Tuesday, 31 January 2012

February Tea Time Treats

After sweet pastries dominated proceedings ovens in January (all the delicious entries and Karen's absolutely wonderful round-up can be found right here), this month's Tea Time Treats theme is:

(drum roll please)

Bring us your passion-fuelled puddings and pies and let us lust after your decadent desserts. Spoil us with your scones, bewitch us with your biscuits and tempt us with your tarts and traybakes. Charm us with your cakes and thrill us with your tea time treats for two!

The entry guidelines can be found right here.

Don't forget to email us (teatimetreatschallenge@yahoo.co.uk) by 28th February 2012 for inclusion in the round-up the following day.

Happy baking!

Kate and Karen


Sunday, 29 January 2012

Ambassador's Cupcakes with Chocolate, Hazelnut and Ferrero Rocher

My knowledge of the British diplomacy service is scant; it is gleaned solely from avid viewing of Spooks and devouring of John le Carre novels.

I am however fully aware of the confectionery of choice of every ambassador this side of the Suez crisis.

Thanks to Ferror Rocher and 'Monsieur, with thezze Ferrero Rocher you are realllly spoileeng us, hahaha'.

Indeed, we all know, thanks to those iconic (and some argue excruitatingly awfuladverts, exactly how Ambassadors with exquisite taste across the world are spoiling their reception guests. With hazelnuts covered in hazelnut cream, encased in a wafer shell, covered in chocolate and yet more hazelnut of course.

I have undertaken some research to see how true to life these adverts really are.

Firstly, on the Foreign and Commonwealth Office website. I can sadly report there is no mention of Ferrero Rocher usage. And just as I was about to put in a Freedom of Information request I find that someone has beaten me to it. Yep, the British Foreign Office have already been asked how much of their annual budget is spent on Ferrero Rochers. Regrettably, I have to inform you that the request was deemed 'too frivolous' and an answer not forthcoming.

Which makes me think the answer to how much the Foreign and Commonwelth Office spend annually on Ferrero Rocher is: 'a lot'.

Since Ferrero Rochers have been enjoyed at Ambassador's receptions since 1982, I suspect (despite the wide range of varieties available) our diplomats may be getting a little tired of seeing the same towering silver tray of gold wrapped chocolate hazelnuts being brought out at every do.

Therefore, British Foreign and Commonwealth Office, I'd like to present you with the following: The Ambassador's Cupcake. A Ferrero Rocher hidden inside a chocolate and hazelnut cupcake, topped with hazelnut-chocolate frosting and chopped hazelnuts. No need to thank me, William Hague, I like to do my bit for Queen and Country.

Ambasaador’s Cupcakes
Makes twelve
For the Cupcakes
125g butter
150g caster sugar
2 eggs
200g self-raising flour
2 tbsps cocoa powder
100ml milk
100g melted dark chocolate
For the icing and decoration:
100g softened butter
180g icing sugar
40g cocoa powder
40g finely ground hazelnuts
1-2 tbsps milk

12 Ferroro Rocher chocolates
60g finely chopped hazelnuts

1.      Preheat the oven to 190C/170C fan/375F and line a cupcake tray with twelve cupcake cases
2.      Beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. With the mixer on a low speed gradually add in the eggs.
3.      Sift in the flour and cocoa powder
4.      Gently fold in the milk and melted chocolate until thoroughly combined.
5.      Spoon the batter between the paper cases, filling each case approximately three quarters full. Bake for 18-20 minutes 
6.      Allow to cool in the cases for a few minutes before removing onto a wire rack to cool completely.
7.      To make the icing: Beat together the butter, icing sugar, cocoa powder and ground hazelnuts until combined. Gradually add the milk and whisk until the icing is soft and fluffy.
8.      Using a sharp knife cut a shallow ‘crater’ in the top of each cooled cupcake. Spoon a small amount of icing in the crater and place a Ferrero Rocher on the top, using the icing as a 'glue' to hold the chocolate in place
9.      Place the remainder of the icing in a piping bag and pipe up and around the Ferrero Rocher until the chocolate is hidden. Sprinkle the chopped hazelnuts over each cupcake


Baker's notes...
  • An alternative to the icing above would be a great big spoonful of Nutella
  • If anyone has ever been to an Ambassador's Reception, did you get offered Ferrero Rocher by a suitably suave butler?

