Showing posts with label Baking. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Baking. Show all posts

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Strawberry Cake - Recipe

                                              Fantasy Cake - a recipe by Lisa Faulkner

I've been away from home this week and have indulged in some fabulous food, especially my treat of the week, which was an evening meal at Le Caprice. As regular readers know I love coffee, and I've had more than a few expertly made cups this week but the best was definitely at Le Caprice.

I made this cake a couple of weeks ago and have to say my strawberries have been amazing this year, I can't believe how many strawberries you can get off two rows. I've made a few strawberry cakes this year from them and these are now my favourite summer cakes, they're fabulous, especially if you serve them with cream.

I came across this recipe whilst browsing through some cookery books in the library, a quick search on the web and everyone agreed this cake is one of the best strawberry cakes ever.

The recipe can be found on the Waitrose website and they have a video on You Tube showing the cake being made -  I'd recommend using the method shown on the video and not the one on the website. My only comment regarding the recipe is the amount of strawberries used which is 400g, I used less and it was absolutely fine.

The cake keeps really well covered in cling wrap and stored in the fridge.

Make it before all the fresh strawberries disappear!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Mini Raspberry Cream Brownies - Recipe

These petits fours are 'high faff' and take a bit of patience to make but they are well worth it. They're quite rich and I could only manage to eat one, which is no bad thing, because I really wouldn't want to know how calorific they are.

I've got a few raspberry canes at the bottom of the garden, there's nothing quite like home grown raspberries, they are in a league of their own.

My hob is induction and melting chocolate is a dream, it's possible to place the chocolate in a pan and melt it gently on the hob, it's so much easier than melting chocolate over a pan of water and I find the chocolate never overheats.

The cream is made from raspberry puree, cream and melted white chocolate, I added a little red food colouring to brighten up the raspberry cream to give it a pretty pink colour.

When I piped these I didn't let the raspberry cream chill down for long enough
I'm off for a week to eat at a few posh restaurants and some not so posh, drink coffee at some trendy coffee shops and some not so trendy.......but meanwhile I'll leave you with the recipe for these fabulous brownies.....

You will need:  22cm square baking tin, greased  and lined with baking parchment so the paper extends over all four sides.  4cm cutter.

80g salted butter
150g dark chocolate
115g caster sugar
2 small eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
60g plain flour
3 tbsp cocoa powder

Raspberry Cream
250g raspberries
1 tbsp icing sugar
60ml cream
125g white chocolate

1. Preheat the oven to 160ºC.
2. Place the chocolate and butter into a bowl and place over a saucepan with gently simmering water. Stir until the butter and chocolate have melted. Remove the bowl and allow to cool.
3.Place the sugar, eggs and vanilla in a bowl and mix until pale and creamy.
4. Fold in the cooled chocolate.  Sift over the flour and cocoa powder.
5. Pour into the baking tin and cook for 15-20 minutes. Cool in the tin. Place in the fridge for an hour.
6. Raspberry Cream.  Place 125g raspberries with the icing sugar into a food processor and blend until smooth.  Strain through a fine sieve. Add the raspberry puree to a small saucepan along with the cream and bring to the boil.  Add the pieces of white chocolate to the pan, remove from the heat and spoon the raspberry cream over the chocolate pieces.  Leave it for approximately 5 minutes and then whisk to a smooth glossy sauce.  Pour into a bowl and place in the fridge until chilled and set.
7. Take the cake out of the fridge, remove the cake from the tin.  Place on a board and cut out rounds using the cutter.
8. Place the chilled raspberry cream into a piping bag fitted with a 1M Wilton nozzle and pipe onto the brownie rounds, top with a fresh raspberry.

I'm submitting this post to the recipe linky #cookblogshare over at Supergolden Bakes.......

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

Foodie Treats - June/July 2014

This (last) month I've kindly been sent a few samples of Nielsen-Massey finest extracts and flavourings to use in my baking.

Open my baking cupboard in the kitchen and you can always find a bottle of Neilsen-Massey vanilla, and also their almond extract, I would be lost without them. Lemon Extract is useful for adding to cakes and icings and often gets me out of a few scrapes when I find I'm short of lemons. Orange Blossom Water added to chocolate cake is one of my favourites.  These products are baker's delights.

                                                               Coco Cafe

Coconut water is a popular drink with many health benefits and one of these is to hydrate. The drink is made from pure coconut water, a shot of espresso for a hit of caffeine and low fat milk - what's not to like.

