For the last nine months you may have noticed fewer posts and recipes on What Kate Baked. Its been an incredibly special time in our lives as on the 19th July 2015 our perfect little daughter was born.
It may be a few weeks before normal service resumes but I'm sure it won't be long before I'm teaching our little bundle of absolute happiness the joy baking brings!
For most people 1980s-style powdered, whipped puddings should happily stay in that decade. Along with florescent shellsuits, glam-metal and high volume bouffant hair styles that require the best part of an entire can of hairspray to stay in place. Memories of such puddings are of overly-sweet desserts, full of artificial little nasties.
Kate Doran, cookery writer and creator of the really, really fabulous Little Loaf blog, has created a way better version of this childhood pud. Butterscotch Devil's Delight is a deliciously creamy, toffee dessert, and unlike its namesake, contains not a single artificial ingredient. Plus it includes a glug or two of whisky, making this a properly delicious, grown-up version.
Kate has just published her very first (of many, I've no doubt) cookbook, 'Homemade Memories: Childhood Treats with a Twist' (Orion, £18.99 hardback). It is chock-full of glorious recipes and gorgeous photographs; my copy is already decorated with multiple sticky notes as I've bookmarked recipe after recipe. All the classics are included and reinvented with style: Almond, honey and cinnamon fig rolls, Magnum-esque Chocolate-coated Ice Cream Bars and Chocolate Milk For Grown-Ups all feature. And as part of a blog hop to celebrate the publication of Homemade Memories, I was invited to try out this scrumptious Butterscotch Devil's Delight.
Butterscotch Devil's Delight (reprinted with permission)
45g butter, cubed
150g dark muscovado sugar
¾ tsp flaky sea salt
450ml double cream
3 tbsp cornflour
seeds of half a vanilla pod
1 - 2 tbsp whisky or scotch
Handful cocoa nibs, to serve (NB: I used a little grated dark chocolate to decorate)
In a medium saucepan, brown 30g of the butter. Once golden and toasty smelling, stir in the sugar and salt. Remove from the heat and whisk in 150ml of the cream.
In a medium bowl, whisk the cornflour with 50ml milk. Whisk in the sugar mixture followed by the remaining milk. Return everything to the saucepan and bring to a simmer over a medium heat. Cook for 3 minutes, stirring constantly, until thickened.
Remove from the heat then stir in the remaining butter, vanilla seeds and 1 tbsp whisky until smooth.
Press cling film into the top to prevent a skin forming and allow to cool to room temperature.
Whip the remaining cream, adding 1 tbsp whisky at the start for a boozier pud. Fold two thirds of the cream into the cooled pudding.
Divide between 4 - 6 glasses and chill, along with the remaining cream, for about 2 hours. Remove the puddings from the fridge, top with an extra dollop of whipped cream and a sprinkle of cocoa nibs, then serve.
This is a glorious pudding: light and silky, creamy, toffee with a gentle boozy kick
Random fact: Butterscotch Delight is Simon Cowell's favourite pud. One bite of Kate's version and it will surely become yours too.
What are Italian in origin, lacy in appearance, chewy, crunchy and chocolatey all at the same time and Delia's favourite biscuit in the entire world?
(The picture above may provide a bit of a clue)
It is, of course, the Florentine. A delectable, delightful treat of a biscuit with the generous layer of dark chocolate contrasting perfectly with the sweet caramelized dried fruit. Put simply, that is exactly why one Florentine is never, ever going to be enough (to be honest, when is it ever the case that one biscuit is enough? Even when it comes to the humble Rich Tea or the always-languishing-at-the-bottom-of-the-biscuit-jar digestive?)
So, yeah, these lasted about 3 and a half minutes
Thomas J Fudges, who make their own scrumptious Florentines, challenged me to create my own version and, ta-dah, here they are:
50g chopped glace or soured cherries
50g flaked almonds
50g whole blanched almonds, roughly chopped
75g demarara sugar
15g plain flour
60g double cream
150g dark chocolate
1. Pre-heat the oven to 190ºC, gas mark 5. Line two baking trays with light greased parchment paper or cupcake silicone moulds
2. Place the fruit and nuts in a large bowl, sift over the flour and mix together until the flour is evenly distributed. Melt together the butter and sugar in a pan over a gentle heat until combined.
3. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the cream followed by the fruit and nuts. Dollop teaspoons of the mixture onto the prepared baking sheets (ensuring they are spread out) or into the silicone moulds.
4. Bake for 10-12 minutes until golden brown all over. Leave to cool
5. Meanwhile melt the the chocolatein a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water until melted, stirring occasionally
6. Carefully dip the underside of each florentine in the chocolate and leave to set
A variety of dried fruit and nuts would work really well. Its all down to personal preferences. Try pistachios, hazelnuts, cobnuts or walnuts, dried apricots, cranberries, sultanas or raisins.
Other ingredients you may wish to use include a little chopped stem ginger, a large spoonful of dessicated coconut or extra chocolate chips or nibs
With thanks to Thomas J Fudges for covering ingredient costs and providing samples of their own Florentine Biscuits
According to recent news headlines, we love lists. As we apparently can't resist them, here's a list of reasons you really ought to bake this carrot cake this weekend:
1. It tastes really good. Really, really good. Any semblance of modesty has clearly been thrown out of the window as I type this but, after tasting this cake, I received this text from the birthday girl: 'OMG!! That cake was OUT OF THIS WORLD'
2. It's got carrots in it. And carrots are a vegetable. Which everyone knows are really healthy. Sure, it may not exactly be a large, crunchy bowl of salad but it sounds a bit more healthy than, say, a 'Double Chocolate Devil's Food Cake'
3. Its got a super thick layer of gloriously decadent cream cheese icing. The best icing a cake can be smothered in.
4. Carrot cake has rather a illustrious history. According to the World Carrot Museum (surely up there with the Lawnmower and Pencil Museums as front-runners for the title of the quirkiest museum in Great Britain) the Carrot Cake is likely to have descended from Medieval carrot puddings, when carrots were used instead of sugar to add sweetness. During the first and second world wars, rationing of sugar again led to carrots being used as sweeteners in cakes.
5. It tastes really good. But I may have already mentioned that.
Classic Carrot Cake For the cake:
juice of 1 orange
3 large eggs
150g light brown soft sugar
200g self-raising flour (wholemeal or white)
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp ginger
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
220g peeled and grated carrots
50g dessiccated coconut
grated zest of 1 orange
For the icing:
200g full fat cream cheese
100g icing sugar
1. If possible, the night before baking the cake, place the sultanas and orange juice in a bowl and set aside. This will plump up the sultanas ensuring they are nice and juicy for the cake. If you haven't the time, simply pop the sultanas and juice in a microwave-proof dish and microwave for around a minute or so
2. Pre-heat the oven to Gas Mark 3/180C/160C fan/325F. Grease and line two 8inch/20cm sandwich tins with baking paper
2. Spread 50g of the walnuts on an ungreased baking tray and toast for 8-10 minutes in the preheated oven. Remove, cool and roughly chop into small pieces
4. Whisk the sugar, egg and oil together for a few minutes until all the sugar is nicely dissolved
5. Sift the flour, spices and bicarb into the bowl and fold in
6. Add the sultanas, carrots, coconut, orange zest and 50g of the toasted nuts and fold until combined
7. Divide the mixture between the prepared tins and bake the cakes for approximately 25-30 minutes or until risen, firm and springy to touch. Allow to cool in the tins for five minutes before turning out the cake to cool completely on a couple of wire racks
8. To make the icing: beat the butter, cream cheese and icing sugar. Spread to sandwich the two cakes together and use the remainder on top of the cake. Decorate with the remaining walnuts
Apparently Carrot Cake is one of the Nation's Favourite Cakes (ohh, another reason to add to the list to get baking this over the weekend!). I enjoyed a particularly fine example in Peyton and Byrne in Greenwich just yesterday
I was strolling home from work the other night, my mind filled with thoughts as to what to make for tea (admittedly, not the most exciting narrative to be running through my head despite it being a very close contest between a salmon stir fry and a spring veg risotto) when Simon Mayo and chums on Radio 2's Drivetime Show began discussing this cake.
