Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Happy St David's Day and White Chocolate Welsh Cakes

Today is St David's Day

Celebrated in honour of Dewi Sant, or St David, the Patron Saint of Wales.

Now I may be more biased than Tom Jones, daffodils and Cardiff Castle combined, but Wales rocks. And today is the day to celebrate that fact.

Now you could start the day off with toast. Not just any old toast though, fancy pants toast: Welsh Rarebit.

Come the afternoon, it will be time to relive the rugby and my favourite crown in the whole wide world. The Triple Crown. Won by Wales last weekend in the Six Nations rugby. There is really only one tea loaf that could possibly be served on what is really a rather nice plate. That's right: Bara Brith

But wait! We've gone the whole day without a Welsh Cake!  Land of my Fathers: Land of my Welsh Cake

And here's a super-special one just for St David.

White Chocolate Welsh Cakes

125g butter (unsalted, softened at room temperature and cut into small pieces)
250g self-raising flour
75g caster sugar
100g chopped white chocolate1 beaten egg
Pinch of salt
1 tbsp milk (if needed)

1. Sift the flour and salt into a large bowl and rub in the butter until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs
2. Add the sugar and chocolate and mix together
3. Mix in the beaten egg and bring together to form a soft dough with a fork, using the milk to bind further if required
4. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and using a rolling pin roll out the mixture to about 1cm thickness
5. Using a cutter or upturned glass cut out the circles
6. Heat an ungreased griddle or heavy frying pan on a medium heat
7. Place the cakes onto the surface one or two at a time and cook one side before gently turning over to cook the other side
8. Cool on a wire rack. 
9. Tuck in with gusto

Baker’s notes....
  • Each Welsh Cake takes approximately 2-3 minutes to cook on each side; you should be aiming for a caramel, light brown colour
  • If the cakes turn a darker colour, quickly, your pan may be too hot. Turn down the that better?
  • My original, traditional Welsh Cake recipe (see below) can be found right here
  • If you are in London this week, pop along to Welsh Week, celebrating some of the best foodie producers in Wales and organised by Wales: The True Taste
  • Bendigedig!!

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

February Tea Time Treats Blogging Challenge: The Round-Up

Tea Time Treats Blogging Challenge

A phenomenal forty four entries have found their way on to the loaded, groaning Tea Time Treats table this month. Yep, thats right, forty four loved-up bloggers have very kindly baked forty four beautiful, bewitching bakes with the theme 'romance' in mind. We've passion-fueled puddings, tempting tarts and seductive scones- with many thanks to each and everyone of you!

Cup of tea at the ready? Sitting comfortably? Grab a (very large) plate and tuck right in...

Once upon a time in a land far far away, our story of love begins with Jac from Tinned Tomatoes, who discovered it was World Nutella Day and made these nut-tastic Mini Maple Nutella Cupcakes which she sent with love over to the Tea Time Treats table

While claiming not to be very romantic in the tradional Valentine's Day sense, forced rhubarb makes Checky's Kitchen feel very, very passionate this time of year. Checky describes the 'mouth-watering sournesss...the beautiful, deep, luscious colour' and became infatuated with her absolutely sensational Upside Down Rhubarb, Almond and Vanilla Cake

Love is certainly in air (cue violins and possibly, erm, John Paul Young...) over at Chef Al Dente who has lovingly whipped up this stunning Chocolate Brownie Cream Cheese Sandwich 

The way to a man's heart, whether he have two or four legs, is resoundingly thought to be through his stomach and Hungry Hinny has hit the jackpot with these Chocolate Sandwich Hearts- thin crisp chocolate biscuits encasing a gooey, rich, chocolately fudge filling

These small but perfectly formed Mini Valentine's Cupcakes arrive to the table courtesy of Homemade by Fleur. And what an adorable treat they are- plus, as Fleur notes, being minature in size means you get to have more than one. A romantic result if there ever was!

Decadent, divine and delicious- the three words Lazy Cooks uses to describe her Nigella- inspired Chocolate Orange Pots which she has kindly entered for this month's Tea Time Treats

Writing a love letter to the sadly-no-longer-available Pretzel Flipz (I fell head over heels in love with them too!) is Laura from How to Cook Good Food - never mind the dozen roses, say it with chewy, salty-chocolately Pretzels 

Champagne and cake? Hellllooooo! Yes, this inspired and quite frankly lustful combination is from Laura Loves Cakes who has sent in her super stylish Champagne and Raspberry Cupcakes. Naturally, a little of the Champagne may have been consumed during the cooking process...

