Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Tea Time Treats October: The Round-Up!

It's the October Tea Time Treats round-up!

This monthly challenge, hosted alternatively by myself and Karen, covers one of our most delightful and eternally popular British institutions, Tea Time! This month's theme was:

Jams, Preserves, Curds and Chutneys

First off the hob this month was Ruchira from Cookaroo, who not only has an ace name for her blog but has also made this ace Caramelised Onion Jam. Ruchira describes caramalised onions as: 'sweet, bursting with flavor and are an awesome accompaniment to just about anything'

Our first sweet entry came from Michelle from Utterly Scrummy Food for Families with a Versatile Lemon Curd Slice- just look at that gooey, zesty lemon bursting from the crumbly cake!

lemon slice crumble cake elevenses treat teatime

A very keen jam maker, Tea Time Treats regular (yay!) Kiki from Kitchen of Kiki has made this Blackberry Jam with Lemon - a perfectly Autumnal preserve!

While on holiday in France this summer Jean from Baking in Franglais and her two little kitchen helpers made these lovely Lemon Curd Macaroons- complete with sweet pastry, zesty lemon and delicious frangipane. The recipe was inspired by the Be-Ro cookbooks 

lemon tarts1

Continuing the Autumnal theme with these fine Blackcurrent and Rose Nonnettes is Choclette from Chocolate Log Blog. Nonnettes are eggless French honey cakes-  sweet, sticky and flavoursome in equal measure!

 A lovely exotic jam arrived on the Tea Time Treats table from Cooking Pleasure who has cooked up this Mango and Tomato Jam:

After arriving home, armed with pounds of peaches from the local market, Chef Mireille made this scrumptious  Peach Jam. Check out the blog for Mireille's three other entries: Pumpkin Jam Cookies, Strawberry Rose Jam and Cranberry Sauce- thank you Mireille!

I'm learning so much about jam and preserve making this month from reading all the great recipes- including that when made into jam, gooseberries turn pink! With thanks to Janice from Farmersgirl Kitchen for this Gooseberry Jam and that nugget of jam knowledge!

In a post filled full of beautiful photos of lavender, Sarah from The Garden Deli has baked these small pastries filled with a delicious mix of apricot jam (made from Karen's jam recipe no less) and dark chocolate 

For her very first entry into Tea Time Treats (welcome!) Chez Foti has made both a crackin' Cinnamon and Greengage Jam and a terrific Tomato Ketchup. Jam and preserve making clearly runs in the family as the post describes: 'Dad’s an amazing jam, marmalade, chutney and pickle maker and has been supplying Family Foti with his wonderful retirement hobby preserves for years.' 

Inspired by the classic Be Ro cookbook series, Karen from Lavender and Lovage has baked this yummy Rich Jam and Coconut Cake. Karen has also made this Apple, Fig and Pear Chutney with Cardamom. There is a whole host of inspiring recipes on Karen's site and she describes being 'well into my preserving season now, and all sorts of jams, jellies, cheeses, chutney, bottled fruits, liqueurs, pickles and relishes have already been made and are sitting with their paper mob caps and labels in the pantry'. Yep, I too would love a little tasting session in Karen's pantry!

Sepia Saturday with Be-Ro, Tea Time Treats and Rich Jam and Coconut Cake

From the Autumn Preserves Pantry - Apple, Fig and Pear Chutney with Cardamom

Someone mention Stilton and Chutney thumbprint biscuits? These are the brainchild (or should I say bakingchild?) of Blue Kitchen Bakes- thank you for your entry!

From the wonderfully named Leeks and Limoni comes this Chilli Jam. The jam, a Nigella recipe, is such a vibrant, cheery colour and the perfect preserving gift this Christmas 

From Cookbooks Galore, a huge fan of all chutneys for their versatility, comes this next entry, a delicious Pear, Date and Cinnamon Chutney

Doesn't this next entry, Bramble and Liqourice Tarts made by the wonderful Dom from Belleau Kitchen look terribly tempting and tantalizing? 

