Sticky Toffee Pudding Cake

Am I feeling bad that this year I have not baked anything festive?  Actually I am.  I do love different bakes for special times of the year.  But sometimes, I just have to accept that it is not a good idea.  So this year, no mincemeat, no Christmas cake, nothing.  I have bought a Panettone, the Marks and Spencer chocolate, cranberry and orange one.  This will satisfy my need for a festive bake (albeit one that I bought).  Even Christmas day itself is going to be low key.  I haven’t decided on the main course – which would ordinarily have been Nigella’s ham in coke, which is a many-times tried and trusted recipe.  As for pudding, again I am taking the easy way out.  I have bought ready made pastry and ready-made mincemeat and will make mince pies, served with (ready-made) brandy cream.  I should be ashamed of myself.

Tony’s birthday is in December and again I usually bake a special cake for him (you can never be too caked-out in December!) but not this year.  I did however bake this recipe from Good Housekeeping for Sticky Toffee Pudding Cake.  Stupidly, I am unable to find a link to it.

I saw the recipe and immediately started thinking oooh….maybe if I just tweak it….I reigned myself in and kept my tweaking to a minimum.  I simply replaced the liquid in the sponge with bourbon. There are just a couple of things I would do next time I bake this:  once the dates have been soaked, I would mash them, so they were more like a puree as I think they will incorporate more smoothly into the sponge mixture; and for the pudding sauce, I would either completely replace the dark muscovado sugar with light muscovado sugar, or do half and half.  Actually, I might even put some vanilla extract in the sauce (that makes it a third tweak!!).  For me, personally the toffee sauce, whilst delicious, had too strong a molasses flavour.  Having said that, everyone else loved the pudding and the sauce.  It is all super easy to make too.  My photos are a bit unappetising unfortunately.

Ingredients:

100g stoned dates, finely chopped

100ml hot English Breakfast tea, freshly brewed (I replaced this with bourbon)

125g butter, salted

150g dark muscovado sugar

1 tablespoon golden syrup

2 medium eggs

125g self-raising flour

½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

Preheat the oven to 180°C (160° Fan).  Grease and line a 900g (2lb) loaf tin with baking parchment or a loaf tin liner.

Beat together the butter and sugar with an electric whisk until light and fluffy.  Add the golden syrup and eggs and beat again.  Fold in the flour and bicarbonate of soda until well incorporated, then stir in the date mixture (liquid and all) until just combined.  Pour into the prepared tin and bake for 40 to 50 minutes, until a skewer inserted comes out clean.  Let the cake cool in the tin for 5 minutes then transfer to a wire rack.

Meanwhile, make the toffee sauce:

50g butter

50g dark muscovado sugar

100ml double cream

In a small pan, heat together the sugar, butter and cream, stirring continuously until the sugar dissolves.  Bring to the boil, stirring and let it bubble for about 2 minutes, stirring all the while.

Serve the cake warm, or at room temperature in slices with the sauce (reheat gently if required) and vanilla ice cream.  The leftover cake reheats very well when wrapped up tightly in foil.

Wherever you are, whatever you are doing, I wish you a peaceful weekend 🙂

Lebkuchen

I have been wanting to make Lebkuchen for ages.  But for some reason (which I can’t fathom) I always thought they would be too difficult to make.  I recently saw this recipe in Sainsbury’s Magazine and thought yes, I can do this.

This year I have not baked a Christmas cake, nor anything else vaguely festive, so these would do instead. 

Ingredients:

225g plain flour

75g ground almonds

2 teaspoons ground ginger

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

A pinch of ground cloves

A pinch of ground nutmeg

2 teaspoons cocoa powder

½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

25g chopped mixed peel – chopped very finely

Zest of ½ orange

200g clear honey

75g butter

Method:

Mix together all the dry ingredients.  Add the orange zest and chopped mixed peel.

In a separate bowl put the honey and butter over a pot of simmering water until the butter is melted.  Stir to combine.

Add the butter and honey mixture to the dry ingredients and stir well to combine the mix to a stiff dough.  Cover with clingfilm and put in the fridge for around 30 minutes to firm up.

Preheat the oven to 180°C (160° fan).  Line two large baking trays with baking parchment.

Roll out the dough on a lightly floured worktop until 1cm thick and cut out rounds with a 5-6 cm biscuit cutter. Place on lined baking trays, spaced apart to allow room to spread.

Bake for 15-18 minutes until just beginning to brown.  Remove from the baking trays onto a wire rack (place something underneath to catch the drips of icing).

Meanwhile mix 100g icing sugar with 3 tablespoons of water until you have a slightly runny, spoonable icing.

Pour a little icing over each of the Lebkuchen as soon as they come out of the oven and leave to cool.

These were a little bigger than the Lebkuchen I am familiar with, but that doesn’t matter.  I will buy some heart and star shaped cookie cutters though, so that next time I don’t just have round Lebkuchen.  I will also tweak the spices a little bit – and possibly add a bit of treacle in place of some of the honey.   

Otherwise, these are very easy to bake and lovely to eat!  A delicious Christmassy treat.

Wherever you are, whatever you are doing, I wish you a peaceful weekend 😊

Suretta’s Chocolate Cake

A while ago I asked on social media for suggestions for baking.  These came in thick and fast!  However, one person sent me a recipe for chocolate cake and just said “trust me”.   And so I did, and I have named the cake after her. 

This recipe is slightly different in a few ways from the standard method for chocolate sponge cake recipes.  It uses oil instead of butter – no more creaming the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy!  The eggs are separated, with the yolks being mixed into the batter with the other ingredients, and only at the end are the stiffly whisked egg whites folded in.  And finally, there is a sauce which is poured over the hot cake before it is covered with icing.  The whole thing works.  I was worried that the cake might be soggy, but it wasn’t.  And, really, this is a lovely easy recipe to make, and it tastes good.

The measurements are in cups – a standard American cup measure, or if you don’t have these, one cup = 250ml

Recipe:

Preheat the oven to 180°C (fan 160°).  Line a 20cm springform cake tin with baking parchment, or a cake tin liner.

In a large bowl, mix together 1 cup of sugar, 1 cup cake flour, ¼ cup cocoa powder, 2 heaped teaspoons baking powder and a pinch of salt.

In a separate bowl beat together 4 egg yolks, ½ cup of oil, ½ cup water and a teaspoon of vanilla extract.

Add the egg mixture to the dry ingredients and mix well (stir them in well together, there is no need to whisk them in).

In a separate bowl beat together 4 egg whites with ½ teaspoon of baking powder until stiff peaks.

Gently fold the egg white mixture into the rest of the cake batter.

Pour into the baking tin and bake for 30 minutes, or until a skewer inserted comes out cleanly.

In a pot put ½ cup of sugar, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract and 200ml of evaporated milk (the unsweetened kind).  Bring to the boil and simmer for 3 minutes.  Pour over the cake as soon as it comes out of the oven.

Leave the cake to cool.  Melt 200g chocolate with 30ml milk and pour over the cooled cake.

Enjoy your cake!

Wherever you are, whatever you are doing, I wish you a peaceful weekend 😊