Recipe – Apple Crumble Cake

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Some people are chocolate cake people. Some people are prefer fruitier cakes. Me? I’m firmly in the chocolate camp.

Ok, a lemon drizzle (MB style) is nice every now and then, but give me a big fat slice of chocolate cake any day.

Every now and then, the occasion arises for something different, and I’m never quite sure what to make. Case in point, it was my Daddy-O’s birthday this week and I wanted to make him a birthday cake. I asked his wife for advice and she suggested an apple crumble. But that’s not special enough for a birthday cake is it?!

So I did my usual and scoured my recipe books and t’internet for some inspiration, and found a great recipe from The Hummingbird Bakery, which I have tweaked a little. Standard.

This is a cake. It is apple. And it’s crumble. It’s an Apple Crumble Cake!

Ingredients
For the cake
60g butter, softened
100g caster sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
140g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
80ml milk

2 large eating apples

For the crumble topping
70g plain flour
1 tsp ground cinnamon
40g butter
70g light brown sugar

Method
— Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celcius. Grease and line a 20cm round cake tin. Dust it with flour to prevent the cake from sticking.
— Make the crumble topping. Add all the crumble ingredients to a bowl, and using your hands, rub them together until they resemble breadcrumbs. You could also do this in a food processor, but be careful not to over-mix it otherwise it will be too fine. A few lumps here and there is a good thing. Set the crumble mixture aside for later.
— Now, make the cake batter. In a bowl, or stand mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until they are light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla essence and keep mixing until combined.
— Sift in the flour, baking powder and cinnamon, then add the milk. Mix again until the batter is smooth and creamy. Spoon the batter into the prepared cake tin.
— Peel, core and quarter the apples, then slice each quarter into thin slices. Starting at the outside of the tin, place the apples on top of the batter in a single layer, in circles.
— Lastly, spoon over the prepared crumble topping so that all the apple slices are covered. Sprinkle over a little extra sugar if you like.
— Bake for around 40 minutes, depending on your oven. The cake will be ready when the top is lovely and golden, and a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.

This cake is fantastic served warm, with a dollop of cream or a scoop of ice cream. It’s also great cold with a nice cup of tea. If you’re going to have it cold, make sure it’s fully cooled before taking it out of the tin, and serve it at room temperature.





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How To Make Chocolate Curls

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If you know me in real life, you’ll know this: I’m not great at decorating cakes. Yes, I’m ok at baking (although I do make mistakes sometimes!), but decorating is not my forte.

I think it comes down to patience, or my lack of. I do WANT them to look professional… But then I get excited about eating them and think, ah, it doesn’t matter!

So this is a nifty trick for professional looking decoration which is REALLY easy to do and takes no time at all.

I used dark chocolate to make these curls, which go best on a chocolate cake, like the one in this picture. But if you wanted to, you could use white chocolate and pop that on top of a fruity cake, for example a lemon drizzle, and it’d look and taste just as good.

 

Ingredients

75g dark chocolate

1 tsp vegetable oil

 

Method

— Take a large, clean, flat baking tray and put it in the freezer for around 20 minutes.

— Melt the chocolate, either in a bowl over a pan of simmering water or in the microwave (be careful! Be sure to keep an eye on it if you do it in the microwave as it can burn easily – heat it for 20 seconds at a time, checking and stirring in between).

— Add the vegetable oil to the chocolate and mix well. This will help the chocolate to curl better later. Remove the baking tray from the freezer and pour the chocolate directly onto the tray. Don’t use any greaseproof paper.

— Spread the chocolate over the tray as thinly as possible, but so that you can’t see the tray through the chocolate. If you have a pallette knife, use it, as it will give the best result. The thinner the chocolate layer is, the better.  

— Place the tray, chocolate side up, back into the freezer, for around half an hour, or until the chocolate is set.

— When you’re ready to make your curls, remove the tray from the freezer, and leave it for a few minutes to come to room temperature. You want it just to soften SLIGHTLY but not too much. You can tell when it’s ready by pressing your finger on the chocolate; it should leave a fingerprint but not an indent.