Meanwhile over in Toronto these marvellous and moreish macaroons come courtsey of Torview

Roses are red, violets are blue, don't these look the loveliest cookies for two? Or maybe for just one- I for one! These irresistible Chocolate Cookies are from Gill from Tales of Pigling Bland

Chocolate and Valentine's go together like a horse and carriage, Wills-n-Kate, Homer-n-Marge and Hugh-Grant-and-Julia/Andie/Bridget. Many thanks to An Irish Village Pantry for this Valentine's Dark and White Chocolate Cake which is not only a rich, decadent dark chocolate cake but is generously covered in a sweet, white chocolate ganache. What. Is. Not. To. Love.

What did you buy your Valentine this year? Nelly, from Nelly's Cupcakes firmly believes that a homemade gift says I Love You far more than anything shopbought. And these delectable Valentine Shortbread Biscuits would certainly set anyone's heart aflutter

Inspired by screen-siren Sophia Loren no less, Chez Maximka has baked this Ricotta Delight with Rose Petal Preserve. Dried rose-petals on the grissini make this an Oscar- winning dessert!

Wild About Baking became wild about the delicious combination of lemon and chocolate in these gorgeous Chocolate Lemon heart shaped biscuits

With not one but two Nutella recipe books (brilliant!), Jude from A Trifle Rushed has made these very, very tempting Tea Time Treats: Nutella Madeleines with Hot Chocolate, which would certainly warm the cockles of any heart on Valentine's Day

This magnificent Almond and Rose Celebration Cake by Makey-Cakey could not possibly fit the romance theme more unless you had the Milk Tray Man turn up with home-crafted 45 tier Wedding Cake. How stunningly beautiful are the buttercream roses?

Calling all romantics who love a bit of chocolate (don't we all?!)...this next entry is just perfect for you. Cakes and Teacups has baked this delicious Valentine's Flourless Chocolate Cake 

Suelle, from Mainly Baking was guided by all those romantics out there when it came to her entry to Tea Time Treats, and baked these sweet, crumbly and very delectable Almond and Cranberry Shortbreads with the addition of a very lovable rose drizzle on top

Look at the beautiful colours in this next brilliant bake: it is an Avocado Pound Cake from the Green Gourmet Giraffe!

Keeping the romance very sweet and made with delicious home made strawberry jam are these Strawberry Jam Tarts from Garden, Tea, Cakes and Me. Perfect with a cuppa from Cupid.

Spoilt for choice we are with this next entry: a whole seductive selection of Valentine-inspired adorable Afternoon Tea recipes from Susan at A Little Bit of Heaven on a Plate

Over at Searching for Spice, Corina has baked these delightful Almond Macaroons from the Queen of Baking herself, Mary Berry- with many thanks Corina!

How's this next entry for the most perfect way to spend Valentine's weekend- a romantic stay for two in a chocolate themed hotel plus a Chocolate Truffle making class? Caroline Makes... had a wonderful time!

A classic, and rightly so, at any tea time spread are, of course, scones. And these romantic Valentines Scones, complete with the amorous combination of Amarene Cherries and Chocolate, are from Kitchen of Kiki

Our very first, and indeed only, Whoopie Pie entry for this month's Tea Time Treats table comes courtesy of Aga Girls, who not only has made these Chocolate and Marshmallow Whoopie Pies but has baked them in the shape of heavenly hearts

Love is all around on BeesTeas blog this month, not least with these crackin' Chocolate and Hazelnut Scones. I feel it in my fingers, I feel it in my toes and I would certainly enjoy these in my tum!

For her very first (hopefully of many) entries to the now groaning Tea Time Treats Table, Jean from Baking in Franglais has made this absolutely beautiful Valentine's Day Cake: a wonderful, warm chocolate torte with a selection of beautiful berries


These Lemon Love Cakes, with zesty luscious lemon and complete with adorable heart decorations were, most unsurprisingly, a huge hit over with Janice at FarmersGirl Kitchen. They'd be a humongous hit with me too Janice if you happened to post them to me. Just saying....

