Friday, 24 October 2014

Ginger and Lemon Witches Hat Halloween Cake

This recipe may be a tad early but I'm not the only one getting enthused for Halloween already. Supermarket shelves are groaning under the weight of absurdly large pumpkins (no wonder there's a Pumpkin crisis), Disney are cashing in and adverts on bus stops are promoting the latest horror films such as 'Ouija' and 'Wrong Turn 6: The Last Resort'.*

I normally wait out Halloween happily watching the Strictly Come Dancing special, 'treating' myself to a gigantic bar of chocolate while avoiding Buffy-True-Blood-Addams Family mega-marathons on obscure digital channels. But invited to participate in the Unilever Kitchen Halloween Challenge (#UnileverHalloween), it was time for some spookalicious baking. And ta-dah! Here's my effort, a Ginger and Lemon Witches Hat Halloween Cake (try saying that while bobbing an apple or two).

*Genuinely a film released this year. You'd have thought by now, with a title such as that, the main characters might have learnt something from the last five versions? Like, always bring a Sat Nav on long journeys?

Photography 'special effects' for Halloween; normal service to resume for Bonfire Night

Ginger and Lemon Witches Hat Halloween Cake

For the cake:
125g Flora Buttery
200g treacle
150ml milk
125g soft brown sugar
225g plain flour
2 tsps ground ginger
0.5 tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 large eggs, beaten

For the decoration:
Zest of 1 lemon
100g icing sugar
100g black fondant
Hundreds and thousands

1. Preheat the oven to 180C/160C fan/Gas Mark 4. Butter a 8 inch square tin and line with baking parchment
2. Place the Flora, treacle, milk and sugar into a pan and very gently melt together. stirring occasionally. As soon as it has melted, remove from the heat and allow to begin to cool.
3. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, spice and bicarbonate of soda. Add in the treacle-butter mixture and fold together. Fold in the eggs and pour into the prepared tin. Bake for 40-45 minutes until firm to touch and a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean
4. Cool in the tin for 20 minutes then turn out to a cooling rack to cool completely
5. To make the icing: sift the icing sugar into a large bowl, add the lemon juice and zest and a little water to make a runny 'water' icing. Spread over the cooled cake. Slice the cake into a witches hat shape. Decorate the bat shapes made from the black fondant and a bat cookie cutter. Use any leftover fondant to create a border around your cake. Finally, decorate with the hundreds and thousands.

Baker's notes...

  • Prefer a sticky ginger cake? Wrap the cooled cake in parchment paper and a layer of foil for a couple of days, then decorate
  • The cake can easily be frozen prior to decorating and kept in the freezer for up to three months
  • Last year I made these Spooky Skeleton Biscuits, the previous year these Spider Cakes and before that these Creepy Crawly Cupcakes
  • Cheers to Unilever for sending over a hamper of ingredients to inspire Halloween baking
  • How are you celebrating Halloween?

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Honey, Ginger and Beer Cake

We've just returned from a glorious weeks holiday in Greece. 

I write that with such longing for the warmth tickling our skin, the azure-blue skies, the hot sun and the swimming in the clearest of seas. As we swam, bathed in the sun or drank very quaffable local wine into the late, balmy evenings we (yes, rather nauseatingly) kept reminding ourselves 'This is October!...Can you believe we're in October?'.

Sunday, 5 October 2014

Bloomin' Brilliant Brownie Cake

I'm going out on a bit of a limb here by saying this is the most decadent, chocolately cake you're likely to taste this year. It is one hundred percent gooey, fudgy, brownie brilliance. The far more civilised equivalent of dunking your entire head, mouth wide open into one of those chocolate fountains you find at fancy functions. A forkful is on par with a supermarket sweep of the finest artisan Parisian chocolaterie. It would score 'brownie' points when served at the end of any dinner party and, forget a shot of espresso, this cake is the best mid-afternoon pick-me-up in town.

Have I sufficiently sold it to you yet?

Sunday, 28 September 2014

Nutty Blackberry and Apple Cake

Last weekend I partook in my biannual Spring/Autumn clean. This usually involves playing loud, cheery music to housework dance around to, a large bottle of bleach wine, attempting to file bin six months of paperwork and carting several bags of clothes to the local charity shops. Although the clear out of my summer wardrobe was rather premature this year; as I write this it's a balmy 23C and the summer is stubbornly refusing to fade into autumn. 