— Holding the tray against your body, take a sharp knife and place the blade on the chocolate at a 45 deegree angle towards you. Then firmly press down and pull the blade towards your body. The chocolate should curl up into long strands. Depending on how soft your chocolate is, it may fracture and you can end up with both long and short bits. I like the different lengths as it gives a bit of variety.

— Once you’ve curled all the chocolate, leave them on the baking tray and put it back in the freezer for 10 minutes to firm up.

— Then decorate the top of your cake however you see fit! I like to put pieces of different sizes on top of each other in an abstract fashion – it’s easy and very effective.

And that’s it! You will probably have more than you need, so pop them in a freezer bag and keep them frozen until you next need to use them. Just be careful as they’re very fragile!

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3 Layer Chocolate Cake with Cheesecake Filling

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Today I’m on BBC Radio Bristol talking about this blog and baking, and they asked me to bring in a cake that means something to me.

I found it really difficult to decide what to choose, as all of my cakes seem to conjure up some kind of memory for me. I finally narrowed it down though, and decided on a chocolate cake. Everybody loves chocolate cakes don’t they?! The recipe for this chocolate sponge is one I have used for many a birthday cake, from my friends, to children, and for work colleagues.

I wanted to spruce it up a bit though… I couldn’t just take in a standard chocolate sponge cake, even if it is a great recipe! So I took inspiration from Mary Berry (have you all been watching her new program?! AMAZING!).

Instead of two layers, this became a three layer cake. Instead of buttercream in between the layers, we now have cheesecake. YES, YOU READ THAT RIGHT. And instead of nothing covering it… We now have a ganache.

Don’t even think about how many calories are in this baby. Just don’t.

THIS is a showstopper.

Ingredients
For the cakes
260g self-raising flour
3 tbsp cocoa powder
1 ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
225g caster sugar
3 large eggs
225ml sunflower oil
225ml milk
3 tbsp honey

For the cheesecake filling
200g soft cheese (eg Philidelphia). Use full fat!
50g butter, softened
200g icing sugar
100g dark chocolate, melted and cooled

For the ganache frosting
300ml double cream
200g dark chocolate

For the chocolate curls decorations
50g dark chocolate
50g white chocolate
2 tsp sunflower oil

Method
— Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Grease and line 3 sandwich tins (if you only have two tins, split the recipe to make two cakes, then one).
— Sift the flour, bicarb and cocoa into a bowl and add the sugar. In a jug, measure out the milk, honey and oil, the add the eggs to the liquids and whisk to break up the yolks. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix on a medium speed (or by hand) for a minute until everything is fully combined. The batter will be quite runny.
— Pour into the prepared tins and bake for around 25 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean. The cakes should be springy and light, and coming away from the sides slightly. Leave the cakes to cool slightly for a minute or two, then run a sharp knife around the edges to loosen them, and remove them from the tins. Leave to cool on a cooling rack. They must be completely cool before you begin to decorate them.
— Next, make the ganache. Chop (or bash with a rolling pin) the dark chocolate. You don’t need to be too precious and chop it finely, just give it a good bash and it’ll be fine. The pieces should be smaller than normal squares of chocolate though. Place in a medium sized bowl.
— Warm the double cream on a low heat, stirring it to make sure it doesn’t form a skin. Just before it’s about to boil, pour the cream over the chocolate. Stir vigorously until it’s completely combined, all of the chocolate is melted and the ganache is starting to thicken. There will come a point where it looks like it’s gone horribly wrong, is splitting and curdling. Don’t worry! Keep stirring, and it will all come together, I promise.
— Once all the chocolate is melted, set it aside to firm up. I like to put mine in the fridge for half an hour (but no longer!). You want it soft enough that it can be spread easily but not so soft that it will fall down the sides.
— Now make the cheesecake layer. Melt the chocolate, either over a pan of boiling water or in a microwave. Set aside to cool. In a stand mixer (or by hand if you don’t have one), beat together the cream cheese and butter. Using full fat is important, as the lower fat version tends to go a bit runny.
— Sift in the icing sugar and mix until it’s all combined. When the chocolate is cooled, but not hard, add into the cheesecake mixture and mix well.
— Now it’s time to assemble the cake! Split the cheesecake mixture into two, and spread half on top of two of the sponges. Place one on top of the other, then the final sponge on top of the two.
— Spoon the ganache on top of the cake and use a palette knife to spread it all over the top. Ease it down the side of the cake and smooth it around so the whole cake has a layer of ganache covering it. The good thing about this cake is that it’s going to look and taste amazing – and the ganache is supposed to be a bit rough around the edges so don’t worry if it’s not completely perfect!

