Monday, 20 October 2008

The Cake Slice ~ Capuccino Chiffon Cake

This is my first cake for The Cake Slice event that is run by Gigi and Katie. The plan is to bake our way through all the gorgeous cakes from the wonderful book, Sky High: Irresistible Triple Layer Cakes by Alicia Huntsman and Peter Wynne. I made this cake a couple of weeks back when I had guests over for dinner and it was a big hit, everyone loved this cake and we all agreed that it tasted like Tiramisu! If you would like to view more Capuccino Chiffon Cakes made by other members of The Cake Slice, then please visit our blogroll site: The Cake Slice Bakers!

Cappucino Chiffon Cake

Makes an 8-inch triple layer cake
1/4 cup of neutral oil (ie. vegetable, canola, or soybean)
6 eggs separated
6 tablespoons of freshly brewed espresso cooled to room temperature
2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
1 and 1/3 cups of cake flour*
1 and 1/2 cups of sugar
1 teaspoon of baking powder
1/2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1/2 teaspoon of cream of tartar
Cocoa powder or cinnamon for dusting

(*The recipe calls for cake flour and if you only have all-purpose flour on hand, you can substitute 3/4 cup (105 grams) all purpose flour plus 2 tablespoons (30 grams) cornstarch.)

Espresso Syrup
1/3 cup hot freshly brewed espresso
1/3 cup of sugar
1/3 cup dark rum, such as Meyers*

(*if you want to leave out the rum you can use molasses thinned with pineapple juice and flavored with almond extract to equal 1/3 cup. Or use 1 to 2 teaspoons of rum extract flavoring but you'll have less syrup.)

Vanilla Whipped Cream
3 cups of heavy cream
1/3 cup of sugar
2 teaspoons of vanilla

1. Preheat the oven to 350F degrees. Line the bottom s of three 8-inch round cake pans with parchment paper but do not grease.

2. In a medium bowl, combine the oil, egg yolks, espresso, and vanilla; whisk lightly to blend. In a large mixing bowl, sift together the flour, 1 cup of sugar, the baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. Set aside.

3. In the large bowl of an electric mixer, whip the egg whites with the cream of tartar on medium-low speed until frothy. Raise the mixer to medium high and gradually add the remaining 1/2 cup of sugar. Continue to beat until soft peaks form. Do not whip to stiff peaks or the cake will shrink upon cooling.

4. Add the espresso-egg mixture to the dry ingredients and fold together just until combined. Add one fourth of the egg whites and fold them gently into the batter. Fold in the remaining egg whites just until no streaks remain. Divide the batter among the pans.

5. Bake the cakes for 18 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean. Allow the cakes to cool completely in the pans. Once cooled run a knife around the edge of the pans to release the cakes. Invert onto a wire rack and remove the parchment papers.

6. To assemble the cake, place one cake layer flat side up on a cake stand or platter. Soak the cake with 1/3 cup of the espresso syrup. Spread 1 and 1/3 cups of whipped cream evenly over the top of the cake. Repeat with the next layer the same steps. Finally top with the third layer. Soak with syrup and frost the top and sides of the cake with the whipped cream.

7. To decorate the cake smooth out the whipped cream as much as possible on top. Lay a paper doily on top and sift cocoa powder or cinnamon over the doily to reveal a lacy detail.

Espresso Syrup
makes 1 cup

In a bowl, stir together the espresso and sugar. Stir until the sugar dissolves. Add the rum and let cool to room temperature.

Vanilla Whipped Cream
makes 6 cups

Place the cream, sugar, and vanilla in large chilled mixing bowl with chilled beaters. With the whip attachment, beat the cream until stiff peaks form.

