Monday, 9 June 2014

Chocolate birthday cake

Recipes which in-cooperate chocolate are the recipes I blog about the most. I love chocolate, eating it in bars, in fudge, biscuits, bars, ice-cream and my favourite cake. There are so many wonderful recipes for chocolate cake and I'm always happy to try a new chocolate recipe. This recipe for chocolate birthday cake is from the lovely comprehensive book from Jo Wheatley's A Passion For Baking. There was not birthday or special occasion for the reason why I made this cake, but who needs an excuse to make a chocolate cake? I love the velvitiness and ricchness of the chocolate ganache recipe and I will use this again. I topped the cake with mini eggs, whilst the shops were still selling them which added a crunchy chocolate texture to the mouthfuls of the luxurious chocolate cake. I must add that this cake is rich, light and moreish.

Here is how my chocolate cake turned out:
Chocolate birthday cake

Chocolate birthday cake

Butter and eggs

Coco added

Choc melted

Chocolate added to cream

Chocolate and cream melting. 

Recipe for Chocolate Birthday Cake
225g unsalted butter, softened
225g caster sugar
4 large eggs, beaten
1 tsp vanilla extract
200g self-raising flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 bicarbonate of soda
30g cocoa
2 tbsp full-fat milk
100g good-quality dark chocolate, melted

200g dark chocolate
100 milk chocolate
250ml double cream

1 large packet of Maltesers (I used mini eggs)

You will need 2 x 20cm sandwich tins, greased and the bases lined with buttered baking parchment.

Preheat the oven to 180oc/160oc fan oven/350oF/gas mark 4.

In a bowl of a free-standing mixer, cream the butter and sugar together until pale, light and fluffy. Gradually add the beaten eggs and vanilla extract. Add the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, cocoa and milk, then mix until combined. Add the melted chocolate and mix again until smooth.

Divide equally between the prepared sandwich tins, spread level and bake on the middle shelf of the preheated oven for about 22-25 minutes until golden and a skewer comes away clean when inserted into the middle of the cakes. Turn the cakes out of the tins onto a wire cooling rack and leave until cold.

To make the ganache, finely chop both the dark and milk chocolates and tip into a saucepan along with the double cream. Set the pan over a low heat to melt, stirring constantly until smooth. Pour the ganache into a shallow dish, cool and then chill to firm.

To assemble the cake, place one of the cakes on a cake or serving plate and spoon half of the ganache on the cake and spread. Then scatter with crushed Maltesers.

Cover the top of the second cake layer with ganache, spreading it smoothly with a palette knife. Sandwich the two cakes together and finish off with a good scattering of Maltesers. 


Friday, 3 January 2014

Steak and mushroom pie.

A Passion for Baking by Jo Wheatley has been my favourite baking book of 2013. There are so many wonderful recipes in her debut book, not just for the usual sweet cakes and bakes, but also for breakfast bakes, brunch and savoury bakes. For some reason, I feel less guilty when baking a savoury breakfast or evening bake as our bodies actually need hearty meals and not cakes and puddings. I do however, know I am kidding myself with my theory of savoury bakes as this steak and mushroom pie is not the healthiest of evening meals, but it certainly is delicious, hearty, comforting and full of flavour, perfect for these cold winter nights.
This steak and mushroom pie is perfect when you want a dish where you don't have to faff about on the stove, and although the recipe states to use rough puff pastry, if you use ready rolled shortcrust pastry it will make your life a bit easier for those lazy weekends. I only used mushrooms as the vegetables but if I were to make this again, I would probably add some garden peas or small pieces of carrots as this pie is great for absorbing vegetables. I served this pie with asparagus and mixed vegetables and with the richness of the steak, the vegetables tasted incredible. I paired this hearty steak with a lovely glass of red wine.

Here is how my steak and mushroom pie:

Steak and mushrooms pie.

Steak and mushroom pie.

Steak pie cooking.
Ready rolled pastry added.

Steak pie pre bake.

Recipe for Steak and Mushroom pie.

