Friday, 15 December 2017

Christmas Spiced Chocolate Cake

My enormous apologies for the terrible photo; rather a lot of prosecco was consumed before any photos were taken!

There are just a million opportunities for satisfying a sweet tooth this time of year.

Advent calendar chocolates for breakfast? Tick. Free sample of stollen in the local supermarket? Sure. Mince pie for elevenses? Of course. Leftover coffee creams that no one wants in the office Roses tin? Gimmee. Mini chocolate logs for afternoon tea? Yes please.

So a fruit salad for dessert at this time of year simply won't do. Nope. Nada. No chance. When I offered to make a pudding for a big Christmas weekend away with friends Nigella came to the rescue. Well, not literally. Although it was the big snow weekend when all of society stopped so if Nigella had popped by with a 4x4 and a tow bar, she would have been most welcome.

This glorious Chocolate Spiced Christmas cake was a huge hit and a lovely straightforward recipe. The only change I made to the original recipe was to add plenty of sparkly gold stars (as I'm pretty sure the song went 'may your cakes be merry and bright').

Merry Christmas! x

Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Christmas Dinner with Hello Fresh



I am quite convinced that there are two types of people who cook Christmas dinner:

Type 1:

- You'll have been one of the first to book your supermarket Christmas home delivery slot back in September
- You have every Christmas cookery book ever published (although the well-thumbed, gravy-splattered 'Delia's Christmas' remains, in your opinion, the one and only festive cookbook worth opening on the Big Day) and you'll have written a menu by October
- You will have made and frozen the cranberry sauce by November and begun clearing the fridge of much-needed, valuable space by the 1st December
- Your mastermind specialist subject is the art and science of the perfect roast potato
- Come Christmas, you occasionally experiment with goose but by popular demand, your turkey recipe is still voted your family's favourite. And that of all your neighbours who come to you each year, as your prowess in the kitchen on the 25th is known far and wide

In other words, you are THE master of cooking the Christmas dinner.



Type 2

- EH?! Who put you in charge of Christmas dinner?
- The dog has a better idea of how to cook brussel sprouts than you so
- There's a reason you always offer to do the washing up
- The closest you've come to making Christmas dinner is wearing this novelty hat to your Christmas work do

In other words, you haven't a jingle-belling clue.

But, fear not, Santa Hello Fresh has come to your aid with this marvellous recipe and timings guide for the biggest and best meal of the year (no pressure, none at all). Yep, this year, they've got your back, from cooking the perfect turkey to how not to overcook the sprouts, plus all the timings to ensure you're sat down in time for the Queen's Speech.

Merry Christmas!

Disclaimer: Hello Fresh sent me the Christmas timings guide and a classic box of meals as a thank you for publishing this post. Any opinions expressed are my own.


Sunday, 3 December 2017

A Baker's Christmas Wish-List






The perfect presents, from £1 to £100, for the baker in your life...

The Christmas Chronicles

No wish-list is complete without a festive recipe book and Nigel's Slater's brand spanking new Christmas Chronicles is top of mine. Currently half price at £13.99, Waterstones

The Christmas Chronicles: Notes, Stories & 100 Essential Recipes for Midwinter (Hardback)


Nordic Ware Pretty Presents Baking Tins

Every cake wants to be the best of the bundt and with these cute little bundt tin presents you'll be giving a present within a present. Nice. £35.99, Harts of Stur

                                       Nordic Ware Pretty Presents Duet Pan

Nut Pastes

The almond paste can be added to fragipane, the hazelnut into bread dough to enrich the flavour and the pistachio paste can provide a taste-tastic base for ice cream. £18.95, Sous Chef

                                                        

Biscuit Tree Decorations

So a bourbon biscuit hanging from your Christmas tree may not be as festive as say, a traditional snowman or robin, but for the biscuit lover, these quirky decorations are sure to be a hit. Just make sure you don't dip them into your tea after too many glasses of mulled wine, obvs. £15, Trouva

                                             

Star Rolling Pin

For star bakers, this embossed star rolling pin will add a certain star quality to your biscuits, pies and pastries. £15, John Lewis
Buy John Lewis Acacia Wood Star Rolling Pin Online at johnlewis.com
Gingerbread House Kit