Saturday, 28 January 2012

Fresh from the Oven: Tangzhong Loaf

Fresh from the Oven is the monthly bread baking challenge that is currently being hosted by Silvia and Ivan from mushitza.

To me, the Tangzhong method sounded more like a particularly painful and little known Olympic martial art and not a method for baking a very soft and fluffy loaf using a water roux.

Popularised by Yvonne Chen and her book 'The 65º Bread Doctor', this method keeps the bread moist and fresh for a number of days. It doesn't come as a huge surprise to therefore discover that most Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese, or Filipino bakeries have fallen head over yeast in love with this method.

And the recipe itself isn't complicated- there are no fancy pants ingredients or exotic flavour combinations. 

My only tiny, tiny complaint (and for such a lovely loaf, it was worth it) is that the dough is mighty, mighty sticky. Silvia and Ivan advise using an electrical mixer for this reason and my MagiMix almost had to be resuscitated by the end.

Tangzhong Loaf:

For the Tangzhong
  • 30g flour
  • 150g cold water.
For the Dough
  • 350g strong flour
  • 5g instant yeast 
  • 55g sugar
  • 5g salt
  • 1 egg
  • 125g milk 
  • 120g tangzhong
  • 30g butter, melted and cooled
For Glaze
  • the rest of the tangzhong 
1. For the tangzhong: whisk together cold water and flour and cook over low heat, stirring all the time until the temperature on a thermometer reaches 65ºC. Leave the tangzhong to cool down at room temperature before using it. 
2. For the dough: Combine together flour, sugar, yeast and salt then add in milk with the tangzhong and egg. Mix all the ingredients into a soft dough then add in the butter. Knead for 15 – 20 minutes 
3. Cover the bowl and leave it to double in bulk
4. Knock the dough down on a lightly floured counter top then form into an oval loaf. Transfer to a floured baking tray. Cover with a teatowel and let it double in bulk again
5. Preheat the oven to 180ºC. Brush with the rest of the tangzhong and bake for around 30 – 35 minutes until nicely golden

Baker's notes...
  • I accidently forgot to leave aside 30g of the tangzhong for the glaze and threw it in with the rest of the mixture. Oops.
  • This loaf lasted an amazing six days and remained as fresh on the sixth day as it was when it first came out of the oven
  • I'll definitely make it again- though may need to sweet talk the Magimix into this

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Happy Australia Day! Hot Chocolate Lamingtons

Happy Australia Day!

Today commemorates the arrival of the First Fleet at Sydney Cove in 1788, establishing the very first European colony in Australia.

I spent six months working in Sydney several years ago when I took a year out. As a tax advisor. Quite a random role to be fair- I had no knowledge of the British tax system let alone the Australian one. And when I left six months later I still had very little knowledge of the Australian tax system. And the British one scares me ('emergency tax codes' bring me out in a cold sweat).

 But I loved living in Pyrmont in Sydney, strolling each morning in the glorious sunshine across Darling Harbour to work. Heading out to Bondi or Manly beaches at the weekend. Replacing Penguin bars with Tim Tams and Bakewell Tarts with Lamingtons. 

Ah, yes Lamingtons. When Mr P from the magnificent Delicious Delicious Delicious announced this year's Reinventing the Lamington Challenge, for me it was time to Relive the Lamington from my time in Oz. 

For those not in the know a Lamington is a sponge cake coated in chocolate and coconut. And Mr P has been reinventing them for the last few years into the most brilliant creations possible. I however, have never made one previously. This was to be my very first attempt.

My entry into this annual Lammie-Off is a Hot Chocolate Lamington, complete with a squirt of whipped cream and a chunk of chocolate on top. Simple perhaps, but these are very much 'project cakes' (see also cake pops) and take a bit of time. I didn't want to be too ambitious on my first attempt.

I used a Madeira Cake for the cake-base as this forms quite a sturdy, robust cake, the Duke of Edinburgh of the cake world if you like, happy to be tossed about in icing, coconut and so forth.  