Thirsty on a hot summers day but longing for a coffee/mocha coffee.........Coco Cafe is the perfect drink to be enjoyed fridge cold.

Disclaimer:  I was sent the above products but wasn't asked to write a positive review - thank you for the review samples.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Meringue Roulade with Elderflower Infused Strawberries - Recipe

Strawberries from the garden, egg whites from the freezer, chocolate from the store cupboard - I only had to buy the whipping cream.  I nearly got away with a free dessert!

The slightly adapted recipe is by Mary Berry and one I have used many, many times and in true Mary Berry style - I cut the finished roulade in half and put one half in the freezer for another day.

I serve my meringue with lots of macerated strawberries
I'm very sad but I always feel happy when I line a tin neatly
Remove the lining paper and dab meringue into the four corners (this secures the lining paper)
place the lining paper into the tin and then add the meringue
The cooked meringue 
Now for the recipe:
4 egg whites
225g caster sugar
pinch cream of tartar
300ml whipping cream
1tsp vanilla extract
icing sugar for dusting
dark chocolate for decoration

1. Preheat the oven to 200ºC/180ºC Fan. Line a large baking sheet with baking parchment.
2. Whisk the egg whites with a pinch of cream of tartar until stiff. Add the sugar a teaspoon at a time, until the egg whites are stiff and glossy.
3. Spread the egg whites evenly on the lined baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes until golden. Remove from the oven and cool on a baking rack for 10 minutes.
4. Take a large sheet of baking parchment and dust with sifted icing sugar.  Turn the meringue over onto the baking parchment.  Remove the paper from the base of the meringue.
5. Whip the cream and vanilla extract to soft peaks.
6. Spread the cream over the meringue, roll the meringue from one of the long ends, using the parchment paper to help with the rolling. Dust with icing sugar.
7. Melt a few pieces of dark chocolate and drizzle over the meringue.
TIP: The cream of tartar helps stabilise the meringue and prevents weeping too.

Elderflower Infused Strawberries
200g fresh strawberries
1 tablespoon elderflower cordial
1 tablespoon caster sugar

1. Wash the strawberries.
2. Cut the strawberries into quarters.
3. Pour over the elderflower cordial, sprinkle over the caster sugar.
4. Mix together.
5. Cover and place in the fridge overnight.

The swiss roll tin I used measures 34x24x2 and is part of the range of The Bakers Dozen James Martin Bakeware by Stellar Cookware which I reviewed in a previous blog post.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Zing Silicone Utensils by Premier Housewares - Review

Silicone Kitchen Essentials - Eye Catching Branding
Yellow is this season's must have colour and it's bringing a welcome splash of sunshine into my kitchen. I love having bright splashes of colour dotted about and they go really well with classic stainless steel and black.
The tongs are easily adjustable
The deep slotted spoon, tongs and mat all have rings for hanging and they are heat resistant to 240ºC.  I really like the silicone mat it measures approximately 17x17cm and is large enough to take one of my medium size saucepans.  The tongs are spring loaded and are adjusted for width using the ring pull, for safety there are silicone pads on both sides of the handles to prevent burns. The slotted spoon is ideal as a strainer or for stirring.

I've got a few products from Zing in my kitchen draw, they are sturdy, great quality and have never discoloured, also they don't absorb odours and they still look like new.  I often bake and I use my spatula for scraping that last bit of cake batter out of the mixing bowl.  The turner is an invaluable piece of kit too, I use it for cakes, cooking scrambled eggs, everything really.  Another favourite of mine is the pastry brush, it washes quickly and easily. Yes, you can safely say I'm a fan!
There are lots of  fabulous items in sunshine yellow
From collapsible colanders to weighing scales, from black to red, there is a colour for every kitchen.......

Something for everyone here!
Slotted Spoon - £6.99
Tongs  -  £6.99
Trivet  -  £3.49

Available from:  BHS, TRAGO Mills, Amazon, Independents both online and high street.

Thank you Pam and Premier Housewares

Disclaimer:  The products were sent for review purposes, all thoughts are my own.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

The Bakers Dozen James Martin Bakeware by Stellar - Review

Square Baking Tin with Loose Base 20x20x4.5
Swiss Roll Tin 34x24x2
I've been sent a couple of items to review from the new range by Stellar 'The Bakers Dozen' James Martin Bakeware.  The two pieces I have been sent are fabulous, they are made from heavy gauge carbon steel and these definitely won't warp in the oven. They have a double layer of non-stick coating inside and out and are oven safe to 240ºC. Dishwasher safe or allow to cool before easy hand washing in hot soapy water.

