About MissCakeBaker

I spend the week running in heels and the weekends in my apron.

Friday, 23 December 2011

Nigella's Festive Rocky Road

Christmas isn't really Christmas without some overly indulgent Nigella recipe.  When I was young and growing up in the middle of the Lincolnshire countryside we used to spend Christmas Eve on rotation at the house of one of three families in the village.  One of these was the house of my best friend from Primary School and the highlight was the fact I knew her Mum would make a Rocky Road Log.  It was so delicious and I used to always sneak back to the table for a second helping.  What I find weird about Rocky Road is that I love the glace cherries contained in it but can't bear them normally.

I've always meant to enter the Forever Nigella challenges hosted by Maison Cupcake but never got round to it. When I saw the Christmas challenge however I knew straight away what Nigella recipe I would make - her festive version of Rocky Road.  Of course it's not quite as good as the one of my memory but a very close second.

Here is the link to the recipe on nigella.com.

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Christmas Ale Fruit Loaf

I was given Home Baked by Eric Lanlard a few months ago and have finally got round to making one of his cakes. I've done the recipe for his Ale Fruit loaf but in the spirit of the season I used Harvey's Christmas Ale instead of a regular one.  The recipe also lists wholemeal self-raising flour as an ingredient.  As I didn't have any in the cupboard I used wholemeal spelt flour and added a teaspoon of baking powder to the mixture.  I do love fruit cake and Wensleydale cheese - I think that is my Yorkshire roots coming out - and this cake is perfect for that combination.  Did you know by the way that Wensleydale cheese production almost had to finish in the 1990s due to such low sales.  It was however featured in the Wallace & Gromit animations and sales shot up saving this lovely cheese which was originally created by French Cistercian monks who settled in Wensleydale in the 14th century.  In his book Eric also suggests serving it toasted and buttered with raspberry jam which would be delicious too. Either way this is a great cake for eating in front of the TV on those days between Christmas and NY just as it's getting dark outside and it's all cosy inside (or while typing up a blog post....).

This cake is also my entry into December's Tea Time Treats, a monthly baking challenge hosted alternatively by What Kate Baked and Lavender and Lovage.  The theme this month is, of course, Christmas and is being hosted by the fab Kate.

The Recipe (my version)

390g mixed dried fruit (out of interest can someone tell me why Sainsbury's normal mixed dried fruit is £1.54 for 300g and their luxury dried fruit £1.53 for the same amount?!)
1 x bottle (250ml) ale
100g soft brown sugar
85g self raising flour
100g wholemeal spelt flour
1 tspn baking powder
3 tsp's ground mixed spice
2 eggs, beaten

1. This is the easiest cake ever to make.  Firstly, the day before you want to make the cake, place the dried fruit in a saucepan with the beer and heat gently.  Place in a bowl, cover and leave overnight to soak.
2. The next day preheat the oven to 40c/gas mark 1.  Grease and line a loaf tin.
3.  Put the soaked dried fruit and all the other ingredients in a bowl and mix well.  Place in the loaf tin and cook.  The original recipe says to cook for 1 1/4 hours but mine took more like 1 1/2 hours.  Cool in the tin before turning out.  

According to Eric, you should wrap the loaf in cling film and it will keep in a cool, dry place for up to 6 weeks.

Monday, 12 December 2011

Walnut Air Kisses

This weekend's baking didn't quite go plan. Ive been burning the proverbial candle a lot this week which has meant I've barely been at home. We had invited our neighbours round for some Christmas drinks on Sunday. I had plans to make various things for it but let's just say Saturday night's party put pay to that idea. I did however decide to make Walnut and Chocolate Kisses which I found in a book I got given last year called 'Cooking for Christmas'.

To cut a long story short I ended up resembling  one of those annoying Come Dine with Me contestants who rush round finishing their cooking and getting changed as the guests are ringing the doorbell. These biscuits are meant to be sandwiched with a rich chocolate ganache then topped with melted dark choc and half a walnut. My ganache just went horribly wrong - probably because I was rushing but also I think as I veered away from using Lindt chocolate for one that was on offer. Lesson learnt. So these ended up with no chocolate kiss filling and are just walnut biscuits but quite nice ones at that. I will make them again properly with the filling. I wasn't even going to post them but one our friends said how much he liked them so I changed my mind. Apologies for the poor quality photos - I had to quickly snap them on my phone. I've renamed because they really can't be called proper Chocolate & Walnut Kisses so when is a kiss not a kiss? When it's an air kiss of course. And as I live in London I know a lot about those .......

