Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Fresh from the Oven: Fougasse

This month's Fresh from the Oven bread baking challenge, hosted by Claire from Purely Food is Fougasse. 

The name 'Fougasse', similar to its Italian flat bread cousin, the ciabatta, derives from the Latin word for 'hearth'. These breads were originally used as testers, thrown into the ashes of the hearth to see if the ovens were hot enough for the rest of the breads. Yep, these delightful bakes were the sacrificial lambs loaves of the bread world. 

It is a relatively straightforward recipe but it can be jazzed up - check out the Baker's notes below for pimped up Fougasse suggestions. And making the traditional leaf pattern is a lot of fun- I for one was aiming for beech leaf...can you not tell?!

(Women's Institute: Bread, by Liz Herbert) 

450g strong white bread flour
1 teaspoon of salt
1.5 teaspoon fast action dried yeast
6 tbsps extra virgin olive oil
300ml hand hot water
flour or semolina for dusting

1. Combine the flour, salt and yeast in a large mixing bowl. Add 4 tbsps of the pilve oil and the water and mix with your hand to a soft dough
2. Turn out onto an unfloured work surface and knead for 8-10 minutes until smooth
3. Pop in an oiled polythene bag and prove in a warm place until double in size
4. Grease two baking sheets and dust with flour
5. Knock back the dough and divide into four equal pieces. Shape these into 20cm long and 13cm wide ovals
6. Make two short cuts down the cente of each bread, and 3-4 diagnosal cuts either side, radiating from the middle
7. Place two fougasse on each baking sheet, cover and leave to rpove for thirty minutes
8. Preheat the oven to Gas Mark 7/220C/425F
9. Drizzle the bread with the left over oil and bake for 15-20 minutes until golden. Transfer to a wire rack to cool

Baker's notes..

  • To maintain the 'leaf cuts' from closing up, pop a little flour on your finger and run your finger round each cut to enhance it
  • The fougasse are best eaten on the day they are made; I'm afraid they tend to dry out after twenty four hours
  • It is the perfect sharing bread, with the leaf pattern a ready-made tear.
  • The dough can be flavoured to make lovely sweet or savoury versions. For example by adding herbs, dried fruit, bacon, cheese, onion... And Lorraine Pascale has a lovely sounding thyme and chorizo recipe on  BBC Food

Monday, 26 September 2011

Upside-Down Plum Cake

I love this time of year.

I'm the person who happily packs away her summer clothes and awaits eagerly each morning to see if it is cold enough yet for boots and a scarf.

Each new leaf that turns colour, each degree cooler and each minute earlier that it gets darker in the evening has me cheering with glee.

Foodie magazines that are chock full of winter warmers, comforting cakes and hearty homebakes are devoured.

Hours are spent in the kitchen, making the most of the Autumnal seasonal bounty and taking the phrase slow cooking to the extreme.

(I don't even mind seeing Christmas puddings, crackers and cards on the supermarket shelves a whole three months early.)

Even Nigel Slater agrees it is the best time of year. (Well, I'm not sure about the Christmas part, but certainly the food bit).

And this bake, adapted from a Peaches and Cream Upside down Cake by last year's winner of The Great British Bake Off, Edd Kimber fits the Autumnal theme perfectly.

Plum Upside down Cake


115g butter
210g plain flour
2 tsps baking powder
pinch of salt
200g caster sugar
zest of 1 orange
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 tsp vanilla extract
120ml soured cream

For the topping
10g butter
35g light brown sugar
5 plums, stoned and cut into small segments

1. Preheat the oven to 180C/160C fan/Gas Mark 4. Lightly grease and line a 20cm diameter rounnd cake tin. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl and set aside
2. Beat the butter, sugar and orange zest together until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs and vanilla until fully combined
3. Add half of the flour mixture followed by half the sour cream and beat until just combined. Repeat, until the all the flour and cream is added.
4. To make the topping: melt the butter and brown sugar together in a small pan and pour evenly over the prepared tin. Spread the plum segments across the tin and top with the cake batter, smoothing over evenly with the back of a metal spoon or a spatula
5. Bake in the preheated oven for 50-55 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Cool in the tin for five minutes before turning out onto a wire rack

Baker's notes...

