Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Happy Halloween with Spooky Skeleton Biscuits

The only enjoyable aspect of Halloween in a themed biscuit.

I haven't been able to watch a horror film since the terrifyingly traumatic experience of cowering behind the sofa watching "Interview With the Vampire" aged thirteen.

That classic Halloween costume, the "Scream" mask gives me palpitations. I almost cancelled our wedding venue because of stories it was (gagh!) haunted. 

And a little part of me still wants to check under the bed every night before I go to sleep.

Monday, 28 October 2013

October Tea Time Treats Round-Up: Bread

Welcome to October's Tea Time Treats Round-Up!

I was delighted to announce, together with Marriage's Millers, a giveaway in association with this month's Tea Time Treats. Read on to discover the winner!

PS This is my penultimate hosting of Tea Time Treats. It's been a brilliant couple of years and I've loved all the wonderful recipes and entries - thank you for entering month after month. It's been a joy to co-host with Karen, a fantastic blogger, chef and friend. General life commitments have meant I regrettably need to cut back on my Tea Time Treat role. See you all for my final hosting in December! 

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Tea Time Treats: Lemon Iced Buns

Pushing, pulling and pummelling. Squeezing, stretching and slapping. Folding, flattering and forming*

No matter your technique, kneading dough is one of the most cathartic acts of baking.

So much so, it was recently the subject of a Radio 4 'Food Programme'. Sheila Dillon met with a group of refugees who used baking in their recovery, exploring the spiritual and therapeutic value of bread making.

For me, the day's inevitable frustrations and worries are soothed away during a time that can be used for a little peace and reflection. The gluten takes the brunt of your strains and stresses. And after ten minutes of kneading you're left with a satisfyingly weary ache in your arms and a smooth, well stretched dough. 

Be warned though- Baker boys in eighteenth century Paris were known as 'The Groaners' for their pitiful cries after hours upon hours of back-breaking kneading. 

A couple of hours later the irresistible aroma of freshly baked bread fills every nook and cranny of your home. Cathartic, creative and very delicious- it's no wonder home bread baking remains as popular as ever.

Baking these Lemon Iced Buns brought back many childhood memories of choosing sticky buns fresh from the Baker's Van, which would call weekly at home. Big trays would emerge from the back of the van filled with Custard Slices, Macaroons, Eclairs and all manner of tempting cream cakes. But without fail I'd choose the Iced Bun. I still love them. In homage to my eight year old sweet toothed-self, here's my home made version.

Lemon Iced Buns

250g strong white flour
25g caster sugar
7g fast acting yeast
1 tsp salt
20g softened, unsalted butter
1 free range egg
Zest of 1 lemon
75ml warm milk
70ml water 

100g sifted icing sugar
Juice of 1 lemon 

1. Preheat the oven to 220C/425F/Gas Mark 7. Grease a baking sheet.
2. Mix together the flour, sugar, salt and yeast in a large bowl. Make a well in the centre of the ingredients and add the butter, egg, zest and milk. Bring the ingredients together using a wooden spoon and gradually add the water until a soft dough is formed. NB: this is quite a wet dough
3. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead for around ten minutes until smooth and elastic. Place the dough in a clean, dry large bowl, cover with cling film and leave to rise for one hour in a warm place 
4. Divide the dough into six equal sized pieces and form into long fingers
5. Place the buns on the prepared baking sheet, allowing space for them to double in size and leave to rise for a further forty-five minutes or until they are just lightly touching each other on the tray
6. Bake for ten minutes before removing and cooling on a wire rack
7. For the icing: place the sifted sugar into a large bowl. Gradually add the lemon juice until a smooth thick icing is formed. Dip the cooled buns into the icing. 

Baker's  notes... 

  • My husband and I had a lengthy discussion on the merits of a custard filling to an Iced Bun. I was vehemently against 'ruining' such a classic bake. Any thoughts would be gratefully received to restore marital harmony
  • This is my entry to this month's Tea Time Treats, alternatively hosted by myself and Karen from Lavender and Lovage. There's still just about time to enter. The theme is: Bread!
Of course, there are there proponents of the 'no-knead' method (hello Dan Lepard!). 

* Just to confirm, I'm talking about bread here, not the new '50 Shades of Grey' 

Sunday, 20 October 2013

Chocolate and Plum Upside Down Cake

There are many great things about being grown-up.

You can stay up as late as you want. Drink cocktails. Have toast for tea every night.

Sure, there are responsibilities. Like getting yourself to work on time, having a vague opinion on the new series of Homeland and figuring out how to iron fourteen shirts during one episode of The Great British Bake Off without missing a single second of baking telly brilliance. 