Regular listeners of Radio 2, all 15,568,000 of us, may know that each week resident cook Nigel Barden makes everyone feel rather hungry on their way home as he describes and demonstrates a weekly dish. All thoughts of our supper swiftly disappeared as I listened to Nigel, Simon et al devour this very tempting sounding cake. And when they mentioned it was created by one of my all time favourite American cookery writers, the brilliant Debs from Smitten Kitchen, well, I was sold. And within ten minutes of arriving home, via a quick pit stop to pick up a pot of ricotta and a punnet of raspberries, the oven was on, the spatula sticky and egg shells were littering the work surface.
I was not disappointed. The ricotta adds a cheesecake-like creaminess, the olive oil a depth of flavour and the raspberries a tangy sweetness. And the best thing is the versatility of this brilliant recipe. The original suggests a red grape coulis, but I simply spread a layer of raspberry jam from the lovely Pen Y Lan Pantry and decorated with the fruit.
The full recipe can be found right here, I adapted it somewhat, as follows.
Olive Oil, Ricotta and Raspberry Cake
(adapted from Deb Perelman, Smitten Kitchen Cookbook- Recipes from a New York Kitchen/Random House)
For the cake:
250g full fat ricotta
80ml olive oil
2 tsp vanilla extract
200g caster sugar
2 large eggs
190g plain flour 1½ tsp baking powder ¼ tsp bicarbonate of soda ¼ tsp table salt For the decoration: 1 punnet raspberries 1 tbsp raspberry jam Icing sugar for dusting
1. Preheat the oven to 180C/160fan/Gas Mark 4/350F
2. Grease and line a 23cm springform tin with parchment paper
3. In a large bwol whisk together the ricotta, olive oil, sugar and vanilla
4. Add the eggs, one at a time, whisking well after each addition
5. Sift in the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt and fold in until just combined (be careful not to overmix)
6. Pour the mixture into the prepared cake tin and bake for thirty minutes until the cake is golden brown and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean
7. Allow the cake to cool in the tin for ten minutes before removing onto a wire rack to complete cooling
8. Once cooled, spread the top of the cake with the jam, decorate with the raspberries and dust a over a little icing sugar
No fresh fruit? Radio 2's Nigel suggests splitting the cake in two, dolloping the centre with a spoonful of jam and finishing with a dusting of icing sugar. The result: an intriguing, rather posh Victoria Sponge.
Asked to write a post about technology in home, I turned to my husband and asked if he thought I had a good grasp of technology. He, very diplomatically, for we were making supper at the time and I presume he didn't want to spend the evening hungry, answered 'it's probably not one of your stronger points'.
On balance, a fair point.
An example: when it comes to technology not working - wifi on the blink or boiler pressure broken* - I'm definitely of the 'turn it off, then on again' school of fixing it. And if that doesn't work, well, I'll try turning it off and on again and again. And again. Until it either works or my husband to get home.
Of course technology has made an enormous difference to the home cook. No repetitive strain injury from attempting to rapidly beating the sugar and butter to create a light, fluffy mixture. Electric graters, slicers and shredders to take all the hard work out of preparing veg. And safe, reliable ovens rather than boiling and roasting pits used to cook a nice, tasty, erm, mammoth.
Indeed, I'm very grateful to be writing this post on an ipad rather than pictographs carved onto stone. After all, I've always been crap at pictionary. And my kitchen wouldn't be complete without my lovely shiny fire engine red KitchenAid mixer. Plus, this scrumptious cake would have taken an awful lot longer to bake without the technology we have in our kitchens.
* events occured this week, causing me to repeatedly sigh with despair. A lot.