Putting some long-forgotten jam, hidden at the back of the fridge, to extremely good use is Caroline from Caroline Makes with these crunchy, sweet Jammy Flapjacks

One of the most unique entries ever to grace the TTT table is this next one, a Pizza Filling: Strawberry Balsamic Chicken with Cilantro by Piece of Cake! The sauce is made from a fab combination of jam, balsamic vinegar and chilli sauce creating a sweet, tangy flavour.  

Ros from The More Than Occasional Baker has baked these Plum Cupcakes with delicate, juicy plum segments and a hidden dollop of delectable Plum Jam

Meanwhile, Elizabeth from Elizabeth's Kitchen has cooking the excellently named Cape Breton Chow Chow, similar to British piccalili

Making an ideal foodie gift and with Christmas only 55 days and 51 minutes away, C from Cake, Crumbs and Cooking informatively describes how she made Red and Blackcurrent Jelly- a jelly most certainly not just for Christmas

This next entry, Tropical Fruit Jam from Under the Blue Gum Tree looks like it is bursting with the flavours of tangy tropical fruit and subsequently put to fantastic use in a terrifically tempting pineapple, passionfruit and elderflower arctic roll

Now I know you can do a lemon version and an orange version but how deeee-lish does a Blueberry version sound? I'm talking of course about Hungry Hinny's Blueberry Curd. Tickle your fancy? There's also a recipe for Raspberry Curd 

Last but certainly not least and continuing the curds is this gorgeous Ginger Curd from Signor Biscotti. After being inspired by a similar curd on holiday Euan created this curd which he highly recommends on his flaky, buttery rowies (Aberdeen Butteries)

And finally, my little entry: Dumpsy Dearie Jam!

Thank you as always for each and every Tea Time Treat entry! Next month's very special theme will be on Karen's blog, Lavender and Lovage at the start of November

Saturday, 27 October 2012

Halloween Baking: Spooky Spider Cakes

Are you embracing all things Halloween? Looking forward to a spook-tacular weekend?

Not entirely sure? Take the What Kate Baked Halloween quiz to find out...

1.This Halloween, you'll be...

a) Spending the next 48 hours celebrating All Hallows' Eve!
b) Baking Halloween- themed treats
c) Refusing to acknowledge anything to do with such commercialized nonsense

2. You've been invited to a Halloween Fancy Dress Party. You'll be going as:

a) the pumpkin-zombie mash-up you've been hand-crafting for the last six months
b) Paul Hollywood from the Great British Bake Off
c) Nothing. The invitation is in the recycling bin

3. The doorbell goes. You:

a) Realise you've rung your own doorbell- you are the trick-and-treater!
b) Present the Trick -n- Treaters with a fine selection of home made creepy cakes and a glass of Wicked Witch Punch
c) Ignore it

4. Your idea of the perfect Halloween viewing is:

a) Alien III
b) Great British Bake Off Series 3
c) 3 Men and a Baby

5. When you hear the word 'ghost', do you think:

a) Like soooo the easiest Halloween costume ever- a white bed sheet and you're done!
b) Ohhh, little meringues!
c) Academy Awards! Patrick Swaze! The romance! 

Your answers...

  • Mostly As: Have you spent the last 364 days preparing for this weekend?! Reward yourself with three of these Spooky Spider Cakes!
  • Mostly Bs: Halloween is a grand excuse to pop the oven on! A few more ghoulish treats can be found right here: Halloween Baking. Grab yourself two of the Spooky Spider Cakes!
  • Mostly Cs: Halloween, shamalloween: Pop on the Strictly Come Dancing Halloween Special and munch on a Spooky Spider Cake!

