Thursday, 13 December 2012

Gingerbread Cupcakes

For me December is my favorite time of the year for baking, I just love Christmas and all that it brings. The festive baking and the christmassy aromas have definitely arrived in my kitchen, there's no need for scented candles when baking is under way. These gingerbread cupcakes are a great continuation of this years Christmas baking. They were precceded by Cranberry and White Chocolate Cookies, which are always a must bake and Sticky Gingerbread, both from Nigella's Christmas coobook. I love gingerbread on it's own but had never tried it with a frosted topping. The buttercream frosting worked wonderfully against the dark spicy sponge, which I finished off with a sprinkling of cute gingerbread men. These cupcakes were a huge hit with hubby's work colleagues and didn't last long. Definitely a recommended bake!

Gingerbread Cupcakes with Cinnamon Frosting

Makes 12

75g unsalted butte, softened
100g caster sugar
125ml black treacle
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
175g plain flour
1 tbsp cocoa powder
1 1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/2 ground mixed spice
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
125ml hot milk

For the buttercream:
120g butter, softened
200g icing sugar, sifted
1 tsp vanilla extract

2 tbsp milk
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon (optional)
Gingerbread men sprinkles

For the gingerbread cupcakes: Preheat the oven to 175oC/fan oven 155oC/350oF/Gas Mark 4 and line a 12-hole muffin tin with cupcake cases.

In a large bowl cream the butter with the sugar. Add the treacle and the egg and egg yolk.

In a large bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, ginger, cinnamon, mixed spice, nutmeg and salt.

Dissolve the bicarbonate of soda in the hot milk.

Add the flour mixture to the creamed mixture and stir until just combined. Stir in the hot milk mixture.

Spoon the batter evenly into the cases. Bake for 20 minutes or until slightly springy to the touch.

Allow to cool for a few mins in the pan and transfer to a wire rack to cool.

For the buttercream: Cream the butter in a clean, large bowl until smooth, gradually add the icing sugar and continue to cream until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla and the milk and cream until combined. Add 1/2 tsp of ground cinnamon and mix.

Spread the buttercream or pipe onto the cupcakes and decorate with mini gingerbread men.

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Blackberry and Apple Loaf Cake

Autumn has definitely arrived, with the days getting shorter and the nights getting colder; it's the perfect time to cook and bake delicious comfort foods. Blackberry and Apple is a classic autumnal combo of flavours and one we always enjoy in our household, whether it be in a crumble, cake or muffins. I have previously made similar versions of this cake but I could not pass up this recipe from one of my current favourite cookbooks, "A Passion for Baking". This loaf cake was everything I imagined it would be and more. I cannot begin to describe how absolutely delicious it was. It has definitely made its mark and resides in my top 5 bakes. A must bake!

Blackberry and Apple Loaf Cake

Serves 6

60g unsalted butter, chilled and diced
80g plain flour
2 heaped tbsp demerara sugar

170g self-raising flour
170g unsalted butter, softened
170g caster sugar
3 large eggs, beaten
170g (prepared weight) apples such as Braeburns or Cox's, peeled, cored and diced
70g blackberries

You will also need a 900g (2lb) loaf tin, the inside buttered and the base and ends lined with a strip of buttered baking parchment.

Preheat the oven to 180oC/160oC fan oven/350oF/gas mark 4.

Combine the topping ingredients: rub the butter into the flour and sugar either in a food processor using the pulse button or with your hands. Once the mixture reaches a crumble-type consistency, put it to one side while you make the cake batter.

Tip the flour, butter, sugar and eggs into a bowl and, either using a free-standing mixer or an electric hand whisk, beat until really light and creamy. Gently fold in the diced apples and blackberries using a large metal spoon.

Spoon the cake mixture into the prepared tin, spread level and sprinkle over the crumble topping in an even layer.

Bake on the middle shelf of the preheated oven for about 1 hour or until a skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes away cleanly.

Cool the cake in the tin for about 5 minutes and then carefully lift it out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Italian Breakfast Banana Bread

I was so excited when I found out Nigella Lawson was releasing a new book, Nigellissima, I even pre-ordered it on amazon. Unfortunately it has not captured me in the way some of her previous cookbooks have, I had the same feeling with her other book Nigella Express. In reading the recipes a lot of them don't appeal to me or my taste, sorry mackerel in pasta doesn't do it for me! Another disappointment was the lack of bakes and desserts in the book, I was expecting more. I decided to bake this Italian breakfast banana bread as my first recipe, I liked the addition of espresso and it really worked well. I enjoyed a slice for breakfast and it was even nicer dipped in my coffee. It's definitely a recipe I would recommend trying and one I will make again. As much as I'm on the fence about this cookbook I will try more recipes and report back!

