Saturday, 26 April 2014

Orange and Cardamom Celebration Sponge Cake

Readers, I’m getting more experimental these days with sponge cakes.  I’ve realised that birthday or celebration cakes can be more exciting than a standard Victoria Sponge.  Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with a classic cake every so often, however, sometimes just adding a couple of extra ingredients puts a whole new dimension on a sponge cake.

I was challenged to make something for a person who absolutely doesn’t like chocolate cake (or anything chocolate related… really, those people exist??!) but they love citrus cake.   I didn’t want to make a standard lemon drizzle, so decided to experiment with orange and cardamom.

The cardamom gives amazing nutty and spiced undertones to the cake whilst the orange juice and zest make it light, fresh tasting and airy.

This recipe is easily adaptable from a classic sponge cake aaaaannndddd... I'm also entering it into #recipeoftheweek over at A Mummy Too
Link up your recipe of the week

Orange and Cardamom Celebration Sponge Cake

Ingredients
Orange and Cardamom Cake

200g self raising flour
200g unsalted butter (softened)
200g caster sugar
½ teaspoon baking powder
4 medium eggs
Zest of 1 large navel orange (finely grated)
Juice of 1 large navel orange
1 heaped teaspoon ground cardamom

Cake Filling and Decoration

200g butter
300g Icing Sugar
2 heaped dessert spoons orange marmalade with champagne

Method

  1. Grease and line 2 x 8in cake pans. Preheat the oven to 190c/Fan 170c/Gas 5.
  2. Cream together the softened butter and sugar until light and creamy.
  3. Grate in the zest of one large navel orange and mix to combine.
    Note the orange colour once the zest has been added
  4. Add in the eggs one by one, and fully stir in each egg with a teaspoonful of flour to prevent curdling, before adding in the next egg.
  5. Add in the cardamom and mix to combine.
    Adding in the ground cardamom
  6. Once mixed, sift in the baking powder and self raising flour and mix until a cake batter is created.
  7. Juice one large orange and add the juice to your cake batter, stir to combine.
  8. Equally split the batter between the two cake pans and smooth out the top with a spatula.
  9. Transfer to the oven (same shelf) and bake for around 20 minutes until golden on top and a metal skewer inserted in the cake comes out clean.
  10. Remove from the oven, transfer to a cooling rack and cool in tins for a few minutes, before removing from the tins and cooling fully on the cooling rack.
    Orange and Cardamom Cake
    Fresh from the oven
  11. While cakes are cooling begin prepping the frosting for the filling, top and edges.
  12. Soften the butter using an electric mixer and when smooth, add in the orange drizzle icing bit by bit until combined. Then, add in the plain icing sugar and mix until fully combined and smooth, to a consistency which can be spread with a pallet knife.  
    Smooth consistency of buttercream
  13. Add in orange food colouring bit by bit, and mix until your buttercream frosting reaches the desired colour.
  14. Once cakes are cooled, spread some of the frosting over half of the one of the cakes and then top with the orange marmalade with champagne.  Sandwich the two cakes together.
    Orange and Cardamom Cake
    Top with the second cake to finish the sandwich
  15. Decorate the top and sides with the frosting, to cover the entire cake and finish with additional d├ęcor as required.
  16. Refrigerate on completion to firm up the decoration then store in an airtight container for 2-3 days. 
    The finished cake before cutting

Sunday, 20 April 2014

Gluten Free Lemon Drizzle Cake

Readers, as I have a coeliac best friend, last week, I felt it was time to venture into the world of gluten free baking.  Up til now, I've avoided it, for fear it was a science I wasn’t quite ready for!
Gluten free lemon drizzle cake

Turns out, working with gluten free ingredients, is indeed a science.  Little things like violent temperate changes and too much raising agent, can destroy a cake.

This week, I was working on a gluten free birthday cake (more about that in another post) and I have to admit, it took two attempts after numero uno sunk in the middle.

