Posts Tagged baking

Chocolate Chili Cupcakes

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  The recipe on the blog is for a large chocolate cake but use a large cupcake pan and you will get 16 cupcakes.

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Chocolate Hazelnut Tart

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

  1. Heat the oven to 375°F  190 °C.
  2. Grease a 9 inch pie dish or if you have one, a loose bottom tart dish.
  3. Melt the butter in a saucepan and mix in the biscuit crumbs and the chopped hazelnuts. Mix well to incorporate butter.
  4. Press biscuit mix into bottom of dish and press evenly into the bottom and up the sides .
  5. Bake until slightly darker brown about 10-12 minutes.

To make the filling:

  1. 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.)
  2. 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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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

  1. Pre heat the oven to 350°F, 180 °C
  2. Toast the hazelnuts in a shallow baking pan until a shade darker, about 10 minutes.
  3.  Slightly cool, then tip the hazelnuts into a tea towel and rub to remove the skins.
  4. 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.
  5.  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.
  6.  Roast the nuts until golden brown, moving nuts around once or twice during cooking, about 10 minutes.
  7.  Lightly oil another piece of foil, remove nuts from oven and spread onto the foil so they aren’t touching.
  8.  When hazelnuts are cool and just before serving arrange on top of the cream.

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Chocolate Easter Cake

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 PieEaster 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
  1. Preheat oven to 150C ( 300F, Gas 2)
  2. Grease and line a 23cm, 9 in round cake tin.
  3. Cream butter and sugar
  4. Add golden syrup,mix.
  5. Add eggs to mixture one at a time, beating well between each addition
  6. Blend the cocoa powder and water to a paste, stir in the yoghurt and fold into rest of mixture.
  7. Sift flour and baking powder together and gently fold into mix about a third at a time.
  8. Spoon mix into prepared cake tin, level the top, make a little hollow in the middle.
  9. Bake for 1 1/4 hours or unti la skewer inserted into middle comes out clean.
  10. Leave to cool in tin for 20 mins then turn onto a cooling rack to cool.

For the filling and icing

  1. Put the broken chocolate into a bowl and melt over a pan of lightly simmering water.
  2. Remove from heat, add the butter stirring until melting.
  3. Add the cream, stirring until incorporated and chill until its firm enough to spread.
  4. Cut the cake into 2 layers, spread bottom layer with a 3rd of the chilled chocolate cream and sandwich layers together.
  5. Spread rest of chocolate cream over top and sides of cake.
  6. 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.
  7. Decorate with mini eggs.

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Pearl’s Lemon Olive Oil Cake

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


  1. Grease and base line an 8 inch cake tin (I use springform)
  2. Preheat oven to 350 F 180 C.
  3. Whisk together the sugar and eggs.
  4. Mix in the yoghurt.
  5. Add the olive oil and lemon zest.
  6. Fold in the flour.
  7. Pour mixture into cake tin.
  8. Bake for 45 minutes or until cake tester comes out clean when inserted into middle of cake.
  9. While cake is baking mix together the 1/4 cup of sugar & 1/2 cup of lemon juice to make a syrup.
  10. 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

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5 Minute Bread review

Making bread, it seems such a satisfying thing to do but something about the yeast and the kneading has always made it seem a little unappealing to me, not to mention time-consuming, so bread making is always something on my mental “to do” list.

Well I was lucky enough to get a copy of 5 Minute Bread, by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoë  Francois, to try. This book is a UK kitchen friendly version of  the bestselling Artisan Bread (in 5 minutes) from the US .

The book is nicely presented and easy to read, in fact on reading it seems a little too easy! No kneading is required, I repeat,  no  kneading! No machines are required! This was sounding good! The 5 minutes is the preparation and does not include the baking which obviously will take more than 5 minutes! (just in case you were wondering!) You make enough dough in one go for up to 4 loaves and this dough can be stored in the fridge for up to 2 weeks you just pull off a chunk of it and bake! The title 5 minute bread seemed a little ambitious for me but I was up for the challenge.