Hot Chocolate Lamingtons


One Madeira Cake, cut into squares approximately 4cmx4cm

200g icing sugar (sifted)
100g cocoa powder or Nesquik (sifted)
80g unsalted butter, softened
2 tbsps milk (approximately)

150g dessicated coconut
100ml double cream
Flake bar, cut into small pieces

1. To make the icing: beat together the butter, icing sugar and cocoa powder/Nesquik under thoroughly combined. Gradually add the milk, beating slowly until a soft, fluffy icing forms (you may need a little more than the milk advised above)
2. Smooth on the icing onto each of the cake squares
3. Pour the coconut onto a large plate and roll each iced cake square in the coconut
4. Whip the cream and pipe a little onto the top of each lamington and insert a flake at a jaunty angle!

Baker's notes...

  • There are hundreds of different varieties of Lamingtons available- Mr P's blog, Delicious, Delicious, Delicious has many fantastic ideas
  • For a great Madeira Cake recipe, try this one. Madeira Cake keeps for up to five days. I'll also be posting my own recipe in the coming weeks
  • Happy Australia Day!

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Burns Night and Stem Ginger Shortbread

Tonight is Burns Night. I went to a Burns Night Ceilidh in London one year. For what I most certainly lacked in skill and technique I made up in enthusiaism and, erm, more enthusiasm.

And there was a proper Scottish couple there who could actually dance. They knew the steps as you and I know how to walk. In matching tarten ensembles, they were stunning to watch. She with her model looks, he Braveheart.

And there I was, tipsy with whisky, full of haggis-n-neeps and enthusiasm, stripping the willow, dashing the White Sargent and flying the Scotsman all over the place.

These ginger shortbreads are perfect for a post Ceilidh treat.

Happy Burns Night!

Stem Ginger Shortbread

(makes ten; adapted from Great British Bake Off: How to Bake)

100g unsalted butter, softened
50g caster sugar, plus a little extra for sprinkling
130g plain flour
20g cornflour
Half a tsp ground ginger
Pinch of salt
30g chopped stem ginger (drained)

1. Beat the butter until creamy. Gradually beat in the sugar until light and fluffy
2. Sift the floiurs, ginger and salt into the bowl. Add the chopped stem ginger and work all the ingredients together with your hands until combined
3. Form the dough into a sausage shape, roughly 10cm long and warp in clingfilm. Pop in the fridge for 30 minutes until firm
4. Preheat the oven to 170C/325F/Gas Mark 3. Unwrap the dough and slice into ten rounds
5. Arrange on a greased baking sheet and bake for twenty minutes until firm but not coloured
6. Remove from the oven, sprinkle over a little caster sugar and leave to cool for a few minutes on the baking sheet before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely

Baker's notes...
  • Try other flavour combinations such as chocolate (replace the ground ginger with half a tsp of vanilla extract and the stem ginger with 30g chopped dark chocolate) 
  • As with any shortbread, the better the butter, the better the biscuit. It's worth splashing out on the posh stuff.
  • This recipe can be easily doubled
  • Apparently, the 'short' of shortbread has been used to describe a 'crumbling texture' since medieval times- for more fab food facts see the brilliant food encyclopedia The Taste of Britain
  • The missing one in the centre was assigned a 'Baker's Treat'. And apologies about the dark photographs; this grim winter weather does not make for cheery photos.

Sunday, 22 January 2012

New job nerves, Random Recipes and Marbled Chocolate Crumble Cake

I start a new job tomorrow. 

I'm feeling nervous. Excited, but nervous. 

Its a little like starting school, a new job. 

For instance, I bought some new shoes yesterday. Sadly not 1980s favourite Clarks Magic Key shoes (want to be a Princess? Check out the retro ad) or 1990s favourites, Doctor Martins. And I bought some new pens (it is the NHS afterall) and almost bought me a pencil case. 

How I loved the pre-new school year pencil case shopping! That trip to WHSmith, the thoughtful deliberation in the stationary aisle and upon return home the careful organisation of new pens, pencils, rulers and that compass you'd use only once a year in the annual trigonometry lesson.

To sooth my nerves, I baked. And because Dan Lepard states "I truly believe that life is improved by cake", I turned to his most brilliant Short and Sweet: The Best of Home Baking and made this lovely, lovely Marbled Chocolate Crumble Cake. The best thing about Dan's recipes, as  a lot of bloggers know, is that his recipes really do work. Plus the book has this fancy 'double fan adhesive binding' which means it stays open on the page you want when baking, always most helpful.

