Tag Archives: Cake

Orange almond and chocolate cake

12 Mar

Baking for colleagues is incredibly rewarding. Baking for colleagues and asking them to make a donation to charity is even more rewarding. And when the charity is the organisation we all work for, it feels like some kind of virtuous (although slightly insane) circle.

I wanted to make a chocolatey almondy cake… and when I came across a chocolatey, orangey almondy cake recipe I knew it was The One.  I’d never tried a recipe where you boil the orange in water for half an hour and then smoosh it up in a food processor (or liquidiser in my case) and add the whole thing to the cake mixture. But I have now!  And so can you, it makes for a deliciously moist and tasty cake.

The other brilliant thing about this recipe is that it is ridiculously simple – it doesn’t need any elbow grease, beating butter and sugar till fluffy. In fact it is like a carrot cake recipe in that it uses oil instead of butter. Try it and see – but make sure you have lots of friends who want to eat it, it’s a big beast of a cake!

Chocolate truffle icing on the orange almond chocolate cake

Orange almond and chocolate cake

Pre-heat oven to 180C / GM4

Prepare a 24cm deep (or springform) tin

  • 2 oranges
  • 150g dark chocolate
  • 5 eggs
  • 400g vanilla caster sugar
  • 350g sunflower oil
  • 125g ground almonds
  • 25g cocoa powder
  • 375g plain flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  •  3-4 TBsp grand marnier or cointreau

for the icing

  • 350g dark chocolate
  • 225ml double cream
  1. Put the whole oranges in a pan and cover with water. Bring tot he boil and simmer for about 30 mins.
  2. Whizz them to a pulp in a food processor or a liquidiser (if you go down the liquidiser route you may have to cut them up into chunks before you put them in the goblet)
  3. Melt the chocolate in a bowl over a pan of simmering water
  4. In a very large bowl (this is the bowl the cake batter will all end up in) beat together the eggs, sugar and the oil (I used a balloon whisk)
  5. Gradually beat in the orange puree, then the melted chocolate
  6. Sift the dry ingredients together (or whisk together with another balloon whisk) and then mix into the egg mixture
  7. Pour the batter into the prepared tin and bake for 1 hour 20 minutes (a skewer inserted into the middle should come out clean)
  8. Turn the cake out onto a wire rack to cool, and spoon over the orange liqueur to soak in while it is cooling
The icing
  1. Melt the chocolate in a bowl over a pan of simmering water
  2. Remove from the heat and allow to cool briefly
  3. Stir in the cream and keep stirring till smooth and glossy
  4. Set aside to cool and firm up slightly then spread over the cake with a palette knife

Serve with creme fraiche if you have any, if not, just eat it. In small slices, with a fork. It’s a VERY rich cake. But deliciously tasty – and usually I don’t approve of orange and chocolate together but this is my exception to that rule.

Nom nom nom – really moist chocolate cake

Chocolate morsels of love

20 Feb

Chocolate cakes of love

Over a year ago I bought a silicone pan to make wee heart-shaped cakes, intending to make wee treats of love for Valentines Day.

But I left the cake pan in Edinburgh, while I was enjoying Valentines in the country. So that didn’t work.

This year I remembered to bring the cake pan to the country, but had over-indulged so much already over the weekend that there was no way I was going to make any chocolate cakes, however cute and heart shaped they might be.

But this weekend was different.

I had a whole list of things to achieve: long walk with the dogs; drink with his kids in Glasgow; a couple of sewing projects to finish; soup to make; a curry to make (and eat); a greenhouse to clean and set up for the spring seed-sowing; laundry to wash and hang out; candle lit baths to loll about in. And I intended to do some veg bed digging too, but that didn’t get done. All the other things did get completed though (ish). And while I was on a roll, achieving so much, I ended up achieving more too – I made the cutest heart shaped gingery dark chocolate cakes. And it so happens they are perfect with fresh pears, not even poached, just chopped up and put in a bowl with all their juicy loveliness, accompanied by a sweet wee chocolate heart of cakey wonderfulness.

So, this is what I did:

Wee ginger chocolate hearts (or morsels of love)

Pre-heat oven to GM 5 or 6, if you don’t have a silicone cake pan, prepare either a 23cm sandwich tin, or a loaf tin, or put a load of paper cupcake cases in a muffin tin. 

