Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Tea Time Treats Blogging Challenge- December

We had an absolutely phenomenal response to our inaugural Tea Time Treats Challenge with an Autumnal feast of Ginger and Bonfire Treats, hosted by the wonderful Karen over at Lavender and Lovage (read all  the 34 [!] entries right here).

This month's theme is (drum roll please....)....


But of course! 

We'd love our December Tea Time Treats Table to be groaning under the weight of your buttery, boozy mince pies, your classic, crumbly Christmas Cakes, your seasonal, sticky Chutneys, your brilliant, beautiful biscuits, your sugared and spiced stollens, your festive, fruity breads and your cheery, Christmassy Cupcakes.

Here's a summary of how to take part:

  • All teatime treats, whether sweet or savoury, breads, pies, pasties, cakes, tarts, desserts, conserves or biscuits (plus many, many more!) can be submitted to the Challenge 
  • Post your recipe on your blog with a link to What Kate Baked and Lavender and Lovage, mention the relevant host for the month and attach the Tea Time Treats logo as shown on the event page.
  • The recipe can be one of your own or one you've seen elsewhere. You are welcome to republish old recipes/posts but please add the information about this challenge.
  • Please be as creative with the theme as you like.
  • If you put your post on twitter please mention @KarenBurnsBooth @katecakeandbake and we will retweet all those we see.
  • You do not need to enter every month to join in with the challenge.
  • Your post can be submitted for other blogging challenges, just make sure this complies with the rules of the other challenge.
  • Please email your entries to by the 28th December. A round up of each month's entries will be posted by the 1st of January on What Kate Baked.

You can read more about our monthly challenge here.


Kate and Karen 

Friday, 25 November 2011

Thanksgiving Mini Series: Pecan Toffee Cake

This is the third and final bake in the mini-series to celebrate Thanksgiving

In the summer between my first and second year at University I spent a few months working in America.

In a sweet shop. But of course.

I deputy managed a sweet shop named Candy Kitchen in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, the Blackpool of the East Coast of America. You could argue, as deputy manager of a sweet shop, I reached my lifetime career ambition by the age of 19.

I wore a bright pink t-shirt emblazoned with CANDY KITCHEN and sold boxes of taffy to the masses.

I really enjoyed the summer, not least because every single American I came across was so warm, welcoming and fascinated by this sales girl Deputy Manager with the funny accent. When asked, I'd say I was from Wales, which led to one very comedy exchange as one American couple enquired: 'Wales is a Communist country, right?'

Looking slightly aghast (had I been away that long?) I replied: 'Not as far as I know' before hotfooting it to the nearest internet cafe to email my family (Subject Matter: 'Has Wales become a communist country? Did I miss something? What's happened?! Reply ASAP')

This last post in the Thanksgiving mini-series is a Pecan Toffee Cake, the toffee being the next best thing I could find to taffy, THE best seller at Candy Kitchen.

I've adapted the recipe from Good Food Magazine, December 2008


100g pecans
140g stoned dates
200g butter
200g light muscovado sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
half a tsp ginger
half a tsp nutmeg
4 eggs, beaten
140g self-raising flour

1. Pop the dates in a small pan with enough water to cover the dates and boil for roughly five minutes until nice and soft. Drain, discarding the water and pop in a food processor. Whizz until smooth then leave to cool
2. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 180C/fan 160C/Gas Mark 4. Butter and line the base of a 23cm cake.
3. Beat the butter, sugar and spices together until light in colour and creamy. Tip in the date, eggs and a pinch of salt and beat until smooth
4. Fold in the flour, then spoon into the tin and level the top. 
5. Sprinkle the pecan nuts over the top and bake for 40 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack or alternatively serve warm

Baker's notes...

  • In true, holiday-season, indulgent fashion, generously drizzle maple syrup over the cake for a real all-American treat
  • Or serve with this maple ice cream
  • The original recipe had 100g ground pecans in the cake, but I'd run out of pecans. Oops. 
  • Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Thanksgiving Mini-Series: Pumpkin (Whoopie) Pies

This is the second post in the What Kate Baked mini-series that is Thanksgiving Bakes.

I wanted to bake an alternative to the ubiquitous Thanksgiving dessert, the Pumpkin Pie. The Pumpkin Whoopie Pie sprung to mind.