Friday, 17 October 2008

Ghoul-Graveyard Cake

I know it’s a bit early for Halloween but my sisters and I are having a get together tomorrow with all our kids and we don’t see each other as often as we would like due to distance. So I thought I would bring Halloween early for the kids and make them this Ghoul-Graveyard Cake which I’ve made many times before and always been a hit with kids and adults alike. This cake is so easy to make, the sponge is a babyfied version of a devil’s food cake and you just bung all the ingredients into a food processor. I did change the frosting and used buttercream instead, only for the reason that I wasn’t too keen on the frosting in the original recipe. The buttercream swirls on like a dream and my favourite part is always decorating the cake with the sprinkles and Halloween themed lollies!

Ghoul-Graveyard Cake

For the cake:
250ml milk
1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
225g plain flour
50g cocoa
2 teaspoons baking powder
one-half teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
200g caster sugar
110g butter or soft margarine
2 eggs
1 teaspoon real vanilla extract

For the buttercream frosting:
150g unsalted butter, softend
300g icing sugar, sifted
Splash of milk
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
Black colour paste
Black sugar sprinkles
Hallowe'en-themed jelly lollies, at least 1 per child

Preheat the oven to gas mark 3/170C. Grease and line a 23cm springform tin. Mix the milk and vinegar together and set aside.Make sure all your remaining ingredients are at room temperature if you can, but since no one's going to be overly worried about the cake, you shouldn't be either. If the ingredients are cold, the worst that can happen is that the cake will be heavy. But you do need soft butter (or the cake won't mix), so substitute marge if that's not a goer. Put everything for the cake, except the vinegary milk, into a food processor and blitz to mix. Remove the lid, scrape down with a rubber spatula and then put the lid back on and with the motor running, add the vinegary milk.Scrape, spoon or pour the brown batter into the tin and spread to fill it evenly, baking it for 40-45 minutes until it is well risen and springy to the touch. Remove the cooked cake, in its tin, to a rack and leave to cool for about ten minutes, then spring open the tin and let the cake get completely cold.

To make the icing, beat the butter until fluffy, then beat in the icing sugar and vanilla extract. Add a splash of milk to soften the consistency slightly. Swirl the icing on top and sides of the cake once it has cooled. Sprinkle over the black sugar sprinkles to cover the top and trim the lolly sticks, so that you have a stem of about 3-4cm to stick into the cake, and then plunge the sticks of the foreshortened lollies into the cake so that the ghoulish faces leer out from their black-frosted graveyard.

Thursday, 16 October 2008

Banana Milk Chocolate & Peanut Butter Morsel Muffins

Do you have ripe bananas in your fruit bowl? Then look no further! These banana muffins are simply delicious and one of the easiest recipes, which is why I make them time and time again. I know I’ve blogged about them before but I’m not going to apologise for blogging them again. I love these muffins and so do my boys. They are perfect for breakfast on the run, which is really why I made them. My son didn’t have breakfast this morning; apparently he didn’t have time and was running late for college. As a mother I just hate the thought of him not having had breakfast, which is the most important meal of the day! So tomorrow he has no excuses but I doubt that he will have an issue grabbing a few of these to munch on the way to college, I’ve added swirled milk chocolate & peanut butter morsels, so try stopping him!

Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

3 very ripe bananas
125ml vegetable oil
2 eggs
250g plain flour
100g caster sugar
½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
150g dark/milk chocolate (white chocolate, butterscotch chips or peanut butter morsels)

Preheat the oven to 200ºC/180ºC fan oven/gas mark 6 and line a 12-bun muffin tin with muffin papers.
Mash the bananas and set aside for a moment.Pour the oil into a jug and beat in the eggs.
Put the flour, sugar, bicarbonate of soda and baking powder into a large bowl and mix in the beaten-egg-and-oil mixture, followed by the mashed bananas.
Fold in the chocolate morsels, then place equal quantities in the prepared muffin tin and bake in the oven for 20 minutes.

