Sunday, 28 October 2012

Spooky spiderweb fudge muffins

Happy Halloween! To celebrate the witching hour, and, more importantly, October's Calendar Cakes challenge from Dolly Bakes and Laura Loves Cakes, I made some scrumptious chocolate fudge spiderweb muffins. Don't get too scared, they're only cakes...

Spiderweb muffins in a witch's cauldron
The recipe is from BBC Good Food.

50g dark chocolate
85g butter
1 tbsp coffee (you can use milk or just water if you prefer, I used espresso coffee)
200g self-raising flour
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
85g light muscovado sugar
50g golden caster sugar
1 egg
142ml soured cream

For the decorating:
100g dark chocolate
100g white chocolate

Don't be too scared of these fudge muffins

Melt the chocolate, butter, and coffee (or other liquid) in a glass bowl over simmering water. Allow to cool.
Mix together the dry ingredients and sieve.
Beat the egg and mix with the sour cream. Add this to the dry mix, then pour in the chocolate mix. Stir together carefully and don't over-mix.
Pour into muffin cases and bake at 190C (170C fan) for about 20 minutes.
 To decorate, melt the white and dark chocolate separately. Pour a little of each into separate piping bags. Spoon dark chocolate on to a muffin, quickly pipe circles of white chocolate on to the muffin, then use a small skewer to draw through the chocolate to make the spider web design. Do the same with the opposite design.

I found the decorating quick tricky as my kitchen was cold, and so the chocolate was hardening quickly. I would suggest melting half the chocolate at a time, and doing half a batch before melting the rest. Whatever you do, don't re-melt the chocolate if it hardens, as it will just turn into a glumpy mess. If the chocolate hardens inside the piping bags, I dipped them into the warm water over which I had melted the choc, which helped loosen it up a bit. Working quickly is KEY for them to look right. Mine are a bit hit and miss!

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Fruit cake therapy

Tonight's bakes were a fruit loaf and chocolate brownies. I like the pun I made in the headline there - fruit cake as therapy, and also therapy for a fruit cake, aka me... Ha! Made a joke...

The cakes are for my uncle's funeral, on Friday. He sadly died just over a week ago. My aunt is hosting the wake at her house so I thought a couple of bakes would help her out. I chose a traditional fruit loaf, which my uncle would have loved, and my favourite chocolate brownies for more contemporary tastes.

Simple fruit loaf

The fruit loaf was a Great British Bake Off recipe, from the second book. A very simple recipe, although I'm very worried about the results as this was the first time of cake baking for the oven in my new house! I still haven't got to grips with it yet and am unsure about how it will do with cakes. The proof is in the pudding....and the cake.

175g butter
150g caster sugar (I only had golden caster sugar in the house, so I wonder what difference it will make)
400g plain flour
Pinch salt
4 tsps baking powder
300g luxury dried fruit
125ml milk
2 eggs

Loaf tin is meant to be 900g (about 26 x 12.5 x 7.5cm) but mine isn't that big (I really must buy a new one) - so I ended up with some small fruit cakes too.

Melt the sugar and butter. Sift the flour, salt, and baking powder together and stir in the fruit. Beat the eggs into the milk and mix into the flour. Add the melted butter and stir until all combined. In the right loaf tin, bake this at 180C for about an hour - but as I had a smaller tin, it only took about 45 minutes.

The chocolate brownies are a favourite recipe that I make frequently. Again this was the first time of baking in the new oven. They don't look quite right - they don't have the lovely crack across the top like normal, but I hope they're OK. It takes a bit of trial and error with a new oven, I know. Especially when the oven has no light, and no digits on the buttons so I don't know what anything does....

It was good to do some baking. I put my generic mp3 player on random and enjoyed some music while the baking took my mind off everything else. Baking really is therapy.

I can't wait for the Stamford Clandestine Cake Club meet in a couple of weeks. Numbers are slowly increasing - luckily it is looking sure that I won't be sitting in the corner by myself with a cake....

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Welcome to the Stamford Clandestine Cake Club!

Drumroll please.... The Stamford Clandestine Cake Club has launched!

The first event will be on November 1. The theme is The Great British Fruit Off - to honour the best programme on the telly (The Great British Bake Off, if you didn't know...). I thought I would kick the club off with a simple theme that covered all bases and that hopefully would allow everyone and anyone to take part, whatever their baking competancies or confidence in such clubs. It could be a classic fruit cake, a lemon drizzle, fruity decorations, or something more exotic and experimental - I thought the theme would allow as much or little imagination as people wanted. I have lots of ideas for fun themes but I didn't want to overwhelm everyone in the first month!

I'm scared and excited in equal measures. Hopefully it'll bring new and old friends together to enjoy cake and chat in a lovely location. But I do worry that I'll be the only one there....

For more info about CCC visit and for the Stamford event visit here.

From tiny acorns....

Friday, 5 October 2012

Plea for oven help

Does anyone know the make of my oven?

No instructions, no numbers on the knobs.... I have no idea what does what or at what temperature. I will be buying an oven themometer very soon.

The blub also doesn't work. We replaced it and it went bang. If any oven technicians happen to be reading this, please don't hesitate to comment and tell me what you think...!

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

All change

Project 'Don't bake anything else made with chocolate' is going well - mainly because I haven't really baked anything at all due to The Big House Move and the subsequent quandary of How The Heck Does My Oven Work.

We underestimated how many little things would be wrong with the house when we bought it - I think it would have been easier to buy a 'project' property that needed ripping apart and starting again. Instead, we're just trying to fix a million and one tiny broken things left behind by the previous owners/tenants. One of which is an oven with no discernable markings. I don't know what make it is, it has no temperature numbers on the knob, it has no oven setting figures on the other knob, so if I actually manage to guess when I've turned on the oven rather than the grill, heaven only knows what temperature it's at.

I managed to bodge together a raspberry frangipane tart, after a lot of swearing, but that's the only thing I've baked since we moved in.

This morning, I made pancakes. They made everything OK again. I know they're not baked, but they tasted goooooooood.

I know I normally only share baking things with my bloggy friends, but to deviate, I must mention my uncle Jim. He's suffered with Alzheimer's for several years. On Friday he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. He's gone downhill very quickly. He's comfortable in hospital now. But I don't think for long. Here's Uncle Jim and me in 1986.

Little me and Uncle Jim