Sunday, 31 March 2013

Happy Easter with a Zesty Lemon Easter Cake!

It's Easter!

What could be more gratifying than a four day weekend and obscene quantities of chocolate eggs? Well, apart from a lottery win and the new series of Sherlock being brought six months forward. But life is not always fair.

I'm spending the weekend in the bosom of my family, wedding planning and eating enough warm, buttery hot cross buns to cause a national shortage.

What are you doing this weekend?

And of course Easter is a egg-scellent (cue obligatory but utterly unnecessary Easter pun) time to get baking. Previous years on What Kate Baked we've had the traditional Hot Cross Bun, the not so traditional Bun-muffin, Simmel Cake and all manner of chocolate seasonal goodies. This year, in objection to possibly The Longest Winter Ever my Easter Cake has a determined spring in its step with this zesty, cheery Lemon Easter Cake.

  • For the cake: 

  • 225g unsalted softened butter
  • 325g plain flour
  • 50g cornflour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 225g caster sugar
  • Zest of 2 lemons
  • 3 large eggs
  • 180-200ml milk
  • 2 tbsps poppy seeds

  • For the icing:
  • 100g sifted icing sugar
  • Approximately 30-40ml lemon juice

  • 1. Preheat the oven to 190C/170C fan/Gas MArk 5. Spray a 22cm/9inch ring pan with a cake release spray to allow easy release of the cake from  the pan
  • 2.  Sift the flour, cornflour and baking powder together and set aside. 
  • 3. Beat the butter and sugar together for 5-7 minutes until light and fluffy. Beat in the zest. Gradually beat in the egg, a little at a time, adding a spoonful of the flour  if the mixture appears to be curdling. Add in the flour mixture and then the milk until the mixture drops easily from a spoon. Stir in the poppy seeds
  • 4. Pour the mixture into the pan, smooth the surface and bake for 45-55 minutes until risen and golden. Leave to cool in the tin for ten minutes then invert the cake onto a wire rack to cool completely
  • 5. To make the icing: Gradually stir in the lemon juice into the icing sugar until smooth. Spoon over the cake and decorate with Dr Oetker wafer daisies 

  • Baker's notes...

    • To make an orange version of this cake, simply replace the lemon zest with orange zest and the lemon juice with orange juice.
    • This cake freezes nicely if wrapped well in cling film and popped in a freezer bag. Just ice and decorate prior to eating
    • Please note Dr Oetker kindly sent me a goodie bag of Easter treats to create this recipe


    Sunday, 24 March 2013

    The Cake with Too Many Names

    I don't think there is another bake in the entire universe that has as many names  as this one.

    For some, it is a Fridge Cake. For others, a biscuit cake. All through my childhood we called it 'Choccy Wokky Do-Dah'. My friend calls her version 'My Easy-Peasy Cake for People Who Don't Bake' Cake. And it goes by the name 'Tiffin' in some circles and has even been referred to as 'Cold Dog Biscuits' (I think I prefer our childhood name just a teensy bit more).

    So flippin' confusing.

    But the common thread is that this is a non-bake, cake-like creation comprising of crushed biscuits, syrup, chocolate and dried fruit. Marshmallows, Rice Krispies, Maltesers, meringue and all manner of other additions can also be stirred in. 

    And boy is it good.

    So good in fact, Prince William requested it as his wedding cake.

    (Well, second wedding cake. The first was a far more fancy, traditional affair).

    I baked this biscuit cake/choccy woky do-dah/tiffin/fridge cake (delete as applicable) for Andrew's birthday a few weeks back. After posing the question: 'And exactly what cake shall I bake for your birthday this year, my love?' we spent the next thirty minutes ruling out Andrew's first request: a 'wine cake'. I have since discovered that both Martha Stewart and Smitten Kitchen have recipes for wine cake. Who'd have thought it.

    Anyways, this version of the Cake-With-Too-Many-Names is an elegant, adult-only boozy affair with an extremely generous helping of kirsch.

    Soured Cherry Cake-With-Too-Many-Names Cake

    150g soured cherries
    1 tbsp kirsch
    250g Rich Tea biscuits
    350g chocolate
    150g unsalted butter
    2 tbsp golden syrup

    Handful of cherries to decorate

    1. Line a 20cm x 20cm square tin with cling film. Pop the cherries in a small dish and pour over the kirsch. Set aside for a few hours if possible
    2. Place the Rich Tea in a food bag and bang the biscuits to crush them into gravel sized pieces with a rolling pin. Ever so satisfying.
    3. Melt 200g of the chocolate, butter and syrup in a small glass bowl suspended over a pan of gently simmering water
    4. Stir in the biscuits and cherries, including any left over kirsch.
    5. Spoon the mixture into the square tin. Melt the remainder of the chocolate and pour over the biscuit base. Decorate the top with a handful of cherries and pop in the fridge for a few hours.

