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 🙂

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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 🙂

Jamaican Ginger & Caramel Cake

I’ve been pretty indecisive about what to bake this week.  There are a few recipes which have caught my eye, but each time I think yes, I’ll do that one, I then start questioning my decision and change my mind.  But the lure of a sticky ginger and caramel cake was strong, and so, I settled on this one.

This recipe is from Olive Magazine’s December 2017 issue.  It is one of those cakes which is “bare” on the sides, but with icing running off the top in decorative “drips”.

With rum, caramel, dark treacle, stem ginger, dates and spices on this list of ingredients, it is a lovely cake for this time of year when the weather is turning colder.

This was, purely by chance a gluten-free recipe, using gluten-free flour, but otherwise all the usual store-cupboard ingredients. It was easy enough to bake, melting together the sugars with the rum, caramel, dates and ginger and blitzing until it was smooth, before adding the butter and eggs.

Once well mixed (oh, and don’t forget to breath in deeply – that gorgeous rum, ginger and treacle…..) add to the spices and flour.  The recipe called for 2 tablespoons of ground ginger, but (and I love, love, love ginger) even that seemed excessive, so I halved the quantity.

Mix well and pour into two cake tins and bake.

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The icing is a caramel buttercream, which goes so well with the treacly ginger of the cake.  Once iced, some Caramac bars are melted with ginger syrup and poured over the top of the cake (this is where it all went wrong for me….).  My Caramac and ginger syrup seized.  I added more, and then again more, ginger syrup to loosen the mixture.  I then decided to work with that, or give up.  I spooned the Caramac mixture on the top of the cake, but there wasn’t enough – or it was just not quite liquid enough to dribble down the sides of the cake.  I conceded defeat.

The proof, however is in the tasting.  The cake is lovely, light yet rich and very gingery and the caramel buttercream compliments it perfectly.  In my opinion though, the Caramac doesn’t enhance it at all, though I suspect that’s just a matter of personal taste.

It’s not neat or pretty, I would never be a plasterer!! I found it quite difficult putting the barest amount of icing on the sides of the cake.

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

 

 

 

 

Spaghetti and Meatball Cupcakes

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By now you are all familiar with my complete and utter lack of any artistic talent.  I have all these amazing (AMAZING!!!) ideas in my head, but, sadly however hard I try, I am unable to make them reality.  Well, I make them reality in a way – just in a very amateurish, untalented, embarrassingly messy way.  But, equally as you know, I am not one to let this defeat me. I read loads of recipes, I am always thinking hmmmmm…..I should be able to do that…….and failing.  But, I try. That’s the important thing (at least that’s what I tell myself!).

I have been going through a massive house clear-out and in the course of this found another back issue of Cupcake Heaven magazine. I found my recipe.  Just the thought of it makes me smile, and these days, that’s good enough for me.

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Spaghetti and meatball cupcakes – yes, these had my name on them 🙂

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Unusually for me, I followed the recipe almost exactly.

I’ve always said never bake with hate in your heart. I stand by that. And baking for me is therapeutic, it is a positive, a comfort, a calming activity.  We all need more of this kind of thing in our lives.

The cupcake part of the recipe was a pretty standard plain vanilla sponge cupcake. In fact, the whole recipe was so lovely and easy.  Even the decorating part.  And you know if I can do this, anyone can!!

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And so to the decoration…..the spaghetti is vanilla buttercream.

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The meatballs are Ferrero Rocher chocolates.

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The tomato sauce is raspberry jam – and this is where my minor deviation from the recipe was, the recipe used fresh raspberries heated, reduced and sieved.

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And, finally the grated Parmesan is white chocolate. And we have the finished product!  Dear readers, I give you (drum roll…….) Spaghetti and Meatball Cupcakes!

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

Lime Drizzle Cupcakes

I love limes.  They look beautiful – I could happily keep a bowl of limes on the table just to look at!  But I love their taste and sharpness just as much, and they enhance so many things – giving a lovely sharp, fresh lift to savoury dishes and salads. And of course on the sweeter side – lime and coconut, candied lime zest, lime cordial (home-made of course!) and not to forget a glass of sloe gin with tonic and a few slices of lime….but, I digress!

I found a recipe for Lime Drizzle Cupcakes in an old issue of Cupcake Heaven Magazine – they credit the recipe to the book Cupcakes and Mini Cakes.  Lemon drizzle cake is heavenly, but the lure of limes was strong.  I had to try this.  I was in love before I even started.

This is one of those recipes where you fling everything in a bowl and just blitz it. Another bonus! Quick and easy, not complicated, that’s the sort of recipe I like.

I did a minor deviation from the recipe by adding some of this: P1000970

It is a wonderful sharp lime extract, and difficult to resist using 🙂

I followed the rest of the recipe exactly.  Even with hindsight, there is nothing I can tweak, it is just right.