And as the book was a present at Christmas, this post is winging its way over to Dom off of Belleau Kitchen's Random Recipes Challenge. The theme this month is 'New Year, New Book'. 

The original recipe can be found on page 146 of Short and Sweet. Dan has some top tips for marbling right here in the Guardian. 

Baker's notes...
  • The original recipe used plain caster sugar and stirred in 100g chopped dark chocolate to the chocolate mix before it went into the tin. I used caster sugar infused with a vanilla pod and skipped out the chopped chocolate
  • This was a really popular cake- given to my old colleagues on my last day- and Dan suggests eating it warm with a generous pouring of custard
  • I didn't buy myself Magic Key shoes yesterday. Disappointingly they discontinued them 22 years ago.

Random Recipes #12 - January

Saturday, 21 January 2012

Tea Time Treats: Not hot, not cross, just buns

When my Tea Time Treat buddy, the lovely Karen, from Lavender and Lovage announced this month's theme, sweet pastries and breads, I wondered whether it may be just a little too early to bake Hot Cross Buns.

While I loved making them last Easter, and even though the shops have had all manner of Easter treats on display since Boxing Day, it is still only January and I'm still finding the odd squashed Christmas Quality Street down the back of the sofa.

Yet these gloomy, dark afternoons are just crying out for a sweet toasted bun: juicy sultanas and raisins jostling for space, warming spices and slathered in melting butter.

So I made them without the traditional cross. Which means I can eat them all year round. Hurrah!

 Not hot, not cross, just buns
(adapted from Nigel Slater and Felicity Cloake)

450g plain flour
7g dried yeast
50g soft brown sugar
2 tsp mixed spice
80g sultanas
45g currants
60g mixed peel
2 large eggs
225ml milk
50g butter

For the glaze:
2 tbsp soft brown sugar

1. Sift the flour in a large bowl
2. Add the sugar, yeast, spice and half a teaspoon of salt
3. Stir in the dried fruit and peel
4. Beat 1 egg and pour into the flour
5. Warm the butter and milk (don't boil), and when warm add to the flour and initially bring together with a knife before using your hand to bring the dough together
6. Tip the dough onto a well-floured surface. It will be pretty sticky at this time.
7. Knead for 7-10 minutes until the dough feels all nice and soft and elastic
8. Pop in a clean bowl, cover with a tea towel
9. Allow to rise for approximately 1 hour or until doubled in size. Grease a 23cm square tin
10. Turn the dough back out onto a floured surface and divide into twelve pieces
11. Roll each piece roughly into a ball and arrange, side by side in the tin 
12. Cover the buns with a tea-towel and allow to plump up for 30 minutes
13. Preheat the oven to 220C/200C fan/Gas Mark 8. 
14. Beat the remaining egg and using as a wash to gently brush over the buns
15. Place the buns in the oven for 18-20 minutes
17. Make the glaze by mixing the sugar with 4 tbsps of kettled boiled water. Brush gently on top of your buns as soon as they come out of the oven


Baker's notes...

  • The great thing about these buns is the maa-husive range of flavour combinations. While I've stuck firmly with tradition, how about apple and cinnamon? Orange and Cranberry? Chocolate? Toffee? Seeded? A handful of nuts? 
  • And should you have any left over (eh?) that may be going a little stale, they'll make a delicious base for a bread and butter pudding.

Monday, 16 January 2012

Blue Monday and Cheer-up Tuesday Comfort food: Pear and Apple Mincemeat Crumble


How was it for you?


Or, as it is otherwise known, Blue Monday.

Yep, boffins got together and undertook some nifty calculations, which I would summerise as follows, in the What Kate Baked Classroom:

They declared the third Monday in January as the most depressing day of the year.

While this has roundly been declared pseudoscience, I reckon its a fine excuse to indulge in some comforting, cheering food. At least that's what I told myself yesterday when I had the King Size Bounty.

Both of them.

This crumble I've been storing up to post since Christmas, thinking it would be an antidote to yesterday's gloom. And, because it would be using up any leftover mincemeat you may have lurking at the back of the cupboard, I've entered into Fuss Free Flavour's Frugal Food Fridays.

