Monday, 28 July 2014

Banana and Oreo Cake Truffles

You may find this hard to believe, but I try to live a life of virtue, of respectability, of discipline. However, no matter how hard I try (and I really do try), I find myself powerless to resist the occasional sinful indulgence, be it a satisfying slice of cake, a yummy little cookie, or even (as with this recipe) a quirky combination of the two. These bite-size cake 'truffles' are as curious as they are tantalizing. Each is a little moreish mouthful and perfectly suited to every occasion, from afternoon tea, to a swanky dinner. Or you could just greedily machine gun them in one after the other all by yourself. I promise I won't judge!

Prep time: 30 Mins (Plus a few hours chilling time)
Baking time: 35-40 Mins
For the Banana Cake
125g Unsalted Butter (Softened)
125g Light Muscovado Sugar
2 Large Eggs
1tsp Baking Powder
1tsp Bicarbonate of Soda
125g Self Raising Flour
1 Large Banana (Ripe and well mashed)

10 Oreos

For the Vanilla Buttercream
65g Unsalted Butter (Softened)
125g Icing Sugar
1tsp Vanilla Extract

100g Dark Chocolate (Melted)

To the kitchen! Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4, grease a 20cm cake tin and line the base with baking paper. In a large mixing bowl cream together the butter and sugar, then beat in the eggs one at a time. Sift in the baking powder, bicarb and flour, then add the mashed banana and mix to an evenly combined batter. Place in the centre of the oven for around 35-40 minutes, until a metal skewer can be cleanly removed when inserted into the middle of the cake. When you are happy it is baked, remove from the oven, leave in the tin for ten minutes, then remove from the tin (peeling off the paper) and leave to cool completely on a wire rack. Don't worry if it sinks slightly in the middle, for as you will soon see it really does not matter how the cake looks.

When the cake is cool you may proceed. Split the oreos in half, carefully peeling the creamy centre from each. Place the biscuits in a large bowl and the creamy centre in a separate smaller dish. Pulverise the biscuits with a rolling pin until fine, then break in the cake. Using your hands keep breaking up the cake until resembling coarse breadcrumbs, then set to one side.

For the buttercream cream together the butter and icing sugar, then add the vanilla extract and leftover oreo filling. Mix until smooth and velvety then add to your cake/cookie crumbs. Mix together until combined, getting right down to bottom of the bowl.

Line a mini muffin tray with cases. I use a 24 hole tin, although you may end up with more or less depending on the size you go for. Take a small amount of the truffle mix and press into a case, then repeat for the rest of the mixture. Place in the fridge for a hour or two to set. When the truffles are firm to the touch carefully remove each from its paper case and drizzle over the melted dark chocolate. Return to the fridge until the chocolate has set and boom, you're all done.

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

White Chocolate Slices

Finding an appropriate title for these sweet slices proved somewhat of a vexation, as although they certainly contain a generous amount of white chocolate, you wouldn't necessarily notice. For you see, the super rich and almost sickly saccharine characteristics of the ingredient give way to a wonderfully deep, almost toffee like flavour when added to a cake mixture and baked in the oven. These slices are a most excellent showcase for such alchemy, with flavours of light vanilla caramel and a soft, yielding, almost chewy texture. It is entirely unnecessary to finish with a drizzle of bitter dark chocolate, so of course I can only recommend you do so, as it really does elevate what is already a charming little lunchtime treat into something altogether more naughty. 

And there is nothing wrong with that!

Prep time: 20 Mins
Baking time: 30-35 Mins
100g White Chocolate
165g Unsalted Butter
200g Light Muscovado Sugar
1 Large Egg and 1 Yolk
1tsp Vanilla Extract
1tsp Baking Powder
225g Plain Flour
75g Dark Chocolate (Melted)

We begin with the white chocolate. Melt together the white chocolate and butter either in the microwave or over a bain-marie, then set to one side to cool slightly. Whilst it is cooling you can grease a 21cm square tin and line entirely with baking paper.

Back to the slice mixture. In a large bowl whisk together the muscovado sugar, egg and yolk, then pour in the melted white chocolate/butter and mix to combine. Add the vanilla extract, then sift in the baking powder along with the flour and mix to a smooth, velvety batter. Spoon into your prepared tin, even to the edges, then drizzle over the melted dark chocolate. Using a flat bladed knife draw lines all over the top, which just helps blend a little of the dark chocolate into the slice mixture. Place in the centre of the oven and bake for around 30-35 minutes, until a metal skewer comes out clean when inserted into the middle of the baked mixture, then remove from the oven and leave in the tin to cool.

When cool carefully remove from the tin, peeling off the paper then slice. How big or small you make your slices I shall leave up to you!

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Ten Minute Mug Cake

A cake, made from scratch in under ten minutes, with minimal ingredients, minimal equipment and minimal effort?

Lunacy I hear you cry! Call for the men in white coats! But wait, for as eccentric as I may be I speak the truth. Even at a leisurely pace you can have these little cakes ready to go in mere minutes and they are a blooming revelation. You don't even need cake tins, or ramekins, or any specialist baking equipment. All that is required is a small dish, a mug, a spoon, a sheet of clingfilm and an abundance of enthusiasm.

The version below is for a delicious carrot cake, with sweet spicing and a syrupy top but you can freestyle until your heart is content. I've made apple versions, jammy bakewell versions and even cheeky chocolatey versions. You just need to have confidence in yourself and give your ideas a try.