Italian Breakfast Banana Bread

Cuts into 8-10 slices

150ml flavourless vegetable oil, plus some for greasing
3 medium bananas, very ripe
2 tsp vanilla extract
pinch salt
2 eggs
150g caster sugar
175g plain flour
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
4 tsp instant espresso powder

1 x 450g/1lb deep loaf tin

Slip a baking sheet into the oven, and preheat the to 170oC/150oC fan oven/gas mark 3. Get out a loaf tin, and line it with baking parchment or a loaf liner, or lightly oil it.

Mash the bananas with the vanilla extract and salt and then beat in the oil.

Now, beat in the eggs, one by one, followed by the sugar.

Mix the flour with the bicarb and espresso powder, and beat these dry ingredients into the runny batter.

Pour the batter into your prepared loaf tin, and pop it into the oven, on the baking sheet, and bake for 50-60 minutes, or until slightly coming away at the sides and bulgingly risen.

Wednesday, 19 September 2012


Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, especially after an early morning workout at the gym. I can be guilty, like a lot of people, of "having" and not "enjoying" breakfast, due to habit or a busy schedule. Yes, we can all pick up a box from our local supermarket but it is very satisfying to sit down to enjoy a bowl of tasty home-made granola. This is a simple recipe and one that you can adapt with your personal choice of ingredients. I love mine served with cold milk or it would work equally well with natural yoghurt. Once you've tried the home-made variety you will wonder why you never made your own before. This granola will keep good for a month in an airtight container.


Serves 12

300g rolled oats
4 heaped tbsp regular shop-bought apple sauce
4 heaped tbsp clear/runny honey
1 tbsp golden/maple syrup
3 tbsp oil (sunflower or non-virgin olive oil)
60g soft dark brown sugar (or light if you prefer)
4 heaped tbsp dessicated coconut
60g mixed nuts (almonds, pecans or hazelnuts) roughly chopped
100g dried fruits (apricots, cherries, cranberries, pineapple pieces, anything you like really), chopped

Preheat the oven to 170oC/150oC fan oven/325oF/Gas Mark 3.

Mix all the ingredients together, except for the dried fruit, in a large roomy bowl. Make sure that the oats are well coated in the honey, syrup and oil.

Turn the mixture out into a large baking tray in a single layer; shake the tray slightly so that you have some clumps and some smaller bits.

Bake on the middle shelf of the preheated oven for about 35-40 minutes until golden. You will need to keep stirring and jiggling the granola around while it bakes so that is browns evenly.

Once baked, remove from the oven, add the chopped dried fruits and stir to combine. Leave to cool completely and then store in an airtight container. It will keep for a good month.

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Chocolate Birthday Cake

Sorry for my lack of blogging lately but hubby and I have been away on holiday for a much needed break and to celebrate both of us turning 40 in August. We had a lovely time away in the Cotswolds, a beautiful part of England, where we rented a log cabin with outdoor hot tub, which we used every evening after a day of exploring. While away we enjoyed lovely pub lunches/dinners all made from wonderful local produce. On the topic of birthdays, I made this amazing chocolate cake for my hubby's birthday. The recipe is from a Passion for Baking and like all the recipes I've tried from this book, this cake did not disappoint. This is the perfect birthday cake and I'll definitely be baking this again!

Chocolate Birthday Cake

Serves 8-10

225g unsalted butter, softened
225g caster sugar
4 large eggs, beaten
1 tsp vanilla extract
200g self-raising flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 bicarbonate of soda
30g cocoa
2 tbsp full-fat milk
100g good-quality dark chocolate, melted

200g dark chocolate
100 milk chocolate
250ml double cream

1 large packet of Maltesers

You will need 2 x 20cm sandwich tins, greased and the bases lined with buttered baking parchment.

Preheat the oven to 180oc/160oc fan oven/350oF/gas mark 4.

