Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Easter Egg Brownies with Waitrose #GoodEgg

Happy Easter!

Have a lovely weekend, whether you'll be contributing to the estimated £30 million pounds due to be spent at the nation's garden centres this long weekend, whiling away your down time on rail replacement bus services or spending the bank holiday trying to desperately interpret the weather forecast, which is currently predicting, depending on what you read, a heatwave, a washout and snow.

Or, perhaps like me, you'll simply squeezing an entire year's worth of novelty chocolate consumption into four days?

In between unwrapping another very cute Easter chocolate hedgehog, there is a lot of brilliant Easter baking to be enjoying. A fruity Simnel cake perhaps, juicy, spicy hot cross buns or these scrumptious Easter Egg Brownies.

And if you are baking this bank holiday weekend (and with four WHOLE DAYS OFF there really isn't an excuse not to) share your Easter photos with the Waitrose #GoodEgg campaign to support Great Ormond Street Hospital Children's Charity. Waitrose will be surprising lucky participants with Easter gifts including Heston’s Golden Easter Eggs, hampers, cases of wine, Waitrose vouchers and Waitrose Cookery School vouchers. And there's lots of lovely Easter inspiration on the Waitrose Easter website

To take part, simply upload your Easter themed pictures to twitter, instagram or vine, from the delicious food you're enjoying to Easter Egg hunts, using the hashtag  #GoodEgg to support Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity.

Easter Egg Brownies

185g unsalted butter
185g dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids)
3 large eggs
250g golden caster sugar
100g plain flour
50g cocoa powder
10-12 mini solid chocolate eggs*
50g melted white chocolate to decorate

1. Preheat the oven to 180C/160C fan/Gas Mark 4. Grease and line a 20cm square tin. 
2. Melt the butter and chocolate in a small, heat proof bowl suspended over a pan of simmering hot water. Stir occasionally and remove from the heat once melted
2. Whisk together the eggs and sugar until thick, pale and doubled in volume, which may take several minutes. Gently fold through the melted chocolate, avoiding overmixing 
3. Sift in the flour and cocoa powder and fold together. Add in the mini eggs
4. Pour into the prepared tin and bake for 25 minutes or until the top of the brownies has developed a thin crust
5. Allow to cool in the tin. Once completely cooled use an egg shaped cutter to cut out the Easter Egg shapes

Baker's Notes

  • *The mini-eggs are an optional extra. And should you have any spare Easter Egg chocolate (!) you can add 100g roughly chopped chocolate to the mixture
  • One advantage of the Easter Egg shapes is that you'll have a fair bit of leftover Brownie edges, or 'Baker's Bonuses' as I refer to them 
  • The Brownies will  keep in an airtight container for a good two weeks (as if in our household... a good two hours more like) and in the freezer for up to a month.

With thanks to Waitrose for sending me a voucher to cover ingredient costs and an Easter themed box of goodies

Saturday, 14 March 2015

Poor Knights of Windsor

 Happy Mother's Day to Mums everywhere!

Fancy earning some crucial brownie points this weekend and living up to the card you bought by making Mum breakfast in bed?

Great! Because this tasty treat is exactly how you'll remain in Mum's good books for the next 365 days:

With a big thank you to Oxo who sent a few products to help in the making of this delicious dish to celebrate Mother's Day

Poor Knights of Windsor

2 large eggs
160ml milk
30g caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
0.5 tbsp Grand Marnier (optional)
4 slices stale bread
25g butter
Icing sugar for dusting
Orange slices to decorate

1. Whisk together the eggs, milk, sugar, vanilla and Grand Marnier in a large shallow dish
2. Soak and saturate each slice of bread in the eggy mixture, this may take up to a few minutes if the bread is very stale
3. Heat a heavy bottomed frying pan or cast iron griddle and drop in the butter
4. When the butter is sizzling, lift the slices of bread into the pan. Brown each side of the bread until crispy
5. Remove from the pan, dust over a little icing sugar and serve to Mum with orange slices and a smug smile

Baker's notes

  • 'Poor Knight's of Windsor' is a fancy name for eggy bread or French toast with an indulgent boozy twist. The name is thought to be a reference to the impoverished military gentleman who were given lodgings and pensions in Windsor Castle by Edward III...
  • ...but what a fine breakfast they enjoyed each day!
  • Any bread will work well, but the traditional bread to use is a white loaf that won't overpower the taste of the eggy mixture. No stale bread? Leave the slices out overnight to dry out

Sunday, 8 March 2015

Hummingbird Cake

Mum is a brilliant baker, properly brilliant. Although she definitely is far too modest to say so herself. So this week, in the lead up to Mother's Day next weekend, I thought to celebrate Mum's baking brilliance. See, this was the cat cake Mum made for my third birthday:

Just look how happy I am at the thought of a ginormous pink cat cake!

Mum also made our scrumptious wedding cake and virtually single-handedly baked the Cake Table at the Wedding:

So, as a huge thank you to my Mum in a million, I thought to bake this Hummingbird Cake.

This indulgent cake, which hails from the Southern states of the USA, is packed full of juicy pineapple, banana and cinnamon and topped with a delicious cream cheese icing and roasted pecan nuts. It is inspired by one of my all time favourite puds as a child, Mum's Pineapple Upside Down Cake, which we'd often have on a Sunday following a roast dinner. Once I'd carefully extracted the unwanted cherry and catapulted into my brother's bowl, I'd tuck in with gusto and be requesting seconds within, erm, seconds.

I'm also contributing this recipe to Beko's blogging challenge for Mother's Day. Beko have just announced the launch of a new page on their website celebrating their unique oven induction hob technology. Induction hobs work like a gas hob, but are easy to clean and have special technology to heat up the surface of a magnetic metal pan, minimising wasted energy and the potential risk of injury.

Hummingbird Cake

For the cake:
350g self-raising flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
150g soft brown sugar
200g golden caster sugar
2 large bananas
1 x 425g tin of pineapple chunks, drained and chopped
2 large eggs, beaten
1 tsp vanilla extract
250ml olive oil
50g finely chopped pecan nuts

For the icing and decoration:
100g softened butter
250g full fat cream cheese
100g sifted icing sugar
50g pecans finely chopped and lightly roasted

1. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4. Grease and line 2 x 23cm round cake tins.
2. Sift the flour and cinnamon into a large bowl:

3. Stir in the sugars and a pinch of salt.
4. In a second bowl mash the bananas and mix in the chopped pineapple, eggs, extract and oil:

5. Fold into the dry ingredients until smooth. Gently fold in the pecans:

6. Divide the mixture between the prepared tins and bake for 35-40 minutes or until risen, golden and the sponges spring back on light touch. Leave to cool for ten minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely
7. To make the icing: beat the butter until soft, then add in the cream cheese and icing sugar, beating to form a smooth icing. Spread half of the icing over one of the sponges and top with the second spread. Spread over the remaining icing and decorate with the roasted chopped pecan nuts

Baker's notes
  • This is adapted from Jamie Oliver's recipe for Hummingbird Cake
  • For a zesty icing, grate a lemon and add to the frosting
  • The origins of the name of the hummingbird cake remain a bit of a mystery. I love the thought that it was named 'Hummingbird' because it makes you 'hum with happiness' when you tuck in!
  • With thanks to Beko who sent me vouchers as a thank you for baking this recipe