Monday, 31 December 2012

Chocolate Pecan Pie

I can't quite believe 2012 is almost over. Did you have a good Christmas? Mine was lovely, spending time with both mine and Mark's families. I was very lucky and got some new kitchen scales, some recipe books and other foodie bits and bobs. My main present (from my Mum and Mark) was a new dressing table for my bedroom which was given to me back in November. Mark and I bought our house 3 years ago and we have decided to get new bedroom and living room furniture, so the dressing table is the start!

I love Christmas but I am quite fed up of party food and nibbly bits now, I seem to have not stopped eating them over the last two weeks. I am looking forward to vegetables (maybe some fruit) and routine again!

I LOVE Pecan Pie, I had it for the first time a couple of years ago after deciding to make one for a visit by Mark's family and now can't get enough. I don't particularly enjoy pecans other than when they are in this pie, so if you feel the same I would really encourage you to give it a try.

This recipe will make a pie 26cm (10 inches) in diameter. I use a stoneware flan dish as I don't have a loose-bottomed tart tin, and have never had any issues with cutting and releasing slices from the dish.

This recipe is taken from The Hummingbird Bakery Cake Days. It is quite time consuming and some might say 'faffy' but it is SO worth it.

For the pastry crust
110g unsalted butter (room temperature)
225g plain flour
80g caster sugar
1 large egg

For the filling
110g unsalted butter (room temperature)
225g soft light brown sugar
110g golden syrup
3 large eggs
260g pecans, chopped roughly and a few spare to decorate the top
85g dark chocolate, chopped roughly


1. Using a mixer, or food processor mix the butter and flour until it resembles bread crumbs. Add the sugar and egg, and mix until combined.

2. When a dough begins to form, remove it from the bowl and knead on a floured surface until the pastry comes together. Wrap in cling film, and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.

3. Once the pastry has chilled roll it out on a floured surface until it is large enough to line the dish. Carefully press the pastry into the base and sides of the dish, and when you are happy trim the excess pastry from the sides. Prick the base of the pastry with the point of a knife and place back in the fridge for another 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 150 degrees C.

4. Remove the crust from the fridge and line with greaseproof paper. Then fill with baking beans, or dry rice (to ensure the pastry does not shrink) and place in the oven for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and carefully take out the greaseproof and baking beans or rice and return to the oven to bake for a further 10 minutes.

5. The pastry crust can now be removed from the oven and set aside whilst making the filling. Melt the butter, sugar and golden syrup in a saucepan over a low heat and set aside to cool. In a large bowl whisk the eggs and then pour in the melted ingredients, stirring constantly.

6. Sprinkle the chopped chocolate and pecan nuts over the base of the pastry crust, and then pour the filling on top. Decorate with the reserved pecans.

7. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes, and then reduce the temperature to 140 degrees C and bake for a further 30 minutes. If the crust or filling begin to catch, cover with tin foil and continue to bake. The pie is done when the filling is set.

After writing out the recipe I am now dreaming of pecan pie - we ate it for pudding on Christmas day with custard. Not very traditional but absolutely divine (I LOVE CUSTARD!)

I hope you have a very happy new year and enjoy whatever you have planned tonight. Thank you for taking the time to read my blog in 2012 and I hope you continue to in 2013. I have lots of things planned and I look forward to sharing them with you!

Monday, 24 December 2012

Ferrero Rocher Cake

I originally made this cake to take to the December meeting of Oxford Clandestine Cake Club but unfortunately the organiser cancelled at the last minute. The theme was Christmas cheer so I decided on a Ferrero Rocher cake, as the chocolates seem to be around more than usual in December!

This recipe will make a 3 tier layer cake, using 3x 20cm cake pans.
Ever-so-slightly adapted from

For the cake
75g cocoa powder
1 teaspoon instant espresso powder
160g light brown sugar
375ml boiling water
190g unsalted butter (room temperature)
225g caster sugar
3 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 large organic free range eggs (room temperature)
240g plain flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

For the filling
200g Nutella
4 tablespoons of frosting

For the frosting
225g unsalted butter (room temperature)
170g icing sugar
125g dark chocolate (melted and cooled)
150g Nutella

For decoration
100g Hazelnuts roughly chopped (save 15 for the top of the cake)


1. Grease and line the cake pans. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C.

2. Whisk the cocoa powder, espresso powder, brown sugar and boiling water in a bowl and set aside.

3. Beat the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy, around 10 minutes. Then mix in the vanilla extract.

4. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each is added. Mix in the flour, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda. Then slowly beat in the cocoa, sugar and espresso mixture until combined.

