I have been asked to bake a cake for Shrewsbury’s Depressed Cake Shop on Tuesday 10th October at Shrewsbury Museum and Art Gallery in partnership with the charity Shropshire Mind. The Depressed Cake Shop is a chance for the community to come together and consider and discuss issues around depression.
All the cakes will contain an element of grey to symbolise the grey cloud that can hang over someone struggling with depression.
I have trialled my cake today to make sure I have the recipe spot on before baking it again for next week’s event. I have chosen to make a chocolate orange cake based on Claudia Roden’s orange and almond cake, but with the added boost of chocolate. Nigella has a similar recipe but I have reduced the sugar by 50g and upped the treacly flavour of the sugar by using light soft brown rather than caster sugar.
If you are in or near Shrewsbury next Tuesday then please pop into the museum between 11am and 2pm to support this very good cause.
Place the oranges in a pan and cover with cold water. Bring to the boil and simmer for 1½ hours until the oranges are soft. Drain and allow to cool. Cut the oranges in half and remove any pips. Place in a food processor and pulse until pureed. You can do this in a food mill or chop finely and push through a sieve if you don’t have a food processor.
Preheat your oven to 180°c or gas mark 4 or use the baking oven of the four oven Aga (or the roasting oven of the two oven Aga using a cake baker or cold shelf).
Break the eggs into a large bowl and beat until combined. Add all the other ingredients and stir well until the mixture is smooth. Pour the mixture into an 18cm cake tin lined with baking parchment. Place in the centre of the oven and bake for 40-50 minutes until springy to the touch. Cool on a wire rack in the tin for ten minutes and then remove from the tin and allow to cool completely.
I have decorated my cake with a grey cloud made out of fondant icing coloured grey and piped with a darker grey icing made with icing sugar, food colouring and a few drops of water.
UPDATE (9/10/17): A lovely person called Chantal emailed me to remind me that we aren’t supposed to make cakes with nuts in, in case of allergy. I really should read things properly! So, instead I have made rice crispie cakes, because who doesn’t love a crispie cake? They are always the first to sell on any cake stall. I hope they sell well tomorrow.
Easter is almost upon us and in this house that means an Easter Egg hunt on Easter Sunday. I (cough) The Easter Bunny writes a load of clues and hides them round the garden, each clue having a little pile of eggs next to it. The girls love it, although the eldest might feel a bit old for it this year. However, the Easter Bunny stands for none of this “I am too old now” malarkey.
It was a great treat, then, when I received a gorgeously presented package in the post from Hotel Chocolat.
Especially when hiding inside were their Dozen Quail Egglets. These are very tempting bite sized (if you have a big mouth like me) chocolate eggs. Two each of Salted Caramel, Peanut Butter, Raspberry Supermilk, Hazelnut Praline, Strawberries & Cream and Mousse au Chocolate.
I admit to having snaffled most of them all by myself, well, the girls will have enough chocolate eggs next Sunday. All of the chocolate eggs are as delicious as the next. My favourite though is probably the peanut butter flavoured. I am a sucker for anything that has peanut butter in it.
Hotel Chocolat has a fantastic range of Easter goodies available and they come in such lovely gift bags that whoever you buy for will feel very spoilt indeed.
NB: This post is a review of an item sent to me for free for review purposes by Hotel Chocolat. All opinions are my own and are honest.
We are off to a friend’s straight after school tonight so I have made these brownies to take with us for a treat. I have also asked one of the students attending Sunday’s bread making course for cake requests and brownies are at the top of her cake list. It made sense then, to trial these and cook again on Saturday, ready for Sunday.
They are an adaptation of Ruby Tandoh’s excellent Salted Milk Chocolate Brownies from The Guardian Cook section published on 7 February this year. I can’t resist fiddling with recipes so I have added peanut butter, used dark chocolate instead of milk and used half and half of caster sugar and soft dark brown sugar. I have also swapped the plain flour with wholemeal spelt.
