Posts Tagged baking
What a long break from blogging I’ve had, (did anyone notice, haha)! I often go longer than I mean to between posts although long ago gave up trying to keep up with all the bloggers that post without fail each week (or each day)! However this was a long break even for me. After a fabulous holiday spent in Vermont where I completely forgot about everything and all routine went out of the window I was left wondering if there was a recipe left in me, I had no inspiration at all, until the discovery of this season’s blood oranges put me back on track!
I think part of the reason for my lack of inspiration is that I’m caught with that January feeling that I should be eating more healthily but not wanting to, then wondering what’s wrong with me that I have so little control! My head is a busy place this month! Anyone else feel the same or are you all diligently watching what you are eating? Kudos to you if you are! I am pretty much a rule follower but hate been told what to do so I think all the articles and constant talk of diets makes me rebel, after all isn’t January depressing enough? So for those rebels out there I offer you cake in January! For those avoiding cake, I’m sorry save this recipe and healthy new year recipes will resume!
I was so happy to come across the first of the blood oranges but then typically a few sat in the fruit bowl which led me to make this blood orange cake, a simple cake made with olive oil. Using olive oil eliminates the need to soften butter, which in colder climates can take quite a while! I based my cake on the Lemon Olive Oil cake that I make regularly. That cake is such a success so I thought I would swap blood orange juice for the lemon. I didn’t have yoghurt available so made my own buttermilk by adding a tablespoon of lemon juice to 125 mls of milk. This cake is not fancy, it’s just the right sort of plain with a simple blood orange syrup topping it. I like a slice with a cup of coffee but it would be great served with ice-cream as a dessert!
I wont pretend this is healthy in any way but it is good!
Blood Orange Cake
- 250 grams sugar
- 1 egg
- 125 ml buttermilk
- 100 ml olive oil
- 250 grams self-raising flour
- zest and juice of 3 blood oranges, reserve the juice for the syrup
for the glaze
- 60 grams sugar
- 100 ml blood orange juice
Grease and base line an 8 inch cake tin (I used a silicone one this time). Preheat oven to 350 F, 180 C, Gas 4.
- Whisk together the sugar and eggs.
- Mix in the buttermilk.
- Add the olive oil and blood orange 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 make the syrup by putting the blood orange juice and sugar into a small sauce pan and heat until the sugar has melted, remove from the heat and leave until needed.
- When the cake is baked, take from the oven and while still hot prick cake surface with a toothpick and pour the blood orange syrup over the cake. Leave to cool in the tin.
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