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Black Forest gâteau recipe

Make a genoise sponge for the lightest, fluffiest Black Forest gâteau filled with cherries and cream. Absolutely classic.


  • 6 free-range eggs
  • 250g/9oz caster sugar
  • 100g/3½oz plain flour
  • 60g/2¼oz cocoa powder
  • 150g/5½oz butter, melted and cooled, plus extra for greasing
  • 100g/3½oz morello cherry jam
  • 425g tin pitted black cherries, drained
  • 500ml/18fl oz double cream
  • 2 tbsp icing sugar
  • 100g/3½oz dark chocolate, to decorate


  1. Preheat oven to 180C/160C Fan/Gas 4. Grease and line the base of three 20cm/8in sandwich tins with baking paper.
  2. In a bowl, whisk together the eggs and sugar with an electric hand whisk until very light and fluffy. The mixture should leave a visible trail when you lift the whisk (ribbon stage). This will take around 10 minutes.
  3. In a separate bowl, sift the flour and cocoa powder together before folding it into the egg mixture, being very gentle so as not to knock the air out.
  4. Gently pour in the cooled melted butter down the inside of the bowl and carefully fold it in.
  5. Divide the mixture equally between the three tins and bake for 20–25 minutes, until springy to the touch. Set aside to cool for 5 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack, peeling off the baking paper, and allow to cool completely.
  6. Heat the jam in a small saucepan to melt. Reserve eight of the tinned cherries for the top of the cake, then mix the remainder into the jam. Set aside to cool completely.
  7. Whisk the cream and icing sugar together until soft peaks form. Set aside in the fridge until you are ready to assemble.
  8. When the cake is completely cool, place the whipped cream in a piping bag with a star nozzle and pipe a small amount of cream onto the first layer of sponge and spread evenly. Then pipe a ring around the edge and fill the middle with half the cherry mixture. Place the second layer of sponge on top and repeat the process.
  9. Pipe eight swirls of cream on top of the cake, topping each with a reserved cherry.
  10. Use a vegetable peeler to shave the dark chocolate into curls over the top (alternatively, grate the chocolate and sprinkle over). This cake is best eaten on the day it’s made.

Chocolate scones recipe

What could be better than a plate of freshly baked scones? Scones with chocolate in! This simple recipe has cocoa powder and chocolate chunks in the dough and more melted chocolate drizzled on top. Heaven.


  • 400g/14oz self-raising flour, plus extra for rolling
  • 25g/1oz cocoa powder
  • 125g/4½oz butter, cubed
  • 75g/2¾oz caster sugar
  • 150ml/5fl oz milk, plus extra for brushing
  • 100g/3½oz dark chocolate, half roughly chopped, half broken into small pieces
  • pinch salt
  • marmalade or apricot jam and whipped or clotted cream, to serve


  1. Preheat the oven to 200C/180C Fan/Gas 6. Line a baking tray with baking paper.
  2. Blend the flour, cocoa powder, butter and sugar together briefly in a food processor until they resemble coarse breadcrumbs, then add the milk and blitz to a smooth dough. You can also do this by hand by rubbing the butter into the dry ingredients in a large bowl before adding the milk and mixing with a spoon then hands to form a dough. Tip the dough out onto a clean work surface dusted with flour and sprinkle over the roughly chopped chocolate. Gently knead them into the dough then roll the dough out to around 2.5cm/1in thick.
  3. Use a 7cm/ 2¾in biscuit cutter to cut out 8 rounds of the dough, re-rolling the dough as needed. Place the rounds on the prepared baking tray, brush the tops with milk and bake for 15 minutes, or until well risen and nicely browned.
  4. Place the remaining chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a pan of just-boiled water and leave to melt for 3–4 minutes, making sure the bowl doesn’t touch the water.
  5. Arrange the warm scones on a serving plate, drizzle with the melted chocolate and leave for 30–40 minutes. Serve with your choice of marmalade or jam and whipped or clotted cream.


Learn how to make your own embroidered hanging planter! This modern canvas planter is decorated with beautiful abstract embroidery and is a great project to get you started with embroidery!

I have always really loved the look of embroidery and I have been especially intrigued lately by abstract embroidery. I just love how abstract embroidery can create beautiful compositions of colour and texture. It is also a great form of creative expression because you aren’t following a pattern or chart. It really feels like painting with thread!

For this abstract embroidery project I decided rather than embroidering a piece of fabric to hang on the wall that I wanted to embroider an object. I chose a Canvas Planter, and I am super happy with the way my new planter turned out. Ready to make your own.