  • Pretty much any fruit can be used in this recipe, for example apples, pears, pineapple, peaches and apricots. 
  • Store in an airtight container for up to three days, although it is very delicious warm from the oven with a dollop of creme fraiche
  • Edd's book, The Boy Who Bakes, is a great, great read. Full of inspiring recipes that I know I'll be making time and time again. The three recipes I've made so far (this one, orange and passionfruit cake and gingerbread) have been brilliant successes. Next step? To try Edd's famous macarons (which won Edd last year's coveted crown). As you may know, I have a very high failure rate in this department so I need all the bloomin' help I can get
  • And yep, I appreciate the irony- I'm extolling the virtues of Autumn during a mini-heatwave and Indian Summer here in the UK...
  • I've entered this in Ren Behan's Fabulicious Food Simple and In Season blogging event

Saturday, 24 September 2011

Random Recipes: Healthy (!), Low fat (!) Mint Chocolate Pot

A couple of weeks back I woke up to read that Chocolate is good for you.

Like properly good for you. 

It was a good day.

The British Medical Journal published research that suggests those who eat lots of chocolate (hands up...) are less likely to suffer heart disease and strokes.

So I munched on my first chocolate of the day, happy in the knowledge that it was what the doctor ordered.

Many kgs of chocolate later in the day this is what we had for dessert, inspired by Dom's Random Recipe Challenge. This month the theme is magazine cuttings, clippings and cutouts.

So I grabbed my folder of scrappy bits of paper carefully collated recipes, flung it open at a random page and, of course, it was a dessert. 

But a healthy one at that! Yep, never thought I'd be saying healthy and low-fat in one sentence on this blog. 

Healthy Mint Chocolate Pot

(adapted from Good Food magazine, August 2011; makes 2 pots)


50g dark mint chocolate
2 tbsps low-fat yogurt
1 large egg white
1 tsp caster sugar
mint leaf to decorate

1. Melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a small pan of simmering water
2. Once melted, remove from the heat and allow to cool for 5 minutes
3. Meanwhile whisk the egg white until stiff, then whisk in the sugar until thriughly combined and glossy
4. Adding one tablespoon of egg white at a time, fold the white into the chocolate, keeping as much air as possible
5. Spoon into the pot and chill in the fridge until set

Baker's notes...

  • Make sure to allow the chocolate to cool before adding the whites. I forgot this step, hence the rather 'gritty' looking pots. Still, they tasted good and I'm prepared to make such compromises for the good of my health and all...


Thursday, 22 September 2011

We Should Cocoa: Happy Birthday! Double Chocolate Star Celebration Cake

This cake is equivalent of Wonder Woman.

It has been multitasking all over the place.

If it were a film character it would be Kate Reddy in I Don't know How She Does It, played by Sarah-Jessica Parker (no cakes posing as 'z list' actors here, no siree).

Not only was it made to thank my kind and generous colleagues for their support and sponsorship when we recently completed the Across Wales charity cycle ride (which I may have previously mentioned once or twice...)

It also had enough batter to fill two separate cupcake cases to keep A from feeling he was missing out (usually the kitchen fills with sweet baking aromas before the cake is cruelly whipped away from his growling stomach).

Finally it was inspired by We Should Cocoa's first anniversary. Yep, this more-chocolatey-than-the-inside-of-Willy-Wonka's-factory blogging challenge is one year old. To celebrate Chele from Chocolate Teapot is set to host a virtual teaparty. And we've all been invited.

Anyone joining me on the dancefloor for a boogie to 'Hot Chocolate'? 'You (chocolate) to me are everything?'?!

My offering for the table is this:

Double Chocolate Star Celebration Cake
(Good Food Magazine, August 2010)

175g softened butter
175g golden caster sugar
3 eggs
140g self-raising flour
85g ground almonds
half a teaspoon baking powder
100ml milk
4 tbsps cocoa powder
50g chocolate chunks (milk or dark chocolate)
1 small bag white chocolate buttons, melted
Chocolate star to decorate

1. Heat the oven to 160C/140C fan/Gas Mark 3. Grease and line a 2lb/900g loaf tin with a strip of baking parchment
2. Beat the butter and sogar with an electrical whisk until nicely light and fluffy
3. Beat in the eggs, flour, almonds, baking powder, milk and cocoa until smooth
4. Stir in the chunks of chocolate and scrape into a tin
5. Bake for 45-50 minutes until golden, risen and a skewer poked into the very centre of the cake comes out clean
6. Cool in the tin and once cooled lift out and place on a wire rack
7. Using a spoon drizzle the white chocolate over the cake and decorate with the stars.