Ps wish I could claim to have made the mince pies but ( hangs head in shame) they are shop bought.

The Recipe

OK here's the thing I don't have the recipe on me! Oh dear. To be posted later.....

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Food Bloggers Unplugged

I have been tagged by Paula of Sweethart Cakes and Bakes and Jean of Baking in Franglais to join in “Food Bloggers Unplugged” and reveal all sorts of food related things about myself.... Sorry it's taken me so long to do it guys. 

What or who inspired you to start a blog ?
I have often baked at the weekend and then sent Mr CB into work on the Monday with the goods.  I would like to say this is because I'm a generous soul (which I hope I am) but honestly it is more to do with the fact I don't trust myself not to sit there and scoff a whole cake. I often got asked to provide the recipe for something I'd made.   I decided that a blog would be a good place to put my recipes and to indulge my hobby as a change from my day job. 

2.  Who is your foodie inspiration ?
It has to be my Mum.  I was very lucky when I was growing up in the respect that my Mum was a lecturer in catering at a college so we were very well fed.  She is such a good cook so I grew up learning to cook, something which I am so thankful to her for to this day. As for chefs I just love Nigel Slater. 

3.  Your greatest batter-spattered food/drink book is ?
While I love baking I also really enjoy cooking as a whole. I really have 2 books that I refer to a lot - Nigella's How to Eat and for every day dinner ideas Bill Granger's Everyday. Give me a cookbook to read though and I'm a very happy bunny!

4.  Tell us about the best thing you've ever eaten in another country, where was it, what was it ?
I had lunch a few years about at a very unprepossessing restaurant on the edge of a mountain road near Barga di Lucca in Tuscany.  We went with a group of friends, several of whom were Italian, and we ate like kings.  I remember every last detail of that meal - the most amazing Pasta Fritta with Proscuitto and cheese, Lamb Cutlets with Rosemary Potatoes and Zucchini Fritti and local red wine followed by a competitive game of cards.  I have to say too that I have never eaten Fish and Chips which are as nice as the ones at Steels Fish and Chip Shop in Cleethorpes!  

5.  Another food blogger’s table you would like to eat at ?
There are so many..... I would love to be at Mary's from Ocean Breezes and Country Sneezes for Christmas. I think it would be a veritable feast served on her wonderful Christmas crockery! I would also be very happy for Jude from A Trifle Rushed to invite me to Brittany for one of her locally caught lobster suppers.

6.  What is the kitchen gadget you would ask Santa for this year (money no object of course) ?
It would have to be a Kitchenaid.

7.  Who taught you to cook ?
My Mum and my godmother Auntie Wendy in school holidays. One of my best memories is of when she forgot to put sugar in a cake though (it was a very busy harvest time!)  and it turned out looking like a cow pat. As they live on a farm this was very apt.  

8.  I’m coming to you for dinner.  What’s your signature dish ?
My main course could be anything from a seafood gratin to lamb tagine. My signature pudding though is Chocolate Fondant.  Just realised I've never blogged it though.

9.  What is your guilty food pleasure ?
Fish Finger Sandwiches which get eaten far too often.

10.  Reveal something about yourself that others would be surprised to learn.
I once performed the snowman on roller skates at the Royal Albert Hall. A long time ago I hasten to add.

Now I invite the following bloggers to take part in this challenge.

Firstly I choose Phil from As Strong As Soup who is adventurous and inventive in his flavour combinations.

I then choose Mary from Ocean Breezes and Country Sneezes for reasons mentioned above.

Thirdly it has to be Louise from Please do not Feed the Animals for her family adventures.

And last but by no means least I pass this on to my favourite Irish Blogger -  Nessa  - from Nessa' s Family Kitchen.

