Sunday, 24 November 2013

Cranberry and pear muffins

We went to a friend's 30th birthday party last month, where said friend got a little bit merry. At midnight, she decided we should pick some pears from the tree in their garden. In the pitch darkness, I managed to pick about 10 pears, but goodness know how. They weren't even ripe, and only became edible last week. They turned quite suddenly, so I needed to find a fun recipe to use some up. Cranberry and pear muffins sounded perfect. I'm entering these into the Calendar Cakes December blog challenge, hosted by the fabulous Dolly Bakes and Laura Loves Cakes.

These are quite festive and Christmassy, you could even decorate them with fresh cranberries and some foliage to look like holly.

300g self-raising flour
1/2tsp bicarb
150g caster sugar
2/3tsp mixed spice
2 eggs, beaten
100ml yoghurt
75ml milk
100g marg, melted and cooled a bit
3 pears, peeled, cored, and diced
60g dried cranberries

Preheat the oven to 200C (180C fan). Line a 12-hole muffin tin (I used some fancy muffin cases from last year's Good Food Show).
Mix the flour, bicar, sugar, and spice and sift into a big bowl
Combine eggs, yoghurt, milk, and butter. Add the pears and cranberries.
Stir the wet mixture into the dry ingredients and mix until just combined.
Spoon into the muffin cases
Bake for about 20 minutes.
Decorate with a little plain icing and a few dried cranberries.

Thursday, 21 November 2013

Lemon meringue pie cake

I loved lemon meringue pie as a child, even though my mum used the packet mix for the lemon part - but that didn't bother me, and it still wouldn't today. This comes from the woman who loves Bird's custard and Paxo stuffing. Some things are just meant to be. 

I digress. For the November meeting of the Stamford Clandestine Cake Club, caker Louise (who admitted she doesn't actually like cake - the horror!) made a delicious lemon meringue cake. Here I share her recipe as it was absolutely fabulous. 

3 unwaxed lemons
200g softened butter
200g caster sugar
3 medium eggs
250g self-raising flour sifted
6 tbsp milk

For the meringue
2 egg whites
100g caster sugar

For the filling
250g tub mascarpone
2 tbsp sifted icing sugar 
Half a 450g jar of lemon curd

Preheat the oven to 160C/140C fan/gas 21⁄2. Line the bases of 2 x 20cm sandwich cake tins (about 5cm deep) with nonstick paper. Grate the zest from the lemons and put in a bowl with the other cake ingredients. Beat together with an electric hand whisk for 2-3 minutes until light and fluffy. Spoon into the tins and level the tops.

Whisk the egg whites until stiff, then gradually whisk in the sugar until the meringue is stiff. Spoon half the meringue over each cake and spread to within 2cm of the edges. Swirl the meringue with the tip of a knife.

Bake the cakes for 35-40 minutes until the meringue is crisp and golden and the cake is firm. Test by inserting a fine skewer through the meringue – if just a few crumbs stick to the skewer, the cake is ready.

Allow to cool in the tins for 10 minutes, then invert each cake on to a folded tea towel and then invert again on to a wire rack so the meringue is uppermost. (Alternatively, for loose-bottom tins, sit the tin on top of a can and gently push down the collar to free the cake.) Leave to cool completely. The cakes will keep for up to 2 days in a tin at this stage.

Beat together the mascarpone and sugar. Put spoonfuls of lemon curd over the mascarpone and swirl gently together. Set one cake on a serving plate and spread with the filling. Top with the other cake and dust lightly with icing sugar.

Monday, 18 November 2013

It's cake, but not as we know it

The Stamford CCC is now A YEAR OLD! Thanks to all members who've ever come to a meeting, it's such a brilliant club and I'm so happy we've reached our first birthday.

November's meeting of the Stamford Clandestine Cake Club was all about cakes masquerading as something else - or, perhaps vice versa. We had 16 cakes inspired by different flavours, puddings, and other sweet delights.
This month we met on November 11th at The Collyweston Slater, a lovely country pub just outside of Stamford that has recently undergone new management. It's a lovely big pub with different areas to enjoy. They do a great Sunday carvery and part of the pub is dog friendly, plus there's a great play area for children too. Fun tea towels on the walls added to the welcoming atmosphere. The owners, Helen and Kelvin, certainly welcomed the big plate of cake I gave them. For more info visit The Collyweston Slater website.

The featured cakes this month were:
Sausage breakfast cake - Mel
Banoffee pie cake - Vic
Strawberry shortbread cake - Kelly
Cinnamon crumble apple cake - Vicky
Lemon meringue cake - Louise
Cherry Bakewell Cake - Sarah L
Tiffin cake - Sarah G
Sticky toffee shortbread cake - Danielle
Cherry Bakewell - Alice
Mint choc chip cake - Ali
Chocolate peppermint cream cake - Sam
Victoria sponge pizza cake - Kerry
Almond and chocolate cake - Rhoda
Apricot couronne cake - Anthea
Toffee apple cake - Rachel
Spotted dick and custard cake - Deborah

All the cakes were brilliantly inspired by something else, well done to all bakers. A particular triumph was Mel's sausage breakfast cake, possibly the strangest combination we've every had at cake club, but which really impressed and tasted fab. Louise's lemon meringue cake was excellent, and had everyone talking. My personal favourite was Vic's banoffee pie cake, which was fluffy, delicious, and looked great too - but then I do love banoffee pie. Newcomer Ali's mint choc chip cake took us all back to childhood ice creams.

Sunday, 17 November 2013

Sausage breakfast cake

This sounds a bit odd, I hear you say. Well, yes it does, but trust me it tastes delicious. You might not realise it had sausages in it if someone didn't tell you, but there's a hint of something meaty, spicy, and smokey that you can't quite put your finger on. It goes very well with a cup of coffee.

This was made by my good friend Mel for the November meeting of the Stamford Clandestine Cake Club, which was held at the lovely Collyweston Slater pub just outside Stamford. The theme was 'It's cake, but not as we know it'.

Apparently this smells particularly sausagey while cooking, but a couple of days later the smell isn't so strong and just tastes of cake. I would definitely recommend this one, especially if you want to confuse your guests a bit.

450g sausage (without skins)
325g dark brown soft sugar
300g caster sugar
2 eggs beaten
375g sifted plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp ginger
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp cinnamon
235ml brewed coffee
145g raisins
120g walnuts (chopped) and a few whole for decoration

Preheat oven to 180 degrees C. Grease and flour a 23cm tin. Pour boiling water over raisins and let it stand for 5 mins then drain and dry.

In a large bowl combine sausage, brown sugar and caster sugar. Stir well until blended. Add eggs and beat well.

In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, ginger, baking powder and spices.

Stir bicarbonate of soda into coffee.

Add flour mixture and coffee alternatively to sausage mixture, beating well after each addition. Fold in the raisins and walnuts in to the cake batter.

Pour the cake batter in to the greased tin. Bake the cake at 180C for 1 hour 30 minutes or until skewer comes out clear.

Cool in the tin for 15 minutes then turn out on to a wire rack.