Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Spiced Chocolate Christmas Cake

I own only one, yes one Christmas cookbook. For me, no Christmas cooking or baking is complete without a visit to Nigella Lawson's Christmas cookery book. Bursting with recipes, I'm always inspired to try a new festive recipe. Whilst many may enjoy the traditional Christmas cake with marzipan and lots of fruit, I've been brought up on the rum laced Jamaican fruit cake which is what I always prefer. I do however have a soft spot for chocolate and when I rediscovered this spiced chocolate Christmas cake, I just had to bake it. With all the lovely Christmas spices cinnamon, cloves and zest of clementine complimented with chocolate, this cake is a perfect alternative to a rich fruit cake. What I found surprising is how gooey the chocolate was when cooked, almost similar to a brownie in texture, but with a warm hint of Christmas with every bite. It's surprisingly quick to make and can be made from start to eating within 1.5 hours. 





The recipe for Spiced Chocolate Christmas Cake can be found here. I added a sprinkling of icing sugar over the cake.
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Wednesday, 22 November 2017

Fig, Orange & Walnut Loaf

Very few smells can evoke sense of my childhood, comfort and home then a cake baking in the oven. When I bake, I'm more than likely to bake a cake more than other baked goods. It's just that cake are so warming and comforting to me and easy to make. 
There are some cracking cake recipes and other wonderful bakes in Honey and Co: The Baking Book.  I recently purchased this book and was inspired by the flavour combinations, strong Middle Eastern flavours (as expected) and bakes to satisfy you at any time of the day. I've made a few bakes from this book, but I couldn't help but sharing this recipe: easy to make, great flavours and incredibly moreish. The loaf isn't the prettiest but is sure tastes good. 





Ingredients
120g whole milk
120g honey
40 unsalted butter
75g caster sugar
75g light brown soft sugar
230g self-raising flour
1/2 tsp salt
75g walnuts, roughly chopped
75g dried figs cut in 4 pieces
75g candied orange peel
1 egg
30g demerara sugar to sprinkle

Method
Preheat the oven to 180C/160C fan/ gas mark 4. Butter a 1kg loaf tin and line with a sheet of baking parchment to cover the base and long slides, allowing a little overhang so that this can used to help lift the loaf out later.

Warm the milk honey, butter, caster sugar and light brown sugar together in a large saucepan until the sugars have dissolved and the mixture is just starting to boil. Remove the heat and stir in the flour, spice and salt. Mix in the walnuts, quartered figs and candied orange peel, then add the egg and combine thoroughly before transferring the batter to the lined tin. Smooth the top and sprinkle with the demerara sugar.

Bake in the centre of the oven for about 30 minutes, then turn the tin around for an even bake and leave for 30 minutes. At this stage it should still be a soft to the touch, but stable and with a lovely thick crust. You can't really test this cake with a toothpick as it contains so much fruit, but if you push down a little with the tip of your finger in the centre and it doesn't sink, remove from the oven. If you feel there is still quite a bit of softness here, bake for another 10 minutes, but do take it out after that. Allow to cool in the tin.

Sere with butter and orange marmalade, it keeps well for a couple of weeks in an airtight container.

xxx
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Saturday, 20 May 2017

Kenwood KMX754H - Review and Recipe

A wonderful delivery arrived shortly after my birthday. The lovely people at Kenwood sent me one of their latest Kenwood Stand Mixers, the KMX754H to review. I used to have a Kenwood Mixer at home; it lasted over 10 years and survived my heavy hands, until I had to say goodbye to it last year. I was hoping to purchase a new Kenwood mixer, later on this year, so this was a wonderful pleasant surprise.

The KMX754H is beautiful, it has a 5 litre glass bowl, a superior 1000W motor and has a vintage feel to it. I was very impressed with the glass bowl, I was able to see whatever ingredients I was mixing together without having to stop the motor or only have a birds eye view (my previous stand mixer didn't have a shiny glass bowl).


Lets talk about the dimensions of the KMX754H- it rivals other stand mixers and is innovative in it's design, perfect for enthusiastic keen bakers like myself. The Kenwood mixer rrp is  £429, however I have seen the mixer on sale for £329.

