Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Easter: Review of Hotel Chocolat You Crack Me Up Easter Egg...with a little help from 'friends' in high places

     You Crack Me Up™ Extra Thick Easter Egg



When Hotel Chocolat asked me if I'd like to review one of their Easter Eggs I of course leapt at the opportunity. And promptly high fived everyone in a one mile radius gleefully shouting: 'I-Get-CHOCOLATE-TO-REVIEW!! I-GET-CHOCOLATE-TO-REVIEW!!'

This gloriously cheery and terrifically tasty Easter Egg duly arrived: You Crack Me Up Extra Thick Easter Egg. That's right: extra thick. That profound disappointment experienced each year when the Easter Eggs turned out not to be solid was instantly banished.

To help with this dreadfully onerous and grueling task of scoffing chocolate and telling everyone how much I love it, I enlisted the assistance of a few people you may well have heard of.

Celebrity Judges Review You Crack Me Up Easter Egg*

*According to What Kate Baked

Len Goodman (Strictly Come Dancing; Head Judge): 'seeeeVEN!'

Amanda Holden, Britain's Got Talent: 'Oh my goodness you've bought a lump to my throat and a tear to my eye!'

Alesha Dixon, Strictly deserter: '100% YES!!'

Craig Revel-Horwood, : 'That is most certainly not a disssssaaahhsstar. Three words: fab-u-LOUS! Another three words: AA-MA-ZZING!'

Gregg Wallace: 'That is just gooey loveliness... Oooooh, that has flicked every one of my switches.... I tell you my tastebuds are boogying with one another right now... FONDONT! ... Yes, Yes OH YES' 

Erm, thanks Gregg.

Please note that no celebrities were harmed during the review of this chocolate and all quotes have been said at some time or another. Just not necessarily in relation to the You Crack Me Up Easter Egg.

The whole egg-cellent (had to get in somewhere!) Easter Egg range can be found right here, on the Hotel Chocolat website.

With many thanks to Hotel Chocolat who sent me (us) this Egg to review. 



Saturday, 24 March 2012

Celebrating What Kate Baked's First Anniversary!


This weekend What Kate Baked celebrates it's very first year of baking and blogging.

That's 365 days of sugar, flour, butter and eggs.

And a lot of washing up. 

There have been highs (getting to meet some great blogging buddies, launching Tea Time Treats and some blatent showing off...) ...

... and lows (ahem ... law suits [which will not be featuring in the Official Biography] and many a baking disaster) ...

...and a lot of cake.

Here's a lemon curd and almond cake I made the other day, a very mini cake to celebrate, as really the blog is still very little.

Little Lemon Curd and Almond Cake
(Makes two little cakes)

Ingredients

125g unsalted butter
125g self raising flour
Half tsp baking powder
Zest of 1 lemon
Juice of 1 lemon
125g caster sugar
2 eggs, lightly beaten

50g toasted flaked almonds
75g creme fraiche
75g lemon curd

1. Preheat the oven to 180C/Fan170C/350F/Gas Mark 4
2. Butter and line a 20cm round tin
3. Sift the flour and baking powder into a bowl, add the zest, sugar, butter and eggs
4. Beat together, then stir in the lemon juice
5. Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin and bake for 25-30 minutes or until a skewer emerges clean
6. Allow to cool in the tin on a wire rack and once cooled, use a 5cm cutter to cut four circles out from the cake
7. Mix together the creme fraiche and lemon curd
8. Spread some half of the lemon curd mixture onto two of the cakes and top with the other two. Spread the remaining lemon curd mixture onto the top of the cakes and decorate with the toasted almonds. And a candle 'course. 

Baker's notes...
  • There will be some scraps left over. But cake scraps are the best type of scraps. Ever.
  • This is a properly zesty, lusty lemony va-va-voom of a cake. 
  • What would you like to see more of in What Kate Baked's Second year of baking?















Thursday, 22 March 2012

Clandestine Cake Club: Mad as a March Hare Carrot Cake



The night before last I went along to my very first Clandestine Cake Club.

That's right: a Cake Club.

My kind of Club

(Also in this small, select group are Club biscuits. Also my kind of Club. Especially the orange ones. But I digress.)