  • 4oz soft butter (at room temperature if you have a warm room, otherwise pop it in the microwave at a low power setting in 20second bursts till it’s squishy soft)
  • 4oz light muscovado sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 TBsp syrup from a jar of stem ginger
  • 3oz SR flour
  • 1oz cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 balls of ginger from a jar of stem ginger, chopped fine
  1. Beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy
  2. Add the eggs and ginger syrup and beat again. It’ll probably curdle, but don’t worry too much about it
  3. Sift in the flour, cocoa and BP and beat again
  4. Now fold in the ginger bits
  5. Spoon the batter into the cake moulds (or sandwich tin or paper cases, or whatever you are using)
  6. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until the cakes are firm to touch

Delicious warm (heat up for 30s in the microwave) with that blackcurrant icecream I first made a few months ago. Or as I said, just with fresh pears. Or on their own, just as a wee treat with a cup of coffee.

Wee chocolate heart cakes

I suspect that they would be mighty scrumptious with a cream cheese icing too.

Or replace the ginger nibs with some frozen raspberries, scrunched, or chopped up, and serve with a raspberry coulis.

Go on, experiment.

Banana goodness

3 Jan

So, most weeks I’ll buy some bananas at the supermarket, as I know he’ll take a banana to work each day, and it’s a way of getting towards that 5-a-day of fruit and veg.  I hadn’t really thought through the whole Christmas/New Year thing and how it might interrupt his banana consumption.  So, this morning I decided to do something with the three blackening bananas left on the side in the kitchen.

Banana loaf was the obvious choice.  Or I have a good foolproof and adaptable banana muffin recipe. But if I’m going to make muffins in the next 24 hours, it’s going to be vodka-soaked-cranberry muffins, using the cranberries from my vanilla cranberry vodka which are currently in the freezer waiting to be enjoyed.

So, I turned to the internet for inspiration and good old Nigel Slater came up trumps again. He calls it black banana cake.  And I’m not sure if that is a reference to the state the bananas are in before you start, or the fact there is plenty chocolate in there, so the cake will be darker than you might expect for a banana cake.  I figure it’s probably the former.  As ever, I vaguely modified the recipe as I went along, but you can find his original here.

Banana choc nut cake

175g/6oz unsalted butter, softened in the microwave as it’s so cold in the kitchen.  In fact it was softened so much that some of it was melted, and I had to beat it back together again

175g/6oz sugar (half golden caster, half light soft brown muscovado type sugar)

75g/2 ½ oz mixed nuts (Nigel wanted hazelnuts but I had mixed in the cupboard so that’s what I used)

2 free range eggs

175g/6oz SR flour

2 very ripe bananas (Nigel asks for about 250g/9oz in weight, but all I know is I used two ENORMOUS bananas)

About ½ tsp vanilla essence (Nigel only wanted a single drop)

175g/6oz good quality dark chocolate chopped into rough chunks

A little Demerara sugar

Preheat oven to 170C/325F/GM3

Line the base and sides of a 20cm x 12cm / 8in x 5in loaf tin.  I used a 1lb loaf tin – cake is still in the oven so I’ll find out soon if it was big enough (it was!)

  1. Toast the nuts.  Rub them in a tea towel to remove their skins if you can be bothered (I didn’t) and then grind them in a food processor, or with a zizzer or whatever implement you have to grind nuts. You’re looking for a pretty fine consistency – a bit like sand. I used a hand held zizzer, you know the kind of thing you’d usually use to blend soups.
  2. Beat the butter with the sugar till light and fluffy
  3. Add the eggs one by one and beat into the butter and sugar mixture.
  4. Mix in the nuts and SR flour.
  5. Peel the bananas and chop them into small pieces into the bowl with the sugar/butter/egg mixture.
  6. Gently fold in the vanilla, bananas and chocolate nuggets into the cake mixture. Don’t overmix.
  7. Shlop into the prepared loaf tin. Dust with a little Demerara sugar (I forgot to do this, and doubt it will matter too much).
  8. Bake for 1hr – 1hr 10 mins, covering the top with foil if the top looks like it’s about to burn.