What's included in the mixer?
  • K-beater - ideal for mixing dry ingredients and crushing biscuits. 
  • Balloon whisk - designed to trap air easily while whisking to add maximum volume to the ingredients. Perfect for meringues or making light and fluffy cakes. 
  • Dough hook- fantastic when kneading breads from a simple loaf, to brioche and pizza bases. 
  • Splashguard - makes adding ingredients easily. 
  • Spatula - handy to remove ingredients from the glass bowl. 
Other key features 
  • Dishwasher safe parts.
  • 100W 
  • 5 year motor guarantee . 
I've been using my gorgeous KMX754H mixer to make a number of recipes, which I'll share on my blog in due course. The first thing I made was a citrus exploding Lemon and Lime cake. As my previous stand mixer went to mixer heaven, I've been using a mixing bowl and a hand held mixer. No need for that now, as I have a wonderful stand mixer to do that for me. What I immediately noticed when creaming the butter and sugar was how quick this process was. I found the butter and sugar became light and fluffy in under 1 minute - and this was on a low setting. What's more is that I didn't need to stand holding any appliance as the mixer did all the hard work for me. 
As I added the remaining ingredients for the cake, I found there was no splattering of ingredients. I could easily add the ingredients and watch as the mixture came to life. 

Lemon and Lime Cake











Lemon and Lime Cake with Candied Lime

For the cake

260g butter
230g caster sugar
zest and juice of 2 lemons
100ml semi-skimmed milk
1 tsp vanilla essence
250g self-raising flour
4 eggs

For the buttercream 
150g butter
300g icing sugar
Juice of 1 lime
2-4 tbsp of water

For the candied lime
3 limes thinly sliced
75g granulated sugar
35ml water

Method
Preheat the oven to gas mark 4, line a 20cm round tin (large enough to slice the cake into two) with baking parchment. In the K-Mixer , using the K beater, add the butter and sugar, on a low setting (1 or 2) let the butter and sugar cream for one minute. Add the grated lemons and juice alongside the milk and vanilla essence and beat for a further 30 seconds. Add half the flour and two eggs and beat again for 30 seconds. After 30 seconds add the flour and eggs. Using the spatula pour the cake ingredients into a cake tin and bake on the top shelf for 40 minutes. To test, insert a knife into the cake, if there is no mixture on the knife the cake is clean. Once the cake is baked, place a cooling rack.

Whilst the cake is baking, make the candied lime. In a small saucepan add the lime alongside the sugar and water and mix well. Heat the saucepan on a medium heat and cook for 8 minutes, stir occasionally.  After 8 minutes, place the lime slices on a baking paper and set aside.

Whilst the cake is baking make the buttercream. In a mixing bowl, cream the butter, followed by half of the icing sugar, 1.2 the water and juice of lime , mix well - I prefer to do this by hand as the icing sugar can have a tendency to go everywhere. Add the remaining icing sugar and water, mix well and pale in the fridge to cool.

When the cake has cooled, place in the fridge for 20 minutes. Using a bread knife, cut the cake in half. Turn the cake half over (so that the sponge middle is facing up right) and pour half the buttercream on each layer. Put one half of the sponge on top of the other and then add the candied limes on top of the cake.

xxx

Disclaimer: Thank you Kenwood for sending me their KMX754H for review. 




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Sunday, 18 December 2016

Jamaican Bun Loaf Cake

Last year, I shared a Caribbean Christmas tradition that's popular in my household, Black Cake. This year, I'll be using the festive dried fruits to make Jamaican Bun. Many Jamaicans eat Bun - a rich, fruit soaked loaf cake over Easter, but more and more of my family members are eating bun over Christmas too. This year, I will be doing the same. Not being one for Christmas pudding or traditional Christmas cake, I'll be baking this load cake and topping with seasonal cheese such as Stilton and apricots or wenyesdale with cranberries. If you are feeling particular indulgent, the leftovers, if there's are any, makes a wonderful breakfast. 




