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perfect birthday cake for summer

This three-tiered lemon cake with lemon cream cheese frosting and fresh raspberry topping is a beautiful cake to make for an upcoming birthday or special celebration.

It was my mum-in-laws 60th birthday at the weekend and the family celebrated together with a meal out. To make it an extra special day I wanted to surprise her with a home-made birthday cake.  Now you may think this is not out of the ordinary but I’m sure not many of you have professional cake bakers as mum-in-laws!  Susan is the lady who makes you a birthday cake, not the other way around!  But whilst daunting, I knew she would appreciate the effort that went into a thoughtfully baked cake.  And I was right!  She loved her surprise cake and even wanted to know how it was made! Result!

On Saturday night, rather than watch a movie or head out Phill and I stayed in and baked our little hearts out.  The outcome was a sweet and zesty cake – beautifully light and moist sponge with a hint of lemon, paired with a lemon cream cheese frosting and generous amounts of raspberry jam.

Now don’t go thinking this is a really complex cake, it’s not!  It’s actually brilliantly straightforward.  For me the hardest thing was getting the frosting on the outside of the cake looking presentable. I would have loved to have got it all lovely and smooth and professional looking but I just wasn’t capable of such finesse! But I sort of like that the cake looks homemade and a bit rustic!

lemon cake with lemon cream cheese frosting

Equipment required:

3x 20cm diameter loose-bottomed round baking tins

2x large bowls

electric hand whisk

measuring jug


pallet knife

hand grater

cake base (make sure it’s bigger than 20cm in diameter!)

baking a three-tiered cake

Ingredients for the sponge:

110g unsalted butter, softened

380g caster sugar

320g plain flour

4tsp baking powder

320ml buttermilk

zest of two lemons

3 large eggs

110g raspberry jam (I used seeded jam)

baking a sponge cake

Ingredients for the frosting:

900g icing sugar, sifted

zest of three lemons

150g unsalted butter, softened

375g full-fat cream cheese

adding frosting to the outside of a cake

And don’t forget…

A handful of raspberries for the top of the cake, a bit of lemon zest and a dusting of icing sugar

cake decoration

Step-by-step instructions:

1. Preheat the oven to 170C (325F), Gas mark 3, and rub butter around the inside of the three tins.

2. In a large bowl place the butter, sugar, flour and baking powder.  Whisk the ingredients together until you have a sandy consistency.

3. In a large jug mix together the buttermilk, lemon zest and eggs.

4. Gradually pour in half of the liquid ingredients into the large bowl and whisk everything together until you get a smooth batter.  Then add the rest of the liquid ingredients and whisk one last time to bring it all together.

5. Carefully pour your batter into the three cake tins, making sure each tin has the same amount.  Place all the tins into the oven for approximately 3o minutes (set a timer!).  You’ll want the sponge to be lightly browned on top when you left them out.  The sponge should bounce back when you gently press it with your fingers.

6.  To make the yummy frosting, gradually mix together the icing sugar, lemon zest and butter in a bowl until you have a smooth consistency.  Add a little of the cream cheese and whisk until smooth again.  Now add the rest of the cream cheese and whisk until it is fully mixed in.

7.  Only when your sponges have completely cooled should you start putting the cake together, adding the frosting and jam.  Take one of the sponges and set it on your cake base.  Add a a generous helping of the frosting to the top.  Follow this up with a generous helping of jam on top of the frosting.  Then place your second sponge on top of the filling and add the frosting and jam to it before placing the final sponge on top of that.  Now for the tricky part!  Using a pallet knife add genererous amounts of frosting to the top and sides of your assembled cake.  Spread it out using the knife and get it as smooth as you can (or make it rustic looking like mine!).

8. To finish your cake off, add some fresh raspberries on top, along with some grated lemon and a dusting of icing sugar.

birthday cake for summer

birthday cake slice

Recipe (slightly amended!) from The Hummingbird Bakery.

Willow Lane style

I just love my new pair of Madewell trousers! This is my first item from Madewell and I kind of wish I had have bought more stuff when I was in their store in The Grove LA. If you like simple, chic style then you’ll probably love Madewell. Maybe some day soon they’ll branch out further afield and set up shop in the UK.

