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Brownies

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Mmmmmmmmmmmmm brooooooowwwwwnnnieeeeesssss. One of my most favourite forms of chocolate. In direct competition with chocolate mousse. I have this debate in my head. A lot. Too much. When will I be able to sleep again???

Anywho, I’ve been wanting to make these for some time. And I needed a decent brownie to get me over the blondies I recently made. YUK. Far too sweet. Beyond sickly. You have to be a sweet BEAST to enjoy those. I made Nigella brownies once. They were nice though not as gooey as I like. That could have been my fault though. I think I over-baked. But it was a lot of cocoa powder and hardly any chocolate, so maybe that had something to do with it? This time though I decided to go for the Hummingbird Bakery recipe. They’re American. Americans know brownies. Right? RIGHT. They were darn goooood. Very sweet, due to the enormous amount of sugar, but the gooeyness was bordering on obscene. This was offset perfectly by the lovely crispy top. Have a go, you won’t be sorry.

Ingredients

  • 200g dark chocolate, roughly chopped
  • 175g unsalted butter
  • 325g caster sugar
  • 130g plain flour
  • 3 eggs

33 x 23 x 5cm baking tray lined with greaseproof paper (my tray was smaller than this but it still fit! Fitted? Fat?…)

Method

  • Preheat oven to gas 3.
  • Put the chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water (make sure the base of the bowl isn’t touching the water). Leave until melted and smooth.
  • Remove from the heat. Add the sugar and stir until well incorporated. Then do the same with the flour. Finally, stir in the eggs and mix until thick and smooth.I added some white chocolate chips at this point. Nuts would be good too. Anything really!
  • Spoon the mixture into the lined baking tray and bake for about 30-35 minutes, or until flaky on the top but still soft in the centre.
  • Remove from the tin once cooled. Cut into small squares. It’s so rich you won’t be able to handle big hunks. Unless of course, you are well’ard.

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It’s really hard to know when it’s the optimum time to take out your brownies. I have overcooked them for fear of undercooking them before. But I wanted them super gooey so took them out after 30 mins. I wasn’t sure it was time but it looked flaky on top so just went for it. Don’t be scared that it looks under-baked, that is the whole point! Unless you don’t like the goo. But that makes you weird. So be gone. It’s all about the Goo Factor!
Sasa x

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Cheesey scones

The fastest cakes in the world. ‘sgone *turns head quickly from left to right*. Enough of the jokes, we could laugh all day.

Sweet or savoury? That’s the question. Both have their merits. Sweet ones could be filled with raisins or stuffed with clotted cream and jam. Savoury ones could be made with cheese, olives, a sprinkling of herbs and smothered in pickles and chutneys. If I had to pick my favourite it would be cheesey savoury scones. Or would it be sweet? Or savoury? Or sweet? Or savoury? Frankly, it’s too hard to choose, but today’s post offers you the cheesey savoury kind.

Cheese scones

This recipe is one of Mary Berry’s, slightly adapted, and makes one scone round.

Ingredients:

  • 225 self-raising flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp mustard powder
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 25g butter
  • 75g mature cheddar and 75g parmesan, grated
  • 1 egg
  • Roughly 150ml milk

Method:

  • Pre-heat the oven to 220 degrees C/425 degrees F/Gas mark 7. Lightly grease a baking tray
  • Put the flour, salt, mustard powder, cayenne pepper and baking powder into a bowl. Add the butter and rub in with the fingertips until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Stir in 100g of the cheese.
  • Crack the egg into a measuring jug and make up to 150ml with milk. Stir the egg and milk into the dry ingredients and mix to a soft but not sticky dough.
  • Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead lightly. Roll out to a 15cm circle and mark into six wedges. I actually use a round cutter to cut out individual scones. Brush with a little milk and sprinkle with the remaining grated cheese.
  • Bake in the pre-heated oven for about 15 minutes or until golden brown and firm to touch. Cool on a wire rack.
  • Eat while still warm with a pickle or chutney of your choice. Spicy tomato chutney works very well.

Scones are so versatile so could be tried with a whole heap of flavour combinations. Try it out. Go on, you know you want to.

Claire

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Blueberry lemon cake with coconut crumble topping

Blueberry lemon and coconut crumble

Traybakes are great because they tend to be fairly simple and full of flavour. I’ve baked this one a few times and it has always gone down really well. This cake is bursting with blueberries, the tart taste of lemons and has a sticky sweet crumbly coconut topping. Need I say more? Here’s how to bake it (recipe taken from BBC Good Food):

Ingredients:

  • 300g butter, softened
  • 425g caster sugar
  • Zest 1 lemon
  • 6 eggs, beaten
  • 250g self-raising flour
  • 300g blueberries
  • 200g desiccated coconut
  • 200g lemon curd (can be bought from most supermarkets)

Method:

  • Heat the oven to 180C/fan 160/gas mark 4 and grease and line a square cake tin with baking parchment. I use a roasting dish, which is 24cm x 30cm x 6cm.
  • Beat together 250g of the butter with 250g of sugar and the lemon zest until light and fluffy. In a separate bowl, break up 4 eggs with a fork, then gradually beat into the butter and sugar mixture, adding a spoonful of flour if it begins to curdle. When the eggs are incorporated, fold in the flour and a third of the blueberries, then spoon into the tin. Flatten the surface with a spatula, sprinkle over another third of the blueberries, and bake for 20 minutes until the surface is set.
  • To make the topping, melt the rest of the butter, then stir in the coconut and remaining sugar and eggs until combined. Warm the lemon curd gently for a few minutes in a small saucepan until it is runny and pourable.
  • After the initial baking, scatter the remaining blueberries over the top of the cake, drizzle over the lemon curd, and crumble over the coconut mixture. Bake for a further 20-25 minutes until the coconut is golden. Leave the cake in the tin to cool.
  • The recipe says to cut it into 16 squares, but for me these are too large. The last time I baked these I cut them into bite-sized pieces, which looked pretty good. Plus you don’t feel as guilty eating lots because they’re so small! It’s win win.

Claire

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Wound Cake

 

IMG_1950Or to call it by its proper name, a Lemon Cheesecake. But if you haven’t already guessed by the look of the cake, I shall explain why I called it Wound Cake. I thought I would create an attractive swirly pattern in the middle of the cake with the fruit compote. Instead, I just made a mess. A red mess. That in the end I had to make into a rough circle. That in the end, looked like an open wound. Nice. Disappointing? Yes. Gross? Very. But taste? Immense. My finest cheesecake yet. And I think the decoration was saved a bit by copious amount of gold glitter. Glitter solves everything I have found. Even wounds.

The occasion for this cake was simply because my friend loves cheesecake. As does her husband who said “cor this is the best cheesecake I’ve ever eaten!”  For a baker, it doesn’t get much better than that.

Here’s how I made it:

Ingredients
For the biscuit base
10 digestive biscuits
75g butter

For the filling
700g mascarpone cheese
2 lemons, juice and zest
200g caster sugar,

For the compote
A pile of frozen summer fruits, defrosted
Caster sugar, to taste

Method

  • Line a 23cm/9in springform cake tin with a round of greaseproof paper.
  • For the biscuit base, whizz up the biscuits in a food processor. If you don’t have one, buy one! Or just crush them with a rolling pin.
  • Melt the butter and pour into the biscuits. Mix until well combined.
  • Tip the mixture into the bottom of the cake tin. You want to flatten the biscuits to an even level. I find a potato masher pressed gently works the best. Chill in the fridge while making the filling.
  • For the filling, mix the mascarpone cheese, lemon juice and zest and caster sugar together in a bowl until well combined. Do not mix the mixture too much as this will cause it to split. .
  • Spoon the mixture into the tin on top of the chilled biscuit mixture and chill in the fridge for at least 2 hours.
  • For the compote, put the fruit in a pan and bring to the boil. Add sugar to taste.
  • Place the cheesecake onto a plate and decorate with the compote. Preferably not in a potentially wound like pattern.

IMG_1952Even a slice looks deadly…

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Rose cake

IMG_2018Here is my first attempt at real snazz and pizazz. It was a friends birthday and I thought ‘A-ha! Here is the perfect opportunity to practice my decorating skills, which have sometimes been shoddy to say the least.

So I’ll start with the inside. The sponge. A simple vanilla sponge that I coloured pink.

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Ingredients:
Batter
250g unsalted butter at room temperature, plus extra to grease
250g golden caster sugar
5 eggs
250g self-raising flour, sifted
1 tsp vanilla extract
Red food colouring paste (I used ‘Sugarflair Paste Concentrated Food Colour’. It’s intense. Use sparingly! You can always use the normal more watery dye too, just add more to the cake batter.)

Buttercream icing
225g unsalted butter at room temperature
525g icing sugar
6 tbsp milk

Methods:

  • Grease and line the base of two 8in sandwich tins with greaseproof paper. Preheat the oven to gas mark 4.
  • In a large bowl, beat together the butter and sugar with an electric hand whisk until pale and fluffy. Add the vanilla essence.
  • Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each one, then fold in the flour using a large metal spoon.
  • Split the mixture into two bowls. Add a smidge of red food colouring to each, one more in the other just for change. Mix thoroughly.
  • Pour the mixtures into a tin each. Bake in the centre of the oven for 30mins until the cakes are well risen and spring back when you press lightly in the centre. (I had to cook for quite a bit longer than the recipe said, so do keep checking by inserting a skewer or knife all the way through the cake. If wet mixture comes out, which mine did repeatedly (grr), then keep on baking)
  • Turn out, remove the lining paper and leave to cool on a wire rack.
  • Meanwhile mix all the buttercream ingredients together. I do this in the food processor to save the icing sugar poofing all over the place. Add a small drop of red dye. So small it looks pale pink.

The construction:
I don’t have one of those rotating cake stands to make icing easier, so I made one! I placed the cake on a circular board and placed that on top of a large tin. Worked perfectly. First job before the fun decorating part was the crumb coating. This is done by spreading a fine layer of buttercream all over the cake to seal in the crumbs. Use a palette knife to do this. It’s not supposed to look pretty or perfect and it is supposed to look crumby. Literally. Remember to also put a thick layer of buttercream between the two layers of sponge. Once done place it in the fridge for 20 mins or so to harden. This seals the crumbs to the buttercream and makes sure none of the little blighters pop up in the pretty decorating later. Check out youtube tutorials to see how its done properly.
Next, the fun part. I’d say that technically this wasn’t that hard. Once you’ve practiced a few roses and got those right, it’s really just a repetitive job. I actually had intended to create the ruffle effect. But I failed. Dismally. I knew how to make roses from the countless cupcakes I have made. And if you have the trusty Wilton 1M nozzle, the jobs a good’un. I found youtube videos to give me some tips. A good one is, when doing the outside top edge make sure the rose goes over the edge a bit, onto the top flat surface. Otherwise you’ll see masses of cake edge. Always work your roses from the inside out and GO SLOW. I don’t know how to do a neat finish, I just gently pull the piping bag away and hope for the best. Sometimes it looks messy, sometimes it looks neat. It doesn’t really matter in the end. The darker flowers I did were to fill in the holes. Once all the large roses were completed I added more dye to the buttercream. Using a new bag but the same nozzle and simply pushed the nozzle into the holes, giving the bag a squeeze and lifting it out. No circular movements needed. You do need to press quite hard or the icing can drop off. They look like those iced gem sweets of yesteryear. Can you still get those? I digress…  So there you have it! A very lovely looking cake that’s really not that hard to do. Oh yes and as usual, I finished off the cake with lots of glitter.

IMG_2020Ok so I have a confession. Originally I planned to have a layer of pink sponge, and a layer of purple. Well, I don’t have purple so I tried to make it by mixing red and blue. I was certain I had done it before with success. Perhaps I was wrong. Because it went a truly nasty brown sludgy colour! It was hideous. But I didn’t want to have to make yet more buttercream. So I added lots of red paste and it made that dark dusky pink colour, Which I thought was acceptable. Just not what it was supposed to be.

This cake was one of my biggest challenges. It wasn’t perfect and there were hiccups and physical pain (hand cramps from continuous piping). But it was worth it in the end. The birthday girl loved it and that was the main thing. Happy Birthday Amelia!

Sasa x

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Victorious Sponge!

See what I did there? Haha… ha… ahem. There’s a lot of fancy cakeage out there but sometimes only the classics will do. The Victoria Sponge will do. And it did. So much. To me…

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Just your classic sponge layered with berries and cream. Amazing! It’s another of those cakes that is made for eating with a cup of tea. Pure perfection. As usual I took it to work and got lots of praise. That always makes it worthwhile for me. The adoration I mean. The appreciation. Makes me feel loved. I will admit there was one thing wrong with it. I should have put jam in it too. The berries were nice, but they needed the sweetness of jam to offset their sharpness. That was my view. Others didn’t agree. They were wrong. I was right. So there. But still, the cake was a success. Which is always a relief because as you fellow bakers out there know, there is nothing, NOTHING worse than a bake failure. It totally ruins your day. And everyone else’s who were expecting to eat cake.

I won’t give full instruction because I feel we all know how to do a classic sponge. I’ll just tell you that I sandwiched it with raspberries, strawberries and whipped cream. And for prettiness I dusted icing sugar on top. Lovely stuff.

Sasa x

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Depressed cakes…

Recently your intrepid cake bloggers took a trip to Brick Lane. No not for the curry delights it is famed for. Not for trinket shopping in the market. And not for dodgy-clothing-people-spotting. We went looking for depressed cakes! Confused? Let me enlighten you. We heard about a charity project called The Depressed Cake Shop. It’s a pop up cake shop where every cake is coloured grey. Grey being symbolic of how depression makes the sufferer feel. But inside the cake is colourful, but you don’t know which colour until you dive in. We love a bit of charidee and were intrigued by these grey cakes, so off we went. And I have to say, we weren’t disappointed. These cakes looked stunning! All the greys looked so chic. It was more like the Classy Cake Shop. Here’s a load of photos for you to ooh and ahh over:

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Brain cake! Outside: grey. Inside: chocolate and smarties!

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Cake pops. Outside: grey. Inside: red!

IMG_1940IMAG2870These pop up shops will be appearing throughout the land so go see these beauties for yourself, and help raise awareness for mental health.

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