Baker's notes...
  • It is really simple this cake. Which meant there was plenty enough time for 'Musical Chocolate Bars' and 'Pass the Truffles Parcel'
  • The loaf, prior to decoration can be frozen for up to three months
  • It feeds eight people. Or four chocolate lovers.

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Autumnal Baking Challenge and Giveaway!

As you may have noticed the little blog has a new home. Right here. And to celebrate the launch of What Kate Baked and thank all you lovely readers for all your support during the move, its gives me great pleasure to announce...

(drum roll please....)

...the very first What Kate Baked Autumnal Baking Challenge and Giveaway!

Calling all comforting crumbles, seasonal bakes, fruity cakes, warming pies and flavoursome Autumnal feasts!

And the prize?

A cookbook of your choice from  Amazon!

Baker's notes and how to enter...
  • Follow or subscribe by email to What Kate Baked
  • Post your Autumnal recipe on your blog with a link to What Kate Baked and attach the Autumnal Baking Challenge & Giveaway logo 
  • The recipe can be one of your own or one you've seen elsewhere. It can be sweet or savoury. It can be as tenuously linked to Autumn as you like. You are welcome to republish old recipes/posts but please add the information about this challenge
  • If you do not have a blog, you can still enter: please email a photo and the recipe instead
  • Email me your post and a picture to: whatkatebaked@googlemail.com by midday Friday 21st October 2011
  • If you put your post on twitter please mention @katecakeandbake and I will retweet all those I see
  • A round-up of the entries will be posted on What Kate Baked on Saturday 22nd October 2011 and the winner chosen by random on this date
  • The winner can choose a recipebook up to the value of £15.00 from Amazon and I am happy to post the prize overseas if necessary. There is no cash alternative
  • PS: if people do enter (please enter!) I may very well do a similar challenge for Christmas...
Good luck and happy baking!

Breakfast Club #15: Rhubarb and Vanilla Jam

Which other mealtime:

a) sets you up for the day ahead

b) do you look forward to lazing over with a deep pile of the weekend papers revelling in the fact you aren't in work


c) has a whole three hours of daily television named after it?

Breakfast, aka the best meal of the day.

I'm not sure how, since this blog began earlier this year I could have possibly missed out on Fuss Free Flavour's brilliant breakfast themed blogging challenge. I mean this mealtime and challenge was designed for people like me (irrintingly cheerful morning people).

Anyways, this month's theme, hosted by Sonia's Kitchen is jam, preserves and conserves

And this lovely, lovely jam is courtesy of my guest-blogging-sister Beth, off of my birthday cupcakes post and Eggs-ellent Simnel Cake earlier this year. She's a very, very good cook. And I get to eat her very, very good food. Everyone (well, erm, me) is a winner.

Rhubarb and Vanilla Jam

(Good Food Magazine, February 2010)


1kg rhubarb (after trimming and cut into 3cm chunks)
1kg jam sugar
2 vanilla pods, halved lengthways
juice of 1 lemon

1. Put a small plate in the freezer
2. Put the rhubarb into a saucepan with the sugar and vanilla pods
3. Heat gently, stirring until all the sugar has dissolved
4. Add in the lemon juice and increase the heat
5. Boil for ten minutes, skimming off the scum as you go (the fruit should be soft)
6. Test for setting point by spooning a little jam onto the chilled plate
7. After 1-2 minutes push your finger through the jam. If the surface wrinkles it is ready
8. If not quite ready, keep cooking for two minute intervals, testing in between. NB: a sugar thermometer should reach 105C
9. Once ready, allow to cool for 15 minutes before ladling into warm sterilised jars and sealing
It will keep for 6 months in a cool, dark place

Baker's notes...
  • It will keep for 6 months in a cool, dark place
  • This jam was way made back in May when rhubarb was in season and very plentiful in the garden

Saturday, 17 September 2011

National Cupcake Week: Jaffa (Cup) Cakes

There are some questions in life that deserve serious consideration.

