisk the cocoa powder together with the boiling water until smooth. Cool to room temperature.

Once cooled, and in another small bowl, whisk together the eggs, ¼ of the cocoa mixture and the vanilla.

In a large mixing bowl, combine all of the dry ingredients (the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt) and blend on low speed of your electric mixer for 30 seconds. Add the softened butter and the remaining cocoa/water mixture and mix on low speed until all of the dry ingredients are moistened. Increase speed to medium (high speed if you are using a hand mixer) and beat for 1 ½ minutes, scraping down the sides. Gradually add the egg mixture in 3 batches, beating for 20 seconds after each addition. Scrape down the sides as needed.

Scrape the batter into the prepared pans and smooth the surface with a spatula. The pans should be about half full. Bake for 25 to 35 minutes or until the center is set – a tester inserted in the center should come out clean and the cake should spring back when lightly pressed.

Let the cakes cool on racks for 10 minutes before turning them out of the pans and letting them cool completely before filling and frosting.

LUSCIOUS CHOCOLATE PASTRY CREAM – Milk Chocolate and Caramel Pastry Cream
From the Joy of Baking website

1 ¼ cups (300 ml) milk
½ vanilla bean, split lengthwise
3 large egg yolks (keep the whites for macarons!)
¼ cup (50 g) sugar
1/8 cup (20 g) flour
Scant 3 Tbs (20 g) cornstarch
2 oz (50 g) chocolate (I used Milk Chocolate Caramel) melted and cooled to room temperature *


In a medium bowl, stir the egg yolks and sugar together with a wooden spoon until thick and creamy. Sift the flour and cornstarch together then stir into the egg/sugar mixture until you have a paste.


Place the milk and the split vanilla bean in a saucepan and heat just until boiling; the milk will start to foam up. Remove from the heat and add the melted chocolate, stirring until smooth. Add the hot chocolate milk mixture to the egg mixture slowly, whisking constantly so the eggs do not curdle from the heat, until all of the milk has been whisked into the egg paste. Remove the vanilla bean and scrape out the seeds adding the seeds back to the chocolate cream mixture.

Place the chocolate milk/egg mixture back into the saucepan and cook over medium heat just until boiling, whisking constantly. When it comes to a boil allow it to cook, still whisking non stop, for an additional 30 – 60 seconds until it becomes very thick.

Remove from the heat and immediately scrape out of the pan into a clean glass bowl or large measuring cup. If you like, you can stir in a tablespoon or two of Amaretto, Grand Marnier or whatever you like, to taste. But for this cake it really is not necessary.

Cover with plastic wrap, pressing the plastic onto the surface of the pastry cream, and refrigerate until cool. You can keep the pastry cream in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.


* For Vanilla Pastry Cream, simply follow all the instructions but leaving out the chocolate.

FAVORITE CHOCOLATE BUTTERCREAM
**

6 ounces (175 grams) powdered/confectioner’s sugar
3 1/2 tablespoons (50 grams) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
2 tablespoons (25 grams) unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tablespoons very hot water

** Double the recipe if you think you need more frosting or if you want to use the buttercream for both filling (in place of the pastry cream) and frosting.

Using an electric hand mixer, cream the butter and the powdered sugar together. Add the cocoa powder and the hot water and beat, scraping down the sides as necessary, until well blended and fluffy. If the buttercream is too soft to spread simply place in the refrigerator for several minutes until it reaches spreadable consistency.

Make your cake:


Put one layer of your cake on a cake plate and, using a spatula, spread the Chocolate Pastry Cream on thickly. Place the other layer on top of the filling and frost the sides and top with the Chocolate Buttercream. Pipe designs on your cake with any remaining buttercream or, using the spatula eat any remaining frosting left in the bowl. And that’s it! Now enjoy!


CHOCOLATE MUFFINS
From Donna Hay’s Chocolate

2 ¼ cups + 1 Tbs (300 g) self-rising cake flour
½ cup – 1 Tbs (40 g) unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
1 cup + 1 Tbs + 1 tsp (220 g) sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla
2/3 cup (160 ml) vegetable oil
½ cup (125 ml) milk
Optional, chocolate chips, chopped chocolate or chopped nuts to stir in or melted chocolate to drizzle on top.


Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Line muffin tins with cupcake papers or prepare silicone or cardboard muffin cups on a baking sheet.

Blend the dry ingredients (flour, cocoa, baking powder and sugar) together in a large mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, vanilla, oil and milk. Pour the liquid ingredients over the dry and stir together just until completely blended and smooth, not over beating.