Halloween Spooky Spider Cakes

For the cakes:
150ml natural yoghurt (one of those mini pots)
3 beaten eggs
155g golden caster sugar
140g self raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
50g ground almonds

50g cocoa powder
175g melted butter

For the decoration:
200g icing sugar
100g unsalted butter
Seeds from half a vanilla pod
A little splash of milk if needed

Approximately 30g of Strawberry laces
30g chocolate buttons
30g white chocolate buttons

1. Pop the yoghurt and eggs in a jug and mix together
2. Put the flour, sugar, baking powder, cocoa powder and almonds together with a pinch of salt into a large bowl and make a well in the middle
3. Add the butter and the yogurt mixture. Fold using a spatula, trying not to overwork and spoon into a 12 case muffin tin with paper cases
4. Pop in the oven for 18-20 minutes or until golden, risen and springy to touch
5. At this stage you can freeze 'em until you need 'em
6. Meanwhile to make the icing: beat together the icing sugar, butter and vanilla seeds until smooth, adding a splash or two of milk if needed. Meanwhile create a spider web on a serving plate using the sweet laces
7. Once the cakes are cooled, turn upside onto a serving plate and spread the icing over the cakes. Create the spider legs with the strawberry and use the chocolate buttons to create spider eyes

Baker's notes...

  • David Attenborough won't be impressed: my spiders aren't terribly anatomically correct
  • This month's Calender Cakes theme is Halloween and is hosted by Dolly Bakes- these Spooky Spider Cakes are heading straight over to Dolly and her co-host Laura
  • What are your horribly Halloweeny plans this weekend?
Calendar Cakes Blogger Challenge

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Baking My Very First Wedding Cake...

Last month I made my first ever wedding cake.

Earlier this year, two very brilliant friends of mine, K and A, asked if I would bake their wedding cake. After a sharp intake of breath and a large gulp of the wine I handily had in my hand, my response was:

 'Really? Are you sure? M&S do ever such nice cakes you know'

Once persuaded, it transpired that K and A had two requirements: no cream and no bananas. 

Banoffee Pie discarded, I spent a happy few months researching different cakes before beginning to plan a three tired chocolate and raspberry cake. A couple of practice attempts at variations of the basic sponge over the summer, to the delight of my work colleagues, the purchasing of an obscenely large round cake tin and three delicate, fragile boxes of chocolate cigarellos later and the wedding day arrived.

I'd been baking until 1am the night before the wedding (mental note to self: be more organised when it comes to wedding cakes. And life in general, please). When the alarm went off at 5.30am to catch the train from Devon I was a little bleary eyed. Paddington Station is a ten minute walk from us but with a suitcase full of cake and two large bags of icing, fruit, decorations and so forth I'd arranged a taxi cab.

The friendly taxi driver, assuming with my bulky baggage that I must be heading to catch the Heathrow Express train to the airport, kindly enquired: 'Off on holiday are you?'

To which, half asleep, I replied 'Yes, yes that's right'

'Where to?' came the response.

Now at this point, I panicked.  I don't why. The correct response should have been: 'I'm off to Devon for the weekend with a suitcase full of wedding cake'. 

Instead I said: 'I'm going to Mexico'

I've never been to Mexico, never had a burning desire to go to Mexico and haven't the foggiest as to why I replied 'Mexico' rather than 'Devon'. It just came out.

To which the taxi driver became extremely animated, explaining he and his family had a wonderful sunny holiday in Mexico only last year and he could provide many tips and advice if I could tell him exactly where in Mexico I would be. 

To which I replied, rather desperately: 'Oh you know, just one of the resorts'

Thankfully, before I could be quizzed further on exactly which resort in which part of Mexico I would be staying, we had arrived at Paddington Station. I leapt out of the taxi cab to warm wishes for a brilliant holiday in Mexico ringing in my ears.

Thankfully the remainder of my journey to Mexico Devon was most uneventful and the cakes and I arrived in one piece. A lovely morning assembling and decorating followed. I'd planned a three tier cake, but due to the beautiful warm weather and heat in the the amazing Big Top Wedding Tent, I layered just two and kept the third top tier for the caterers to slice to serve.