For the budding baker in your life, this sweet little Gingerbread House Kit requires not a single battery and is therefore a great stocking filler. £6.25, Waitrose 

Waitrose Gingerbread House Kit
Brownie Subscription

Fancy giving the gift of the best brownies ever without switching the oven on? How about a six month subscription box of Gower Cottage Brownies, declared by BBC Good Food Magazine to be the 'best brownies we have ever tasted'. It's the gift that keeps giving... well, until June that is. £97.99, Gower Cottage Brownies

Gower Cottage Brownies (6 Month Subscription) + Free Gift

Superhero cake toppers

.... and KABOOM, to finish off this Dear Santa list are these POW-fect superhero cake toppers. WHAM-derful as they sang Last Christmas. £1.29, Lakeland

                                       Cake Star Superhero Sugar Pipings alt image 1
Happy Christmas xx



Wednesday, 29 November 2017

Marbled Coffee Loaf Cake


Coffee.

BFF of exhausted, sleep deprived parents, giver of (some) motivation every Monday morning and a rather delicious flavour for a loaf cake. Coffee cake is the homely staple of the village hall bake sale, an easy-pips cake that combines a light fluffy sponge with a bittersweet hit of caffeine. Although let's be honest, you'd probably have to eat the ENTIRE thing to have the equivalent caffeine hit of a triple espresso (don't put it past me though- I've a teething baby and a toddler who loves 5.30am).

It's even Nigel Slater's choice for his last meal on earth. And if it's good enough for Nige, well, it's certainly good enough for me.


Marbled Coffee Loaf Cake

For the cake:
225g softened butter
225g golden caster sugar
3 large eggs
225g self-raising flour
2 tsps instant espresso powder mixed with 1 tbsp boiled water
1 tsp vanilla extract

For the icing:
100g softened butter
200g icing sugar, sifted
1 tsp instant espresso coffee powder mixed with 1 tbsp boiled water

To decorate: chocolate coffee beans

1. Heat the oven to 180C/170C fan/Gas Mark 4. Grease and line a 2lb loaf tin
2. Beat together the butter, sugar, eggs and flour for a few minutes until light and fluffy.
3. Divide the mixture between two large bowls, lightly stirring in the espresso into one of the mixtures and the vanilla into the other
4. Alternatively dollop a large spoonful of each mixture into the tin to create the marbled effect. Once complete, tap the tin on the work surface to remove any air bubbles and swirl a skewer into the mixture to further add to the marbled effect
5. Bake for 45 min or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.Turn out onto a cooling rack and leave to cool
6. To make the icing: beat the butter, icing sugar and coffee powder until combined. Spread over the cooled cake and decorate with the coffee beans

Baker's notes...

  • Is it just me or does eating a slice of coffee cake with a cup of tea as I am doing right now feel rather wrong... but slightly audacious?
  • The traditional decoration on a coffee cake would be a handful of walnuts and Felicity Cloake advocates toasting them to bring out their flavour


Sunday, 12 November 2017

Autumn Blackberry and Lemon Victoria Sponge Cake



It's beginning to look a lot like... oh no, wait, its only the 11th November.

But the supermarkets are already piled with mince pies and those in the know booked their festive online delivery slots while relaxing on their sunloungers, sangria and sunscreen in hand, back in August. I'm being increasingly asked whether I've completed my Christmas shopping yet (eh?!). And the harbinger of Christmas, the John Lewis ad, was out this week. I'm not convinced they've hit the emotional high of the little boy desperate for Christmas to give his presents and aren't they feeding into every child's insecurity about a monster under the bed? Or perhaps they over ordered on the nighlights this year and just needed to shift them...

Anyway, I'm as crackers about Christmas as, well, Santa himself, but it does feel a little early no? So, in a stubborn attempt to persuade myself we are still in the midsts of Autumn,  I baked this very Autumnal sounding Blackberry and Lemon Victoria Sponge. Its a very simple recipe but the tart blackberries and lemon contrast beautifully with the sweet butter icing.

Happy baking!