There are 13 pieces in the collection, I have yet to use the Swiss Roll Tin, but fear not, it will be used very soon.......

Before using for the first time it is best to season bakeware - all I did was to take a little oil and wipe over the surfaces, I then removed the oil residue with a kitchen towel.

I baked a cake in the square cake tin with a loose base - the loose base makes removing cakes very easy, and not having to line the sides of the tin with baking parchment is a dream. I lightly greased the sides and lined the base. The tins give even heat distribution and there is very little cake residue left on the tin to clean.

The tin can be used to make large or shallow cakes, sweet and savoury breads......

Iced Lemon Poppy Seed Bars
The cake batter
The cake shrinks away(without sticking) from the sides of the tin when cooked
Iced Lemon Poppy Seed Bars recipe - for days when you need to make a cake in a hurry!

125g soft butter
125g caster sugar
125g self raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
2 eggs
zest and juice of half a lemon
25g poppy seeds

For the icing:
225g sifted icing sugar
zest and juice of approximately 1 lemon
4 tablespoons of good quality lemon curd

1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC.
2. Add the softened butter, caster sugar, self raising flour, baking powder, eggs, zest and juice of half a lemon to a large bowl.  Mix for two minutes until soft and fluffy.  Fold in the poppy seeds.
3. Pour the batter into the greased baking tin, level the top.
4. Bake for approximately 35 minutes until golden or a skewer comes out clean.
5. Place the baked cake onto a cooling rack for 10 minutes.
6. Remove the cake by pushing the loose base of the tin.
7. Cool completely on a cake rack.
8. To make the icing: Place the lemon curd into an icing bag fitted with a small plain nozzle. Sift the icing sugar into a bowl, add the zest of the lemon and teaspoon by teaspoon add the lemon juice to make a thick pouring cream consistency.  Pour the icing over the cake and spread to the edges. Leave the icing until it is nearly set. Pipe the lemon curd in lines using a squiggly movement, to give the lemon curd some character.  Now take a skewer and pull it through the lemon curd and icing. Take a sharp knife and pull through the skewered lines to form a cutting line for the bars (this makes cutting the cake into bars easier).  Leave the icing to set. The cake will keep fresh for a few days.

The pieces are very reasonably priced and come with a 5 year non-stick guarantee and a Stellar Lifetime Guarantee:
  • Square Cake Tin with Loose Base SJM69 - £10.50    
  • Swiss Roll Tin SJM68 £10.50
Available from Amazon, Harts of Stur, online retailers and good cookshops nationwide.

For more details and stockists please visit Stellar Cookware.

Thank you to Stellar Cookware and Pam

Disclaimer:  The products were sent to me for review purposes and I haven't been asked to write a positive review.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Black Forest Cake - Recipe

Our first cherries this year
Some days it's easy to misjudge how long things are going to take and I didn't allow enough time to make my cake, hence the Black Forest cake is a 'little messy' on the sides of the cake. Once the cream was 'set'  I couldn't clean up the outside of the cake.  On the positive side I don't want my cakes to look as though they have come off a production line - I like the homely side of baking.

There are quite a few stages to making the finished cake and lot's of kitchen equipment is used, which equals loads of washing up, the dishwasher was definitely my best friend when I made this cake.

First stage is the chocolate base which wasn't chocolatey enough but I have allowed for this in the recipe below.  Second stage is a chocolate layer which is spread over the sponge cake.  Third stage is to puree a half a jar of sugar free cherry jam,  I used half a jar of Cerises Griottes, Montmorency Cherries which was a purchase from Le Pain Quotidien, and spread this over the set chocolate, third stage is to make a set cream topping, fourth stage is to make chocolate shards.

I was brought up on frozen Black Forest Gateaux(which I loved at the time) and this cake is thankfully on another level.......

The tin needs to be lined so the cake can be easily lifted out
Dark Belgian Chocolate is melted and spread over the upturned sponge cake
At last I got round to using the jar of jam that has been sitting in my store cupboard
Cherries from my greengrocer and quickly made shards of dark Belgian chocolate
The chocolate sponge layer was a bit shy of that lovely chocolate taste
but this cake is amazingly delicious
You will need:  20cm square baking tin lined with baking parchment - the lining paper needs to come 5cm above the tin to enable the cooked sponge to be lifted out of the tin.