And that’s it! You can leave it as it is, or add decoration to it if you like. I have stated the ingredients above for the chocolate curls, but I will post a separate post on how to make these tomorrow.
I had a bit of gold shimmer spray in the cupboard so I gave it a little spray with that and it looked fab (you can pick those up in the home baking aisles of most supermarkets for a couple of pounds).


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Recipe – Caramelised Onion, Mustard and Veggie Sausage Pasta






I have been asked recently whether I’m a “pro” blogger, or just a hobbyist.

I can tell you, 100%, for those of you who don’t know me, that I am definitely NOT a pro blogger. This is a hobby for me at the moment. I very much have a full time, normal job and fit blogging and baking in around my every day life.

As I’m not a professional, I occasionally get a bit wrapped up or excited about what I’m baking or cooking and forget to take photos, so I apologise for the occasions I where I publish posts without any or many photos. I guess if I’ve made something REALLY yummy, I scoff it down quick. And it’s only after I’ve eaten it, I may think – Ooops! That would have been a great recipe to share!

This is a Nigel Slater recipe, taken by me and tweaked. I’ve had this dish… Oooh… About ten times now, and LOVE LOVE LOVE it. I had some friends over for dinner last week and this is what I made for them. It’s sometimes difficult as a veggie to cook for meat eaters, as you’re always feeling like you’re doing them out of what they would consider a “proper” meal.

This is no such dish. This is a caramelised onion-y, strong tasting mustardy dish of fabulousness. A grating of cheese and a hunk of fresh, crusty bread is all it needs to complete it.

Here it is – there are only “before” pictures of the ingredients I’m afraid – one of the times I unfortunately got a bit over-excited about tucking in!

Incidentally, I tweeted Nigel Slater that I’d made this and it was delicious, and he replied with a lovely tweet – what a nice bloke!

This will serve 3 greedy people or 4 normal. There were only 3 of us 😀

 

Ingredients

1 pack (6) Linda McCartney veggie sausages

3 tbsp olive oil

2 1/2 large onions

300g wholewheat spaghetti

150ml vegetable stock

2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley

1 tbsp whole grain mustard

 

Method

— Slice the onions into thin rings, and chop the sausages into chunks, about 2cm wide each. Heat the oil, then add the onions and sausages and fry until the onions start to soften.

— At this point, bring a pan of water to the boil and put the pasta in to start cooking. I won’t tell you how to cook pasta; I’m sure you know and if you don’t then you can google it elsewhere!

— Keep going with the sausages and onions for a good 15-20 minutes. After this amount of time, the onions should be golden and starting to caramelise, sticking slightly to the bottom, and, dare I say it, burning a little. It’s fine, go with it. Add the stock, mustard and parsley and give it a stir, scraping up all the caramelised bits from the bottom of the pan.

— Add the cooked, drained pasta, mix everything in, and serve into bowls. Grate over some cheddar, parmesean, or whatever cheese you like (I know Parmesean isn’t vegetarian, so use whatever cheese you prefer!).

Enjoy!!

 

 

 






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Mini Doughnut Cake Bites

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I’m writing this blog post whilst I prepare myself a decidedly normal evening meal of pasta and pesto. How very un-food-bloggery!! I’m sure I’m not alone in loving this easy peasy supper? We all need a night off once in a while. I did cast my eye over a recipe for a pistachio pesto though… I have GOT to give this a try soon and will be sure to share the recipe as soon as I do.