In a bowl of a free-standing mixer, cream the butter and sugar together until pale, light and fluffy. Gradually add the beaten eggs and vanilla extract. Add the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, cocoa and milk, then mix until combined. Add the melted chocolate and mix again until smooth.

Divide equally between the prepared sandwich tins, spread level and bake on the middle shelf of the preheated oven for about 22-25 minutes until golden and a skewer comes away clean when inserted into the middle of the cakes. Turn the cakes out of the tins onto a wire cooling rack and leave until cold.

To make the ganache, finely chop both the dark and milk chocolates and tip into a saucepan along with the double cream. Set the pan over a low heat to melt, stirring constantly until smooth. Pour the ganache into a shallow dish, cool and then chill to firm.

To assemble the cake, place one of the cakes on a cake or serving plate and spoon half of the ganache on the cake and spread. Then scatter with crushed Maltesers.

Cover the top of the second cake layer with ganache, spreading it smoothly with a palette knife. Sandwich the two caes together and finish off with a good scattering of Maltesers.

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Lemon Drizzle Cake

I have so many recipes to blog about but I'm lacking motivation, so please bare with me. I will also be away on holidays at the end of August but will be blogging as much as possible before I go. This Lemon Drizzle Cake I baked a few weeks ago and it went down a storm with my hubby. I often stick to my favoured recipe but was in the mood to try something different. This cake is simple, not overly rich, light and airy and has a triple hit of lemon. Definitely a winner and one I will bake again!

Lemon Drizzle Cake

Serves 8

225g softened butter
225g caster sugar
lemons, 3 zested and 2 juiced
4 medium eggs, lightly whisked
200g self-raising flour
1 tsp baking powder

50g ground almonds

For the syrup:
remaining lemon juice
85g caster sugar

For the Lemon icing drizzle:
75g icing sugar
lemon juice

Heat the oven to 180C/fan 160C/gas 4. Butter and line the base of a 20cm round cake tin. Beat the butter and caster sugar in a large bowl using an electric hand whisk until pale and creamy. Add the lemon zest (reserving some for decoration) and mix well. Whisk the eggs gradually into the butter mixture, beating well between each addition - don't worry if it curdles.

Sift together the flour and baking powder and fold into the cake mixture using a large metal spoon or spatula. Add the ground almonds and 3/4 of the lemon juice and fold until thoroughly combined. Spoon into the prepared cake tin and bake for 1 hour 15 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out without any raw mix on it.

Put the cake tin on a wire rack to cool for 10 minutes. Meanwhile mix together the remaining lemon juice and caster sugar and heat in a saucepan until the sugar has melted. Prick the warm cake all over with a skewer or fork, then pour over the drizzle on the cake. Cool in the tin for a further 30 minutes and then remove from the tin. Once the cake is cold, mix the icing sugar with a few teaspoons of lemon juice and drizzle over the top of the cake.

Sunday, 29 July 2012

Chocolate Chip Cookies

I've been enjoying the cooler weather this weekend and took the opportunity to try out a few more recipes from A Passion for Baking. I'm really enjoying this book as you can tell and every recipe has turned out wonderful and gone down a treat. I love baking cookies and have my favourite but my love of baking includes trying out new recipes. These cookies jumped out from the page and screamed, "bake me", so I couldn't resist! They were easy to make and the end result is a yummy soft and chewy cookie, with gorgeous chunks of chocolate nuggets.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

200g unsalted butter, softened
200g light soft brown sugar
125g demerara sugar
2 large eggs, beaten
1 tsp vanilla extract
400g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
a pinch of salt
200g dark chocolate chunks

You will also need 2-3 baking trays covered with baking parchment.

Preheat the oven to 170oC/150oC fan oven/325oF/gas mark 3.

Cream the butter and both of the sugars together in a free-standing machine until pale, light and fluffy.

Gradually add the beaten eggs, mixing well between each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula, add the vanilla extract and mix again.

Sift the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and a pinch of salt into the bowl and mix again until thoroughly combined. Fold the chocolate chunks into the cookie dough.

Use either an ice-cream scoop or large spoon (I used my hands and rolled them into balls) to scoop the dough into even-sized mounds. Place 3-4 cookies on each baking tray, allowing plenty of space between each cookie as they will spread during cooking.

Bake the cookies in batches on the middle shelf of the preheated oven for about 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and sharply bang the baking tray on the work surface to deflate the cookies, then return to the oven for a further 5-7 minutes until pale golden brown.

