Saturday, 12 December 2015

Chocolate ginger fridge cake

A few months back I bought some crystallised stem ginger but still hadn't got around to using it yet. I saw it again in my baking drawer last week and noticed that it will soon go out of date. Ginger is a lovely warming spice this time of year so to use it in a bake in December is perfect. I came across this recipe from Good Food and I love fridge cake anyway, who doesn't?! But the addition of stem ginger plus the swap to ginger biscuits makes it totally different, but in a good way. A better way in my opinion.

Be warned though that if you don't like ginger biscuits or stem ginger then this definitely isn't for you. But as I love them both then this recipe is definitely in my top 10 favourite bakes. It may even be in my top 5!

Easy as pie to make, as are all fridge cakes, you can put this together quickly in the morning to serve up for tea time.

The ginger nut biscuits do take some effort to crush up, they're one of the hardest biscuits, so I recommend using a food processor and use the pulse button. You don't want fine crumbs, you definitely need some good chunky bits remaining.

300g ginger nut biscuits
300g dark chocolate
100g butter
100g golden syrup
140g crystallised stem ginger

Begin by lining an 8"x 8" baking tin with baking paper and get on with crushing the biscuits either by hand or in the food processor with the pulse button. Put into a large bowl. Chop up the stem ginger and add to the biscuits reserving some to put on the top of the finished fridge cake.

Put the chocolate, butter and golden syrup in a bowl set over a pan of gently simmering water and stir occasionally until the butter has melted and the mixture is smooth and glossy. Pour it over the biscuit and ginger pieces and mix together well with a wooden spoon.

Tip into the tin and flatten out the mixture to the edges. Top with the remaining stem ginger and pop into the fridge to set (at least 2 hours) then cut into pieces. How small or big they are depends on you!

Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Mincemeat & White Choc Traybake

This recipe is perfect if you like the flavours of mincemeat but can't quite eat a full mince pie. This is much more subtle in taste than a mince pie but is still very festively apt at this time of year.

The recipe is by this year's GBBO winner Nadiya and I was surprised to see it's made with plain flour and no rising agents. But I stuck with it. It does produce a slightly denser cake but with the mincemeat I think it worked well being a bit denser than I'm used to.

Give it a go and see what you think. I think this will feature next Christmas too for sure!

225g soft brown sugar
225g unsalted butter
4 eggs
200g mincemeat
Zest of one large orange
2 tsp cinnamon powder
2 tsp nutmeg powder
200g plain flour
100g white chocolate
100g double cream

Preheat the oven to 190/170c fan. Line and grease an 8" x 8" tin or a tin around this size you can find.

Cream the butter and sugar for 5 minutes until the mixture is light and fluffy. Add the eggs one by one until well incorporated. Add the mincemeat and orange zest and mix well.

Sift the flour, cinnamon and nutmeg and add to the wet mixture. Mix well with a wooden spoon until combined. Spoon into the tin and smooth out to level the top off.

Bake for 25 minutes or until the skewer comes out clean. While its cooling get on with the ganache.

Break the chocolate into a bowl. Boil the cream, add to the bowl of chocolate and stir until everything is well combined and the mixture is glossy. It will thicken on cooling then spread on top of the cooled cake.

Cut into slices and serve

Thursday, 3 December 2015

Christmas popcorn

Time to bake for my son's school Christmas fair and I've mulled over so many different ideas but while wrapping Christmas presents yesterday, I was watching Jamie Oliver and he was making Christmas popcorn. What a fab idea I decided.
I've not used anything like Jamie's recipe, which I'm sure is amazing and I've pinned to do another day, but I thought I'd have a go at my own recipe combining all my favourite Christmas spices.

I decided to use golden caster sugar as its a bit more caramelly than caster and dark brown sugar would be too much here. I also decided it would be fun to mix the popcorn up with Christmas edible sprinkles. You could choose whatever you wanted. And you don't need to stop there! You could add anything else in. Maybe so chocolate chips, dried cranberries or even some salty pretzel bits. The possibilities are endless.
I decided that it would look nice for the fair if I wrapped them up in sweet cone bags. I unfortunately don't have any nice ribbon in, but you could get some lovely Christmas ribbon and tie them up to give away as presents. This is one present I'd very much like to receive!

I made enough for 12 bags, so just half or quarter this quantity if you want to make it as a Christmas snack to munch on while you watch your favourite Christmas film.

300g corn kernels
200g golden caster sugar
2 tsp mixed spice
1/2 tsp grated nutmeg
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground ginger
Edible sprinkles

First you need to prepare the sugar mix. Measure out the sugar and add the spices and mix together.

