Sunday, 15 September 2013

Cheddar Crust Apple Pie

It's Sunday morning and I am already dreaming of last nights left over homemade pizza which I'm having for lunch. I think there a few things in life better than cold pizza. Besides eating pizza, today I will be making plans for next weekend. On Saturday one of my best friends is getting married. My other best friend Natalie and I are Ushers, and will be giving out the orders of service and showing people to their seats. I am so excited and I have the prettiest dress to wear!

You may have noticed that I missed the bake along in week three, not only did I run out of time but I felt meringues in custard were not my cup of tea. Week four of the Great British Bake Off has been my favourite so far, I can now remember everyone's names and how is anything better than pie?!

I've wanted to make this pie for ages but never got round to it. I was inspired after seeing it on a couple of American cookery shows, and when I told Mark that week four of the Bake Off was pie, he insisted I make it. I know a cheddar crust on an apple pie sounds bizarre, but I promise you it's amazing. The sweet filling and tangy salty cheese crust go together brilliantly. Mark, my sister and I devoured it in under 24 hours.


This recipe will make a 9 inch pie. The recipe is adapted from The Back in the Day Bakery Cookbook by Cheryl and Griffith Day.

For the pastry
300g plain flour
1 tablespoon caster sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
170g cold unsalted butter, cubed
160g mature cheddar cheese, grated
1/2 cup iced water

1 beaten egg to glaze
Sprinkle of caster sugar

For the filling
7 Granny Smith apples
45g unsalted butter
1 teaspoon corn flour
210g light brown sugar
Seeds from 1 vanilla bean
1 teaspoon cinnamon



Method

1. Begin by making the cheddar crust. Pulse the flour, sugar and salt in a food processor. Add the cold cubed butter and grated cheddar, pulse until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Add in the iced water a tablespoon at a time until the dough comes together. Tip the dough onto a lightly floured surface, split into 2 pieces and roll both into a 10 inch round. Wrap in cling film and place in the fridge until ready to use.

2. Preheat the oven to 190 degrees C. Peel, core and finely slice the apples and set aside. Place the butter in a large saucepan and warm on a medium heat until it begins to brown. Turn the heat to low, add half of the apple slices and cook for 10 minutes. Add the remaining apples along with the corn flour and brown sugar, stirring until the sugar melts. Add the vanilla seeds and cinnamon, turning the heat up slightly and cook until the filling is syrupy and thick.

3. Remove the crusts from the fridge and line the base of a greased pie dish. Leave a 1 inch overhang. Pour in the apple filling then top with the final disc of pastry and crimp the edges with a fork. Still leaving a slight overhang, trim any excessive pastry.

4. Brush with the beaten egg, sprinkle the top with a handful of sugar and cut 2 or 3 vents in the top to allow any steam to escape. Bake in the preheated oven for 1 hour, or until the crust is golden.


When I saw the preview for week five's Bake Off I had a slight panic as it was announced it would include biscuits. As soon as they mentioned tray bakes, I knew that would be the one for me! I'm making my tray bake this afternoon and I think it's going to be a good one. I look forward to sharing it with you next weekend.

Sunday, 1 September 2013

Red Leicester and Black Pepper English Muffins

I can't believe the weekend is almost over already. I spent yesterday with my best friend Natalie, we went for a pub lunch with a couple of other friends. Then came back to my house, watched an entire season of Keeping Up With the Kardashians (guilty pleasure), the XFactor, ate pizza and popcorn all whilst drinking fizzy wine. It was the best kind of day.

So the second week of the Great British Bake Off is here! I really enjoyed this weeks episode and I've decided Beca and Kimberley are my favourites. How funny was it when Sue accidentally leant on Howard's muffin and squished it!

I made these breakfast Muffins over the bank holiday weekend, most of which I spent baking! I was really pleased I was able to take my time with these, there is nothing worse than being rushed when you're in the kitchen.


This recipe will make 6 English Muffins. The recipe is adapted from British Baking by Peyton and Byrne.

You will need a large griddle or non stick frying pan to cook them.