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

Carrot Cake

Who can resist a slice of moist carrot cake? Does it lure you in? Well I for one can’t resist and it definitely lures me in. I love carrot cake and if topped with a cream cheese icing then it’s all over for me!! I watched Rachel Allen making this carrot cake on TV last week from her new series Bake that accompanies her new book Bake. Did I mention how great this book is?! Well the series is great too; you get to watch her make recipes from the book, which I love. There are probably hundreds of recipes for carrot cake but personally a good carrot cake recipe is packed with carrots, spice, nuts, raisins and not forgetting the cream cheese icing. This recipe without doubt delivers all this, the cake is delectable and a carrot cake lover’s dream!

Carrot Cake

Serves 12

2 eggs
140ml (5fl oz) vegetable oil
200g (7oz) soft light brown sugar
300g (11oz) grated carrot (weight when grated)
100g (3 ½ oz) raisins
75g (3oz) pecans or walnuts, chopped (optional)
180g (6 ½ oz) self-raising flour
Pinch of salt
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
½ tsp mixed spice

For the orange cream cheese icing
250g (9oz) cream cheese (straight from the fridge)
50g (2oz) butter, softened
1 tsp vanilla extract
275g (10oz) icing sugar, sifted
Finely grated zest of 1 orange
Sugar flowers or sprinkles (optional)

13 x 23cm (5x9in) loaf tin

Preheat the oven to 150oC (300oF), Gas mark 2. Oil and line the loaf tin with greaseproof paper. Beat the eggs in a large bowl, then add the oil, brown sugar, grated carrot, raisins and chopped nuts. Sift in the dry ingredients and bring the mixture together using a wooden spoon or large metal spoon. Pour the mixture into the prepared loaf tin, smooth the surface and bake in the oven for 1-1 ¼ hours or until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. Allow to cool in the tin for about 5 minutes before removing. Cool completely on a wire rack before serving.

To make the icing, beat the cream cheese and butter together in a bowl until combined. Add the vanilla extract, icing sugar and finely grated orange zest and mix to combine. The icing sugar should be smooth and quite thick. Using a palette knife, spread the icing evenly over the cooled cake, dipping the knife into a bowl of hot water if the icing is hard to spread out. Cut into slices to serve.

Edit: Just had to add this pic of Ollie, seems he also loves Rachel Allen's new book Bake! ;o)

Tuesday, 14 October 2008

White Chocolate & Cranberry Cookies

Today I finally managed to bake my hubby’s favourite cookies; he has been requesting these cookies for weeks but I didn’t have time this weekend. It was a busy but productive weekend, with the first glimmer of Christmas coming to our home. I made my Christmas cake, Christmas pudding and mincemeat and the house was filled with that unmistakable Christmassy baking aroma! (More to follow soon on my Christmas Cake, Pudding and Mincemeat!)

These supreme white chocolate and cranberry bejewelled cookies are the finest you’ll ever taste and they don’t last long once I place them in the cookie tin. I was thinking they would make a perfect gift at Christmas, packed in a lovely box and tied with a ribbon.

White Chocolate & Cranberry Cookies

75g (2¾ oz) butter, softened
50g (1¾ oz) soft brown sugar
50g (1¾ oz) caster sugar
1 egg
A few drops of vanilla extract
160g (5¾ oz) plain flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
Pinch of salt
110g (3¾ oz) white chocolate chips
50g (1¾ oz) dried cranberries

Preheat the oven 190oC/170oC fan/375oF/Gas 5 and line two baking trays with baking paper. Mash up the butter and sugar with a wooden spoon until well mixed, then whisk with electric beaters until smooth. Mix in the egg and vanilla. Sift in the flour and baking powder and add a small pinch of salt. Beat with the wooden spoon to make a soft sandy mixture. Stir in the chocolate and cranberries.

Lightly moisten your hands and roughly roll teaspoons of the mixture into balls. Arrange them on the trays, leaving a fair space between for flattening and spreading. Bake for about 12-15 minutes, or until the cookies are golden and darkening around the edges. Remove from the oven but leave them on the tray to cool and firm up. These will keep in a cookie tin for a couple of days.