Allow the cookies to cool on the baking trays for a few minutes before transferring to wire racks until cold. 

Friday, 27 July 2012

Raspberry Torte

Finally looks like summer has arrived in the UK after weeks of constant rain, although I have to admit I find the heat draining and makes me so lethargic. I've really been enjoying my latest cookbook purchase, A Passion for Baking and have tried quite a few recipes, which I plan to blog along the way. One of the recipes was this beautiful Raspberry Torte, which seemed like the perfect summery cake to make and enjoy for afternoon tea in the garden. It's moist and full of flavour with burst of raspberry and tastes even better the next day.

Raspberry Torte

Serves 8

150g self-raising flour
150g unsalted butter, softened
150g caster sugar
150g ground almonds
2 large eggs, beaten
150g fresh raspberries, plus extra to serve
icing sugar to dust

You will also need a 23cm cake tin, buttered and the base lined with a disc of buttered baking parchment.

Preheat the oven to 180oc/160oc fan oven/350oF/gas mark 4.

Tip the flour, soft butter, sugar, ground almonds and eggs into a bowl and beat together until pale, light and fluffy.

Spoon the cake mixture into the prepared tin and spread level with a palette knife. Push the raspberries, pointy side up, into the batter.

Bake on the middle shelf of the preheated oven for about 1 hour, checking the cake after 45 minutes and covering it loosely with foil once it has browned to prevent the top colouring too much.

Cool in the tin for 5 minutes and then transfer the torte to a cooling rack until cold. Scatter with extra raspberries and dust with icing sugar to serve.

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Blueberry Muffin Loaf

It's been a while since I treated myself to a new cookbook and I thought it was time to add to my collection. I read great reviews on Jo Wheatley's "A Passion for Baking" and so I headed to Sainsburys to buy a copy. Jo was the winner of The Great British Bake Off in 2011 and her book is testament to why she won. I love this book, it has so many wonderful delicious recipes, that I can't wait to try. I decided to make the Blueberry Muffin Loaf as my first recipe. This lovely loaf with it's moist sponge is bursting with flavours and textures and it's definitely a must bake! Watch this space for more recipes from this must have book.

 Blueberry Muffin Loaf

25g plain flour
20g unsalted butter, diced
20g caster sugar

200g self-raising flour, sieved
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
75g soft brown sugar
50g caster sugar
70g unsalted butter, melted
160ml full-fat milk
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
130g blueberries

You will need a greased 900g/2lb loaf tin, the base and ends lined with a strip of buttered baking parchment.

Preheat the oven 180oC/160oc fan oven/gas mark 4.

Make the topping first. Tip the flour, butter and sugar into a bowl and, using your fingers rub the butter into the flour until it resembles a crumble mixture. Alternatively you can do what I do and add the ingredients a food processor and pulse.

To make the loaf, sieve the flour and bicarbonate of soda into a bowl, add both of the sugars and mix well.

Melt the butter, leave to cool slightly and then mix with the milk, egg and vanilla extract and whisk until smooth.

Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and pour in the milk and egg mixture. Using a large metal spoon, fold the two mixtures together until only just combined. Fold the blueberries into the mixture, making sure not to overmix the batter as this will result in a heavy sponge.

Carefully spoon the mixture into the prepared loaf tin, scatter over the crumble topping and bae on the middle shelf of the preheated oven for about 1 hour or until golden, well risen and a skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean.

Serve warm or at room temperature.

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Revisited Chocolate Orange Drizzle Loaf Cake

This loaf cake evokes fond memories of my dearest friend Jules who sadly passed away a few years ago. This was a recipe we all baked as one of our monthly group events at "Sweet and Simple Bakes", a baking blog Jules and I ran together. I sometimes like to bake her recipes as a way of remembering her and what a fantastic baker she was. This Chocolate Orange Drizzle Loaf Cake is certainly a testament to the amazing cakes Jules baked. The sponge is fluffy, light and very moist, with the chocolate and orange blending together perfectly! If you find the orange/chocolate combo irresistible, then this is a “must” bake!!