I make the popcorn in two batches: Get a large pan with a lid and add a tablespoon of oil. Put on a high heat and add 150g corn kernels. Shake in the oil then leave a few minutes until it starts to pop. Be patient, it will happen. Shake the pan every 20 seconds or so to ensure as many kernels pop as possible but don't leave on the heat too long or you'll burn the popped kernels. Just listen until the pops become less frequent. Be careful taking the lid off and then pour over half the sugar mix. Shake the pan, it's a great workout, so all the popcorn becomes coated then tip into a large bowl. The sugar will melt and caramelise around some of the popcorn.

Repeat the above step to cook the second batch of popcorn kernels.

Add the sprinkles or extras of your choice then either bag up or eat straight away. Some of the sugar and sprinkles will settle at the bottom of the bowl so share that out between the bags before you tie them up.

Christmas popcorn. I don't think it actually gets any better!

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Cherry Bakewell Cupcakes

A while back I bought some of those amazing looking cupcake wrappers like you get round the muffins in Costa. And when I saw these cupcakes, I just knew that I had to use my wrappers on them. After all my Macmillan Coffee morning is a special occasion so let's make things look a bit fancier hey?!

I absolutely love the flavours of Bakewell tart, and living in Sheffield, it's hard for me not to be lured by the Original Bakewell Pudding Shop in Bakewell to devour one of their many delicious tarts. The original tart varies quite substantially to the good old Mr Kipling we all know and love, but both have those almondy flavours with jam. Yum!

I was also lucky enough to be given a bag of different flavoured pastes by a friend, one of which was almond. I've never used these before but they were amazing and I highly recommend them.

So here's all the flavours of the original tart and shop bought tart but in cupcake form. What could be better? Not a lot actually.

Now, I could have made my own cherry jam and under other circumstances I would have done. However, when I had 11 other cakes to make that day, the thought of adding one more homemade ingredient to the list sent me into a spiral of doom. So shop bought it is. If you want to be fancy and make your own, please do go ahead! Next time I promise I will.

So in essence what we have here is almond flavoured sponge filled with cherry jam and topped with a white chocolate almond flavoured buttercream topped with a cherry. If you can get hold of these cupcake wrappers, they definitely add a bit of wow factor to the end result. If not then plain old muffin cases will do absolutely fine.

8oz stork
8oz caster sugar
8oz self raising flour
4 eggs
6-12 drops of almond extract/paste
Cherry jam
250g softened unsalted butter
400g icing sugar
6-12 drops of almond extract/paste
70g melted white chocolate
Glace cherries

Preheat the oven to 190/170c fan and pop your muffin cases into a 12 hole muffin tin. Cream together the butter and sugar, then add the eggs, flour and almond extract. Carefully spoon into the cases making sure you don't drip any down the sides and bake for 20 minutes until golden and risen and cake tester comes out clean.

Once cooled core out the middle of each cupcake and fill with a large teaspoon full of cherry jam.

Next make your buttercream by beating together the softened butter and icing sugar and beat for around 5 minutes until lighter in colour. Beat in the melted chocolate and almond extract to taste.

Take a piping bag and the nozzle of your choice and swirl the buttercream over the tops of the cupcakes. Top with a cherry

Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Mojito Cake

Second up in my Macmillan Coffee morning recipe posts is Mojito Cake

Yes there's rum
Yes there's mint
Yes there's sugar
Yes there's limes

It really is a Mojito Cake!

150g light muscovado sugar
2 limes zested and juiced
50ml white rum
medium bunch of mint, chopped
6 eggs
260g golden caster sugar
115g melted butter cooled to room temperature
260g plain flour
400g icing sugar
200g butter
2 limes zested and juiced
1 lime for decoration 

Make the syrup first so it has time to infuse all the lovely mint. Put the sugar, 40ml of water, lime juice and white rum into a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer so the sugar dissolves then boil for 1 minute. Take off the heat and add the lime zest and mint leaves. Allow the syrup to cool and leave on the side until you need it.

Preheat the oven to 200/180c fan and grease 2 x 20cm sandwich tins. Line the bases with baking paper. In a large bowl over a pan of simmering water, beat the eggs with the sugar with an electric hand whisk. Make sure the bottom of the bowl isn't touching the water. Beat for 10 minutes or until the mixture is thick and has tripled in volume.

Add the melted butter down the side of the bowl and fold in with a spatula taking care not to knock the air out of the eggs and sugar you have just whisked together. Add the flour in three goes, sifting in after each addition and fold in gently. Pour into your greased sandwich tins and bake for 15 minutes until browning on top and a cake tester comes out clean. Leave to cool in the tins.

Next make the frosting by mixing together the icing sugar and butter for a good 5 minutes until the mixture lightens in colour. Add in the lime juice and zest.

Now strain your sugar syrup to remove the mint leaves.