Stright from the States, the Whoopie Pie is one of the recent trends in baking. A sweet tasty treat that is best described as the result of an amorous coupling between a cookie and a cake. A guilty secret that the cookie struggles to talk about and the cake is deeply ashamed about.

As for the origin of this most delectable delight, well, are you sitting comfortably? Then we shall begin.

Once upon a time (said in best posh Jackanory voice), legend has it that Amish mothers in Pennsylvania would pop a spoonful or two of leftover cake batter in the oven, and sandwich together the resulting sponges with icing. Easily transportable, very yummy, their families would yell 'whoopie' with pleasure upon opening their packed lunches to find the pies.

However, there is controversy about this story (now that never happened in Jackanory). According to the Wall Street Journal two other states lay claim to the Whoopie. I reckon a Whoopie Pie-Off is required.

Meanwhile over this isde of the pond, Whoopie Pies have become a huge hit. Marks and Spencers sold out when they first started selling them last year. And Harrods had to employ an extra baker to keep up with demand.

Pumpkin Whoopie Pie


For the pies:
250g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground nutmeg
Half a tsp salt
115g butter, softened
125g light brown soft sugar
125g caster sugar
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
250g tinned pumpkin puree
1 tsp vanilla extract

For the cream cheese filling

115g full fat cream cheese
85g softened butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
180g sifted icing sugar

1. Preheat the oven to 350F/180C/170C fan assisted oven
2. Grease and line four baking sheets
3. For the pies: beat the butter and sugar together for a couple of minutes until thoroughly combined. Add the eggs, one at a time and beat well. Add the pumpkin puree and the vanilla extract and beat until smooth. Set aside.
4. In a second bowl mix together the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, spices and salt. 
5. Stir the flour mixture into the pumpkin mixture until combined.
6. Either spoon or pipe the mixture into small, equal sized circles onto the baking sheets
7. Bake for ten minutes or until the pie spring back when gently touched
8. Cool on the baking sheets for 5-10 minutes before removing to finish cooling on a wire rack
9. To make the filling: beat the cream cheese, vanilla and butter together until smooth. Add the icing sugar and beat again until combined, glossy and smooth
10. Spread roughly a teaspoon of cream cheese filling on the flat side of one of the pies before sandwiching with a second pie (flat side down). Repeat with all the pies.

Baker's notes...

  • I made mini versions, approximately 5cm in diameter, which made roughly 25 pies using the recipe above. Alternatively you can make larger versions which would of course yield fewer pies
  • I used a piping bag, which helped ensure equal sized, uniform pies
  • Store the pies in an airtight container in the fridge and dust with icing sugar to serve
  • The recipe above is adapted from The Hummingbird Bakery Cake Days recipe for Pumpkin Whoopie Pie and Libby's Pumpkin Puree 'Very Best Baking' website
  • I used Libby's tinned Pumpkin Puree in this recipe which I found in our local Waitrose
  • I've never made Whoopie Pies before, and indeed, only ever tasted one prior to baking these. I was really pleasantly surprised to find them tasty, moist and more-ish. 
  • In the picture below the two missing ones are the What Kate Baked Baker's Bonus ones- the ones I tried out to make sure I didn't accidently add 250g of salt rather than sugar...
  • Happy Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving Mini-Series: Bourbon Pecan Brownies...Plus: A compliment from a baking icon

Tomorrow, the United States celebrates Thanksgiving, commemorating the three day feast in 1621 between the pioneering pilgrims and Native Americans and giving thanks for the harvest.

As millions of Americans around the world set off home to their families, their President pardons a lucky turkey named Liberty and Lady Gaga shows the world how to make waffles on her Thanksgiving TV Special, here's a few holiday statistics fact-fans:

  • $4.37 billion worth of turkey is expected to be consumed over the holidays, with the 'Gopher State' Minnesota the top turkey producing state
  • There are four places in the US named after the traditional main course: two 'Turkey Creek's (in Louisiana and Texas) and two plains 'Turkey's (in Arizona and North Carolina)
  • And there are 9 places in the USA called 'Cranberry'
  • 1.1 billion pounds of pumpkin is produced in the run-up to Thanksgiving (250g of which found its way to my kitchen for tomorrow's Pumpkin Whoopie Pie recipe)
All stats courtesy of US Census

To kick off What Kate Baked Thanksgiving mini-series we have these delicious bourbon and pecan brownies from Dan Lepard's 'How to Bake' series in the Guardian.

