Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Peppermint Chocolate Cake

There is absolutely nothing wrong with a simple chocolate cake, but now and again I cannot resist experimenting with more unusual chocolatey combinations, be it floral, fruity or even fiery. This time I've marbled a dark chocolate and vanilla with peppermint infused white chocolate to create a fiendishly fudgy beast, with notes of caramel, almonds and of course peppery mint. It's a real eye-widener of a cake which delights, intrigues and will have your lucky friends and family bounding back for seconds and thirds!

Prep time: 25 Mins
Baking time: 40-45
150g unsalted butter
100g Dark Chocolate
100g White Chocolate
85g Soft Dark Brown Sugar
85g Light Muscovado Sugar
3 Large Eggs (Beaten)
1tsp Peppermint Extract
1tsp Vanilla Extract
150g Ground Almonds
1tsp Baking Powder
2tbsp Plain Flour

Ready... Steady... Go! Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4, grease a 20cm loaf tin and line with baking paper.

Next, you will need to dig out two large heatproof bowls. Melt together half of the butter with the dark chocolate in one and in the other, the rest of butter with the white chocolate. You can do this over a bain-marie or in the microwave. When they have both melted together and are smooth and silky set to one side to cool slightly.

Add the dark brown sugar to the dark chocolate and the light muscovado sugar to the white chocolate. Follow this with half of the beaten egg into each, then mix together. To the dark chocolate mixture pour in the vanilla extract and to the white chocolate, peppermint extract. Sprinkle half of the ground almonds into each, then half of the baking powder, then finally a tablespoon of flour per bowl. That should be all of the ingredients gone so fold each mixture together until evenly combined. The smells from each bowl will be nothing short of heavenly!

Blob half of the dark chocolate mixture into your prepared tin, then half of the white chocolate mixture. Repeat for both, then take a flat bladed knife and draw swirls to create a marbled pattern. Bake in the centre of the oven for around 40-45 minutes, until a metal skewer inserted in the middle of the cake comes out slightly sticky with crumbs, then remove and leave to cool completely in the tin.

To serve, carefully remove from the tin, peeling off the paper. Slice into big chunks and share...

Monday, 16 June 2014

My Baking Adventures - May/June 2014

Here's a little look at some of my recent baking adventures. Many of the recipes are on the blog, but if you have any questions don't hesitate to get in touch...

Monday, 9 June 2014

Raspberry and Rose Cheesecake

Baking is my passion, some may even say my obsession and every single thing I bake (successful or otherwise) fills me with joy. But that is not to say I am satisfied only by baking, for many of my favourite treats require no baking at all. Take this cheeky cheesecake for instance, with all its sophistication and luxuriance. It's a real show stopper of a pudding, yet could not be more straightforward to make and needs absolutely no baking at all. All that is necessary is a few simple ingredients, a small amount of time and an abundance of enthusiasm!

Prep time: 20 Mins (Plus some chilling time)
200g Digestive Biscuits (Crushed finely)
115g Unsalted Butter (Melted)

500g Soft Cream Cheese
200g Caster Sugar
100ml Single Cream
10g Gelatine Crystals
1.5-2tsp Rose Water (Depending on how rosey you want it)
300g Fresh Raspberries

If you are ready, then let us proceed. In a large bowl mix together the crushed biscuits and butter, then tip into a 23cm springform cake tin, or onto a large round serving plate with a 23cm cake ring sitting on it. Press the biscuits into the base of the tin or plate, all the way to the edges and leave to one side for 15 minutes.

For the filling, beat the sugar into the cream cheese. In a small saucepan (or microwave) warm the cream until steaming hot, then remove from the heat and add the gelatine crystals. Stir until combined, or if the crystals aren't dissolving sit your saucepan or jug into a bowl of boiling water. Keep mixing and they will eventually dissolve. Pour the cream into the cheese, along with the rose water and whisk until combined and starting to thicken. Pour the mixture onto your biscuit base then leave to one side for 30 minutes.

When the base has cooled for half an hour, arrange your fresh raspberries on top, pressing them in slightly. Leave again to one side until completely cool, then place in the fridge for at least 4 hours, ideally 6.

The cheesecake is now ready to be carefully removed from the tin and served. Before this though a couple of tips. I find it easier to remove if I place the cheesecake in the freezer for 20 minutes prior to removal, just to firm the edge slightly. I also run a flat knife with a rounded blade along the edge to help free the cake from the tin. Aside from that, I have no more wisdom to impart. Over to you!

Monday, 2 June 2014

Polenta and Yoghurt Cake with Blueberries and Lemons

A traditional cake is a such a sweet comfort, but now and again it's always fun to try something a little more from the left field. As unusual as the cake may seem it is no less satisfying, with a light sponge studded with jewels of blueberry and a sticky lemon syrup glaze. I finf using fine polenta in place of most of the flour gives the cake a wonderful golden colour and a flavour as curious as it is delicious. In fact, why not challenge your lucky guests to guess what you have used to create this glorious baked beauty? If you can bring yourself to share that is!

Prep time: 20 Mins
Baking time: 50-55 Mins
175g Fine Polenta (Not the pre-cooked kind)
50g Plain Flour
175g Golden Caster Sugar
1tsp Bicarbonate of Soda
2 Large Eggs (Beaten)
125g Full Fat Yoghurt
Zest of 1 Lemon
200g Blueberries

For the syrup
The Zest of 1 Lemon
Juice of 2 Lemons
50g Caster Sugar

To the kitchen! Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4, grease a 20cm deep loose-bottomed baking tin and line the base with baking paper. In a large mixing bowl add the polenta, flour, caster sugar and bicarb, then mix to combine. In a separate bowl or large jug beat the eggs into the yoghurt, then pour into the dry ingredients along with the lemon zest. Mix until you are left with a smooth, consistent batter then fold through half of the blueberries. Pour the batter into your prepared tin, scatter over the remaining blueberries, then bake in the centre of the oven for around 50-55 minutes, until a metal skewer can be cleanly removed when inserted in the middle of the cake. When you are happy the cake is baked remove from the oven and set to one side whilst you prepare the syrup.

Speaking of which, add the zest, lemon juice and caster sugar to a small pan, then place on a medium heat. When the sugar has dissolved turn the heat up high, then leave to bubble away until just becoming syrupy. You don't want it too thick or it won't soak into the top of the cake.

When the syrup is almost ready remove the cake from the tin, peeling off the paper then place on a wire rack. Finish by brushing over the hot syrup and leaving to steep until cool. There you go, all finished!