Take a pastry brush and brush the sugar syrup over the tops of the cooled sponges and repeat every few minutes as the sponges soak up the syrup. Continue until you have about a tablespoon of syrup left.

Then assemble your cake. Place one sponge on your serving platter/plate/cakeboard and cover with about 1/4 to a 1/3rd of the frosting. Place the second sponge on top then cover with the rest of the frosting smoothing it down the sides as well. Slice the remaining lime into rounds and decorate the top of the cake with them finishing with the final tablespoon of syrup.

As you can see I omitted the lime on the top of my cake but it makes no difference if you add it or not, it just looks nicer with. 

Monday, 28 September 2015

Jaffa cakes

Is it a cake?

Is it a biscuit?

It's a biscuit! End of. Surely if it was a cake then supermarkets would sell them with the cakes and not the biscuits? See, I told you.

But I've also discovered that Jaffa Cakes are like marmite; you either love them or hate them.

I'm in the love category. I could eat a whole box. So when I came across Simon Rimmer's recipe for them I just had to have a go. And boy am I impressed. These are so much fun to make, I will absolutely be making these again for sure and I'd say they're not actually too difficult to make. 

The "biscuit" base is essentially cake (I maintain they're still a biscuit) topped with jelly topped with chocolate. Easy!

And very very delicious. I'm only sad that I only got to eat one. This recipe makes 12 but I had lots of jelly left as I didn't pour into a small enough dish so I could probably have made double if I'd made double the cake batter. Oh well

2 eggs
50g caster sugar 
50g plain flour
135g pack orange jelly (cubes)
1 tbsp marmalade 
125ml boiling water 
175g dark chocolate 

Start by making the jelly to give it time to set. In a jug, melt down the jelly cubes with the hot water and marmalade. Pour into a large dish and leave to set for a few hours or overnight. Choose a dish so the jelly is about 1cm thick.

When the jelly is set, preheat the oven to 180/160c fan and grease a 12 hole muffin tin. 

Bring a little water to the boil in a pan and let it simmer slowly while you add the eggs and sugar to a bowl suspended over the water. Don't let the bowl touch the water. Whisk the eggs with an electric whisk for a few minutes until pale in colour and very airy. Add the flour until combined and a batter is formed. Pour into the muffin tin and bake for 8-10 minutes until pale golden brown and cooked through. Leave to cool then remove from the tin gently with a knife. 

Using a round cutter smaller than the sponges, cut out pieces of jelly and sit on top.

Melt the chocolate and pour on top carefully spreading it over the jelly onto the sponge but not too much so that it drops off. It's easier than it sounds. 

Leave to set then eat!

Thursday, 27 August 2015

Chocolate Triumph Cake

I call it Triumph because it's a glorious incarnation of all that is chocolate. Chocolate sponge and chocolate frosting all surrounded with chocolate biscuits and sweets.

I did a similar cake a couple of years ago for my Mum's birthday. That was just chocolate fingers and smarties. And I love decorating cakes with kitkats round the edges. I've seen this super chocolate version a few times and just had to have a go. It's super easy and I think it looks great!

I'm not writing a recipe, so just take your favourite 8" chocolate sponge recipe and add the following:
1 tub of chocolate frosting
3 packets of chocolate fingers
1 chocolate bar (that you can snap pieces off)*
6 packets of chocolates of your choice

See, I didn't even make the frosting. Shhhhh it's a secret but I'm a big fan of this icing. Tell anyone I cheat from time to time and I'll hunt you down!

So take your cooled cakes and fill and cover with icing. Then pop the chocolate fingers all around the cake so they stick to the frosting. 

You'll need 6 chocolate fingers for the top of the cake so don't eat what's left just yet! Put these on top at 12pm, 2, 4, 6, 8 and 10.

You'll have a gap in the middle which you need to fill with some larger chocolates. *You can use a bar (like Dairy Milk) which you can snap pieces from but I used two mini Cadbury caramels. You could use ferrero rocher, mini Cadbury creme eggs, chocolate orange pieces......

Then fill in each sixth with your chosen chocolates. I used giant buttons, maltesers, peanut M&Ms, minstrels, white buttons and smarties. I lined mine in a symmetrical pattern but you don't need to, I just thought it looked nicer.

If you have some ribbon, secure this around the chocolate fingers for extra support to keep them attached to the cake.

Savour the heady smell of all that lush chocolate 

Sunday, 5 July 2015

Ice cream cupcakes

These are just too cute. They look like real ice cream cones but in my opinion these are much better. I do like ice cream though I don't eat it often. I much prefer cupcakes!

You need to buy the ice cream cups rather than cones so be careful which pack you pick up in the supermarket! You could make any flavour cake recipe and I put a twist in mine by scooping out some of the centre and filling with raspberry jam. And don't forget the flakes!