Anyways, me and my cake, which accompanied me on my daily walk to work through Regent's Park, had been carefully stored under my desk all day and finally jostled with all the commuters on their way home in the evening, just about made it in one piece to Wandsworth. I'd spent the whole day nervously observing it, as though it were a first born baby, not an inanimate object made from sugar.

(You'd have thought I'd have learnt from previous escapades carrying cakes across London.)

When the theme had been announced several weeks ago, you could probably hear the cogs in my brain whirling all the way up in Aberdeenshire as I debated and deliberated how to bake 'Mad as a March Hare' in cake-form.

Carrot Cake was an obvious place to start. Not only because that's what rabbits (and by close genealogical association, hares) would probably eat if they ate cake, but also Carrot Cake has been voted the Nation's Favourite Cake.

When it came to decorating it, I thought it would be extra special to commerate the fact this was the very first Wandsworth Clandestine Cake Club. Plus I'd also recently ordered, in one of my far too regular late-night-wine-fueled-Amazon-Ordering sessions, alphabet and numerical cutters.

It was a really, really fun night. There were fifteen creative and tasty cakes and I think I ate a slice of all of them, resulting in very sugary and sweet dreams that night.




Mad as a March Hare Carrot Cake

The Carrot Cake is this recipe here, from the BBC Good Food. It's a very easy, light, moist, tasty recipe. The adaptations I made were to soak the raisins for a few hours in the juice of the orange before adding them to the mix and adding 1 tsp of nutmeg.

The cream cheese icing was made by mixing 200g full fat cream cheese, 90g sifted icing sugar and 50g melted butter together.

The Hare, 'March' and '20' were made using a selection of chocolate flavoured, red, pink fondant ready to roll icings.

Baker's notes...

  • Not a fan of cream cheese icing? The original recipe used the juice of an orange and icing sugar to create a lighter topping
  • Felicity Cloake, who writes the absolutely brilliant, and well worth a read series 'How to cook the perfect...' in The Guardian funnily enough wrote 'How to Cook the Perfect Carrot Cake' just last week
  • Our next theme is 'April's Fool'...any suggestions?

Saturday, 17 March 2012

Happy St Patrick's Day: Mint Chocolate Macarons


Today is St Patrick's Day. The day we celebrate all things Irish: shamrocks, Giant's Causeways, Guinness, Books of Kells, leprechauns and, erm, Westlife.

(Feel free at this point, if you are sitting on a stool, to stand on ceremony at a significant key change)

Truth is, and I've tried very, very hard, but (whispering with it being St Patrick's Day) I don't actually like Guinness. Even on a visit to the Guinness Factory in Dublin, where urban myth has it that a pint of the black stuff tastes the best, I couldn't bring myself to have more than a few sips*. I did however spend a small fortune in the quite fabulous gift shop, which stocks, I quote 'the largest range of Guinness merchandise in the world...a visit to the shop is an experience in itself'. I did my best to resist filling my suitcase with the, I quote once again, 'widest range of Guinness casual wear available'. It does pose the question of what Guinness serious wear involves. Anyhow, I think I'll be sticking to the sublime, yet earthy Guinness Cake.

I'll also be tucking into these: Mint Chocolate Macarons, which, with their green hue make them perfect to munch on while you enjoy a pint of Guinness (other Irish drinks are available).

Mint Chocolate Macarons

The macaron recipe is inspired by Edd Kimber, aka The Boy Who Bakes, who in turn uses Pierre Herme's recipe, aka the Macaron Man. The macaron recipe can be found here. I simply exchanged the red food colouring for green of course and added a few drops of peppermint extract.

And for the mint chocolate ganache I warmed 100ml of double cream gently and poured it over a bowl of 100g of broken up mint dark chocolate. I set it aside for two minutes before stirring gently and spooning into a piping bag. The ganache was then piped between two macarons before I used a dusting of cocoa powder to decorate.