Embroidered Hanging Planter Tutorial

Step 1. Choose Color Palette

Because this project uses a variety of embroidery stitches and shapes, using a uniform colour palette will help keep your project cohesive. I recommend going through your embroidery thread and limiting yourself to a certain number of colours that work well together.

For my project I used reds, blues, blush pinks, and a pretty copper colour.

Step 2. Embroider

When you have your colours chosen and you are ready to embroider start by putting your embroidery hoop onto one side of your canvas planter. Tighten the hoop on the fabric and pull the canvas taut.

Next it’s time to embroider! With abstract embroidery there isn’t a clear order of steps to create your design. Really this is a free form process which is great for creative expression and relaxation. You can also use this project as a kind of embroidery sampler and a way to play around with different stitches and techniques.

I will walk you through some of the stitches I used to decorate my hanging planter.

Stitch 1. The Back Stitch

The back stitch is my basic go-to embroidery stitch. To work the back stitch start by making a single straight stitch. Then bring your needle up through the fabric after a space in front of the stitch you just made. Finally bring your needle back down through the hole at the end of your first stitch. Continue using this stitch to create shapes or lines as you like.

Stitch 2. The Satin Stitch

The satin stitch is a great stitch for creating filled in shapes and larger swatches of colour in your design. I just love the smooth look of the satin stitch.

Here is how I created the satin stitch elements on my planter

  1. First I traced the design I wanted to stitch over onto my planter with a washable embroidery pencil.
  2. Next I used a split stitch to trace the outside edge of my design. You can skip this tracing stitch if you like but I find it give my satin stitches a bit more definition.
  3. Bring your needle up from one side of the design and then crossing over the design pull the needle back down through the fabric.

Stitch 3. The French Knot

French knots are a great way to add some dimensional texture to your piece. I used clusters of french knots all around my planter.

To create a French knot:

  1. Bring your needle up through the fabric.
  2. Wrap the thread around the needle three or more times.
  3. Holding the thread tight to keep the wraps from slipping off the needle, insert your needle back down through the fabric close to the place that you brought your needle up.
  4. Pull the needle to tighten and create your knot.

I am a big fan of French knots.


Learn how to easily make your own stylish and Eco-friendly reusable bag to take shopping carry groceries and more! This DIY bag features a cute hand-drawn floral globe design and you can download the free globe svg file to make your own!

Lately I have been trying to make daily choices that are better for the environment. Part of that process is making sure that I have plenty of reusable bags to avoid using plastic bags. And if I’m using reusable shopping bags they might as well be cute too right.

The Eco Cotton Tote Bags are perfect for making your own custom reusable bags because they are made from 100% cotton and can be washed and used over and over again. I created a little hand-drawn floral globe design to decorate my bag. I think it represents showing love for our planet and keeping it beautiful.


Step One – Design from Heat Transfer Vinyl.

I love creating with heat transfer vinyl and I use it all the time. It is a great way to create custom functional items and it’s really easy to work with. If you are new to working with heat transfer vinyl then you may want to check out my beginner’s guide to iron on vinyl projects here.

The first step to creating your own eco-friendly reusable bag is opening up the file from the supply list above in your cutting machine software.

Next, scale the design to fit on your tote bag, mirror the design, choose the iron on or heat transfer vinyl settings in your software and then send it to your machine.

Step 2. Weed Out Excess Vinyl

Once your design has, grab your weeding hook (or a straight pin or pair of tweezers work well too) and remove the excess vinyl from around the design.

Be sure to remove all of the little pieces from within the flower petals and leaves. Looking at the design on your computer can help you make sure you get all of the extra vinyl off the plastic carrier sheet.

Step 3. Iron On the Design

Finally it’s time to apply the vinyl design to your tote bag. First position the design onto the bag and then iron it on! Follow the application instructions included with your vinyl. Iron on the cotton setting and apply downward pressure for about 10 seconds over each portion of the design.

When the design has adhered to the bag you can remove the plastic carrier sheet. If you need to iron over the design after removing the plastic sheet be sure to cover the design with parchment paper first. Don’t ever apply your iron directly to the vinyl because it will melt.

When the vinyl has been applied, your bag is all done and ready to take shopping! Isn’t it cute? I am so happy with the way it came out. I hope you will use the design to make your own reusable tote bag!

Alexis Middleton is a lifelong crater/DIYer at Persia Lou. She started crafting at a young age. As a girl she spent summers with her grand mother crocheting baby doll afghans making coasters out of plastic canvas and yarn, and canning apricot jam. Today, Alexis spends a lot of time dreaming up and working on projects for her family’s home. She loves mixing traditional crafting techniques with a more modern aesthetic.