For the cake
3 Eggs
100g Caster Sugar
75g Plain Flour
1 tsp Baking Powder
25g Cocoa Powder

Fruit Layer
Half a jar of unsweetened Morello Cherry Jam
1 tbsp either Kirsch or Brandy

Chocolate Layer
70g Dark Belgian Chocolate (I used Waitrose)

Cream Topping
2 tbsp Kirsch or Brandy
5 tbsp Icing Sugar
2 Gelatine Leaves
200ml Whipping or Double Cream

1.  Preheat the oven to 180ºC.
2.  Beat the eggs and sugar together until a whisk leaves a trail.
3.  Sift over the flour, baking powder and cocoa powder and fold in gently.
4.  Pour the batter into the baking tin and bake for 30 minutes. Cool in the tin.
5.  Remove the cooled cake from the tin by holding the baking paper.
6.  Place the cake onto a plate.  Melt the chocolate carefully over a pan of simmering water.
7.  Pour the melted chocolate over the sponge and leave to set.  Place in the fridge to harden.
8.  Puree half a jar of cherry jam with a tablespoon of kirsch or brandy and carefully spread over the set chocolate.
9.  To make the cream: put the kirsch into a small saucepan with the sieved icing sugar and place on a gentle heat.  Soak the leaf gelatine as per the manufacturers instructions. Whilst the pan is still on a gentle heat, add the soaked gelatine and stir to dissolve in the kirsch/brandy and icing sugar mixture.  Whisk the cream to the floppy stage and fold in the gelatine mixture.  Spread the cream over the pureed jam.
10. Make the chocolate shards.  Once the shards have been made place them into the freezer - because they are so thin they can be difficult to handle.
11. Decorate the cream with cherries and the chocolate shards.
12. Eat and enjoy - best served with some runny double cream.

If you enjoyed this post - please like and share:)

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Mortimer Chocolate Company - Chocolate Powder Review

The award winning pure chocolate powder from the Mortimer Chocolate Company is free from milk, fats and additives.  Their white couverture powder with natural vanilla is dairy, soya and gluten free.  The powders are sourced from several different countries.

The dark chocolate powders are really versatile and they can be used in cakes, desserts, sauces or piped and you can even make a fabulous hot chocolate drink.

Using the white couverture powder is a dairy free alternative to white chocolate and can be used in most white chocolate recipes.

Delicious Mini Chocolate Muffins
The Mortimer website have some fabulous recipes to try but I used a recipe of my own.  To get used to using these products I'd recommend using the tried and tested recipes on their website, they all sound delicious and their Gorgeous Chocolate Brownies recipe is next on my 'to bake' list.

I made some mini muffins using the dark chocolate powder and in my haste added it as a dry ingredient instead of mixing the powder into the melted butter which would have produced a dark chocolate muffin. The muffins were still delicious though and had flecks of chocolate powder running through them together with some dark chocolate chips. I also melted the chocolate powder and as if by magic it turns into a liquid which I then piped onto the cooled muffins.

The white couverture powder when melted is very thin and when it cools down it thickens but you need to keep a watchful eye if you use it to pipe, as I did, because I left it too long and then struggled to pipe my decorations.

Note:  The powders can be melted gently over a bain marie for piping.  I have an induction hob which makes life very easy for melting chocolate because I am able to place the powder directly into a pan and it melts very gently.

These are sustainable products, rich in cocoa solids, free from and best of all, they taste delicious too.

Mortimer Chocolate Company is a family business and started in 2006. The products can be purchased online or their West African Dark Chocolate Powder can be purchased nationwide from Sainsbury's price £3.80.

Disclosure:  I was sent the above products, all thoughts are my own and I wasn't asked to write a positive review.

Thank you for the delicious review samples.

If you enjoyed reading this post, please like and share.

Saturday, May 03, 2014

Coffee Crunch Bars - Recipe

Coffee Crunch Bars
I love coffee and cake and these small crunchy bites were a fabulous accompaniment to my mid- morning latte.  If I was able to choose one of these cakes in a coffee shop I'd be more than delighted.  The sponge layer is light and the coffee and spiced crunchy topping is drizzled with an espresso icing.

I buy espresso powder for baking but it can also be used in chilli con carne for richness, depth of flavour and colour.