Pear and Apple Mincemeat Crumble

125g plain flour
125g unsalted butter, diced
100g light brown sugar
75g light muscovado sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
Zest of two lemons and juice of one
4 eating apples, peeled, cored and cut into small chunks
4 pears, peeled, cored and cut into small chunks
4 tbsp mincemeat

1. Preheat the oven to 200C/180C fan/Gas Mark 6
2. To make the crumble rub together the butter and 125g of the flour until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs
3. Stir in 125g of the sugar (reserving 50g of the light brown sugar), the cinnamon and half the lemon zest
4. Pop the fruit in a shallow, oven proof dish, add the mincemeat, the remaining sugar, 1 tbsp of the flour, the lemon juice and remaining zest. Stir well
5. Sprinkle the crumble mixture on the fruit and bake for 45 minutes until the fruit is bubbling nicely and the crumble golden

Baker's notes...

  • Super-tasty warm from the oven and served with cream or ice cream
  • Can I christen today Cheer-up-Tuesday?


Sunday, 15 January 2012

Afternoon Tea Cupcakes

Afternoon Tea. 

A quintessential British Institution.

I've no doubt the Battle of Waterloo was won following a satisfyingly filling Afternoon Tea for all the troops. William Renshaw, winner of no less than seven Wimbledon Tennis Championship titles must have celebrated with a spot of Afternoon Tea. And didn't Harry Potter come about while J K Rowling was enjoying afternoon tea? 

Along with the Royal Family, the Tower of London and Judi Dench, Afternoon Tea is, officially, a National Treasure.

By all accounts*, Afternoon Tea was created in the Nineteenth Century, when Anna, Duchess of Bedford  became a little peckish between lunch and supper, describing a 'sinking feeling' she would experience every day at four o clock. The solution were small cakes and tea sneakily bought to her boudoir by her ladies in waiting. But soon, realizing she'd stumbled upon a rather elegant and tasty way of preventing those Four O Clock tummy rumblings she began to invite along her friends and the tea moved from the boudoir to the drawing room. 

Henry James wrote, "There are few hours in life more agreeable than the hour dedicated to the ceremony known as an afternoon tea." Henry, I couldn't agree more, but hows about an all-in-one afternoon tea?**

Yep, these cupcakes are infused by Earl Grey tea, providing a subtle bergamot flavour and topped with a mini Hob Nob.

Afternoon Tea Cupcakes
(Makes 6 cupcakes)


3 Earl Grey teabags
3 tbsps hot water
40g unsalted butter
140g golden caster sugar
120g plain flour
Half a tbsp baking powder
Pinch of salt
100ml whole milk
1 large egg

For the icing
3 Earl Grey teabags
250g icing sugar
130g unsalted butter
25ml whole milk
Pack of mini hobnobs

1.  To make the cake: Firstly, pop the teabags into a bowl and add the water, set aside to brew
2. Preheat the oven to 190C/170C fan/375F and line a cupcake tray with six cupcake cases. Beat together the butter, sugar, flour, baking powder and salt until combined- the mixture will resemble fine breadcrumbs
3. Whisk (by hand) the milk and egg together in a separate bowl. Add the tea, squeezing the teabags to ensure every last drop of tea is added. 
4. Gradually add the milk mixture to the dry ingredients, beating together on a low speed until the misture resembles a smooth batter
5. Spoon the batter between the paper cases, filling each case approximately three quarters full. Bake for 18-20 minutes or until the cupcakes are golden in colour and springy to touch
6. Allow to cool in the cases for a few minutes before removing onto a wire rack to cool completely
7. To make the topping: Place the fresh teabags in a small bowl with the milk and set aside to infuse.
8. Beat together the butter and icing sugar until combined. Pour in the infused milk and whisk until the icing is soft and fluffy
9. Pipe the icing onto each cupcake and decorate with the hobnobs

Baker's notes...
  • Course, any biscuit of choice can be used to decorate these
  • Best eaten within a couple of days although the uniced cupcakes will freeze
  • This recipe is inspired by the Hummingbird Bakery Cake Days recipe book, which suggests using peppermint or fruit teas instead of Earl Grey 

*Well, the one website I read
*Well, minus the scones and the sandwiches. Otherwise we'd end up with a creation worthy of Willy Wonka. 