Chocolate Orange Drizzle Loaf Cake

For The cake
175g (6 oz) softened butter
175g (6 oz) caster (super fine) sugar
3 large eggs, at room temperature
Finely grated zest of 2 oranges
175g (6 oz) self-raising flour, sifted
2 tbsp milk

For The Orange Syrup
Juice of 1 orange
100g (4 oz) granulated sugar

For The Topping
50g (2 oz) dark chocolate or milk chocolate – your choice
Sprinkles of choice (optional)

You will need a 900g (2 lb) loaf tin – greased with a little butter and lined with greaseproof paper or non-stick baking paper.

Preheat the oven to 180°C/fan oven 160°C/350°F/Gas mark 4.

In a mixing bowl, add the butter and sugar and beat together until light and fluffy in appearance. Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat well until fully incorporated. Add the orange zest, flour and milk and fold in gently with a spatula or large metal spoon. Turn into the prepared tin, smooth the top of the mixture and bake in the oven on middle shelf 35 -45 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tin. When cool make little holes in the cake with a skewer, (this is important for pouring the syrup onto the cake to ensure the syrup soaks in fully.)

For The Orange Syrup
Put the orange juice and granulated sugar into a pan and heat gently until the sugar has dissolved. Bring to the boil and boil for a couple of minutes. Pour over the top of the cake. When all the juice has soaked in, carefully remove the cake from the tin.

For The Topping
Melt the chocolate by placing a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of barely simmering water. Once the chocolate has melted, pour over the top of the cake. Either smooth the top over with a spatula or make a little pattern with the prongs of a fork. Add sprinkles if desired, leave chocolate to set before cutting into the cake.

Friday, 6 July 2012

Red Berry and White Chocolate Muffins

These lovely muffins are from Make Bake Love, a book I have baked and enjoyed lots of recipes from. Although as I've said previously there seems to be quite a few typos and the baking times are off. For example these muffins needed extra time in the oven as they weren't golden enough after 20 minutes. Despite that minor glitch these muffins were divine and I love the idea of using frozen berries as they don't break up while mixing into the batter. They went down very well with hubby and didn't last long!

Red Berry and White Chocolate Muffins

Makes 12 small muffins

225g plain flour
1tbsp baking powder
75g caster sugar
1 egg
150ml milk
40ml sunflower oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
160g frozen red berries
70g white chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 190oC/170oC fan. Line a 12-hole muffin tin with paper cases.

Sieve the flour and baking powder together in a bowl, then stir in the sugar.

Whisk the egg, milk, oil and vanilla together in a jug. Pour into the dry ingredients and mix gently. Fold in the berries and the chocolate chips.

Use an ice cream scoop or spoon to divide the batter evenly amongst the muffin cases. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until golden and risen. Remove the muffins from the tin and allow to cool on a rack.

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Nutty Chicken Curry

For dinner this evening Nutty Chicken Curry was on the menu. I am enjoying trying new recipes and this is another I had bookmarked to try which I tweaked, adding more stock and using fat free Greek yoghurt. Hubby and I loved this flavoursome creamy curry. For those of you worried about whether it is too spicy, the peanut butter and yoghurt combine well to soften the spiciness. Next time I will use crunchy peanut butter to add more texture to the curry and make it more nutty!

Nutty Chicken Curry

Serves 4

1 large red chilli, deseeded
1/2 finger-length piece ginger, roughly chopped
1 fat garlic clove
small bunch of coriander, stalks roughly chopped
1 tbsp sunflower oil (I used olive oil)
4 skinless chicken breasts, cut into chunks
5 tbsp peanut butter
150ml chicken stock (I added more stock, 350ml)
200g Greek yogurt (I used low fat)
cooked rice, to serve

Finely slice a quarter of the chilli, then put the rest in a food processor with the ginger, garlic, coriander stalks and one-third of the leaves. Whizz to a rough paste with a splash of water, if needed.

Heat the oil in a frying pan, then quickly brown the chicken for 1 min. Stir in the paste for 1 min more, then add the peanut butter, stock and yogurt. When the sauce is gently bubbling, cook for 10 mins until the chicken is just cooked through and the sauce has thickened. Stir in most of the remaining coriander, then scatter the rest on top with the chilli. Serve with rice.

Monday, 2 July 2012

Garlic Chilli Prawns with Sesame Noodles

My revitalised life style continues with regular sessions at the gym and healthy eating and I am starting to see great results. I've decided to get back to weekly meal planning as a way of trying out new recipes and providing material to blog about. I still plan on blogging bakes as frequently as my hubby can get through them. This delicious garlic chilli prawns with sesame noodles is a quick and easy low calorie meal that was thoroughly enjoyed by hubby and me. Definitely one we will enjoy again!