Makes: 18

You will need:  18cm shallow square tin base and sides lined with baking parchment paper

For the cake:
55g Stork
100g Caster Sugar
1 egg
5 tbsp thick natural yogurt (if there is any whey place into a fine sieve to drain off the whey)
125g self raising flour
½ tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
½ tsp vanilla extract

85g plain flour
70g unsalted butter
½ tsp ground mixed spice
1½ tsp espresso powder
70g caster sugar
pinch of salt

85g icing sugar
1 tbsp made espresso coffee

1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC.
2. Make the topping - into a bowl place the flour and butter into a bowl and rub the butter into the flour to resemble fine breadcrumbs.  Stir in the mixed spice, coffee and caster sugar.  Put on one side.
3. Make the sponge - add all of the ingredients into a bowl and mix for 2 minutes.
4. Pour the cake batter into the base of the prepared tin and level.
5. Sprinkle the topping evenly over the batter.
6. Bake for 35 minutes and test by inserting a skewer into the centre of the cake, if it comes out clean the cake is cooked.
7. Transfer the cooked tin to a cooling rack.  When the cake has cooled down - remove by holding onto the baking paper and placing on the cooling rack until completely cold.  When cold carefully remove the baking paper.
8. To make the icing - place the icing sugar into a bowl, gradually add the coffee.  If the mixture is too thick add a little water.
9. Place the cooled cake onto a board, cut into 18 pieces and drizzle over the icing.  Leave to set.

More recipe ideas using espresso powder
Cappuccino Cupcakes
Coffee Cappuccino Creams with Cream and Sweet Coffee Sauce

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Mary Berry's Lemon Drizzle Cake - Recipe

Lemon Drizzle Cake with a Crunchy Topping
I've been making this recipe for more years than I care to remember.  It's easy to make, only requires a few ingredients, bakes well and freezes too - not forgetting it is amazingly delicious.

This last week I've been away from home and it doesn't leave any time for baking, but I just managed to find time to make this Mary Berry recipe.  There are lots of recipes for lemon drizzle but this one has a tender crumb and the granulated sugar topping is perfect.

Mary Berry calls these Crunchy Lemon Syrup Loaves
Instead of making loaf cakes use a small oblong tin and make a traybake
 or the batter can be used to make cupcakes
It can get a bit messy in my kitchen!

You will need:
2 eggs at room temperature
175g self-raising flour
175g caster sugar
100g soft margarine (Stork)
1 tsp baking powder
finely grated zest of 1 lemon
4 tbsp milk

For the crunchy topping:
100g granulated sugar
juice of 1 lemon (to get more juice from the lemon simply pierce the lemon and place in the microwave for 10 seconds)

2 x 450g loaf tins, greased and lined

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
2. Beat together the eggs, flour, caster sugar,  milk, baking powder and lemon zest until smooth, using an ice cream scoop place the batter into the prepared loaf tins.
3. Bake for about 35 minutes until golden brown.  Place the tins onto a wire rack to cool.
4. Whilst the cakes are cooling, make the topping by mixing together the granulated sugar and lemon juice.
5. Leave the loaves in their tins and pour the topping over them.  Leave to cool before removing from the tins.

More Lemon Drizzle Cake Recipes:
This Year:          Almond and Lemon Drizzle Cake Bars
Four Years Ago: Lemon Drizzle Cake - National Baking Week

Friday, April 04, 2014

Hummingbird Cake - Recipe

The cake has to be stored in the fridge or cut into portions and freeze
The last three cakes I've made have used tinned crushed pineapple and thankfully I have now used up the last tin...........I chose to make this cake because I love the name Hummingbird Cake!

Apparently this cake recipe has been around since the 19th century and is a tradition in the Southern United States.  Hummingbird cake is made using coconut, banana, spices, crushed pineapple and pecans, with a cream cheese frosting.

The 'cake lady' at my local coffee shop used to make this cake and it goes perfectly with a cup of coffee, but for me any cake goes perfectly with a cup of coffee.

Hummingbird Cake
It's a really easy cake to make and you don't need any fancy kitchen equipment - all you need is a bowl, spoon and a sieve.

You will need:  23cm square cake tin greased and base lined.