The recipe can be found right here, so I won't write it out verbatim

Baker's notes:

  • The only changes I made to the original recipe was to leave out the cocoa powder as I was using 85% cocoa solids chocolate and to use only 100g pecan nuts rather than the stated 125g.
  • Crisp on the outside, gooey on the inside, a hint of Bourbon and a crunch of pecan....Happy Thanksgiving!
  • Inspired? Try Dan's Pecan Crust Bourbon Chocolate Tart
  • I was super-excited to meet Dan last week at Let's Make Christmas at Fortnum and Mason and even more thrilled to find a tweet the following morning from Dan who had tasted my festive bake: ' yes, it was a brilliant day, and liked your crunchy nut cake very much!'
  • If I hadn't already been sitting down I think I'd have toppled over. Dan Lepard. Complimenting my Cake. Eh?!?!

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Crumble in a Cup: We Should Cocoa

With A's sweet tooth more of a savoury one, I often have to go it alone on the pudding front. 

It is no problem. I'll happily take one for the team tum.

This chilly, dark weeknight I craved a comfort pud. Apple Crumble in a Cup, the oven is yours.

Yep, rather than bake a crumble in a massive pie dish, Crumble in a Cup is the easy-slumped-on-the-sofa-convenient-mini version.

And to add a little twist to such a classic favourite I've drowned the crumble in white chocolate custard.

Which fits in very nicely with the theme for this month's We Should Cocoa challenge: apples. This brilliantly chocolatey  cooking challenge is hosted this month by Chele from The Chocolate Teapot.

Crumble in a Cup


For the filling

1 cooking apple, cored, peeled and cut into small segments
1 tbsp caster sugar
1 tsp cinnamon

For the crumble

50g plain flour
25g butter
30g demerara sugar

For the custard

2 tsp custard powder
2 tsp sugar
225ml milk
30g white chocolate chunks
(or see alternative method below)

1. Preheat the oven to 170C/325F/Gas Mark 3
2. Pop the apple chunks in an oven-suitable cup and sprinkle with the cinnamon and sugar for the filling. Set aside
3. In a bowl rub together the flour and butter with the tips of your fingers until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Stir in the sugar
4. Arrange the crumble topping over the apples and place in the oven for approximately 20 minutes or until the topping is golden brown 
5. To make the custard: Pop the custard powder and sugar in a bowl, stir in a tbsp or two of the milk to form a smooth paste. Pour the remaining milk into a small saucepan and heat until almost boiling. Pour onto the custard paste and stir. Return to the pan and low heat, add the chocolate and stir until melted and the custard has thickened. Pour generously over the crumble in the cup

Baker's notes...

  • An alternative method to make white chocolate custard would be to put 30g of white chocolate in a microwavable dish, pour over 200ml fresh vanilla custard and heat, stirring every 30 seconds until the chocolate has melted and the custard warmed nicely
  • Instead of apples Crumble in a Cup works very well with plums, blackberries, strawberries, rhubarb, mixed berries....
  • ...Or try a sprinkling of oats on top of the crumble
  • Excuse the rubbish picture above. It was dark.
  • Crumble in a Cup? You heard it here first, next time you'll hear it, I'll be swaggering smugly onto The Apprentice, arrogantly telling Sirrr-Alan/Lord-Sugar my plans for global domination with Crumble in a Cup.... before failing terribly in the first show for being unable to Project Manage my fellow contestants in the 'Design a stylish new clothes horse' round

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Food Blogger's Unplugged and Carrot Cake

Warning: Following a frenzy of Christmas Baking this last week, normal, non-festive service has resumed (Temporarily. After all, Christmas is just the bestest excuse to eat, drink and be merry bake.)

A little different from normal posts, today I'm joining in the game of tag started by Susan at A Little Bit of Heaven on a Plate. A really fun way of learning a little more about the blogger behind the dish, these ten questions have been set:

(NB: I'm sitting in my Mastermind black leather swizzle chair, headtorch shining brightly, ready to answer questions on my specialist subject.

1. What, or who inspired you to start a blog?

I think, as I was doing more and more baking, I thought blogging might be a good platform to write about my trials and tribulations in the kitchen.