6tbsp olive oil
20g unsalted butter
300g mushrooms
200g red onion, sliced
3 tbsp plain flour
a pinch of salt
black pepper, freshly grounded
1.5 kg of braising steak, diced
3 oxo cubes
1 glass of red wine
40g dried mixed mushrooms
1 egg, beaten with 1 tbsp water
ready rolled shortcrust pastry

You will also need a large pie dish

In your largest pan, heat the oil with the butter. Add the button mushrooms and sliced red onions and cook until softened. Remove from the pan and set aside on a plate.
Tip the plain flour onto a large plate and season with salt and pepper. Toss the diced beef in the seasoned flour and brown in the hot pan in batches. Add more butter or oil to the pan as needed. As the meat browns, remove it from the pan and add to the plate with the button mushrooms and onions. While you are browning the beef, cover the dried mushrooms with 500ml of boiling water and leave for about 5-10 minutes to soften in a bowl.
Return the beef, onions and mushrooms to the pan. Add the dried mushrooms and their soaking liquid plus another 500ml of water, the oxo cubes, the red wine and stir well. Bring to the boil, cover and place in the oven at 120C/250F/Gas Mark 1/2 for about 4 hours, checking and adding more water if the liquid is getting low (I, in my impatience, preheated the oven to gas mark 6 and the beef was cooked within 50 minutes).
Once the meat is really tender, remove from the heat, check the seasoning and add a knob of butter for a lovely shine. Transfer into a large pie dish and leave to cool slightly.
On a floured work surface, roll the pastry out so that it is slightly larger than the top of your pie dish. Brush the edges of the dish with egg wash and lay the pastry on top, trim the edges and brush with egg wash.
Turn up the oven to 190c/365F/Gas Mark 5 and bake the pie for about 30 minutes until bubbiling and the pastry is golden brown.


Thursday, 12 September 2013

Fairy Cupcakes

One of the first things we learn to bake as a child are fairy cakes. I think of fairy cakes as a cupcakes little cousin, as it is very similar to cupcakes just smaller in size. I have kind have grown out of fairy cakes and much prefer the bigger cupcakes with their wide variety of flavour combinations. Sometimes, it is good to take a trip down memory lane and make something that I enjoyed whist growing up. These fairy cupcakes are just that, they are simple and delicious, and whilst I was reminiscing I thought I would decorate with children's sweets. Feel free to decorate as you chose. This lovely recipe comes from Jo Wheatley's A Passion for Baking which I have really enjoyed baking from this year.
Here is how my fairy cupcakes turned out:
Fairy cupcakes

Fairy Cupcakes

I first started by creaming the butter and sugar before adding the egg and flour.
Butter, sugar, flour and egg.

I then placed the mixture in cupcake cases and baked for around 20 minutes.
Fairy cake mixture

Fairy cupcakes pre bake
Once baked I made the vanilla buttercream and spread on each cupcake. I then decorated with fruit pastels and jelly babies.
Butter for buttercream

Icing added for buttercream.

Recipe for Fairy Cupcakes.
Ingredients - Makes 12
175g caster sugar
175g margarine, softened
3 large eggs, beaten
175g self-raising flour

For the icing I stuck to my trusted vanilla buttercream recipe as I did not want to pair these cupcakes with royal icing.
For the buttercream
125 g butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
420g icing sugar sifted.
Assorted sweets

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4
Cream the sugar and margarine together until pale, light and fluffy, either by hand or in a free standing mixer.
Gradually add the eggs, mixing well between each addition and adding a teaspoon of the flour to the mixture if it starts to curdle.
Add the flour and mix until thoroughly combined.
Spoon the mixture into the paper bun cases. Bake on the middle shelf of the oven for about 15-20 minutes until golden brown and well risen.
Remove the cakes from the tins and leave to cool on a wire rack.

For the Buttercream
In a large mixing bowl beat the butter, vanilla extract and half the icing sugar until smooth- this can take several minutes with an electric hand mixer. Gradually add the remainder of the icing sugar and beat again until the buttercream is smooth and creamy. I usually place the buttercream in the fridge for around 15 minutes as this makes it easier to spread the cupcakes.

I am entering my fairy cupcakes to Calendar Cakes, a monthly blogging challenge hosted by
 lauralovescakes and dollybakes. This month's theme is cupcakes as it is national cupcake week between  16th - 22nd September.


Saturday, 17 August 2013

Lemon Drizzle Traybake.

I'm really enjoying baking citrus bakes this year, and they have been a lovely refreshing change to my usual chocolate cakes. I first discovered how easy it is to bake a lemon drizzle cake from Nigella's How to be a Domestic Goddess baking book, but that recipe was a loaf cake. This lovely offering from Jo Wheatley's A Passion for Baking is a traybake, which I always think is great for cake sales and for little kiddies, as the square pieces are easy to handle. The method for this cake uses the all in one method, all the ingredients are added to the bowl which helps on the washing up! The cake was very moist, the flavour of the lemon came through and the lemon syrup made the cake very sticky.
Here is how my lemon drizzle cake turned out:

Lemon drizzle cake.