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Chocolate Orange Marble Bundt Cake

I love Terry's Chocolate Orange to the point where I can eat one almost in one go on my own,  usually secluded away in a quiet corner at some point between Christmas and New Year. No one else gets a look in.  My addiction started when my late Auntie May used to give me one each Christmas as a present along with a £5 note. Every year without fail. When she sadly passed along my Mum made sure, and still does, that I always get a Chocolate Orange in my stocking.  The strange thing is that despite this absolute love of them, especially the core of chocolate that gets left in the middle, I never eat them other than at Christmas, not even the bars you can buy. In fact I can safely say that I've never even bought one. I guess however that is what makes them so delicious to me. 

I saw a display in the supermarket the other day and it got me thinking about my love of these little balls of loveliness.  I was thinking that I really should make a Chocolate and Orange cake.  Last night I realised I hadn't checked out the We Should Cocoa Challenge hosted by the very talented Choclette of the Chocolate Log Blog and when I did what joy - this month's ingredient is orange.  I think the Terry's Chocolate Orange God has been doing his magic.  I thought about melting and adding an actual Chocolate Orange to my cake but it would just ruin my anticipation of eating one at Christmas (there is no way I could cook with one and not snaffle a piece or ,who I am kidding, a half).  Instead I settled on this marble cake which is a basic plain and chocolate mix but with a twist.  To the plain half I added some orange zest and some fresh orange juice. For the chocolate mixture I added in melted Lindt Dark Orange Intense and my secret ingredient - a teaspoon of Seville Vino Cotto.  It's not so secret really as I'm telling you about it - my friend bought me a bottle as a present - it is made Maggie Beer which is an Australian company.  It is, according to the bottle, 'a bitter sweet, highly aromatic velvety syrup thick with Seville oranges'. I've previously used it in dressings and on meat but not in baking. It gave the orange flavour a real depth.  I also used a teaspoon in the ganache topping. 

I gave Mr CB, who can always be trusted for an honest opinion (still smarting that my new outfit the other day apparently made me look a glam modern hippie goth....), a slice to try.  I hadn't told him about my thought process in making it and he said, 'It tastes like the best bits of a Chocolate Orange'. That pleased me (and made me forgive said hippy comment).  My kitchen also smells amazing to boot.

The Recipe

175g Butter
175g Caster Sugar
175g Self Raising Flour
1 tbspn fresh orange juice
zest of one orange
1 tbspn cocoa powder
100g dark chocolate (Lindt dark intense orange) melted
1 tspn Seville Vino Cotto

For the ganache

100g dark chocolate 70%
225ml double cream
zest of half an orange (save some to decorate)
1tspn Seville Vino Cotto
touch of icing sugar if you prefer some sweetness

1. Preheat the oven to 180c.  Grease a bundt or normal cake tin.
2.  Cream together the butter until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs and flour.  
3.  Divide the mixture into two bowls.  Add the orange juice and half the zest to one bowl and mix well. Add the remaining zest, melted chocolate and cocoa powder to the other half and mix that together. 
4. Put alternative dollops of the mixture into the tin and swirl to marble slightly.  Bake for around 25 mins until an inserted skewer comes out clean. Remove from tin and allow to cool on a wire rack.
5. To make the ganache break up the chocolate and place in a bowl. Bring the cream to the boil and pour over the chocolate.  Mix well until the mixture is smooth and glossy. Add the orange zest and Vino Cotto. 
6. Dip the cake into the ganache mixture. Decorate with some orange zest and leave to cool. 

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Gingerbread with Lemon Glaze

I have been on holiday the last couple of weeks in South Africa, hence the lack of posts.  It was an amazing holiday whose highlight was seeing a whale do a triple jump in the wild. The South African food was pretty fantastic too which has led to sightings of a whale in the South London area since my return!  I was keen to be back to the baking for my blog but have to say it isn't the ideal diet for the latter described whale.

This gingerbread is my entry for this month's Tea Time Treats Challenge which is hosted alternatively by two fantastic bloggers - Karen at Lavender & Lovage and Kate at What Kate Baked.  This month's theme is Ginger and Bonfire Treats and it is Karen's turn to host.  You have to visit her blog just to see the wonderful gingerbread house she has made.  