Garlic Chilli Prawns with Sesame Noodles

Serves 4

250g medium egg noodles
1 tbsp sesame oil, plus extra to serve (optional)
1 tbsp groundnut oil
bunch of spring onions, thinly sliced lengthways
300g bag beansprouts
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 red chilli, finely chopped
400g raw peeled tiger prawns
1 tbsp soft brown sugar
1 tbsp dark soy sauce

Cook the noodles following pack instructions, then rinse with cold water and drain. Toss with 1 tsp of the sesame oil.

Heat 2 tsp of the groundnut oil in a non-stick wok. Stir-fry most of the spring onions and all the beansprouts for a couple of mins until tender. Add the noodles and warm through. Stir through the remaining sesame oil and tip out of the wok onto a serving dish.

Carefully wipe out the wok and add the remaining groundnut oil. Toss in the garlic and chilli, and cook for 10 secs. Pop in the prawns and stir-fry for a couple of mins until they have just turned pink. Stir in the sugar and soy, then bubble until the sugar has melted and prawns are cooked through. Spoon on top of the noodles and sprinkle with the remaining spring onions. Add an extra drizzle of sesame oil, if you like.

Saturday, 9 June 2012

Apple Crumble Loaf

It's been a while since I last blogged, I lost my baking mojo due to changing my eating habits and a desire to get fit and lose weight. I've gone back to the gym and I am loving it, I already feel so much better and seeing great results. Of course my boys have been deprived since Easter of home-baked goodies and so I decided to treat them with this Apple Crumble Loaf. Suffice to say it didn't even last 2 days, it flew off the cake plate, I guess they really did miss my baking. This moist loaf cake delivers wonderful different textures and really is like an apple crumble in cake form. It would easily make a great pudding too, served with custard or cream.

Apple Crumble Loaf

Cuts into 10 slices

140g butter, cut into small pieces, plus extra for the tin
250g self-raising flour
2 tsp mixed spice
140g light muscovado sugar
100g raisins
3 large eggs, beaten
2 apples, peeled, cored and chopped (Swap the apples, for peaches, apricots or plums when they're in season)
5 tbsp milk

For the topping:
1 rounded tbsp plain flour
25g butter
25g light muscovado sugar
1 rounded tbsp roughly chopped hazelnuts

Heat the oven 160oc/140c fan/gas 3. Butter and line the base of a 2lb loaf tin with baking parchment. Tip the flour and spice into a food processor and add the butter. Whizz to make fine crumbs, then mix in the sugar. Tip into a mixing bowl and stir in the raisins, eggs, apples and milk. Mix well until everything is evenly combined, then spoon into the prepared tin and smooth the top.

To make the topping, rub the flour, butter and sugar through your fingers to make a rough crumble, then stir in the nuts. Sprinkle evenly over the cake mixture and bake for 50-55 mins, until firm to the touch and a fine skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Cool in the tin for 15 mins, then turn out and cool on a wire rack.

Monday, 26 March 2012

Revisited Chocolate Guinness Cake

Sorry for my lack of blogging, I've been unwell with a dreadful cold (3rd one this year and better be the last) and my hubby went on a back to back business trip to Buenos Aires and New York. So not much baking has been done, except for some cookies and muffins for my son and his friends. My hubby arrived back from New York early on St Patrick's Day so I was pleased to have an excuse to bake our favourite Chocolate Guinness Cake again. After 10 days of dining out everyday he was very happy to come home to my home-baked goodies.

Chocolate Guinness Cake

For the cake
250ml Guinness
250g unsalted butter, cut into pieces
75g cocoa
400g caster sugar
142ml sour cream
2 eggs
1 tbsp vanilla extract
275g plain flour
2 ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda

For the topping
300g Philadelphia cream cheese
150g icing sugar
125ml double or whipping cream
edible green glitter or shamrock sprinkles

Preheat the oven to gas mark 4/180˚C/fan oven 160˚C. Line a 23cm/9inch springform tin. Start by pouring the Guinness into a large, wide saucepan and add the butter; heat until the butter's melted, at which time you should whisk in the cocoa and sugar. Beat the sour cream with eggs and vanilla and then pour in the pan of brown, buttery, beer and finally whisk in the flour and bicarbonate of soda.