In the past two years I have fallen in love with natural dyeing. The method is pretty simple and although it might seem intimidating it’s pretty hard to mess it up! I used a few of my dyeing skills to make an impact ful DIY natural dye hoop art that is perfect for a colourful touch in any home.

Because embroidery hoops come in so many sizes you can really make this as big or a small as you’d like. I wanted to go for maximum impact so I used a 14″ hoop!


First step is to fill your pot with water and bring it to a boil. You really don’t need very much water because if you do what I did you will just dip it partway in the water. I had about 4 inches of water in my pot!

While the water is getting hot, two pieces of fabric. one that was about 20″x20″ and another that was about 15″x15″ so that I could add some layers and dimension to my wall hanging. After cutting them rinse them so they are damp.

Hopefully your water is now boiling! Now you will put 1 table spoon of your madder root powder in the water and make sure it is mostly dissolved. After you feel it has dissolved, put your cloth in the water.

I just put half in and left the remainder hanging over the side of your pot. If you’re going to do this too make sure your stove is off!

Leave them in until the desired colour is reached. Mine stayed in for about an hour! After about two hours it likely won’t get much darker.  Rinse out the excess powder until the water runs clear.

After it was pretty dry, I used my embroidery hoop out to get a rough of the circle.

At this point I then just the larger piece straight down one side. There should be enough fabric left over from your large circle.

Now your smaller piece in half. This is obviously all up to you. Get creative! I just laid out pieces where I thought they looked nice. Depending on you your dye comes out you might want to do things a little differently.

Once you have a pattern you really like you are going to use fusible spray to iron the pieces where you like them.

Place outside embroidery hoop piece over the fabric so it stays in place. I like to keep it kind of loose while I pull the fabric tight in the hoop. Flip the hoop over and trim the edges as close to the hoop as possible. Then your DIY natural dye hoop art is done!

I am loving having a big statement piece in my house. I don’t have much colour going on so this has been a nice pop of colour. Or if your house is already super colorful this would be a fun addition! This is awesome craft you can make at your home in free time.


Looking for a quick summer project. I’ve got you covered with this easy Anthro-inspired bandana DIY bracelet!

I don’t know about you but getting bogged down with an intense craft project is not my main focus this summer season, I live in Seattle the winters are brutal but the summers are a dream. Needless to say it’s finally sunny and the weather is currently ON POINT so I’m all about playing and less crafting. BUT that’s right I didn’t come here today to talk about my vacay plans I am here to talk DIY.

Crafting is my love language. So when I spotted the most amazing bandana bracelet at my local Anthropologie, it was love at first sight! I knew I had to make it with you today because I need one in my life! If you saw me that one fine day you would have seen a huge light bulb above my head that’s how much this project was “meant to be”. It’s perfect for summer AND for those people who “profess the DIY-less skills”, yep, they can make this too! So let’s get started.



Step 1. bandana in half diagonally right through the center. Don’t freak out if it’s not perfect. SERIOUSLY, no ruler required or stress for the perfect line.

Step 2. Then fold the corners of the bandana into the center corner so that the edges meet together in the middle as seen in the picture below. It will be square shaped. Folding it this way will keep the frayed edges inside so you do not need to finish it with a sewing machine.

Step 3. Fold that square in half along the lines this will leave you a triangle. As seen in the photo below.

Step 4. Then fold the bandana into thirds. I feel like this folding part is the trickiest part of this project but don’t worry folding is more housework and less craft skills so you still got this!

Step 5. Finally, once you have the bandana folded like so, you will need to attach the rhinestone piece. Using one of your pliers to remove the the extra loops from the pendant, secure your rhinestone pendant in place with a needle and thread. No fancy stitches here friends, just enough to get that sucker in place! I went through all the layers as I tacked the rhinestone into place. To finish off your bandana DIY bracelet, clip off the loose thread from your needle.

Step 6. Final step? Wear it! This length is long enough to tie once onto your wrist. I LOVE IT.

This easy Anthro-inspired bandana DIY bracelet is easy to whip together and won’t interfere with your summer plans because it takes less than 5 minutes to make AND the cost to make is fractions less of the regular price. So you can look fabulous the rest of the summer AND make a few more for the price that would cost you to buy ONE at Anthropologie. Thanks for stopping by and I’m so excited to hang out with you more later this month with an awesome new tutorial!


