Monday, 27 July 2015

Gooseberry Crumble Cake

I mentioned in a previous post that I was given a large amount of fresh gooseberries from a colleague's garden. When I was looking for recipes, I came across this gooseberry crumble cake recipe by Nigel Slater. I followed his recipe and added a sprinkle of brown sugar on top before baking and the cake turned out beautifully. I'm not a fan of gooseberries mainly because they are too tart for me and have a very squidgy texture but in this cake it's absolutely delicious. The sponge is light and I loved the crumble topping. The gooseberries themselves tasted great! J got to taste test the gooseberry and orange drizzle cake as well as this one and he said this cake won hands down. I'm definitely making this again but with the addition of almond flakes on top as it will add extra nuttiness and crunch to the cake. I've been given even more gooseberries so looks like I'll be baking with them for the next few weeks or months!

I'm sending this to Simple and in Season hosted by Ren as gooseberries are in season.

I'm also sending it to Shop Local hosted by Elizabeth from Elizabeth's Kitchen Diary. The gooseberries are fresh from my colleague's garden.

 lovely fresh gooseberries 

 cake batter 

 add fresh gooseberries on top 

 add crumble mix 

 I decided to sprinkle some brown sugar on top 

 fresh from the oven

 You can just see the gooseberries under the crumblelayer here 

Recipe from Nigel Slater - scroll to second recipe on the page. The only change I made was to sprinkle some brown sugar on top before baking. 

Sunday, 26 July 2015

Banana, strawberry and white chocolate muffins

This month Dom from Belleau Kitchen asks us 'how do you like your eggs in the morning?' as his theme for SimplyEggcellent #5. My answer is that it would depend on what day it is. For weekends when there is time for a more leisurely breakfast which is usually brunch by the time we are up and ready it's got to be poached eggs. Smoked salmon, bagel and a poached egg is a particular favourite as well as waffles with fruit, bacon and a poached egg. On weekdays, breakfast is usually a quick and simple affair and more often than not it's muffins! Muffins are really easy to make - usually a mix all in one method and they freeze really well. They are easy to transport and are quite filling especially if you make them a decent size. I've made sweet as well as savoury muffins but almost always come back to a variation of a banana muffin. 

This recipe is another banana one and I used up ingredients that I could find - a box of over ripe strawberries, a bag of giant white chocolate buttons at the back of the cupboard and some yellowing bananas. I also found some frozen strawberries in the freezer which I added just before baking.  The muffins were really moist and flavourful and I loved the addition of the white chocolate buttons. I made a double recipe as I had a lot of ingredients and J and I both took some to work. The muffins disappeared really quickly and I had lots of positive reviews. 

I'm sending this to Simply Eggcellent hosted by Dom from Belleau Kitchen as muffins are a favourite breakfast food of mine which contains eggs.

I'm also sending it to the No Waste Food Challenge hosted by Elizabeth from Elizabeth's Kitchen Diary as this was a good way to use up over ripe bananas, very ripe strawberries and an old bag of white chocolate buttons. I also used up a bag of frozen strawberries which has been in the freezer for a few weeks. 

 adding chopped strawberries and white chocolate buttons (I made a double recipe in case you are wondering why there's so much batter!) 

 ready to go in the oven but not quite... 

 I had a bag of frozen strawberries in the freezer so I decided to put one in each muffin before baking 

 fresh from the oven 

 You can see the whole strawberry which obviously defrosted during the baking process! 

Makes 12 muffins

250g plain flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
120g brown sugar
3 ripe bananas, mashed
250mls milk
80mls sunflower or vegetable oil
2 eggs
120g strawberries, washed, hulled and sliced
80g white chocolate buttons
12 frozen whole strawberries (optional)

  • Preheat the oven to 180C.
  • In a large bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder and sugar. 
  • In another bowl, beat the eggs lightly and add the mashed bananas, milk and oil.
  • Pour the wet mixture into the dry mixture and fold gently until just mixed.
  • Add the chopped strawberries and white chocolate buttons and mix. 
  • Divide the mixture into 12 muffin cases.
  • Add a frozen strawberry on top if using.
  • Bake for approximately 25-30 minutes or until golden brown and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.
  • Allow to cool completely before storing in an airtight container. 

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Blueberry and white chocolate buttermilk scones

This is one of those amazing recipes that started as a bit of an experiment and ended beautifully. I have been quite busy lately and have been neglecting my blog. I do miss baking and blogging and participating in blogging challenges but sometimes life just gets in the way. I didn't get a chance to enter anything last month apart from Alphabakes so I wanted to make sure I got a few entries in this month. The inspiration for this recipe is the We Should Cocoa Challenge hosted by Choclette from Tin and Thyme. The theme this month is blueberries. I started thinking about how to pair chocolate and blueberries. Initially I thought of a blueberry sponge cupcake with white chocolate frosting but decided it was too boring. I debated about cookies but I couldn't find any dried blueberries when I went shopping. I then stumbled upon a recipe for buttermilk scones and thought aha! I don't bake scones often and I've certainly never tried baking this type of scone so I thought I'd go for it! 