I love ginger, bonfire night and all related treats.  I decided to make gingerbread as firstly I love it and haven't made it for ages and secondly as I  wanted to use my mini bundt tins. One of out two ain't bad!  The mixture just didn't work in the bundt tins as it was too crumbly so I ended up using mini loaf tins instead.  The cake itself was from a recipe I had jotted down ages ago so I'm not sure where I originally found it - probably on the internet as it's in cups. I have made some changes to the recipe which include using Wholemeal flour instead of plain and substituting stem ginger for the original ginger powder.  I love getting little bits of stem ginger when you eat a cake.  When I took it out of the oven it smelt just like Thornton's treacle toffee and tasted like Jamaican Ginger Cake (I used to love that cake especially the sticky topping). I think I read a blog the other day where someone had made a cake which reminded them of this classic cake too.  I've added a lemon icing glaze for some contrast to the ginger. 

Ummm delicious!

The Recipe

1 2/3 cups wholemeal flour
1 1/4 tspns bicarb of soda
2 stem gingers finely chopped
3/4 tspn cinnamon
pinch of salt
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1 egg beaten
1/2 cup black treacle (licking of spoon after getting it out of tin obligatory)
1/2 cup rapeseed oil (I added some of the stem ginger syrup to this measurement too)
1/2 cup boiling water

1. Preheat oven to 180c.  
2. Sift the flour and bicarb into a town.  Add the spices, salt, sugar, egg and treacle. Mix together until combined.  Add the oil and boiling water and mix well together until it makes a smooth batter.
3.  Place in your choice of tin (square would probably work well) making sure you grease and flour it. Bake for about 30 mins until springy.
4. To make the icing mix together icing sugar and lemon juice so you have a thickish icing consistency. Drizzle over the cake while still warm.

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Chocolate Chip Apple Cookies

These cookies are my entry for this month's We Should Cocoa Challenge hosted by lovely Chele at the fantastic Chocolate Teapot  blog.  The ingredient to be paired with chocolate for November is apple.  I'm not overly keen on chocolate and fruit combinations but I do like being challenged to try making something I might not normally bake.  I wanted to do Chele's challenge early this month - partly because I failed miserably to enter last's month's event and also because I'm going on holiday so won't be posting for a couple of weeks. 

I thought about making an apple and chocolate cake but it just wasn't doing it for me. I then thought about doing an apple crumble incorporating white chocolate into the topping but I'm a bit of a crumble purist.  So after some internet research I finally decided on making these cookies whose recipe I found on www.food.com.  I'd say the chocolate slightly dominates the apple but only a little bit.  The apple was grated which meant it didn't produce a soggy cookie, in fact they are very cake like.  I'm just not sure about them but it then occurred to me as I tried my second that they fit my 'Jaffa Cake theory'.  I'm just not sure either about Jaffa Cakes but every time I'm offered some I always have to have at least two to check that I still don't like them. Let's face it if you don't like something you don't go back for more so these cookies are in the same category.  I'm not wild about them but I don't dislike them. Mr CB however loves them so it is definitely just a personal thing. 

Friday, 28 October 2011

Healthyish Pancakes for a Poorly Mr CB

Mr CB is a feeling a bit under the weather. When it comes to man flu  Mr CB's being poorly my bedside manner is not quite of Florence Nightingale standards. However this morning I did feel a bit sorry for the poor wee soul so I thought I'd take him breakfast in bed.  He lucked out as we had no bread in the house so I thought I'd make pancakes.  I've adapted this pancake recipe from various ones I've used before - I tried to make them as healthy as possible using wholemeal flour and rapeseed oil rather than butter.   I thought the mixed berries I served them with would definitely give a nice burst of antioxidants!  

This recipe is also my entry to this month's Breakfast Club whose theme for October is 'Stars and Stripes' - for me pancakes are the ultimate breakfast food to be found across the pond. It's the first time I've entered this challenge - I came across it on Susan's lovely blog 'A Little Bit of Heaven on a Plate'.

Thought you might like this little video too.....

The Recipe

135g wholemeal flour
1 tspn baking powder
pinch of salt
2 tbspn caster sugar
150ml milk
1 egg
2 tbspn rapeseed oil

1.  Sift the flour and baking powder into a bowl and add the salt and sugar.  Mix well together.
2. Beat together the milk, egg and oil.  Then mix into the dry ingredients.  Beat well together with a fork.
3. Heat a non stick frying pan and add a little butter or oil.  Ladle a spoonful of batter into the pan and cook the pancake until it starts to bubble then turn over.  

