Sunday, 29 July 2012

Blackberry Bakewell tarts

I've subscribed to BBC Good Food Magazine for ages now. I love reading new recipes and planning our meals with one or two new ideas every week (ideally). The new issue landed on my doorstep just a couple of days ago, and kudos to the design and editorial team for putting a recipe on the cover that looks so delicious that I had to bake it straight away - blackberry Bakewell tarts.

I was really disappointed with them though. There aren't enough blackberries in ratio to the frangipane - the tarts really need either jam, or a tonne more berries.

And I forgot the flaked almonds on the top. There is something about flaked almonds - I don't know why, but I always forget them from a recipe.

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Summer is here - whoopie!

I made some chocolate whoopie pies. They're one of my boyfriend's favourite bakes of mine and I can't resist but to make some when he asks.

They never look as good as they do in the books - but that's the joy of home baking. They look home made, wonky, bumpy, but loved. And I don't want my bakes to look perfect. I'm a cake baker, not a cake decorator. I like to spend time over a special cake to decorate it and make it perfect for special occasions, but a batch of whoopie pies for the boyfriend can be happily bonkers.

They taste yummy too. I can never quite describe a whoopie pie to someone who's not had one yet. What do you call them? Halfway between a cake and a cookie crossed with a brownie confuses the situation more than explain it.

Whatever they are, I do like a whoopie pie with a cup of tea.

[This post was composed before summer arrived and I resigned from kitchen duties!!!]

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Summery white choc strawberry cake

It's July. It might be peeing it down with rain outside, with a rumble of thunder and flash of lightning every few minutes; I might be wearing a jumper and socks; I might be contemplating a hot chocolate later....but dammit, I will make summer come into the kitchen, with a slice of this delicious White Chocolate and Strawberry Cake. This fits very nicely into the Alphabakes 'W' challenge for July, and also into the Tea Time Treats summer cake stall challenge. There's nothing like a fabulous cake and a couple of cakey challenges to make you forget about how pants this UK summer is turning out to be.

White Chocolate and Stawberry cake

I made this cake for a friend's 30th birthday. We got him a couple of nice gifts, but these days I love to give a cake too. It's such a personal touch, and really cheers people up - everyone loves that extra bit of effort and care that a cake takes, and it's great to share it out amongst friends and family too. A bunch of cupcakes were made for the party too, with elaborate pink frosting, but I only had half. The frosting made me feel a bit sick, and I think a whole bottle of red food colouring was used to try to get a real red colour - it turned out pink anyway, and there are supposed to be limits to how much of that liquid colouring you use!! Sometimes only a cake will do.

I haven't made a cake with melted chocolate incorporated into the batter before - sure, I've used cocoa powder a million and one times, but this recipe was a bit different and I didn't know how it would turn out. It was delicious - sweet and chocolatey without being overpowering, allowing the sweetness of the fresh strawberries to really sing on their own.

Happy birthday cake!

I did whip the cream too much. I set it off in my Kitchenaid mixer, and was busy arranging the strawbs on the base of the cake when I heard the sound change - I didn't reach it quickly enough and it was overwhipped a little. But no one noticed apart from me.

I scoffed two pieces. One at the alloted cake eating time, and another at about midnight, after a few glasses of vino. It seemed like a good idea at the time, and I credit late-night cake to my lack of hangover the next day. I'd recommend it.

This recipe comes from 'The Great British Bake Off - How to Bake' that accompanied series 2. 

150g white choc
200g marg
3 eggs
150g caster sugar
zest of 1/2 orange
200g self-raising flour

Preheat oven to 180C (160 fan).
Melt the chocolate. This has to be done very delicately, as too much heat and the choc will go lumpy. I stopped just as it started to melt, and stirred manically for a while, until the residual heat melted it all.
Add the marg and stir until melted. 
Whisk eggs until frothy. Add the sugar and orange zest and whisk until very thick and mousse-like.
Add the chocolate mix to the egg mix and stir briefly.
Sift flour in and fold with a metal spoon.
Divide mixture between two 20.5cm tins (As usual, my tins are too small - 18cm - so I also made some fairy cakes with the mixture).
Bake for about 20 - 25 minutes.