Ingredients
375g strong white bread flour
1 teaspoon salt
7g packet dried yeast
240ml warm water
75g Red Leicester cheese, grated
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 tablespoon vegetable or rapeseed oil
Polenta for sprinkling


Method

1. Place the flour and salt in a large bowl and mix. Combine the yeast and warm water in a measuring jug, stirring until there are no lumps. Pour into the flour and salt and mix until a dough forms. Allow to sit for 10 minutes.

2. Add the 1/2 tablespoon of oil and knead in the bowl until absorbed. Remove from the bowl and stretch into a disk. Knead in the cheese and black pepper in halves. Knead the dough for 5 minutes until smooth. Place back in the bowl and allow to sit for 20 minutes.

3. Knead the dough once more, rub with a little oil and place back in the bowl. Cover it with the tea towel and allow to rise for 1 hour.

4. Sprinkle some polenta onto a baking tray. Remove the dough from the bowl and divide into 6 equal parts. Roll into a ball and pat down into a disk. Place on the baking tray and sprinkle with more polenta. Cover with the tea towel and allow to rise for a further hour.

5. Heat the griddle or pan on a medium heat and carefully rub with oil. Sprinkle some polenta over the pan, place on the disks of dough and allow to cook for 10 minutes until brown. Turn over and cook for another 10 minutes.

6. Allow to cool slightly before serving with butter.


I felt so triumphant when my English Muffins turned out well. I don't have a good history with bread making so when these came out looking like they did I was over the moon. I even made my sister come over and have one for tea. I think they would be really good with scrambled eggs and some (veggie) bacon.

So this is my second entry for the Bakers Anonymous GBBO Bake Along, and I think these are one of my favourite bakes on my blog so far!

Sunday, 25 August 2013

Angel Food Cake with Raspberry Drizzle

I'm sure that even if you aren't a fan of baking, you are aware that the Great British Bake Off is back! Sadly I'm always a day behind in watching it as I watch it with my sister who comes over to my house every Wednesday. This means I have to avoid Twitter on Tuesday otherwise I risk blow-by-blow spoilers! I don't usually warm to any of the contestants until a couple of shows in but they seem to be quite a good bunch this year. However I was so annoyed when that man used salt instead of sugar in one of his bakes!

This year I will be challenging myself to bake along to the show with some of my favourite bloggers over at Bakers Anonymous. The brain child of Hannah and Stephanie, Bakers Anonymous is the newest baking community where you can share what you've made minus the competitiveness.


This week's technical challenge was Angel Food Cake. The sponge consists of whipped egg whites, sugar, flour and cream of tartar, which means the sponge is light and almost melts in your mouth. It will make your house smell like marshmallows whilst it's baking. As the sponge is so sweet I felt pairing it with a raspberry drizzle would be the perfect contrast.

When making an Angel Food Cake you must NOT grease the tin as the egg whites are the only raising agent in the cake, it also allows the cake to stick to the sides of the tin as it rises.

This recipe will make a 23cm cake, in a non-greased spring form pan. The recipe is adapted from Barefoot Contessa at Home by Ina Garten. The raspberry drizzle is adapted from Ina Garten's Food Network recipe.

For the cake
200g caster sugar
160g plain flour
6 egg whites
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Handful of fresh raspberries for decoration

For the raspberry drizzle
250g fresh raspberries
150g caster sugar
1/2 cup water



Method

1. Preheat the oven to 18 degrees C.

2. Combine 100g of the sugar with the flour then sift them together 4 times. Set aside.

3. Put the egg whites, salt and cream of tartar in the bowl of a stand mixer (you can use a hand whisk if you like!) and whisk on high until you have medium peaks. This should take a minute and a half. Slow the mixer down to a medium speed and sprinkle in the remaining 100g of sugar. Turn the mixer up to a high speed and whisk until the mixture becomes thick and shiny. Add the vanilla and whisk for a further minute.

4. Sift one fourth of the flour and sugar mixture over the top of the egg whites and gently fold in. Repeat until incorporated.

5. Pour the batter into the spring form pan, smoothing the top. Bake in the preheated oven for 35 minutes.

6. Remove the cake from the oven and place upside down on a cooling rack. Allow to cool completely before running a knife around the sides of the cake, then the spring form sides can be unclipped.