Fill the muffin cups about 2/3 of the way and bake for 15 – 25 minutes depending on the size of your muffins (I made mini muffins) and your oven. When the muffins are puffed and just set in the center – better to slightly underbake muffins than overbake – remove from the oven and onto a rack – removing from the muffin tins or the baking sheet – until cooled.


Drizzle with melted white chocolate if desired.


62 comments:

Sarah said...

Those are the cutest muffins ever and that cake! So beautiful!

I have my Godbrother coming over tomorrow with his fiancee, I wonder if i could put together this cake in time for his visit. Hmmm!


We love you Netmum, I don't think I could ever guide you the way you guide me in my blogs growth, but if I can ever make you smile I shall be right there!

Deeba PAB said...

Oh sistah, how can Mme Patience and Mr Trouble survive in harmony! GLAD to see the blog back and serving up chocolat!! Those muffins are utterly gorgeous, and the cake too. I thought I'd be in for the slice first, but Sarah beat me to it!
Maybe you might consider a lighter background instead of black. Just thinkin'..

Jamie said...

@Deeba - Yes have been thinking of switching to white background. Thanks. Another slice of cake for the lady...

Aparna said...

I second that about the cake and especially those mufin cases.

Happy to see your blog is back where you can see it.:)

Suggestions?
I think a white or light background with black lettering would be easier to read.

And most defintely a new header. Can't see much of the cupcake on this one. :)

Think I earned my piece of cake now? LOL

Jamie said...

@Aparna - An extra thick slice for you. Or two. Whichever you prefer.

Nanette said...

I'm with Deeba, go for a lighter background, say, um - WHITE! Your gorgeous images would jump right out at us!

n
x

My Carolina Kitchen said...

Jamie, I am constantly amazed at what gorgeous creations come out of your kitchen. That cake has a "wow" factor for sure and I love the muffins too.
Sam

The Cooking Ninja said...

The one good thing of having a computer engineer as a partner is I leave everything that has to do with programming to the expert. The downside of it is I stop learning. :(

I like things simple hence my blog is rather clean (so to speak). :p Sorry Can't think of any good suggestion as my brain is numb from lack of sleep since last Thursday. :(

Nat said...

Hi Jamie Happy happy happy you're back :)
Today a blogger specialist has written about custom domain pbs and how to resolve them. In the same time he explained how to set it up correctly http://tinyurl.com/y8w9loc
Yesterday I transferred my other blog from Blogspot to custom domain. And everything is working fine.
If you want to change your template for a brighter one for instance - could be interesting - here are some links to get fresh, pro and free templates for Blogger
http://tinyurl.com/de5xlc
http://tinyurl.com/nl7fz2
Your cake is a "pure merveille" !

And remember have a blog on Blogger is sometimes a little bit difficult but filled with emotions and one ot the most famous school of patience and perseverance.

I'm experiencing it each day too :)

Jamie said...

@Nat - Thanks a million! Gros bisous! Thanks for the links too.

Debbie said...

Well Jamie, I think it's wonderful just the way it is...I look forward to reading each and every one slowly to enjoy every little detail your stories....oh yeah, and the recipes are great too ;-)

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

I have exactly the same problems as you ;-p...

I would use a light background and not to many colors. The simpler, the better!

That cake is lovely! can I have a slice, please?

Cheers,

Rosa

Jamie said...

@Debbie - Oh come on! Can't you find just ONE little thing to change? You are just too nice!

@Rosa - suggestion noted. I can see how well it works on your blog; very sharp. And yes, you have earned a large slice of cake!

Barbara said...

Welcome back. It is looking fabulous Jamie.

KennyT said...

Amazing post, and I love this chocolate cake!

Gloria said...

oh Jamie these muffins look georgeous and your post is really good. I loved blogs before and now and the pictures!! are awesome, gloria

Mardi @eatlivetravelwrite said...

I already DMd you about the white writing on black. To be honest, unless this was your blog, I would click away - I really am not a fan. But I love your blog so I read it!!

I would SERIOUSLY urge you to consider going to Wordpress with @vinoluci. Even though I nearly lost my whole blog and all of the internal links were broken, she fixed it in a matter of days and what they say about WordPress is true. I have never had an easier time blogging - you ARE more in control and the templates so much nicer. But you know what think, right? ;-) HUGS and you know you can always email me if you need advice! xoxo

Happy Cook said...