Oh my world, it’s amazing!  Lovely light texture, strong zing of chocolate when you get a nugget of it.  And gentle banana flavour running through it all.  Scrum.  Eat with a cup of Earl Grey tea, in a china teacup of course.

Banana choc nut cake anyone?

Bacon maple brownies

11 Dec

Thank you Nigella.  They’re in the oven, so I don’t know yet if they are to die for, or a waste of some perfectly good ingredients.  The constituent parts were scrummy (well, I had to lick the spoon after scraping the brownie batter into the tin, and the baconny-syrupy scraps on the plate were just asking to be licked up).

But really?  Bacon in chocolate brownies?  I totally see where you came from with this – bacon and maple syrup pancakes are divine.  And as a child I remember the treat that was bacon with fried bread and honey. Now, whatever happened to fried bread?  Did the health Nazis get rid of it for good? Possibly not the worst decision ever made, but still divine in my childhood memory.

Anyway, Nigella sent me a recipe for Bacon Brownies.  Well, she didn’t just send it to me, it was sent out to anyone who subscribed to whatever style thingy she’s guest editing this week.  And now I’m wondering if it was all just a big hoax, to see what muppets would actually make it.  Well, here I am, prize muppet! I give you Bacon Maple Brownies, inspired by Nigella, but not exactly the same.

Bacon maple brownies

Preheat oven to 190C / 375F / GM5

(OK, now I see why my finished brownies seem even gooier than they should be, I had the oven not quite hot enough).

Grease and line a 25cm square brownie tin.  Or Nigella does it in a throw away tin, of course she does.  Her hands aren’t made for washing up.  And it’s so much easier to take a gift of brownies when you pop in to your neighbours if they are in a throw away dish!

100g thin rashers of streaky bacon, snipped or chopped into teeny weeny pieces

2tsp maple syrup (or golden syrup)

150g unsalted butter

250g soft light brown sugar

75g cocoa powder

150g plain flour

1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

4 large eggs, beaten

150g chopped chocolate (dark, or milk)

  1. Heat a heavy frying pan and then add the bacon bits, and fry till they are just going crispy
  2. Add the syrup, and mix quickly, then pour the whole bacony syrupy mixture onto a plate to cool
  3. In a large heavy pan melt the butter over a low heat.  This is the pan the whole batter will be made, so make it big enough
  4. Once the butter is melted, remove from the heat and stir in the sugar with a wooden spoon.  Bash out the sugary lumps (unless you anticipated this and sifted it in advance).
  5. While the butter was melting you should have put the flour, cocoa and bicarb into a bowl and mixed it.  And cracked the eggs into a bowl and beaten them.
  6. Once the sugar and butter are mixed, add the flour mixture and stir it in
  7. Add the beaten eggs, and stir all together
  8. Throw in the chopped chocolate, and then use your finger to nudge all the bacon off the plate into the chocolate batter. Lick your fingers.  And wonder if this was all a hoax and you should have just made ordinary brownies, and had maple syrupy bacon bits as a separate snack.
  9. Mix all together
  10. Pour the batter into the prepared tin and bake for 25 mins or so.  It will still be slightly wobbly, so you have ultimate gooeyness in your brownies.  But if you cook it at the right temperature it shouldn’t be too gooey.
  11. Leave to cool in the tin, then remove and cut into pieces.  Not too small, but not too big pieces.  You know, a couple of decent mouthfuls.

Don’t tell anyone what is in them

Mine are out of the oven now and I’ve decided it’s not a hoax – they are divine.  That sweet yet salty hit of a wee nubbin of bacon is just perfect in the rich gooeyness of the brownie.  They may not be glamorous, but oh my god they are tasty.

Light Christmas cake

19 Nov

I don’t like Christmas cake.  I don’t like mince pies either.  Or any of those heavy dried fruit baked goods.  Well, I’ve not tried them all, so there might be some exceptions, but as a rule I’m not fond of a heavy fruit cake, or any of its close relations.

But a couple of years ago I discovered a distant cousin and fell in love.  It’s more like a stollen, but without the marzipan.  Or the yeast.  Anyway, it’s a light fruit cake, made with apricots, cherries, figs and lots of nuts.  And it keeps for long enough that you can make it in advance of Christmas and it’s still tasty at Hogmanay.