It was a brilliant celebration on a beautiful day:

Just look at the delicious picnic basket canap├ęs prepared by the bride and groom and their families for all the guests to enjoy:

The wedding cake on display in the Big Top:

And thankfully the cake went down well. 


Now onwards for cake planning for our own wedding!

Top tier ingredients
(8 inch cake; 18 slices)

225g unsalted softened butter
225g golden caster sugar
4 medium eggs, lightly beaten
100g sifted plain flour
225g sifted self-raising flour
Zest and juice of 3 clementines
2-3 tbsps milk

20g golden caster sugar
Juice of 2 clementines

125g softened unsalted butter
175g icing sugar
50g best quality cocoa powder
1-2 tbsps milk

To decorate:
3-4 tbsps raspberry conserve
Approximately 70-80 dark chocolate cigarellos
One punnet (approximately 150g) fresh raspberries

Bottom tier ingredients
(10 inch cake; 40-45 slices)

350g unsalted softened butter
350g golden caster sugar
6 medium eggs, lightly beaten
175g sifted plain flour
350g sifted self-raising flour
Zest and juice of 5 clementines
3-4 tbsps milk

25g golden caster sugar
Juice of 2 clementines

175g softened unsalted butter
250g icing sugar
100g best quality cocoa powder
2-3 tbsps milk

To decorate:
5-6 tbsps raspberry conserve
Approximately  100 dark chocolate cigarellos
One punnet (approximately 150g) fresh raspberries

(Applicable for both tiers)
1.       Preheat the oven to 170C/150Cfan/Gas Mark 3. Grease and line the cake tin with baking parchment.
2.       Beat the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy, this will take 8-10minutes.
3.       Add the eggs, a little at a time, whisking after each addition. Add a 1tbsp of the plain flour if the mixture begins to curdle.
4.       Fold in the flours, zest and juice of the clementines. If the mixture does not fall off the spoon easily, add a little of the milk.
5.       Spoon into the prepared tin and level the top with a spatula.
6.       For the top 8 inch tier bake for 1 hr 10 minutes or until golden and a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. For the bottom 10 inch tier bake for 1 hr 20minutes or until golden and a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. If either cake is beginning to turn brown around the edges before the end of the baking time, cover over with foil.
7.       For the syrup: Pop the syrup ingredients into a small pan and heat gently, stirring regularly before bringing to the boil. Simmer for a minute before removing from the heat. Using a skewer, prick the cake all over and gently pour the syrup over the cake. Allow the cake to cool in the tin.
8.       For the icing: beat the butter and zest together, adding the cocoa powder and icing sugar a little at a time until completely combined. Add the milk and beat all together.
9.       Remove the completely cooled cake from the tin and slice in half horizontally. Using a palette knife, spread the raspberry conserve and a little of the chocolate buttercream on one half before sandwiching the two layers back together. Ice the sides and top of the cake with the rest of the buttercream.
10.   If making both tiers, once both have been iced, stack the top tier on top of the bottom tier. Stick the cigarellos, which may need cutting to size with a sharp knife, to the buttercream around the edge of each tier. Decorate the top and the edges of the cake with the raspberries

Baker's notes...

  • The cigarellos can be purchased on various online cake and decorating websites- a google search for cigarellos will provide a multitude of results 
  • My top tips? If possible make a couple of the tiers up to three months in advance and freeze them to save 1am night-before-the-wedding baking. Also, if possible, try and ice and decorate the cakes as close to the reception as possible, especially in unseasonal warm British weather. Taking my time, without rushing and with a teeny-weeny glass of champagne in hand, it took a couple of hours to decorate this
  • I also made a more traditional fruit cake for the wedding, based on this recipe
  • This cake would also look yummy with cascading British summer berries
  • For our own nuptials we're planning a groaning table of cakes- a whole bunch of favourite bakes- ideas and inspiration most welcome!

Friday, 12 October 2012

Autumnal baking: an extravaganza of Apple and Pear recipes

The Autumn.