125g caster sugar
125g butter/margarine 
125g self raising flour
2 eggs
3 tbsp jam
6 flakes cut in half (from the packs you get for ice cream if not then 3 normal flakes 

Preheat the oven to 190/170 fan and fill a muffin tin with ice cream cups so they stand up. Cream the butter and sugar together. Mix in the eggs and flour and fill each of the cones about 2/3rds full.

Bake for 20-25 minutes until a cake tester comes out clean. Prick the bottoms with a skewer a few times to let some of the steam out to avoid the cup going soggy inside and leave to cool on a wire rack. 

Remove some of the centre of each cup and fill with raspberry jam. 

had some buttercream left over already but a quantity of 250g butter and 500g icing sugar will be more than enough. Pipe with a star nozzle in swirls onto each cone and top with a flake and sprinkles 

Thursday, 2 July 2015

Sweetie traybake

It's my son's school BBQ tomorrow and they need cake! I've seen a few of these around and have loads of spare sweets (yeah I know!) so decided to kill two birds with one stone.

This is an orange coloured and flavoured sponge slathered in white chocolate and topped with sweets. You can use any sweets you like of course. Super simple, super quick and what child is going to say no to a slice?!

8oz caster sugar 
8oz butter/margarine 
8oz self raising flour
4 eggs
Orange food colouring
Orange flavouring
200g white chocolate 
Lots of sweets

Preheat the oven to 190/170 fan and line a 9x9 baking tin with grease proof paper.

Beat together the sugar and butter until light and fluffy then add half the flour and two eggs. Beat in then add the rest of the flour and the remaining two eggs along with the food colouring and flavouring (I added 1tbsp as mine is quite weak).

Pour into the tin and bake for 25 minutes or until an inserted skewer comes out clean. 

Leave to cool then melt the chocolate. I melt mine in the microwave on half power and check every 30 seconds (this only took 60 to melt as it's very hot today). Pour over the cooled cake, leave a couple of minutes then adorn with the sweetie selection of your choice.

This cake has to put a smile on your face!

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Violet Cream Cupcakes

Both my mum and I are huge fans of Rose and Violet creams. We usually buy each other a box for birthday and Christmas presents. Dark chocolate covering rose and violet flavoured centres. Yummy!

The supermarket we visit on holiday in Spain sells rose jam and violet jam (made in France). Two years ago I used the rose jam to make Turkish delight cupcakes. In May I bought a jar of violet jam this time with a view to using it to make a cake for my mum's birthday. I decided not to make a cake though as violet is a unique taste and not one everyone likes, so I decided to make cupcakes instead and I only made 6. I baked chocolate cupcakes using my devil's food recipe but flavoured it with violet flavouring (I bought it in Lakeland).

I filled the centres of the cupcakes with the violet jam then topped with plain buttercream coloured purple. I decided not to add any flavouring to the buttercream as there was enough violet flavour in the cupcake batter and jam. 

If you really can't stand violets or can't get your hands on the jam, this recipe works perfectly for any jam you'd like in the centre of your cupcakes. You could even use marmalade and flavour your cake batter with orange essence. Lakeland sells loads of different flavourings you could use.

The recipe here makes 12 cupcakes 

  • 50g cocoa powder
  • 100g dark brown muscovado sugar
  • 250 ml boiling water
  • 125g soft unsalted butter
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 225g plain flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • 2 large eggs
  • 15-20 drops of violet flavouring 
  • --------
  • 250g very soft butter
  • 500g icing sugar

  • Preheat the oven to 170c fan.

    Put the cocoa and dark muscovado sugar into a bowl and pour in the boiling water. Whisk to mix, then set aside. 
    Cream the butter and caster sugar together, beating well until pale and fluffy then add the violet flavouring.

    Measure the flour, baking powder and bicarb together in another bowl, and set aside for a moment. Add 1 egg to the creamed butter and sugar, followed by a scoopful of flour mixture, then the second egg. Keep mixing and incorporate the rest of the dried ingredients for the cupcakes, then finally mix and fold in the cocoa mixture, scraping the bowl well with a spatula.

    It's a runny batter so I used a spoon to fill the muffin cases until 3/4 full. Bake for 20 minutes until a cake tester comes out clean then leave to cool reading for filling and frosting.

    You can now make the buttercream. Beat together butter and icing sugar until combined then beat for a good 5 minutes until it lightens in colour. If it's too stiff add a splash of milk. Then mix in some purple colouring (I use gel colours)

    I have a cupcake corer (check me out!) so I used that to take the middles out of the cupcakes. If you don't have one just use a knife to cut the centres out. Fill each cupcake centre with the jam then pipe each one with buttercream.

    Happy birthday Mum!!xx