Pour the cake batter into the prepared cake tin and bake for 45 minutes to an hour. Leave to cool completely in the tin on a cooling rack, as it's quite a damp cake.

When the cake's cold sit it on a flat platter or cake stand and get on with the icing. Lightly whip the cream cheese until smooth, sieve over the icing sugar and then beat them both together. Add the cream and beat again until it makes a spreadable consistency.

Ice the top of the black cake so that it resembles the frothy top of the famous pint. Sprinkle with edible green glitter or shamrock sprinkles.

Thursday, 8 March 2012

Nutty Nuggets of Deliciousness

I was watching This Morning last week and I always enjoy the cooking segment. That day Fay Ripley was making a few recipes from her new cookbook, What's for dinner? and these Nutty Nuggets were one of the recipes. I knew I had to make these asap and was happy to discover I had all the ingredients in my cupboards, yay! I can not begin to describe how absolutely divine these nuggets of deliciousness are, let's just say they are seriously addictive, they melt in your mouth and did not last long. These sweet hazelnut, almond and chocolate nuggets are a must bake!

Nutty Nuggets of Deliciousness

100g whole blanched hazelnuts
100g ground almonds
150g plain flour
60g golden caster sugar
150g butter, softened
0.3 x 400g jar of chocolate hazelnut spread (nutella)

Preheat the oven to 180oc/fan oven 160oc/gas mark 4.

Line 2 baking trays with baking parchment. Spread the hazelnuts out on a roasting tray and place in the oven for 8-10 minutes, or until lightly golden. Leave to cool slightly, then blitz the nuts in a food processor into fine crumbs.

Add the almonds, flour, sugar and butter to the processor and whizz until it all comes together.

Roll little teaspoon-sized amounts of the mixture in your hands to make balls of dough the size of large marbles. Slightly flatten, then space out on baking trays and bake for 15-20 minutes.

Cool completely on the trays then sandwich together with a blob of chocolate spread. Store in the fridge and take out shortly before serving.

Thursday, 1 March 2012

Tea Brack

I've never baked a Tea Brack but it's really very similar to a tea/fruit loaf which I have baked many times. This traditional Irish cake is normally baked at Halloween and the Irish word 'breac' means speckled, which refers to all the fruit. This delicious tea-time treat is moist and full of flavour, the orange liqueur really adds to that. You can't beat a slice of buttered brack with a hot cup of tea!

Tea Brack

Serves 8-10

300ml hot tea (use 2 normal teabags and 1 Earl Grey)
180g sultanas
180g raisins
100g dried stone dates, chopped (I used currants)
1 eggs, beaten
225g self-raising flour
150g light brown sugar
1-2 tbsp Cointreau or other orange-flavoured liqueur
2 tsp mixed spice
2 tbsp honey, to glaze

The day before you want to make the brack, make the tea and leave to infuse for 15 minutes.

Place the sultanas, raisins, chopped dates (currants) into a bowl. Remove the teabags from the pot and pour the hot tea over the fruit. Cover and leave overnight to soak.

The next day, preheat the oven to 180oC/fan 160oc/gas mark 4. Line a 2lb loaf tin with parchment paper.

Add the beaten egg to the fruit mix along with the flour, sugar, Cointreau and mixed spice. Mix well with a wooden spoon.

Spoon the batter into the prepared tin and bake for 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours, or until an inserted skewer comes out clean. Leave to rest in the tin for 5 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool. While the cake is still quite warm, brush the top with the honey.

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Lemon Drizzle Loaf Cake

This Lemon Drizzle Loaf Cake recipe hails from another new addition to my cookbook collection, The Primrose Bakery Book. I am in love with this book, it is brimming with lots of delicious and yummy cupcakes, cakes, biscuits and other bakes. There are so many recipes I want to try but I opted for this simple and classical Lemon Drizzle Loaf Cake to begin with. This recipe was very easy and quick, only complaint I would have is the baking times were off considerably, had to bake for an extra 20 minutes. Despite that small issue this cake is very yummy and moreish. The sponge is fluffy yet moist with its sweet tart flavour and finished off with a crunchy tangy sugar topping.