Ingredients
Butter for greasing
75 g butter, diced
2 tablespoon treacle
100ml red wine (or semi-skimmed milk if you are going alcohol free)
75 g dark muscovodo sugar
350g self-raising flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon mixed spice
1 teaspoon all spice
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 tablespoon gravy brownings
1 teaspoon ground ginger
75 g raisins
50 g mixed peel
1 egg yolk, beaten

Method
Preheat the oven to gas mark 4 and grease a 900 g loaf tin using butter. In a mixing bowl, add the butter, treacle, wine and sugar heat in the microwave for 30 seconds and stir. In a separate mixing bowl, add the self-raising flour, baking powder, mixed spice, all spice, nutmeg, gravy browning and ginger, make a well. Pour the wet ingredients in the well and mix well using a wooden spoon. Add the raisins and mixed peel – mix again. Transfer the mixture to a loaf tin and smooth over using a spatula. Brush the loaf with the beaten egg.  Bake on the top shelf for 40 minutes. To test whether the bun is cooked, insert a skewer if there is no mixture on there it is ready. Leave to cool slightly before turning over and slicing.

You can eat the bun with butter, jams or if you want the traditional, slices of butter with cheddar cheese.

xxx
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Friday, 7 October 2016

Seasoned Creative Baking Class Review

I recently received an invite from the lovely people over at Seasoned Cookery School to visit the school and participate in one of the cookery classes. I instantly jumped at attending a class as I love learning new cuisines and techniques. Having attended a few cookery classes from different schools already, I had high standards. Scouring through the website, there is a comprehensive range of classes such as Italian, Chocolate Courses, The Best of British Meat, Middle Eastern Cookery Class and Fish and Seafood Class. I chose to attend Creative Baking Class by Season 1 Great British Bake Off Ruth Clemens. During this class, I learnt to master three essential bakes: bread, cakes & pastry. I'm more of a cook than a baker and when I do bake, I tend to stick to what I know: chocolate cakes, quiches and well, that's about it. I was more than excited to expand my somewhat receptive baking repertoire with three new bakes: 6 Strand Plaited Loaf, Raspberry and Rose Batternberg and Leek Potato and Cheese Mini Pasties.



I was a little nervous attending in a baking class with someone who was from the Bake Off and worried that everyone participating in the class would be like professional bakers. I need not to worry, Ruth was lovely and all the participants were very friendly too.

Bake to the baking, the class started off with the classic Battenberg cake but with a raspberry and rose twist. Now, I have eaten many a slice of a batternberg cake but I haven't actually baked one myself. Why? I had an overwhelming fear that the cake is too tricky, plus I never had a special tin. Thankfully, Ruth showed attendees a trick on how to separate the the cake batter in a normal square tin. It basically involved folding baking parchment a few ways to create a wall in the tin. The batter was easy to make, as it is a sponge batter. The flavour from the rose extract was quite strong, a tad to strong for my liking (I've never baked with rose) but other attendees appeared to really enjoy this exotic twist. I found the assembling of the cake, to make the iconic chequered pattern to be quite difficult. Not because the method was difficult, but after we made the cakes, we moved onto the other bakes and returned to assemble later on in the day. This meant that my brain was slightly frazzled, so by the time I layered up, I layered the cakes wrong meaning their was two vanilla squares on the top and two rose squares on the bottom. However, I must say that although I made a slight error, this was completely forgotten about by me and my family once I had a slice. The sponge was super light, the lightest I've made and I loved the raspberry.



After we baked the batternberg we mastered the notoriously difficult 6 plaited loaf. I actually made a 3 plaited loaf before, it was a disaster, so I was hoping that this would be much better. With this bake, you need to have patience and a lot of time too but once you get the hang of it, it's quiet easy to do. This loaf needs to be left to prove on two occasions. There was a handy technique that Ruth shared to make it easier to plait the loaf. I will definitely be making this again.






Most importantly, Ruth was there to answer the attendees including mine many questions and was also able to provide a helping hand when needed. I now can upgrade my pastry and bread game and implement these techniques at home.

The leek and potato pies was another wonderful bake, perfect to serve  as a party appetiser or to make one large pie. After we made the pies, we began to plait the loaf. Although it was recommended that we work in pairs, as I wanted to recreate this at home, I attempted to make this on my own. I got slightly confused and thankfully Ruth was on hand to guide me through the tricky plait.