Autumnal Blackberry and Lemon Victoria Sponge

For the cake:
200g golden caster sugar
200g softened unsalted butter
4 eggs
200g self-raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
1-2 tbsp milk

For the icing:
100g unsoftened unsalted butter
200g icing sugar, sifted
1 lemon
1-2 tbsps of milk
1 punnet of blackberries

1. Heat the oven to 190C/170Cfan/Gas Mark 5. Butter and line two 20cm sandwich tins
2. Beat together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Gradually add the egg until completely combined.
3. Fold in the flour and the baking powder. If the mixture needs a little loosening, add the milk and lightly mix in
4. Divide the mixture between the two tins and bake for approx 20 minutes until golden and the cake springs back on touch
5. Turn out onto a cooling rack and leave to cool completely
6. For the icing, beat together all the ingredients until smooth and creamy. Spread the icing over the each of the cakes and top with the blackberries. Sandwich the cakes together ad dust with a little icing sugar before serving

Baker's notes...

  • Ahhhh, there's nothing quite like a Victoria Sponge and this makes a perfect accompaniment to a hot cuppa after a chilly autumnal walk
  • The cake keeps for two days stored in an airtight container
  • Edit: Just after typing this post out, I've ordered my first two Christmas presents for the kids. Maybe I am ready to embrace the start the festive season afterall. Certainly the 25% off at John Lewis at any rate. 


Saturday, 28 October 2017

Halloween Pumpkin Cake with Cream Cheese Icing



With the darker evenings and cooler days, Autumn has well and truly got it's feet tucked firmly under the dining room table. Heartier bakes are on the menu and with Halloween just round the corner there's nothing more seasonal than a vibrant, sweet pumpkin.

Talking of All Hallow's Eve, I'm writing this sat infront of the Halloween Strictly Come Dancing special (its another rock-n-roll Saturday night in the What Kate Baked household!). This is the extent of my Halloween celebrations. I've eaten all the chocolates intended for any trick or treaters. If I carve a pumpkin I'm very likely to end up with a pumpkin soupy-mush. And I'm too much of a wuss to watch a horror film. But I am all about the treat of course!

This recipe is from BBC Good Food. I adapted it slightly including reducing the sugar content, popping in some walnuts for a little crunch and adding some carrot as I'd read that pumpkins can have a quite considerable water content. The cake is gently spiced, beautifully moist and the cream cheese icing adds an extra sweetness.


Happy Halloween!

Pumpkin Cake with Cream Cheese Icing

For the cake:

300g self-raising flour
250g light muscovado sugar
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp cinnamon
0.5 tsp ground ginger
2 tsp bicarbnate soda
75g sultanas
100g chopped walnuts
0.5 tsp salt
4 eggs, beaten
200g butter
250g grated pumpkin (peeled weight)
250g grated carrot (peeled weight)

For the icing:
300g icing sugar
50g unsalted butter at room temp
125g cream cheese
Zest of two clementines

1. Heat the oven to 180C/160C fan/Gas Mark 4. Grease and line a 30 x 20cm baking tin with parchment paper.
2. Put the flour, sugar, spices, bicarbonate, sultanas, walnuts and salt in a large mixing bowl. Stir to combine.
3. Beat the eggs into the butter and mix into the dry ingredients. Stir in the pumpkin and carrot
4. Pour the mixture into the tin and bake for 30-45 minutes or until golden and the cake springs bake on touch
5. For the icing: beat together the icing sugar, butter and cheese. Once the cake has completely cooled, spread over the icing and decorate with the zest of the clementines

Baker's notes...

  • The original recipe stated 30 minutes as the cooking time but many of the reviews found that the cake took over an hour, I suspect due to the water content of the pumpkins. If you find yours is taking a little longer, pop a little foil 'hat' over the cake to avoid the top burning
  • Instead of the sweet cream cheese topping, this cake would be just as delicious with a simple water icing ...or even stark naked
  • This is a great way of using up the innards of the pumpkin after carving a ghost/cat/your self-portrait