2. Who is your foodie inspiration?

Without doubt, the other foodie bloggers whom I follow, crumb by crumb each week.

3. Your greasiest, batter - splattered food/drink book is?

There are definitely pages of Delia's Complete Cookery Course that would need to be steamed apart, so stuck down they are with stale cake mixture and greasy, buttered, fingerprints. I suspect Dan Lepard's book is heading in exactly the same much-loved direction. For savoury foodstuffs (yes, on rare occasions non-sweet items pass my lips. I feel I am cheating on my cake tins saying this) I turn to Nigel's books.

4. Tell us all about the best thing you have ever eaten in another country, where was it, what was it?

Hmmmm...would that be the salt beef sandwich from Katz's Deli in New York? Perhaps that Ferg Burger on that brilliantly cold, drunken night after bungee jumping in New Zealand? That first non-rice dish in Laos when I felt better after a week of food poisoning? Could it be the delicate, dainty macaroons from Laduree in Paris? 

Will stop showing off now.

5. Another food bloggers table you'd like to eat at is?

I'd head straight over to Karen's table at Lavender and Lovage in France- Karen is used to cooking for up to twelve people so I reckon, if I don't eat for a month before hand, I can totally polish off twelve delicious meals.

6. What is the one kitchen gadget you would ask Santa for this year (money no object of course)?

A bright red K-Mix. Or my own washer-upper robot (I'm sure I've seen one on Dragon's Den recently...)

7. Who taught you how to cook?

My family, A, Delia and Jamie.

8. I'm coming to you for dinner what's your signature dish?

Three courses of cake?

9. What is your guilty food pleasure? 

Angel Delight and DairyLea.


10. Reveal something about yourself that others would be surprised to learn?

I won first prize, a red rosette, for Amateur Goat Herding at The Royal Welsh Show circa 1994.

To continue I now need to tag five further bloggers...

1. Working London Mummy, found right here
2. Nelly's Cupcakes, found right here
3. Corner Cottage Bakery, found right here
4. Cake, Crumbs and Cooking, found right here
5. Mainly Baking, found right here

And, because this post wouldn't be complete without cake, here's one I made earlier.

Its the Yummy, Scrummy Carrot Cake from Good Food Magazine, May 2002 and can be found online right here

Baker's notes...

  • Truth is, I think I prefer this carrot cake mainly because I have an insatiable appetite for the cream cheese icing
  • Still this is one very easy, very moist bake which will keep for a few days in an airtight receptacle

Friday, 18 November 2011

Update: Let's Make Christmas: Miniature Crunchy Fruit and Nut Christmas Cake, Chocolate Table Truffles and Mulled Wine Syrup


After three weeks of deliberating and debating, selecting and sampling I finally chose my gifts to take along to Let's Make Christmas.

There was the supper that consisted entirely of chocolate truffles, the early morning when I felt increasingly tipsy from the overwhelming but very festive fumes from the boiling mulled wine syrup and the raised eyebrows from the librarian as I stripped the local library of all Christmas-related recipe books, two months early.

Let's Make Christmas, very kindly organised by the brilliant Vanessa Kimbell of 'Prepped' fame, took place at Fortnum and Mason. Fifty food bloggers meeting and greeting, sampling festive fare and a little gentle competition. There were four categories in the Great Blogger Christmas Gift Swop: cakes, sweets, preserves and drinks. All to be judged by one very lucky Dan Lepard


My experience of baking for competition is, erm, limited, as you can read right here. But this is what I made:

The Miniature Crunchy Fruit and Nut Christmas Cake:

Now boxed and be-ribboned:

And, in the drink category, Mulled Wine Syrup:

Mulled Wine Syrup: 


Peel and juice of 1 unwaxed orange
Peel of 1 lemon
150g caster sugar
5 cloves
5 cardamon pods
1 cinnamon stick
A pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
1 large glass of red wine

  • Pop the peel and juice of the orange,  the lemon peel, sugar, cloves, cardamom pods, cinnamon stick and nutmeg  into a large saucepan.
  • Add the red wine and heat gently, stiring occasionally, until the sugar has dissolved.
  • Bring to the boil and cook for approximately 5-10 minutes until a thick syrup
  • Allow to cool and poor into sterilised bottles

Baker's Drinker's notes...