Baker's notes...
  • You may know that I have an abysmal history with macarons. They are my nemesis. My curse. My greatest adversary in the kitchen.
  • These weren't too bad although a few stuck to the greaseproof paper. Boo.
  • Once filled, pop the macarons in the fridge until served. I also discovered on Twitter (the new Encyclopedia Britannia) that the macaron shells freeze well for up to a month 
  • I'm submitting these to two brilliant blogging challenges: We Should Cocoa, hosted by Chele from the Chocolate Teapot with 'green' as the theme this month and also Alphabakes, hosted by Caroline from Caroline Makes with 'M' as the letter of the month


 
* a marginal improvement on Her Majesty's attempt

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Random Recipes: Leaning Tower of Praline Cupcake


Last weekend A went away. He was off to a music festival and when discussing whether it was something I'd enjoy and wish to attend, our conversation went a little like this:

A: Do you fancy coming to a music festival?
Me: Is Adele playing?
A: No
Me: (pulls face)
A: But it is at Butlins, that might be fun?
Me: Hmmm. Will the water slides be open? 
A: I don't think so
Me: Do they have a wave machine?! You know how I feel about wave machines. Best. Fun. Ever.
A: I think it'll just be all about the bands
Me: How about the cake? What's the ratio of band to cake?
A: Zero. There'll probably be lots of beer though
Me: Beer cake?
A: No. Just beer. 

Once I'd firmly established that the music festival he was heading to did not involve Adele, water slides or copious quantities of cake I headed to the kitchen. And  I spent virtually 48 hours fighting with flour, brawling with butter and scuffling with sugar. There were some disasters (as always) and there were these: my Leaning Tower of Praline Cupcakes. The nutty equivalent of the most famous slanting Italian landmark.

All in aid of this month's Random Recipe Challenge, hosted as always by Dom from Belleau Kitchen. This month's theme is Lucky Number 17.


Leaning Tower of Praline Cupcakes 

For the Leaning Praline:
150g caster sugar
100ml water
75g flaked almonds

For the cupcakes:
175g unsalted butter, softened
175g golden caster sugar
3 eggs, beaten
150g self raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
50g ground almonds
1 tsp almond extract

75g butter, softened
125g icing sugar
Sprinkling of ground almonds

1. To make the praline: Put the sugar and water in a saucepan and heat gently until the sugar has dissolved. Bring to the boil and boil rapidly until the syrup has turned into a golden caramel. Stir in the almonds straight away and then turn out onto a lightly oiled baking sheet. Set aside to cool, until the praline becomes brittle
2. To make the cupcakes firstly line a bun tin with 12 paper cases and preheat the oven to 190C/170C (fan)/Gas Mark 5. 
3. Beat the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy. Gradually add the eggs and whisk until combined. Fold in the flour, baking powders, almonds and extract
4. Divide the mixture between the cases and bake for approximately 20 minutes until golden and springy to touch. 
5. To make the icing: beat the icing sugar and butter together until pale and creamy. Spoon onto the cooled cupcakes. Snap the praline into jagged pieces and use to decorate the cupcakes. Sprinkle a little ground almond onto each cupcake

Baker's notes...
  • I've adapted the recipe somewhat, using an age-old, dog-eared, yellowed recipe for almond cupcakes that I love, torn out of a magazine which I've long forgotten.  
  • Other nutty options include a pecan version
  • How do wave machines actually work? Are there a group of invisible people jumping in at the deep end at the same time? Answers on a postcard please. Best answer gets cake.



 
All wrapped up to take to my mates

Sunday, 11 March 2012

Tea Time Treats: Rock Cakes and why they...rock!



Rock cakes.

They haven't the most appetizing name, let's be honest.

In fact, if there was one cake that tasted a whole load better than it sounds, the rock cake would be it.

This is despite having a rather illustrious history. They were promoted during WWII by the Ministry of Food, as they required far less sugar, butter and eggs, all rationed, than other bakes.

They've featured in none other than the the best selling books of the last decade. Harry Potter of course; they are one of Mrs Weasley's favourite bakes.

And they are a murder weapon.

Yep, Ernie (aka the Fastest Milkman In the West), featured on The Benny Hill Show in 1970 sadly met his maker during a (bun) fight with the breadman as they both tried to win the affections of Sue at Number 22. Ernie is killed when Two-Ton Ted from Teddington, the evil breadman, aims a Rock Cake at Ernie's heart. And Ernie heads to make deliveries in the great milk round in the sky.