450g can crushed pineapple
150g plain flour
75g self-raising flour
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
220g soft light brown sugar
45g desiccated coconut
2 ripe bananas, mashed
2 eggs
180ml vegetable oil

1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC.
2. Pour the contents of the tin of crushed pineapple into a sieve set over a basin and leave to drain. Press down with a potato masher to get the syrup to drain into the bowl.  Reserve 60ml of the pineapple syrup for later.
3. Sift the plain and self raising flour into a bowl, followed by the bicarbonate of soda and spices. Add the sugar to the bowl, stir in the drained pineapple, reserved syrup, coconut, banana, eggs and oil.  Pour the cake batter into the cake tin.
4. Bake the cake for approximately 40 minutes. Leave the cake in the tin for 10 minutes, remove the cake to a rack to cool.

Cream Cheese Frosting
30g butter, softened
60g full fat cream cheese, softened
1 tsp vanilla extract
240g icing sugar
Pecans, chopped to decorate

1. Cream the butter and cream cheese together in a large bowl.  Add the vanilla extract and gradually beat in the sifted icing sugar.
2. Spread over the cooled cake.
3. Decorate with chopped pecans.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Pineapple and Lime Cake - Recipe

This cake uses tinned crushed pineapple but a tin of pineapple slices or cubes can be used, unfortunately fresh pineapple wouldn't work because you need to use the juice from the tin.

The topping is a cream cheese icing and I know recipes always say cakes can't be frozen with this icing but I find they thaw without any problems.  I always slice and freeze my cakes otherwise I'd end up the size of a house.

The cake is full of fabulous ingredients and we loved it
You will need:  20cm springform tin cake tin buttered and lined - I lined the base and sides.

200g butter softened
200g light brown sugar
4 large eggs
200g self raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground mixed spice
225g tin crushed pineapple
1 tsp vanilla extract
zest and juice of 1 lime

For the icing:
200g full fat cream cheese
70g butter, softened
400g icing sugar, sifted
Zest of 1 lime
2 tsp lime juice

1. Preheat the oven to 170ºC/Fan 150ºC.
2. Add the butter and sugar to a mixing bowl. Beat until light and fluffy.
3. Beat the eggs together, add a little at a time to the cake batter.
4. Sift together the flour, baking powder and spices.  Fold into the cake batter.
5. Stir in the pineapple, pineapple juice, lime zest and juice and vanilla extract.
6. Pour the cake mixture into the prepared tin.  Bake for 30 minutes or until a cocktail stick placed into the cake comes out clean.
7. Place the tin on a cooling rack and leave to cool for 15 minutes. Remove the cake from the tin and place on the rack to cool completely.

To make the icing:
1. Beat the cream cheese and butter together until light and fluffy.
2. Add the sifted icing sugar a little at a time otherwise you will end up with icing sugar all over the kitchen, beat until smooth.  Add the lime juice and beat again.
3. Spread over the cooled cake and decorate with the zest of a lime.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Carrot Cake with Coconut and Pineapple - Recipe

I'm always happy to buy a coffee and a piece of carrot cake from Pret - the one I usually head for is situated in Selfridges Food Hall. It's the perfect place for a spot of people watching.

I really prefer indie coffee shops, but in the week they've mostly been taken over by 'suits' and laptops - try going into them with shopping bags and you feel like Bridget Jones entering the board room wearing the wrong attire.

Pret make the lightest moist carrot cake and I'm always happy with their coffee too, to be fair I like everything from Pret.  I've had their cookery book 'Food on the Move' for years now and it's amazing that they have shared their recipes with us.

I made my carrot cake in a tin with individual squares and made nine cakes, they were a bit on the large side though, next time I'm going to try 10 or 11 cakes.  The cake tin came from Lakeland.

Slightly adapted recipe - the iced cakes will freeze and thaw successfully.

You will need:  21cm square baking tin greased and lined with baking paper or a 12 hole square tin greased and base lined.

For the cake:
2 eggs
200g soft brown sugar
150ml vegetable oil
200g grated carrot
50g chopped walnuts
75g diced tinned pineapple
50g dessicated coconut
200g plain flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tsp salt

For the icing: (I made half this quantity)
400g sifted icing sugar
100g full fat cream cheese at room temperature
50g soft unsalted butter
1tsp vanilla extract

1. Preheat the oven to 150ºC.
2. Take an electric whisk at full speed and whisk the eggs until doubled in volume. Add the sugar, whisk until light and fluffy.  Whisking add the oil slowly.  Whisk until the mixture leaves a trail.
3. Fold in the carrots, walnuts, pineapple pieces and coconut.
4. Sift the flour, cinnamon, bicarb and salt over the batter.  Fold in gently.
5. Place the cake batter into the baking tin.  Bake for 1 hour for the square tin or 40 minutes for the small square cakes.
6. Cool the cakes for 15 minutes and turn out onto a cooling rack.