When I made Ruby’s brownies the first time, (with just a few changes), it became quite clear that by sprinkling sea salt on the top of these beauties just makes them even more tempting and addictive.
If you have a fancy for a gooey, deeply chocolatey, salty and nutty cake (and who wouldn’t?) get your teeth wrapped around one (or two, or three) of these.
Makes 9 brownies
175g unsalted butter
150g dark chocolate
50g cocoa powder
100g caster sugar
100g soft dark brown sugar
50g wholemeal spelt flour
¼ tsp fine salt
About 100g crunchy peanut butter
Sea salt flakes
Melt the chocolate and the butter together in a bowl over a pan of barely simmering water. Stir in the cocoa powder. Leave to cool slightly.
Whisk the sugars with the eggs in a large bowl until the mixture is thick and doubled in volume.
Pour the chocolate mixture onto the egg mixture and fold carefully together until well mixed. Add the flour and the salt and fold in. Pour the batter into a foil lined 20cm square cake tin. Drop blobs of peanut butter into the batter and swirl with a skewer. Sprinkle the sea salt flakes over the top.
Bake in a preheated oven at 180°c, gas mark 4 for 25-30 minutes or in the Aga’s baking oven with the rack set on the bottom rung for 20 minutes until the brownie is crusted on top but still has a bit of a wobble. It should be undercooked so that when it cools it is fudge and dense in texture with a crust.
This is my contribution to this month’s We Should Cocoa Challenge. This month it is very exciting as the challenge is a year old (time flies!) and Chele wanted everyone to make a cake suitable for a first birthday.
My cupcakes are inspired by the wonderful blogs of both Chele and Choclette, the brilliant bloggers behind We Should Cocoa. They have both recently featured honeycomb – Chele made Nigella’s Hokey Pokey and Choclette reviewed some very delicious looking honeycomb draped in Valrhona (drooling!). I knew I had to make some honeycomb and soon. Then I thought about a cupcake featuring honeycomb. When I was making them it seemed obvious that I needed to use spelt flour as I learned about spelt flour from Choclette. The spelt flour has the consistency of wholemeal and so adds a bit more texture to the cupcake. I happen to like this, but if you prefer yours in the traditional style then by all means use plain flour.
And, of course, if you are only one year old you don’t want a great big slab of cake (or you may want a big slab but your mummy won’t let you), so a cupcake is perfect.
Thanks to Chele and Choclette for a fabulous monthly challenge which has inspired me many times during the last year.
Before I divulge the recipe I have a few confessions to make. I cooked the cupcakes with honeycomb sprinkled inside the batter, but all it did was dissolve and escape out of the top of the cakes so I wouldn’t bother with doing that again. My instructions for making the cupcakes will leave this bit out. Also, when I was making the hokey pokey I reduced the amount of bicarb from the original recipe from 1½tsps to 1 tsp.
To make the cakes, first make the hokey pokey as described by Chele. Then make the cupcake batter as follows.
110g caster sugar
110g softened butter (unsalted)
pinch of salt
20g cocoa powder
1 heaped tsp instant coffee powder
100ml hot water
140g flour (spelt or plain)
1 tsp baking powder
Method Dissolve the cocoa powder and the instant coffee in the hot water and allow to cool. Place all the ingredients into a large bowl and whisk until well combined. Spoon into cupcake cases and bake in a preheated oven at 180°c, gas mark 4 or in the baking oven of the Aga for 12-15 minutes until cooked. When you place a fingertip on top the cake should spring back. Remove the cakes in their cases to a wire rack to cool.
This is my entry for this month’s We Should Cocoa Challenge. This month’s challenge is to make a swiss roll or roulade. Well, you have already witnessed my roulade attempt for last week’s Sunday lunch. Well, this was this week’s Sunday dessert. My two girls have fallen in love with mint choc chip ice cream and I keep having to buy tubs from the supermarket to sate their appetite. I have wanted to make mint ice cream for a while. The mint in our garden is in its prime, a month earlier than usual. It is also rampant so finding another use for it is a big bonus.