Friday, 13 January 2012

January, We Should Cocoa and Mini Chocolate Orange Fondue Pots

It's January. The month of restraint, restriction and renewal. Of low-fat, low-cal and low-fun.

In theory, the cake tins should be banished to the back of the cupboard and the only weighing and measuring occurring should be the weighing of Body Mass Index and the measuring of waist circumference. In theory, salaries should be spent on gym memberships and diet plans rather than sugar and eggs.

However, in practice, what this most gloomy of months needs is comfort and cheer.

And chocolate.

For this month's We Should Cocoa choc-tastic blogging challenge, the lovely Chele from Chocolate Teapot has set the theme 'health conscious'. Previously, we've firmly established here on What Kate Baked that chocolate is indeed terribly healthy and good for you. Hurrah! So, it was simply a case of making it even healthier.  And voila! These mini chocolate orange fondue pots were born unto the world.

Both cheerful and comforting.

Mini Chocolate Orange Fondue Pots
(makes 2 pots)


50ml double cream
100g dark chocolate, finely chopped
half a tsp vanilla extract

2 satsumas, peeled and each segment attached to a cocktail stick

1. Set a pyrex bowl over a small pan of simmering water, ensuring the bowl does not touch the water. Pour the cream into the bowl and heat gently.
2. Once the cream begins to very gently boil, remove from the heat and whisk in the chocolate until melted. Add the vanilla extract
3. Pour into pots or mugs, start the dipping and enjoy!

Baker's Chocoholic's notes...

  • Ideally, a proper fondue set would be a good plan for this dessert , and indeed would be very helpful to keep the chocolate nice and warm. Otherwise, if like me you don't have a fondue set or burner, follow the instructions as above and eat the dessert very quickly. Which, if you are anything like me, you certainly won't have a problem doing
  • Any fruit can be used, as could cubes of leftover (eh?) cake or marshmallows
  • Taking minutes to prepare this is the perfect pudding and would also be very appropriate to enjoy apres-ski. Or while lounging on the sofa watching Ski Sunday. 


Monday, 9 January 2012

The Great Sport Relief Bake Off and Paul Hollywood's loaf

Tonight sees a brand new series of The Great British Bake Off, but with a celebrity twist and all in aid of Sports Relief.

Excited?! Me too!

Tuesday nights simply haven't been the same since the last series finished in the Autumn. Each week since, I've stared forlornly at the blank television screen, a solitary sugary tear (90% of my body fluid is pure cane sugar) rolling down my cheek.

Okay. Perhaps, that is a tad melodramatic.

But with the exception of that incident of stalking Mary Berry (admittedly not my finest moment), the last few months have been a bleak GBBO-free zone.

I don't know about you, but I've a few questions I'm burning to know about this four part series:

1) Will Mary and Paul be just that little more forgiving when it all goes wrong? The contestants are after all celebrities not just mere mortals. The full list of those wielding their spatulas, wooden spoons and whisks can be found here

2) Who will be enjoying all the cake and providing the wonderful witticisms with Sue not in the presenting seat?

3) Who are 'celebrity contestants' Alex Langlands and Gus Casely-Hayford? Answers on a postcard and a slice of the cake for the person who can tell me.

4) Will that squirrel be making a triumphant reappearance? (Please BBC!!)

Fancy a sneak preview? Check out the clips here

Meanwhile this week's bake comes, very approrpriately I'm sure you'll agree, from Paul Hollywood. Yep, in my mission to buy as little manufactured bread as possible this year, and to bake as much of the bread we eat myself, I'm trying to pick up as many tips as I can from master bakers.