    Baker's notes...

    • Omit the cherries and add raisins, sultanas, apricots, all manner of lovely dried fruits. Or up the chocolate factor and add chocolate chips
    • To cut, run a sharp knife under a hot tap for 10 seconds or so, dry off the excess water and cut the cake into squares
    • And because of Prince William has given his stamp of approval to the Cake-With-Too-Many-Names I'm entering this crackin' chocolate creation in this month's We Should Cocoa blogging challenge, hosted by Lucy from The KitchenMaid with the theme: 'Fame'. Lucy is calling for famous chocolate recipes. We Should Cocoa was created by Chele at Chocolate Teapot and Choclette of Chocolate Log Blog

    Wednesday, 20 March 2013

    Streusel Pecan-Coffee Cake with Puro Coffee

    When the nice people at Puro Coffee got in touch and asked if I would like to sample some of their Fairtrade Coffee I said yes quicker than Gregg Wallace says ''re through' to the first Master Chef contestant that presents him with a pudding.

    Afterall, this blogger wakes up in the morning with a spring in her step at the thought of her morning coffee. 

    If you enjoy the coffee at the likes of the National Trust cafes, Le Pain Quotidien or Leon, you'll already be enjoying Puro Fairtrade Organic Coffee. And, as well as enjoying the flavoursome coffee, each cup contributes towards buying and protecting areas of rainforest vital for biodiversity in coffee producing countries through a partnership Puro have with The World Land Trust. This video explores the Puro story from the company's origins to the vital role of Fairtrade to the ongoing work with The World Land Trust.  

    This was the gift box sent to me by Puro; each month on their Facebook site they run a competition to win a similar box 

    There's nothing quite like a coffee cake for that mid-morning pick-me-up. And this coffee cake, inspired by Puro Fairtrade coffee, has all the best bits of a coffee cake but with the added bonus of a cinnamon streusel-crumble style topping.

    Streusel and Cinnamon Coffee Cake with Puro Coffee

    Streusel topping:

    180g plain flour

    160g soft brown sugar
    2 tsps cinnamon
    100g cold, cubed unsalted butter
    50g finely chopped pecan nuts

    For the cake:

    250g plain flour
    1⁄4 tsp baking powder
    ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
    125g unsalted butter
    175g golden caster sugar
    2 large eggs
    4 tbsps hot, very strong Puro Fairtrade 'Fuerte' coffee
    150ml sour cream

    To decorate:

    3 tbsps icing sugar

    1 tsp water

    1. Preheat the oven to 350F/180C/170C fan. Grease and line a 9 inch tube or ring mould
    2. To make the streusel topping: mix the flour, sugar and cinnamon together a large bowl. Rub in the butter until the mixture resembles small gravel-sized pieces. Stir in the pecan nuts. Set aside.
    3. Mix together the flour, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda in a bowl
    4. In a second bowl, beat together the butter and sugar for 5-7 minutes until light and fluffy. Gradually add the eggs, beating until combined. Stir in the coffee. Alternatively add in spoonfuls of the flour mixture and the sour cream until all added in.
    5. Spoon the cake mixture into the mould, smoothing over the top. Add the streusel topping and, using the back of a spoon, gently pat down
    6. Bake for 55 minutes until golden brown or a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean
    7. Cool in the mould for ten minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely

    Baker's notes...

    • As an alternative to the streusel topping, bake the cake and once cooled spread over some coffee flavoured buttercream icing: beat 200g icing sugar with 100g butter until fluffy and light. Add 50ml Puro FairTrade coffee and mix to combine. 
    • We enjoyed this with a cup of Puro Noble, a rich and lively medium roast coffee
    By the way... Puro sent me their gift box to sample their Fairtrade Coffee and incorporate their coffee into my baking

    Sunday, 17 March 2013

    Not eating cake and Camembert, Plum Tomato and Caramelised Onion Tart

    Last Sunday Andrew turned to me and said: 'Starting tomorrow I'm going to be really healthy. Two weeks of no booze. Reduce the caffeine. Hit the gym. No puddings, no chocolate and no cakes'.

    Sitting down beside Andrew I placed my arm around him in a supportive style of gesture and replied, in the most earnest of fashions: 'And I'll support you'.

    Just before I launched into a Whitney-inspired rendition of 'I'll Stand by You', Andrew, with somewhat of a mischievousness glint in his eyes said: 'How about you join me- No puddings, no chocolate and no cakes for two weeks?'

    After listing all 267 reasons as to why this would be a preposterous idea, starting with 'But I need chocolate because my job can be so hard' and ending with 'I write a bloomin' cake blog you know!', Andrew responded with 'Well, anyway, despite all 267 reasons, I bet you wouldn't be able to give up cake and chocolate for fourteen days'.