Prep time: 5 Mins
Baking time: 1.5-2 Mins
25g Unsalted Butter
25g Light Muscovado Sugar
1 Egg Yolk
A dash of Orange Extract
A dash of Vanilla Extract
A pinch of Cinnamon
35g Plain Flour
A pinch of Baking Powder
50g Grated Carrot
Around 1/2tbsp of Golden Syrup (Or more if you want it really syrupy)

Before we begin a note. This quantity will make enough for one cake, perfect for when you unexpectedly need a good caking. It'll also need about 1.5-2 minutes in the microwave, although this may vary depending on the wattage (my microwave is 900w).

So with the formalities out of the way, let us begin. Grab a medium sized mug from your tree (not one of those giant ones!) and grease it. In a small bowl cream together the butter and sugar, then beat in the egg yolk. Add the extracts and spices, sift in the flour and baking powder then mix until smooth. Fold through the grated carrot and that's the mixture done.

Drizzle the golden syrup into the base of the mug then spoon over the cake mixture. Cover with a sheet of microwavable clingfilm (beware, not all clingfilm is suitable for the microwave!), pierce once with a sharp knife and place in the microwave on high for 1.5-2 minutes, until the cake mixture has risen and is slightly springy to the touch.

To serve run a flat bladed knife around the edge of your mug then turn the cake out onto a plate or into a dish. All that is left is to make the tortuous decision of what to serve it with. Personally I cannot resist a spoonful of cold vanilla ice cream!

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Toffee Apple Layer Cakes

The life of a cake maniac can often be a wearying one, with endless thoughts of sweet treats and delicious delectations constantly racing through my mind. Not an hour goes by that I am not thinking about what to bake next and everywhere I go is viewed as a new opportunity for inspiration. For that reason a trip to a cookware shop is fraught with peril, as the temptation to let my fanaticism run away with my wallet can often prove to great to resist. From simple cake tins, to gadgets and curios, to dainty plates and dishes I am like a child in a sweet shop, fighting an increasingly futile battle against the dark forces of enticement.

After one such occasion I found myself returning with (among other things) a selection of small springform cake tins and set about coming up with various recipes to christen them with. Some were successful, some not so much, but all were worth the effort. These little cakes certainly fell into the successful pile, before inevitably falling into my mouth, so I simply had to share the recipe with you all. They look and taste spectacular and work equally as well both warm with ice cream for pudding, or cold with afternoon tea. You just need to get stuck in, so what are you waiting for?

Prep time: 20 Mins
Baking time: 30 Mins
50g Unsalted Butter (Melted)
50g Light Muscovado Sugar
1 Large Egg
1/2tsp Vanilla Extract
60g Plain Flour
A pinch of Baking Powder
4 Dessert Apples

For the toffee glaze
1.5tbsp Golden Syrup
1/2tbsp Icing Sugar

So let us begin. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4, grease 4 mini springform cake tins and line each with a small disc of baking paper. Whisk together the melted butter and sugar, then add the egg along with the vanilla extract and keep whisking until combined. Sift in the flour and baking powder, then fold through until you are left with a smooth batter.

Peel, core and quarter the apples, then slice thinly. Add the sliced apples to the cake mixture and gently coat. I use my hands for this. Carefully layer the apples into each prepared tin, making sure each tin is evenly filled. You can make a pretty pattern if you have the patience, but I just tend to pile them in!

Place the tins in the centre of the oven and bake for around 30 minutes, until golden brown and just darkening at the edges. When you are happy the cakes are baked remove them from the oven, leave in the tins for 15 minutes, then carefully run a flat bladed knife around the edge of each, before turning out onto a wire rack to cool. Oh and don't forget to remove the paper disc from the base!

For the glaze all you need to do is mix together the syrup and icing sugar. I use a little cappuccino whisk for this. Brush or drizzle the glaze over each cake prior to serving and you are finished. Well done you!

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Chocolate Muesli Bars

As I type this I find myself surrounded by quite literally dozens of boxes of muesli, a result of one of my recent baking adventures. Now I do often partake in a bowl of muesli first thing, to fortify myself for the days mischief, but with such a bounty I couldn't resist the opportunity for a little experimentation. These bars, with all their buttery, chocolatey, muscovado-y cheekiness are somewhat less than wholesome, but what they lack in virtue they more than make up for with their deliciousness. In fact, they are a fantastic lunchbox treat and well worth the minimal effort it will take to create them!

Prep time: 15 Mins
Baking time: 25-30 Mins
100g Unsalted Butter (Softened)
125g Light Muscovado Sugar
1 Large Egg
50g Plain Flour
275g Coarse Muesli
250g Dark Chocolate (Melted)

Begin by preheating the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4, greasing a rectangular (26x21cm) baking tin and lining it with baking paper. In a large mixing bowl cream together the butter and sugar, then beat in the egg. Add the flour, mix to combine, then add the coarse muesli and do the same, until you are left with a consistent batter. I use a good quality, coarse muesli as I prefer the finished texture (and admittedly, I have absolutely loads of it).

Tip the muesli mixture into your prepared tin and press evenly to the edges. Bake in the centre of the oven for around 25-30 mins, until set and lightly brown on top, then remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tin.

When the mixture has cooled pour the melted chocolate all over the top. Leave to set then carefully remove from the tin and slice. There you go, all ready for your lunchbox tomorrow!