I’d be making it today, but my man has decided to do a deep clean in the kitchen.  And really, I don’t think it’s worth putting our relationship through the strain there would be if I attempted to make Christmas cake while he deep cleaned around me.  It’s going to be tricky enough tonight, to cook supper like a wee secret mouse, except not leaving a trail of pee and poo behind me like a mouse would.  You did know that mice are incontinent didn’t you?  They just pee wherever they go.  But I digress.

I expect you’re wanting to know the recipe for the cake I will be making some day soon in the super clean kitchen?  Here you go.

Originally published in BBC Good Food Magazine December 2008, an Angela Nilsen recipe.

Lovely Christmas Cake

  • 140g / 5oz soft dried apricots, roughly chopped
  • 100ml / 3 1/2 fl oz apricot or regular brandy
  • 140g / 5oz soft dried figs, roughly chopped
  • 250g / 9oz raisins (I’ll use sultanas)
  • 85g / 3oz glace cherries, quartered
  • 50g / 2oz each of almonds, cashews and brazil nuts – roughly chopped
  • finely grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 200g / 8oz plain flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp mixed spice
  • 50g / 2oz ground almonds
  • 200g / 8oz butter, softened
  • 200g /8oz light muscovado sugar
  • 4 eggs

Pre-heat oven to 160C / 140F / GM3

  1. Soak the apricots in the brandy, while you prepare other bits and pieces
  2. Butter and line a deep 20cm round cake tin
  3. Mix together the figs, raisins, cherries, nuts and lemon zest
  4. Combine the flour, baking powder, mixed spice and ground almonds in another bowl
  5. Beat the butter and sugar until creamy in a large bowl (everything else will be added to this one) – prob about 2 mins or so with electric beaters
  6. Add the eggs to the butter-sugar mixture one at a time and beat well after each addition
  7. Gently fold half the flour mixture into the butter mixture.  Then fold the other half, followed by the fruits and nuts, followed by the apricots and brandy.
  8. Spoon the mixture into the tin, smooth the top and make a small dip in the centre.
  9. Bake for 30 mins, then lower the temperature to 150C / GM2 and bake for another 1hour 45 mins.  If it starts to brown too quickly, lay a piece of foil over the top for the last 30 mins – you don’t want it to burn on top.
  10. The cake is done when a skewer stuck all the way in, in the middle of the cake, comes out clean.
  11. Leave the cake in the tin to cool then remove the lining paper and rap well in cling film and foil till ready to decorate.  You could probably skewer it and add more brandy, but I’m not sure it’s entirely necessary and just means that some parents won’t let their kids eat it.

apricots soaking up the brandy goodness

dried fruit and nuts for light Christmas cake

Stir the brandied apricots into the cake mixture

Light Christmas cake cooling on a wire rack

There you have it.  Christmas cake.  All ready for decorating. Or not if you’re my Dad, which I very much suspect you are not.

If you want to see other recipes you’ll find them all listed here.

Lemony almondy cake

17 Jul

Saffron spiced lemony almondy cake

As I write this, the cake is just out of the oven.  It smells delicious.  I lie.  They smell delicious, for I made a loaf cake and a round sponge.  If only because I didn’t have the perfect baking tin.

I’d been looking for a recipe for a flourless lemony cake for a week or so, and had found various versions of a cake made with eggs, ground almonds, sugar and lemon zest.  In the end I settled on a recipe in one of my absolute favourite magazines and set to adaptation (if only because I had slightly different ingredients in the kitchen).

The original recipe is http://www.deliciousmagazine.co.uk/recipes/almond-cake-in-spiced-citrus-syrup

Lemony almondy cake

Lemony almondy cake waiting for the saffron syrup

Grease and line a deep round 23cm springform tin.  Or a shallower one and a 1lb loaf tin.

Oven Gas Mark 4.  I had it on 5 by mistake to start with, and the top of the cake on the top shelf is slightly darker brown than I would have liked.

