Saturday, 1 November 2014

Happy Halloween - Eyeball Cupcakes and Gingerbread Skeletons


I have always loved Halloween, as a child I loved dressing as a witch going door to door asking for sweets. Now I'm too old (and scary) to go trick or treating so I make up for it by baking lots of creepy treats.

Halloween baking is all about the decoration and I had great fun making Eyeball Cupcakes and Gingerbread Skeletons this year.


These Eyeball Cupcakes are so simple they're a bit of a cheat. I bought some eyeball gummy sweets but you could easily make some eyeballs from fondant. Then choose your favourite cupcake recipe, I went for Chocolate Orange Cupcakes


The Gingerbread Skeletons are a great twist on the traditional gingerbread man. I used my simple Gingerbread recipe and decorated by piping melted white chocolate (100g was enough for all of the skeletons) but you could also use writing icing.

Simple Gingerbread Recipe

I love gingerbread. It took a while to find, but finally I have a foolproof gingerbread recipe. Perfect for spooky Gingerbread Skeletons for Halloween or the classic Gingerbread House at Christmas.

Ingredients

225 g (8oz) plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1.5 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp ground ginger
85 g (3oz) margarine
85 g (3oz) soft brown sugar
85 g (3oz) golden syrup


Method
  1. Put all of the ingredients into a large bowl or food processor and mix together to form a soft dough.
  2. Roll out the dough to a thickness of about 75mm (¼ inch). Cut into shapes using cookie cutters or a knife. I find it easiest to roll and cut the shapes on greaseproof paper so that you don't have trouble transferring to your baking tray.
  3. Pop on the baking trays and bake in the centre of preheated oven at 210°C, 190°C fan, Gas mark 7 for about 10 minutes. Check that the shapes are not scorching after about 6 minutes. They are ready once lightly golden brown.





Friday, 24 October 2014

October Clandestine Cake Club and my Halloween Graveyard Cake




Every October we have a Clandestine Cake Club with an Autumnal theme. This year I chose a cake with seasonal ingredients including squash and figs but gave it a Halloween twist too.

This chocolate cake recipe is one of my favourites; squash and fig sounds odd but works really well. You could also switch the squash for pumpkin which makes it a great way to use up pumpkin leftovers once you've carved your Jack O'Lantern.

Ingredients

100g squash or pumpkin
225g dark chocolate
175g margarine
3 eggs
175g dark muscovado sugar
100g light muscovado sugar
250g plain flour
3 tsp baking powder
150g dried figs

For the ganache:
200g dark chocolate
100ml double cream

For decoration:
Gingerbread gravestones using my simple gingerbread recipe
100g dark chocolate

Method
  1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC, 160ºC fan, Gas mark 4. Grease and line your baking tin (you can make a standard round cake but to make a graveyard I used a square tin).
  2. Make the gingerbread gravestones in advance, melt the chocolate and pipe the names/dates on and leave to set in the fridge.
  3. Grate the squash or pumpkin and chop the figs into small pieces and set aside.
  4. Melt the chocolate and margarine together, either in a bain-marie or in the microwave is fine. Set aside.
  5. In a large mixing bowl beat the eggs and the sugars, then add the melted chocolate mixture. Stir in 275ml cold water then sift in the flour and baking powder.
  6. Finally stir in the squash or pumpkin and figs. Pour the mixture into into the tin and bake in the oven for 50 minutes.
  7. Once the cake is cooked, remove from the oven and leave to cool on a wire rack.
  8. Prepare the ganache by melting the chocolate, then add in the cream and stir. Remove the cake from the tin and pour over the ganache. Before it dries add your gravestone biscuits and any other decorations.

Sunday, 6 July 2014

Rhubarb Crumble

About once a month I have the family over to mine for Sunday lunch. When I say Sunday lunch, I mean lunch on a Sunday and not a full blown roast dinner (just to manage expectations). It's much more likely to be a shepherd's pie or a spaghetti bolognese.

On these family Sundays I ALWAYS bake something, and everyone leaves with any leftovers. They now arrive expectant, clutching their tupperwares and asking "where's the cake?"