As the course ended, we were able to ask any additional questions and take back our recipe cards.






The Creative Baking class costs £175 and is a full day (10am – 4pm).

Disclaimer: I attended as a guest of Seasoned Cookery School.

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Sunday, 24 July 2016

Prague Cake

Prague Cake is one of the stand out recipes from the award winning best-selling cookery book Mamushka. I bookmarked this recipe for well over a year and was looking for the perfect reason to bake this intricate cake. Lo and behold, my work had a charity bake sale so I made the chocolate cake with a condensed milk filling, slathered with chocolate ganache. You do need a little extra time to make this cake, it's not your ordinary chocolate sponge cake, but what it takes in time is rewarded in this gorgeous and unique chocolate cake. 





Ingredients 
Sponge 
5 eggs, fresh and cold
150g caster sugar
80g butter, melted and cooled, plus extra for greasing (optional)
175g flour
30g cocoa powder

Drizzle
5 tablespoon caster sugar
50ml cognac (I used rum)
1 tablespoon water

Filling
4 egg yolks
4 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
200g (7oz) slightly salted butter, softened
240g condensed milk

Ganache
300g plain dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids), finely chopped
75g butter

Method
1) Place a medium metal bowl in the freezer, for making the filling later on.

2) Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4, and prep a 23cm (9inch) round spring form cake tin with a removable base by buttering it or lining it with  baking parchment.

3) For the sponge, beat the eggs and sugar together in a bowl with an electric whisk for at least 5 minutes until very thick, pale and foamy. Trickle in the melted butter. Sift the flour and cocoa together and then gently fold into the batter with a spatula. Try not to knock any air out of the sponge - there is no raising agent, so air is all you've got to help it rise.

4) Pour the cake batter gently into the prepared tin and bake for 25 minutes. Test it by gently touching the top of with your finger - it should spring right back. Switch the oven off and leave the cake in the oven but with the door open.

5) Once the cake is cool, open the tin but not completely. To cut the cake into 3 equal discs, do the following place the base of the tin on something stable and tall (like a large jar) and push the cake out by two-thirds, then slice it horizontally with a bread knife. Push the cake up out of the tin a little more and cut across the cake again, making sure that the next disc is the same thickness as the first. You should end up with 3 discs of the same thickness.

6) To make the drizzle, heat the sugar, Cognac and measurement water in a small saucepan an boil briefly, then let it cool and drizzle over the sponges.

7) Next, make the filling by heating the egg yolks and measurement water in a glass bowl set over a pan of simmering water, whizzing constantly until the mixture turns thick and foamy. Stir in the cocoa powder and take off the heat.

8) Take the metal bowl out of the freezer and place the so dented butter in it, then beat it with an electric whisk. When it's starting to foam, trickle in the condensed milk, then gently fold in the cooled yolk mixture.

9) To make the ganache, pop the chocolate and butter into a glass bowl and set it over a pan of simmering water. Let it melt slowly, then give it a gentle stir once it looks almost melted - don't disturb it too much or it will go grainy.

10) Meanwhile, use the filling to sandwich the 3 sponge layers together, then spread the chocolate ganache on the top and down the sides of the cake.

xxx
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Saturday, 16 April 2016

Exceedingly Good Mr Kipling Slices and giveaway

I think many of us who grew up in the UK would have eaten a Mr Kipling treat at some point or another. In fact, my sisters favourite treat was Viennese Whirls, I was a fan of their bakewell tart too. I remember fondly on snacking on lots of sweet and naughty treats from Mr Kipling and I still do from time to time. But guess what, you can have your cake and eat it. Mr Kipling are lunching a new range of sweet treats, entitled Exceedingly Good Slice, the aim is that the nation will break for cake, albeit a healthier more nutritious version. In two delicious flavours, Cranberry and Orange and Dark Chocolate and Coconut, costing £1.49 per pack of four, these are affordable and delicious. At around 137 calories and relatively low (ish) fat 5.7g, this is a guilt free, midday treat. My favourite out of the two flavours was the cranberry and orange, sweet, tangy and delicious. You need to get yourselves to your local supermarket and stock up on these gorgeous treats.