Passionate about pancakes? BrownieVille Girl is all loved up with this perfect Pancake, which would a very romantic breakfast in bed any day of the year

This next entry ought to be available to all romantics on the NHS: Ros from The More Than Occasional Baker ought to be writing out prescriptions for these Lemon and Raspberry Heart Cakes

Hankering after some jammy hearts? Lottie from Lottie's World of Cakes and Bakes has baked these sweet Jammy Biscuit Hearts, many thanks Lottie!

These delightful Valentine's Cupcakes, a chocolate cupcake with blackberry syrup, from Blissfully Scrumptious are exactly as the blog name suggests!

Mari over at Mari's World has baked us these Chocolate, Mascarpone and Raspberry Tarts, which are said to be 'easy and quick' to prepare and surely very, very tasty to eat!

This next entry is so pretty, so beautiful, so delicate, it would be a shame to eat one...but then when you discover that the macaron contains lychee and champagne, well , resistance is futile. With thanks to I-Lost in Austen for her Lychee and Champagne Macaron

Scrummy and simple is how Anjali from Spice n Sugar Tales describes this next entry: the very first Ice Cream Cake on this month's now almost collapsed Tea Time Treats Table

Macarons, I'm sure we all agree are a true labour of love, and we thank Urvashi from The Botanical Baker very, very much for doing all the labouring for us and creating these absolutely beautiful and no doubt very yummy Rose Macaroons... far, far better than a bouquet of the flowers any day!

These Raspberry Ripple and Basil Cupcakes look absolutely, bewitchingly beautiful and are made with Ren from Fabulicious Food's new love, her brand shiny new K-Mix!

Choclette, who writes my go-to blog for all things chocolaty, Choc Log Blog, has baked these brilliant Brownies with one super, secret ingredient: black beans!

Once you've had the perfect pancakes above, how about these captivating Cheese and Tomato Muffins to complete your Valentine's Breakfast, with thanks to I'm a Foodie

Hands up who loathed Valentine's Day at School?  Belleau Kitchen brings back mortifying memories of shameful schooldays and being left card-less and love-less on the most romantic of days. Console yourself and your broken heart with these quite, quite brilliant Bloody Valentine Cupcakes

Cakes Crumbs and Cooking has written a really beautiful post, a most enjoyable read, to accompany these delicate and delightful Butterfly Kisses

One of my favourite entries for this month's Tea Time Treat Challenge, because I'm inherently biased, are these heart shaped Welsh Cakes, which will bring such comfort and cheer any day of the year and arrive courtesy of the wonderful Karen from Lavender and Lovage

My own little entry, sharing the love this month are these I Love You Iced Biscuits. Complete with dodgy poetry and dodgy song.

If this post were a film (bear with) this next entry would be the stunning, extravagant, romantic finale where the boy gets together with the girl and they run off into the sunset, arms entwined, with this absolutely sensationally stunning Rob Ryan Inspired Valentine Cake from What I Baked This Weekend

Pop over to Karen's brilliant blog, Lavender and Lovage on March 1st for next month's Tea Time Treat theme!

And they all lived (and baked) happily ever after...

The End!

Sunday, 26 February 2012

Random Recipes, the Oscars and Madeira Cake

Imagine, if you would, the disappointment I felt when I discovered that Madeira Cake isn't actually from Madeira*.

It would be on par with finding out that Nice biscuits aren't made in Nice and Whales aren't from Wales.

Putting aside my abject disappointment for one minute, this cake is made in honour of Dom from Belleau Kitchen's very first anniversary of his magnificant blogging challenge, Random Recipes. To celebrate Random Recipes being a whole year old, Dom has invited us to cast our mind (and our oven) back to the very first entry we made for the challenge and to choose a random recipe from that very same book. My very first entry involved vegetables in a cake (I've still not gotten over the shock) and pretending the cake was all part of the masterplan. It was none other than Nigella's Courgette Cake from How to Be a Domestic Goddess.

The random recipe thumb generator did its stuff again and this time round I got to make Madeira Cake. Which, if you ask me, is the under-rated cake of the baking world. In the Great Cake Family, unlike its cousins, say the glamour-puss, glossy cupcake or the majestic, magnificent, five tier gateau, the Madeira Cake is a bit...dull. If it were an Oscar category (note appropriate, timely reference to Current Affairs), it would be contender for, say, Best Documentary Short, rather than Best Actor. 

Until you take a huge bite of the buttery, soft, crumbly cake. Lus-cccious

The original recipe can be found right here, on Nigella's website.  