Today was one of those Sundays and I decided to make use of the rhubarb my mum gave me from her garden a few weeks ago. And of course I opted for the classic rhubarb dish; rhubarb crumble.

I used this recipe from the Stork website. I know the chef who creates the recipes for Stork and I have tried quite a few and they always turn out really well.

I made a few simple adaptations; I used golden syrup sugar rather than normal caster sugar, added some digestive biscuits to the crumble and cooked it in one large pie dish rather than making four individual crumbles.

Ingredients

For the filling:

  • 500g rhubarb
  • 40g golden syrup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
For the crumble topping:
  • 100g plain flour
  • 50g golden syrup sugar
  • 50g Stork
  • 4 (or more) digestive biscuits, crumbled


Preheat the oven to 200oC / 180oC / Gas Mark 6.


Cut the rhubarb into small chunks.


Mix with sugar in a pan and cook for 8 minutes over a moderate heat stirring regularly. Add the cinnamon leave to cool slightly while you make the crumble.



In a large bowl mix the flour, sugar and the Stork to make the crumble.
Spoon the rhubarb mixture into the pie dish and put the crumble on top.
Sprinkle over four crumbled digestive biscuits.
Bake in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes until cooked and golden brown.


I served it with natural yoghurt which is a great summery alternative to custard.

I wasn't even sure that I liked crumble that much but it was delicious. Rhubarb can be quite tart but the cinnamon seemed to balance it out and the digestives and golden syrup sugar made it even more delicious.

I'm now deciding what other crumbles I can make, apple and cinnamon, mixed berry, apple and raspberry, the possibilities are endless.

What's your favourite crumble recipe?

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Strawberry Yoghurt Layer Cake - Perfect for Summer

With all of the great weather we've been having recently I have been in the mood to eat strawberries.

This cake is deliciously summery, perfect for a summers evening.

The recipe below is enough for one layer, just double up all of the ingredients to make the double layered cake - I warn you though, it's huge!






Ingredients
For the Cake:
90g strawberry yoghurt
75g Stork
150g caster sugar
3 eggs 
150g self raising flour

For filling and decoration:
200g strawberries
175g caster sugar 
200ml double cream
3 tablespoons jam




Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C/160C fan. Grease and line a round cake tin.
  2. Put all the ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Pour the batter into the tin and bake in the oven for 25-30 mins or until it passes the skewer test. After 5 minutes turn the cake out onto a wire rack and leave to cool.
  3. One cooled smother in strawberry jam, whipped cream and decorate with strawberries. If you are making the larger, layer cake add the second sponge to the top and decorate with strawberries.


Friday, 16 May 2014

Who Will You Bake For This World Baking Day?



It's World Baking Day on Sunday 18th May.

I've mentioned before that I am lucky enough to work on the campaign. It's great fun to work on, how could you not love working on promoting a day which is to celebrate a love of cakes and baking. This year the campaign is focussed on sharing the love with someone special through the power of a homemade cake.

Giving someone a homemade cake is a brilliant way to let them know how much you care. We often forget to tell the people who matter most why they make our lives a little bit easier, a lot more fun or infinitely more interesting! This World Baking Day everyone is encouraged to pledge to bake for someone special at www.worldbakingday.com.

There is a great website (even if I do say so myself). It's definitely not your average recipe website (in a good way) but you will find 12 recipes on there to inspire your baking. A few months ago I promised I would make all of the recipes and true to my word, I did. Unfortunately I didn't get photos of them all but I really did make them all, I promise.










(with a hidden egg)










I would really struggle to choose a favourite, these are genuinely all great recipes. The chocolate chip cookie has become my new favourite cookie recipe, they're deliciously chewy. I loved the Mosaic cake which is a traditional cake from Turkey and very similar to the Italian cake called Chocolate Salame. But if I had to choose I would probably have to go for the Chocolate Guinness Cake - it's so dark and moist and yummmmmmy.





Thursday, 15 May 2014

Chocolate Chip Cookies



This recipe for chocolate chip cookies originally came for the US (the official home of cookies as far as I am concerned). I am in love with these cookies, they are super easy to make and deliciously chewy.