I served mine with mixed berries (I use frozen summer fruits heated up) and maple syrup or agave nectar.

The Fairy Hobmother - Make A Wish!

I've just had a lovely surprise - a visit from The Fairy Hobmother from Applicances Online, a web retailer of household appliances.  She has the lovely job of granting wishes across the web and bloggersphere and making lots of people very happy!  I received a visit after posting on a comment  over at Ocean Breezes & Country Sneezes after she stopped by there to grant a wish . I was lucky enough to receive a voucher for Amazon which I'm going to use to expand my baking book selection (well German Baking Today needs replacing now it's been frogmarched to the charity shop). 

If you leave a comment on this post you may be the next lucky recipient of a visit from this most welcome of fairies.  Leave a comment saying what you wish for from The Fairy Hobmother - a quick visit to her website will give you lots of ideas.....

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Apple & Cinnamon Muffins

I was a bit worried after last week's posts that I'd lost my baking mojo - I really didn't love either of the recipes I made, especially the Banana Turnovers (but let's not go there again).  I'm pleased to report however that after my stint in the kitchen making these muffins it is most definitely back (just as well as it's National Baking Week).   These are probably the nicest, fluffiest, most delicious muffins I've ever made. I've had to quickly put them in the freezer before I eat the lot (and completely undid the good I did from this morning's bi-annual run round the park). I originally found the recipe on the Total Greek Yoghurt site but have adapted it to make them a bit healthier.  I substituted wholemeal spelt flour for the original plain flour and rapeseed oil for melted butter.

This recipe is my entry for The Pink Whisk's new monthly challenge. For October Ruth has challenged us to make something containing apples. The smell of these muffins baking with their apple and cinnamon aroma wafting round the house just made this gorgeous sunny autumnal day even nicer.

The Recipe

200g wholemeal spelt flour
2 tspn baking powder
1 tspn bicarbonate of soda
pinch of salt
pinch of ground nutmeg
2 tspn ground cinnamon
100g soft brown sugar
125g greek yoghurt
1 egg
100ml rapeseed oil
1 tspn vanilla extract
150g apple puree (I'm not sure how many apples you would need for this as I made a big batch but probably 2 -3)

1.  Preheat the oven to 200c/gas mark 6.
2.  Combine all of the dry ingredients together in a bowl and the wet ingredients in a separate one.
3.  Mix together the 2 sets of ingredients gradually until you have a smooth batter.
4.  Spoon the mixture into a muffin tin. It will make about 8 muffins.
5. Bake for around 15 mins until golden and firm. Cool in the tin for a few minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Chocolate & Beetroot Cupcakes

I thought it would be a bit of a poor effort if I didn't manage to bake something this weekend using chocolate as it is National Chocolate Week. So I'm sneaking this recipe in just as it comes to a close.  My first thought was to find a chocolate recipe using chilli for this month's We Should Cocoa challenge.  While I know there are loads of ideas out there for using these two ingredients I still have bad memories of a Chocolate Chilli Cake I made a few years ago - it made me feel a little bleugh at the time, hence the reluctance to revisit that combination.  I will keep thinking about it though Choclette I promise.

I found this recipe on Baking Mad - I did a search of chocolate cupcake recipes and it threw up this one amongst others.  I've seen several cakes using beetroot as an ingredient on various blogs but hadn't tried using it myself. The recipe also calls these 'low calorie' which I thought wouldn't be a bad thing. However I actually didn't use the specified half spoon sugar so I've probably ruined that idea. I loved the gorgeous colour of the batter - before I added the cocoa is was a proper Pepto Bismol pink!  I also substituted self raising for plain flour as I just ran out of baking powder this morning.  

All in all they were really light cupcake although I felt the cocoa was drowned out by the beetroot. This did mean however that they went well with the rich topping.

