Friday, 28 October 2011

Halloween Weekend!

Halloween is a great excuse to get creative with your baking. With a little imagination you can easily transform standard recipes into dastardly delights, that will thrill (or even terrify) any trick or treaters knocking at your door!

If you need some inspiration check out these deliciously diabolical creations from some of the UK's best cakeries...

Wednesday, 26 October 2011


With Halloween and Bonfire Night fast approaching, not to mention the festive season I thought it'd be good to post something that's great for parties and especially kids. Cakeballs are basically spongecake bound with butter icing and usually coated in chocolate. What's really good about them is you can mould, decorate and flavour how you want. Also, although this recipe uses butter icing you can bind them with whatever you like (Lemon curd is really good!). 

Prep time: 20 Mins
Baking time: 45 Mins
200g Unsalted Butter (Softened)
200g Caster Sugar
3 Large Eggs
1Tsp Vanilla Extract
200g Self Raising Flour

For the Butter Icing and Topping
100g Butter (Softened)
150g Icing Sugar
50g Cocoa Powder
1Tbsp Milk
100g White Chocolate

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4 and grease/line base of a 20cm tin. In a bowl cream together the butter and sugar then add the eggs, one at a time. Add the vanilla extract, sift in the flour then mix it all together until you get a smooth batter. Spoon into the tin and bake for 40-45 mins, until a skewer comes out clean from the middle. Leave to cool, then remove from the tin.

In a bowl sift in the icing/cocoa then beat in the butter, followed by the milk until smooth and creamy. Crumble the cake into a separate bowl then add the chocolate icing and bind it together. Roll into balls, or shape how you like (You might find this easier if you dust your hands with a little icing sugar), then place on a tray and leave to set.

Once they've set melt the white chocolate over a bain-marie (Or use the microwave if you are REALLY sure how long to do it for!), then drizzle over the set cakeballs. You can also decorate with anything else you like at this stage (E.g. Sprinkles, icing flowers, etc)! Let them set one last time and you're done!

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Chocolate Stout Cake

I forget where I found this recipe, but it's a really good one and very easy to make. The stout gives the cake a lovely depth of flavour and you can use whatever brand you like, including the popular Dublin one!

Prep Time: 10 Mins
Baking Time: 75 - 90 Mins
225g Butter (Softened)
350g Soft Brown Sugar
4 Eggs
115g Cocoa Powder
225g Plain Flour
1Tsp Baking Powder
400ml Stout

Right, so you can start by preheating the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4 and grease/line a 23cm springform tin. Beat the butter and sugar together until creamy then add the eggs, one at a time. In a separate bowl mix together the cocoa, baking powder and flour. Pour about a quarter of the stout in with the butter/sugar/eggs, mix it together then sift in a quarter of the cocoa/flour and do the same. Repeat until all of the stout and flour has been combined. Pour into the tin and bake in the centre of the oven for 75-90 mins, until set and if it starts to brown too much on top you can cover with some baking paper until it's done. Let it cool in the tin, then remove and eat!

Monday, 17 October 2011

National Baking Week - 17th ~ 23rd October 2011

Not that you should all need an excuse, but it's national baking week this week so get out there and get baking!

Friday, 14 October 2011

Chocolate and Hazelnut Cake

This one comes from a Nigel Slater recipe. You can find it online, although the recipe does seems to change slightly depending on the source. I know this version works really well and is a lovely one to have with a tea or coffee. I use a large pestle and mortar to bash together my chocolate and nuts, but if you don't have one you can use a sturdy bowl and rolling pin, or even a food processor.

Prep time: 15 Mins
Baking time: 45 - 50 Mins
250g Unsalted Butter (Softened)
250g Golden Caster Sugar
4 Large Eggs
125g Self Raising Flour
4Tsp Strong Hot Dark Coffee
120g Dark Chocolate (70% Cocoa if you can)
75g Toasted Chopped Hazelnuts (You can pick these up pretty easily from most supermarkets)

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4 and grease/line the base of a 20cm deep loose-bottomed cake tin. In a large pestle and mortar bash together the chocolate and hazelnuts until they look like loose gravel (You might have to do this a bit at a time), then set aside. In a bowl mix together the softened butter and sugar until light and creamy, then incorporate the eggs one at a time. Mix in half the flour, add the coffee, then the rest of the flour. Add in the choc/nut mixture and fold it through until the whole lot is fully mixed together. Pour into the tin and bake in the centre of the oven for around 45 minutes, until a metal skewer comes out moist but clean. It's probably worth checking about 35 minutes in and if it's looking dark enough on top, then you can cover with some foil to stop it burning. When your happy that it's cooked remove it from the oven, let a cool for a bit in the tin, then remove and peel off the baking paper. Done and done!

Sunday, 9 October 2011

Pineapple upside-down cake

To commemorate the legendary Thomas Keller 'popping up' with his French Laundry at Harrods, I thought I'd put up a really great and easy recipe I found in his book Ad Hoc at Home. Again I've anglicised it a bit, but still think you get a really lovely result. Although this uses pineapple you can substitute for whatever you fancy!

Prep time: 20 Mins
Baking time: 40 Mins
For the 'Pan Shmear'
115g Unsalted Butter (At room temperature)
1 1/2Tbsp Honey
1/2Tsp Dark Rum
220g Light Brown Sugar
1/4Tsp Vanilla Extract

1 Extra Sweet Pineapple

For the cake batter
180g Plain Flour
2Tsp Baking Powder
115g Unsalted Butter (At room temperature)
125g Caster Sugar
1/2Tsp Vanilla Extract
2 Large Eggs
1Tbsp plus 1Tsp Milk

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4 and grease a 23cm cake tin. In a bowl combine the butter, honey, rum, sugar and vanilla then beat until smooth. Using a spatula spread the schmear over the base of the tin until it's covered, then sprinkle lightly with salt. You will have some left over, so you can keep that for next time in the fridge (up to a week) or freezer (up to month) until you need it again. Peel/Core the pineapple then slice into pieces a few mm thick. You can freestyle here and make them whatever shape you fancy. Lay the sliced pineapple, slightly overlapping on top of the schmear.

Now for the cake mix. In a fresh bowl mix together the butter and sugar until light and creamy. Add the vanilla, then the eggs one at a time. Beat in the milk, then sift in the flour and baking powder about a third at a time. Spread the batter over the pineapple and bake in the centre of the oven. After about 15 minutes rotate the tin, then bake for another 20-25 minutes until a skewer comes out clean. Let the cake cool in the tin for about half an hour, then comes the tricky bit!

Run a palette knife around the edges of the cake, then invert onto your serving plate and remove from the tin. This is a really nice one to serve warm, but you can keep the leftover cake for a few days in an airtight container and devour at your leisure!

Saturday, 8 October 2011

Friday, 7 October 2011

Things I want...

I don't like Valrhona chocolate, I love it. In my opinion it's by far the best chocolate available, rich and complex in flavour with a wonderful near organic texture. A luxury product, up there with white truffle and foie gras, it's used by the worlds best chefs, yet relatively affordable and easy to find. As far as I'm concerned there's chocolate and then there's Valrhona, so to find out about this new book has filled me with great excitement!

Once I've got hold of a copy I'll give it a proper review, so watch this space!