Buoyed up with a very rarely seen enthusiasm for a big clear out I turned my attention to our kitchen store cupboards and my various boxes and tins of baking paraphernalia. In long forgotten boxes I found dusty equipment from when I went through a bit of cake pop phase, enough cupcake cases to open an online emporium and more decorative sprinkles and sparkles than an extra celebratory episode of Strictly Come Dancing. If randomly and excessively decorated cakes and bakes start appearing on What Kate Baked in the near future you know for why. 

As a reward, a bit of a treat and to encourage Autumn along** I baked this very seasonal cake. Albeit, in my flip flops. A fluffy, light sponge is dotted with juicy blackberries and sweet British apples with a crunchy nutty topping. 

** I've a lot of lovely new recipes I'm keen to try out; fluorescent, floral sprinkles optional. 

Nutty Blackberry and Apple Cake

175g butter, softened
175g golden caster sugar
2 large eggs, beaten
125g Self raising flour
50g ground almonds
1 tsp cinnamon
2 eating apples
150g blackberries
20g soft brown sugar
50g toasted almond flakes
50g toasted chopped hazelnuts

1. Preheat the oven to 160C/140C Fan/Gas Mark 3. Grease and line an 8 inch loose bottomed round cake tin. Beat together the butter and sugar for several minutes until light and fluffy. 
2. Gradually add in the eggs, adding a spoonful of flour if the mixture is curdling
3. Fold in the flour and ground almonds. 
4. Stir through two thirds of the apples and all of the blackberries. Scrape into the prepared tin and dot the remainder of the apples on the top and sprinkle over the brown sugar
5. Bake for 50-55 min or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. Remove from the oven and scatter over the toasted nuts

Baker's notes...

  • I used hazelnuts and almonds as these were the half packs I unearthed during the Big Clean Out. Any combination of nuts would taste delicious 
  • I'd love to say these blackberries were foraged from a beautiful hedgerow but I'd be lying; they were foraged in Waitrose.

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Salted Caramel Pecan Kouign Amann with Stork

Kouign what ... I hear you say?

Unless of course you were glued to your telly screen last night with this week's episode of The Great British Bake Off, you would be forgiven for thinking the Kouign Amann was the name of a piece of flat pack furniture from IKEA. But no. As the Bake Off contestants discovered, a Kouign Amann is a delectably decadent buttery, pastry cake from the Breton region of France. Yes, there is a lot to like about this bake. 

Now normally each Wednesday night will find me, feet up, cuppa and cake to hand, captivated by Mel-n-Sue's innuendos, Paul's judgments and Mary's fashion choices. Oh, and the baking 'course. But this week I baked-along-a-bake-off with Stork as I tried to recreate the technical challenge, the Kouign Amann.

Monday, 8 September 2014

Sticky Plum and Ginger Upside Down Cake

For some people the end of the summer is marked with prepping the kids for a return to school, brand new squeaky, shiny shoes and the latest Disney lunch boxes in tow. For others, it's Saturday evenings on the sofa with Strictly and X-Factor as the nights draw in. And for me, it's delving into the deepest recesses of our cupboards for darker sugars and warming spices, ingredients that herald a return to Autumnal baking. The dregs of the summer fruits, the tart raspberries and tasteless strawberries, are finally put aside in favour of juicy plums, ripe blackberries, dusty blue sloes and crunchy British apples. Recipes for summery, frozen puds discarded for the next ten months as taste buds turn to wholesome, comforting cakes and bakes.  

Monday, 25 August 2014

Blueberry and Coconut Crunch Cake

I don't half love the August bank holiday. It's the grown-up equivalent of six glorious weeks of school holidays as a child. Except, obviously, far shorter, with fewer Screwball ice creams, Wagon Wheels and sandy tuna paste Mighty White sandwiches.

With the exception of my husband forgetting to switch off his usual Monday morning work alarm which merrily rang out at 6.20am this morning (we had to have very strong words), today has been a day of doing nothing. I've read the paper, flicked through a few recipe books, drank endless cups of tea. Oh, and baked this. Marvellous.