These cakes are heading over to this month's Tea Time Treats table, hosted by the lovely Karen at Lavender and Lovage. Don't forget you have til the 28th March to bake your scones and buns!

                                      

Rock Cakes

225g self raising flour
115g butter, softened
50g demerara sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp mixed spice
65g caster sugar
50g raisins
50g sultanas
50g mixed peel
1 egg
A splash or two of milk, if needed

1. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4
2. Pop the flour and butter into a bowl and, using the tips of your fingers, rub the flour and butter together until the mixtures resembles breadcrumbs
3. Add the sugars, spices and fruits and mix with a wooden spoon
4. Create a well in the centre and add the egg. Bring the mixture together with the spoon to form a soft dough. A splash or two of milk may help bind the mixture if it appears a little dry
5. Using either a tablespoon or your hands, form twelve small mounds or balls of mixture and place on the prepared baking sheets
6. Pop in the oven for 18-20 minutes until golden in colour

Baker's notes...

  • I made one super-sized, pimp-my-rock-cake bun and six small, regular sized ones. Just because I'm greedy like that
  • They are easy-peasy bakes and were the very first bake I learnt to make. That first bite into the crumbly, fruity, spicy bun, warm from the oven is....lush. Even if, as a murder weapon, they belong in a game of Cluedo alongside the revolver and lead piping 



Sunday, 4 March 2012

Chocolate Fruit and Nut Case Cupcakes



Are you a Fruit and Nut Case?

Apparently everyone is a Fruit and Nut case. At least according to that Cadbury's Fruit and Nut advert

I can't decide if my favourite bit is when the hunky, chunky almond get electrocuted bouncing off the stapler (hunky chunky maybe, but also bit of a muppet. Almonds and desk lamps do not mix, children). Or is my favourite bit the brilliantly dodgy dancing at the end from the office guy? It brings to mind an inebriated wedding guest forced to perform funky moves to the macarena.


And by the end of the advert you expect the startled guy and the seductive Fruit and Nut Bar to be strolling, hand in hand into the sunset, off to make baby fruit and nut chocolates.

If this song doesn't stick in your head and you find yourself humming it over and over for the next 48 hours straight please see me after class.


Chocolate Fruit and Nut Case Cupcakes
Makes approximately 6 cupcakes

35g raisins
55g dark chocolate, coarsely grated
55g butter, softened
80g caster sugar
2 large eggs
55g ground almonds
75ml milk
80g self raising flour, sifted

For the icing:

45g plain chocolate, melted
170g unsalted butter
150g icing sugar, sifted
1 tbsp cocoa powder
60ml double cream
1 bar of Cadbury's Fruit and Nut


1. To get your raisins plump and juicy, as the advert goes, place them in a small bowl and cover with just boiled water. Set aside
2. Cream the butter and sugar together for a few minutes until nice and fluffy. Gently beat the egg yolks together with a fork and add to the mixture, a spoonful at a time, beating well after each addition
3. Fold in the almonds, chocolate and milk. Drain the raisins and pat dry with a piece of kitchen roll, fold in to the rest of the mixture
4. In a separate bowl whisk the egg whites until they resemble nice soft peaks and then fold gently into the mixture
5. Fold in the flour. Divide the mixture between six cupcake cases and place in the oven to bake for 15-20 minutes or until the centres spring back when gently touched. Allow to cool
6. To make the chocolate icing:  beat the butter, icing sugar and cocoa powder together until smoothly blended. Stir in the melted chocolate and mix in the cream. Beat the entire mixture for a further minute or two until the icing is smooth, glossy and creamy. Pipe or spoon on the top of each cupcake and decorate with a chunk of Fruit and Nut Chocolate


Baker's notes...

  • I bought a massive, size-of-my-head bar of Cadbury's Fruit and Nut to eat while making these cupcakes - it helped with the creative process of baking these
  • The cake recipe is based upon Delia's Chocolate and Almond cupcakes, which can be found right here. The recipe can be easily doubled.
  • The cupcakes can be frozen, uniced