Beautiful choco cake, and i just love that luscious filling. I am prohibited to make anything chocolate for a month, you know who ;-) well i just can drool here.
Love those sweets you have used for decoration they are beautiful.
I am so afraid to change anything in blog as i am not the tech savy so i think i better leave them were it is.
Congrats on the happy move to .com

Tangled Noodle said...

Such a gorgeous cake! Since you made it in gratitude for the friends who've kept you sane, I'd better offer some good suggestions to earn a slice. 8-)

I am also on Blogger and will stay put for the time being, but I'm hoping to do a little nip and tuck to smooth out the rougher edges. One thing you may not have seen is that Blogger now offers "Pages" - static pages (such as an "About" section) that readers can access by clicking on tabs below your banner/header or along the side. This way, the sidebar can be tidied up - no more long lists of web sites, which may visually compete with the text of your posts.

I haven't done it yet but it looks easy enough (hmmm, where have you heard THAT before); go to 'Settings' and click the tab 'Edit Pages', which gives you the option of creating up to 10 such pages.

Hope this helps! Now, about that slice of cake . . .

Jamie said...

@Tangled Noodle - You have me laughing out loud now! Thanks! And I did just see that I can add pages. Will do that when I get up the courage! LOL! Oh and YAY FOR YOU for giving me written instructions! Onwards and upwards! Definitely need pages AND a sidebar on each side. Thanks so much, you have earned a huge slice of cake!

MeetaK said...

oh jamie - great to have you back. but don't forget you define your blog and not the other way around. so don't let this get you down.

i love the cake and all it's chocolate goodness! so decadent.

i already mentioned to you what i think you need and if you need help let me know!

hugs!

Anonymous said...

black letters on white not so depressing!

Debbie said...

Okay, my dear...if you insist ....I love when you have fresh flowers in some of your photos...as for the white on black I like it, especially with the lovely vintage photos you find. Have a lovely weekend :)

Jamie said...

@Debbie - You crack me up! And see, it wasn't that hard! And great suggestion! Thanks! Love you!

lisa said...

I've always been and continue to be afraid to transfer my blog! So glad yours is back up and running. A little update to the look will be simple enough though. Maybe a new header or a new color palette?

Beautiful chocolate muffins! The white chocolate frosting looks great on them.

Trendsetters said...

love the cake..mouthwatering....
you got some interesting stories in your posts..love it...

Cinnamon-Girl said...

What a luscious looking cake! I've made this one before and it is insanely good. Love the caramel cream! And those yummy muffins!

I'm so sorry you had those problems. And I love you just the way you are! Whatever you do (or don't) will be OK with me. Thanks for your sweet comments about my chicken & dumplings! XO

elra said...

I will never get enough of this cake. Perfect slice Jaime!

Adele @ WillworkforBiltong said...

Jamie, your writing is so fabulous, it doesn't matter what your blog look like. Seriously. Good luck with the face lift.

Barbara Bakes said...

So glad you're back and with luscious chocolate cake in hand!

Some of the changes I made when I updated were to add a navigation menu (with links to home, a recipe index, about, contact, awards and subscribe) which makes it easier to navigate the blog; a tweet button on my posts so it's easy for others to tweet about the post; and switched to a 3 column design so I could add ads.

I'm also planning on adding a print recipe feature and a favorites link with favorite blogs and recipes sites.

Good luck with the redesign!

Sippity Sup said...

I think your blog and its tone are perfect. I do however, still support the difficult switch to a domain. Sure there will be growing pains, but you will find your SEO massively improves, your Alexa will get better, and more people will find you when searching for related topics. Of course maybe its just me who obseses about my google PR- still stuck at 4 ;( GREG

Alessio Fangano said...

Glad to hear that you found a solution to your blog-troubles :S I agree that it is hard to have our little written-babies lingering out there in the virtual world without being in touch with us (kinda like waiting for a son coming back home at night). Did u try forcing a slice of cake through your lan cable? It might have pleased your network enough to release your hostage blog earlier ;)

For the appearance suggestions, I like a darkish background cause it is more relaxant for the eyes (though white letter tend to blow-out and fade in it). I'd try to add a new background so to echo the atmosphere of the 50s pictures so graciously characterize your posts.

BTW I guess if you would start talking and offering a coffee and cake to the trouble monster, he would disappear faster ;) He doesn't like when we welcome him as a growing opportunity :D

görel said...

I LOVE your vintage pictures, as well as your own pics, and your blog wouldn't be the same without them. But as many before me has said already, they would come forward much nicer on a light or white background. It's also much less eye-straining.