For the filling and topping, whip 200ml double cream.
Slice 2/3 of a 400g tub of strawberries, and mix with zest and juice of half and orange and a tablespoon of caster sugar. Leave for about 10 minutes to marinade.
Spoon the sliced strawbs on to the bottom cake layer. Top with half of the whipped cream. Place the other cake half on top. Spread rest of cream over the top, and decorate with the remaining whole strawberries.
To finish, grate some white chocolate over the top.
Eat. Eat some more. Maybe have another slice. Enjoy.

Tea Time Treats is hosted in alternative months by Karen at Lavender & Lovage (this month's host) and Kate at What Kate Baked. The Alphabakes challenge is hosted in alternative months by Caroline Makes (this month's host) and Ros at The More Than Occasional Baker
Fairy cakes too


Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Clandestine Cake Club - Guinness choc cake

For the July meeting of Market Deeping's Clandestine Cake Club, I made a Guinness chocolate cake. The theme this month was 'Alcoholics Anonymous'. I also think this makes a cheeky entry into July's Tea Time Treats from Karen at Lavendar & Lovage and Kate at What Kate Baked - this month's theme is summer fairs and cake stalls. A boozey cake would be my choice at a cake stand any day!

Welcome to July's Market Deeping CCC

I've never baked a boozy cake before so I was a bit wary of this theme, and I wasn't at all sure how this recipe would turn out. It was certainly a different method, and the mixture looked very suspect - dark like the night, lumpy, and bubbling up like a witches' cauldron!

Witches' caudron cake mix

This is probably the richest cake I've ever baked. It had a stout taste to it that wasn't overpowering and nicely cut through the sweetness of the chocolate - this was VERY chocolatey! The cream cheese frosting had a good tang to it that was just enough smoothness.

chocolate Guinness cake

The cake club was quiet this month, just four cakes again. We had a carrot and Cointreau cake, chocolate and whiskey sponge, and an Amaretto cream sponge. I felt totally caked out afterwards - each was very very rich and heavy, and in hindsight I'd rather have just eaten half a slice of each... I think I had a cake hangover for a good two days.

Amaretto cake

The chocolate Guinness cake recipe was from The Hummingbird Bakery 'Cake Days' book, although I've heard that Nigella does a good version of this too.

250ml Guinness
250g marg
80g cocoa
400g caster sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla essence
140ml buttermilk
280g plain flour
2 tsp bicarb
1/2 tsp baking powder

Pour the Guinness into a saucepan, add the butter, and heat gently until melted.
Remove pan from heat and add cocoa and sugar. Stir.
Mix the eggs, buttermilk, and vanilla together, then add to the mixture.
Sift flour and other ingredients into a bowl, then pour in the dark mixture. Whisk together.
Pour into a 23cm (9in) tin prepared with baking paper.
Bake in the oven at 170 degrees (150 ish fan) for about 45 minutes.

I didn't have a tin this size - mine is only 20cm - and instead of leaving some mixture out I thought I'd just pour it all in and hope for the best. It turned out very tall, and the top was very bumpy. It also took about 1 hour 5 minutes to cook.

To frost, I sliced the top of the cake off to make it smooth and flat. To make the frosting, mix together 50g butter and 300g icing sugar until it resembles powdery snow. Then add 125g cream cheese and mix until smooth and fluffy. I would recommend a layer of melted apricot jam on to the cake at this point - I forgot to do this, and so the frosting ended up with a mottled cake-crumb pattern! To combat this, I just added more frosting. Finish with a light dusting of cocoa powder.

Choc Guinnes cake topless

This didn't look too special in the end, but my, it tasted special.

To find out more about the fabulous Clandestine Cake Clubs, click here.

Sunday, 8 July 2012

Lemon drizzle cake - Tea Time Treat

My boyfriend's favourite cake is the old traditional lemon drizzle cake. I've never attempted this before, as I always think it's a bit of a safe option and I end up thinking of something more complicated to make. It's a light, fluffy cake, ideal for the summer fair cake stall tea time treats challenge! Find out more about tea time treats from Lavendar & Lovage and What Kate Baked. 

