Marmalade Loaf Cake

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Have you ever had one of those days (times, lives??) where you feel like you’re 97 years old and decide to bake, and you fling ingredients in with a pretty much WTH attitude, but all the time believing you’re doing fine….but at the same time you have a sinking feeling that it’s not fine…..Oh, welcome to my life.  Except, I’m not 97.

My baking mojo has gone AWOL, I keep trying to recapture it, but I’m not that successful.  Am I just going through a “phase”, is it because I am exhausted, permanently.  Welcome to insomnia. Or that over the last few years there have been more major life stresses which I have not yet had a chance to deal with, and every so often, the emotion resurfaces and flashbacks happen, and I’m drained and stressed.  I don’t know.  This post is not supposed to be about all that.  I am just frustrated that I am having more failures than successes in my baking.  Let’s move on…..

Remember my post on Chocolate Orange Pudding Cake? I had leftover marmalade.  I could have made that pudding week after week until I’d used all the marmalade, but really, I need to try different things.  So, on to Aunty Google, where I came upon this recipe for Marmalade Loaf Cake.  And here we are today!

Believe it or not, I didn’t deviate from the recipe at all.  Not one tiny little bit.  This cake has, amongst other ingredients, orange zest, orange marmalade and ground almonds.  The addition of ground almonds to cake batter makes for a lovely textured cake.

The recipe was simple enough, and the basic technique of whisking butter and sugar, before adding eggs and then the dry ingredients and flavourings is pretty standard.

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The cooking time was 40 to 45 minutes, and so I set my timer for 43 minutes.  I got my skewer to test if the cake was done, and within a split second of opening the oven door, my beautifully risen loaf cake sank, leaving a deep valley through the centre.  I swear it did that on purpose….I left the cake in for another 5 minutes, by which time it was properly cooked, but sunken in the middle. Grrrr….snarl….

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After cooling in the tin for 5 minutes, I took it out and left it on a rack to finish cooling.  I decided not to add the marmalade glaze which the recipe calls for, though it probably adds a lovely finish to the cake, both in appearance and taste.

My sunken cake passed the taste test. The texture is lovely and it has a really nice orange flavour.  I would make it again, definitely.  I might even drizzle some dark chocolate over the top instead of using the glaze.  I just hope next time my cake stays beautifully risen!!

Wherever you are, whatever you are doing, I wish you all a peaceful day 🙂

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Chocolate Orange Pudding Cake

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I have long been a huge fan of Nigella Lawson.  I first discovered her when she did a food column for Vogue magazine.  She was less well known then, not having written her cookery books, but has deservedly gone on to even greater heights.  Today’s bake is one I used to do often when I had friends over for dinner.  It was always a success, and is so easy to make.  It is, as it says, a pudding cake.  The texture is dense and slightly squidgy (technical term) and is more pudding than cake.  I wrote the recipe down when I first baked it, and have since tried to Google it.  I am unable to find this one other than looking at other bloggers’ sites.  I am guessing it might have appeared in her Vogue column.  There is a similar (but not identical) version with raspberries in her fabulous book “How to Eat“. But, again I cannot find this recipe online other than via other bloggers’ sites.

Ingredients:

125 butter

100g dark chocolate, broken into pieces.

300g good orange marmalade

150g sugar

2 eggs, beaten with a pinch of salt

150g self raising flour.

Method:

Preheat the oven to 180°C.  Butter and flour a 20cm springform cake tin – or use a cake tin liner.

Put the butter in a heavy-based saucepan and melt over a low heat (you can also do it with a double boiler, or a heatproof bowl over a pan of hot water).  When the butter is nearly melted, add the chocolate.  Remove from the heat and stir until the butter and chocolate are smooth and liquid.  Set aside to cool for a bit.

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Add the marmalade and sugar (I used light muscovado sugar, but plain white sugar is fine too).  Use any type of marmalade you like, one with a coarse shred adds more texture to the cake, but not everyone prefers that.  Add the beaten eggs and mix well until amalgamated.  Stir in the flour, and pour into the cake tin.  Place in the oven and bake for approximately 50 minutes – ovens vary and I find my cake needs just under an hour of cooking time, but check, insert a skewer and if it comes out clean, the cake is ready.  Cool in the tin for 10 minutes before turning out.

This pudding cake is best eaten slightly warm, with cream, mascarpone or crème fraiche.  This is so simple and easy, and everyone will ask for the recipe!

Of course it would have looked a whole lot better if I had sifted a light dusting of icing sugar over the cake, but hey, it’s all about the taste, isn’t it!!

