Monday, 31 August 2015

Mini coffee and walnut loaf cakes

This weekend's bake was mini coffee and walnut loaf cakes. They are far too cute to be eaten - although, they are extremely moreish so you might have more than one at a time...

When I came to make the buttercream, I realised I didn't have enough icing sugar, and the shops were closed. I can assure you they taste quite alright without the buttercream! But extra good with it.

A simple recipe:

6oz butter
6oz golden caster sugar
3 eggs
6oz self-raising flour
1tsp baking powder
50ml cold brewed coffee
Dash of milk
Handful of chopped walnuts

Cream the butter until smooth, then slowly add the sugar, and beat until really fluffy and light.
Add the eggs one at a time, with a bit of flour to prevent splitting.
Add the rest of the flour, mix gently, then add the cold coffee and milk.
Stir in the chopped nuts by hand until evenly mixed.

Pipe into the mini loaf moulds with a piping bag. This mixture made a bit too much for 12 mini loaves, so I ended up with 8 mini cupcakes too.

Bake at 170 degrees for 15-20 minutes.

To make the buttercream, cream 40g of butter with 125g of icing sugar, and a tablespoon of Camp coffee mixture. Mix until really fluffy and no grains of sugar can be felt.

Monday, 24 August 2015

Stamford cake club dodges the rain

This month, I risked the British summertime and planned an outdoors cake club in Stamford. I was watching the weather all week long, and it looked like it would be fine... There was the risk of rain at 4pm on Sunday but we should have been finished by then.

So, we all met on the Meadows in Stamford and scoffed a range of cakes baked to the theme 'A Novel Idea'. The bakers all found this theme a bit tricky - ironically, all the members who had requested this idea weren't able to make this meeting. But we had a good variety of cakes:

Bruce Bogtrotter's chocolate cake from Matilda by Roald Dahl
Chocolat by Joanne Harris cake
Harry Potter Butterbeer cake
Sponge cake shaped into 'Sophie's World' by Jostein Gaarder

We were surrounded by artists partaking in the Great Stamford Brush Off watercolour competition - I wonder how many of their artworks featured us in the background.

My cake was a simple Victoria Sponge traybake, covered in rolled icing and piped icing to look like a cake. It wasn't amazing, and reminded me why I normally focus on taste rather than decoration. But everyone enjoyed it, which is the main point.

Saturday, 17 January 2015

Snickerdoodle cookie recipe

Merry Christmas! Yes, yes, I know I'm a little late writing this post, but just because Christmas was nearly a month ago doesn't mean you can't still enjoy these sugary, cinnamon cookies. These are generally thought of as an American festive cookie, and that the name is just a whimsical made-up concoction; but there is some thought that they originated from the German Schneckennudel, a type of pastry. Either way, they are delicious!

60g butter or marg
160g caster sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla paste
1 egg
240g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

For the coating:
1 tbsp caster sugar
1/2 tbsp cinnamon

Cream together the butter, sugar, and vanilla paste until light and fluffy. Gradually add the egg and mix well.
Sift the flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon into the mixing bowl, and fold in. Mix well until a dough forms.
Place the bowl into a bowl, cover with cling film, and place in the fridge for half an hour.
Preheat the oven to 170C.
Mix together the sugar and cinnamon for the coating.
Make walnut-sized balls of dough, and then roll around in the cinnamon sugar to totally coat. Place on to prepared baking trays, and bake for about 12 minutes.

Mini doughnut-looking Snickerdoodles
Before baking, these cookies look like minature doughnuts - good enough to eat even more they're baked. Once baked they are quite doughy and best eaten with a cup of tea to sip.

Baked Snickerdoodle cookies

Monday, 8 December 2014

Guinness fruit cake recipe

If you're a fan of sticky, rich fruit cakes, then this recipe for Guinness fruit cake will suit you. I made this for the last meeting of the Stamford Clandestine Cake Club - the theme was 'Boozy Bakes'. The recipe came from the CCC Cookbook although I adapted it slightly. This would make a good base for a Christmas cake I think - although I didn't make one this year, next year I might dust off this recipe.

300g mixed dried fruit - my mixture was sultanas, raisins, and dried cranberries
330ml Guinness or other stout
2 eggs, beaten
100g soft light brown sugar
100g dark muscovado sugar
270g self-raising flour
1tsp mixed spice

Marinate the dried fruit in the Guinness for a day if possible, or at least 3-4 hours to make the fruit plump and sticky.
Stir the beaten eggs into the fruit and Guinness mixture. Add the sugars, and then sieve in the flour and spice, and mix well. Be careful not to leave any big lumps of dark sugar.
Pour into a prepared loaf tin (900g).
Bake in a preheated oven at 180C (160C fan), for at least an hour, until a skewer comes out clean.

I think this would be really good served with a nice knob of butter spread over, a bit like a malt loaf. I might like to try it with icing on too. This is a rich and warming cake, with a lovely deep flavour from the Guinness.

I recently wrote about why we love Christmas cake over on the Clandestine Cake Club website - please have a read! Please comment below and tell me why you love Christmas cake, and what sort you've made this Christmas.

Clandestine Cake Club

Sunday, 2 November 2014

Classic Victoria Sponge and a review of the Oregon Scientific kitchen timer

I was recently sent a Oregon Scientific kitchen timer to review for this blog. I was undecided about what to bake for a review post, when I realised, what's more of a test than a classic Victoria sponge cake? Not only is this a delicious, simple, wonderful cake to eat, but it is also a traditional challenge for the home baker. If you can't make a good Vicky sponge, there's no hope. Something that was captured on this year's Great British Bake Off in the final.

The recipe I used was your classic and simple Victoria sponge:
6oz butter
6oz caster sugar
6oz self-raising flour
3 eggs
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp vanilla paste
Dash of milk (semi-skimmed)

I don't follow Mary Berry's rule of bung it all in together and mix - I stick to the traditional creaming of butter and sugar, add the eggs and paste, sift in the flour and baking powder, and add a bit of milk.

Here comes the science bit - bake for 22 minutes at 170C degrees.

I decided it was a good idea to figure out how the Oregon Scientific  kitchen timer worked before making my cake - I didn't want all the air to sneak out of the mixture while I was frantically pressing buttons. But I needn't have worried, as it was really simple to set up. There are two windows, as you can set two timers at once - this will be really handy for Christmas dinner when you're cooking a million different dishes at once. You can use one window as a clock too, and there's a stopwatch option too.

Thankfully setting the timer didn't mean a hundreds beeps - unlike the timers used on GBBO (one of my favourite memories of this year's show was Chetna pressing her timer a thousand times, I think because of Jo Brand's An Extra Slice). I was impressed with how easy the timer was to use.

It was accurate and certainly rousing - I wandered off into our lounge to see how easy it was to hear the timer from across the house - nothing to worry about there, as it was louder than our smoke alarm. I would like to see more of a volume control, as I'm sure the neighbours knew my cake was ready too. There is a switch to select mute, quiet, or loud, but I didn't dare try the 'loud' button as I'm sure the local fire engines would have arrived. I'd like more control over the volume.

The only other downfall was the strength of the magnets - the timer wouldn't sit happily on the front of my fridge, but kept slipping down. But I wouldn't keep it on the fridge anyway, so that wasn't really an issue.

Oh, and the cake was delicious, by the way...

The Oregon Scientific kitchen timer was given to me in return for a review on this blog; this is not a paid-for blog and all opinions are my own.