I'm not an expert at all, but I know there are a lot of blog templates out there, some of them come free, some of them come for a small charge. Maybe you just should shop around and see what you like? If I'm not mistaken, you can even try your blog in different "clothes". But again, I'm such a non-blogger, so what do I know?

What I DO know is that I want a piece of that cake. Now. Please?

PS. Your beautiful stories will be the same, no matter the clothing. DS.

Anushruti said...

Jamie I love your blog and love the fact that I get to chat with u on twitter as and when.

What I miss here is a link to the home page. When I'm browsing through your blog I always find it difficult to get to the main page. It would be wonderful if you could link your logo Life's a feast to the home page. Hugs!

5 Star Foodie said...

What a wonderful luscious chocolate cake and I love the little chocolate muffins too! I think your blog is great as it is - with the delightful treats and wonderful stories!

Bethie said...

I am really not one to give advice, my blog is just a freebie template and boring. LOL! Now I would highly recommend a "free sample" program, with every comment a sample is posted to home address. I think it would drum up business.

I am such a vintage junkie, that I adore the use of your old photos and ads. I think the black background does make them pop! I support any and all changes. I will be right there reading away.

Jenn said...

Oh chocolate....I so want chocolate right now. *drool*

Heather Davis said...

You've already gotten so many comments on the design of your blog that I am going to focus on the sumptious cake! It looks gorgeous with the pink heart candy. I have my in-laws here this weekend as it is my daughter's birthday and am now seriously considering using this recipe. Question is can I make it to such a high standard?
Whatever a blog looks like the writing to me is key. It's really what keeps me there in the end. I love reading your stories and it sounds like from all these comments I am not alone. As suggested change the background but you've got a blog to be proud of! Glad it's all worked out and you are back online.

Patty said...

Chocolate with a side of chocolate? I'm so in! Thanks for the recipes I can't wait to try them out!

Joy said...

Oh, hun, I actually thought you got the domain working. I was totally reliant on the RSS and didn't notice in your previous post.

I would definitely--no, highly--recommend that you switch to Wordpress. It feels like a big leap to do so (especially after your recent blogging "upgrade" woes), but things will be so much better. Let me know if you need help.

I adore your writing (see, I always know I'd be in for a good time whenever I go here) and without a doubt that's the best thing on here, with your interesting images (makes me wonder how in the world you find them!), and your delicious photos. I would love to see a switch in text/background color -- li'l ol' me who look at computer screens more than 12 hrs per day is having a hard time reading white on black. :)

That said, take a breather this weekend and enjoy! But that said, I'm taking the pretty cakes with me! Haha.

Sophie said...

Oooh waw,...jamie!! These gorgeous & luscious looking chocolate desserts are to die for,...really!!

I also love the chocolate filled pastry cream chocolate cake!


MMMMMMMMMM,...those muffins with the white chocolate drizzle over the top looks extremely tasty! Yumm!

sarah said...

Jamie, it's wonderful that you made it back to blogger without any further problems. I think dark writing on a light background is also easier on the eyes. If you don't want plain black on white, try dark grey or dark green or navy on cream or pale yellow. It's surprising easy to read and pleasant, yet no one really notices that it's not just black.

I love your inventive recipes and gorgeous pictures, so I will keep coming back even if there are construction signs all over the place. :) Keep us updated with your blog ideas and issues, because we are all learning from each other.

I'm glad I read through all the comments, because I have a really basic blog and now I have a few ideas about how to improve it. I will definitely be making an About page and an Index page soon. And checking out changing away from a standard (=boring?) blogger template. Thanks to all of your friends for the advice!

sarah said...

Oh, for your info, the static pages that Tangled Noodle mentioned are under the "Posting" tab.

sarah said...

Me again. I've been looking at Blogger templates. If you want to stick with a dark background, what about using grey type? Here's an example. http://thepeaceblogger.blogspot.com/

Ria Mathew said...

Utterly deliciously(?) beautiful cake! Bake one, pack it and fed ex it to me when you come to Florida :D LOL!

Good to see you back! xo

And about the suggestions, a lighter background as Deeba suggested would be nice :)

Nicisme said...

Great cake and the frosting looks like the business!
I think your blog looks super, but I do prefer to read the ones on light backgrounds with darker text.
(I would have been tearing my hair out too over the blog troubles!)

kudoskookies said...

I agree about the lighter background but that would be the only think I'd change. Other than that, I think your blog is great!
Renee @kudoskookies

Sari said...

So glad your blog is back! I'm pretty impatient and I would get mad if this happened to me! Great you tricked Mr. Trouble! :)
Oh and I so much want to deserve my slice of cake! Looks delectable. Love the first photo with candy hearts in the middle of the cake! Wonderfully styled.