The Recipe

3 eggs
150g caster sugar
200g grated beetroot
1/2 tspn vanilla extract
180g self raising flour
180g ground almonds
2 tbspns cocoa powder
pinch of salt
284ml buttermilk

100g plain chocolate (70% cocoa)
2 tspn fromage frais

1.  Preheat the oven to 180c, gas mark 4.  Line a muffin tray with paper cases (makes 24 in total).
2.  Mix together the eggs and sugar until pale and fluffy.  Beat in the beetroot and vanilla extract.  Add the other dry ingredients and mix well.  Finally add the buttermilk and mix again until well combined.
3.  Divide between the paper cases and bake for 20 minutes or until an inserted skewer comes out clean. Leave to cool on a wire rack.
4.  Make the icing by melting the chocolate in a microwave.  Lave to cool. Then add the fromage frais and mix well.  Add some milk if you need to loosen the consistency to make it more spreadable. 

Banana Turnovers - A (very) Random Recipe

For this month's Random Recipe Challenge, Dom at Belleau Kitchen paired us up with another blogger so we could each choose the other's recipe.  I was paired up with the lovely Choclette of Chocolate Log Blog fame who randomly chose Dr. Oetker's German Baking Today, a cookbook which has been lingering unused (and unloved) on my bookshelf for the last 6 years. This book was actually a wedding present from some family friends in Germany.  I have flicked through it on several occasions thinking I should make something from it but when it comes down to it I like my cakes to be a bit more ooh-la-la than oom-pah-pah. Choclette picked page 173 which led me to a recipe for Banana Turnovers in the in the 'cheese and oil cake mixture' (are you understanding me more on why this book just doesn't invite you in....) chapter. I do love the fact that this blog challenge does what it says on the tin - to me you can not get a more random recipe than this.  Now if I was looking at a cake menu Banana Turnovers would not be up there on my list of choices. But, I am the first to criticise those who pah pah food before they've even tried it so I was happy to give them a go.  

When I first read the recipe I was a bit stumped as to where I would find curd cheese, one of the ingredients (cheese and oil chapter remember!) as I know my local Sainsbury's doesn't sell it.  It was a lovely lady in Harrods foodhall (I don't have delusions of grandeur - I work right next to it) who told me that it is just kwark cheese or in otherwords fromage frais.  So it turns out my local Sainsbury's does sell it.  I had high hopes for this recipe as I made the dough (with my new non smoking hand mixer with dough attachment!) - it was soft and pillowly.  That's where the hopes ended.....  The recipe says it would made 9 turnovers - I managed 5 and a half but the first 3 were write offs.  I rolled the dough too thinly at first so they split a little when cooking. I left the dough a bit thicker on the last 2 and a half and they turned out significantly better.  The final result - well they didn't look as pretty as the ones in the book but the last batch were OK.  I just don't think I'm a fan of cooked banana really (too baby food) so that doesn't help but Mr CB's response was not even lukewarm. You know it isn't good when someone turnsdown your turnover.....

The Recipe

300g plain flour
3 tspns baking powder (the recipe called for 1 packet so this was a bit of a guess)
75g caster sugar
3 drops vanilla essence
pinch of salt
125g fromage frais
100ml milk
100ml cooking oil (I used rapeseed)

For the filling:
2 bananas
4 tspns apricot jam
4 tspns lemon juice

For the coating & topping:
1 egg beaten
flaked almonds

1. Preheat the oven to 180c, gas mark 4. Line a baking sheet with baking parchment.
2.  Sift together the flour and baking powder into a large bowl. Add all the other cake ingredients and mix together with a hand mixer using the dough hook.  Don't knead for too long as you don't want the mixture to go too sticky.  
3.  Place the dough on a floured surface and make it into a cylinder shape.  Roll it out into a square shape around 36cm x 36cm then cut it into 12cm squares.  
4.  Mix together the apricot jam and lemon juice and brush each square with this mixture, leaving the edges clear. Put a piece of banana diagonally onto the square and brush again with the apricot mixture.  Brushes the edges with the egg wash and then fold over and seal.  Brush the turnovers with more egg and sprinkle with almonds. 
5. Bake for about 15-20 minutes.