I adapted a recipe slightly from Butter Baking which in turn was adapted from Tartine. I wasn't sure how to incorporate the blueberries and white chocolate but I did know that scone mixture should not be handled extensively otherwise the scones are hard and dry. I decided to tip out the scone mixture onto a silicone mat and kneaded it gently. I pressed it into a large rectangle shape then poured the white chocolate chips and blueberries on top. I then rolled the dough so the filling was in the middle. I cut large rectangles and then cut them into triangles. The scones were brushed with melted butter and sprinkled with caster sugar before baking. Every scone had ample filling of blueberries and white chocolate and the blueberries stayed in the middle. 

The scones turned out better than I expected. They look a lot better than those sold at a certain coffee chain! They have a lovely crispy edge and a soft centre. The blueberries and white chocolate work well together and the scones are not overly sweet at all. The sugar on top gives it a lovely crunch. It's best served warm with a cup of tea but it was still delicious the day after.

 add cubed butter to flour mixture  

 I spread out the dough and patted it into a rectangluar shape

 poured the fresh blueberries and white chocolate on top

 fold in half and cut into rectangles and then triangles

 brush with melted butter and sprinkle with caster sugar before baking 

 Loved the crispy bits 

 Warmed up slightly for breakfast the next day - love the oozing blueberries! 

I'm sending this to a few blog challenges this month...

We Should Cocoa hosted by Choclette from Tin and Thyme. The theme this month is blueberries.

Treat Petite hosted by Stuart from Cakeyboi and Kat from The Baking Explorer. The theme this month is Summertime Special. Berries in any form definitely spell summer for me.

Simple and in Season hosted by Ren. Blueberries are definitely in season at the moment.

Recipe of the Week hosted by Emily from A Mummy Too

Tasty Tuesdays hosted by Vicki from Honest Mum.

Recipe adapted from Butter Baking 

Makes 18 scones
For the scones
680g plain flour
100g caster sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
250g butter, cubed
375mls buttermilk
100g white chocolate chips
200g fresh blueberries
For the topping before baking 
30g butter, melted
30g caster sugar for sprinkling

  • Preheat the oven to 180C. 
  • Place the flour, sugar, baking powder and bicarbonte of soda in the bowl of an electric mixer.
  • Add the cubed butter (250g).
  • Mix on a low speed until the butter is incorporated into the flour mixture. 
  • Add in the buttermilk.
  • You should have a soft dough at this point.
  • Tip it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead gently. Try not to overmix or handle the dough too much.
  • Spread the rough into a large rectangle.
  • Pour the white chocolate chips and fresh blueberries on top. 
  • Fold the dough in half starting with the bottom end, folding upwards.
  • Cut into large rectangles and then cut into triangles (see photo above).
  • Place the triangles on a lined baking tray.
  • Brush with melted butter and sprinkle caster sugar on top. 
  • Bake for approximately 25-30 minutes or until golden brown and cooked through.
  • Allow to cool for 5 minutes on the tray.
  • Best served warm but will keep in an airtight container for a day or two. 

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Pineapple Upside Down Cake

Would you believe I've never made a pineapple upside down cake before? As this month's AlphaBakes which I am hosting has the letter 'U' I thought it would be a good opportunity to try my hand at this classic retro cake. The last time we had the letter U I made something a little less traditional in the form of Peaches and Cream Upside Down Cake. The cake received rave reviews at work and there wasn't a crumb left at the end of the day. The sponge is really light and moist and the pineapples added a fruity juiciness to the cake. Plus I'm sure it counts as one of your 5 a day! 

I did a little online research to look at the origins of pineapple upside down cake and it's fascinating. It orginated in America in the 1920's. By the mid 1930's, pineapple upside down cake was one o the most widely made cakes in America. It's popularity peaked in the 50's and 60's and started to wane by 1970's as it seemed outdated. Did you know that there is a National Pineapple Upside Down Cake Day on April 20th?

I'm sending this to AlphaBakes hosted by myself this month and co hosted by Caroline from Caroline Makes. The letter is U for Pineapple Upside Down Cake.