Whether a Jaffa Cake is a cake or biscuit is one of these questions.

It was hotly debated back in 1991 when the taxman took McVities to court. Her Majesty's Customs and Excise argued Jaffa Cakes are actually biscuits and therefore ought to be taxed at the 17.5% biscuit rate. McVities disagreed. In possibly what must have been the tastiest ever court case for one lucky Judge, issues such as what happens when biscuits and cakes go stale were discussed. 

(Heck, in our house cakes and biscuits are gobbled up way before they get the chance to go remotely dry).

McVities then produced their masterstroke: a massive, ginormous Jaffa Cake to prove their point. I wonder which fortunate courtroom official got to dip that in a cup (or bucket) of tea?

Such debates were not only confined to the Courtroom; the Oxford English Dictionary similarly agonised when deciding how to describe the Jaffa Cake. 

Although McVities won the day in Court, and Jaffa Cakes remained, erm, cakes, a tabloid newspaper subsequently polled its readers who firmly declared that, in their opinion, a Jaffa Cake was most definately a biscuit. 

Why all this chat about Jaffa Cakes? Well, when tucking into one (okay, an entire container) the other day I had a cakebulb moment (like a lightbulb moment, but cake related). 

I'll have a go at a Jaffa Cake CupCake.

All in honour of this week's National Cupcake Week. A week that celebrates all things Cupcake. Some of my favourite baking bloggers have also been creating some crackin' cupcakes:

  • Chele from Chocolate Teapot made some brilliantly fun Percy Pig/Pumbaa Cupcakes. I really hope Chele got to enjoy the rest of the leftover Percy's as the ultimate baker's leftover treat
  • Meanwhile, over at the Chocolate Log Blog, Choclette made some delicious Ginger and Chocolate Cupcakes (with her own ginger and marrow jam!)
  • For some expert piping and decorating tips, pop along to Katie's glorious Katie Cakes blog- I defy you not to spend the next half hour falling in love with each beautiful post
  • Gem, from the aptly named Cupcake Crazy Gem has written a really great round-up of some of THE best places to grab yourself a cupcake to celebrate the week
  • @tracylovescake has been in the kitchen creating these delectable lemon cupcakes, one of my favourite cakey flavours

Jaffa Cupcakes


(for six Cupcakes)

For the cupcakes:

85g softened butter
85g caster sugar
Zest of one orange
1 large egg
100g self raising flour
Pinch of salt
1 teaspoon orange extract

For the filling and topping:

Packet of orange jelly
2 teaspoons of marmalade

75g butter, softened
75g chocolate, melted
80g icing sugar
zest of one orange

To make the orange filling:
(this will need to be made in advance)
1. Make up the jelly according to the packet instructions, adding the marmalade when mixing the hot water and jelly together, stirring until completely combined
2. Pour the mixture into a shallow dish or baking tray (with sides!)and pop in the fridge until set

To make the cupcakes:
1. Preheat the oven to 200C/Gas Mark 6.
2. Arrange six paper cupcake cases or six silicone cases on a baking tray
3. Using an electrical whisk, beat the butter and sugar in a large bowl until soft and fluffy. Add the zest, extract and egg and beat until throughly combined
4. Sift the flour and salt into the bowl and using a metal spoon fold into the mixture gently
5. Spoon the mixture into the prepared cases and bake for fifteen minutes until light brown in colour and an inserted skewer comes out clean
6. Cool on a wire rack
7. Once completely cool use a sharp knife to cut a shallow hole in the top of each cupcake, creating a small 'crater' in each cupcake
8. Use a sharp knife to cut six small circles in the jelly that will neatly fit inside the crater. Place one circle in each 'crater' of each cupcake
9. To make the icing: Beat the butter and sugar together until fluffy and pale. Mix in the melted chocolate  
10. Spoon into a piping bag and pipe on the cupcakes. Decorate with the orange zest

Baker's notes...