I would recommend reading the 1st few pages of the book to become familiar with the 5 minute method and to make sure you have all you need. All you really need is a large container with a lid (not tight-fitting ) and the book says to use a pizza peel to transfer the bread onto the baking stone but I don’t have one so I used a flat cookie sheet.

I will save you a little time, I looked all over for “unbleached” flour and could not find it in any  of the major supermarkets  (I went to them all!). After some investigating it seems that it is not a legal process to bleach flour in the UK so all flour here  is sold unbleached.

I made the first recipe in the book, called “The Master Recipe”.

The Master Recipe

Boule (Artisan Free-form loaf)

Makes 4 450g/1lb loaves.  The recipe is easily doubled or halved.

  • 750 ml/1 1/4 pints lukewarm water
  • 1 1/2 tbsp granulated yeast
  • 1 1/2 tbsp coarse grain salt
  • 900g/ 2lb unsifted, unbleached plain white flour
  • Polenta or parchment paper for pizza peel

1. Warm the water slightly: It should feel just a little warmer than body temperature, about 38°C. Warm water will rise the dough to the right point for storage in about 2 hours. You can use cold tap water and get an identical final result; then the first rising will take 3 or even 4 hours. That won’t be too great a difference, as you will only be doing this once per stored batch.
2. Add yeast and salt to the water in a 5 litre/ 8  3/4pint bowl or, preferably, in a resealable, lidded (not airtight) plastic food container or bucket. Don’t worry about getting it all to dissolve.
3. Mix in the flour—kneading is unnecessary.  Add all of the flour at once,  mix with a wooden spoon, a high-capacity food processor (3.5 litres/6 pints or larger) fitted with the dough attachment, or a heavy-duty stand mixer fitted with the dough hook until the mixture is uniform.If you’re hand-mixing and it becomes too difficult to incorporate all the flour with the spoon, you can reach into your mixing vessel with very wet hands and press the mixture together. Don’t knead.  It isn’t necessary. You’re finished when everything is uniformly moist, without dry patches. This step is done in a matter of minutes, and will yield a dough that is wet and loose enough to conform to the shape of its container.
4. Allow to rise  Cover with a lid (not airtight) that fits well to the container you’re using. Allow the mixture to rise at room temperature until it begins to collapse (or at least flattens on the top), approximately 2 hours, depending on the room’s temperature and the initial water temperature. Longer rising times, up to about 5 hours, will not harm the result. You can use a portion of the dough any time after this period. Fully refrigerated wet dough is less sticky and is easier to work with than dough at room temperature. So, the first time you try our method, it’s best to refrigerate the dough overnight (or at least 3 hours), before shaping a loaf.
Relax! You do not need to monitor doubling or tripling of volume as traditional recipes.
On Baking Day
5. The gluten cloak: don’t knead, just “cloak” and shape a loaf in 30 to 60 seconds. First, prepare a pizza peel (I used a flat cookie sheet)  by sprinkling it liberally with cornmeal (or whatever your recipe calls for) to prevent your loaf from sticking to it when you slide it into the oven.
Sprinkle the surface of your refrigerated dough with flour. Pull up and cut off a 1-pound (grapefruit-size) piece of dough, using a serrated knife. Hold the mass of dough in your hands and add a little more flour as needed so it won’t stick to your hands. Gently stretch the surface of the dough around to the bottom on all four sides, rotating the ball a quarter-turn as you go. Most of the dusting flour will fall off;  it’s not intended to be incorporated into the dough. The bottom of the loaf may appear to be a collection of bunched ends, but it will flatten out and adhere during resting and baking. The correctly shaped final product will be smooth and cohesive. The entire process should take no more than 20 to 40 seconds.