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

Fig and Walnut Cake

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I have had a packet of dried figs in the cupboard since December last year.  Every now and then I look at it and think…..nah! I put it back and forget about it.  I love figs – fresh figs particularly, but the dried figs were for a Christmas-themed pudding which I didn’t make.  To be honest I’ve been a bit put off dried figs as a snack ever since – years ago – I soaked some, took a nice plump soaked fig and cut it in half, and there was a worm, who, poor thing, had obviously been dried with the fig!! Bleurgh.  It reminds me of the “what’s worse than biting into an apple and seeing a worm?” joke.  The answer of course is “seeing half a worm”.  And, folks, I’ve been there too……but I digress.  I had these dried figs, they had an expiry date, and I needed to use them.

Back to Aunty Google, and I eventually settled on this recipe for a fig and walnut cake.  Plus, fruit, nuts, some of your 5-a-day!  Win-win!

The figs are chopped and soaked in water and melted butter (there were no worms!!).  I did think should I replace some of the water with Cointreau (and reduce the sugar) but I restrained myself……  The sugar and eggs are beaten together and the rest of the ingredients added.  Simple.  There is also mixed spice and cinnamon in the mixture, which gave off a lovely scent as it was baking.

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The mixture is poured into the baking tin and cooks for around an hour.  I did start to get those crazy thoughts….I couldn’t see how the cake could be anything but dry.  I don’t know why that bothered me because the end result was not dry.

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My cake has a crack – it looks like it’s smiling, I can almost see two eyes as well…noooooo!

 

Final verdict?  There was nothing wrong with it, it wasn’t dry, but as a cake, and flavour-wise, it just didn’t work for me.  The spices are very subtle, not “in your face”, you can smell them more than you can taste them. I do think the Cointreau addition and some orange zest might give it a little much needed zing.  So there we are – neither success nor failure strictly speaking, just not my cup of tea!

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

Marbled Chocolate Cheesecake

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It’s about time I did a baked cheesecake, isn’t it!  There are so many lovely recipes for no-bake cheesecake that I have been getting lazy.  So in this week’s search for a new bake, I thought I’d give this a go.  I chose this recipe because I had most of the ingredients already.  I had initially been looking for something with a butterscotch theme….but I’ll restrain myself and do that another time.  I can’t lie, I saw this recipe and I thought hmmmm……what if I do this instead…..what if I tweak that….but I kept some self-control and actually followed the recipe this time 🙂

This is a Mary Berry recipe for Chocolate Ripple Cheesecake (good old Mary Berry, I just felt that I couldn’t fail with her behind the idea).

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And so to the base of the cheesecake – this recipe used a biscuit crumb base – my favourite option, so easy.  I tend to find most recipes for this type of base use too much butter, with the result that the base is rock hard and you end up struggling when you dig in with a spoon to eat it, cautious of either smashing through the pudding bowl, or of half the cheesecake flying across the room.  As a result, I do my own thing, and err on the side of caution.  It’s a fine balance between ending up with a crumbly base which doesn’t hold together, and one that is firmly glued together!

The cream cheese is softened, sugar is added, a couple of eggs and a small amount of vanilla extract.  This mixture is then divided in half, with half of it being mixed into melted dark chocolate.

My attempts at rippling the chocolate mixture through the vanilla mixture were not terribly successful (must try harder next time!). But I dolloped both mixtures into the baking tin and put it in the oven.

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The cheesecake then bakes for its allotted time, and is left in the oven to cool.  This required patience, because it was then refrigerated to cool completely before cutting.  the top of my cheesecake had quite a few cracks in it, and so it looked awful in my photos (which I deleted).

The end result was lovely though, in spite of not being beautifully rippled, it tasted lovely and had that good texture that you get with a baked cheesecake.  All round, a success.

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

Cranberry, Apricot & Butterscotch Pudding

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When winter seems determined to hang on for just that little bit longer, when the days are cold and grey, we look for comfort.  To be honest, we don’t really need much of an excuse to have comfort food, but to justify it makes us feel better!!  Something warming and tasty is always welcome.

I found this recipe in the December 2017 issue of BBC Good Food magazine.  It is one of Nigel Slater’s recipes – oddly enough the first one of his recipes I have tried.  How could I have lived so long and not made more of Nigel’s recipes?!  Frustratingly enough, I am unable to find the recipe to give you the link.  When I searched the BBC Good Food website I could not find the recipe, and when I Googled Nigel Slater’s recipes the apparent link to this recipe kept taking me to a completely unrelated page.  I blame myself, as I am  not very tech-savvy, so please look this recipe up (I’m sure you’ll have more luck than me) as it is really worth making.

So, you think comfort food…….stodgy, unhealthy, fattening…..No!  It’s all about quantity and balance.  And in this case there are cranberries and dried apricots – two of your five a day!!  See, there’s always something good 🙂

This is a sponge pudding with the fruit, and it is accompanied by a butterscotch and cranberry sauce.  It is lovely.  The dried apricots and the cranberries have a nice sharp tang anyway, and they stop the pudding from being too sweet.

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I began to get a bit concerned when I made the batter, it was very stiff.  I re-read the recipe as I thought maybe I had put in too much flour, or misread ingredient quantities.  But I had followed the recipe exactly.  I gritted my teeth and put it in the oven.