Sunday, 9 October 2011

Plum & Oat Madeira Cake

A while ago I bought a bag of oatmeal from the local health food shop to make oatcakes. I've recently being having a freezer and cupboard purge with the vow of using up things before they get forgotten forever in a dark corner. I could see that the oatmeal could become one of those cupboard lurkers so I had a little look on the Internet to see what oatmeal containing cakes it threw up. It turned out to be a bit of a trawl through several pages of various porridge recipes before I came across this cake recipe. I'm a big porridge fan (I've just come back from my parents with a nice supply of stewed windfall apples to go with said breakfast) but I prefer the jumbo oats in it rather than oatmeal. It was the Waitrose website that
featured this take on a Madeira cake. It smelt delicious while it was baking and I was pleased that the very under ripe plums I used tasted great once cooked. The jury however is out on this cake as a whole. In all fairness the original recipe calls for medium oatmeal and mine was coarse so this probably has made a difference - you can really taste little oaty bursts while eating it which are pleasant but slightly odd. It is not disimilar to a polenta cake but not quite as moist and refined. It was just fine with a cup of afternoon tea but Mr CB won't be taking it to my usual testers at his office as he said he didn't think they'd like it very much. Well I did marry him for his honesty!

    Sunday, 2 October 2011

    Roman Style Loaf

    So the bread making continues.....  I was tidying up the kitchen cupboards this morning and came across some Doves Farm Wholegrain Spelt Flour.  I usually use this flour for making tarts but noticed the recipe on the back of the packet for a Roman Style Loaf.  It is, thanks to the Doves Farm recipe, a really easy loaf to make.  I was a bit concerned as it didn't seem to rise much during the 25 min resting time but has turned out just fine nonetheless.  It is dense yet moist and very tasty!

    The Recipe

    500g wholegrain spelt flour (as mentioned I used Doves Farm organic)
    1/2 tspn salt
    1tspn instant yeast
    1 tbspn honey
    400ml warm water
    1 tbpn olive oil

    1. Preheat oven to 200c/gas Mark 6
    2. In a large bowl mix together the flour, salt and yeast.
    3. Dissolve the honey in the water and roughly mix into the flour.
    4. Add the oil and mix well. Knead the dough for a few minutes then put it in to a loaf tin.
    5. Cover and leave dough in a warm place for around 25 mins. Bake for 40-45 mins.

    Sunday, 25 September 2011

    Chocolate Malteser Cake - Happy Birthday We Should Cocoa!

    To celebrate the 1st Birthday of the We Should Cocoa bloggers challenge Chele at Chocolate Teapot challenged us to create a chocolate masterpiece to bring to the virtual party. I've been wanting to try a chocolate Malteser cake for ages and the girls in my office all asked demanded that I make this one after they spotted it in Woman and Home magazine. And, after all, it's a 1st birthday and let's face it such an occasion demands a chocolate cake of some description. I like the fact it requires buying a jar of Horlicks, thus necessitating me to have a cup at night without feeling too old before my time! I have to say that the plastic jars just aren't as nice as the old glass ones though. Talking of days gone by does anyone else remember Horlicks Tablets which I used to buy at Boots and eat as sweets?

    So the cake - the Horlicks in the frosting definitely gives it a lovely Malteser taste - slightly salty against the sweet.  I didn't add the egg to the frosting as per the recipe as I'd run out. The cake itself is quite dense - I think it could have been slightly more chocolately.  The dense mixture also caused my poor Kenwood handmixer to go into a smoking meltdown. Who knew the flames inside would cause the plastic to actually glow yellow?! Needless to say it is has been consigned to the bin.  I was wondering what it would be like with the odd actual Maltester dotted in the batter rather than adding the Horlicks to the actual mixture?  All in all though it pretty much fits the bill and on that note - Happy 1st Birthday We Should Cocoa!

    The Recipe

    300g butter
    300g light muscovado sugar (I ran out so used a mixture of light and dark)
    5 eggs
    225g self-raising flour
    75g cocoa powder
    3 tbspn Horlicks
    200ml milk


    100g butter
    125g dark chocolate (70%)
    50g Horlicks
    350g icing sugar
    4 tbspns milk

    1. Preheat the oven to 180c, gas mark 4.  Butter 2 x 20cm sandwich tins. 
    2. Beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, then gradually beat in the eggs one by one.  Then add the flour, cocoa, Horlicks and milk.  Divide between the sandwich tins. Bake for around 45 mins or until an inserted skewer comes out clean.
    3.  Leave the cakes to cool for about 10 mins in the tin before turning out onto a wire rack.
    4. To make the frosting melt the butter, chocolate and Horlicks together in the microwave (the melted mixture has a slightly gritty texture due to the Horlicks).  Then beat in the icing sugar and milk.
    5.  Assemble the cake using half the frosting for the middle and the remainder for the top of the cake. Decorate with maltesers. 