Ingredients

350g (2 ½ cups) plain / all-purpose flour
¾ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda / baking soda
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
230g (1 cup) margarine
130g (⅔ cup) caster / granulated sugar
130g (⅔ cup) dark brown sugar
1 egg
1 ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup (170g/6oz) dark chocolate chips
1 cup (170g/6oz) white chocolate chips

Method
  1.  Preheat oven to 190°C / 375°F / Gas Mark 5. Grease several baking sheets and/or line them with baking paper.
  2. Combine flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt in medium bowl; set aside.
  3. In a separate bowl beat the margarine with the sugars with an electric mixer or wooden spoon until light and fluffy for about 5 minutes. Beat in egg and vanilla, scraping the sides occasionally. Gradually beat in flour mixture until blended. Stir in the dark and white chocolate chips.
  4. Spoon the dough onto the baking sheets using a tablespoon or an ice cream scoop. Leave at least 2 inches between each cookie so that they have room to spread.
  5. Bake for 10 minutes or until golden. Let stand 2 minutes on wire rack; remove from sheets and cool completely.


These cookies are really versatile and you can swap the chocolate for candy or dried fruit and nuts. I've already swapped the chocolate chips for 300g Peanut M&Ms and was VERY happy with the results.




Monday, 14 April 2014

Spring Clearning and Coffee Walnut Loaf Cake


I've been doing a bit of a spring clean this weekend. I was clearing out my kitchen cupboards and was shocked at how many things had passed their use by dates and had to be thrown away. I hate throwing things away, so now i'm on a mission to make sure I use everything else. One of the things hiding at the back of my cupboard was some Camp coffee essence which I bought last year for a Cappuccino Cake and haven't used since.



I also bought myself the latest Sainsburys magazine over the weekend which came with a cute little recipe book and as luck would have it, there's a Coffee Walnut cake recipe which has coffee essence in the recipe.



The recipe was for a traybake but I decided to make it into a loaf cake instead and didn't add the icing in an attempt to be ever so slightly healthier (I know, who am I kidding?). The cake turned out really well, definitely one I'll make again.

Ingredients

225g Stork
225g light muscovado sugar
275g self-raising flour
2 tsp baking powder
4 eggs
2 tbsp milk
2 tbsp Camp chicory and coffee essence
75g chopped walnuts

Method
  1. Preheat the oven to 180C / 160C (fan) / Gas 4. Grease and line a 2lb loaf tin.
  2. Put all of the ingredients, minus the nuts, and beat together in a large bowl until well blended. Fold in the chopped walnuts. Pour into the tin.
  3. Bake for 45-50 minutes or until you can insert a skewer into the centre and it comes out clean. Leave to cool for 5 minutes before turning it out onto a wire rack and leaving to cool completely.
  4. Slice and serve. 



Sunday, 13 April 2014

Easter Baking

Easter is a great time for baking. I've not decided what I'm going to bake for the weekend yet but here's some of my favourite Easter themed bakes from the last few weeks:


Chocolate bundt cake / egg nest
I made this bundt using my favourite Chocolate Guinness Cake recipe. I think it looks a bit like a nest so filled it with my favourites Cadbury's creme eggs.


Hidden inside Easter egg cake
I baked a plain sponge, coloured it and cut out egg shaped using a cookie cutter, I then baked the cake shapes inside another plain sponge to create a hidden inside cake. 


Apple, cinnamon and sultana hot cross buns
These don't look that pretty but they tasted really really good, I loved the addition of apple and cinnamon. 




And from a couple of years ago, some Easter cupcakes.


Friday, 14 February 2014

Valentines Cupcakes



Happy Valentines Day!

I'm not usually one to make a big deal of Valentines Day, I'm in the camp that thinks it's all a bit too commercial. However I was unable to resist making some valentine themed cupcakes after seeing some of the other amazing treats people have been making and since I don't have anyone to buy me flowers this year it's up to me to treat myself.

These Nutella and Cinnamon Cupcakes are pretty indulgent but they are one of my favourite cupcake recipes so they're perfect for a valentines treat.

I had great fun making the decorations, using red fondant and heart shaped cookie cutters to create some romantic cakes.

I suppose I should really share some of these with my loved ones but I could quite happily eat them all myself.

Have you baked anything for your valentine (or yourself) this week?