Friday, 11 May 2018

Date Crunch

Baking and healthy eating are not words that are normally associated with each other. It is possible to enjoy delicious baked sweet treats with some clever twists and baking methods. My latest cookery book purchase, Weight Watchers Seriously Satisfying has two chapters dedicated to sweet treats. I made the chocolate flapjacks a few weeks ago, but my new favourite is the date crunch. The crunch reminds me of a shortbread and the gooeyness from the dates reminds me of the cornflake tart I baked a few weeks prior.





Ingredients
Low fat cooking spray
150g pitted dates
finely grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
125 g self raising flour
125g semolina or cornmeal
75g low fat spread
75g light brown sugar
3 teaspoon of strawberry jam (optional).

Method
Preheat the oven to Gas Mark 5/190C/Fan Oven 170C. Spray the baking tin with the cooking spray. Place the dates in a small pan with the lemon juice and 2 tablespoons of water. Simmer gently for 5 minutes until soft and mushy. Beat or mash to a smooth paste and set aside to cool.
Sift the flour into a mixing bowl and stir in the semolina. Place the low fat spread and sugar in a small pan over a low heat and gently, then stir in the lemon zest. Pour over a low heat and melt gently, then stir in the lemon zest. Pour over the flour and mix to a stiff dough. Press half of the dough into the tin. If using the strawberry jam, spread this over the dough mixture. Spread the date mixture over the dough, then top with the remaining dough, passing down gently. Bake for 30 minutes until golden.
Remove from the oven.  Cut into squares. Leave to cool in the tin for about 30 minutes. Store in an airtight container for up to 5 days.

xxx
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Sunday, 22 April 2018

Everyday Coffee Loaf Cake

I had a strong craving for a coffee and walnut cake for the last few days and I finally resisted by making this loaf cake recently. I have a thing for coffee and walnut cake, alongside coconut cake, in that I can easily eat the whole cake by myself. To stop myself eating a whole cake, I simply don't make these cakes on a regular basis and try to treat myself to a slice when I'm at a coffee shop.  I wanted the full hit of a coffee and walnut cake but didn't want to make a traditional sandwich cake held together by copious amount of buttercream. So,  I decided to make a loaf cake instead, which requires minimal effort and has maximum flavour.
The recipe is adapted from my baking book: National Trust Cakes, Bakes and Biscuits. I simply reduced the amount given for a sponge cake, however, I should of let the icing set before I poured it on the cake - my impatience to taste the case was the reason for this. Nevertheless, the coffee and walnut loaf cake was moist, soft and moreish.



You will need a 2lbs/900g loaf tin.
Ingredients
100g self-raising flour
100g caster sugar
100g soft margarine
2 large free eggs
4 heaped teaspoons instant coffee granules
2 teaspoons boiling water

For the topping
75g butter
125g icing sugar
8 - 10 walnut halves

Method
Preheat the oven to 160C, 325F, gas mark 3. Beat together the flour, caster, sugar, margarine and eggs until they are very light and fluffy, preferably in an electric mixer. Put the coffee granules in a cup or  small bowl and add about 3 teaspoons boiling water. The coffee should be very, very dark and just runny - if it's a bit stiff, add a few drops more water, but it certainly shouldn't look like ordinary coffee. You want a liquor that will give a huge hit of coffee without adding too much volume of liquid.
Add 1 teaspoon coffee mixture to the cake mix and beat in. Taste, and add more coffee if needed. Don't throw away any remaining mixture.
Pout the batter in the loaf tin and smooth the tops. Bake for 45 minutes until the cake is firm and springy to the touch.
Remove from the oven and turn out onto a wire rack to cool.
To make the topping beat together the butter and  icing sugar until pale and soft. Add 1 teaspoon coffee mixture and taste. Add more, to taste.
When the cake is cooled frost the top of the cake with the coffee icing. Place the walnuts around the edge of the loaf cake and leave the icing to set, which should only take about an hour.

xxx
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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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