Method for the icing:
1. Beat the butter, cream cheese and vanilla extract together.
2. Beat in the sifted icing a third at a time (carefully otherwise the kitchen will be covered in icing sugar)
3. Spread the icing over the top of the cake.
4. Decorate.

Saturday, March 01, 2014

Chocolate Chip Cupcakes - Recipe

Fairtrade bananas are used in this recipe
Fairtrade fortnight is from 24th February through to 9th March 2014.  I'm a week late with my Fairtrade posting but better late than never.

Chocolate makes everything taste better and these little beauties have chocolate chips in the cake too. Banana and chocolate is a wonderful pairing and you can't really go wrong.

Somehow in my kitchen there are always a couple of black bananas left in the fruit bowl, you've got to bake these delicious cupcakes, you know you want to........

Kitchen Kit: Food Processor

Makes: 10

You will need:  muffin tin lined with cupcake cases

80g softened salted butter
100g soft brown sugar
1 large egg
50ml room temperature milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
130g self raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
2 very ripe bananas mashed
40g dark chocolate chips

For the topping:

50g dark chocolate
15g salted butter
Cadbury chocolate flakes

1. Preheat the oven to 190ºC.
2. Place the softened butter and sugar in the food processor. Process to combine.  Scrape down and then add the egg, milk and vanilla extract.  Process quickly, scrape down again.
3. Add the flour and baking powder, process until combined.  Add the mashed banana and process. Using the pulse function quickly add the chocolate chips.
4. Fill the muffin cases. Bake for 25-30 minutes.
5. Cool for 10 minutes and then remove from the tins and cool on a baking tray.
6. Place a bowl over a pan of barely simmering water, add the chocolate and butter stirring until melted.
7. Take a spoon and add blobs of the chocolate mixture on top of each cupcake, cool slightly and add a piece of flake.
8. Eat!

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Lemon Meringue Pie - Recipe

My miniature daffodils are about to come out in bloom, the sun has shone at least a couple of times this week and I am still hopeful the dead patch on the front lawn, where the skip sat for a few weeks, will suddenly spring into life and we'll see some grass poking through.

Lemon meringue pie is rarely on the dessert menu these days, which is no bad thing because typically it's a disappointment when it arrives and leaves me wanting to weep. Lemon meringue pie is a thing of beauty and for me it's got to be perfect.

I wish it didn't take so long to make. Occasionally I make and line the baking tin with pastry the day before and leave it in the fridge until the next day - a two day operation to make the pie but it makes life easier.

I'm not keen on lemon fillings which taste of lemon curd but this recipe by Delia Smith is the one I have used over the years and I would take some convincing that it can be improved upon.  I make more pastry than Delia recommends I find her amounts a bit on the skinny side and there is nothing more frustrating than finding there isn't enough pastry.

I mostly make Delia's recipe to the letter but after seeing Lorraine Pascale make her meringue using the reverse method I thought I'd experiment and give it a go.  The meringue doesn't look very promising when you start whisking but it sorts itself out in the end and I was impressed with the consistency and volume of meringue.  Occasionally my meringue weeps which is a pain but using this method the meringue doesn't weep and now I'm a convert.  For a crisp meringue I still used Delia's oven temperature and timings.

Friday, February 07, 2014

Almond and Lemon Drizzle Cake - Recipe

I can't resist kitchen gadgets and when I had a new kitchen it was a given I was going to choose ovens that require a few weeks to figure out how best to use them.

Over the past few weeks I have been trying to get to grips with my combination steam oven.  In the beginning it was all a battle and we both had to go through the pain barrier.  The oven won, I have the burn marks to prove it!  Care is needed when using steam ovens and I learnt very quickly how to use the oven safely.  

There are many steam oven options to choose from and if a separate steam oven isn't for you, main ovens can also be purchased that have a built-in steam function.  I went for a separate combination steam oven to give more options and also to have the facility of a small fan oven. 

One thing to be wary of when deciding to purchase a combination steam oven is some of the sales talk surrounding them.  To quote one salesman 'people are buying these now to replace their microwaves'. His statement is ridiculous, a steam oven cannot replace a microwave.  You wouldn't fill the water container, place your cereal bowl in a steam oven first thing in the morning and then empty the water container and remove all the excess water collected in the oven.

