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


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.

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


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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