Wrap up snuggly, we're off for an amble, 'in the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness', as Keats wrote.

Bright sunshine, clear skies, invigorating air. The leaves are a blaze of glory: the coppers, golden yellows, oranges and deep reds. 

The sun sinks early, cheeks glow with fresh air and a hearty appetite has developed. 

And we head indoors for the most comforting of bakes to end an Autumnal day.

This weekend is all about the glut of fruits the Autumn brings, the British apple and pear.

Not one, not two, but three scrumptious seasonal bakes to tuck right into.

(After the obligatory walk of course).

Apple and Cinnamon Scones

225g sifted self-raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
55g butter
4 tbsp caster sugar
1.5 tsp ground cinnamon
2 apples, cored, peeled and diced (I used Egremont Russets)
125ml milk, warmed
1 beaten egg for brushing

1. Heat the oven to 220C/200C fan/Gas Mark 7
2. Pop the flour, baking powder and butter into a large bowl. Rub together with the tips of your fingers until the mix resembles fine breadcrumbs. 
3. Stir in the sugar, cinnamon and add in the apple. Give everything a gently stir and make a well in the centre of the mixture
4. Pour in the warmed milk and combine quickly with a knife before tipping the dough out onto a floured work surface. Fold the dough over two or three times until smoother and pat into a round shape approximately 4cm deep. Using a smooth edged cutter dipped in flour, cut out the scones
5. Brush the tops with the beaten egg and place onto a floured baking sheet before baking for 18-20 minutes until risen and golden
6. Serve warm from the oven and with some lovely homemade jam

Pear and Ginger Oaty Crumble
aka the Ultimate Autumnal Crumble


For the crumble:
100g plain or wholemeal flour
1 tsp ground ginger
100g butter, diced
100g light muscovado sugar
120g porridge oats
1 tbsp golden syrup

For the pear filling:
100g caster sugar 
100ml water 
4-5  ripe Conference pears, peeled, cored and cut into chunks 
5 pieces of stem ginger in syrup, finely chopped 

1. Preheat your oven to 200C/180C fan/Gas Mark 6
2. For the crumble: sift the flour in a bowl, add in the sugar and ginger. Add in diced butter and mix with your fingertips until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Mix in the oats and syrup. Set aside
3. For the filling: stir the water and sugar in a small saucepan over a gentle heat until beginning to boil. Add in the pear and simmer for a few minutes. Add the chopped ginger and stir together. 
4. Spoon the fruit into a large ovenproof dish and sprinkle over the crumble topping. Bake for 25-30 minutes until the crumble is golden on top
5. Serve with a very large portion of custard

Caramalised Apple Cake with a Streusel Topping

For the caramelized apples:
450g Bramley apples, cored, peeled and diced
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp sugar

For the streusel topping:
25g plain flour
85g demerara sugar
1tsp ground cinnamon
50g cold butter
3 tbsp toasted flaked almonds

For the cake:
225g butter, softened
225g caster sugar
3 large eggs
225g self raising flour
2 tsp baking powder
25g ground almonds

1. For the caramelised apples: heat the butter and sugar in a frying pan until the sugar begins to melt. Add in the apples and cook for approximately 5-7 minutes until browned and a rich caramel sauce has developed. Set aside to cool.
2. For the streusel topping: using the tips of your fingers, rub together the flour, sugar, cinnamon and cold butter until the mixture is crumbly. Stir in the almonds. Set aside in a cool place.
3. For the cake: Heat oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4. Grease and line a 20cm cake tin with a removable base. Cream together the butter and caster sugar in a bowl until pale and fluffy, approximately 5-8 minutes. Beat in the eggs, one at a time. Sift in the flour and the baking powder and fold in with the ground almonds. Stir in the apples.
4. Spoon into the prepared cake tin, lightly level the top and sprinkle with streusel topping. Bake in the oven for 1 hour or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. If, after forty minutes or so the cake starts to look a little too brown, cover with a sheet of baking paper or foil.
5. Leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes before removing to cool completely on a wire rack. Serve with a great big dollop of creme fraiche 

Baker's notes...