Lemon drizzle cake

I first started by creaming the butter and sugar.
Butter and sugar creamed together.

I then added the flour and eggs in batches.
Eggs n flour added.

I also added milk when adding the flour.
Flour added.

I then added the lemon zest to the mix.
Lemon zest added.

Lemon drizzle pre bake.

I started on the drizzle, I placed the sugar in a pan and squeezed the lemon juice into the pan.

Lemon juice added to sugar.

Lemon and sugar for syrup.

Lemon and sugar boiling.
Recipe for Lemon Drizzle Cake.
300g unsalted butter, softened
340 g caster sugar
5 large eggs, beaten
340g self-raising flour
50 ml full fat milk
finely grated zest and juice of 2 lemons
150g granulated sugar.
You will also need a 25x 20 cm tin, greased and lined with baking parchment.

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4
Cream the butter and caster sugar together until pale, light and fluffy: this is easiest in a free-standing mixer or by using an electric hand whisk. Gradually add the beaten eggs, mixing well between each addition. Sift in the flour and milk to combined. Add the milk and grated lemon zest and mix again until smooth.
Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin and spread level using a palette knife.
Bake on the middle shelf of the preheated oven for about 1 hour or until well risen, golden and a wooden skewer inserted into the middle of the cake out clean.
Remove the cake from the oven. Mix the lemon juice with granulated sugar and slowly over the top. Leave the cake to cool in the tine before serving.


Saturday, 27 July 2013

Healthy granola.

Homemade granola tastes much better than the shop brought version and I am so pleased that I made another batch of granola, this time I made granola using Jo Wheatley's recipe from her first cook book, A Passion for Baking, which is a fantastic baking book. I have previously made granola using Nigella Lawson's recipe from her Feasts cookbook but preferred this recipe as it was much sweeter and I have a very sweet tooth. Once you have tried making your own granola and realise how easy it is you will never want to go back to shop brought again.

Here is how my Granola turned out:
I first started by mixing all the ingredients except for the dried fruits together.
Granola ingredients.

Granola ingredients mixed.

I then placed the mixture in a greased roasting tin and placed in the oven for around 40 minutes and turning the granola every 10-15 minutes.
Granola pre bake.

Granola baked.

Once baked I added the dry fruit and stored in an airtight container.
Granola dried fruit added.

Granola mixed.

Recipe for Granola.

300g rolled oats
4 heaped tbsp regular shop brought apple sauce
4 heaped tbsp clear/runny honey
1tbsp golden/maple syrup
3 tbsp oil
60g soft dark brown sugar
4 heaped tbsp desiccated coconut
60g mixed nuts (I used Cashew nuts), roughly chopped
100g dried fruits (apricots, cherries, raisins, cranberries, pineapple pieces etc).

Preheat the oven to 170C/325F/Gas Mark 3/
Mix all the ingredients together, except for the dried fruit, in a large roomy bowl. Make sure that the oats are well coated in the honey, syrup and oil.
Turn the mixture out into a large baking tray in a single layer; shake the tray slightly so that you have some clumps and some smaller bits.
Bake on the middle shelf of the preheated oven for about 30-40 minutes until golden. You will need to keep stirring and jiggiling the granola around while it bakes so that it browns evenly.
Once baked, remove from the oven, add the chopped dried fruits and stir to combine. Leave to cool completely and then store in an airtight container. It will keep for a good month.


Saturday, 11 May 2013

Breakfast quiche.

I love Jo Wheatley, she won The Great The British Off Series 2 and has gone from strength to strength and has released her second baking book recently, Home Baking, available exclusively from Sainsburys. I have blogged many times about my favourite quiche and tart recipes such as  Lorraine Pascale's version and Jo Wheatley's version, I have also made variations of my favourite quiche recipes, and can be viewed on my Facebook page.
Jo's breakfast quiche recipe contains all the lovely ingredients that you would expect in a  full English; breakfast, bacon, mushrooms and eggs. I added sausages to my breakfast quiche which made it more colourful and hearty. I used ready made shortcrust pastry as did not fancy making shortcrust pastry on a Saturday morning, and this works quite well
Here is how my breakfast quiche turned out:

Breakfast quiche
You can see all the sausages rising to the top giving it a lovely texture and appearance.
Breakfast quiche

I blind baked the pastry for around 18 minutes and whilst this was baking I fried the bacon, mushrooms and grilled the sausages. Once my ingredients were cooked I made the filling, mixed the double cream, 3 eggs and pepper together and placed the bacon, mushrooms and sausages on the pastry base and topped with the filling.
Filling for quiche 

Quiche pre baked
I baked the quiche for 35 minutes and served with crusty bread and mixed leaves, the perfect brunch dish.
Quiche with crust bread

Recipe for breakfast quiche.
1 packet of shortcrust pastry

10-20g butter
2 tbsp olive oil
100g mushrooms, sliced
240g bacon rashers
400ml double cream (I used half fat creme fraiche)
3 large eggs
50g cheddar
freshly ground pepper
6 sausages

You will need a 21-23cm loose bottomed tin

Dust the work surface with flour and roll the pastry out to a thickness of a 2-3mm. Carefully line the tart tin with the pastry, trim off any excess and prick the base with a fork. Line the tart shell with baking parchment and baking beans and place on a baking tray. Bake for 20 minutes and then remove the beans and parchment and bake for a further 5-10 minutes until pale golden.
Turn the oven to down to 160C/320F/gas mark 3.
Heat the butter and 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a frying pan, add the sliced mushrooms and gently saute until tender and all the mushroomy juice has evaporated. Remove the pan and out to one side. Chop each of the bacon rashers into three pieces and heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in the frying pan. Add the bacon and cook over a medium heat until crisp and golden.
Beat the cream, or creme fraiche, eggs and cheese into a bowl until thoroughly combined.
Spread the bacon and mushrooms in an even layer in the bottom of the cooked pastry. Pour in the cream mixture and bake the quiche for 35 minutes or until just wobbly in the centre.
Remove from the oven to stand and firm up in the tin for 10 minutes.


Monday, 1 April 2013

Singing Hinnies

I love trying new recipes for my weekend breakfast, as this makes a change from my usual cereal or porridge which I  have Monday-Friday. Sunday breakfast usually are Jamaican inspired dishes, so Saturdays is the day where I get to experiment with a variety of different breakfast ideas. On my Facebook page, I have a folder entitled "Weekend Breakfast" which shows the different dishes I have tried and made.
This dish, Singing Hinnies, are one of my more recent new tries. The recipe is from Jo Wheatley's A Passion for Baking, which is a fantastic bakery book which covers a diverse range of baking. I am not sure of the origins of Singing Hinnies, and never heard of them before stumbling upon this recipe. I remember choosing to make this as the recipe looked very easy, and I am all for easy recipes. Although this dish is in not my top 5 for Weekend breakfast, I will probably make again, If I am pressed for time and want a quick breakfast treat.
Here is how my Singing Hinnies turned out:
Singing Hinnies

Singing Hinnies

I first started by weighing self-raising flour and butter, and mixed together to make a crumbly/ sandy texture.
Flour and butter mixture
I then weighed sultanas, and beat an egg and added milk to the beaten egg, and then added this to the flour mixture.
Egg and milk

Egg and sultanas added to the flour mixture

I then formed the mixture into a round ball and then rolled out, and cut into circles using a 6cm cutter.
Singing Hinnies shaped into a ball

Rolled out Singing Hinnies
I served my Singing Hinnies with strawberry jam and butter.
Recipe for Singing Hinnies, from Jo Wheatley's A Passion for Baking.
250g self-raising flour
a pinch of salt
120g chilled and diced
90g currants
1 large egg, beaten
2-3 tbsp full-fat milk to combine
plain flour for rolling out.

To serve
clotted cream

You will need a 6 cm round cutter

Sift the flour and salt into a bowl. Add the diced butter, and using your fingers rub into the flour until thoroughly combined and the mixture looks like crumble or sand.
Add the currants, beaten egg and enough milk to combine and to bring the dough together.
Lightly dust the work surface with plain flour and roll out the dough to a thickness of about 5 mm.
Using a plain cutter, stamp out 6 cm circles from the dough. Re-roll and stamp out the offcuts until you have used up all the dough.
Heat a heavy-based frying pan over a medium heat and lightly grease the pan with butter or lard. Add the Singing Hinnies to the pan and cook for about 3 minutes on each side until golden, turning down the heat if they are browning too quickly.
Serve warm with butter, clotted cream, honey or jam.

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