I paired my rust coloured trousers with a plain tee, my over-sized Betty Barclay bag and my western style boots which I bought in Aldo shortly before I went on holiday. I happened to venture into the Aldo Belfast store on it’s final day of opening and got an amazing sale deal on these boots. But I’m sorry to see yet another well-known store close it’s doors on Belfast’s High Street.

In other news, I turned 29 last weekend.  It’s the last year of my 20s and I hope to make it a good one!  I hope you all have a great weekend guys.

Madewell trousers

Madewell trousers

Madewell rust trousers

Willow Lane outfit

Belfast Blogger

Aldo western boots

laid back style

Lidl Argan oil hair care products

I was so happy to receive a delivery of Argan Oil goodies from the folks at Lidl NI.  My hair is in need of some TLC after I didn’t give it much attention on holidays.  I just let my hair dry naturally on hols and when I went out I pulled it up in a bun or ponytail to keep it off my back.  I’ve heard a lot about the goodness of Argan Oil over the years.  It is one of the rarest oils in the world, extracted from the kernals of the argan tree, which is an ancient tree indigenous to Morocco.

To begin with I washed my hair in the Argan Oil shampoo and conditioner.  The shampoo lathered well and the conditioner left my hair feeling smooth and moisturised.  After towel drying my hair I worked a small amount of the Argan Oil Hair Treatment through my hair before putting it up in a hair turban whilst I moisturised my body with the beautifully thick Argan Oil Body Butter.  My skin was crying out for a luxurious moisturiser like this one – which contains Vitamin E and Shea Butter.  My poor skin was drying up – probably in shock after being exposed to the sun for so long and then being all covered up since I got home.

Once I was ready to blow dry my hair straight I spritzed the Argan Oil Heat Defence Leave in Spray onto my hair.  I was worried this would leave my hair feeling greasy (like I’ve experienced with similar products) but thankfully it didn’t. My pamper session was exactly what I needed to help me shake of the last of my jetlag and have me feeling good about going back to work.  My tresses looked fab afterwards.  The next time I’m in Lidl I’ll definitely pop all these items into my shopping basket…and maybe even get some for my my mum and mum-in-law.  Each item is between just £1 and £2!  Can you believe it?  Total bargains.

Argan Oil shampoo and conditioner

Argan Oil body butter

Argan Oil hair care results

The Line Hotel LA

Phill and I struck it lucky when we booked to spend a week at The Line Hotel in LA.  Only recently opened, The Line is the newest and coolest place to stay in Koreatown, LA.  I’ve never stayed in a hotel like this one – where each experience is unique.  The Line is what it is thanks to a variety of creative collaborations.

Let’s start with the rooms – all decorated by Sean Knibb.  They have a modern rustic look going on with bare cement walls, retro style furniture and classy ornamentals.  Attention to detail is their main selling point.  From the specially designed Baxter toileteries to the Linus bikes you can rent for free to explore the nearby area.  There is even a funky store in the lobby area.  Poketo sells beautiful stylish gifts – from jewellery and quirky ornaments to canvas bags and pretty dresses.

But my favourite bit?  The food!  The Line has their own Korean cafe selling the best coffee I’ve had and the most delicious sweet treats – from guava cheesecake to butterscotch brownies.  For a taste of true Korean cuisine the hotel has its own restaurant POT, where renown chef Roy Choi heads up the kitchen.  It was our first introduction to Korean food and we were bowled over.

The Line is still not in it’s finished state.  There are plans to extend the pool, open a nightclub, and even another restaurant.  Whilst we were there famous street artist Shephard Fairey painted a large scale mural on a wall of the hotel.  It was pretty amazing to see him at work over the course of three days.

It’s safe to say our stay at The Line was a fun and inspiring experience.

See more of the hotel in my LA vlog.

The Line Hotel interior

The Line Hotel decor

The Line Hotel rooms

The Line Hotel Koreatown

The Line Hotel pool

The Line cafe

The Line Hotel room service

The Hotel and Linus bikes


Shephard Fairey painting mural

Shephard Fairey The Line

summer style