  • You'll have leftover jelly, which you get to eat (which will make you feel approximately five years old)
  • As with any cupcakes, best eaten within 48 hours and stored in an airtight container
  • Soo.....cake or biscuit?! Over to you..

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Stress relieving baking: Walnut and raisin bread

There are some things in life that can cause considerable amounts of stress.

Moving house.

Having a baby.

Starting a new job.

And watching Wales play rugby.

Last Sunday, as Wales took on the might of the South Africans in the Rugby World Cup an entire nation spent eighty minutes experiencing insurmountable levels of stress. It was a heck of a game. A game spent alternating between despair and (almost) glory. Cardiac arrhythmias unknown to the medical profession were noted. 2.94 millions people experienced breathing difficulties holding their breath in anticipation as James Hook attempted the penalties

There are three ways to cope with such stress. 

Gin. Chocolate. And kneading bread.

This particular loaf requires some muscle to knead. But it is worth it. And a great stress-reliever to boot. 

What bakes do you make to relieve stress? Answers on a postcard please. Or the comments section below would be lovely too.

Walnut and Raisin Bread


175g strong wholemeal flour
175g strong white bread flour
115g wholemeal rye flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon fast acting dried yeast
115g walnuts, toasted and chopped
80g raisins
2 tablespoons walnut oil
1 tablespoon runny honey
325ml hand hot water

1. Grease a baking sheet
2. Combine the flours, yeast, salt, walnuts and raisins in  a large mixing bowl
3. Stir in the oil, honey and water
4. Mix, initally with a knife then your hands to a soft dough
5. Turn out onto an unfloured work surface and knead for 5-6 minutes until smooth
6. Shape into  an oblong, roughly 18cm in size, and using a sharp knife make a cut along the the length
7. Dust with rye flour
8. Cover and prove in a warm place until doubled in size
9. Preheat the oven to Gas Mark 6/200C/400F
10. Bake for 20-25 minutes

Baker's notes...
  • If you haven't walnut oil to hand, olive oil works just as well
  • To toast the walnuts, fry them gently in a dry frying pan for a few minutes until golden brown, like this:

  • Super-yummy with cheese, like this:

  • I've had a name change! Yep, the blog previously known as Kate's Cakes and Bakes is now here- it was demanded of me; email me and I'll tell you for why!

Monday, 12 September 2011

We did it! Cycling across Wales and eating Man-Size Bara Brith

We did it!

We cycled the Lon Las Cymru for six and a half days. 400km. Through Wales from Holyhead to Cardiff. Across three mountain ranges.  Along a route graded 'Challenging' by Sustrans National Cycle Network. 

Yep, me, my Dad, our good family friend, D, 478 Mars Bars and 353 bars of Kendal Mint Cake.

Finishing last Friday night, we were really chuffed to reach our sponsorship goal raising money for three excellent charities with the very kind and generous support of friends, family and colleagues. 

It was brilliant. 

Properly brilliant.

Even when my, ahem, derriere became a little uncomfortable (by end of Day 1), the gale force winds leftover from Hurricane Irene repeatedly knocked us sideways (Day 3) and the mid-Wales mountains resulted in breathing difficulties and chest pains (Day 4).

Thank you for all your support via the blog and twitter. 

One of the many, many highlights? The food.

We must have eaten about twenty times our usual food intake (a definite perk, no?). The twitter feed has the Top 5 highlights. 

When I wasn't keeping Mars Confectionery in business for the remainder of the financial year, I was tucking into mounds of this stuff: Bara Brith. Proper Welsh cake for proper Welsh mountains.

This is my Mum's recipe, and basically a bigger version of the Minature Bara Briths I made a couple of months back. Mum ensured our panniers were packed with a good few slices.