7. To make the raspberry drizzle place the raspberries, sugar and water in a sauce pan and bring to the boil. Allow to simmer for 5 minutes. Sieve the mixture discarding the seeds. Boil the remaining liquid for around 5 minutes or until it becomes syrupy. Allow to cool then drizzle over the cake. Place a handful of berries in the middle of the cake and serve.


I've never made an Angel Food Cake before but I think it could become a favourite! I love how the mixture is similar to that of a meringue. The sponge is so light and it smells like candy floss and marshmallows. If you didn't want to serve it with a raspberry drizzle it would be delicious with ice cream or a chocolate sauce.

If you've been inspired by the Great British Bake Off and want to bake along with us, come and say hello over at Bakers Anonymous. I believe next weeks episode focuses on bread, so I've been making mine ahead of time this weekend. I can't wait to share it with you!

Sunday, 18 August 2013

Speculoos Baklava

Hello there! I seem to have taken an unintentional break from my blog. I actually made this Baklava way back at the beginning of the accidental break. I've been feeling very 'blah' about almost everything recently. Work is stressful and busy, I have plans every weekend and just never seem to have time for me and Mark. It really got on top of me and I needed some time to step back and do things without worrying about having to bake and write and take pictures.

My weekends have been full of friends going through big life events. Last weekend I went to a hen do, the wedding is in a few weeks time and in 2 weekends I'm throwing a baby shower with my best friend Natalie. We are going to host a full afternoon tea and I'm baking vanilla cupcakes - some with pink frosting and some with blue!

The most exciting news is that Mark and I have booked flights to New York City next May so that we can get married. We always wanted to get married in NYC and I never imagined it would happen, but it's such a brilliant feeling! My Mum, sister and her boyfriend have booked their flights and accommodation. I'm so excited for them to experience the city, and I can't wait to eat all the amazing food!

I don't eat Baklava very often but when I do it feels like such a treat. Sticky and sweet and the pastry is golden and crisp.


This recipe will make 25 pieces in a 23cm square tin. The recipe is adapted from Stacie Bakes.

For the Baklava
200g Pistachios, toasted
200g Hazlenuts, toasted
100g Almonds, toasted
175g caster sugar
4 tablespoons runny honey
1 pack Filo Pastry
200g unsalted butter, melted
200g Speculoos spread, melted
100g crushed Pistachios to top

For the syrup
200g caster sugar
175g runny honey
Juice of 1 lemon
3/4 cup of water


Method

1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C. Grease and line the baking pan and set aside.

2. Crush the Pistachios, Hazlenuts and Almonds in a food processor. When they resemble breadcrumbs with a few larger lumps, place into a bowl and stir in the caster sugar and honey. Set aside.

3. Gently unwrap the Filo and set aside, covering with damp kitchen paper to stop the pastry from cracking. Place a sheet of Filo into the tin, brushing with the melted butter. Repeat 3 more times, sprinkling a third of the nut mixture of top of the fourth layer. Drizzle a third of the melted Speculoos spread over the nuts.

4. Top with another 2 sheets of Filo, brushing each with butter. Sprinkle over another third of the nuts and melted Speculoos. Repeat for a final time.

5. Finally, top with a final 4 sheets of Filo, brushing each sheet with butter. Cut into 25 small squares and bake for 35 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside.

6. To make the syrup put the caster sugar, honey, lemon juice and water in a pan and bring to the boil. Turn down to simmer until the mixture resembles a syrup. Pour over the warm Baklava and sprinkle with the crushed Pistachios. Allow to cool and then place in the fridge for 3 hours.

After making this, I'm not sure why I've never made Baklava before. When I've bought it from a shop, it's seemed really complex but it's so easy to make at home and looks really impressive. Mark was over the moon that he effectively had his own tray of it.




As usual I do have plans for next weekend but they are food related: it's the fourth Oxford Foodies Festival. I'm so excited to eat lots and to watch the chefs they have lined up. I just hope the weather stays good.

I'm pleased to have blogged again and thank you for sticking with me whilst I took a break!

Sunday, 14 July 2013

Chocolate Crust Banoffee Pie

Well hello there! I'm not quite sure how I've managed to not blog for a month, but I do know I have been BUSY! I've seen lots of different friends over the last few weeks, went to Laura's wedding (which was the loveliest wedding I've ever been to!) and then last weekend was Food Blogger Connect which was brilliant. It was a lot of hard work but I feel so proud of how the event turned out. I also finally got to meet Nick who is so much fun, and Hannah. It turns out Hannah and I are scarily similar (almost to the point where we finish each others sentences!) I have made a really good new friend in her. Hopefully Nick, Hannah and I will get together again soon!