With thanks to Legal and General for sponsoring this post discussing technology in the home
For the loaf cake:
175g unsalted softened butter
175g golden caster sugar
3 eggs, beaten
50ml elderflower cordial
175g self raising flour
For the drizzle, icing and decoration:
85g caster sugar
50g icing sugar
Fondant Icing decorative flowers (optional)
1. Preheat the oven to 180C/160 C fan/Gas Mark 4. Grease and line a 2lb loaf tin
2. Beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, this can take several minutes
3. Gradually beat in the eggs and elderflower cordial, adding a tablespoon of flour if the mixture looks like it may be curdling
4. Fold in the flour and zest of the two lemons
5. Spoon into the prepared tin and bake for 45-50 minutes until risen and the top springs back to touch
6. To make the drizzle: Mix together the juice of the lemons and the caster sugar. Prick the warm cake all over with a skwer and pour over the drizzle, allowing it to soak in.
7. Once the cake is cooled, mix together the icing sugar with a little warm water to form a thick icing and spoon or pipe over the cake. Decorate the flowers made from fondant icing
This zesty, zingy cake shouts 'spring'- a perfect way to celebrate the gorgeous summery weather we've been enjoying of late
Happy Easter! Have a lovely weekend, whether you'll be contributing to the estimated £30 million pounds due to be spent at the nation's garden centres this long weekend, whiling away your down time on rail replacement bus services or spending the bank holiday trying to desperately interpret the weather forecast, which is currently predicting, depending on what you read, a heatwave, a washout and snow. Or, perhaps like me, you'll simply squeezing an entire year's worth of novelty chocolate consumption into four days? In between unwrapping another very cute Easter chocolate hedgehog, there is a lot of brilliant Easter baking to be enjoying. A fruity Simnel cake perhaps, juicy, spicy hot cross buns or these scrumptious Easter Egg Brownies.
And if you are baking this bank holiday weekend (and with four WHOLE DAYS OFF there really isn't an excuse not to) share your Easter photos with the Waitrose #GoodEgg campaign to support Great Ormond Street Hospital Children's Charity. Waitrose will be surprising lucky participants with Easter gifts including Heston’s Golden Easter Eggs, hampers, cases of wine, Waitrose vouchers and Waitrose Cookery School vouchers. And there's lots of lovely Easter inspiration on the Waitrose Easter website.
To take part, simply upload your Easter themed pictures to twitter, instagram or vine, from the delicious food you're enjoying to Easter Egg hunts, using the hashtag #GoodEgg to support Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity. Easter Egg Brownies
185g unsalted butter
185g dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids)
3 large eggs
250g golden caster sugar
100g plain flour
50g cocoa powder
10-12 mini solid chocolate eggs*
50g melted white chocolate to decorate
1. Preheat the oven to 180C/160C fan/Gas Mark 4. Grease and line a 20cm square tin.
2. Melt the butter and chocolate in a small, heat proof bowl suspended over a pan of simmering hot water. Stir occasionally and remove from the heat once melted
2. Whisk together the eggs and sugar until thick, pale and doubled in volume, which may take several minutes. Gently fold through the melted chocolate, avoiding overmixing
3. Sift in the flour and cocoa powder and fold together. Add in the mini eggs
4. Pour into the prepared tin and bake for 25 minutes or until the top of the brownies has developed a thin crust
5. Allow to cool in the tin. Once completely cooled use an egg shaped cutter to cut out the Easter Egg shapes
*The mini-eggs are an optional extra. And should you have any spare Easter Egg chocolate (!) you can add 100g roughly chopped chocolate to the mixture
One advantage of the Easter Egg shapes is that you'll have a fair bit of leftover Brownie edges, or 'Baker's Bonuses' as I refer to them
The Brownies will keep in an airtight container for a good two weeks (as if in our household... a good two hours more like) and in the freezer for up to a month.
With thanks to Waitrose for sending me a voucher to cover ingredient costs and an Easter themed box of goodies