Great Pink Bake Off for Breakthrough Breast Cancer and a Workshop with Beas of Bloomsbury

A damp, cool Autumnal Monday morning at L'Atelier de Chefs and a brilliant baking workshop in aid of Breakthrough Breast Cancer's Great Pink Bake Off was in full swing. Food mixers whirled with clouds of pink Italian Buttercream, kilograms upon kilograms of delicious Valrhona chocolate melted on the hob and muffin-doughnut hybrids were being dipped in large vats of sticky caster sugar.

How to win The Great British Bake Off

Image courtesy of The BBC/Love Productions

For nine weeks an entire nation has been glued to the telly every Tuesday night at Eight O Clock for The Great British Bake Off. This week is the culmination of hours of kneading, mixing, stirring, piping and an awful lot of anxious staring through the oven glass. 

Has Kimberley peaked too soon? Will Ruby's doe-eyed 'You mean it's actually good?' schtick wear off? Will the Dame of Design, Frances, fall at the final hurdle? 

Monday, 14 October 2013

Giveaway! Win a Copy of 'World's Best Cakes' by Riger Pizey

Roger Pizey's brand new baking book is up for grabs in this latest giveaway. 

With over two hundred and fifty mouthwatering recipes 'World's Best Cakes' is a must for any baker's bookshelves. It contains a fabulous collection of globally-inspired classic bakes, from national favourites such as American Boston cream pie and British Chelsea buns to exquisite small treats including Russian Tea Cakes and French madeleines. Each recipe has been meticulously researched and perfectly baked by Roger Pizey, one of the world's leading pastry chefs.

To win simply leave a comment below answering the following question:

'What was the last cake you ate?'

Trouble leaving a comment? Simply email me your answer: kate[at]whatkatebaked.com

Small Print:

  • The giveaway will close 12:00 Tuesday 22nd October 2013 
  • The winner will be chosen at random from the comments and emails
  • All decisions are final, no correspondence will be entered into and there is no cash alternative
  • The winner will be contacted by email and the prize sent directly by Jacqui Small Publishing 
  • Unfortunately the giveaway is open to UK residents only

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Plum and Almond Cake with Orange Icing

Spam. Nope, not the unwelcome email kind. But the wartime staple, Monty Python favourite and back-of-the-cupboard dust-attractor kind. The kind that hit the headlines this week when it was revealed to be considered an incredibly popular luxury item in.... South Korea.

Disclaimer: This has absolutely nothing to do with Plum and Almond Cake but I just loved this food story and was in the mood for sharing. I promise you won't be reading the recipe below and suddenly come across the secret ingredient of spam nestled between the eggs and flour.  

Marketed as "The Miracle Meat" when first launched in the 1930s, tins of Spam (SPiced hAM) are given as gifts to celebrate Korea's annual lunar thanksgiving holiday. It is key ingredient in dishes such as budae jjigae ("army stew"), but my favourite fact of all? Spam is considered the most opulent addition to any South Korean luxury hampers. 

Can you imagine if that was the case this Christmas in posh homes up and down the UK.... 

'A Hamper from Fortnum and Masons? Why you shouldn't have! How delightful!'

(rustling of paper) 

'And look! All my favourites are here... Marc de Champagne Truffles! Christmas Pudding! Monarch Full Bodied Vintage Marmalade! And...erm...Spam? Hmm....You really shouldn't have' 

Anyway, back to the spam-free Plum and Almond Cake with Orange Icing 

Plum and Almond Cake with Orange Icing 

For the cake:
175g softened butter
175g caster sugar
3 large eggs 
225g self-raising flour 
1 tsp baking powder 
2 tsp almond extract 
75g soured cream 
300g plums, stoned and cut into small pieces  

For the icing: 
150g sifted icing sugar 
50ml water 
1tsp orange extract OR zest of 1 orange 

1. Preheat the oven to 180C/fan160C/Gas Mark 4 and butter and line the base of a loose-based 22cm round cake tin  
2. Beat together the butter, sugar, eggs, flour, baking powder and extract in a large bowl for a couple of minutes until well combined. Beat in the soured cream and stir in the chopped plums. 
3. Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin and bake for 45-50 minutes until firm to touch and the cake springs back when lightly pressed.  
4. Cool in the tin for 10-15 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely. 
5. To make the icing: Place the icing sugar and extract into a large bowl. Gradually stir in the water until a smooth, thick icing is achieved, drizzle over the cooled cake 

Baker's notes...