What does everyone think of this lovely weather? I like it, but I'm a bit fed up of how hot it is. The house won't cool down, Luna is fed up and it makes sleeping difficult. Though it means Mark and I have been enjoying pub beer gardens with friends and BBQs at my Mums house.

Because the house is so hot, I'm trying to avoid turning the oven on so what could be a more perfect bake than a non-bake Banoffee Pie? The best Banoffee Pie I've ever had was made by a colleague when I worked for the Police, who is a retired Detective Sergeant. He is one of my favourite people and he also makes a brilliant baked cheesecake!


This recipe will make a 23cm pie. The recipe is adapted from Baking Made Easy by Lorraine Pascale.

For the crust
250g digestive biscuits
50g dark chocolate
120g unsalted butter, melted

For the filling
Tin of Carnation Caramel
4 small bananas, sliced
300ml double cream
Seeds of 1 vanilla pod

2 squares dark chocolate, shaved, for topping


Method

1. Using a food processor, pulse the digestives and chocolate until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Place in a bowl and mix in the melted butter. Spoon the mixture into the 23cm pie dish, or loose-bottomed tin and firmly press along the bottom and sides to form a crust. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

2. Place the double cream and vanilla seeds in a bowl and whip until thickened. Refrigerate for 20 minutes

3. Remove the crust from the fridge and pour the tinned caramel onto the base, smoothing until even with a palette knife. Layer the sliced bananas on top of the caramel. Remove the whipped cream from the fridge and spread over the top of the bananas. Using a vegetable peeler, shave the extra chocolate over the top of the cream. Place the pie back in the fridge for 30 minutes and serve.

Banoffee pie is so easy that I'm not sure if I should call the above a method. But is is perfect to make on a hot day and such a good desert to take to a BBQ. If I made this again I would use a bit more cream, perhaps 450ml to make the topping a bit more volumous.


Monday, 10 June 2013

Sour Cream Coffee Crumb Cake

This weekend was absolutely lovely, and so I've come back down to the real world with a bit of a bump.

On Saturday I travelled to Northampton for Laura's hen do. Her friends had organised a vintage champagne tea party, and for us to have our hair done by Madame Medusa at Most Marvellous. Most Marvellous is the most amazing vintage and antique shop which also has a cafe and hair salon. As the party was held after the store closed, it meant we could roam around the shop, try things on and buy anything we fancied! For me, no shopping trip to a vintage store would be complete without buying a teapot, so I bought the cutest pink owl pot which is sitting happily amongst my other 3 shelves of teapots! After that we went for some drinks in a tiki bar. It was such a lovely day and I am so excited about the wedding which is in a few weeks time!


Sunday was a lazy day as Mark had driven us back from Northampton late on Saturday night so we mooched about the house and I baked. I love any cake or pudding with a crumb/streusel top. To me putting a crumb topping on a cake means you are allowed to eat it for breakfast, so that is exactly what I did this morning whilst I was working from home. The making of this cake involves a lot of bowls, so be prepared for a lot of washing up!


This recipe will make a 9x13 inch sheet cake. The recipe is adapted from the Joy the Baker cookbook.

For the crumb topping
350g caster sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
240g plain flour
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
110g unsalted butter, room temperature

For the coffee filling
2 tablespoons coffee granules
150ml water
210g light brown sugar
3 teaspoons cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

For the sour cream cake
170g unsalted butter room temperature
300g caster sugar
70g light brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 large eggs
450g plain flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
225ml sour cream
350ml whole milk


Method

1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C. Grease and line a 9x13 inch pan and set aside.

2. To make the crumb topping mix together the sugar, salt , flour, cinnamon and butter until it has the texture of breadcrumbs. Set aside.

3. To make the filling boil the coffee granules and water in a saucepan until it's reduced by half and it's become almost syrupy. Leave it to cool for 10 minutes. In a clean bowl mix together the brown sugar, cocoa powder, salt and coffee syrup and set aside.