I'm also sending it to Love Cake hosted by Ness from Jibber Jabber UK as the theme this month is Cakes from Around the World. As mentioned this is an American creation although I thought it was British!

 basic cake ingredients plus pineapple rings and cherries

 butter and sugar mixture which caramelises on cooking 

 Hurrah I managed to squeeze 7 pineapple rings as stated in the recipe 

 add cake batter on top and bake 

 It looks really pretty and so retro  

 It's quite a thin cake but absolutely delicious

Recipe from BBC Good Food 

Friday, 17 July 2015

Honey Chocolate Cake

I've been baking quite a bit with Hans Sloane Chocolate beads recently. So far I've made banana, pecan and chocolate waffles, chocolate cookies with ginger or cranberry and a dark chocolate salted caramel oreo pie. Those recipes were made using rich dark chocolate beads or Ecuador 70% chocolate beads. I saw that they have a natural honey with milk chocolate version and was intrigued as I love honey. I absolutely love dark chocolate which is my favourite type of chocolate but I have to say that these natural honey chocolate beads have jumped straight to the top of the favourite list. I've tried honey chocolate products before and often you can't really taste the honey or it tastes artificially sweeter. When you open this pack, the delicious smell of honey hits you immediately. The chocolate is smooth and really tastes like honey. I could have just eaten the whole pack as it is but I had to exert some self control and save it for the recipes. I've also used the natural honey chocolate beads to make a hot chocolate drink and it's absolutely divine.

I started thinking about recipes to showcase the honey chocolate and decided on an old favourite which is Nigella's chocolate honey cake. I've made this recipe quite a few times and it never fails to impress. I have tried different ways of decorating it and I think this is the winner. I put a Kit Kat fence around the cake and added crushed Crunchie bars on top. The bees are my favourite part and they look great sitting in a pool of honeycomb. I also made another cake and decorated it with fresh flowers from the garden and sugar bees.

The cake is light, chocolatey and full of honey flavour. The natural honey chocolate beads adda a really strong honey aroma to the cake and the glaze. The Kit Kats and Crunchie bars add more chocolate and also provides different textures to the cake. The sugar bees are literally the icing on the cake. They look really cute and add a fresh burst of colour to the cake.

 adding honey to the cake mixture 

 adding natural honey chocolate to the cake mixture 

 honey chocolate cake! 

 how cute are the bees in a pool of honeycomb?

 This is the second cake decorated very simply with fresh pansies and sugar bees. 

Recipe adapted very slightly from Nigella 

Makes 1 x 23cm/9 inch round cake
For the cake
100g Hans Sloane Natural Honey Chocolate beads, melted
275g light brown muscovado sugar
225g butter, softened
80ml runny honey
2 large eggs
200g plain flour
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
250ml boiling water

For the sticky honey glaze
60ml water
25 ml runny honey
175grams Hans Sloane Natural Honey Chocolate Beads
75g icing sugar, sifted

For the bees
25 grams yellow ready to roll icing
12 flaked almonds

For the decoration
Kit kat
3 crunchie bars

  • Preheat the oven to 180C.
  • Grease and line a 23cm/9 inch round springform cake tin. 
  • Melt the chocolate in a small bowl over a pan of simmering water. Allow to cool slightly. 
  • Beat the butter and sugar in an electric mixer until pale and fluffy.
  • Add in the eggs, one at a time.
  • Fold in the melted chocolate, flour, bicarbonate of soda and cocoa powder.
  • Finally pour in the boiling water and mix well.
  • Pour the cake batter (which will be quite liquid) into the prepared cake tin and bake for an hour. 
  • Check the cake after 45 minutes and cover with foil if the top of the cake is brown. 
  • Allow the cake to cool completely in the tin on a wire rack. 
  • To make the glaze, put the water and honey in a small pan and bring to the boil. Remove from the heat. 
  • Add the Hans Sloane Natural Honey Chocolate Beads and whisk gently until the chocolate has melted.
  • Add in the icing sugar and continue whisking until smooth. 
  • To make the bees, divide the yellow icing into 6 even pieces.
  • Roll each piece in the palm of your hand into a sausage shape roll that's tapered at one end.
  • Use a wooden skewer to paint 2 stripes on each 'bee' with the sticky honey glaze as shown. Add 2 dots in the front for eyes.
  • Place 2 almond flakes, one at either end to form the bee's wings. 
  • To decorate the cake, place 4 strips of parchment paper on a cake stand to form a square. This is a great tip from Nigella as the icing is quite runny initially and prevents a mess on the cake stand. 
  • Place the cooled cake in the centre of the cake stand.
  • Pour the sticky honey glaze on top of the cake allowing it to drip down the sides.
  • Gently slide out the strips of baking paper so you have a clean cake stand. 
  • Cut Kit Kat bars in half and arrange them around the border of the cake the form a fence.
  • Crush 3 Crunchie bars and sprinkle on top of the cake.
  • Carefully add the bees on top.
  • Alternatively decorate with some fresh pansies and sugar bees. 
  • (Note - the sticky honey glaze is very sticky and a little runny so make sure you allow plenty of time for it to set before serving) 
Disclaimer: I was sent Hans Sloane chocolate beads for review purposes. A positive review was not required and all opinions are my own. This is not a sponsored post.