However, not one to waste a perfectly good, just slightly misshapen, sponge, I edited this unfortunate cake, to become a perfectly tasty lemon drizzle cut up sponge.  Another money saving tip from What Claire Baked.

This week I've learnt:
  1. Don’t mess about with raising agents.  If you use any more than the recipe states, it will sink in the middle.  If it’s not part of the recipe, don’t add it in.
  2. Use a good quality flour – I can highly recommend Doves Farm Organic Gluten Free.
  3. Don’t take your finished cake out of the oven straight away.  Switch off the oven, open the door slightly, then a little further, then fully, before you transfer to cool on a rack, after about 5 minutes.

I'm entering this recipe into this week's #recipeoftheweek over at A Mummy Too
Link up your recipe of the week


Gluten Free Lemon Drizzle Sponge Cake


Ingredients

90g Butter
90g Gluten Free Self Raising Flour
90g caster sugar
2 medium eggs
Zest and Juice of 1 lemon

To decorate

Icing sugar, water and a little lemon juice

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 190c/ Fan 170c /Gas 5.
  2. Lightly grease an 8in square silicone baking pan with butter.
  3. In a clean bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until pale and creamy.
  4. Add in the lemon juice and zest and mix to combine with an electric mixer.
    Add in the lemon juice and zest
  5. Add the eggs one by one, adding a teaspoon of flour to prevent curdling. Mix until fully incorporated using an electric mixer.
  6. Sift in the remaining flour and mix to combine until a cake batter has been created.
  7. Transfer to your baking pan and bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes until a metal skewer inserted comes out clean.
  8. Switch off oven and open the door slightly.  Gradually open the door further and after no more than 5 minutes, remove and transfer to a cooling rack.
  9. Remove from baking pan and allow to cool fully on the rack.
    Spot the slight sinking in the middle
  10. Prepare a little icing sugar, water and a splash of lemon juice, to create an thin icing suitable for drizzling.
  11. Drizzle over the top of the cooled cake, then cut into small pieces to serve.
  12. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 days. 
    Gluten free lemon cake

Friday, 18 April 2014

Chocolate Lime Easter Nest Cupcakes


Readers, it’s Easter! For the chocolate lover like me (I know, I’m sorry, I should have mentioned the real reason for Easter first, but, this is a baking blog, so I can be excused this once…) it’s heaven.  Especially chocolate bunnies.  I love a chocolate bunny.

Anyway, I was approached about a blogging challenge, specific to Easter, earlier this week, called the Easter Bake and Make, over at The Pink Whisk.  It’s organised by Two Little Fleas.
As I've been getting really into my challenges recently, I thought I’d give this one a go too.

Tonight I've taken a twist on the traditional chocolate Easter nest cupcake and added in a twist of lime – both fresh and lime curd.  The result is a tangy, creamy chocolate delight.

These are easy to make to share with family and friends over Easter and I hope you’ll give this one a go…

Chocolate Lime Easter Nest Cupcakes


Cake Ingredients - makes 8 or 9 large cupcakes

30g Cadbury Bourneville cocoa powder
10 dessert spoons boiling hot water
90g unsalted butter, softened
90g caster sugar
60g self-raising flour
1 level teaspoon baking powder
1 egg
2 dessert spoons Mackays Lime Curd
Juice of half a lime
Zest of 1 whole lime

Decoration Ingredients

200g plain icing sugar
75g unsalted butter
75g milk chocolate
Juice of half a lime
1 bag Cadburys Mini Eggs
1 Cadburys Flake

Cake Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 190c/ Fan 170c / Gas Mark 5. Line a 12 hole muffin tray with colourful cupcake cases.
  2. Sift the cocoa into a large bowl; add 10 dessert spoons of boiling water and mix into a thick chocolate syrup, adding more water if you need to.
  3. Grate in the zest of one lime, juice of half a lime and 2 dessert spoons Mackays Lime Curd.
    Add in the lime zest, juice and lime curd
  4. Add the softened butter, sugar, self-raising flour, baking powder and egg. Mix with electric beaters until smooth and evenly mixed.
  5. Spoon small dessert spoons of the mixture into the paper cases, filling them 3/4 full. Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until the sponge mixture has risen and the cupcakes spring back when you touch them. Insert a metal skewer – if it comes out clean, cakes are ready.
  6. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on a wire rack before decorating.
    Cool fully before decorating