I love crafting with children. It is something that I enjoy doing and all the kids in my life know that if they want to get creative, they can call me. Sometimes we do something really simple, and other times we do something that people can’t believe children made. One example is the printmaking tutorial I shared. This glue resist fabric painting (using a technique called batik) is another one.  In this tutorial I will teach you how to batik with glue and make a fun tote bag. The final project looks really neat and the kids will enjoy showing it off or gifting it to family and friends, who will cherish it for years to come!

The best thing about this project is that learning how to batik with glue is very simple and uses basic art supplies plus any type of cotton fabric. We decided to paint a couple of totes which I keep in my car to use when out and about shopping. Follow along as my 8 year old daughter and I show you how to make some fun canvas totes!


If you prefer a video tutorial Lay your fabric tote flat. Plan out what the design will be that you are creating. My daughter decided to put her design within a rectangle inside she created a garden of flowers. Using white school glue squeeze out a thin line drawing your design as you would with a pencil. Make sure to keep your wrist off the surface so that you don’t smear any glue.

Once the design is done set it aside to dry completely. This can take just a few minutes up to an hour depending how thick the glue was applied.

Once the glue is completely dry it is time to start painting! Place a sheet of paper inside the tote to prevent any paint from bleeding through. Using acrylic, paint on your design. Make sure to go right up to or over the glue. Remember where the glue is now will be a white line – so think of it as the outline of your design.

Once you’ve completed painting the design, set it aside to dry completely.

Once the paint has dried it is time to remove the glue. The easiest way to do this is to fill a sink with a few inches of warm water (the hotter, the better).

Rub at the glue, using your nail on stubborn portions. You’ll soon reveal the white outlines – watch with amazement as the design comes to life!

Once the glue has been removed, set aside to dry one last time.

That’s it, now you can enjoy your new tote! We hop you and your kids enjoyed learning how to batik with glue. Now start thinking of other fabric pieces you can try this technique on! Kids might also like to try out using potato stamps to paint tote bags with. They’ll get a kick out of this fun technique.

Kim Conner at Inspiration Made Simple, is a graphic designer,
crafter, and full-time, outside the home, working mom of three. Inspiration Made Simple is filled with fun craft ideas, tons of free printable,
party ideas, and other inspiration.

White chocolate and raspberry cake

If you like your cakes sweet and fruity, this white chocolate and raspberry cake will put a smile on your face. Topped with indulgent cream cheese and white chocolate frosting, it’s a cake you can happily serve as a dessert.


  • 175g/6oz unsalted butter, softened, plus extra for greasing
  • 175g/6oz golden caster sugar
  • 225g/8oz self-raising flour
  • ¼ tsp baking powder
  • 3 medium free-range eggs
  • 100g/3½oz plain yogurt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • pinch salt
  • 75g/2¾oz white chocolate, finely chopped
  • 125g/4½oz raspberries, plus a few extra to decorate (optional)

For the icing

  • 100g/3½oz white chocolate
  • 250g/9oz cream cheese
  • 75g/2¾oz icing sugar


  1. Preheat the oven to 180C/160C Fan/Gas 4. Grease and line a deep, 23cm/9in a round cake tin with baking paper.
  2. Put the butter, sugar, flour, baking powder, eggs, yoghurt, vanilla extract, and salt into a large mixing bowl and beat with an electric whisk until lump-free. Fold through the white chocolate followed by half the raspberries. Scrape the batter into the tin and level the top with a back of a spoon. Scatter over the remaining raspberries.
  3. Bake in the middle of the oven for 45–55 minutes, or until a skewer poked into the middle comes out clean. Leave to cool in the tin for 5 minutes, then remove from the tin and leave to cool completely.
  4. To make the icing, set aside one of the remaining white chocolate squares, then roughly chop the rest. Melt the chopped chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of barely simmering water, making sure the bowl doesn’t touch the water – or in a microwave using short blasts of low heat.
  5. Mash the cream cheese and icing sugar together in a big bowl. Drizzle over the melted chocolate and use an electric whisk to beat together until just combined.
  6. Swirl the icing over the cooled cake, then grate over the last square of chocolate. Dot a few extra raspberries over to decorate, if you like. Any leftovers will keep in an airtight container for 3–4 days.

Classic carrot cake recipe

Nothing beats a classic carrot cake – this one has a touch of orange and walnuts plus the obligatory cream cheese icing. Delicious!