By the time I’d done this (it really doesn’t take long – for “cupcakes in a hurry” its a great recipe to try) I began to doubt myself – it didn’t look as if there was enough batter.  The recipe says if makes 12 cupcakes, I managed 11.  Of course I could have put slightly less batter in each cupcake case……and into the oven they went.

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Once baked, the cupcakes are moved to a wire rack to cool and drizzled with a lime syrup.  I added more lime juice than the recipe stated (would you expect anything less?!) but because of this I heated the syrup to thicken it slightly.  It still turned out fine.  The cupcakes are light and have a lovely sharp lime flavour.  No embellishment needed!

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

Sponge Cake with Cassis Syrup and Raspberry Buttercream

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I don’t often bake a plain sponge cake – cupcakes, yes, but a big cake no.  My larger cakes tend to be flavoured – lemon drizzle, coffee & walnut, chocolate…..and so today I tried a plain sponge cake.  Except in the end it was not plain. I did a few little tweaks.  Yes, you knew I would, didn’t you!  However, today is the day I wished I had left well enough alone.  I wished I had just followed the recipe.

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I do love, love, love this Nielsen-Massey vanilla bean paste.  I only ever use vanilla extract if I can’t get hold of this.  The lovely little specs of vanilla seed just add to its magic.

Eggs.  The necessary evil of baking.  I’ve mentioned before that raw eggs are revolting.

And, so on to the baking.  The recipe I used is for a vanilla sponge, and one of its ingredients is Greek yogurt. I chose this particular one in the hope that it would give a nice moist sponge.  I found the recipe on the BBC Good Food website.

I didn’t want a plain cake, it would have to have icing.  Whilst it was baking in the oven I got to thinking….maybe a syrup drizzled over the cake before the icing would give it a little extra oomph.  I chose Cassis, that divine blackcurrant liqueur as the base of the syrup. Framboise would have been better , but I had none, and so Cassis it was.

I got a bit concerned a third of the way during the baking that things might not go well, the cake was already well risen and golden on top.  But I gritted my teeth and after peering through the oven door nervously for the rest of the baking time, I took the cake out at its allotted time.  The top is cracked.  To be honest, a lot cracked! And slightly crispy.  I’m thinking too much sugar in the batter?

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However, one of the joys of icing a cake is that it covers a multitude of sins.  I made the Cassis syrup and poured it over the cake, then left it to cool before covering it with icing I made a raspberry flavoured buttercream, and threw some lovely sprinkles over the top.  A pink cake after all has to have a little bit of sparkle, doesn’t it!

The true test however, is in the eating. Crunchy top aside, the cake is fine.  A Framboise syrup would have been better, but the Cassis does work.  The buttercream has a delicate, rather than in-your-face raspberry flavour – and although it doesn’t show in the photo it is pale pink.  Would I make it again? Probably not, just because I can’t see anywhere to go with it.  Does that make sense? I think there would be better versions of the cake, and whilst this is fine – my kitchen taster enjoyed it – it just doesn’t work well enough for me – even if I were to come up with a few more tweaks!!  Live and learn!

Wherever you are, whatever you are doing, I hope you have a peaceful day 🙂

 

Banket

P1000807Some of my family come from the Netherlands and every year relatives there would send us a box of goodies. Salted Liquorice, chocolate (usually in the shape of our initials), a Delft tile and Banket. Banket is a sausage roll-shaped pastry with an almond filling.  It is not something I have seen anywhere else and so after a while when family passed away and we no longer received these boxes I would think longingly of this pastry.

Fast forward a few years and I saw a recipe in a magazine for Galette des Rois.  It looked interesting, it was disc shaped and had an almond filling.  I baked it but found it too greasy. And so I tweaked the recipe….and tweaked it….and tweaked some more. And then I thought – the filling is rather similar to that of Banket, why don’t I tweak a bit more and try to recreate this pastry….and so I did. And so, here, dear readers, is my version of that pastry.

Ingredients:

70 butter at room temperature

80g golden caster sugar

1 medium egg, lightly beaten

300g ground almonds

1 tablespoon Amaretto liqueur

1 tablespoon almond extract

400g ready-made puff pastry

Preheat the oven to 190ºC(fan oven).

Unroll the pastry and place it on a baking sheet lined with baking paper.  Cut the pastry in half along the width and slightly separate the two pieces of pastry. (Yes, I hang my head in shame, I always buy ready-made pastry, life is too short to make my own).

Beat the butter with the caster sugar using an electric whisk, until light and fluffy. Whisk in the egg.  Stir in the ground almonds, the alcohol and the almond extract.

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Divide the mixture in two, and spoon over the centre of each of the pieces of pastry.

Lightly wet the edges of the pastry with a bit of water and carefully fold the pastry over the filling, along the ends and the length, pressing carefully to seal the edges.  Each piece should look like a large thick sausage roll. If you’re feeling posh, brush some eggwash over the top of the pastry (it is worth it, it makes it look beautifully golden).

Place in oven for 30 minutes until the pastry is crisp and golden.  Breathe in that lovely almond fragrance!  This can be eaten hot or cold, but is really best when lukewarm.

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