Thursday, 17 October 2013

Midnight cookes

I had a hankering for cookies at the weekend, so I rummaged through my recipe books and found an easy-looking chocolate cookie recipe, called Midnight cookies.

I can only assume they are so-called because they ought to be eaten at that time of night so that you can't see how rubbish they are, and are so sleepy that it doesn't matter that they're not like cookies at all, but more like flat cakes.

I thought the recipe sounded a bit odd as I was mixing anything together, and then when it came to rolling walnut-sized balls in my dampened hands, I was basically manhandling cake mix. Don't get me wrong, they taste lovely, but they really are just flat cakes. Odd. I won't share the recipe, as I wouldn't encourage such a wasted bake! But I will tell you the name of the book - '1001 Cupcakes, Cookies, and other Tempting Bakes', a Christmas present. I'll be sticking to good ol' Aztec cookies in future.

Only good thing about them is the new plate I bought from the antique shop.

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Boyfriend's Bakewell Tart

I have been usurped. My kitchen has been taken over by an alien force and good things are coming from it. Steve appropriated my gadgetry this weekend and notched up quite a fantastic Bakewell Tart. I have mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, I love a good Bakewell Tart. Who doesn't? On the other hand...


It almost feels like he applied to The Great British Bake Off, got accepted, and ended up winning it.

Anyway. I thought I would share photos as it was really rather good. Not a soggy bottom in sight. His icing was a little messy, but we'll let him off for that.

Speaking of The Great British Bake Off, I can't decide who I want to win. I think Frances, as she's the nicest, but I do think Kimberley has the most skill, even if it's not always spot on. Ruby I think wings it too much and does bake a lot of tosh. But the judges clearly have a soft spot for her.... Whichever of the three that wins, they've all done so well, and I give them all a big round of applause for being brave enough to go under such scrutiny!

Monday, 14 October 2013

Bacon maple cake

For this month's Stamford Clandestine Cake Club, the theme was 'Around the world in 80 cakes'. I wanted to do an American cake, as we'd been to California on holiday this summer. I thought back to our trip and considered what were the most common flavours that we encountered... I'm ashamed to say that the most obvious ones were waffles with bacon and maple syrup.

I scoured the internet for a maple and bacon cake recipe, not quite sure how it would work out. My brother had a maple and bacon cheesecake while we were there, and it was surprisingly good.

This had to be the most hilarious cake I've made - it looked like a perfectly normal sandwich cake with lovely buttercream swirls..... and then slices of bacon laid on top.

Before the bacon
If you have a very sweet tooth (there's a lot of maple syrup in this) and also love crispy bacon, give this a try.

450g plain flour
4 tsps baking powder
1 tsp bicarb
2 pinches salt
200g marg
200g soft light brown sugar
4 eggs
150ml plain yogurt
150ml maple syrup

Cream together the butter and sugar until really light and fluffy.
Mix together the dry ingredients.
Add half the eggs, then a bit of flour, then the rest of the eggs, followed by the remainder of dry ingredients sieved.
Mix the yogurt and maple syrup together, then add to the mixture.
Pour into two sandwich tins (I had some left over as this made quite enough for a few cupcakes too).
Bake in the oven at 180C (170C fan) for about 30 minutes.

Room for cupcakes too
When cool, make buttercream with 125g butter, 300g icing sugar, and 100ml maple syrup. Smooth on to one layer, top with the other layer, and swirl more buttercream on top.
Fry at least six rashers of smokey streaky bacon (no oil), with a few drops of maple syrup right before the end. The bacon will caramelise a bit - it's not burnt!
When the bacon is cool, place on the top of the cake. I laid mine in strips, but it would probably be better chopped up first.

It went down well at cake club, although people were a bit unsure about its looks. If you like a bit of sweet and salty, this works really well.

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Around the world in 80 cakes

The location for the October gathering of the Stamford Clandestine Cake Club was called The Mess, which was quite apt considering the amount of cake crumbs we left behind… The Mess was located in The Cosy Club, Stamford, which was also very well-named – particularly cosy, comfortable, and a brilliant venue for our cake club. A big Art Deco-inspired room, with fantastic historical paintings and prints, antlers on the wall, candles, a long cake table with fabulously mismatched chairs, plus leather sofas and armchairs to sink into – we were spoilt for choice for where to sit and scoff our cakes.

Despite several cancellations, we had 18 enthusiastic cake clubbers and 14 cakes, all baked to our theme of ‘Around the world in 80 cakes’. This was more of a challenge this month, and our bakers impressed with all very different cakes. Everyone’s effort was outstanding. We had a delicious tour of the world with some great flavours and new recipes that many hadn’t tried before. My personal favourite was Sarah’s Black Forest Gateau. My bacon and maple cake (flavours of my summer trip to California, where all we seemed to eat was waffles with bacon and maple syrup!) turned a few heads – the strangest cake I’ve ever baked – it looked like a perfectly normal sandwich cake with buttercream, apart from the strips of bacon on the top! Victoria’s Hungarian Dobos torte had seven lovely layers, while Kat’s angel food cake really was angelic, it was so light. Kelly’s Mexican creation was light and moist, and reminded Steve of Milkybars – always a good thing.

The Cosy Club was a great host, with lots of space and friendly, welcoming staff, who all devoured the platter of cake they received (in about 20 minutes, most of the 14 slices had been eaten!). I happened to eat dinner at The Cosy Club a couple of days before our cake event, and the menu is inviting – I’d definitely recommend visiting for a drink or dinner (or a cake club again, hopefully). The quirky decor and relaxed atmosphere make for a great time, whether you come in the day or night time.

The roll of cakey honour goes to:
Bacon and maple cake – USA – Sophie
Dobos torte – Hungary – Vic L
Tres leches (three milk) cake – Mexico – Kelly
Rum cake – Caribbean – Kerry
Red velvet cake – USA – Sarah L
Angel food cake – USA – Kat
Tarta de Almendras – Spain – Vicky R
Maple and pecan cake – Canada – Judith
Black Forest Gateau – Germany – Sarah G
Zebra cake – Africa – Jennifer
Hummingbird cake – USA – Danielle
Cappuccino cake – Italy – Deborah
Sachertorte – Austria – Alice
Donauwellen (Danube waves cake) – Germany – Katy

Thursday, 3 October 2013

Stamp of approval for mini cakes

My mini chocolate cakes with Nutella buttercream got the ultimate seal of approval this week - a big thumbs up from my friend's daughter, the gorgeous Sydney!

You might recognise Syd from her modelling days with Kiddicare. Such a cutie.

For my mini chocolate cake with Nutella buttercream recipe, click here.