For the carrot cake

  • 4 free-range eggs, at room temperature
  • 200ml/7fl oz vegetable or sunflower oil, plus a little extra for the tin
  • 250g/9oz carrots, coarsely grated
  • 100g/3½oz raisins or sultanas (optional)
  • 100g/3½oz walnut pieces, plus a few extra for decoration
  • 1 orange, zest only
  • 200g/7oz self-raising flour
  • 2 tsp mixed spice
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • ¼ tsp fine salt
  • 200g/7oz light brown sugar

For the cream cheese frosting

  • 150g/5½oz unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3 tbsp caster sugar
  • 300g/10½oz cream cheese


  1. For the carrot cake, preheat the oven to 180C/170C Fan/Gas 4. Grease and line a deep, 20cm/8in a round cake tin with baking paper.
  2. Break the eggs into a large bowl, and lightly whisk using a fork. Add the vegetable oil and whisk again. Stir in the grated carrots, raisins, walnut pieces, and orange zest.
  3. In a separate large bowl, sift the flour, mixed spice, bicarbonate of soda, and salt. Stir in the sugar. Add the wet carrot mixture to the dry ingredients and mix well to combine, making sure there are no pockets of flour.
  4. Spoon the cake batter into the lined tin and bake on the middle shelf for 1–1¼ hours, until the cake has risen and is golden-brown all over. Remove the cake from the oven and set it aside in the tin to cool for 10–15 mins, then turn the cake out and leave it to cool completely on a wire rack.
  5. While the carrot cake cools, make the frosting. Place the butter in a large bowl with the caster sugar, beat it for 2–3 minutes until light and creamy, then beat in the cream cheese until smooth. Place the cake on a serving plate or cake stand. Use a palette, or wide flat-bladed, to spread the frosting over the top and sides of the cake. Scatter more walnuts on the top and serve.

Dark and sumptuous chocolate cake

A vegan chocolate cake to die for from Nigella Lawson’s Simply Nigella. For this recipe, you will need a leakproof 20cm/8in the springform cake tin.


For the icing

  • 75g/2½oz coconut butter (this is not the same as oil)
  • 50g/1¾oz soft dark sugar
  • 1½ tsp instant espresso
  • 1½ tbsp cocoa powder
  • 150g/5½oz dark chocolate (minimum 70% cocoa solids), finely chopped

For the cake

  • 225g/8oz plain flour
  • 1½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • ½ tsp fine sea salt
  • 1½ tsp instant espresso powder
  • 75g/2½oz cocoa powder
  • 300g/10½oz soft dark brown sugar
  • 375ml/13fl oz hot water, from a recently boiled kettle
  • 90ml/3fl oz (or 75g/2½oz if weighed when solid) coconut oil
  • 1 tbsp edible rose petals, to decorate
  • 1 tbsp chopped pistachios, to decorate


  1. Preheat the oven to 180C/160C Fan/Gas 4 and pop on a baking sheet at the same time.
  2. For the icing, put all of the icing ingredients except the chopped chocolate into a heavy-based saucepan and add 4 tablespoons of cold water. Bring to the boil, making sure everything’s dissolved. Then turn off the heat but leave the pan on the hob. Quickly add the finely chopped chocolate and swirl the pan so that it is all underwater, so to speak. Leave for a scant minute, then whisk until you have a darkly glossy icing, and leave to cool. I find this takes exactly the amount of time the cake takes to make, cook and cool. But do give the icing a stir with a spatula every now and again.
  3. Line the bottom of your springform cake tin (you will need a good, leakproof one as this is a very wet batter) with baking parchment.
  4. Put the flour, bicarbonate of soda, salt, instant espresso, and cocoa powder in a bowl and fork to mix.
  5. Mix together the sugar, water, coconut oil, and vinegar until the coconut oil has melted, and stir into the dry ingredients. Pour into the prepared tin and bake for 35 minutes. Though do check at the 30-minute mark to see if it is already done. When it’s ready, the cake will be coming away from the edges of the tin and a cake tester will come out clean, apart from a few crumbs. This is a fudgy cake and you don’t want to overdo it.
  6. Once the cake is cooked, transfer the tin to a wire rack and let the cake cool in its tin. Once completely cool remove from the tin.
  7. Turn to your icing, and give it a good stir with a spatula to check it is at the right consistency. It needs to be runny enough to cover the cake, but thick enough to stay (mostly) on the top. So pour over the cake, and use a spatula to ease the icing to the edges, if needed. If you wish to decorate, now is the time to do it. In which case, sprinkle joyously with rose petals and chopped pistachios or anything else that your heart desires; otherwise, leave it gleaming darkly and, indeed, sumptuously. Leave to stand for 30 minutes for the icing to set before slicing into the cake.