Bara Brith (Man Size version)

1 cup of cold tea
120oz dried mixed fruit
6oz brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp mixed spice
120oz self raising flour

1. Soak the fruit and sugar in the cold tea overnight (if timing permits; the fruit and sugar should have soaked up the majority of the tea)
2. Preheat the oven to Gas Mark 3/325 F/160 C. Line a 2lb loaf tin with greaseproof paper
3. Beat the egg and add the egg to the fruit mixture, using a wooden soon to mix throughly
4. Sift the flour and mixed spice and stir into the mixture with the wooden spoon
5. Scoop the mixture into the prepared loaf tin
6. Pop in the oven for one hour, and then turn the oven down to Gas Mark 2/300 F/150 C or until a skewer inserted into the loaf comes out clean

Baker's notes...
  • Bara Brith isn't just a one-trick-teacake. Oh no. Bara Brith ice cream is LUSH. Even royalty agree. Just add 100g of crumbled Bara Brith to your vanilla ice cream recipe and churn as usual in an ice cream machine
  • Other fabulous usage could include a Bara Brith version of bread and butter pudding. Simply replace the bread in your favourite recipe with thin, buttered slices of Bara Brith.
  • Please excuse the small photos- not of the greatest quality I know- all taken with my camera phone as due to 'weight issues' with the panniers (being rather stuffed with Mars Bars and Bara Brith), the camera was left behind. 

Saturday, 10 September 2011

A Chocolate-lovers Tour of Bruges

Reasons to go to Bruges

Number 1: The sheer quantity of chocolate shops.

(No further reasons are required).

So A and I packed our bags (me: the loosest pair of trousers I own, A: the passports and guide book) and set of for the European Capital of Chocolate.

It is not possible to stroll more than five yards in Bruges without coming across a chocolate shop, the window towering with pyramids of truffles or prettily ribboned boxes of pralines.

Within five minutes of sampling the finest of Bruge's offerings, A turned to me and sighed: 'I don't think I can eat another chocolate foe the entire rest of the weekend'. Without a second of hesitation readers I rose magnificently to the challenge and set about eating a long weekend's worth of Belgium chocolates for two.

Some highlights?

This particular shop, for their excellent chocolates and impressive customer service:
'What can I get for you, Madame?'
'All of them'
'Certainly, Madame'

These chocolates; chocolates in an EDIBLE box!

This teashop, for its DIY Hot Chocolate, complete with extra chocolates on the side (just in case by this stage you hadn't quite penetrated a diabetic coma):

Figure 1: Components for Belgium Hot Chocolate

Figure 2: Assembled Belgium Hot Chocolate

Bruges is the most well preserved medieval city in Europe. And other than shop for chocolates we did do some cultural stuff. Like sit in a pub, drinking the local Belgium beer. (Even this was sweet with Kriek, a beer fermented with cherries being ever so popular).

We also visited the many Christmas shops, this one in particular a favourite as it sold cake Christmas tree decorations! Disappointingly not edible...

With A pleading for mercy ('Please can we eat something that isn't chocolate!?') we headed to Brussels for a night. Notable chocolate shops here included Wittmers:

Which also did a mean line in macaroons:

(I permit the licking of the screen)

And Pierre Marcolini. This is the box A bought me, I suspect in the hope I'd be so busy munching my way through, he may be able to sneak in a savoury food item.

So, I took 'savoury item' to mean a waffle:

And this last photo are all the goodies that made it home with us, somehow escaping being gobbled by yours truely.

They've all been scoffed now though.

Did I miss anything in Bruges? Any chocolate shop or tearoom I need to hop on the very next Eurostar train to sample?

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Anzac Biscuits and Random Bakes of Kindness

A little while ago Vanessa, author of the brilliant 'Prepped', received a phenomenal response to her brilliant 'Random Bakes of Kindness'. The premise is simple- bake a little extra for that someone in your life who deserves a little kindness.

With a great big shout of 'I'm in!' I set about making these Anzac Biscuits.

These are brilliant biscuits to bake. Chew, oaty, with a sweet hit of coconut. Excellent dunking-in-a-hot-drink abilities. Dead easy and they last forever. Well, in theory they last forever. Unless, like me, its your first time making them. The 'testing' process should always be quite thorough with first bakes.

To be more specific they'll last about one month in an airtight container.

You see they were originally baked to send to soldiers serving in the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) in Gallipoli. The biscuits would keep well on their long journey overseas.

In keeping with Vanessa's plan, I made these for someone who not only has been through a rough time recently but also, due to a range of allergies, is usually unable to help me with enjoying cakes and eating sweet things. But these biscuits were able to be eaten and, I hope, went down a treat.