4. To make the cake beat the butter and sugars until light and fluffy, around 7 minutes. Beat in the vanilla and once incorporated add the eggs one at a time, beating well and scraping the bowl after each addition. Mix together the remaining dry ingredients (flour, baking powder and salt) in a bowl, and the sour cream and whole milk in a jug. Add 1/3 of the dry mixture to the batter and mix until almost combined. Then add 1/2 of the sour cream and milk mixture, beating until combined. Repeat once more, mixing well and finally add the remaining 1/3 of dry ingredients.

5. Pour half of the batter into the prepared pan and smooth over. Sprinkle the coffee filling evenly over the top. Carefully spread the remaining cake batter over the filling and then swirl with a couple of toothpicks. Sprinkle the crumb topping over the batter and press in lightly. Bake in the preheated oven for 55 minutes until the crumb topping is golden and a skewer comes out clean.

6. Allow to cool in the pan for 30 minutes and serve warm.



As I mentioned above I had a massive chunk of this, warmed up for my breakfast this morning and it was delicious. The sour cream makes the sponge really soft, the coffee syrup and sugar filling goes really sticky and the crumble is the best bit! Golden and crunchy with a hint of cinnamon. Needless to say, this will probably be mine and Mark's breakfast for the rest of the week!

Monday, 27 May 2013

Vegan Salted Pistachio & Chocolate Chip Cookie Pie

I love cookies, I'm more likely to eat cookies than I am to eat cake. They are so good when they're still warm and really fudgy in the middle. How can you improve on that? You could make a cookie PIE, and even better, a dairy free one. I really enjoy vegan baking and cooking. It's nice to know you can make really hearty meals and comforting bakes that are free from any animal by-products, and I love how surpised people are when you tell them that! It's like they expected it to be tastless?!


This recipe is adapted from Chloe's Vegan Desserts by Chloe Coscarelli. It will make an 8 inch pie.


For the pie crust
160g Plain flour
1 1/2 teaspoons caster sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
90g Trex
5 tablespoons iced water

For the cookie filling
100g plain flour
60g caster sugar
110g light brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
90g vegan margarine, melted and slightly cooled
60ml soy milk (or whichever dairy free milk you prefer)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
300g roasted salted pistachios, shelled and roughly chopped
150g dairy free dark chocolate chips


Method

1. To make the pie crust place the flour, sugar and salt in a food processor and pulse until mixed. Add the Trex and pulse until the mixture looks like breadcrumbs. Add the iced water one tablespoon at a time, pulsing after each addition and until the dough holds together. Wrap the crust in cling film and chill in the fridge for 15 minutes.

2. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C. Grease an 8 inch pie dish and set aside. Lightly flour a clean surface and roll out the crust until it's about 1/8 inch thick. Lift the crust and gently press into the pie dish, removing any overhanging dough. Chill the crust in the fridge until ready to bake. I used the left over dough for my heart decoration.

3. To make the cookie filling place the flour, caster sugar, brown sugar and baking powder in a bowl and mix. In a jug mix together the milk, melted margarine and vanilla extract. Pour the wet mixture into the dry and mix until combined. Add the pistachios and chocolate chips and fold in.

4. Remove the pie dish from the fridge and pour in the cookie filling. If you made any decoration from the left over pasty, place it on top of the filling. Bake in the preheated oven for 50 minutes, until the cookie filling is set. You may need to cover with tin foil to prevent the pastry from catching.


This pie is best served warm, so leave to cool for 15 - 20 minutes and serve. The saltiness of the pistachios is delicious against the sweetness of the cookie dough, the pastry is light and crispy and the cookie filling is fudgy. Serving a scoop of dairy free ice cream with a slice of this pie would be perfect.

Are you enjoying the bank holiday weekend? I spent saturday catching up with friends and eating pizza, then Sunday I went for a pub lunch with my family. I am feeling really happy as I've booked somewhere to stay for the weekend that I'm helping out at Food Blogger Connect. I booked it through Air BnB, and it's a beautiful flat just round the corner from the venue which is handy! I can't believe it's only 6 weeks away!

For the rest of this lovely long weekend I am working on Food Blogger Connect stuff and hoping I will have some time to catch up on reading blogs. I will also be eating a lot of my cookie pie!