  • Which will it be? Comforting, warming crumble? A moist seasonal cake with a crunchy, nutty topping? Or a fruity scone with sweet, scrumptious jam?
  • With many thanks to Sainsbury's who kindly sent me samples of British apples and pears to bake with to celebrate the season- over fifty two British apple varieties and over ten delicious varieties of pear are currently in store.

Monday, 8 October 2012

Great British Bake Off Bingo and Pistachio and Raspberry Traybake

Today is the Semi-Final of this year's Great British Bake Off.

The penultimate battle in the war of whisks and wooden spoons.

For utmost enjoyment of the final two shows, why not partake in a little game of What Kate Baked Great British Bake Off Bingo?

One point scored for each observation. 

  • Sue comes up with a cheeky baking innuendo
  • Mel trumps Sue with an even cheekier one
  • This week's Technical Challenge you happened, by sheer coincidence, to bake the other day (continue your viewing, feeling terribly smug)
  • A contestant attempts to pretend that their somewhat disastrous Showstopper bake was exactly how they'd planned it to be. All along. Honest
  • Mary Berry tuts 'soggy bottom' and the contestant looks crestfallen
  • At least two members of your family jump up during 'the history bit' to pop the kettle on/nip to the loo/fill in an application form for next year's Bake Off
  • A baker takes his/her eye off the ball resulting in burnt chocolate/caramel/fingers
  • The Great British weather will get blamed for problematic bakes. Along with the oven. And/or lack of time
  • James wears a tank top
  • Mary wears a pink top
  • Paul says 'Good Luck' to a contestant (translated, this means 'Goodbye')
  • Mel and/or Sue show support by eating the baker's ingredients
  • The camera captures a close-up look of utter horror/confusion/terror on a contestants face as the Technical Challenge is announced
  • The '1970s' is mentioned in the same sentence as 'Brendan' on at least two separate occasions 
  • The stress of the show becomes apparent when contestants get terribly, terribly confused (in a very comedy way). See Cathryn: “My strudel’s got a haemorrhage...Do I mean that, or a haemorrhoid?”

Points scored:

1-5: Are you actually watching the Bake Off?! Or did your remote control break on BBC2 when you were channel flicking?

5-10: Not bad... you may want to swot up by watching the Christmas episodes planned.... or even the French version 

10-15: Congratulations  You are a true Bake Off Fanatic! Not to mention terribly observant! Bake yourself a choux swan and fill in an application for next year!

Raspberry and Pistachio Traybake

225g butter, cut into cubes
225g golden caster sugar
275g self-raising flour
2 tsps baking powder
75g ground pistachios
4 eggs, beaten
100g icing sugar 

Raspberries to decorate
1. Preheat the oven to 180C/fan 160C/Gas Mark 4
2. Grease a line with parchment paper a 8 x 13in roasting tin
3. Pop the butter, sugar, flour, baking powder, ground pistachio nuts and eggs in a large bowl and beat until thoroughly combined
4. Spoon into the prepared tin and smooth over the surface with a palette knife or the back of a spoon
5. Bake for 30-40 minutes until risen and a skewer inserted into the middle of the bake comes out clean
6. Cool in the tin for ten minutes before turning out onto a wire rack
7. To make the icing: mix a little water at a time with the icing sugar to create a nice smooth paste and drizzle this over the cooled cake.
8. Decorate with the raspberries and a dusting of icing sugar

Baker's notes...
  • I thought a traybake very appropriate for this Great British Bake Off inspired post as Mary Berry is Queen of the Traybake. And the Aga.
  • She's written over seventy books. Not all about Traybakes and Agas mind.
  • Enjoy the Bake Off- isn't it brilliant? Who do you want to win? I'm with Team Brendan. Or Team James. Or Team John.