Decorating the Chocolate Lime Easter Nest Cupcakes

  1. Melt 70g of good quality chocolate in a glass bowl, over a pan of barely simmering water, ensuring the water does not touch the bowl.
  2. Stir until melted, then remove from heat and do not use until it’s no longer hot to the touch.
  3. Beat the butter until smooth, using an electric mixer and slowly add in the icing sugar, creaming into the mix as you go, using the mixer.  I tend to taste as I go, to make sure it’s not too buttery.  You can add more icing sugar, to your taste, but make sure it’s still smooth enough to be piped (not too thick)
  4. Pour in the cooled, melted chocolate and using your mixer, combine all ingredients together, until you have a smooth chocolate buttercream. Squeeze half a lime into the mix and stir to combine.
    Chocolate lime buttercream ready to go
  5. Spoon the mix into a disposable piping bag, fitted with a nozzle. 
  6. Make sure cakes are cool, then pipe around the edge of each cake twice to make a nest shape.
    Create the nest shape
  7. Add a drop of buttercream to the middle of the cake and assemble three Mini Eggs on top of the buttercream, to look like a nest
  8. Crush up a Cadburys Flake and sprinkle over the cakes, to look like twigs in a nest.
  9. Store in an airtight container for 2-3 days (or eat immediately, as chocolate is a given over Easter). 
    Serve with afternoon tea



Saturday, 12 April 2014

Chocolate Honeycomb Crunchie Traybake

Readers, since I started taking this blogging malarkey a bit more seriously and looking at my stats, I’ve realised that it’s actually my traybake recipes which are generating the most traffic on the site.   It’s ages since I made a proper traybake and my favourite ones are those which involve a little experimentation!

As you all know, I love chocolate.  But if I had to pick, a Cadbury’s Crunchie would come out on top.   It has to be my favourite everyday chocolate.

Whilst working on this recipe, I considered buying a load of Crunchies and smashing them up.  Instead, I challenged myself and made my own honeycomb from scratch, for the traybake.

This is also a no-bake recipe – so it is easy to do with kids.  If you are pushed for time, you could buy some Crunchie bars, rather than making your own honeycomb.

I also swapped the standard digestive biscuit base, for a humble McVities Hobnob base…  A really good new dimension.

Chocolate Honeycomb Crunchie Traybake

Chocolate Crunchie Traybake

Ingredients (Makes 15 – 16 pieces)


For the Honeycomb:

100g caster sugar
2 heaped dessert spoons Lyles Golden Syrup
1½  teaspoons bicarobonate of soda

For the Traybake:

200g McVities Hobnob Biscuits
100g butter
2 heaped dessert spoons golden syrup
250g milk chocolate (suitable for baking – 150g for the mix and 100g for the top)
¾ of the honeycomb you have made for the base
¼ of the honeycomb for the topping

Honeycomb Method

  1. Firstly, make your honeycomb. Grease a silicone bakeware 8in square tin with a little vegetable oil.
  2. Add your caster sugar and golden syrup into a non stick pan and stir. Heat until the mix comes to the boil, then simmer over a low heat for around 5-6 minutes.  Test to see if it’s ready by dropping a little of the mix into a cup of water.  If the mix hardens quickly and is crunchy, not chewy, it’s ready. (Be careful not to burn it).
    Starting the honeycomb process

    Simmering the honeycomb
  3. Remove pan from the heat and quickly whisk in the bicarbonate of soda until fully combined and the mix has frothed up.  Then quickly pour the mix into your bakeware and allow to settle by itself. Don’t touch or it will flatten.
  4. Leave to cool and fully harden.  (I find transferring to the fridge helps).
    Honeycomb setting in the fridge
  5. Immediately put your pan and wooden spoon into hot soapy water to clean (otherwise you’ll be chiseling the mix off for hours!)
  6. Once cooled, smash up the honeycomb into small pieces, suitable for your traybake.