White cob loaf

350g strong white bread flour
1 tsp crushed salt flakes
3.5g sachet fast acting yeast
225ml lukewarm water

1. Pop the flour, salt and yeast in a bowl and mix together until combined. Form a 'well' in the centre
2. Gradually add the water into the well, and use your hands to mix together the flour and water. It will come together in a soft, slightly sticky dough
3. Turn the dough out onto a lightly oiled worksurface and knead (see below) for roughly ten minutes until dough is pliable, smooth and silky
4. Pop the dough into a clean bowl, cover with a teatowel and allow to rise until double in size
5. Punch down the risen dough to deflate it and turn it out onto a lightly floured worksurface. Knead gently for a further minute before shaping into a ball and setting onto a baking tray. Sprinkle with flour. Cover with a teatowel or clingfilm to prove- it should double in size once more
6. Pre-heat the oven to 220C/200C fan/425F/Gas Mark 7. When doubled in size, slash the top of the loaf with a sharp knife, sprinkle with a little more flour and bake for twenty-five to thirty minutes or until golden brown

Baker's Paul's notes:

  • Knead the bread on a lightly oiled work surface- rather than a lightly floured surface. This is to help maintain the consistency of the loaf
  • After placing the dough on the worksurface coat it in the oil and knead it by folding the dough over itself repeatedly, turning 45 degrees after each fold. Which, if I remember rightly from last week's bread baking is pretty much what the brilliant Dan Lepard suggests in his brilliant Short and Sweet
  • If you caught Channel Four's Fabulous Baker Boys last week you'll have seen them use a shower cap to cover the rising dough...cue Boots top selling item for 2012
  • It can take up to 2-3 hours for the dough to rise in a normal temperature kitchen
  • To get a great crust, pop a roasting tin at the bottom of the oven prior to pre-heating. Just before popping in the loaf to bake, pour a cup of cold water into the hot roasting tin to create steam. And a great crust. 
  • The tips and recipe come from The Great British Bake Off: How to Bake and Paul's video on the BBC's Food pages
Will you be watching The Great Sport Relief Bake Off? Any early favourites you might have? 

Saturday, 7 January 2012

How you know you are addicted to baking.... Plus: Spiced Honey Cake

You know you are addicted to baking when....

  • 75% of your disposable income is spent on eggs, flour and sugar

  • Your local corner shop had started stocking baking powder...just for you

  • You plan your weekend activities around the timings for your sourdough starter

  • Your nighttime reading of the latest Cooper/Grisham/Rowling (delete as appropriate) is replaced by Oliver/Lawson/Slater (ditto). Booker Prize? What Booker Prize? Gourmand Cookbook of the Year Prize more like it

  • When you bring alcohol rather than cake to a dinner party your friends look at you aghast and immediately check your vital signs

  • You lie awake at night worrying that your oven may spontaneously combust due to over-use

  • Your Christmas list consisted solely of the Top 10 cookbooks on Amazon and a new spatula

  • You find any excuse to get in the kitchen and bake...

This bake was inspired by my recent attendance at CafeDirect Coffee and Food Matching Evening and the Spiced Vanilla and Honey Cake made by 21st Century Housewife and Rhubarb and Rose

In turn they adapted the cake from Smitten Kitchen's Majestic and Moist Honey Cake. So many reincarnations. Clark Kent, eat your heart out. 

Spiced Honey Cake


1¾ cups plain flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
¼ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons mixed spice
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
½ cup vegetable oil
½  cup runny honey
¾ cups golden caster sugar
¼ cup soft brown sugar
2 medium eggs at room temperature

½ cup warm coffee or tea
¼ cup orange juice
For the icing:
half a cup icing sugar
1 tsp clear honey
1 tsp water

1. Preheat oven to 350F/180C/170C  fan
2. Grease and flour an 8” round tin.  
3. Sift together the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, salt and mixed spice in a large bowl and set aside
4. In a second bowl whisk together all the remaining ingredients thoroughly.
5. Add the 'wet' ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix with an electric mixer on a slow speed. It should resemble a lovely thick, well-blended batter
6. Spoon the batter into the prepared tin tin and bake for 40 minutes or until an inserted skewer comes out clean 
7. Once removed from the oven allow to cool for 10-15 minutes before removing from the tin onto a wire rack to finish cooling
8. When completed cooled, make the icing by sifting the icing sugar into a bowl and whisking in the honey and water to create a smooth glaze. Drizzle over the cake.
Baker's notes...
  • This is a really tasty, moist cake, perfect with a cuppa. It lasts well for a few days stored in an airtight container
  • Any other symptoms of being addicted to baking? And more importantly what is the solution? Is there one?!