Makes 30 cookies

Thursday, 9 October 2008

Glittery Marshmallow Cripsy Squares

Last year I was really excited when Nigella Express hit the stores but upon receiving my copy I was so disappointed, it wasn’t the Nigella I was accustomed with. I haven’t cooked or baked much from the book, a first for me cos I have enjoyed and love all her other books, including the new Nigella Christmas! But I was determined to get my head around this new style of writing and recipes and took the book down from the shelf last week and I am happy to report that it’s growing on me. Earlier in the week I made the Rocky Road Crunch Bars which were a huge hit and were gone in less than 24hrs, so we are getting off to a good start. One of the recipes which really caught my eye was these Marshmallow Crispy Squares, must be the glitter cos I LOVE glitter and sparkle, oh yes and pink! I’m a true girly girl and these squares are just too cute, they would be a huge hit with girls of all ages. My boys will enjoy these too; anything that tastes sweet, buttery and crispy will get their vote (even if they don’t look too macho with glitter all over their mouths...hahaha, gosh I need a laugh today and I am looking forward to this later on).

Marshmallow Crispy Squares

45g butter
300g mini marshmallows
180g Rice Krispies
Edible glitter or sprinkles (optional)

Melt the butter in a large, heavy-based saucepan over a low heat.

Add the marshmallows and cook gently until they are completely melted and blended, stirring constantly.

Take the pan off the heat and immediately add the cereal, mixing lightly until well coated.

Press the mixture into a greased 32cm x 23cm tin; you may have to put on vinyl CSI gloves and press it down into the corners, as it will be very sticky. Flatten the top and then scatter over the edible glitter or sprinkles, if so inclined.

Let the marshmallow crispy squares cool completely in the tin and then cut them into 24 squares.

Wednesday, 8 October 2008

The Ultimate Autumn Cheesecake!

I spotted this amazing cheesecake recipe in last month’s Sainsbury’s magazine and knew I had to make this pronto! I don’t normally make big desserts during the week but this weekend I will be busy baking my Christmas cake, puddings and mincemeat and won’t have time to bake anything elaborate. Plus this recipe was calling out to me! This cheesecake is heavenly with the pairing of apples and cinnamon and all those wonderful flavours of autumn. The filling is a decadent, light and airy consistency and not heavy like your average cheesecake, giving this a unique texture. It would make the perfect dessert for Thanksgiving or anytime during these autumn and winter months!

Pink Lady Cheesecake

Serves 8

12 digestive biscuits, crushed
85g (3oz) butter, melted
500g (1lb 2oz) cream cheese
100ml (3 ½ fl oz) double cream
2 large eggs, plus 2 egg yolks
3 tablespoons caster sugar (I would definitely suggest adding more sugar. It wasn't sweet enough with 3 tbsp of sugar.)
½ teaspoon cinnamon
2 Pink Lady apples, cubed
3 Pink Lady apples, for garnish, sliced
1 tablespoon butter, melted

Preheat the oven to 150oC, 130oC fan, gas 2. Mix the biscuits and butter and press into a 20cm (8in) cake tin. Bake for 10 minutes, remove from the oven and cool. Put the cream cheese, cream, eggs, sugar and cinnamon into a bowl and beat until smooth. Pour a third of the mixture into the tin and add the cubed apple. Pour over remaining mixture and bake for 30-40 minutes (I had to bake mine for 60 mins) until set. Remove from the oven and cool. Brush apple slices with butter and grill for one minute each side. Place on top of the cake.

Tuesday, 7 October 2008

Rocky Road Crunch Bars

I was watching a recent episode of Nigella Express and watched Nigella making this simple and very tasty recipe for Rocky Road Crunch Bars. I can’t believe I’ve never made this classic combo before today and it’s one of those popular bars that most of us remember from our childhood. These bars are an indulgent chocolate treat and packed with yummy ingredients. I used white and pink marshmallows, only because I love pink and I thought the pink studded through the bars makes it look pretty! Be warned these bars are rich and sweet but no kid or adult would be able to refuse a slice of this sinful piece of sheer pleasure.