  1. Heat oven to 180C/fan 160C/gas 4. Butter and line a 30 x 20cm baking or small roasting tin with baking parchment. Put the flour, sugar, spice, bicarbonate of soda, sultanas and salt into a large bowl and stir to combine. Beat the eggs into the melted butter, stir in the orange zest and juice, then mix with the dry ingredients till combined. Stir in the pumpkin. Pour the batter into the tin and bake for 30 mins, or until golden and springy to the touch.
  2. To make the frosting, beat together the cheese, butter, icing sugar, orange zest and 1 tsp of the juice till smooth and creamy, then set aside in the fridge. When the cake is done, cool for 5 mins then turn it onto a cooling rack. Prick it all over with a skewer and drizzle with the rest of the orange juice while still warm. Leave to cool completely.
  3. If you like, trim the edges of the cake. Give the frosting a quick beat to loosen, then, using a palette knife, spread over the top of the cake in peaks and swirls. If you’re making the cake ahead, keep it in the fridge then take out as many pieces as you want 30 mins or so before serving. Will keep, covered, for up to 3 days in the fridge.

Wednesday, 25 October 2017

The ten steps involved in baking with children



After seven months knee deep in nappies with two children under two it was high time for me to dip my toes back into the world of baking and blogging. And what better a rainy Sunday afternoon activity with my two precious poppets than teaching them the glorious art and science of baking? I give you the ten steps involved in baking with children...

1. Enthusiastically decide what to bake. Gaily flick through Nigella and Nigel's seminal works, admiring the beautiful photography and the mouthwatering descriptions. Consider baking a Flourless Chocolate Lime Cake with Margarita Cream until you take one look at your sous chef, aka the baby. Who is currently licking caked-on, dried-up porridge stuck to his socks from breakfast....two days ago. Decide your sous chef isn't quite up to the Flourless Chocolate Lime Cake with Margarita Cream.

2. Significantly reduce expectations of a culinary masterpiece and decide even Mary Berry had to start somewhere. Head to the shops for some rice krispies. Yep, you'll start with that classic, the time-honoured, rice krispie cake.

3. Spend five minutes imagining the gorgeous, insta-worthy photos you'll be taking over the next twenty minutes, complete with the-not-particularly-original and very smug hastag #futurebakeoffcontestants

4. Round up the children. Delay the start of the bakeoff to deal with two urgent nappy situations, admiring, as always, your children's timing

5. Start proceedings with an educational slant by showing the toddler what weighing scales, mixing bowls, wooden spoons, baking trays etc etc are. The toddler will inevitably show next to no interest, preferring instead to devour at least half of the chocolate buttons intended for the rice krispie cakes

6. Watch in slow motion as the baby, who until now has been sitting in his high chair, observing events in the manner of a mini Paul Hollywood, reaches over and knocks the entire box of rice krispies to the floor. Spend the next three days hearing crunching (with a snap, crackle, pop naturally) underfoot every time you walk into the kitchen

7. Realise the toddler has lost interest completely and wondered off

8. With the baby still rooted in the high chair and therefore with little choice in the matter, teach him how to make rice krispie cakes, persevering despite the baby showing far more interest in mutilating Sophie the Giraffe with his two new teeth

9. Now that both sous chefs have shown as much interest in baking as most people show in doing their tax returns, think wistfully of the Flourless Chocolate Lime Cake with Margarita Cream. Attempt a bit of creativity with a nod to Halloween by forming the rice krispie cakes into pumpkins

10. Decide next time you'll save the baking until the precious poppets have gone to bed and stick on cbeebies instead

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

A little announcement...

Hello!

This is just a little note to the tumbleweed clogging up this blog. How are you? Dusty and neglected?

Well, quite. You see, over the last couple of years I've only sporadically been baking and keeping this blog up to date. Life, namely two brand new children, two house moves and a new job have got in the way. Don't get me wrong, 67% of my diet still consists of cake (the other 33% custard creams) but my cake tins haven't seen an airing for rather a long time. I'm hoping one day to return to regular blogging about cakes but in the meantime I'll post every now and again on here, but will keep tweeting and have an exciting BRAND NEW page on facebook

Meanwhile a BIG thank you to all those who have once followed this blog and those who continue to do so xx

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Chocolate and Orange Welsh Cakes

A mixture of the more traditional Welsh Cake and the indulgent Chocolate Orange version

Happy St David's Day!