Then on to the butterscotch sauce.  I was actually tempted to put all the cranberries in the pudding, instead of, as the recipe says, some in the pudding, but the larger quantity go in the sauce.  This time I went with the recipe.  Yes, honestly I did!

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This was also the first time I’d made butterscotch.  How could I not have made it before?! It was difficult not to devour the sauce before I had even put it on the pudding!

Towards the end of the cooking time, some of the sauce is poured over the pudding, and it is returned to the oven for 10 minutes.  You would then serve it with the rest of the sauce.  I poured all the sauce over the pudding before finishing baking.  In spite of my earlier concerns, the sponge part of the pudding turned out lovely and light.

The pudding goes really well served with a nice dollop of thick cream, or – as I did- some lovely vanilla ice cream.

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

Banana & Chocolate Chip Muffins

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What a year it’s been.  Today’s bake is, to be honest, a guilt bake.  I feel bad that I have not posted much this year at all, but I feel I have to make an effort.  F for failure then!

Between having to rebuild my computer (thanks, Microsoft for destroying it with your update), scattering my mother’s ashes, being stuck in the middle of nowhere due to ice and snow, being completely felled by one of the seasonal viruses doing the rounds, selling the house, I could go on and on.  But I’m exhausted, I need sleep, I need a break, I need good things.  Don’t we all, though.  A year of good news, and happy events would do us all the world of good.

So I found myself wondering what to bake.  I had some over-ripe bananas, but I’ve done various banana bread recipes, how about cupcakes……no, how about muffins!  Of course the recipe I saw on the internet didn’t have the same ingredients as I remembered it having…..you can see where this is going now, can’t you!  I’d committed myself to baking, so there was no alternative but to tweak the recipe………but you all know by now, tweaking a recipe is something I do a lot of – not always successfully!  In this case I used two different recipes as a reference point.

Muffins are a fairly forgiving bake, the only thing to remember is not to over-mix, otherwise they end up rubbery.

This recipe was for 12 muffins.  Preheat the oven to 200°C (180°C fan oven)

Ingredients:

3 ripe bananas, mashed

125ml light oil (I used olive oil, but sunflower oil is fine too)

4 tablespoons milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 large egg

100g golden caster sugar

225g cake flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking powder

220g chocolate buttons

Method:

Beat together the oil, egg, milk and vanilla extract.  Add the mashed bananas and the sugar and mix well.

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Sift together the flour, salt and baking powder, and add in the chocolate buttons, covering well with the flour mixture, in the hope that the buttons don’t sink to the bottom when you bake the muffins.

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Make a well in the dry ingredients and add the wet ingredients, mixing gently to combine only. Don’t over-mix, it doesn’t matter if the batter is a bit lumpy.

Spoon into muffin cases and bake for 20 to 25 minutes.  Let cool on a rack before eating!

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

Chocolate Fudge Tia Maria Cake

Well hello, hello! Yes, I’m back.  2018, huh? What a year, and it’s still only January.

There is a recipe I have been wanting to bake for years.  Yes, years.  But for some reason or other, I never manage to get round to it.  When I was in primary school, my best friend Becky’s mum made a lovely cake called Parkin.  It was so delicious, I persuaded her to let me have the recipe, and a few months later I was at my stepmother’s house and decided to bake this for everyone.  Not being familiar with the kitchen, and where she kept everything, I could not find the flour.  I busied myself getting the ingredients together and then, somehow, managed to get distracted and forgot to ask where the flour was.  The cake was mixed, put in the oven and baked…………….the finished result was….well, let’s just say, it didn’t hold together well.  As we were all munching on the bits of cake – which were, everyone agreed, delicious – it suddenly came to me…the flour!!! That’s what was missing. 11-year old me didn’t have the confidence to confess, but, anyway, everyone enjoyed the (not quite proper) Parkin.

Fast-forward rather a lot of years, and this weekend I decided to revisit this cake.  I didn’t have the original recipe anymore, but, there are plenty about on a Google search.  The result?  Fail!!! I don’t know if it was me, the recipe, bad luck or a combination of all three.  It was horrible, dry….it ended up in the rubbish bin.

I felt I had to bake.  I had to bake something that would work out.  I had to bake something I had not baked before.  Saturday was #NationalChocolateCakeDay.  What else, then, but a variation on the chocolate cake theme!  Chocolate cake with a slight twist, the ultimate Tia Maria Chocolate fudge cake.

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I didn’t have any white sugar, and so the sugar I used was light muscovado sugar. In the method, I mixed the melted chocolate mixture with the flour, whisked it well and then added all the eggs, whisking as I added.  I didn’t think it would make a crucial difference to the outcome and I don’t think it did.

The cake is lovely, rich, moist, chocolatey and fudgey.  I have not iced it, but I think a good dollop of thick boozy cream would go very well with it instead of icing.

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