    Now, thing is, lovely readers, I am a bit competitive. And when I someone says I can't do something I want to jolly well prove I can.

    And this is how we've ended up with me savoury baking this weekend. And how I spent 17 minutes explaining to Andrew on Thursday night why a hot chocolate does not count. And how I spent ten minutes starring so longingly at a creme egg in a colleague's hand I didn't take in a word she was saying to me the entire time.

    Meanwhile, the theme of this month's Tea Time Treats challenge, hosted alternatively by myself and the lovely Karen from Lavender and Lovage, is French Patisserie. All month I've had visions of presenting to you the most stylish of confections... the perfect pastries... le magnifique macaroon! 

    I mean, in all honesty this was most unlikely to happen, with my baking firmly placed in the more 'rustic' category. 

    So here's the alternative, a French-inspired Camembert, Tomato and Caramelised Onion Tart. 

    For the tart: 
    200g flour
    100g butter
    an egg yolk
    a little cold water if needed

    For the filling
    25g butter
    2 onions, finely chopped 
    1 tbsp soft brown sugar
    1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
    150g Camembert thinly sliced
    2 Plum tomatoes, sliced and seeds removed
    3 large eggs, beaten
    150ml double cream
    2 tbsps chopped basil

    1. For the pastry: put the flour and butter into the bowl of a food processor and pulse to fine breadcrumbs. Alternatively, you can rub the butter into the flour using your fingers
    2. Add the egg yolk and enough water and pulse just enough to bring the dough together. Wrap in clingfilm and place in the fridge for up to 1 hour to chill. Set the oven at 200C/180C fan/Gas Mark 6.
    3. Use the pastry to line a 22cm tart tine, making sure there are no tears or holes and trimming any overhanging pastry
    4. Line the pastry case with baking parchment and baking beans and bake for twenty minutes before removing the foil and beans and setting aside
    5. For the filling: melt the butter in a frying pan on a medium heat, add the onion and fry on low heat for 10-15 minutes or until nicely softened. Add the sugar and vinegar and fry for a further 5 minutes, stirring occasionally until caramelised 
    6. Spoon the onions into the pastry case and add alternative slices of tomato and camembert on top. In a bowl mix together the eggs and double cream, add the basil and season with salt and pepper. Pour evenly over the tart
    7. Bake for 25-30 minutes at 160C/140C fan/Gas Mark 3 until set and golden

    Baker's notes...

    • For more French themed baking (including cakes!) check out French Month on What Kate Baked
    • As for how the two weeks of no cakes is going...well there was a little blip on Wednesday when I accidently ate a Custard Cream. And yesterday when I had a celebratory Easter Egg because Wales won in triumphant style against England to win the rugby Six Nations 

    Thursday, 7 March 2013

    Cherry and Vanilla Cream Jammie 'Red Nose' Biscuits

    This coming Friday, March 15th, is Red Nose Day. And there are about a billion ways to do your bit. 

    That may be a teeny exaggeration, but it isn't just about sitting in a bath full of cold baked beans a la fundraising in the '80s!

    (In any case these days surely it would be a combination of mung and borlotti bean rather than the humble baked bean?).

    But enough about beans! You could buy some fancy pants mugs, quaff away with Wine Relief, munch on some Menu Relief or acquire yourself a lovely new apron.

    And of course there was The Great Comic Relief Bake Off. Relive the moment when Claudia flirted with a somewhat flustered Mr Silver-Hollywood-Fox himself over the self-raising flour. When Bob baked that inspired Baker St tube cake. Or when Jo Brand demonstrated to the entire nation the most unconventional way of softening butter ever.

    If you fancy following in the footsteps of Jo, Claudia, Ellie, Bob and Edd, Queen Mary of Berry has put together a snazzy little Bake Off Kit complete, of course,  with tips and tricks to avoid the dreaded soggy bottom. 

    Meanwhile I got my mitts on this lovely little book: The Great Comic Relief Bake Off Book

    And inspired by a recipe for Jammie Dodgers in the book here is my version:

    Cherry and Vanilla Cream Jammie Red Nose Biscuits

    For the biscuits:
    175g plain flour
    50g self-raising flour
    75g golden caster sugar
    75g unsalted cold butter
    75g golden syrup
    Seeds from 1 vanilla pod

    For the filling:1 tbsp custard powder
    1 tsp vanilla extract
    100g Fairtrade icing sugar
    50g soft unsalted butter
    1 tsp boiling water
    6 tbsps of homemade cherry jam

    1.Preheat the oven to 180C/fan 160C/Gas Mark 4. Grease and line two baking sheets with greaseproof paper
    2. Place the flours and sugar into a  bowl and mix to combine. Dice the butter and add to the bowl. Using your fingertips rub the butter into the flour and sugar until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. 