I have always wondered how you got the mint flavour in there – do you infuse the cream or infuse a sugar syrup? (Obviously, if you are a commercial ice cream seller you use mint flavouring and you don’t go in for this infusing malarkey). I googled mint ice cream and found that you can infuse the cream or you can infuse a sugar syrup. I decided to go with the former.
My first attempt was a disaster. I decided that to get the green colour you probably needed to chop the leaves and the stalks. I forgot that mint turns brown when bruised and the cream turned a mucky brown colour on top – not very appetising.
So, the second time round I removed the leaves from the stalks and discarded the stalks (the chickens loved them). I kept the leaves whole and infused them for an hour in the warm cream. This seemed to work very well but the cream wasn’t very green. So I thought I would puree the mint leaves and push them through a sieve with the cream again, risking that this may turn the cream brown. Well, in actual fact I nearly turned the cream red (reminder to self – stick blenders are extremely sharp and will cut your fingers!). Fortunately, all blood was contained well away from the infused cream and I had no reason to tell my guests that we were having mint and strawberry ice cream, as suggested by my helpful neighbour. I also still have my index finger and thumb intact, just about.
Anyway, as it turns out the infused cream did have a subtle green glow about it.
Not quite commercial mint choc chip green but lovely anyway. I was surprised by the taste, it is nothing like commercial mint ice cream. It had a subtle mint taste with a slight earthiness about it. I really enjoyed it. I don’t think the kids were as impressed though because it didn’t taste like what they are used to.
I could have just served it as it is but I still wanted to enter this month’s challenge, so I thought an arctic roll might just hit the spot.
I made a traditional swiss roll rather than a roulade. The difference for me between the two is the flour used in a swiss roll. If I was making it again I might use the roulade recipe as it is richer and not quite so dry as a swiss roll. But this did roll better. I borrowed my mum’s tin – the right size for the recipe, and rolled it straight away as it came out of the oven. Then unrolled it to fill it with ice cream. No cracks!
Next time I will make the ice cream the day before to give it time to freeze properly and I might just take James Martin’s advice to freeze the ice cream in a plastic pipe as trying to roll it in greaseproof paper was messy and difficult.
For the Mint choc chip ice cream
600ml double cream
60g mint leaves
50g caster sugar
6 egg yolks
1 dsp cornflour
1 tsp vanilla extract
50g dark chocolate, chopped into chip sized pieces
For the swiss roll
75g caster sugar
50g plain flour
25g cocoa powder
Method For the ice cream:
Pour the double cream into a saucepan and add the mint leaves. Place the pan on a medium heat and bring up to almost boiling point. Remove the pan from the heat and leave to infuse for 1 hour.
Whisk the egg yolks, sugar, cornflour and vanilla extract together until combined. Sieve the cream into a jug and discard the mint leaves. Pour the cream over the eggs and whisk well. Return this mixture to the saucepan and cook over a gentle heat, stirring all the time, until the mixture thickens and coats the back of a spoon. Allow to cool and then freeze in an ice cream maker following the manufacturer’s instructions or pour into a plastic container and place in the freezer removing every half hour for two hours to beat the mixture and remove ice crystals.
I would then recommend sourcing a clean plastic pipe as James Martin advises and freezing the ice cream in this. Otherwise, lay a piece of greaseproof paper on a worktop and spoon on the ice cream and roll up into a tube shape measuring 5cm x 30 cm. I found this quite difficult because I had made my ice cream that day and it was melting as soon as I handled it. So I would advise making the ice cream the day before to give it time to freeze properly.
For the swiss roll
Grease and line with greaseproof paper a shallow swiss roll tin measuring 33cm x 23cm.
Whisk together the eggs and the sugar in a large bowl until the whisk leaves a trail when lifted. Sieve the flour and cocoa powder together and fold very carefully into the mixture. Spread this evenly onto the tin.
Bake in a preheated oven at 200°c, gas mark 6 or with the grid shelf on the floor of the roasting oven of the Aga for 8 minutes until the sides are shrinking away from the tin.
Whilst the swiss roll is cooking, lay a piece of greaseproof paper, which is bigger than the swiss roll tray, on the worktop and dust with cocoa powder or sugar.
As soon as the swiss roll is removed from the oven carefully invert it into the greaseproof paper. Peel away the paper that is on the bottom and, using the paper underneath to help you, roll into a swiss roll. Place on a wire rack to cool.
When you are ready to serve, remove the roll of ice cream from the freezer, unroll the swiss roll. Place the ice cream in the middle and re roll the swiss roll to cover. Serve in slices.
I made this on sunday, with the first British strawberries that I have seen this year. The rolling didn’t work out too well. But I thought to myself, ‘well I will post it as it tastes good’. Then just before I post it I read Chele’s latest blog about this month’s We Should Cocoa Challenge. This month’s challenge is not an ingredient, but a technique and you guessed it – the making and rolling of a roulade/ swiss roll. Oh well, maybe more practice is needed before I can submit an entry into this month’s challenge.
Last time I made this roulade it rolled much better. But last time I had run over to my parent’s house to borrow her swiss roll tin, which measures 29cm x 18cm and has shallow sides. On Sunday I used my Aga half-sized roasting dish which measure 27cm x 16cm and so this resulted in a slightly thicker and slightly shorter cake. This made it more difficult to roll, so I think getting the right sized tin is definitely the way to go if you want to enter any challenges. If you just want a tasty cake then live a little on the edge and use a tin that is approximately the right size.
The recipe for the cake element is based on Delia’s Squidgy Chocolate Log from her Complete Cookery Course.
For the cake:
150g caster sugar
50g cocoa powder
Line a swiss roll (shallow) tin that measures 29cm x 18cm with greaseproof paper or silicone sheet.
Separate the eggs. Whisk the yolks until they start to thicken. Add the sugar and whisk until a little thicker. Sift over the cocoa powder and fold in.
In a separate and scrupulously clean bowl, whisk the egg whites until they form soft peaks. Add one third of the egg whites and fold in carefully and then add the rest of the egg whites in two further batches. Folding carefully to retain as much air as possible. Pour the mixture carefully into the prepare tin and bake in a preheated oven at 180°c, gas mark 4 or the centre of the Baking Oven of the Aga for about 20 minutes until it is springy to the touch.
Leave in the tin to cool.
For the filling:
3 tablespoons of strawberry jam
300ml double cream
about 8 strawberries
1 tbsp cocoa powder
Place a sheet of greaseproof paper, slightly larger than the cake, onto the worktop and dust with cocoa. Softly whip the cream. Turn the cake out of the tin onto the greaseproof paper. Spread the jam evenly over the surface and then spread the cream on top. Halve the strawberries and dot them on top of the cream. Using the greaseproof paper roll the cake gently into a roll. If it cracks, it will still taste good. Serve with extra double cream poured over.
It has been a very busy Easter holiday and so I am a bit behind with my posts – sorry. The next post will be the cake for which I used the crystallised violets but I have just had a look at Choclette’s blog and she reminded me that time is running out if I want to submit an entry for this month’s We Should Cocoa Challenge. Choclette chose marzipan this month and marzipan is one of my very favourite things. I adore marzipan chocolates and so the idea of cooking with marzipan and chocolate really appealed. I wanted to try something a little different but that was reminiscent of Easter. Easter, of course, means simnel cake, but I didn’t want to make a normal simnel cake. Then I thought about the pistachios I had bought and then about my chocolate hazelnut cupcakes and whether it might work if I made the same mixture but with pistachios and cooked the cake with a layer of pistachio marzipan like you do with simnel. The resulting cake was moist and chewy, much more like a brownie than a cake and was better the second day than the first when it had time to settle.
I really liked this cake/ brownie and it can be made with almonds just as easily. I urge you to have a go at making your own marzipan as it is so much nicer than shop bought. The layer of marzipan sinks to the bottom but is gloriously chewy. The people who tried this cake gave it the thumbs up and I don’t think they were just being polite.
For the pistachio marzipan
125g pistachios, finely ground in a food processor
60g caster sugar
60g icing sugar
1 tsp lemon juice
1 free range egg, lightly beaten (you will only need about half the egg)
To make the marzipan:
Place the pistachios and the caster sugar and icing sugar in a bowl and mix well. Add the lemon juice and about half the egg and mix to a soft dough. Place on a worktop dusted with icing sugar and knead until smooth. Place in the fridge until you are ready to use it. (I made mine by putting all the ingredients into a food processor and whizzing until smooth, which worked just fine).
For the cake batter:
200g softened butter
200g caster sugar
100g pistachios, finely ground in a food processor
100g spelt flour (you could use wholemeal or plain flour)
25g cocoa powder
2 tsp baking powder
Grease and line a 20cm round cake tin.
Roll out the pistachio marzipan into a disc that fits snugly in the tin and leave to one side whilst you make the cake.
Beat the butter with an electric whisk until creamy and then cream together the butter and sugar until fluffy and light. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well between each addition. Fold in the pistachios, cocoa powder, flour and baking powder.
Place half the mixture in the tin and then carefully place the disc of marzipan on top. Cover with the remaining batter, smoothing the top.
Bake in a preheated oven at 180°c, gas mark 4, for 50-60 minutes. About halfway through check the cake and cover the top with foil if it is beginning to brown. A skewer should come out clean when the cake is cooked.
Leave the cake to cool in the tin for about ten minutes and then turn onto a wire rack to cool completely.
These have been in my mind for quite a while. I have been thinking about how Nutella might taste in the middle of a fairy cake and what would happen to its consistency. I can tell the seasons from a jar of Nutella. In the winter it is almost impossible to spoon out of the jar, the cold of the cupboard has set it hard. In the summer it becomes oily and hard to keep on the knife as it is lifted out of the jar.
Well, these little cakes were made when the Nutella is of perfect consistency, on a mild spring day, when the sky is an almost azure ( I am in England after all and we don’t often get an azure sky) and the temperature is that wonderful warm on your back but don’t reach for the sun screen warm. The Nutella stayed soft in the centre of the cakes making for a lovely bite of gooeyness. This also means that there is no need for frosting – perfect.
110g light soft brown sugar
110g softened butter
120g self raising flour (or plain flour with 1 tsp baking powder added)
20g good quality cocoa
Nutella or hazelnut chocolate spread, about 6 teaspoons
Place all of the ingredients, except for the Nutella, in a large bowl and whisk well until all is combined.
Place a scant teaspoonful of the mixture into a fairy cake (mini muffin) case in a patty (mini muffin) tin. Place half a teaspoonful of Nutella on top. Cover with another scant teaspoonful of cake batter. Repeat with the remaining eleven.
Place in a preheated oven at 180°c, gas mark 4 or the baking oven of the Aga for 15-20 minutes until springy to the touch of a light finger.
This month’s We Should Cocoa Challenge is hosted by Chele over at Chocolate Teapot and she decided that lime would be this month’s magic ingredient. I had lots of ideas, including a lime flavoured chocolate cake with lime buttercream, (which sounds so delicious I think I might just make it yet), but yesterday was my turn to make Sunday lunch and I fancied making a cheesecake. I used a similar recipe to the successful cherry cheesecake Mr OC made not so long ago, but added plenty of grated rind and juice of lime. The chocolate has taken a bit of a back seat just making a cameo appearance in the crust and a light grating on the top. The reason for this is that my folks are not big fans of chocolate (how I manage to be their daughter I am not sure!). But the presence of chocolate just about shines through.
This time I cooked the crumb base, but it is not really necessary. I did it this time because I used Hob Nobs and I thought the oats might make a sort of flapjack base. I was right.
This cheesecake is zingy and refreshing and makes a lovely end to a roast dinner. You could say it is a light dessert, but that is then counteracted if you follow it up with a serving of apple crumble and then a serving of crème caramel – oops! Oh well, it was a Sunday.
200g chocolate coated biscuits ( I used chocolate Hob Nobs)
100g butter, softened
400g cream cheese, at room temperature
50g icing sugar
finely grated zest and juice of 2 limes
300ml double cream
To decorate – the finely grated rind of 1 lime and some finely grated chocolate
Place the biscuits into a food processor and whizz until crumbs. Add the butter and whizz again until well mixed. (If you don’t have a food processor then place the biscuits into a food bag and bash with a rolling pin or a can. Melt the butter in a small pan and add the biscuit crumbs and mix well. )
Press the crumbs into a 20cm springform tin, making sure they are well pressed down. Now you can leave it like this or you can bake it in a preheated oven at 180 °c, gas mark 4 for 6-8 minutes until lightly golden. Leave to go cold.
In a large bowl mix together the cream cheese, icing sugar and the rind and juice of 2 limes. In another bowl lightly whip the double cream and then combine with the rest of the ingredients. Spread this over the crumb base, levelling with a palette knife. Place in the fridge until you are ready to serve. When you are ready to serve grate over the rind of one more lime and a chunk of chocolate.
I think I could benefit from a cupcake decorating course 🙂
I made these the other day to have in the park on the walk home from school to celebrate the change in the weather we seem to have had in the last week or so. Spring may actually have sprung. Of course, though, because we had planned a picnic the English weather let us know that we were fools and the sun didn’t peek out of the clouds once. It was a fairly cold picnic! Oh well, the cupcakes were good.
I made these in muffin tins so that they are a fair-sized cupcake. You don’t see fairy cakes about much these days. A fairy cake sized cake is sometimes exactly right to fill a hole. So feel free to make these smaller. If you are making them muffin sized they will make 12, so smaller might make 16- 20 I would say.
For the frosting
100g butter, softened
200g icing sugar
3 tsp cool strong coffee, made from 3 tsp of instant coffee dissolved in 4 tsps of just boiled water
2 tbsp double cream
Place the hazelnuts on a baking tray and place into a preheated oven at 200°c, gas mark 6 for about 4 minutes until they are lightly toasted. Be careful, they soon burn. Pour them onto a clean tea towel and rub gently. Most of the skins will come off, but leave some on as they add a good flavour. Turn the oven down to 180°c, gas mark 4.
Put the hazelnuts into a food processor and whizz until they are large crumbs. This adds a nice crunchiness to the cupcake.
Place the butter and sugar into a bowl and whisk until fluffy and pale. Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat well with each addition. Gently stir in the hazelnuts.
Sift the flour, cocoa and baking powder over and fold in gently.
Place dessertspoonfuls of the mixture into the muffin cases in a muffin tin. They should be about three-quarters full. If you are using fairy cases then use a teaspoon to fill them three-quarters full.
Place in a preheated oven at 180°c, gas mark 4 or the Baking Oven of the Aga for about 20 – 25 minutes for the muffin sized cakes or 10-15 minutes for the fairy cake size. They should look firm and feel springy to a gentle touch.
Leave them to cool in the tin for a minute or two and then lift out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
To make the frosting, beat the butter in a bowl until soft, add the icing sugar and stir in gently at first. If you beat it straight in you will end up with a fine layer of icing sugar dust all over the kitchen. When it is starting to clump together start to whisk it until it is fluffy. Add the coffee and beat again. Add the cream and beat until all is combined. Pipe over the cupcakes more artistically then I can manage.
I love to cook. I spend a lot of my time baking and cooking, or thinking about baking and cooking. I use this little corner of the internet to share my recipes. I hope that they inspire you to cook one or two of them. I would love to hear from you, so please leave a comment or visit my Contact Page to drop me an email. Kath
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