To date I've used it to cook vegetables, fruit, meat, fish and steamed puddings.  I've reheated food, used it to prove my bread dough and baked bread. Over the next few weeks I'll put a few more photographs and recipes on here letting you know how I'm getting on. 

This is my first encounter making a cake using a fan oven with steam. The cake didn't brown as much as I thought it would but on this occasion it wasn't an issue. Cakes which are overcooked can be an issue with conventional cookers - my cake had a very moist crumb and not at all dry, it also only took 20 minutes to bake.   

The lemon crunch topping is slightly different, whilst the cake is warm all you have to do is sprinkle over a layer of granulated sugar, Whitworth's has larger grains of sugar and is perfect for this cake, drizzle over the lemon juice.

I used a mixture of butter and Stork SB to give the cake a lighter crumb.

To bake in a conventional oven:

You will need:  20cm square lined baking tin

60g salted butter, softened
60g Stork SB
125g caster sugar
finely grated rind of 1 large lemon
2 large eggs
125g self-raising flour
65g ground almonds
60g granulated sugar
Juice of 1 lemon, strained

1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC.  Add the butter, Stork SB, caster sugar and lemon rind to a large bowl, mix with an electric whisk until light and fluffy.  Beat the eggs and add gradually to the cake batter, adding a dessertspoon of flour to prevent the batter from curdling.
2. Fold in the flour and ground almonds. Pour the batter into the tin and spread to the edges.
3. Bake for 25 minutes until firm.  Place the cake tin on a cooling rack.
4. Leaving the cake in the tin and whilst it is warm sprinkle over the sugar and drizzle over the strained lemon juice.

One Year Ago - Mary Berry's Gingerbread Traybake - Recipe

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Devil's Food Loaf - Annie Bell

Dark, sticky chocolate cake with a tender crumb
I wouldn't make this cake for children it's too dark and chocolaty - the icing is also too dark and chocolaty for children! My cake is so good I don't really want to share it with anyone - although I've made an exception and let hubby enjoy a few slices.  The cake cuts well and is a keeper too - I made this cake last Monday, stored it in a 'Lock and Lock' box and today (Saturday) it is still fresh.

The recipe is by Annie Bell, one of my favourite food writers, her Devil's Food Loaf recipe caught my eye in last weekends Daily Mail You Magazine. I've always enjoyed making her recipes because I can trust them to turn out well.

I love that this is a cake-cum-dessert and a dollop of creme fraiche or ice cream are the perfect partners for the cake.

If you love chocolate cake, you'll definitely fall head over heels for this one. A great cake to make for Valentine's Day and all you have to do is scatter some heart decorations over the icing.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Chocolate and Beetroot Mini Cakes - Recipe

Chocolate and Beetroot Mini Cakes
Mini cakes that look cute make eating mini portions a pleasure and I also like an excuse to use my mini loaf baking tins.  January is the month to measure our food intake and these mini cakes are delicious.

I'm not suggesting for one minute these are healthy mini bites but mentally they definitely lift the spirits on a dull, grey, rainy, January day.

The Craisins are used in the batter mix and I decorated the loaves with them too. Craisins are dried cranberries and a registered trademark belonging to Ocean Spray.

Makes 12 mini loaves
Spray the tins with cake release and it shouldn't be necessary to line the bases
I wasn't sure how many cakes I'd get but guessed if I filled the tins three quarters full I'd stand a chance of them rising enough to produce 12 cakes.

Good guess - it made 12 mini loaves
Decorated they will keep for a couple of days, without icing they can be frozen.

You will need:

75g dark chocolate
75g chopped Craisins
150g grated Beetroot
175g self-raising flour
40g cocoa powder
175g soft brown sugar
250ml vegetable oil
3 large eggs


1. Preheat the oven to 170ºC.
2. Place the chocolate into a bowl over a pan of gently simmering water until it has melted, stir and cool.
3. Sift the flour and cocoa powder into a bowl, add the sugar, oil, eggs and melted chocolate.  Whisk together and stir in the grated beetroot and Craisins.
4. Pour the batter into the mini loaf compartments until they are three quarters full.  Bake for 25 minutes and allow them to cool in the pans.
5. Remove the loaves from the pan and decorate with icing and extra Craisins.

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