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.