I adapted mine somewhat, with different ingredient measurements for the circular cake tin I was using:

175g butter, softened
175g caster sugar
125g plain flour, sifted
125g self raising flour, sifted
Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
3 large eggs, beaten gently

1. Preheat the oven to 180C/160C fan/Gas Mark 4. Grease and line a deep 18cm round cake tin
2. Cream together the butter and sugar until nicely fluffy and pale (this may take up to five minutes), and add in the lemon zest
3. Add the eggs, a little at the time and beat well
4. Fold in the flours and lemon juice
5. Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin and bake for 45-50 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean

Baker's notes...
  • According to Nigella, a crack in the centre is a Good Thing
  • James Martin adds a little candied peel on top, which looks ever so pretty
  • If you haven't a lemon hanging around your kitchen, replace the lemon juice with 1tsp vanilla, and omit the zest
  • Madeira Cake has multiple uses, two of which are a Wedding Cake or Lamingtons. How do you eat yours?
  • Like a fine wine, or Oscar nominee Meryl Streep, this cake improves with time. It can be made up to a week in advance
  • What cake should win Best Film Cake?
* Perhaps Madeira Cake comes from Barnet or Slough or someplace

Monday, 20 February 2012

Mini Pancake-Cakes

Pancake Day is my Second Favourite Themed Dinner of the Year. Christmas comes first, obviously.

On my Second Favourite Themed Dinner of the Year I run walk quickly home from work, my bag packed full of Assorted Pancake Fillings. Mainly sweet ones 'course.

This year, as well as our usual conveyor belt* of sweet treats, all lining up ready to be added with gusto and greed to each pancake hot off the frying pan, I'll be making these Mini Pancake Cakes.  Afterall, what could possibly be better than a pancake than a cake of pancake?!

These had banana, whipped double cream and were drizzled with melted milk chocolate

Other winning flavour combinations:

  • Knickerbocker Glory Pancake Cake: selection of fruit, chocolate sauce, strawberry sauce, honeycomb and ice cream
  • Tropical Treats: Tropical fruits such as pineapple, banana, mango, melon, passionfruit topped with syrup from a jar of stem ginger
  • Chocoholic's Dream: Chocolate sauce, white and dark chocolate buttons, chocolate ice cream
  • Sticky Toffee Pudding Pancake: dates, toffee sauce and ice cream
  • Apple Adventure: Warmed apple sauce with cinnamon

Mini Pancake Cakes
(Makes three pancake cakes, each with five layers)

For the pancakes:
100g plain flour, sifted
Pinch of salt
2 eggs, beaten
260ml milk
Butter for greasing the pan

For the filling:
Three medium bananas, chopped
Small pot double cream, whipped
50g milk chocolate, melted

1. To make the batter, place the flour and salt into a large bowl and make a well in the centre
2. Add the eggs into the well and, using a large balloon whisk, whisk the flour and eggs together 
3. Gradually add the milk, continuing to whisk until all the milk is added. Whisk once more until you have a nice smooth batter
4. Melt a small knob of butter in the frying pan on a medium-hot and use a piece of kitchen towel to wipe the pan to carefully ensure the entire pan is nicely greased. Reduce the heat to medium and place a ladleful of the batter into the centre of the pan. Quickly tip the pan from side to side to ensure the batter covers the entire pan. After roughly thirty seconds check with a palate knife to see if the underside is nicely golden and if so..... start flipping!
5. Stack the pancakes between pieces of foil or kitchen towel to keep warm
6. Once you've made all the pancakes, allow to cool a little and use a round biscuit cutter to cut out mini pancakes. You should get roughly three mini pancakes from each normal sized pancake.


7. Begin the each cake, layering one pancake, followed by a few chopped bananas and a dollop of cream and so forth. Drizzle with the melted chocolate to finish

Baker's notes...
  • The batter mixture above is perhaps a bit generous, but that is to take into account the First Few Flops. Those first couple of pancakes that, when flipped, flop and end up in a pathetic little pile on the worksurface.
  • You can make the pancakes up to 24 hours in advance: store, wrapped, in the fridge and reheat in an ovenproof dish, covered with foil in the oven. Alternatively they will freeze happily for up to one month 
  • The 'scraps' leftover from the pancakes were reheated gently in the oven with the classic combination of spinach and riccota 

*not too dissimilar to the Generation Game but without the cuddy toy