  • When ready to use: pour the syrup into a large saucepan, add two bottles of fruity red wine and gently heat through
  • Makes 12 servings.

Also be-ribboned:

And, finally, a selection of Christmas Table Truffles, inspired by our Christmas Table each year back home. These add a little chocolate treat to the end of what is surely The Best Meal Of The Year (TM):

Christmas Table Truffles

Dark Chocolate Classic Truffles (not shown; we ate the spares. Oops)
50g good quality dark chocolate
50ml double cream
10g muscovado sugar
Cocoa powder for dusting

1. Break the chocolate into small pieces and place in a mixing bowl
2. Place the cream and sugar in a small pan and heat gently, stirring slowly until the sugar has completely melted
3. Take the cream and sugar off the heat and allow to cool for a minute
4. Pour over the chocolate and mix well with a whisk until smooth and glossy (this can also be undertaken with aliquidiser for a smoother finish)
5. Allow to cool further at room temperature then place in the fridge for at least a couple of hours until fully set
6. When set use a small spoon to scoop out truffle sized pieces and roll in cocoa powder

White Chocolate Cranberry Truffles

100g good quality dark Chocolate
50ml double cream
10g muscovado sugar
A palmful of dried cranberries, chopped into small pieces

150g melted white chocolate

1. Break the chocolate into small pieces and place in a mixing bowl
2. Place the cream and sugar in a small pan and heat gently until just before boiling
3. Take the cream and sugar off the heat and allow to cool for a minute
4. Pour over the chocolate and mix well with a whisk until smooth and glossy (this can also be undertaken with a liquidiser for a smoother finish). Add the chopped cranberries
5. Allow to cool further at room temperature then place in the fridge for at least a couple of hours until fully set
6. When set use a small spoon to scoop out truffle sized pieces
7. Dip in the melted white chocolate and decorate with a chopped dried cranberry

Pistachio Truffles

100g dark chocolate
50ml double cream
Half a teaspoon of vanilla extract
40g finely chopped, shelled pistachios

1. Break the chocolate into small pieces and place in a mixing bowl
2. Place the cream in a small pan and heat gently until just before boiling
3. Take the cream off the heat and allow to cool for a minute
4. Pour over the chocolate and mix well with a whisk until smooth and glossy (this can also be undertaken with a liquidiser)
5. Allow to cool further at room temperature then place in the fridge for at least a couple of hours until fully set
6. When set use a small spoon to scoop out truffle sized pieces and roll the truffles in the chopped pistachios

Chocolate 'Snowballs'

100g good quality dark chocolate
2 tbsps condensed milk
Dessicated coconut for rolling

1. Pop the chocolate and condensed milk in a microwave-proof bowl and heat the ingredients in a microwave, pausing every 10-20 seconds to stir
2. Once melted remove from the microwave, continuing to stir as the mixture thickens
3. Allow to cool then place in the fridge to set
4. Once set, remove from the fridge and use a small spoon to scoop out truffle sized pieces and roll in the coconut to cover completely

Baker's notes...
  • All truffles keep in a cool place for up to three days
  • Each recipe makes approximately ten - fifteen truffles
  • Chocolate + warm hands = potential truffle disaster. Clean plastic gloves are thus very useful when rolling the truffles. Working in a hospital I have access to a plentiful supply, but of course I forgot to bring any home. Improvising, I used two freezer bags as 'gloves' which worked rather well when moulding the truffles into shape
  • I didn't add any alcohol to these, but a tsp or two of rum would add a certain festive cheer

Boxed and be-ribboned:

UPDATE: It was a brilliant afternoon, I thoroughly, thoroughly enjoyed myself. I met with lovely, lovely old friends and made great new friends, all in the grandeur, sumptuous and very festive surroundings of Fortnum and Mason. The full list of prize winners will be published on Vanessa's blog in due course. A big, huge thank you to Vanessa, judge Dan and all those at Fortnums.

I was lucky to take home some gorgeous Christmas gifts, including Cindy from Food for Thought's Christmas-Feel-Good-Cookies, Sneige from Orange Thyme Blog's award-winning Port and Cranberry Mincemeat Pops and Pascale from Extra Relish's Christmas Cheese Sables. Sadly I have very few photos of the event as I was too busy chatting and scoffing. The buttery, boozy mince pies generously provided by Fortnums stood no chance. Perhaps not that surprising.