    3. Make a well in the centre of the mixture, add the egg yolk, vanilla and syrup. Mix, initally with a spoon, then your hands to form a ball. Wrap in clingfilm and pop in the fridge for at least twenty minutes
    4. Roll out the dough to a thickness of 4mm on a surface dusted with flour. Dip a circular biscuit cutter into a little flour and cut out the shapes. Using a smaller 1 cm circular cutter cut out 'red noses' in half the biscuits. Using a skewer prick around the outside of the biscuits as decoration
    5. Space well apart on the prepared baking sheets and b
    ake for 15 minutes or until golden in colour 
    6. To make the vanilla cream: pop the custard powder, vanilla powder and icing sugar into the food processor and pulse briefly to combine. Add the butter and blitz together until a smooth cream forms, adding a little boiling water if required. Sandwich two biscuits together with about 1tbsp of custard cream and jam

    Baker's notes...
    • These are sweet squidgy biscuits, perfect for a bake sale
    • For loads more information on how to get involved and to find out where all the lovely monies raised goes read on here...

    Monday, 4 March 2013

    A Taste of the Tropical: Chocolate and Coconut Cake for Mother's Day and Waitrose Direct 'Making for Mum' Competition

    This certainly is the time of year for themed baking. From Valentines' Day to St David's Day via flippin' Pancakes there is nothing What Kate Baked likes better than a themed bake. See, for example, Christmas.

    Thing is, it is Mother's Day. What possible combination of flour, sugar, egg, butter and baking powder is sufficient to express all the thanks yous, all the appreciation, all the gratitude and all the love?

    So, ideally for Mother's Day I'd be taking Mam away to a sunny tropical island. You know the sort. Aqua blue sea, soft golden sand, swaying palms, not a cloud in the sky. A personal butler who may bear more than just a passing resemblance to Hugh Jackman topping up our refreshments.

    Trouble is my NHS salary will get us as far as Andover rather than Antigua.

    So the next best thing is this decadent chocolate cake with a hint of the tropical- a silky coconut icing. 

    Thank you Mum.

    Meanwhile, this Mother's Day Waitrose Direct have launched a 'Making for Mum' competition. To be in with the chance of winning your lovely Mum, plus a friend, a day of expert cooking lessons at the Waitrose Cookery School you just need to send them a photo of what you'll be making for your Mum. And you can get crafty as well as, erm, cakey! You can enter right here.

    A Taste of the Tropical: Chocolate and Coconut Cake for Mother's Day

    For the cake:
    100g chocolate, chopped
    120ml boiling water
    300g plain flour
    1 tsp baking powder
    1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
    1 vanilla pod, seeds only
    175g unsalted softened butter
    225g light muscovado sugar
    3 large eggs lightly beaten
    150ml buttermilk

    For the ganache and decoration:
    150g chocolate
    150ml coconut milk
    Handful of dessicated coconut 
    Handful of white chocolate buttons

    1. Grease and line 2 x 20cm round sandwich tins and preheat the oven to 180C/fan 170C/350F/Gas Mark 4
    2. Pop the chopped chocolate in a bowl and pour over the just-boiled water. Stir until melted and set aside to cool
    3. In a bowl sift the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and vanilla pod seeds together and set aside
    4. Beat the butter and sugar together for 5-7 minutes until light and fluffy. Gradually add the egg, adding a tablespoon of the flour mixture if it begins to curdle. Add in the chocolate and buttermilk
    5. Gently fold in the flour mixture and divide the mixture between the two prepared tins, smoothing the tops
    6. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until firm on touch. Leave for 5 minutes to cool in the tins before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely
    7. To make the ganache: Pop the chopped chocolate into a bowl. Place the coconut milk in a small pan and heat until simmering point, stirring throughout. Remove the pan from the heat and pour over the chocolate, whisking the mixture until the chocolate has melted and it is smooth, glossy and thickened. 
    Set aside to cool for 1-2 hours, or until thick enough to spread over the cake.
    8. Use half the ganache to sandwich the two layers together and smooth the remainder of the ganache over the top. Decorate with a sprinkling of dessicated coconut and white chocolate buttons

    Baker's notes...
    • The coconut milk ganache is also a great vegan substitute for the traditional double cream-based ganache. But no coconut milk? No worries- simply use double cream instead
    • The buttermilk helps ensure the cake remains lovely and moist 
    • The cake, uniced and wrapped well, freezes for up to 3 months. 
    Please note Waitrose Direct kindly sent us some wine to promote their Mother's Day competition. It certainly helped numb the disappointment of not spending the weekend with Mam in Antigua.