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 🙂

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 😊

Biscoff Traybake

I’m a real sucker for those quirky recipes, where you think really?  Will that work? And equally currently I am just looking for easy.  I want to bake bread, all the bread, but I don’t have the energy to do it.  And cheesecake, brownies, chocolate chip cookies, cupcakes……I want to do these, but they will have to wait.  I found this recipe in Good Housekeeping magazine and decided I had to try it.

The quirk, and the appeal is that this recipe only has three ingredients, no weighing, no fuss, minimum effort.  Hey, what’s not to love?!

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I was expecting the finished product to have a texture somewhere between a brownie and a large cookie – dense, slightly crumbly, maybe crisp on the edges but soft inside.  How wrong was I.  This recipe works so well, and comes out like a cake, light and fluffy. I didn’t spread any Biscoff on the top as was recommended in the recipe, but I think a light Biscoff buttercream would work well, but it is equally good just as it is.

Ingredients:

400g jar Lotus Biscoff Spread

3 medium eggs

2 teaspoons baking powder

Method:

Preheat the oven to 180°C (160°C fan oven) and line a 20.5cm square tin with baking parchment.

Lightly whisk the eggs to mix them well and add the jar of Biscoff spread and baking powder.  Stir well with a sturdy spoon, it will all amalgamate in a thick mixture.

Spoon the mixture in the baking tin and put in the oven for 18 to 20 minutes, until just set.  Leave to cool before slicing.

And, there you are! This is so quick and easy, and with so few ingredients, one of those handy recipes to have in the event of a sudden need for cake!

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

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 🙂

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 🙂