Traybake Method


  1. Line a square 8in silicone bakeware tin with greaseproof paper.
  2. Add the butter, 150g chocolate and golden syrup to a medium non stick pan.  Melt all the ingredients over a low heat until smooth and combined.
    Melt the ingredients in a non stick pan
  3. Meanwhile, add the biscuits to a well sealed freezer bag and crush into small pieces, for your biscuit base.
  4. Once the chocolate mix is fully melted and combined, allow to cool, off the heat, for a couple of minutes, then, stir in the biscuits and mix until fully covered.
    Mix in the biscuits
  5. Transfer the mix to your silicone bakeware and use a wooden spoon, flatten out and push out into the corners of the bakeware until you have a smooth base. Then, sprinkle around ¾ of the smashed honeycomb over the base and push down lightly so it sticks to the base, but isn't covered.  Transfer to the fridge to set for around an hour.
    Honeycomb on top of the base
  6. Put feet up and drink tea, in a chilled out fashion.
  7. When your hour is almost up, melt the remaining 100g of chocolate in a glass bowl, over a pan of barely simmering water. 
  8. Remove the traybake from the fridge and pour over the melted chocolate. Then, sprinkle over the remaining small pieces of honeycomb and return to the fridge to fully set.
    Pour over the chocolate and sprinkle with remaining honeycomb

    9. Cut into squares and serve.   The traybake will keep for around 3-4 days in an airtight container in the fridge.
Chocolate Crunchie Traybake
Serve up with a lovely cup of tea!

Friday, 4 April 2014

Lemon Curd Cupcakes

Readers, recently I’ve been enjoying entering lots of online challenges for bloggers.  Not only is it great to see what the other foodies in the world have been up to, it’s also given me some focus with my bakes.  Rather than random musings, I’m baking themed items, experimenting with savoury products and enjoying focussing myself in the kitchen.

I’m really enjoying the #teatimetreats challenge, hosted alternate months at either Hedge Combers or Lavender and Lovage as it’s very relevant to the cake ideas I have in my head.
Tea Time Treats
This month’s theme is jams, preserves and curds which I enjoy baking with anyway.  Extremely versatile and suitable for more than just toast!

This time round, I decided to work with lemon curd, as it’s a very quintessentially British product, gives a great, intense flavour and is traditionally served with tea time treats.  Perfect for this challenge. 

Lemon Curd Cupcakes
Lemon Curd Cupcakes


Ingredients

175g self raising flour
175g slightly softened butter
175g caster sugar
3 eggs
1 heaped dessert spoon Mackays Lemon Curd 
Zest of 1 lemon
Juice of ½ lemon

Buttercream Ingredients

300g icing sugar
125g unsalted butter (softened)
Juice of ½ lemon

 Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 190c/ Fan 170c/ Gas 5.  Fill a muffin tin with 12 large cupcake cases.
  2. Cream together the butter and sugar until pale and creamy. Grate in the lemon zest and add in the lemon juice. Mix to combine. (An electric mixer makes this job much quicker).
  3. Add in a heaped dessert spoon of Mackays Lemon Curd and mix with the electric mixer.
    Adding in the lemon curd
  4. Add the eggs one at time, adding a teaspoon of flour to prevent curdling.  Beat the mix together as you add each egg, until the mix is combined.
  5. Sift in the flour and using and electric hand mixer, continue to beat the mix for a couple of minutes until fully combined and fluffy.
  6. Spoon the mix into the paper cases, to around ¾ full and bake for around 18 minutes until golden on top. Cakes are ready when a skewer is inserted and comes out clean.
    Ready to go in the oven

