Thursday, 29 October 2015

Halloween Chocolate Ghost Cake

Ah fiddlesticks.

Or, strictly speaking, as this is a Halloween themed post, broomsticks*.

There is, officially, a shortage of pumpkins. This 'crisis' has led to calls that the large rounded, orange squash-plant (pumpkin definitely has a better ring to it) should be replaced by the turnip. I'm not convinced. Not only because a turnip is reportedly harder to carve, but its rather like replacing Nigella in her latest TV series with the part-time chef from your local; disappointing, cheerless and a lot less glamourous.

But for all those of you dishearteningly chipping away at your turnip Jack o' Lantern this Halloween, comfort yourself by baking this super-easy, family-friendly (well, the ghost is a happy 'un) chocolate traybake.

* doesn't quite have the same impact, admittedly.

Cheerio Ghosty

Halloween Chocolate Ghost Cake
  • 50g cocoa powder
  • 110ml boiling water
  • 100g soft butter
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 3 large  eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 125ml milk
  • 175g self-raising flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 125g full fat cream cheese
  • 250g sifted icing sugar
  • Black fondant icing

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C/160C fan/350F/Gas Mark 4. Grease and line a 30x23cm/12x9in traybake tin 
  2. Place the cocoa powder in a large bowl, add the boiling water and mix until smooth. Add the softened butter and beat into the cocoa until smooth. Add the remaining cake ingredients and mix until thoroughly combined
  3. Pour into the tin, spread evenly and bake in the preheated oven for about 30-35 minutes, or until well risen, firm to the touch and the cake is shrinking away from the sides of the tin. Leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack.
  4. Cut out a ghostly template from a piece of parchment paper to help guide your icing:

5. Beat together the sifted icing sugar and cream cheese until smooth. Pipe the icing around the ghostly template and spoon the remainder of the icing inside the piping, smoothing over. Decorate with the fondant icing shaped into your ghost's eyes, nose and happy smile!

Baker's Notes...

  • If you prefer a white chocolate icing simply beat together 50g melted white chocolate, 70g sifted icing sugar and 70g softened butter until smooth and thick
  • The cake would also suit a spooktastic spider's web design
  • This recipe is based on a recipe from the Queen of Traybakes, Dame Mary Berry 
  • Happy Halloween!

Saturday, 3 October 2015

Plum and Almond Loaf Cake and Baking with a Baby...

Dear Mummy,

I know it took you ten times longer than usual to make this cake. I know this because I tried to help. Except I'm only ten weeks old and my version of helping probably isn't, well. that helpful. 

I just thought you might like cuddles with me when you were preparing all the ingredients. I know you don't mind and your heart just melts when you snuggle me tight. But then you thought I might like my musical bouncer instead. That was a mistake Mummy. I really, really didn't. So we had to have loads more cuddles again while I got over the trauma of the twinkling Three Blind Mice tune. Meanwhile the ingredients stood forlorn on the table. 

And as you were half way through mixing all the ingredients together, wasn't it helpful that I decided what I wanted was a really, really, really long feed?  And then you needed to burp me a lot .... and then change all my clothes because you burped me a bit too much. 

Of course after such a lovely long feed, I often have a little nap. But sometimes I need rocking back and fro to help me nap. That's difficult when you're trying to stone and chop plums isn't it Mummy?

Then, just as you thought I was asleep and you'd gently placed me down in my bassinet, you foolishly decided to empty the dishwasher and the clanging of dishes woke me straight back up. Despite being so sleepy just moments earlier I suddenly found the ladybird pram toy Mamas and Papas promised you and Daddy would be vital for my development, yes the one I've studiously ignored for the last six weeks, FASCINATING.  And I was too excited to sleep. And that's why the flaked almonds didn't get toasted like they should and you just chucked half the pack on top of the cake.

But Daddy said the cake was tasty and I gave  you so many big smiles; it didn't matter in the slightest that it had taken five hours to bake.

Lots of love

Your Baby Girl xxx

Plum and Almond Loaf Cake

For the Cake:
250g Self-Raising Flour
175g butter, softened and cut into cubes
150g golden caster sugar
3 large eggs, beaten
1 tsp almond extract
350g plums, stones removed and chopped
For the topping:
3 tbsp plum jam
2 ripe plums, stones removed and cut into wedges
Toasted flaked almonds, for scattering
1. Preheat the oven to 160ÂșC/140C fan/Gas Mark 3. Grease and line a 900g loaf tin with non-stick baking parchment.
2. Place the flour, butter, sugar, eggs and almond extract in a large bowl and beat together for 4-5 minutes until the mixture is pale and fluffy. 
3. Add the chopped plums and stir in. Spoon the cake mix into the prepared tin and bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes to 1 hour and 30 minutes or until cooked and a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. Turn out onto a wire rack and leave to cool completely.
4. Prior to serving, warm the jam and brush over the top of the cake. Arrange the plum wedges over the top. Scatter the toasted almonds over and serve immediately.
Baker's notes...
  • This is a lovely Autumnal bake, perfect for using the best British plums
  • Damsons would work just as well


Nutty Blackberry and Apple Cake supporting Tea & Talk on World Mental Health Day

World Mental Health Day is on the 10th October this year and the theme is dignity in mental health. 

The Mental Health Foundation explains:

'Effectively supporting people experiencing mental health problems is on target to become one of the greatest public health challenges of our time. Stigmatising and discriminatory treatment can be particularly distressing when a person is experiencing a health crisis. We all have mental health, and by failing to treat people with mental health problems with dignity we make it more difficult to ensure that everyone takes steps to safeguard their wellbeing and to seek help, as it can lead to self-stigma, low confidence, low self-esteem, withdrawal and social isolation'.
As part of World Mental Health Day, the Mental Health Foundation are holding their annual fundraising and awareness-raising day, Tea and Talk. I was asked if it were possible to contribute a recipe to feature as inspiration in Talkback, the Mental Health Foundation Supporter's magazine. This delicious, fruity Autumnal treat is a lovely cake to exchange for some vital fundraising cash!

Nutty Blackberry and Apple Cake

175g butter, softened
175g golden caster sugar
2 large eggs, beaten
125g self raising flour
50g ground almonds
1 tsp cinnamon
2 eating apples
150g blackberries
20g soft brown sugar
50g toasted almond flakes
50g toasted chopped hazelnuts

1. Preheat the oven to 160C/140C Fan/Gas Mark 3. Grease and line an 8 inch loose bottomed round cake tin. Beat together the butter and sugar for several minutes until light and fluffy. 
2. Gradually add in the eggs, adding a spoonful of flour if the mixture is curdling
3. Fold in the flour and ground almonds. 
4. Stir through two thirds of the apples and all of the blackberries. Scrape into the prepared tin and dot the remainder of the apples on the top and sprinkle over the brown sugar
5. Bake for 50-55 min or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. Remove from the oven and scatter over the toasted nuts

Baker's notes...

  • For more information, including how you can take part and several other delicious recipes visit Tea and Talk. Happy baking!
  • This recipe first featured on What Kate Baked in September 2014