Rocky Road Crunch Bars

125g/4½oz soft unsalted butter
300g/10½oz best-quality dark chocolate, broken into pieces
3 tbsp golden syrup
200g/7¼oz rich tea biscuits
100g/3½oz mini marshmallows
2 tsp icing sugar, to dust

Heat the butter, chocolate and golden syrup in a heavy-based saucepan over a gentle heat. Remove from the heat, scoop out about 125ml/4½fl oz of the melted mixture and set aside in a bowl.
Place the biscuits into a plastic freezer bag and crush them with a rolling pin until some have turned to crumbs but there are still pieces of biscuit remaining.
Fold the biscuit pieces and crumbs into the melted chocolate mixture in the saucepan, then add the marshmallows.
Tip the mixture into a 24cm/9in square baking tin and smooth the top with a wet spatula.Pour over the reserved 125ml/4½fl oz of the melted chocolate mixture and smooth the top with a wet spatula.
Refrigerate for about two hours or overnight.
To serve, cut into 24 fingers and dust with icing sugar.

Monday, 6 October 2008

Banana and Chocolate Bread ~ Update on Ollie

I baked another fabulous recipe from Rachel Allen’s new book Bake (yep another Bake recipe but I love this book and no point in buying books if you’re not going to use them, right?). In our home bananas are eaten within a few days of me buying them or left to go ripe and like I’ve said before I hate food going to waste. And any excuse to bake is also another plus for me and my boys. I love baking banana breads and trying out new recipes, you can never try enough! This moist bread, packed with ripe bananas and chocolate chips has the additional ingredient of orange zest which adds a decadent touch to this delicious bread. My boys love banana bread at any time of the day but it’s great for breakfast with a glass of milk when time isn’t on your side.

Banana and Chocolate Bread

Serves 10-12

250g (9oz) self-raising flour
Pinch of salt
1 tsp baking powder
150g (5oz) caster sugar
100g (3 ½ oz) butter, softened
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
Finely grated zest of 1 orange
475g (17oz) whole bananas (about 4 small ones), peeled
75g (3oz) dark chocolate chips

13 x 23cm (5x9in) loaf tin

Preheat the oven to 170oC (325oF), Gas mark 3. Lightly butter and line the loaf tin with parchment paper.

Sift the flour, salt and baking powder into a large bowl. Add the sugar and butter and, using your fingertips, rub it in until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Whisk the eggs, vanilla extract and orange zest in another bowl. Add the bananas and mash very well with a potato masher. Add the chocolate chips.

Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and pour in the banana mixture. Gently but thoroughly bring all the ingredients together with a wooden spoon, then pour into the prepared loaf tin. Smooth the top and bake in the oven for 1-1 ¼ hours or until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.

Allow to cool for 5 minutes before removing the cake from the tin and leave to cool on a wire rack.

Ollie is getting on great and is such a happy kitten, he has adjusted very quickly and we’ve had a lot of progress with at least one of our cats, Madison, his no longer hissing at him and they are friends!!! This morning I walked into our conservatory to find Madison and Ollie both together in a box they have which they love to play and sleep in and it made me teary but in a happy and good way as I knew this was the moment that told me that they are buddies now. Coco our other cat, she is not being easy on Ollie and is hissing and growling but at least she can be in the same room as him now and not hiding upstairs in my son’s loft bedroom as she was in the first few days. So hopefully we will get there but I’m very proud of my Madison, I knew he wouldn’t let me down and it’s so great to see him with Ollie.

The captured moment of Ollie in the box with Madison ;o)

Saturday, 4 October 2008

Sticky Pear and Caramel Cake

I spotted this cake in my autumn edition of Woman & Home Feel Good Food magazine that I picked up at Sainsbury’s last night (thanks Rosie for the heads up)! I knew I had to make it today, as I had some pears going ripe in the fruit bowl and I hate seeing food go to waste. This was quick and easy to make and is a lovely, moist cake with a luscious pear and caramel combination. You can serve it with either crème fraîche, cream or custard.