Monday, 20 May 2013

Raspberry Chocolate Cheesecake Brownies

I apologise that I am posting this a day late, but yesterday was World Baking Day! Did you take part? What did you make? The idea was to bake something outside of your comfort zone that you've never done before. But due to a limited amount of time (and a determination to take this particular bake in for my work colleagues) I made Raspberry Chocolate Cheesecake Brownies. These have got to be one of my favourite things to bake - I love brownies, I love cheesecake so what's better than mixing them together?!


This recipe is adapted from Baked in America by David Muniz and David Lesniak. It will make one 12x9 inch brownie which can be cut into large or small squares.

For the brownie
115g unsalted butter
340g dark chocolare
160g plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
4 large organic free range eggs
340g caster sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
250g fresh raspberries

For the cheesecake
115g unsalted butter, room temperature
225g full fat cream cheese, chilled
175g caster sugar
3 large organic free range eggs
3 tablespoons plain flour
1 tablespoon vanilla extract




Method

1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C. Grease and line a 12x9 inch pan and set aside.

2. Melt the butter and chocolate in a bowl over simmering water. Remove from the heat and leave to cool slightly.

3. In a bowl, mix the butter and cream cheese until fluffy. Add the sugar, eggs, flour and vanilla and mix until creamy. Set aside.

4. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the eggs, vanilla extract and sugar until they thicken. Add the dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Stir in the melted butter and chocolate.

5. Carefully smooth three quarters of the brownie batter into the greased and lined pan. Scatter the raspberries on top and press them in lightly, then pour the cheesecake mixture over the top. Dollop the last quarter of the brownie batter onto the cheesecake mixture and then swirl it with a knife.

6. Bake in the preheated oven for 40-45 minutes. The cheesecake will begin to brown and puff up. When a skewer is inserted it should come out clean. Let the brownie cool completely, and then leave in the fridge overnight.


This weekend was another good one involving food! My sister Lauren and I spent all day Saturday preparing and cooking Japanese food. This included sushi, gyoza dumplings, veggie noodles, spicy rice and tempura vegetables. We were in the kitchen from 12 noon until 6pm but it was so worth it. I never imagined everything would look and taste as good as it did. We made a lot of food (does anyone else ALWAYS over-estimate how much food to make?!) so needless to say, we had leftovers for lunch on Sunday! Do you ever have themed food nights? Usually ours will be Mexican or burgers, but Japanese night was in honour of Lauren and Pete going to Japan a couple of months ago.

If you haven't entered my giveaway yet, you have until the end of the month and could win a years subscription to Cake Decorating Magazine!

Sunday, 12 May 2013

Rate My Cake App and Cake Decorating Magazine Giveaway

I love Instagram and if you follow me, you will know it mostly includes pictures of cakes and food (and my cat, Luna). I was really excited when I got an email from the creators of Cake Decorating Magazine about their new app Rate My Cake. I downloaded the app right away and was happy to find it is like Instagram but solely for CAKE. Can you imagine anything better?!

I love looking at other peoples cakes for inspiration and there are so many talented people using the app. It's free to download and use, you can customise your pictures with different filters and even share your recipes. There are already lots of people using it and I can easily loose 45 minutes looking at the incredible creations people have been sharing.




Giveaway
De Agostini have very kindly given me a brilliant prize to give away to one reader: a year's subscription to Cake Decorating Magazine. It is a weekly magazine with recipes, tutorials, walkthroughs and tips for cake decorating projects. The issues often come with tools helping you to build your collection.

How to enter

- Follow the Rafflecopter instructions in the widget below
- Answer the mandatory question and leave a comment in order to move on to the additional chances to enter
- Entries will be checked and verified before a winner is annouced
- You can tweet daily to increase your chances of winning
- Rafflecopter will pick a winner at random
- The competition will run from Sunday 12th May 2013 until 31st May 2013
- See the Terms and Conditions on the Rafflecopter widget for the rules and more information.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, 6 May 2013

Mocha Bundt Cake with Speculoos Frosting

I am so pleased this weekend was a bank holiday! The weather has been perfect and I've had nice plans with my favourite people. I had a lovely day Saturday with my sister and our friend Kate. Kate came over and we baked cupcakes and bread, painted our nails, watched Pitch Perfect (my new absolute favourite film!) and then made Mexican food for dinner. Luna spent the entire time entertaining us - she has decided her new favourite place to sit is in the dish drainer! On Sunday I went to a village fete with my Mum, sister and her other half. The best part of the fete besides having tea and cake, was the dog show. It was hilarious and the dogs just did whatever they wanted! Sunday night Mark and I went to a friends house for takeout food. And I have spent today working for Food Blogger Connect.