The Welsh patron saint was known for extreme austerity (yes, he was the forefather of the modern Tory party!) with monks living in monasteries founded by him living on a diet of bread, vegetables, water and milk. After a while, the monks tired of abstaining from worldly pleasures (and chocolate) and attempted to poison St David's bread, but with no avail and St David lived to slay another dragon*

It therefore may do little to impress stern St David and Welsh Cake purists, but how about celebrating Wales' national day with these Chocolate and Orange Welsh Cakes?

* Except he didn't ever slay a single dragon. Mainly because dragons are mythical creatures and don't exist. Obvs.

Chocolate and Orange Welsh Cakes

125g butter (unsalted, softened at room temperature and cut into small pieces)250g self-raising flour75g caster sugar50g orange or mixed peel50g chopped dark chocolate1 beaten eggPinch of salt1 tbsp milk (if needed)

1. Sift the flour and salt into a large bowl and rub in the butter until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs2. Add the sugar, peel and chocolate and mix together3. Mix in the beaten egg and bring together to form a soft dough with a fork, using the milk to bind further if required 4. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and using a rolling pin roll out the mixture to about 1cm thickness5. Using a cutter or upturned glass cut out the circles6. Heat an ungreased griddle or heavy frying pan on a medium heat7. Place the cakes onto the surface one or two at a time and cook one side before gently turning over to cook the other side8. Cool on a wire rack. 9. Tuck in with gusto

Baker’s notes....
  • Each Welsh Cake takes approximately 2-3 minutes to cook on each side; you should be aiming for a caramel, light brown colour
  • If the cakes turn a darker colour, quickly, your pan may be too hot. Turn down the heat...is that better?
  • My original, traditional Welsh Cake recipe can be found right here
  • Bendigedig!!


Monday, 2 January 2017

Baking Trends 2017

Image result for 2017

Happy New Year!

It's a brand spanking New Year and that only means one thing! Well, two things. Firstly the hurried, panicked consumption of left over Mince Pies and chocolates from Christmas (8 pies and 4 boxes to go!!) and secondly the annual tradition that is the What Kate Baked 2017 baking trends forecast. As unreliable as the weather, as ill informed as the President-elect of the USA and as inaccurate as ever!


Marbling

By the end of 2017 all baked goods will resemble this metamorphic rock. Your standard tin loaf will resemble the marbled Taj Mahal, your Welsh Cakes will resemble the the Washington Memorial and your key lime pie will resemble your ... kitchen worktop. Well, sort of. But doesn't it look pretty? 

marbled meringues

Portugal

Viva! Step aside Peru, this year's hottest travel destination will be influencing the food we'll be eating over the next 365 days. The legendary Portuguese Tart will be on every baker's must-bake list (or must-buy list if you've a brilliant Portuguese Bakery just down the road like we have). 

Fancy flours

Start relegating your plain white flour to the back the cupboard this instant. Coconut flour is the flour you need to be using this year. Sure, it is at least ten times the price of your standard stuff, but you'll be bang on trend my friend. 

Sweet and Savoury 

In the confusing taste turmoil that is combining sweet and savoury on the same fork, look out for savoury doughnuts such as the crab doughnuts served at Chiltern Firehouse and the seafood sundaes currently being enjoyed in the finest Parisian patisseries 

Ice Cream Roll-Ups

Not the illegitimate child of Mr Whippy and a circus ringmaster's favourite saying, but a Thai street-food where liquid ice cream is flash frozen, stuffed with fruit then wrapped up burrito-style before being garnished with cookies. Otherwise known as your entire daily calorie allowance

Image result for ice cream roll up
Image: Buzzfeed

And saving the very best trend for last...

Chocolate Cake for breakfast

Yes, you read that correctly. Throw aside your toast, wave cheerio to your Cornflakes, lets celebrate the dawn of 2017 with chocolate cake for breakfast. According to the Evening Standard the health benefits of dark chocolate means we'll be eating chocolate earlier in the day, not just in December when advent calendars provide a fulfilling, nutritious breakfast. 

Grab a plate, channel Bruce Bogtrotter and have a very Happy New Year!