Anzac Biscuits

85g porridge oats
85g desiccated coconut
100g plain flour
100g caster sugar
100g butter, plus extra to grease
1 tbsp golden syrup
1 tsp bicarbonate of sugar

1. Heat the oven to 180C/fan 160C/Gas Mark 4
2. Put the oats, coconut, flour and sugar in a bowl
3. Melt the butter over a gentle heat in small pan and stir in the golden syrup. Add the bicarbonate to 2 tbsps of boiling water then stir into the syrup and butter mixture
4. Make a well in the middle of the dried ingredients and pour in the butter and syrup mixture. Stir to incorporate all the ingredients
5. Put dessertspoons of the mixture onto buttered baking sheets, allowing space for spreading of the biscuits
6. Bake in batches for 8-10 minutes until golden

Saturday, 3 September 2011

Cycling a WHOLE, ENTIRE country and Bounty Cake

As you may know I am a reasonably keen cyclist. As in, I commute to work at the hospital on an electric pink Brompton to enable me to eat cakes reasonably guilt-free. 

Whether I remain a keen cyclists after cycling the Lon Las Cymru next week remains to be seen.

The Lon Las what?

Six days. 400km. Wales. Holyhead to Cardiff. Three mountain ranges.  A route graded 'Challenging' by Sustrans National Cycle Network. Two hundred and eight Mars bars.

(That last part may not be entirely accurate. More like three hundred and eight Mars Bars.)

The plan is to cycle the length of Wales. The route takes in Holyhead, Porthmadog and Dolgellau in the North, Machynlleth, Llanidloes and Rhayader in Mid-Wales and Brecon, Merthyr and Cardiff in the South. Along with a heck of a lot of kilometers and mountains inbetween. 

It'll be me, my Dad and our good family friend. 

Our motivation? Apart from to get to eat Mars Bars guilt free and see the stunning Welsh countryside we are raising money for three excellent charities : Age Concern Cymru, The Beacon of Hope and Bobath Children's Therapy Centre Wales. 

I've been doing a bit of training. By 'training' I mean I've purchased some expensive cycling shoes and been practicing eating Mars bars. I feel I'm doing well. 

So in honour of my Week of Limitless Mars Bars Eating Week of Cycling Wales this is the nearest bake I could find to a Mars Bar:

Bounty Cake
(River Cottage Handbook No.8: Cakes by Pam Corbin)

50g desiccated coconut
150ml coconut milk or ordinary milk
150g self-raising flour
25g cocoa powder
150g caster sugar
150g unsalted butter, softened
2 eggs

100g dark chocolate
1 tbsp natural yogurt or creme fraiche
Packet of white chocolate buttons to decorate

1. Preheat the oven to 180C/Gas Mark 4. Grease a 20cm round tin and line with baking parchment
2. Pop the desiccated coconut in a bowl and pour over the milk. Leave for two hours to swell and rehydrate
3. Sift the flour and cocoa powder into a bowl. Add the sugar and mix well until combined
4. Chop the butter into small pieces and add to the flour mixture. Also add the eggs and using a handheld whisk beat until the mixture is light and creamy
5. Stir in the coconut (and any leftover liquid) and mix well
6. Spoon into the prepared tin and place in the oven for 25-30 minutes
7. The cake will spring back to touch when done. Remove from the oven and after ten minutes cooling in the tin turn out onto wire rack
8. Leave the cake to cool completely before adding the icing. To make the topping: melt the dark chocolate in a pyrex bowl over a saucepan of gently simmering water. When melted, mix in the spoonful of yogurt or creme fraiche. Spread evenly over the cake and decorate with the chocolate buttons

Baker's notes...
  • Serves ten. Or three hungry cyclists.
  • Stored in an airtight container, the cake will keep for up to five days
  • So, originally I bought a box of Celebrations chocolates to fish out the mini Bounty Bars to decorate the cake. Disappointingly (or not...) there were only three Bounty Bars in the Celebrations. Not enough to decorate the cake; I had to rethink. So I ate all the Celebrations and thought. And White Chocolate Buttons were the answer. You don't quite need an entire packet; the rest are Baker's Benefits
  • This is our Fundraising Page: here! 
  • Any suggestions on good cycling songs to listen to while half way up Snowdonia? So far all I've got is this one: here