Bundt cakes make me nervous. I have fallen out with them in the past as they've crumbled apart when I've taken them out of the pan. I decided the bank holiday weekend was the best time to face my fear, and I'm glad I did! Coffee and chocolate is one of my favourite combinations, and can only be improved upon with Speculoos. I have always loved Lotus Biscuits/Speculoos, but I can't get enough of the biscuits at the moment. My boss and I ate an entire pack between us in 45 minute meeting a couple of weeks ago!



This recipe is adapted from The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook by Tarek Malouf and will make a 25cm bundt cake.

For the cake
2 tablespoons coffee granules
170ml cold water
450g unsalted butter, room temperature
450g caster sugar
8 large free range organic eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
450g plain flour
2 tablespoons baking powder
2 tablespoons cococa powder

For the frosting
300g icing sugar
50g unsalted butter, room temperature
100g Speculoos spread
50ml milk

2 squares milk chocolate to decorate, grated


Method

1. Preheat the oven to 170 degrees C. Grease the bundt pan generously and set aside.

2. Make a coffee essence by boiling the water and coffee granules until reduced by half. Set aside until completely cooled.

3. Beat the butter, sugar and coffee essence until smooth. Add the eggs one at a time beating well after each is added. Mix in the vanilla extract. Beat in the flour, baking powder and cococa powder, mixing until combined and the mixture is fluffy.

4. Pour the mixture into the greased pan, ensuring the top is smooth and bake in the preheated oven for 50 minutes. Cover with tin foil if the cake starts to catch.

5. Remove the cake from the oven and allow to cool in the pan for 30 minutes. Turn out onto a cooling rack.

6. Once the bundt is cool, the frosting can be made. Beat the icing sugar and butter until they come together. Add the Speculoos, milk and vanilla extract. Beat on a high speed until the frosting is light and fluffy, for around 7 minutes. The frosting can then be smoothed on top of the cake. For decoration grate 2 squares of milk chocolate over the frosting.

When I come to make this bundt again I would make one adjustment, and use 2 tablespoons of instant espresso powder rather than coffee granules. You can taste the coffee, but I'd like it to have a bit more of a punch!


I am now going to sit down with a big chunk of cake and a cup of tea, and watch The Big Bang Theory. Perfect way to spend a bank holiday! And I am already looking forward to this weekend as I am going to Blog Summit in Birmingham! I'm really excited as I am attending with Sophie and Laura. So it will be a day full of friends, workshops, talks and food.

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Peanut Butter Chocolate Layer Cake

This weekend was really nice. Firstly; the new issue of Homemaker Magazine came out on Friday, and my blog got a little write up. I was so flattered and excited when their team asked if they could feature it. I love blogging and never thought anyone would enjoy my blog enough to write about it!

Secondly; on Saturday my sister and I caught up with one of our oldest (and closest) friends Kate. She is one of my best friends and has been for a long time. Without realising we go for long periods without seeing each other, but she is one of those people that when you see her, it's like you picked up where you left off 3 years ago. She's coming to my house one Saturday in May so we can spend the day baking and eating Mexican food. I am so excited! I love having things like that to look forward to.

As well as seeing Kate, watching films and eating Chinese food with my sister, I did some work for Food Blogger Connect. Somehow amongst all that I found the time to make a cake! I thought as I hadn't done a big layer cake since my Ferrero Rocher cake, I'd make one over the weekend. And dang I didn't regret it!


This recipe will make a 3 tier layer cake - you will need 3x 20cm cake tins. It is adapted from Baked in America by David Muniz and David Lesniak.

For the cake
4 large free range organic eggs
250ml whole milk
90ml rapeseed oil
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
500g plain flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
250g caster sugar
250g light brown sugar
130g unsalted butter, room temperature
170g smooth peanut butter

For the frosting
750g icing sugar
255g unsalted butter
130ml whole milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
60g cocoa powder

For the decoration
30g crushed peanuts


Method

1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C. Grease and line 3 20cm cake pans.

