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.

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

'Purple Pansies' at The Peggy Porschen Academy


Not unlike a small child seeking your approval and praise after learning a brand new skill for the first time, I'd like to present these Mini Violet Chocolate Pansy Cakes.


To utterly misquote Thomas Edison, these beautifully elegant little chocolate cakes were 15% perspiration and 85% terrific tuition from Penelope, Masterclass Tutor at the Peggy Porschen Academy. I was invited to join one of the new floral classes, 'Purple Pansies' hosted by the Academy in celebration of the Peggy's new book 'Cakes in Bloom'.

Monday, 11 August 2014

Peaches, Cream, Almond, Honey and Crumble




It's been a great week for my sweet tooth. 

A large supermarket chain had my favourite Green and Blacks chocolate half price (cue unashamed whooping and greedy purchasing). The Great British Bake Off is back and, with it, a new spin off show and the inevitable rise in sales of featured baking gizmos and gadgets. That'll be the non-stick rounded fluted tin used in the Mary Berry's Cherry Cake Technical Challenge rather than Stormin' Norman's Swiss Roll skateboard presentation platter.

Monday, 4 August 2014

Great British Bake Off 2014

 Image courtesy of BBC/Love Productions

Cancel all plans, clear your diaries, turn off your phones, in just over 72 hours The Great British Bake Off is back!

The BBC has been teasing us with trailers over recent weeks, including, my favourite, The One Where Mary Berry Cartwheels Across The Lawn. Forget cooking; hand that woman a Commonwealth Gymnastics Gold Medal.

But what to expect from Series Five?



Well, #GBBO has a brand sparkling new home on BBC1. And a brand new spin-off show, An Extra Slice, hosted by the brilliant Jo Brand, who, in one of my favourite ever Bake Off moments, elected to perch her derriere on several packs of butter to bring them to room temperature.

The contestants range from the oldest ever to the youngest ever with a speech therapist, business consultant, fashion designer and construction engineer in the middle. Then there's the contestant who became a WI judge at the tender age of twenty, the contestant who invented a croissant-pretzel mash up (the cross-zel?) and the contestant who doesn't bother weighing her ingredients. We haven't got long to imagine the look of probable horror on Mary Berry's face when she discovered that little nugget.


 Image courtesy of BBC/Love Productions

After last year's 'bitterness and bile', the Raymond rows and social media storm over Ruby's tears, this series promises to be cuddlier, softer and less competitive. Does that mean no more Squirrel Nuts or custard-gate? Thank goodness Mel and Sue are still bouncing around the great white tent providing their constant cheeky flow of baking puns. Here's a sneaky peak as they fight over a gigantic bowl of chocolate mousse from the very first episode.