  7. Remove from oven, remove from muffin tin and allow to fully cool on a wire rack.
    Fresh from the oven 

 Prepping the Decoration

  1. Beat the butter in a clean bowl with an electric mixer until soft and lighter in colour.  Slowly add in the lemon drizzle icing sugar and mix to combine fully.  Then add in the rest of the icing sugar and beat until all the icing sugar in incorporated and a smooth buttercream is formed.
  2. Add in the juice of half a lemon and beat to combine.
  3. If desired, add in yellow food colouring, to create a pale yellow icing.
  4. Transfer to a piping bag with nozzle and pipe swirls on top of each cake.  Finish with gold pearls or other matching decorations.
    Lemon Curd Cupcakes
    Finished article ready for tasting
  5. Serve immediately or store in an airtight container for a couple of days
Lemon Curd Cupcakes
Ready to serve

Tea Time Treats

I am entering my Lemon Curd Cupcakes into this month’s Tea Time Treats, hosted by 
Lavender and Lovage, with the theme jams, preserves and curds.

Tea Time Treats

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Decorating Rainbow Cupcakes

Readers, I’ve done it again.  I promised to control my cupcake eating (and baking) obsession.  I just didn’t quite manage it. 

As I documented in my last post, I prepared an afternoon tea last weekend for Mother’s Day.  Both my mum and grandma are fans of cupcakes, so that’s my excuse for making them.  And I’m sticking to it.

My favourite film as a child was The Wizard of Oz.  I had dreams of being Dorothy with my ruby slippers, however, so far, the closest I've got is making a set of rainbow themed cupcakes to go over... 

I just bought myself lots of lovely goodies from Sugar & Crumbs who've previously provided me with some fantastic samples to work with for my 99 Ice Cream Inspired Cupcakes. I wanted to use some of the salted caramel icing in this latest baking project.

I even managed to source caramel flavouring for the sponge, so had a full on caramel cake fest whilst making my rainbow cupcakes. 

I've also decided to enter this recipe into #recipeoftheweek held at A Mummy Too

Rainbow Cupcakes


Ingredients – makes 12 large cupcakes

175g self raising flour
175g slightly softened butter
175g caster sugar
3 eggs
2 teaspoons caramel flavouring

Buttercream Icing

125g salted caramel Icing Sugar
250g icing sugar
125g softened butter
Blue Food Colouring

To decorate the rainbow cupcakes–

White writing icing
Fizzy rainbow belts


Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 190c/ Fan 170c/ Gas 5.  Fill a muffin tin with 12 large cupcake cases.
  2. Cream together the butter and sugar until pale and creamy. Add in the caramel flavouring and stir to combine.
  3. Add the eggs one at time, adding a teaspoon of flour to prevent curdling.  Beat the mix together as you add each egg.
  4. Sift in the flour and using and electric hand mixer, continue to beat the mix for a couple of minutes until fully combined and fluffy.
  5. Spoon the mix into the paper cases, to around ¾ full and bake for 15-18 minutes until golden. Cakes are ready when a skewer is inserted and comes out clean.
  6. Remove from oven, remove from muffin tin and allow to fully cool on a wire rack.
    Well risen with a nice golden colour

Decoration for the Rainbow Cupcakes

  1. Beat the butter in a clean bowl with an electric mixer until soft and lighter in colour.  Slowly add in the salted caramel icing sugar and mix to combine fully.  Then add in the rest of the icing sugar and beat until all the icing sugar in incorporated and a smooth buttercream is formed.
  2. Add in a little gel icing colour and mix until fully combined and the desired sky colour is created. Pipe a swirl on top of each cake to create the sky. 
    Buttercream sky on the cake
  3. Cut your rainbow belts to the right length to form a little archway on top of the buttercream, the fix to the cake by pushing into the buttercream.
  4. Pipe a little white cloud along the outside of edge end of the rainbow, using this as a “glue” to hold the rainbow onto the buttercream.
    12 rainbows ready to be served at an afternoon tea
Plate up onto a cake plate and serve immediately or store in an airtight container for a couple of days.