Anyway. There’s something about mini cake bites, isn’t there? The fact that you can fit them into your mouth in one go means that you feel justified in eating more of them than you normally would! I know I do… But when they taste this good and look as cute as these do, why not?!

I got the inspiration for this recipe from a favourite blog of mine, Hannahhotcakes. I saw her blog about mini doughnuts a while ago and knew I wanted to give them a try. You can visit Hannah’s blog here.

These are essentially mini cake bites in the shape of doughnuts – these silicone doughnut shaped moulds are everywhere at the moment and are very cheap to buy and easy to use. One word of warning though – my advice would be not to buy one too cheaply. I bought mine from Amazon for a fiver here, and it was OK, but the doughnuts didn’t come out very smoothly after baking. I tried a second batch and sprinkled a light dusting of flour into the moulds before putting the batter in, which did help slightly, but I think if you’re going to buy one, spend a little more and get a better quality mould. Lakeland have a great version available, if you click on the Lakleand banner below it’ll take you to their site and you can see for yourself. (*NOTE – This is not sponsored, I just love their stuff!*)

This recipe will make around 40 mini doughut cake bites. This would be a great recipe to make with children as they’re fun to make, decorate and eat.

 

Ingredients

110g self raising flour

110g caster sugar

110g butter or Stork, softened

2 large eggs

1 tsp baking powder

2 heaped tbsp cocoa powder

150g milk chocolate

Sprinkles to decorate

 

Method

— Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celcius. Dust your silicone mould lightly with flour and shake off the excess. Place it on a baking tray to support it.

— Add to a bowl all ingredients except the milk chocolate and sprinkles, and combine until the batter is smooth. You can do this by hand, or in a stand mixer like my KitchenAid.

— Fill the moulds with the batter. You could use a spoon, but I piped mine for a better finish, using a large round piping nozzle. Bake in the oven for around 14 minutes, then remove and leave to cool completely. Don’t even attempt to take your doughnuts out of the mould until they are cold!

— Lay a piece of baking paper on a tray or plate. Melt the milk chocolate and dip the tops of each doughnut bite into the chocolate to coat it. Place it on the baking tray and decorate with the sprinkles. Leave for half an hour for the chocolate to set… If you can wait that long!

And there you have it, a great, fun bake which will make you smile 🙂



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Recipe – Yummy Carrot Cake Cupcakes

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Today is the day of my very first radio appearance about Eat Sleep Bake Repeat. I’ve been very excited about it, and nervous at the same time. They’ve asked me to bring in something which I’ve baked to chat about. That, in itself, isn’t a problem, but what HAS been a problem is deciding what to take in!!

I’ve trialled lots of recipes in the past few weeks, some which have turned out great and will be making an appearance on a blog near you very soon… And others… Not so much. I’m lucky that my selfless colleagues will eat whatever I put in front of them, even if it’s not my greatest work.

Anyway, after trying lots of ideas out, I decided to take along my old faithful Oreo Truffles (have a look in the December archive for the post on them). This is the recipe I get asked for most so I guess it was a bit of a no-brainer!

However, these are no-bake so I thought I’d also take one of my favourite, traditional cakes, the Carrot Cake, and turn them into cupcakes. Yum!

The recipe has a great, spicy flavour,  with a hint of orange, and contains chopped walnuts and sultanas.

I’ve topped them with my favourite white chocolate buttercream frosting, with a sprinkling of walnuts, yum.

Ingredients

For the cake

50g sultanas

Juice and zest of 1 orange

150ml sunflower oil

2 large eggs

140g light brown sugar

170g self raising flour

1 1/2 tsp cinnamon

1 1/2 tsp mixed spice

1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

140g grated carrots

50g walnuts, chopped

 For the frosting

110g unsalted softened butter

250g icing sugar, sifted

150g white chocolate, melted

Method

— First thing’s first. Be prepared! Grate the zest of your orange into a bowl, and add the sultanas and orange juice. Leave to soak for as long as you can (preferably overnight but don’t fret – even if you can only soak them for an hour it’s better than nothing!).

— Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celcius. Line a muffin tray with 12 cupcake cases.
— In a large bowl, sift the flour and bicarb into a bowl, and add the sugar and spices. Give it a stir. In a jug, whisk the eggs and oil, then pour into the dry ingredients. Add the grated carrots and walnuts and mix until fully combined.

— Spoon the mixture into your cupcake cases, filling them to between two thirds and three quarters full.

— Bake for around 22 minutes. The exact time will depend on your oven – keep an eye on the cupcakes, and remove when the tops are golden brown and a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. Leave to cool completely.

 — For the frosting, use your stand mixer or electric whisk to beat together the butter and half of the icing sugar. Once it’s incorporated, add in the rest of the sugar. Remember to cover the bowl with tea towel to avoid a snow storm! Pour in the melted chocolate and leave the machine on a medium speed for 2-3 minutes until it’s light and creamy. Add a little milk if it’s too dry and a little more sugar if it’s too runny.

— Ice your cupcakes with a pallette knife or a nozzle and piping bag.

Serve with a nice cuppa and a gossip!

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Chocolate Nutella Cupcakes – A WI Special

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Everyone loves a good cupcake, don’t they? Yup. What do people love more than cupcakes?

Chocolate cupcakes.

Add Nutella to that, and, well, that’s probably my dream cupcake.

I made these cupcakes for the WI.RED February meeting (I wrote about our meeting on Thursday). Every month we serve hot drinks and cakes at our meetings, and I’m not ashamed to admit that this is one of my favourite parts of the evening – I love to see what people have made! And of course, I love to taste them! Yum.

This month, it was my turn to contribute. I wanted to make something delicious (well, you can’t take just any old cake along to the WI can you?!). But, as I’m sure is the case for most of you, I also have a day job, and so didn’t have that much time between getting home from work and going back out again to the meeting.

I needed something quick and easy but scrummy. No-one wants their cakes to be left on the table at the end of the night do they?! I wanted to make something people just couldn’t say “no” to.

This recipe is a bit of a fail-safe of mine. The cupcake recipe is from The Hummingbird Bakery – you can visit their website here.

Literally EVERY recipe I’ve ever used from them has turned out amazingly well, and this one is no exception.

I made my own Nutella buttercream to go on top, and voila! Delicious, professional looking cupcakes (well I think so anyway!).

Put it this way, they all disappeared and there weren’t any complaints!

Ingredients

For the cupcakes

80g unsalted butter, softened

280g caster sugar

200g plain flour

40g cocoa powder

1 tbsp baking powder

240ml milk

2 large eggs

For the buttercream

200g unsalted butter, softened

300g icing sugar

3-4 heaped tbsp Nutella

A drop of milk

 

Method

— Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celcius. Line a muffin tin with cupcake cases. This recipe should make around 16 cupcakes.

— Measure out the butter, sugar, flour, cocoa powder and baking powder into a bowl and mix until it’s combined. It will look quite dry, like breadcrumbs. I used my KitchenAid which made the whole process easy peasy.

— Pour the milk into a jug, add the eggs and whisk. Then add these to the dry ingredients, a little at a time, until everything is all mixed in nicely.

— Spoon the batter into the cupcake cases, filling them to about two thirds full. Bake for around 20 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean. Leave to cool completely.

— To make the buttercream, beat the butter until its creamy, then add the icing sugar and Nutella and stir until combined. Again, I like to do this in the KitchenAid (make sure you cover the bowl with a towel or you’ll get icing sugar EVERYWHERE – I’ve learnt this from experience! Test the consistency – add a drop of milk if it’s a bit dry, or more icing sugar if it’s a bit wet. I like it very Nutella-y so I may have snuck in a few more spoonfuls… But have a taste. Add more if you like.

— Then, apply the buttercream to the cupcakes however you like! I used a piping nozzle, but you could just put it on with a knife and smooth it around.

There we have it! Apologies for the lack of photos but I was a bit pushed for time and forgot!

 

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