    Sunday, 18 September 2011

    Chocolate & Raspberry Cheesecake Brownies - A Random Recipe

    When it came to my blog I got all out of kilter in July and August due to some lovely weekends away and a long holiday.   September has been a bit like going back to school for me and the routine has returned.  With that return to more normal weekends has been the chance to see what blogging challenges September has brought.  Dom over at Belleau 'spanking brand new' Kitchen (and very nice it is too!) set us the task this month of sifting through any saved recipe cuttings and picking one to make for his Random Recipe Challenge.  I love this idea - I am a serial magazine recipe snipper.  As a consequence I have recipes shoved in the front of books, in the magazine rack and in my 'to do' pile, all waiting to be tried out. If they make the grade they then get written or stuck in my actual recipe folder.  It wasn't hard to randomly select one and this ridiculously rich brownie recipe was the one I found. I think it is from an old copy of Sunday Times Style which was featuring recipes from the Green & Black's cookbook but I'm not 100% sure as I don't have the full article. I've been meaning to make this brownie recipe for ages, mainly because it looked so sinful on the picture. It is very puddingy in the respect I think it would be better eaten as dessert rather than with a cup of tea.  It tastes as decadent as it looks.  A little goes a very long way (probably on the hips too....).

    The Recipe

    For the brownie:
    280g unsalted butter (yes more than one block of butter, sinful I told you)
    170g dark chocolate (70% cocoa at least)
    350g golden caster sugar (sinful again)
    70g plain flour
    pinch of salt
    5 eggs
    2 tspn vanilla extract
    100g white chocolate, broken into small pieces

    For the cheesecake:
    350g cream cheese (I used 300g as that's what size the large tubs come in)
    75g golden caster sugar
    1 tsp vanilla extract
    2 eggs
    170g fresh raspberries (I used one punnet)

    1. Heat the oven to 180c/gas mark 4.  Grease and line a 20cm square tin.
    2.  Make the brownie mixture by melting the butter and chocolate (microwave is fine and easy).  Remove from heat and set aside to cool. Combine the sugar, flour and salt in a large mixing bowl, pour over the cooled chocolate and mix until smooth. Beat the eggs separately before adding to the mixing bowl along with the vanilla extract and the while chocolate.  Blend together until the mixture is shiny.  Pour into the prepared tin.
    3.  Make the cheesecake mixture by whisking the cream cheese, sugar, vanilla extract and eggs until smooth and creamy.  Pour this over the brownie mix, trying to create an even layer.  Drop the raspberries into the tray.  Use a fork to swirl the mixture for a marbled effect.  
    4. Bake for about 45 mins. The brownies should be set but still wobbly.  Leave to cool.

    Sunday, 11 September 2011

    Avon Crusade Baking Set

    Ding dong, the Avon lady's calling..... with your baking set.  Maybe not quite what you'd expect to hear from Avon but the good folk at this beauty giant have created the above set in the aim of getting people to bake in aid of breast cancer. The Avon Crusade Baking Set, which retails at £5, includes a Crusade ribbon cuttter, a heartshaped cutter and 6 silicon cupcake holders.  £1.25 of this amount is donated to Breakthrough Breast Cancer and the remaining proceeds go to not-for-profit projects.  Avon is hoping that those buying the set will host bake sales in aid of the breast cancer cause.

    Avon kindly sent me a set to try out and write about. I'm firstly very happy to do this as I think it is a very worthwhile and fun way of raising money for such an important cause.  Secondly, I used the silicone cupcake holders to make the below Victoria Sponge cupcakes and they were great and gave perfect little cup cakes.  The sets are available from your local Avon representative or online at avonshop.co.uk.  

    I made the above cupcakes using a classic cupcake sponge and buttercream topping. With these ones however I scooped a little sponge from the middle of the cupcake and filled it with strawberry jam before replacing the lid and adding the topping. It's my take on a cupcake version of a Victoria sponge.