Lemon Drizzle Loaf Cake

Makes 8-10 slices

155g self-raising flour, sifted
1 tsp baking powder
155g golden caster sugar
20g cornflour
155g unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for greasing the tin
3 large eggs
grated zest and juice of 1 lemon

For the drizzle
160g granulated sugar
juice of 2 lemons

Preheat the oven to 180oC/fan 160oC/gas mark 4. Grease 1 x 900g/2lb loaf tin and line with baking paper or a loaf tin liner.

Sift the flour, baking powder, sugar and cornflour into the bowl of a food processor. Pulse the mixture for about 4 seconds until evenly mixed. Add the butter, eggs and lemon zest and juice and process briefly until evenly blended (about 10 seconds).

Pour the mixture into the loaf tin and level the top with a spatula. Bake in the centre of the oven for about 35-40 minutes, until golden brown and a skewer inserted into the centre of the loaf coms out clean. Let the loaf cool in its tin.

Make up the drizzle by stirring the sugar into the lemon juice in a jug and mixing well. Prick the surface of the loaf all over with a fork. Pour the drizzle over the loaf and allow it to set, before removing the loaf from the tin and serving. Keep any uneaten loaf in an airtight container at room temperature for 3-4 days.

Saturday, 25 February 2012

Orange and Passion Fruit Cake

A few weeks back I bought The Boy who Bakes by Edd Kimber after reading good reviews about it. Edd Kimber was the winner of BBC Two series The Great British Bake Off in 2010 and his recipes are testament to why he won. During an afternoon spent flicking through the book I decided this Orange and Passion Fruit Cake was to be the first recipe I tried. This moist but not too sweet orange cake delivered a fresh and tropical taste with it's fragrant passion fruit glaze. Definitely a must bake and one I will make again!

Orange and Passion Fruit Cake

Serves 10

225g unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus extra for greasing
225g plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
255g caster sugar
zest of 2 large oranges
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
juice of 1 orange

For the passion fruit glaze:
3 passion fruits
125g icing sugar

Preheat the oven to 180oC/fan 160oC/gas mark 4. Butter a 2lb/900g loaf tin and line with a strip of baking parchment leaving about 2.5cm or so to hang over the edges, to make removing the cake easier. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl, and set aside.

Using an electric mixer beat the butter, 225g of the sugar and the zest until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Beat in the eggs and 3 tbsp orange juice, a little at a time, until fully incorporated.

Using a spatula, fold in the flour mixture. Scrape into the prepared tin, then level the top. Bake for 50-55 minutes or until risen and golden, and a cocktail stick inserted into the centre comes out clean.

While the cake is baking, make the syrup by putting the remaining orange juice and sugar into a small pan and simmering for a few minutes or until the sugar has dissolved.

Make holes all over the cake using a cocktail stick or skewer and brush with the orange syrup, allowing it to soak into the cake. Leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

To make the glaze, scoop out the seeds and pulp from the passion fruits and press through a sieve, retaining about 1 tbsp of the seeds. Mix the juice, icing sugar and reserved seeds together until thick and smooth, then pour over the cake, letting it drip down the sides.

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Revisting Blueberry and Apple Loaf

This Blueberry and Apple Loaf has been a firm favourite in my home for many years. I first came across this recipe in an edition of Delicious magazine and it was true love all round from the first time I baked it. I decided to revisit and blog about this beautiful loaf again as many new followers would probably appreciate this lovely recipe. This loaf cake has a delicious combination of blueberry and apple within a moist and tender sponge. Perfect to have with your afternoon cup of tea.

Blueberry and Apple Loaf

125g chilled butter, diced, plus extra for greasing
225g self-raising flour
175g golden caster sugar
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
2-3tbsp milk
2 large eating apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced
125g blueberries
2 tbsp apricot jam

Preheat the oven to 190oC/fan 170oC/gas 5. Grease a 900g loaf tin and line with baking paper or a paper loaf tin liner.

Sieve the flour into a food processor with a pinch of salt and add the butter. Whizz until it resembles breadcrumbs. Add the sugar, eggs and milk and whiz again to make a smooth mixture.

Pour half the cake mixture into the loaf tin, then scatter with half the apples and half the blueberries. Pour over the remaining cake mixture, then scatter with the remaining fruit. Bake for 1 hour, or until risen and firm. To test it, insert a skewer into the centre- it should come out clean.

Put the apricot jam into a small bowl and microwave the jam on high for 20 seconds to melt. Brush the glaze over the cake as soon as it comes out of the oven. Cool for 10 minutes in the tin, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.