Friday, 4 November 2016

Bonfire Baking: Apple, Toffee and Hazelnut Loaf Cake

Hurrah it's Bonfire Night!

Or, if you live in a community similar to ours, Bonfire Week, as we've been hearing fireworks pretty much every night for the last seven days. Good to get some practice in I guess and perhaps my neighbours didn't get the memo; prior to 1959 it was illegal not to celebrate Bonfire Night.

It was of course thanks to an incompetent Guy Fawkes who failed miserably to blow up the Houses of Parliament, that each November 5th we set off rockets, light the bonfire and start the Catherine Wheels whizzing. Interestingly each year, prior to the State Opening of Parliament, the Yeoman of the Guard still search the cellars to ensure there are no conspirators hiding down there, a tradition since 1605.

It looks a super weekend for a firework display with dry, cold weather forecast. The only decisions left are which sweet treats to enjoy while craning your neck to get the best view of the fireworks. Will it be a traditional gingery parkin? A teeth-numbing, dentist-visiting Toffee Apple? Or will you stick to savoury and enjoy a couple of bangers (of the sausage kind)?

This warming apple, hazelnut and toffee cake is just the thing to take along to your bonfire night celebration. Tuck in to a slice or two in between trying desperately to write your name in the dark sky with a sparkler (alright if you are a Sue, not so if you a Sebastian).

Apple, Hazelnut and Toffee Cake

150g unsalted butter
150g light brown sugar
150g golden syrup
200ml milk
250g plain flour
2 tsps mixed spice
1.5 tsp baking powder
3 medium eggs
75g hazelnuts, roughly chopped
3 eating apples, cored, peeled and chopped roughly into chunks
Handful of toffees
Icing sugar for dusting

1. Preheat the oven to 180C/160C fan/Gas Mark 4. Grease and line a 2l loaf tine
2. Melt the butter, sugar and syrup over a gentle heat until melted. Remove from the heat and stir in the milk before setting aside to cool
3. In a large bowl, sift the flour with the spice and baking powder. Make a well in the centre and pour in the cooled butter mixture. Gently stir togther with a wooden spoon. Fold in the eggs, nuts and apple
4. Pour into the prepared tin and bake for 50 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Cool for five minutes in the tin then transfer to a wire rack
5. For the toffee sauce, put the toffees into a saucepan with a splash of milk and melt, stirring regularly. Drizzle over the cake and dust with icing sugar

This is based on a delicious magazine recipe 

Thursday, 3 November 2016

Orange, Pistachio and Rose Cake

Isn't this just the sunniest cake you've seen? A little antidote to the January blues, the dark evenings and the freezing cold mornings. A cake to comfort now that Len has left Strictly and the Bake Off is 100%, definitely no more after those cheery Christmas specials. A simple, straightforward bake that looks far more lavish than it really ought to.

Infact, if hygge (aka lifestyle choice of the moment) was a cake, this would be it. Hygge, hailing from the happiest nation in the world, Denmark, is the concept of cosy contentment. Think a focus on simplicity, wrapped up warm on a frosty winter's walk, spending time with those we love, a good book infront of a roaring fire, a hot bath surrounded in bubbles... Yes, this is one lifestyle craze I am more than happy to jump on the bandwagon with and join in wholeheartedly. Heck, it certainly sounds a lot more enjoyable and edible than previous Scandanivian exports: scary crime thrillers and saunas in the nude.

This recipe is from Nadiya Hussain, last year's Great British Bake Off winner, and possibly the most successful winner ever. It's her first recipe I've tried making and it certainly gets a big thumbs up (and second portions, please). The orange adds a much needed dose of sunshine at this time of year and crunch of the pistachios offsetting the sweetness and fragrance of the edible roses.

The full recipe can be found on The Times website where Nadiya has a weekly column. Happy baking!