Chocolate, Pear and Hazelnut cake 13/52

8 Apr

Mmm. Yummy if I do say so myself.

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This cake benefits from the moistened of the pears combined with the richest dense crumb that comes from supplementing the flour with ground hazelnuts. Shards of dark chocolate stop the sweetness of the pears from becoming overwhelming.

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Another classic from the Good Housekeeping 101 Cakes and Bakes we had this whilst it was still warm as a desert with creme fraiche. Today I will serve it with tea for a mid afternoon delight.  Definitely one to make again.

Lemon and Blueberry Muffins and Floral Cupcakes 12/52

1 Apr

A week of small delights. MUFFINS for the team and cupcakes showing off the joy of decorating with edible flowers!

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The lovely local green grocer provided me with a great excuse to add some blueberries to my normal muffin mix au citron. 6 punnets (of slightly manky berries of blue) for a £1? Yes please kind sir.

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I whipped up a basic muffin mix (wet and dry ingredients are mixed separately and then combined to make a slightly lumpy batter) with plenty of lemon zest. At the end I rolled some blueberries in flour (to help ensure even distribution of them) and voila – muffins were ready for baking.  25 minutes later they emerged from the oven with a light tan. I treated this batch to a lemony glaze and fed them to my colleagues. Hopefully a win!

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Part 2of this week’s culinary adventure were some cupcakes that took advantage of the edible violas in the garden. They look gorgeous and didn’t taste too bad either!

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Chocolate Nutella Tear and Share bread 11/52

24 Mar

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I made this simple recipe for a picnic with our lovely friends, the mother in law and nephew’s. Fortunately I can confirm that this was universally popular 🙂

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Essentially comprised of a sweet dough mix, laced with chocolate chunks and smothered with Nutella and hazelnuts this bake was scrumptious. Most closely resembling a chocolate Chelsea Bun,  I will definitely be making this again.

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Scones 10/52

11 Mar

If you have ever made a homemade scone you will be amazed at how rewarding they are for something that requires so little effort! And you will never enjoy a shop bought one again!

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They take about 5 minutes to make and 10 to bake. Then if you are particularly greedy,  you can eat them hot from the oven dripping with cream and soaked with jam!

Simply rub some self raising flour, extra baking powder, salt and butter together with your finger tips. Once you have an even mix, stir in milk until you get a smooth dough. I use a knife for this part. Like pastry, scones dough is better if you touch it as little as possible.

Flour your surface and pop the dough on it. I don’t roll mine out I just beat it with the edge of my hand until it is about 2cm thick. Dip your cutter in flour between each slice. This helps your scones to rise.  Cut out as many thick rounds as you can, bake and enjoy!

As I have been a real bumpkin in the past few weeks I was able to serve these with homemade jam.

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I took advantage of a ridiculous offer of £4 for 2kg of cherries and made masses of cherry jam and conserve. The conserve benefited from a slug of damson gin and some vanilla.

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Rhubarb and vanilla is my favourite and made with early forced rhubarb its a delightful pink colour!  I have also finally sorted out a custom stamp so my baking creations can now be labelled up!

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Plum Kuchen 9/52

3 Mar

Mr M’s favourite cake. This is a full on plum and almond sensation, this week it was super pretty as we had yellow and red plums.

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Kuchen is a simple cake/tart that has a high impact on your taste buds.  The base is an almond paste, made from sugar, butter, lemon zest and ground almonds. Once rubbed to breadcrumbs a quarter of the mix is set aside for the crumble like topping. And egg is beaten into the remainder to make a paste. The paste is then used to line a fluted loose bottomed tin and refrigerated for half an hour.

Meanwhile a mountain of plums are stoned and chopped. For some reason these are more delicious if homegrown 🙂  I am really keen to try making this with Dittisham plums. Another option is a red, yellow,  green traffic light version using greengages…

To the refrigerated base a thin layer of marzipan is added. Then the plums top this and are sprinkled with the crumble mix.

40 minutes in the oven makes a delightful tart with a mix of textures. Crumbly topping, juicy plums, slightly caramelized marzipan that it’s chewy in contrast to the crisp base.

 

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This is best eaten quickly and is delicious hot or cold.

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Bara Brith 8/52

23 Feb

Yummy tea cake this week 🙂 

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My favourite part of this recipe is soaking the dried fruit in Earl Grey tea and dark brown sugar. Why? Smells amazing. Looks like the most unctuous brown goo you have ever seen. I know that the juicy plump fruit will be sweet and bergamot scented and will explode with flavour when I eat a slice slathered with salty butter!

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I first made this cake when I worked for the wonderful Sheelin Davies at her Deli about 7 years ago. It was a really good seller and introduced me the delights of cake that you eat with butter (the savoury ambrosia as I like to think of it)!

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So once my fruit was soaked (raisins and figs,  none of the devil food peel) this was simples. Just add eggs, flour, oil and beat till smooth. Cook the batter inappropriate loaf tin for about an hour at 150C.

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Turn out, cool. Serve with a brew and some butter. Keeps really well and is a less stick to your teeth version of malt loaf!

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I also managed to squeeze in the making of some baby girl cupcakes for the latest arrival in the gorgeous Neale family. Mini cupcakes to celebrate my Mum’s house move also went down well!

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Peanut butter cookies 7/52

19 Feb

Gooey, salty, nutty, choc chip heaven. These are my favourite cookies and so simple. Another Hummingbird Bakery classic which I love to make.

