Saturday, 19 April 2014

White Chocolate and Lemon Curd Cake



Have you heard? The ghastly, horrifying news that there is a national shortage of Easter Eggs? I'm not joking; we need to start a petition to ensure the Chief Logistics Officer of Britain's major supermarkets receives a formal written warning for gross misconduct. The minute I heard this, I sped in my slippers to perform what can only be described as a 'supermarket sweep' of the aisles at my local store of all remaining Easter Eggs. Yes, the national shortage has been made considerably worse by my greed.

Sorry.

Anyway, to the cake. This cake should have had roughly double the number of chocolate eggs that have been artistically (ahem) placed as decoration. But there was absolutely no way a pack of chocolate eggs could lay, untouched and undisturbed, at our place for more than about seven and a half minutes.

This is a rather decadent centrepiece for the Easter table: a light, fluffy sponge sandwiched together with a zesty lemon curd and smothered in a sweet white chocolate icing.


White Chocolate and Lemon Easter Cake

For the cake:
200g softened butter
200g caster sugar
4 eggs, beaten
200g self-raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
Zest of 1 lemon

For the filling and icing:
3 tbsps lemon curd

100g melted white chocolate
175g softened butter
175g sifted icing sugar

A dozen chocolate eggs

1. Preheat the oven to 190C/170C fan/Gas Mark 5. Grease and line two 20cm sandwich tines.
2. In a large bowl beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Gradually add the eggs, continuing to beat until fully combined. Fold in the flour, baking powder and lemon zest until you have a smooth and soft batter
3. Divide the mixture between the two tins, smooth over the top and bake for twenty minutes or until golden and springy to touch. Allow to cool in the tins for five minutes then turn out to a cooling rack.
4. To make the icing: beat together the chocolate, butter and icing sugar until you have a nice smooth icing.
5. Sandwich together the two cakes with the lemon curd and three tbsps of the icing. Use the rest of the icing to cover the cake and decorate with however many chocolate eggs you have leftover

Baker's notes...

  • The cakes themselves can be frozen for up to six months. Freeze separately in either a well sealed polythene bag or rigid airtight container. 
  • For a fool proof homemade lemon curd recipe try Delia's or Nigel's recipe
  • These Mini Eggs are from M&S. The best mini eggs on the market. Believe me, I've tasted the lot. 


Sunday, 13 April 2014

Hot Cross Cookies


Easter is just one week away. Enough time to stockpile the Mini Eggs*, fill up the bread tin with Hot Cross Buns and countdown to the glorious four day bank holiday weekend. 

What joy: four whole days off work with no faffy commitments like at Christmas time. We'll be heading back to the motherland (Wales) carrying our own body weight in Easter Eggs. Several magazines and newspapers have taste tested Easter Eggs (tell me how you get that gig, please) with reviewers salivating over offerings from Betty's, Hotel Chocolat and Prestat. I'm not in the least bit fussy. As long as it is chocolate, in the vague shape of an egg and contains a packet or two of smaller sweet treats I'm as happy as the journalist who did get the plum job of spending an afternoon sampling all the eggs in the name of 'research'.

Monday, 7 April 2014

On The Road: A Weekend in Valencia


Last weekend we went to Valencia, Spain. This is how we got on...

Valencia attracts 80,000 British holidaymakers a year. Other than the obvious- oversized cameras, halting words of Spanish, an upside map - it was easy to tell the tourists from the locals. Us visitors, memories of a long wet winter fresh in minds, were in proper, true holiday wear- shorts, vests and the like- our pale, wan Northern European skins soaking up the vitamin D. Valencians by contrast continued their daily business in thick scarves, big boots and fur coats despite the 25C heat. 

Thursday, 3 April 2014

Marbled Mocha Loaf Cake


A coffee cake could be thought of as rather an old fashioned bake. A staple of a bake sale and a standard of a cake stall. Whereas the macaroon, a delicate dacquoise or eclair evoke the perfect Parisian patisserie, the humble coffee cake, with its light airy sponges sandwiched together with a generous dollop of sweet, slightly synthetic coffee buttercream brings to mind a village fete, tombola and a lot of homemade bunting. 

But that's really no bad thing. Infact, Nigel Slater would choose a coffee and walnut cake as his last supper. And if its good enough for Nige, heck, it most certainly is good enough for me.


Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Date and Orange Hot Cross Buns




Similar to its Easter-sweet-treat colleague, the Creme Egg, Hot Cross Buns are now available all year round in a myriad of different (and posh) flavours. It's easy to throw in the basket a pack or two during a weekly food shop or at the local bakers. But I promise shop-bought ones are incomparable to the reward of producing a tray of freshly baked homemade Hot Cross Buns, enjoyed warm with a cuppa over the long Easter weekend.

Yes, the bun dough is super sticky and requires the patience of Mary Berry when sifting through the hundreds of thousands of hopeful applications for the next series of The Great British Bake Off, determined to find the next Frances, John, Joanne or Edd. 


Sunday, 23 March 2014

Celebrating Three Years of What Kate Baked: Cherry Chocolate Biscuit Bars




The making of these bars involved a thirty minute walk to Waitrose, fourteen minutes perusing the aisles, ninety seconds of which was spent indecisively selecting the chocolate for the recipe and forty seconds chatting happily with the cashier as to what I was planning to bake. On return home, ten seconds was spent arguing with clingfilm as I attempted to line a loaf tin. One minute involved violently bashing digestive biscuits into smithereens in a plastic food bag, the clingfilm episode still fresh in my mind. Chocolate, syrup and butter was melted for three minutes into a lovely, sweet, rich gloop. The battered biscuits and a couple of bags of soured cherries were stirred for thirty seconds into the gloop before being spooned into the loaf tin. My husband and I then spent an increasingly impatient three hours waiting for the bars to set in the fridge before devouring with gusto. 

Friday, 21 March 2014

Peach and Almond Pie and Giveaway: Baking Set and Cinema Tickets for 'Labor Day'




Many a great film is defined by an iconic scene of food on the big screen. That moment in Lady and a Tramp when a clandestine kiss is shared over a bowlful of spaghetti. The 1961 Ch√Ęteau Cheval Blanc quaffed in a Styrofoam cup in a burger joint in the final scenes of Sideways.  The sweet, tempting and ultimately deadly for poor, greedy Augustus Gloop, chocolate river in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Those pies with their inventive names inspired by the life events of baker Jenna in Waitress. And of course THAT infamous scene at Katz's Delicatessen in When Harry Met Sally.