6. Rest the loaf and let it rise on a pizza peel  Place the shaped ball on the polenta covered pizza peel (or cookie sheet) Allow the loaf to rest for about 40 minutes (it doesn’t need to be covered during the rest period). Depending on the age of the dough, you may not see much rise during this period; more rising will occur during baking (“oven spring”).

7. Thirty minutes before baking, preheat the oven to 230°C/gas mark 8 with a baking stone placed on the middle rack, (I used my pizza stone) Place an empty grill tray for holding water on any other shelf that won’t interfere with the rising bread.
8. Dust and slash;  dust the top of the loaf liberally with flour, which will allow the slashing knife to pass without sticking.Slash a 1/4-inch-deep cross, scallop or criss cross pattern into the top, using a serrated bread knife.
 9. Baking with steam:  After a 30-minute preheat, you’re ready to bake. With a quick forward jerking motion of the wrist, slide the loaf off the pizza peel and onto the preheated baking stone. Quickly but carefully pour about 250 ml/8fl oz of hot water from the tap into the grill tray and close the oven door to trap the steam. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until the crust is nicely browned and firm; there is little risk of drying out the interior, despite the dark crust. When you remove the loaf from the oven, it will audibly crackle, or “sing,” when initially exposed to room temperature air. Allow to cool completely, preferably on a wire cooling rack, for best flavor, texture, and slicing. The perfect crust may initially soften, but will firm up again when cooled.
10. Store the remaining dough in the refrigerator in your lidded (not airtight) container and use it over the next 14 days You’ll find that even one day’s storage improves the flavor and texture of your bread. This maturation continues over the 14-day storage period. Refrigerate unused dough in a lidded storage container (again, not airtight just crack the lid a little, or punch a small hole in the plastic lid). If you mixed your dough in this container, you’ve avoided some cleanup. Cut off and shape more loaves as you need them. We often have several types of dough storing in the refrigerator at once. The dough can also be frozen in 450 g/1 pound portions in an airtight container and defrosted overnight in the refrigerator prior to baking day.

So did I do it? well…

I made bread!  This was my first loaf of the batch and admittedly took me longer than 5 minutes to prepare the bread. The mixing of the dough was bliss, literally just mixed it up with a wooden spoon, so easy!  The “gluten cloak” I was a little clumsy with, it did take me longer than a minute as it all kept sticking to my hands but eventually I had a little ball that I was happy with.  I struggled with the “dust and slash” as my knife got caught in the dough! Also I could not perfect the “quick forward jerking motion of the wrist” required to slide the loaf onto the baking stone in the oven! My loaf would not come off the cookie sheet so I half shook and half dragged it off! However despite my less than perfect technique I ended up with a loaf of bread that actually tasted great!

This was my second loaf! I probably was a little more comfortable this time although still struggled to get the loaf into the oven and again the knife got stuck in the dough when slashing.

My 3rd loaf of the batch was the best! I was faster and as it had been in the fridge for 2 weeks it was more sour dough tasting which was a real bonus!

So I baked bread – miracles! My husband and I loved this bread.  Really it tasted as if Id paid way too much at the local  farmers market for it! It may not have been as pretty as if Id got it from the market but it tasted great, was way cheaper and I know exactly what ingredients went into it.  I only made 3 loaves from my mixture but that was fine for me.  Next time I make the bread I will try to use parchment rather than polenta to get the loaf into the oven. It took me longer than 5 minutes to make, I guess that time will decrease as I become more experienced.  What “5 Minute Bread” did give me was confidence. Confidence to try something that Id previously thought too much effort. I will be using this book a lot in the future, as well as perfecting my 5 minute technique I want to try the light wholemeal bread, the olive bread and the bagels! I highly recommend this book!

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Old Fashioned Chocolate Cake

Old fashioned chocolate cake madebyjayne

There is a blogging event called Forever Nigella organised by Sarah on Maison Cupcake. The idea is to make a recipe by Nigella Lawson following a theme that changes each month. This months  theme is “Seduced by Chocolate”  With such a delightfully titled theme I couldn’t resist!

