Friday, 24 October 2014

Ginger and Lemon Witches Hat Halloween Cake

This recipe may be a tad early but I'm not the only one getting enthused for Halloween already. Supermarket shelves are groaning under the weight of absurdly large pumpkins (no wonder there's a Pumpkin crisis), Disney are cashing in and adverts on bus stops are promoting the latest horror films such as 'Ouija' and 'Wrong Turn 6: The Last Resort'.*

I normally wait out Halloween happily watching the Strictly Come Dancing special, 'treating' myself to a gigantic bar of chocolate while avoiding Buffy-True-Blood-Addams Family mega-marathons on obscure digital channels. But invited to participate in the Unilever Kitchen Halloween Challenge (#UnileverHalloween), it was time for some spookalicious baking. And ta-dah! Here's my effort, a Ginger and Lemon Witches Hat Halloween Cake (try saying that while bobbing an apple or two).

*Genuinely a film released this year. You'd have thought by now, with a title such as that, the main characters might have learnt something from the last five versions? Like, always bring a Sat Nav on long journeys?

Photography 'special effects' for Halloween; normal service to resume for Bonfire Night

Ginger and Lemon Witches Hat Halloween Cake

For the cake:
125g Flora Buttery
200g treacle
150ml milk
125g soft brown sugar
225g plain flour
2 tsps ground ginger
0.5 tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 large eggs, beaten

For the decoration:
Zest of 1 lemon
100g icing sugar
100g black fondant
Hundreds and thousands

1. Preheat the oven to 180C/160C fan/Gas Mark 4. Butter a 8 inch square tin and line with baking parchment
2. Place the Flora, treacle, milk and sugar into a pan and very gently melt together. stirring occasionally. As soon as it has melted, remove from the heat and allow to begin to cool.
3. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, spice and bicarbonate of soda. Add in the treacle-butter mixture and fold together. Fold in the eggs and pour into the prepared tin. Bake for 40-45 minutes until firm to touch and a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean
4. Cool in the tin for 20 minutes then turn out to a cooling rack to cool completely
5. To make the icing: sift the icing sugar into a large bowl, add the lemon juice and zest and a little water to make a runny 'water' icing. Spread over the cooled cake. Slice the cake into a witches hat shape. Decorate the bat shapes made from the black fondant and a bat cookie cutter. Use any leftover fondant to create a border around your cake. Finally, decorate with the hundreds and thousands.

Baker's notes...

  • Prefer a sticky ginger cake? Wrap the cooled cake in parchment paper and a layer of foil for a couple of days, then decorate
  • The cake can easily be frozen prior to decorating and kept in the freezer for up to three months
  • Last year I made these Spooky Skeleton Biscuits, the previous year these Spider Cakes and before that these Creepy Crawly Cupcakes
  • Cheers to Unilever for sending over a hamper of ingredients to inspire Halloween baking
  • How are you celebrating Halloween?

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Honey, Ginger and Beer Cake

We've just returned from a glorious weeks holiday in Greece. 

I write that with such longing for the warmth tickling our skin, the azure-blue skies, the hot sun and the swimming in the clearest of seas. As we swam, bathed in the sun or drank very quaffable local wine into the late, balmy evenings we (yes, rather nauseatingly) kept reminding ourselves 'This is October!...Can you believe we're in October?'.

Sunday, 5 October 2014

Bloomin' Brilliant Brownie Cake

I'm going out on a bit of a limb here by saying this is the most decadent, chocolately cake you're likely to taste this year. It is one hundred percent gooey, fudgy, brownie brilliance. The far more civilised equivalent of dunking your entire head, mouth wide open into one of those chocolate fountains you find at fancy functions. A forkful is on par with a supermarket sweep of the finest artisan Parisian chocolaterie. It would score 'brownie' points when served at the end of any dinner party and, forget a shot of espresso, this cake is the best mid-afternoon pick-me-up in town.

Have I sufficiently sold it to you yet?