The lovely people at Mr Kipling are giving away a hamper for one lucky reader, this includes some of the classic cakes: Angel Slice, Cherry Bakewells, Bramley Apples and French Franices.
To be in with a chance to win a selection of these products follow the below.

  • Follow the instructions on the Rafflecopter
  • Join my blog and leave a comment (click on the left hand corner of the site and join using Google Friend Connector). This is an ESSENTIAL REQUIREMENT.
  • For additional entries, subscribe to my Youtube channel, follow me on Instragram, Google Plus, Facebook and Twitter. 
  • Rafflecopter will pick a winner at random. 
  • The competition will run from 16.04.16 - 15.05.16 
  • Winners will need to respond in 5 working days
  • Mr Kipling will post the products.
  • Please feel free to share the giveaway. 
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Disclaimer: Many thanks for Mr Kipling for these cakes.
xxx
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Friday, 27 November 2015

Caribbean Christmas Black Cake

What do you eat for dessert on Christmas Day? In fact what food dish commonly features during the run up to Christmas at your kitchen table. For me, and for many individuals of Caribbean origin (whether in the Caribbean or the diaspora a la moi in the UK) during the festive period there will be eating the traditional Caribbean Christmas Black Cake on their kitchen table. Depending upon the island where your heritage (or family) there will be slight variations in the Caribbean Christmas Black Cake. In fact, every island have their own spin, Puerto Rico has a sponge cake base, Guyana uses apricot jam and St Vincent use black wine. Where my family originate from, Jamaica, Black Cake is made with the following dried fruits: prunes, sultanas, raisins and cherries. This is seen as a celebration cake, in part because of dried fruits are expensive in the Caribbean, so this was seen as a real treat, only to be eaten as special occasions (Christmas, Birthdays, Weddings and Funerals)
When comparing Caribbean Christmas Black Cake to the traditional British cake, there are noticeable differences, Black cake is laced with rum, it's strong, but lighter than the European style fruit cakes. I find it to be incredibly moreish and as a person who do not ordinarily enjoy fruit cake I love Black Cake. This is the only cake that I have eaten year in, year out every Christmas and it's a tradition which I will hope to continue if I have children of my own.
Waitrose have compiled a cracking web page of recipes from around the world celebrating  Christmas Traditions from other cultures. Take a look and sample Christmas from around the world. If you fancy a different type of Christmas cake, give this a try. Trust me, you will not regret it. My Black Cake tastes divine just as it is, but also goes well when served with ice-cream, rum custard, brandy custard (do not drive lol).

















Recipe for Caribbean Christmas Black Cake
You will need a 10 inch cake tin and freestanding cake mixer. 

For the Fruit
500g mixed dried fruit
170g pitted prunes, sliced in half
200g glace cherries, sliced in half
100g mixed peel
250ml QC Sherry
100ml dark rum

For the Cake
500g butter
250g dark muscavodo sugar
100ml hot water
1 tbsp mixed spice
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp all spice
100ml black treacle
7 eggs
500g self-raising flour

Method
Start with the fruit, this will need soaking at least 3 days prior. In a mixing bowl, add the dried fruit, prunes, cherries and mix peel and pour the QC Sherry and dark rum.

Preheat the oven to gas mark 3, line the cake tin. In a free standing kitchen mixer, cream the butter, dark muscavodo sugar and hot water – the hot water should loosen any clumps in the sugar. Next add the spices, followed by the treacle. Alternate adding the eggs (i.e 2 eggs, then the self-raising flour) and the flour, this is to ensure the egg mixture does not curdle. Finally add in the dried fruits, reserving the juices. Bake in the preheated oven on the top shelf for around 1 hour and 45 minutes, check whether the cake is baked by inserting a skewer in, if there is no mixture on the skewer the cake is baked.
Leave the cake to cool. Once cooled, remove the cake from the tin, the way I do this is placing a large plate on top of the cake and flipping over. Peel back the baking parchment and using a pastry brush, brush the reserved juices liberally over the tops and sides of the cake. 

Enjoy

Thank you Waitrose for asking me to participate. 
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