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Butter is creamed with 2 types of sugar (muscavado and caster) until light and fluffy. A generous few dollops of chunky peanut butter and some vanilla essence are beaten in with an egg. Bicarbonate and some flour finish the essential mixture (chocolate is apparently an optional ingredient in some parallel universe!)

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Dollops of mix were spooned onto baking trays and then baked for 10 minutes at 170C.

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It’s important with cookies that you allow lots of space for spreading and that you cook them for as long as the recipe says. They will be gooey when you take time out of the oven. This is important to keep the central gooeyness which is integral to an A grade cookie! As the cool. The butter in them solidifies, giving them a crunch and goo all at the same time! Happy days.

These were yummy, but I knew they would be as it’s a recipe I have made quite a lot! Opted for something simple this week as we have been in DIY chaos!

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Maybe Bara Brith next week 🙂

Rhubarb and custard cupcakes 6/52

11 Feb

My favourite bake so far 🙂 These were inspired by the cover recipe of this month’s Sainsburys magazine and my love of rhubarb!

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As we were a visiting Devon Mr M’s Dad kindly provided us some yummy forced rhubarb free of charge 🙂  I love the story of how forced Rhubarb is grown in big sheds by candlelight, creaking as it grows so quickly! Our garden rhubarb has just started to peak through the ground and whilst it does taste delicious its not the candy pink of the forced stuff! I digress…

Ingredients (eggs, butter, sugar, flour, vanilla essence, rhubarb, icing sugar and custard) were assembled, bagged and travelled with me to Nottingham to visit lil sis. As she lives in a student house baking trays and hand whisk also got a holiday North!

Butter, sugar and flour were beaten until a fine sand was formed. Eggs, vanilla and some milk were added to make the batter. Small chunks of rhubarb were mixed in. The mix was baked for half an hour.

The next day more than a little hungover after a night out with uni mates I completed the recipe 🙂 A birthday was the excuse for some pretty pink cupcakes which I also made this week.

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6 small sliced of rhubarb were boiled in a sugar syrup until soft. The rhubarb was then removed and baked in a hot oven to make decorative slivers. The syrup was used to flavour standard buttercream. The buttercream was halved and one portion coloured pink.  A small cone was removed from the top of each cake and custard spooned into the gap. Cake was stuffed back in! These were then iced with pink and cream swirls and decorated with a slice of rhubarb.

“Yummy” was the verdict of Mr M and lil sister. I concur! These were moist, rhubarb flavoured and sweet. They look super cute as well! Definitely one to make again 🙂  Next time I shall aim to pipe the icing and have firmer slices of rhubarb.

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Marmalade cake 5/52

10 Feb

This week I have Sheila and Sam to thank for the Marmalade cake I made. Sheila provided a jar of homemade thick cut Marmalade and Sam gave me the wonderful Great British Bake Off book, which supplied the recipe.

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Again this was essentially a creamed sponge mix. 3 tablespoons of marmalade were added to the batter for flavour. 45 minutes in the oven and a light golden cake emerged.

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The cake was glazed with Marmalade whilst still warm. Once cooled thick white icing was drizzled on. Slices of peel peeked through appealingly, this looked like a rather nice tea cake.

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So the verdict? I have been told that it tastes lovely. I agree the sponge is delicious, but I am sadly not the biggest Marmalade fan. Instead this cake went to a worthy cause; our next door neighbour Mandy.

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More baking took place in Devon where a delicious sponge filled with cream and strawberries was created with the lovely Mrs M snr. It was beautifully decorated with a Moshi Monster by Mr M for his nephew’s 8th birthday.

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Next week back to something more predictable for me. Rhubarb and custard cupcakes. And probably some pink birthday cakes 🙂

Super Chocolate Cake 4/52

29 Jan

Four weeks in seemed like an appropriate time to make a chocolate cake. In fact I am surprised that Mr M let me take this long to bake him this!

In order to justify the purchase of yet another cookbook I thought it would be a really good idea to pick a cake from my newest acquisition – Tea with Bea. It was quite a difficult choice as this has a pretty scrumptious selection of chocolate cakes. I settled for the Chocolate Buttermilk Cake, as a base for a devilish looking celebration cake 🙂

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The basic batter for this cake was made from beaten eggs and sugar combined with melted chocolate and butter. Buttermilk and flour were gradually incorporated until a thick glossy mixture was ready to be baked.

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After a good while in the oven two monster sandwich cakes emerged, ready to face their icing smothered future’s!

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We saved the decorating for a later date as it was quite an involved process. Mr M carefully sliced one of the cakes in half. I prepared a rich chocolate buttercream (the recipe wanted am Italian style meringue cream but time didn’t permit).  A chocolate fudge icing was also needed to coat the cake.  This was fun to make. Cream, golden syrup and butter were heated together and then poured over small pieces of chocolate. I followed the instructions carefully, as the aim was to create a glossy emulsion. The mix was left to stand for a minute before I carefully mixed it from the centre with small movements. It took a few minutes before anything happened and then a gorgeous, shiny icing emerged!

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The cake was assembled with layers of fudge sauce topped with buttercream. The outside was then smeared with buttercream and refrigerated for half an hour. Mr M took charge of carefully covering the cake with the fudge icing, he got a great finish!

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A smattering of crystallized rose petals and it was ready to serve. Went down well with my family and Mr M says it’s a perfect 10!

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I also managed to squeeze in another bake for our dear friends who needed some cakes to celebrate the birth of their baby boy in style!

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