However, all did not go to plan. It was less drizzle, and more a damp soggy Wednesday in Britain - just like the current British summertime where the sunshine is still evading us. The drizzle didn't go crunchy at all like it's supposed to - none of the attractive dusting of sugary snowfall that you'd expect from a lemony fair treat. I followed the recipe to the letter (I even used the right flour this time) but it just didn't work. No crispy drizzle. It was positively soggy.

It was quite nice - the tart lemon was just enough, the sponge was light and soft, but the top half was soggy. There are no other words for it. Soggy. It worked as a good dessert, but not as a cake really. Although Steve thought it was delicious, I was disappointed.

Do you have any ideas why it didn't quite work? Perhaps I should have used a greater ratio of sugar to lemon juice for the drizzle glaze?

This is a recipe from 'The Great British Book of Baking' that accompanied the first series of The Great British Bake Off (how excited am I for the next series to start in August!).

200g very soft marg
250g caster sugar
3 eggs beaten
Finely grated zest of 2 lemons
250g self-raising flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
100ml milk at room temp

Preheat oven to 180 degrees (160 fan).
Put marg, sugar, eggs and lemon zest in bowl. Sift in flour and baking powder. Mix together until combined and smooth.
Pour into prepared tin. Bake for about 35-40 mins.

When nearly baked, mix together 100g caster sugar, the juice of 2 lemons, and the zest of 1 lemon. As soon as the cake comes out of the oven, poor the glaze over the top. Leave to cool completely in the tin before turning out. I only have a small loaf tin so this mixture made a few fairy cakes as well (they were also soggy and not crunchy).

If you've made this one, or any other lemon drizzle recipe, please comment and tell me how crunchy yours was!

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

My first Bundt - chocolate marble

Inspired by Rachel at Dolly Bakes' Bundt extravaganzas, I recently bought my first ever Bundt tin.  Now, I could never recreate Rachel's amazing big bundts, so I made a simple chocolate marble cake. This is the plainest Bundt tin you could find, but you have to start small!

My first Bundt tin
This is a Mary Berry recipe from her 'Baking Bible' book (page 108).

225g marg
225g caster sugar
4 eggs
225g self-raising flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp cocoa powder
1 1/2 tbsp hot water

Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees (160 fan), gas mark 4.
Bung all the cake ingredients in a big bowl and stir until mixed.
Dot half the mixture into the tin with a teaspoon.
Mix the cocoa powder and hot water together until smooth (use a little more water if it's too dry), and mix into the remaining mixture. Dot the rest of this into the tin.
Swirl a little with a knife, smooth the surface, and bake in the oven for about 40 mins.

Out of the oven
To decorate, melt 150g dark choc in a bowl set over simmering water, together with 2 tbsp water and 100g butter. Once melted and smooth, pour over the cake and leave to set for about an hour.
Once set, melt 50g of milk choc, then drizzle or pipe over the cake in stripes.

Mary Berry says to grease then line the tin with strips of baking paper. This I did, but I don't think I would follow this approach again. It was really fiddly and time consuming, and naturally the straight lines of the paper couldn't match the curves of the tin, so the mixture spread into all the cracks. Once out of the tin, taking the paper off was tricky, as some parts were baked into the cake, and bits had to break off to remove the paper. I think in future I would just grease and flour the tin instead.

Adding the strips
Creases caused by baking paper

When it came to decorating the cake, I melted the milk choc too quickly and with too much heat, so it just went into a big ball of weird dry chocolate. Steve loved it and inhaled it, but it was no good for drizzling - so I just used chocolate strands instead. I think it still looked good.

Bundt cake like doughnut

Steve said it looked like a large doughnut. Which I think can only be a good thing.

My first foray into Bundt cakes was a success. Thanks to Dolly Bakes for the idea and the desire to make something a bit different. Although I will reserve such a cake for a special occasion in future - this recipe in particular is best eaten fresh - and the tin makes a lot of cake for just two people! Luckily my work colleagues happily helped us finish it...