6 eggs, separated

200g caster sugar plus 1 TBsp

200g ground almonds

2 lemons

  1. Add the TBsp of sugar to the bowl with the egg whites and whisk till it forms stiff peaks
  2. In another bowl, whisk the yolks and the remaining sugar together till it is pale pale creamy and quite thick in texture
  3. Stir the lemon zest and ground almonds into the yolky mixture
  4. Add about 1/4 of the egg white to the almondy mixture to loosen it slightly. Mix it in.
  5. Now fold the almondy mixture and the rest of whisked egg whites together.
  6. Pour into the baking tins and bake for about 40mins, or till a skewer comes out clean.
  7. Cool on a wire rack.
When cool, you can poke holes in it and drizzle with lemony sugar syrup, or with this spiced sugar syrup.
Spiced lemon syrup
Juice of 2 lemons
2 heaped TBsps caster sugar
half a cinnamon stick
some saffron threads
the black sticky seeds from 3-4 cardamom pods
  1. Heat all the ingredients in a small pan
  2. Stir until the sugar dissolves
  3. Boil for around 5-10 minutes, or until good and syrupy

Saffron scented lemony almondy cake

So, there you have it.  A VERY easy, and very moistly delicious lemony almondy cake.  Gluten free.  Not exactly suitable for those on a low carb diet, as it is full of sugar, even before you drizzle it with the syrup.  Ah well, I know someone who will love to eat it at tea-time.
Edited to say this is a fabulous cake – light and delicate.  The syrup definitely enhances it, so don’t skimp on that stage.

Daring kitchen challenge

29 Mar

Do you know the Daring Kitchen website?  If you like a challenge, and you love cooking, then this is the site for you.  Go google it. (i’d put in a linky thing, but I seem to have lost the ability to do that).

Anyway, the March 2011 Daring Baker’s Challenge was hosted by Ria of Ria’s Collection and Jamie of Life’s a Feast. Ria and Jamie challenged The Daring Bakers to bake a yeasted Meringue Coffee Cake.

It was awesome.  It was something I would NEVER have attempted, but in reality it was actually pretty straightforward to make. So, thank you Daring Kitchen for encouraging me to make this scrumptious cakey thing.

My instruction was to make two cakes, but I just made the one.  This is the recipe for making the one cake, approx 10” in diameter.   I have included the alternative filling ingredients at the end… and I think I might try this alternative version in the next couple of weeks.  After I’ve moved flat.

 

The Daring Baker's finished product

 

FILLED MERINGUE COFFEE CAKE

Not sure why it’s called a coffee cake, there is no coffee in it. Perhaps it’s a technical term for a cake made with yeast?  Any thoughts anyone?

Ingredients

For the yeast cake dough:

2 cups (300 g / 12oz) flour
1/8 cup (25 g / 1 oz.) sugar
½ teaspoon salt
½  sachet (1 tsp) active dried yeast
3/8 cup (90 ml / 3 fl. oz.) whole milk
1/8 cup (30 ml / 1 fl. oz. water (doesn’t matter what temperature)
¼ cup (65 g / 2.5oz.) unsalted butter at room temperature
1 large egg at room temperature

For the meringue:

2 egg whites at room temperature
pinch of salt
½ teaspoon vanilla
¼ cup (55 g / 2 oz.) sugar

For the filling:

½ cup (55 g / 2 oz.) chopped pecans or walnuts
1 Tbsp (15 g / ½ oz.) granulated sugar
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ cup (85 g / 3 oz.) dark chocolate, chopped roughly

Egg wash: 1 beaten egg
Cocoa powder (optional) and confectioner’s sugar (powdered/icing sugar) for dusting cakes

Directions:

Prepare the dough:

  • In a large mixing bowl, combine 1 1/3 cups of the flour with the sugar, salt and yeast.
  • In a saucepan, combine the milk, water and butter and heat over medium heat until warm and the butter is just melted. Ria’s version: add the 10 saffron threads to the warmed liquid and allow to steep off of the heat for 10 minutes. This will give the mixture a distinct aroma and flavor and a yellowish-orange hue.
  • With an electric mixer on low speed, gradually add the warm liquid to the flour/yeast mixture, beating until well blended. Increase mixer speed to medium and beat 2 minutes. Add the eggs and ½ cup flour and beat for 2 more minutes.
  • Using a wooden spoon, stir in enough of the remaining flour to make a dough that holds together. Turn out onto a floured surface (use any of the remaining flour) and knead the dough for 8 to 10 minutes until the dough is soft, smooth, sexy and elastic, keeping the work surface floured, adding extra flour as needed.
  • Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and a kitchen towel and let rise in a warm place until double in bulk (probably about 45 – 60 minutes). The rising time will depend on the type of yeast used and the temperature of the room