5. Divide the batter equally between the 3 pans and bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes until a skewer comes out clean. Allow the cakes to cool in the pans for 10 minutes and then remove and place on a cooling rack.

6. Once the cakes are cool, the frosting can be made. Melt the dark chocolate and allow it to cool slightly. Beat the butter and icing sugar for 10 minutes until light and fluffy. Add the chocolate and beat until combined. Finally add the Nutella and beat on a medium speed until the frosting is fluffy.

7. Now it's time to assemble! Place the first layer of cake on a stand and spread with half of the Nutella, and gently spread a little of the frosting on top of the Nutella. Repeat with the second layer. Place the third and final layer on top.

8. Now the frosting can be smoothed onto the top and sides of the cake with a small spatula, make sure to save some to pipe small rosettes around the edge of the cake. Top each of the rosettes with a whole Hazelnut, adding a couple in the middle of the cake. Finally press the chopped Hazelnuts onto the side of the cake until it is evenly covered.

Sunday, 16 December 2012

Home made vanilla extract

I was putting together some Christmas bits for a friend who likes baking and suddenly thought 'why don't I include some home made vanilla extract?!' Admittedly I have left it a bit late as it takes 6-8 weeks to steep, but I'm going to write on the label I tie on when the extract will be ready to use. And I think it's quite nice that they will be able to see it develop.

This is a super easy and quick project, it's just the steeping which takes time.

I bought my Vanilla Pods from Vanilla Mart on Amazon. Delivery was quick and the pods are really plump and not at all dry.

I also got some lovely Kilner clip top bottles from Cargo which at the time were on a 3 for 2 offer at £2.50 each! The last item needed was Vodka. I just bought a mid-range 1l bottle from Sainsbury's.

Method (If you can call it that!)

1. Take 3 vanilla pods per 250ml bottle. Split them length ways and add to the bottle.

2. Add vodka to the bottle until it covers the pods.

3. Seal and keep in a cool dry place for 6-8 weeks. Perhaps giving it a very gentle shake each week.

Ta da! That is it! As simple as it is I am really excited to give these to friends as gifts, as I know I would be really happy to receive a bottle of this. I had two spare jars and enough vanilla pods and vodka to make some for myself and my sister. I can't wait until it's ready and I can use it in my cakes!

Monday, 10 December 2012

Almost Vegan Red Velvet Cupcakes

Well hello! Doesn't time fly - how is it December? I'm not complaining though as I love Christmas and getting all the decorations up!

It was my 27th birthday a couple of weeks ago and of course I had to take cakes to work. One of the boys is allergic to eggs so I will always make egg-free cakes so he isn't left out. Usually when I bake for work, to make it easier, I will make the whole cake (including buttercream/icing) vegan, but on this occasion the sponge was vegan and the cream cheese frosting was not. Mainly because I didn't have the time to order dairy-free cream cheese. So you could always change the frosting to suit yourself.

The sponge is the best Red Velvet I have ever made - delicious, spongy, moist and vivid without being overpowered by the taste of the food colouring. The boys at work absolutely loved them.

This recipe will make 12 cupcakes; adapted and converted into grams and milliliters from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World.

For the cakes
240ml soy milk
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
150g plain flour
200g granulated sugar
2 tbsp cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
80ml rapeseed oil
2 tbsp red food colouring
2 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp almond extract

For the cream cheese frosting
300g icing sugar
50g unsalted butter (room temperature)
125g cold cream cheese


1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C and line a cupcake tin with cases.

2. Mix together the soy milk and vinegar in a jug and set aside, allowing to curdle.

3. Sift the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt into a large bowl ensuring they are evenly mixed.

4. Add the oil, food colouring, vanilla and almond extracts into the soy milk mixture, combining well. Mix the wet ingredients into the dry until smooth.

5. Fill the cupcake cases about 1/2 full (my cakes rose a LOT after filling them 3/4, so perhaps 1/2 full is the way to go. Or maybe in between 1/2 and 3/4!) Bake in the preheated oven, for 18-20 minutes until a skewer comes out clean. Allow to cool.

6. When cool, the frosting can be prepared. Beat the icing sugar and butter until the mixture comes together. Now add the cream cheese and beat until smooth (do not overbeat!) Pipe onto your cakes and voila!

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