Chocolate & Coconut Cake

Chocolate?  Yes! Coconut?  Yes!  In a cake?  Yes!! This recipe for Chocolate & Coconut Cake in Sainsburys Magazine caught my eye.

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It is a chocolate cake batter, but with coconut milk, plenty of desiccated coconut, and ground almonds which really work well and give it a lovely texture.  The method is standard – cream butter and sugar, add eggs, fold in dry ingredients.

The resultant batter was quite stiff but I put it in the baking dish and into the oven.  The recipe suggested to bake for 35 to 40 minutes.  At 35 minutes I checked the cake but it was still wobbling, nowhere near done!  I added 10 minutes to the time and checked again, inserting a skewer into the cake, but it was not cooked through, I left it in for another 10 minutes and finally, it was cooked.  Unfortunately the top was quite cracked – I think this is either an oven temperature issue, or too much sugar?  In any event, ingredient-wise I had followed the recipe exactly.  You can see the flecks of coconut in the cake.

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I left it to cool for 15 minutes before turning out to cool completely.

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Cracks?? What cracks?!!  Yes, I turned it upside down (crafty move).

Once the cake was cooled I set to work on the fudge topping.  With ingredients of chocolate, butter, cocoa powder and icing sugar, it seemed it would be a fudgy buttercream style icing.  Once it was all mixed the recipe said “…pour over the cake…

Pour???? Something has gone wrong….

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This was more like chocolate cement…I felt like giving up.  I added a bit of milk as the recipe suggested but this didn’t help significantly.  I had no more chocolate, so the option of making a second batch of fudge icing was out of the question.  Out of desperation I mixed up a small batch of chocolate buttercream, using the cocoa powder and mixed this with the stodgy mess I had created.  It was marginally better.  I was determined to somehow ice the cake and take photos.  I spread the icing on the cake, but the texture was awful.  My guess is the chocolate had split, which would explain the “graininess”.  Not to be outdone, I remembered I had some edible glitter.  Let’s be honest, there is not much that cannot be improved by a little glitter!!  And so I sprayed the surface with gold glitter.

And, so, there we have it.  The glittery chocolate and coconut cake.  The taste test? The cake is good, nice flavour and texture.  The icing?  No.  It is perfectly edible, but it is not what it should have been (though I suspect this is not the recipe’s fault, but rather my own).  I’m disappointed about that.  Would I make it again?  No, there are too many other options which I prefer.

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

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Coconut & Lime Drizzle Cake

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I love lime and I love coconut, and together they make a heavenly combination.  I saw this recipe for a lime and coconut drizzle cake in Sainsbury’s Magazine, and knew I had to try it.  I have always fancied substituting lemons for limes in a lemon drizzle cake and here was my chance, with the addition of coconut.

This is a fairly standard loaf cake recipe, easy to follow and easy to do. I followed the recipe for the most part, other than not using coconut flakes for the topping, and I used 4 limes for the drizzle instead of 3.

The recipe calls for the addition of coconut milk and I used slightly more than called for.  I was mixing the butter and sugar with my electric whisk but instead of becoming light and fluffy, it had the consistency of gritty bread crumbs.  I didn’t want to add more butter to the recipe, so I added a couple of tablespoons of coconut milk to the butter and sugar, and that helped create the right texture.

Personally I find that when adding zest to the mixture and whisking it, the zest seems to collect on the whisk in great big clumps instead of being mixed into the batter.  So although the recipe called for the butter, sugar and zest to be whisked together, I added the zest when I folded in the flour.

The cake baked nicely, rising well and had a good colour.  I like the “drizzle” element of a cake to be nice and sharp, and so I added extra lime juice, and poured the drizzle over the warm cake.

The end result?  It is a lovely cake – please check out the recipe from the link at the beginning of this post. Personally though, I didn’t feel it had enough “zing”.  I guess because it is a drizzle cake, I had wanted (as happens with lemon drizzle cake) a lovely sharpness.  In this cake the coconut softens out the sharpness of the lime.  Both flavours are there, and the combination is lovely though.  Maybe next time I will use the lemon drizzle cake recipe and just use limes instead.

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

 

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 🙂

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 🙂

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 🙂

Sticky Ginger Cake with Caramel Frosting

I haven’t blogged for a few weeks.  Truth is life got in the way.  As it does.  There has been sadness, tears and heartbreak. And my baking mojo went away.  As it does.

I keep thinking I must post something, but what….? I don’t at this stage feel ready to put out a miserable post of my life events, and so I’ve avoided the blog.  I am hoping that come the new year, life will start settling down.

Today’s post is simply a re-visit of a cake I have previously made.

You may remember that not that long ago I baked a Jamaican Ginger Cake which had a caramel buttercream frosting?  I really loved that cake, the strong ginger was really well complimented by the caramel buttercream, but the cake itself….it didn’t turn out quite as I’d hoped. It was good, but not quite the sticky ginger result I had hoped for.

After reading many recipes for ginger cakes in various forms, I couldn’t see much that I could do differently.  The recipe I had used asked for gluten free flour, and I couldn’t help wondering if the cake would either need a little something else to give that moist, sticky cake result.  Since the cake already contained dates, I didn’t know what else I could add. In the end I thought I’d replace the gluten free flour with standard cake flour.

I am so glad I did, because, reader, I aced this cake!  I substituted the exact amount of plain cake flour for the gluten free flour, and didn’t change anything else in the recipe.  The result is a lovely dark, moist, sticky ginger cake! Success!  A minor change, but it made all the difference.

I’d be interested to know if anyone else who made the original recipe had the same result as I did?

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