 

Beating the dough

The lovely smooth, silky dough, before it's started rising

Prepare your filling:

  • In a small bowl, combine the cinnamon and sugar for the filling. Chop your chocolate and nuts, and keep them in separate bowls.

Once the dough has doubled, make the meringue:

  • Beat the egg whites with the salt, first on low speed for 30 seconds, then increase to high and continue beating until foamy and opaque.
  • Add the vanilla then start adding the sugar, a tablespoon at a time as you beat, until very stiff, glossy peaks form.

Assemble the Coffee Cakes:

  • Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • Punch down the dough and divide in half. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough into a 20 x 10-inch (about 51 x 25 ½ cm) rectangle.
  • Spread the meringue evenly over the rectangle up to about 1/2-inch (3/4 cm) from the edges.
  • Sprinkle the filling evenly over the meringue.
  • Now, roll up the dough jellyroll style, from the long side. Pinch the seam closed to seal.
  • Very carefully transfer the filled log to one of the lined cookie sheets, seam side down. Bring the ends of the log around and seal the ends together, forming a ring, tucking one end into the other and pinching to seal.
  • Using kitchen scissors or a sharp knife (although scissors are easier), make cuts along the outside edge at 1-inch (2 ½ cm) intervals. Make them as shallow or as deep as desired but don’t be afraid to cut deep into the ring.
  • Cover the cakes with plastic wrap and allow them to rise again for 45 to 60 minutes.
  • Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C).
  • Brush the top of the cake with the egg wash.
  • Bake in the preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes until risen and golden brown. The dough should sound hollow when tapped.
  • Remove from the oven and slide the parchment paper off the baking sheet onto the table. Very gently loosen the cake from the paper with a large spatula and carefully slide the cake onto a cooling rack.
  • Allow to cool.
  • Just before serving, dust the top of the cake with icing sugar and cocoa powder if using chocolate in the filling. I forgot to do this and it didn’t seem to mar the enjoyment of the cake.

These cakes are best eaten fresh, the same day or the next day, although I quite liked it as it got slightly chewier after a day or two.  But ok, best on the day it’s made.  Warm with ice cream.  Oh yes!

For the other version you will need 10 strands saffron for the dough.  (Saffron might be hard to find and it’s expensive, so you can substitute with ½ – 1 teaspoon of ground cardamom or ground nutmeg.)

Ria’s version filling:
1 cup (130 g / 5 oz.) chopped cashew nuts
2 Tablespoons (30 g / 1 oz.) granulated sugar
½ teaspoon garam masala (You can make it at home – recipe below – or buy from any Asian/Indian grocery store)
1 cup (170g / 6 oz.) semisweet chocolate chips ( I used Ghirardelli)

 

**Garam (means “hot”) masala (means “mixture”) is a blend of ground spices and is used in most Indian savory dishes. It is used in limited quantities while cooking vegetables, meats & eggs. There is no “one” recipe for it as every household has a recipe of their own. Below, I am going to share the recipe which I follow.

4 or 5 sticks (25 g) Cinnamon Sticks (break a stick and open the scroll)
3 ½ tablespoons (25 g / less than an ounce) Cloves, whole
100 g. (3.5 oz.) Fennel seeds
4 tablespoons (25 g / less than an ounce) Cumin seeds
1 ½ tablespoons (10 g / less than half an ounce) Peppercorns
25 g (less than half an ounce) Green Cardamom pods

In a small pan on medium heat, roast each spice individually (it hardly takes a minute) until you get a nice aroma. Make sure you stir it throughout so that it doesn’t burn. As soon as each spice is roasted, transfer it to a bowl to cool slightly. Once they are all roasted, grind into a fine powder by using a coffee grinder, or pestle & mortar. Store in an airtight container and use as needed.

 

%d bloggers like this: