Posts Tagged baking
I know some may be rolling their eyes and thinking not another brownie recipe! True, there are a million and despite the fact that there is probably a brownie recipe in half of the cook books I own I still find myself searching for “the” brownie recipe. You know the one. I like my brownie really dark and “chocolatey”, squidgy in the middle, it mustn’t be too dry, I like a crackly top and I prefer no nuts in mine but to each their own. So you can see I’m as particular about my brownie as Goldilocks was about her porridge! A lackluster brownie is such a disappointment!
I could go on and on trying out new brownie recipes just in case its “the one” but a couple of years ago I found a recipe in one of my favourite cake books, The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook. Those brownies were really good, ticking all the right boxes! So that’s the recipe I’ve gone back to, Ive tweaked it a bit over time, adding less sugar than the vast amount in the original recipe. I always use dark chocolate that’s good for eating such as Lindt or Green and Blacks, I’m not a fan of the taste of cooking chocolate. Like the advice to only use wine in cooking that you would drink I believe the same applies to chocolate.
In the picture you will notice that my brownies are quite flat, this is not how I prefer them but I used the pan I bought that calls itself a “brownie” pan, which is rectangular. I would recommend using a square pan so the brownies are deeper thus more squidgy in the middle!
The inspiration for this post comes from my friend, Lorrie, who has asked me more than once for my brownie recipe! (finally, the recipe Lorrie!) I made her some a long time ago and she remembered them! In fact this is my most asked for recipe!
Do you have a favourite brownie recipe? Do let me know, I am quite addicted to brownie recipes!
Brownies (adapted from this recipe)
- 170 grams (6 oz) butter, (if watching your salt intake use unsalted but for an added flavour dimension use salted butter)
- 170 grams (6 oz) dark chocolate, chopped
- 225 grams (8 oz) caster sugar, I use unrefined
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tsp espresso coffee powder
- 130(4.5 oz) grams plain flour
- 3 large eggs
- A little icing sugar to decorate (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 170 c, 325 f, Gas 3. Grease and line with baking paper a brownie pan.
- Place the butter and chopped chocolate in a bowl over a pan of simmering water to melt. Stir until combined. Remove from the heat.
- Add the sugar, vanilla and coffee, stir until combined. Mixture will appear grainy.
- Mix together the eggs and add to the chocolate mixture in 3 stages stirring well between additions.
- Add the flour and mix until combined.
- Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and bake for around 20 – 25 minutes. The brownies are cooked when they look cooked on the surface but are still a little soft in the middle.
- Leave to cool in pan and when completely cooled remove from pan and cut into portions.
- Sprinkle with icing sugar.
The #TwelveLoaves theme for January is all about a clean slate and keeping things simple. The perfect theme for January. I’ve tried a couple of loaves for this months challenge and had a little trouble, the trouble was I was trying different whole grain flours. I think I was trying too hard, often something I suffer from! So out of the blue I bought some white bread flour, much to my husbands disappointment our house went wholemeal years ago!
I had much better success with this loaf! For the first time I made a soft, fluffy loaf of bread! It’s a perfectly simple loaf, and very well-behaved, rising as it should do even on a cold day. I often have raising issues when making bread, my house never seems to be warm enough. Needless to say my husband loved this simple white loaf, thus confirming his opinion that there is no bread better than white! I will be trying this recipe with wholemeal flour though, I’m determined to find a good loaf made with a whole grain flour!
Simple White Bread (inspired by Gennaro Contaldo’s recipe for basic bread dough in his book Passione)
- 500 grams strong white flour
- 1 tsp quick/easy bake yeast
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 300 mls water
- A little corn meal for spreading on the baking tray
- Put the flour, yeast and salt into a large bowl. Mix until it all comes together to form a dough the knead for about minutes. I use my stand mixer for this job.
- After the five minutes knead, form the dough into a ball put back into the large bowl and cover with cling film. Leave somewhere warm to rise for 1 hour.
- When its risen to double its original size knock the air out of the dough, form into the desired shape, (I just made a flattish ball) and place onto baking sheet that’s been lightly sprinkled with cornmeal.
- Cover with a clean tea towel and leave to rise for a further hour.
- Bake on the bottom shelf of an oven preheated to 240 C, 475 F, Gas 9 for 25- 30 minutes. Its ready when you tap the bottom of the loaf and it sounds hollow.
- Cool on a baking rack.
To see what others have baked in the monthly #Twelveloaves challenge see Lora’s blog Cake Duchess
As I’m writing this it is -1 c and snowing, I also have a day off! Faced with a snowy day off thoughts naturally turned to cake! Id been planning to make marmalade today as Id found some lovely big Seville oranges but although the inspiration for today’s cake, they will have to wait for another day.
This simple orange cake uses a whole orange, olive oil and a little less sugar, its easy to make and bakes fast. I enjoyed a slice with coffee while watching our lovely snowy day but it would be equally good with some cream for a simple dessert. Using the whole orange gives a strong orange flavour with a hint of bitterness from the peel every now and then, but the cake is sweet enough so it really is only a hint.
Whole Orange Cake
- 1 orange
- 100 ml olive oil
- 130 grams caster sugar (I use unrefined)
- 2 eggs
- 140 grams plain flour
- 70 grams ground almonds
- 1 tsp baking powder
- Cover an orange with water in a pan and bring to the boil, simmer for 30 minutes. When cool enough to handle slice open and remove all pips. Puree in a food processor.
- Preheat oven to 175 C, 350 F, Gas 4 and grease and line an 8 inch cake tin.
- Add the olive oil and sugar to the orange puree, blend well.
- Add the eggs, one at a time mixing between each addition.
- Add all of the dry ingredients and gently mix until just incorporated.
- Pour into cake tin and bake for 35 minutes or until a cake tester inserted into The cake comes out dry.
- Cool for 30 minutes in the tin then turn out onto a cooling rack.
I was delighted to be asked to participate in the Sunvil Supper club for October (yes I realise its now November, time escapes me!) Sunvil is an award-winning travel operator offering holidays in some of the most amazing places, different places that you may not yet have traveled to such as the Azores, the Faroe islands or the Galapagos islands as well as numerous other destinations. I was even more delighted when I discovered the recipe was for Swedish cinnamon buns. I just love cinnamon buns, growing up in America cinnamon buns were a staple in our house. Typical of the era they were most often out of a can but boy did they taste good. As a child I so loved the Pillsbury dough man! Cinnamon buns are something that I always have when I find them on holiday but they are rare here, especially good ones. Despite earmarking several recipes to make my own cinnamon buns I’ve never managed to overcome the fact that they contain yeast! The addition of yeast somehow put them into the fussy to make, hard category so cinnamon buns remained ever on my “to make” list.
Well I can cross them off that list now as I’ve made them and of course they were not hard at all! It was an easy dough to make, once risen you simply roll the dough and spread with the cinnamon butter mix. The dough is then rolled into a sausage shape and cut into rounds, interestingly you then place each round into a muffin case before rising again and finally baking. Although the recipe was very easy to follow I don’t think I made them as perfectly as they should have been, they didn’t seem to rise as much as I thought they would. I wonder if I used the wrong yeast as the recipe doesn’t specify. I had 3 helpers to eat them though and we all thought they were great! They were reminiscent but different to the huge, sweet cinnamon buns I grew up with. These were less sweet and a much more manageable size. I particularly liked the addition of cardamom. They partner up perfectly with a cup of coffee.
Swedish Cinnamon Buns
Thank you to Sunvil for inviting me to take part in the supper club and for providing me with the ingredients to make these buns.
The theme for this months #Twelveloaves is grains and seeds. Easy (ish) I thought, the possibilities were endless but those of you who know me will know that I bake cakes and not a lot of bread! Its taken most of October for inspiration to come to me! I had a bag of wholegrain spelt flour in the cupboard, so that took care of the grain part. I’ve had success replacing wheat with spelt in quite a lot of my recipes, I’m beginning to see that wheat is overrated and also not that healthy (see this article for more information on that) so I’ve been looking for alternative grains to use. Spelt is apparently a little easier to digest and remains true to its origins, its missed out on a lot of the science that is sadly behind the wheat of today. Spelt flour easily replaces wheat flour, I just swap spelt for wheat flour and it works fine, no taste difference and things still rise if they need to. I’m not sure if you could replace the flour in a bread recipe for spelt like I have with cakes as so many bread recipes call for strong flour. So feeling a bit lost with my bag of spelt flour I turned to the Dovesfarm website for inspiration where I found this recipe. Their recipe uses half spelt and half whole wheat bread flour, I stuck with that but may try just spelt flour next time. I didn’t think my loaf tin would be large enough for their recipe so I halved it, I also swapped the vegetable oil for olive oil as that is what I had. As it is almost Halloween pumpkin seeds seemed fitting and for an added health boost I added linseeds, also called flax seeds.
Well that was the most novel way of toasting pumpkin seeds that I have tried! How do you get seeds to stay on top of a loaf? Mine looked great before it went in the oven, indeed when I took it out it looked good but the little tapping sound of the seeds hitting the floor as I carried the loaf from the oven to the counter was the first indication that the seeds had not stuck on. When it came to tipping the loaf out of the tin the rest of the seeds fell off! Despite the seeds missing from the top I was still happy with my loaf, it tasted good! It was quite a hearty loaf, perfect for this time of year! Thanks once again to #Twelveloaves I made bread!
Wholegrain Spelt Loaf with Pumpkin Seeds and Linseeds (recipe adapted from this one)
- 250 gram wholegrain spelt flour
- 250 gram whole wheat bread flour
- 1 tsp quick yeast
- 1tsp sugar
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 200 ml hand warm tap water
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 50 grams pumpkin seeds
- 25 grams linseeds
- In a large bowl mix together the flours, yeast sugar and salt.
- Mix in the water when it’s just about incorporated add the olive oil.
- knead until the dough is smooth, around 5 minutes. I used my mixer for this.
- Add the seeds to the dough, I found it easiest to scrunch then in with my hands.
- Put the dough into the bowl, cover bowl with cling film and leave to rest until it has double in size, around 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
- When the dough has risen tip it onto a floured work surface and knead for a few minutes.
- Shape the dough into a fat sausage shape and place into a lightly oiled loaf tin.
- Preheat oven to 220 C, 425 f, Gas 7.
- Leave dough to rise in the tin for 30 minutes.
- Bake for 30 to 40 minutes.
- Remove from the tin to cool on a rack before serving.
I thought twice about making this cake as I don’t like Guinness! However in the spirit of St Patrick’s day I thought it would be fun to try. I’ve extensively used and loved the Hummingbird Bakery book so I’ve been keen to try a recipe from the latest Hummingbird Cake Days book, their chocolate Guinness cake sounded perfect as a St Patrick’s day treat.
The making of this cake is an easy wet ingredients added to dry ingredients method and I love it when cakes require melted butter, no waiting around on a chilly day for butter soften! As the cake was only for my husband and I, I halved the ingredients to make a smaller cake, using an 8 inch tin rather than the 9 inch specified and that was right for the amount of mixture. This made a good-sized cake. I did find halving the frosting ingredients less successful, the frosting was a little soft resulting in a more rustic finish than the polished finish I had hoped for, it still tasted great though!
This is a good chocolate cake! It has a light, fluffy texture. The Guinness adds moistness to the cake without leaving any taste, perfect for me. If you find that a little disappointing make sure you buy more than you need for a little cooks tipple!
Chocolate Guinness Cake
- For the recipe see here
Two weeks ago I went to my first book launch! I had such a nice day!
I started my blog when I did a recipe test for Vanessa Kimbell. She was looking for people to test the recipes from her upcoming cook book Prepped! It was the most scary but fun thing Id done for ages! Little did I know I would be lucky enough to test more recipes and then get to go to the Prepped book launch. As a recipe tester I wore pink along with other recipe testers at the launch! It was lovely to meet some of the other recipe testers and so many others. Any nerves I may have had disappeared with each friendly new person I met! There were lots of lovely treats made from Prepped, such as Chocolate Raspberry cake, Victoria Sponge with Cardamom Rose Cream & Rhubarb. There were Cookies, Chocolate, Vanilla & Black pepper Cupcakes and more! It was all delicious, of course I had to try everything, it would have been rude not too!
I took some Chili Chocolate Cupcakes to the book launch. The recipe is from the book Prepped, although Id tested some recipes this was the first of many recipes I will be making from my own copy of the book. I must mention how beautiful the Prepped book is. From the beautiful bright pink cover to the gorgeous photos and inspired recipes inside, it really is such a lovely book. Well done to Vanessa!
Anyway the cupcakes, they were adventurous for me. Not only is there chili in the cake but also beetroot, neither of which Id used in sweet cooking before. The results were great, the cake is moist and light. I couldn’t detect the beetroot taste that I had expected! The chili leaves a slight warming of the throat after you swallowed the cake, thoroughly pleasing, I thought! The cupcakes have a chocolate ganache filling, (you can double this recipe and make gorgeous truffles with the other half!). To finish the cupcakes are topped with a smooth chocolate icing. Delicious! I will definitely be experimenting with mixing chili and chocolate again!
The recipe for the cupcakes is on Vanessa’s blog www.Prepped.co.uk The recipe on the blog is for a large chocolate cake but use a large cupcake pan and you will get 16 cupcakes.
I love Twitter, you will often hear me say that! A few weeks ago I saw a tweet from Abby Dodge (@Abbydodge) inviting people to join her in a bake together. This is an event where Abby generously shares one of her recipes and invited the rest of us to bake it with her but using our own twist ” switching it up” as Abby says.
Well my first switch up was that I don’t have a tart dish (I know!) so I baked my base in a pie dish. The second change was that I didn’t use Graham crackers, hard to get in the UK, for once I actually do have some but decided to keep them for another time when I must have them! I substituted oat biscuits and ground, roasted hazelnuts for the Graham crackers.
The next change I made was only slight, I just used Frangelico hazelnut liqueur instead of the original rum and used a little bit more as I couldn’t seem to taste it.
I kept the vanilla cream topping the same. I’m not sure if single cream is exactly the same or a near as we get to half and half in the UK but that’s what I used. My final switch up was to decorate with some caramelized hazelnuts.
I served this Chocolate Hazelnut tart for dessert at a dinner party. My husband, who is not big on deserts really enjoyed it so that was praise indeed! It turned out well although the only taste of hazelnut was from the nuts in the base and the caramelized nuts on top,the Frangelico couldn’t seem to compete with the strong chocolate.
Chocolate Hazelnut Tart (adapted from Abby Dodge)
For the crust
- 4oz sweet oat biscuits (cookies) crushed into fine crumbs
- chopped roasted hazelnuts
- 1 oz butter
For the filling
- 12 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
- 2 ounces (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
- 1.5 tablespoon Frangelico liqueur
- 1 cup single cream (half and half)
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Pinch table salt
For the topping
- 1 pack (8 ounces) mascarpone cheese
- 6 fl oz double (heavy) cream
- 2 oz sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the Caramelized hazelnuts
- 2 oz whole hazelnuts
- 1 tablespoon water
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1/2 tablespoon honey
To make the crust
- Heat the oven to 375°F 190 °C.
- Grease a 9 inch pie dish or if you have one, a loose bottom tart dish.
- Melt the butter in a saucepan and mix in the biscuit crumbs and the chopped hazelnuts. Mix well to incorporate butter.
- Press biscuit mix into bottom of dish and press evenly into the bottom and up the sides .
- Bake until slightly darker brown about 10-12 minutes.
To make the filling:
- In a heatproof medium bowl, melt the chocolate, single cream (half and half) and butter in a microwave or over simmering water. Remove from the heat and add the Frangelico, vanilla and salt. Whisk the mixture until well blended. Set aside, whisking occasionally, until room temperature and slightly thickened, about 1 hour. (For faster cooling, refrigerate the filling until thickened to a pudding consistency, about 30 minutes, whisking and scraping the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula every 5 minutes.)
- With a rubber spatula, scrape the mixture into the crust and spread evenly. Let cool completely, cover, and refrigerate until the filling is set, about 4 hours and up to 1 day before proceeding with the recipe.
To make the topping:
- In a medium bowl, combine the mascarpone, double/heavy cream, sugar and vanilla. Using an electric mixer with the whisk attachment, beat on low-speed until smooth. Increase speed to medium high and beat until cream is thick and holds firm peaks.
- Using a small metal spatula, spread the whipped cream over the chocolate filling leaving lots of swirls and peaks. Cover loosely and refrigerate up to 8 hours.
To make the Caramelized hazelnuts
- Pre heat the oven to 350°F, 180 °C
- Toast the hazelnuts in a shallow baking pan until a shade darker, about 10 minutes.
- Slightly cool, then tip the hazelnuts into a tea towel and rub to remove the skins.
- Put the water, sugar and honey into a small saucepan and bring to the boil until the sugar is dissolved. Remove from the heat and add the nuts, stir until all nuts are coated in the syrup.
- Line the baking tray with foil and lightly oil, transfer the syrup coated hazelnuts to the baking tray with a slotted spoon leaving behind excess syrup.
- Roast the nuts until golden brown, moving nuts around once or twice during cooking, about 10 minutes.
- Lightly oil another piece of foil, remove nuts from oven and spread onto the foil so they aren’t touching.
- When hazelnuts are cool and just before serving arrange on top of the cream.
I’ve been making this cake for years, for a long time it was my “go to” chocolate cake recipe. It was originally a recipe cut out of a magazine, long before I ever knew about computers, never mind blogs! It was an Easter recipe and the cake was meant to be more like a nest but I have made a few changes over the years. I hadn’t made it for a long time but when I saw Julia’s (from A Slice of Cherry Pie) Easter Cake Bake I knew this was the cake I would enter.
Chocolate Easter Cake
For the cake
- 175g unsalted butter, softened
- 225g light soft brown sugar
- 1 tbsp golden syrup
- 3 eggs
- 70g cocoa powder, sifted
- 1 tsp espresso coffee powder
- 150ml warm water
- 150ml natural yoghurt
- 225g plain flour
- 1 tbsp baking powder
For the filling and icing
- 175g plain chocolate, broken into pieces
- 75g unsalted butter, cut into cubes
- 70ml double cream
For the decoration
- 200g milk chocolate, chilled
- 100g plain chocolate, chilled
- 50g white chocolate,chilled
- mini eggs
- Preheat oven to 150C ( 300F, Gas 2)
- Grease and line a 23cm, 9 in round cake tin.
- Cream butter and sugar
- Add golden syrup,mix.
- Add eggs to mixture one at a time, beating well between each addition
- Blend the cocoa powder and water to a paste, stir in the yoghurt and fold into rest of mixture.
- Sift flour and baking powder together and gently fold into mix about a third at a time.
- Spoon mix into prepared cake tin, level the top, make a little hollow in the middle.
- Bake for 1 1/4 hours or unti la skewer inserted into middle comes out clean.
- Leave to cool in tin for 20 mins then turn onto a cooling rack to cool.
For the filling and icing
- Put the broken chocolate into a bowl and melt over a pan of lightly simmering water.
- Remove from heat, add the butter stirring until melting.
- Add the cream, stirring until incorporated and chill until its firm enough to spread.
- Cut the cake into 2 layers, spread bottom layer with a 3rd of the chilled chocolate cream and sandwich layers together.
- Spread rest of chocolate cream over top and sides of cake.
- Using a potato peeler run along the sides of the milk, plain and white chocolate bars to make curls, arrange on top and sides of cake.
- Decorate with mini eggs.
This recipe came from my friend Pearl who spends her summers in Italy. She got the recipe from an Italian friend who got it from someone in New Zealand. Pearl makes great cakes, she always gets a high rise! She is very relaxed in her baking, whatever tin you have will do she says.
I bake this cake in a lined 8 inch springform tin. Pearl uses her local (Italian) extra virgin olive oil, which sometimes I’m also lucky enough to have! Otherwise I use whatever extra virgin olive oil I have at the time. I have made this cake so many times and it always turns out well. It is the easiest cake to make and quite a large one so it works well for a dinner party dessert, served with some vanilla ice cream. Once I even forgot the syrup stage at the end and the cake was still good!
It is in cup measurements, I use my US cup measures. Pearl in her relaxed way says as long as you use the same cup for measuring everything it will be fine, I’ve seen her use a regular coffee cup.
- 2 cups Sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup plain yoghurt
- 3/4 cups olive oil
- Zest from 3 lemons
- 2 cups self rising flour
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup lemon juice
Grease and base line an 8 inch cake tin (I use springform)
Preheat oven to 350 F 180 C.
- Whisk together the sugar and eggs.
- Mix in the yoghurt.
- Add the olive oil and lemon zest.
- Fold in the flour.
- Pour mixture into cake tin.
- Bake for 45 minutes or until cake tester comes out clean when inserted into middle of cake.
- While cake is baking mix together the 1/4 cup of sugar & 1/2 cup of lemon juice to make a syrup.
- When the cake is baked, take from the oven and while still hot prick cake surface with a toothpick and pour the lemon syrup over the cake. Leave to cool in the tin