Your blog is so great because it's YOUR blog! And its look says, it's Jamie's blog. So if I think about it, it would be a shame to change it.
On the other hand, I really don't like the white on black. It's so difficult to read, and if you switch to different web sites (which mostly have a light background), after reading your blog, your eyes are very tired. If you want to stick to black background, try using grey or darker than white writing (example of such a colour combination: http://www.thephotoargus.com/). The logo could do with a bit of improvement. I would extend it to fill the whole header area. Also try to chose the option "Instead of title and description" in your layout setting. This will link your logo to the home page. And lastly, try to keep it as simple as possible. Simplicity usually works well. http://adampolselli.com/2003/07/01/get-the-look-chic-simplicity/
Can I get my slice of cake now, please? :)

Natashya KitchenPuppies said...

Nom nom nom.. I will eat the cakes and the muffins and even drink the cheap champagne you are avoiding!
They look delicious. Sorry about your domain nightmare, now I am glad I haven't tried it.
Can't wait to see how the site looks after the new do!

Junglefrog said...

O Jamie! I am so glad you are back!! That must have been scary... Having said that; I have moved over to wordpress at some point in the distant past and well, it did work quite smoothly... :) A little bit of hiccups but I have gotten reasonably confident in sorting out the systems problems. Being behind a computer for a lot of the time every day helps I suppose!

As for your blog; I come here because you are here and quite frankly what it looks like is of secondary importance to me... :) But since you're asking; as I think a few others have commented before as well; a lighter background would be easier to read plus I think your photos would come out much better on a lighter background. More fresh and refreshing so to speak.

Btw; thanks for the comments on the cooking course! Yes, wouldn't it be fabulous fun to cook together in such a class!!??

Betty said...

they both look great and i really love your melted chocolate decorating contraption!

i think your blog is great i love your style of writing and how its not just about food, you write about life as well

but a revamp in layout wouldnt be a bad thing!

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

Darling Jamie I felt like I was living your pain! Oh you poor thing, one wonders why it shuld be so troublesome and fraught with danger (yes danger!). Well as for me I love your writing and your retro photos and I hope that both of those things don't change! :D

Y said...

Oops! Sorry to hear about all the woes. Too bad I'm not much help in such situations - I'm mostly clueless when it comes to such things technical. Lovely cake though, and wonderfully written post - two things that keep me coming back :)

glamah16 said...

Its all a learning experinece. But yu got it back! I want to know where youget all the great vinage images? I agree with the others about a white or lighter background. Im feeling my way too. ;-) Now if only I could have some of that chocolate pastry in the post.

Richard @ The Bewildered Brit said...

Wonderful post as always! And I'm deeply in awe of your amazing cooking skills!

Katy ~ said...

Change your blog?! I think it's hard to improve upon perfection.

And that cake and muffins....catch me; I'm swoooooning.

Jamie said...

@Katy - You get a slice of cake AND a hug for that! Thank you!

@Richard - Thanks to you too!

Sarah M. said...

You are the baking queen! beautiful cake and post. How is your domain transfer going?

Mowie @ Mowielicious said...

So glad everything worked out in the end! I did try leaving a comment in the middle of your switch over and it just came up with error messages, and I started panicking. So I was very glad when it was all back! I love the chocolate cake and the pink chocolates on top look SO familiar =) x

Sarah, Maison Cupcake said...

Hello... I am finally here after my weekend away! I was initially going to suggest having a lighter background but decided that you should keep your blog looking like YOUR blog and not everyone elses. Maybe experiment with other colours, a friend of mine has a blog at http://thingswemake.wordpress.com/ and uses light grey type on a dark grey background, it's very easy on the eyes and stands out from all the other white blogs which can look well, a bit samey unless they're on pro templates. Her template is a free one from wordpress.com.

Barbara Bakes has come up with fabulous suggestions as has Alessio, I think his idea of shoving cake into electrical devices that don't behave is genius!!!!!

asiangrrl said...

Muffins and chocolate cake? Winner!

My suggestion, if you have a good tech, is to use wordpress.org (not wordpress.com). It will allow you freedom to design your site pretty much as you want it. As for actually nips and tucks, I would suggest more chocolate recipes.

Andrew's Mom said...

I don't know if I asked you before - but where could someone get those wonderful square paper liners - I love those. I would like to see light background and dark letters too - just easier on the eyes and easier to print recipes. I also would also like a piece of that cake...or the whole thing.

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