While doing maths at school a wonderful little girl I know calculated that she would be 100 months old on February 10th this year. Well that seemed to me the perfect excuse to bake a cake and to be “Seduced by Chocolate” at the same time!

Nigella Lawson, like myself, seems to be a fan of chocolate and as a fan of Nigella’s  I have over the years made a few of her chocolate recipes. This time I wanted to make something I hadn’t tried before so I chose Nigella’s Old Fashioned Chocolate cake from her Feast book.

I am often disappointed by chocolate cake recipes, they often sound so promising but once baked do not live up to my expectations. I’m always on the hunt for a chocolate cake that tastes like chocolate cake tasted when I was a kid.  Well I grew up  in America and I remember my mother baking lots of cakes. The fact that all these cakes came from a Betty Crocker or Duncan Hines box did not seem strange at all to me!  So when I read that Nigella describes the Old Fashioned Chocolate Cake “as a sort of idealised chocolate cake out of a packet”  I felt hopeful!

Well this time I was not disappointed. It such an easy recipe to follow, literally an all in one mix (like one out of a box!)  It was such a satisfying cake to make, it rose well and tasted as I wanted it to of chocolate! It’s a lovely light cake with rich, decadent frosting, I loved it. But most importantly so did the 100 month old!

For the Recipe see Page 269 in FEAST by Nigella Lawson

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Thanksgiving / Pumpkin bread

Having lived in the UK for so long Thanksgiving was but a memory for me. 
As a child in the US with an English mother we did celebrate Thanksgiving, she embraced the American cranberry sauce and sweet potatoes- no marshmallows in sight though!  I remember Thanksgiving through Christmas as one long, exciting period beginning and ending with the same turkey meal!
It was sad circumstances that bought me to the UK, my mother had died and when I came here to live with my Aunt, among so many other things, Thanksgiving was lost to me. It is not celebrated here and I always had to go to school or work, in fact I always  found it quite a sad day. I tried to recreate it one year in my early 20s and had one of my saddest moments when my one baked sweet potato fell & smashed on the floor. I was devastated!
Last year I discovered Twitter and as I followed in many others Thanksgiving preparations I had a revelation- I was going to celebrate Thanksgiving again! My husband and I went to an American restaurant in London for Thanksgiving dinner- I loved it!
This year we aren’t going out but I’ve thoroughly enjoyed following all the Thanksgiving talk and preparations on twitter. I will raise my glass on Thursday (when I get home from work!)
to join in the celebrations.
I tried making pumpkin pie a while ago but my oh too European husband couldn’t bring himself to try it so instead I will make this Pumpkin bread (which for some reason my husband finds more palatable!)  to enjoy over the weekend. Its a combination of 2 recipes cut from magazines a long time ago.
The mix of white and brown sugars and flours is me trying to be healthier and using as little processed food as possible. The measurement conversions are as accurate as I could get, I constantly struggle trying to convert US to UK. I use the UK measurements when making this.


Pumpkin Bread




225 gram pumpkin puree ( 8 oz )
2 large eggs
115 ml vegetable oil  (1/2 cup)
80 ml water  (1/3 cup)
200 gram brown sugar  (7oz)
100 gram white sugar  (3.5 oz)
200 gram wholemeal flour  (7oz)  
70 gram white flour  (2.5 oz )
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp grated nutmeg
1 tsp cinnamon


1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground cloves


Preheat oven to 175 degrees C,  350 degrees F


Grease and base line one 2lb loaf tin


In a large bowl mix the pumpkin puree, eggs, oil, water and sugars.
In a separate bowl whisk the rest of the dry ingredients (flours and spices).
Fold the dry ingredients into the pumpkin mix.
Pour into prepared loaf tin
Bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour (my oven takes an hour) until a cake tester comes out clean.
Cool in tin for 15 minutes or so before turning out onto cooling rack.


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