2. In one bowl mix the eggs, milk, oil and vanilla. In another bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt. Set both aside.

3. Beat the butter and the sugars in the bowl of a stand mixer until light and fluffy. About 7 minutes. Alternately add the wet and dry ingredients in thirds, scraping down the bowl after each addition.

4. Divide the batter between the 3 pans and bake in the preheated oven for 40 minutes until a skewer comes out clean. Leave to cool in the pans for 10 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack.

5. To make the frosting, mix the icing sugar and butter until combined. Add the milk and vanilla and beat on a high speed for 5 minutes until light and fluffy. Finally, add the cocoa powder and beat until just combined.

6. Now to assemble the cake: Place the bottom layer onto a cake stand and spread 1/3 of the frosting over the top and sides, and repeat with the next 2 layers making sure the finish is smooth.

7. Sprinkle the crushed peanuts around the edge of the top of the cake, finishing with a small sprinkle in the centre.


Peanut butter and chocolate has to be one of the best combinations on the planet, they just go together perfectly. This cake is no exception. The sponge is really light and flavourful and the chocolate frosting has just the right amount of cocoa in it, so that it doesn't over power the peanut butter.

It's only Tuesday and I am already looking forward to the weekend! Friday is Mark's birthday and we are going for a meal on Saturday to celebrate. We are going to our local pub, which happens to only serve vegetarian food (hurrah!) and is ironically named The Shoulder of Mutton. About 3 years ago it used to be a 'local' pub for 'older' gentlemen, and it had been for years. But it got taken over and the landlord decided to keep the name. If you are ever near Wantage I would really recommend a visit!

Thursday, 4 April 2013

Banana Maple Pecan Loaf

Going back to work after 4 days off for Easter was hard. I spent the whole weekend eating Creme Egg Brownies and watching TV. I have really struggled to get out of bed the last couple of mornings, Luna makes it harder as when she realises I'm waking up, she will sit herself on my chest purring in my face!

I am really looking forward to this weekend for two reasons. The first; my sister has been in Japan for the last couple of weeks on holiday. I'm picking her up from the airport on Friday night and I am SO excited to see her. She is my best friend so I find it strange when she isn't around. And the second reason; two of mine and Mark's favourite people - Emmie and Rich - are coming over to our house for Mexican Food on Saturday. Mexican is mine and Mark's favourite food to eat and to make for other people. I would say we're pretty darn good at it (both eating and making it!)


I love banana in cake and desserts. I'm not fussed about eating banana on it's own, but put it in a cake or a pie and I love it. I decided to make a banana loaf as I had a couple going brown in the kitchen and thought it'd go well with Maple and Pecan. Dot Com Gift Shop very kindly provided the adorable loaf cases I used. They are really sturdy allowing the cake to keep a good shape, and the pattern is so pretty! If you fancy getting some loaf cases yourself you can find them here. There are also some larger ones here.


This recipe will make a large loaf, if you are using small loaf cases like I did, it will make 3-4 small loaves. The recipe is adapted from my Mum's banana bread. It doesn't use any sugar as I think there is enough from adding the maple syrup.


Ingredients
120g unsalted butter
150ml maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large organic free range egg
3 large ripe bananas
70ml milk
240g plain flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
100g pecans, roughly chopped

For the topping
20g pecans, roughly chopped
Drizzle of maple syrup



Method

1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C. If using a large loaf tin, grease and set aside.

2. Melt the butter and set aside for a few minutes. When the butter has cooled slightly, pour into a bowl and mix in the maple syrup and vanilla. Mash the bananas in a separate bowl then mix into the wet ingredients along with the milk.

3. Sieve the flour, baking powder and salt into the wet ingredients and mix until combined. Fold in the chopped pecans.

4. Pour the batter into your loaf tin (or cases!) and then sprinkle with the extra chopped pecans. Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes until a skewer comes out clean and the top of the loaf is golden brown. If you use the loaf cases like I did, bake for 20 minutes.

5. Remove from the oven and place on a cooling rack. Once cooled, drizzle some maple on the top of the loaf and serve.

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