Sticky Pear and Caramel Cake

Serves 10

325g (11oz) caster sugar
4 pears, peeled, quartered, cored and sliced
175g (6oz) self-raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
125g (4½oz) butter, melted
2 free-range eggs
50ml (2fl oz) semi-skimmed milk
1 tsp vanilla extract

20cm (8in) loose-bottomed round cake tin, lined with baking parchment to come slightly up the sides.

Preheat the oven to 180oC, 160oC fan, 350oF, gas 4. Put 150g (5oz) sugar in a heavy-based saucepan and add 3 tablespoons of water. Dissolve the sugar over a gentle heat, then turn up the heat and boil until the sugar turns a rich amber colour. Swirl the pan to redistribute the heat evenly, but do not stir. Pour the caramel into the base of the prepared tin, allow to cool, then arrange the pear slices in a circular pattern on top.

Sift the flour and baking powder together. Add the remaining sugar, and stir until well-blended. Add the melted butter, eggs, milk and vanilla, then mix at high speed for 1 minute to form a smooth batter. Pour over the pears and bake for 40 minutes to 1 hour, or until the cake springs back when pressed in the centre. Allow to cool for 10 minutes in the tin, then invert on a wire rack and serve still warm.

Thursday, 2 October 2008

Peanut Butter and White Chocolate Blondies ~ Ollie comes home!

I’ve mentioned in my previous posts about having been the lucky recipient of Rachel Allen’s new book Bake and how it’s packed full of wonderful recipes that just make you want to bake! These Peanut Butter and White Chocolate Blondies are another example of the variety of recipes in the book. I wanted to bake something for my boys as the cake tin is empty and they love coming home to baked treats but also needed to find a recipe that was quick cos my Ollie is finally home (more about him in a minute)! So I remembered seeing this easy and quick recipe in the book and decided they were the perfect answer. These blondies are incredibly yummy and the white chocolate combined with the peanut butter creates a delicious sensation!

My Ollie is finally home! Hubby and I picked him up yesterday and the ride home was the start of wonderful things to come with my new kitten. He rode in the car up front with me on my lap purring away and looking out the window and loved it! When we got home he was of course nervous and my other cats were not pleased to say the least, hissing and growling but that’s to be expected. I am sure in time they will all be friends but it might take a few days or weeks. Ollie seems really happy and his so cuddly, wants to be with me all day, either on my lap or just around me (hence why I had to bake something quick today). I am so happy that his mine, his definitely a special cat!

Peanut Butter and White Chocolate Blondies

Makes 12 small squares

125g (4½oz) plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
100g (3½oz) butter, softened
150g (5oz) crunchy peanut butter
175g (6oz) soft light brown sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 tsp vanilla extract
75g (3oz) white chocolate, chopped

20 x 20cm (8 x 8in) square cake tin

Preheat the oven to 170oC (325oF), Gas mark 3. Butter the sides of the cake tin and line the base with greaseproof paper.

Sift the flour and baking powder into a small bowl and set aside.

In a large bowl, cream the butter and peanut butter together until very soft. Add the sugar, egg and vanilla extract and beat until combined. Add the flour, baking powder and the chopped chocolate and mix to form a dough.

Place the dough in the prepared tin and bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown and almost firm in the centre.
Allow to cool in the tin, before removing and cutting into squares

Wednesday, 1 October 2008

Vanilla Apple Cake ~ Sweet and Simple Bake!

It’s our monthly-round up again over at Sweet and Simple Bakes and this month I chose this rustic and delicious recipe for Vanilla Apple Cake. I thought this was the perfect cake to welcome in the lovely season of autumn when apples are in abundance! I am looking forward to seeing another great round up and reading everyone's entries.

If you would like to re-create this delicious cake you can find the recipe here!