Posts Tagged With: 2017

Pear Gingerbread Upsidedown Cake

Yay, Autumn is here again! And, of course, the dawn of this season means baking with luscious scrumped fruit, sticky syrup/treacle and oodles of heaven-scented winter spices. It just wouldn’t be Autumn otherwise. And this lovely bake utilises all three of this holy culinary trinity.

Isn’t it funny how you can bake a seemingly failsafe recipe that you’ve made countless times before and it can turn out a disaster, and you can write something off as an epic dog’s dinner of a cake fail only for it to turn out beautifully? Unfortunately, normally the former is the case for me, but this week I experienced a prime example of the latter.

I was making some banana and caramel cupcakes for my work’s Macmillan Coffee Morning and thought I’d make use of some scrumped pears while I had the oven on. I had a flick through some of my trusty recipe books and came across an enticing apricot upsidedown number in Cakes & Slices that didn’t seem to require too much effort, for which I could easily substitute the suggested fruit for my windfall pears.

Part-way through making it I realised I didn’t have enough butter and substituted some of it for milk, and I also replaced the syrup with treacle out of necessity in my haste to get the damn thing finished. I melted the wet ingredients together as instructed before folding in the dry, and the result looked terrible!

It was wet and lumpy, and the baking powder I added in the hope of giving it a better rise (in light of the lack of eggs) let off an ominous fizz. When I poured the dodgy-looking concoction over the pear slices I barely had enough to cover them. By this point, I was convinced that this monstrosity would have to go down in the ‘disaster’ file, but thought I may as well cook it.

Anyway, I needn’t have worried as, to my surprise, it rose beautifully and tasted wonderful! The ratio of pear to sponge was just right, and the cake was deliciously moist without being overly sticky. I shared slices with various people and they all loved it. I’ll definitely make this again, and perhaps try it with other fruit.

I had some leftover caramel from my Macmillan cupcakes which is why I drizzled some over the top, but it’s certainly not essential.

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INGREDIENTS – makes one sponge of approx. 22cm/8.5 ins diameter

  • 2 medium pears, peeled, cored and chopped into fairly thin, neat slices
  • 175g/6 oz butter
  • 140g/5 oz brown sugar + a little extra for sprinkling
  • 85g/3 oz treacle
  • 185g/6.5 oz self-raising flour
  • 2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp mixed spice
  • Half a tsp baking powder
  • Drizzle of maple or golden syrup
  • Drizzle of Carnation caramel (optional)

METHOD

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees C (or 160 fan) and line a round cake tin with parchment paper.
  2. Sprinkle about half a tablespoon of brown sugar over the bottom of the tin, drizzle over some maple/golden syrup, then neatly arrange the pear slices in a circle on top.
  3. Place the butter, sugar and treacle in a heatproof bowl then melt together in the microwave on a medium heat in blasts of 1 minute.
  4. Stir well and then fold in the flour, ginger, mixed spice and baking powder – don’t worry that the batter looks lumpy and runny!
  5. Pour the batter evenly over the pears, then place the tin in the oven for about 25-30 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the sponge comes out mostly clean.
  6. Remove the cake from the oven and place on a wire rack. When cool, turn the cake out so that the pears are at the top.
  7. Drizzle some Carnation caramel over the cake, if you like (if the caramel is too stiff, heat it for about 30 seconds in the microwave on LOW heat in a heatproof bowl and give it a good stir).
  8. Enjoy cold, or warm with some cream or ice cream. Yum!

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Categories: Layer Cakes | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Caramel Coffee Cake

I should probably start by saying that one of my pet hates is promotional blog posts that fawn over products that have been sent to the blogger in return for free advertising so apologies if this is a bit hypocritical, but I must say that this particular type of coffee really made this recipe special. And I promise I’ve not been given any incentive to promote it!

The product in question is Beanies caramel flavour instant coffee. My mum bought a jar of it from Aldi a few weeks ago and I was captivated by the absolutely heavenly aroma wafting from the cup as it brewed.

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Now, I actually cannot stand the taste of coffee, but bizarrely I love it in cake form and knew I had to try and bake with this angelic smelling stuff! And a 50th birthday for a java-loving colleague at work was the perfect excuse to try.

The recipe is extremely simple – pretty much just a slightly adapted Victoria sponge and standard buttercream – but the caramel coffee really takes the flavour to another level of deliciousness.

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INGREDIENTS – makes 3 shallow or 2 deep sponge layers of 20cm/8 in diameter

For the cake:

  • 225g/8 oz self-raising flour
  • 140g/5 oz caster/granulated sugar
  • 55g/2 oz brown sugar
  • 225g/8 oz butter/margarine
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tbsp Beanies caramel coffee granules dissolved in 1.5 tbsp boiling water

For the buttercream icing/topping:

  • 55g/2 oz butter
  • 140g/5 oz icing sugar
  • 0.5 tbsp Beanies caramel coffee granules dissolved in 1 tbsp boiling water
  • Handful of mini salted caramel fudge pieces, or other fudge/toffee type sweets chopped into small pieces
  • 50g/1.5 oz dark chocolate, chopped into small pieces

METHOD

For the cake:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees C (or 160 fan) and line two or three round baking tins with parchment paper.
  2. Whisk the butter/margarine and sugars together in a large mixing bowl until pale, then whisk in the eggs.
  3. Fold in the flour and coffee until a batter of a soft dropping consistency has formed.
  4. Pour the mixture into the prepared cake tins, then pop in the oven and bake for around 15-20 minutes until a cocktail stick inserted into the sponges comes out clean.
  5. When baked, transfer the cakes onto a wire rack and remove from the tins when cool. At this stage, the sponges can be frozen for decorating at a later date if you wish.

For the buttercream/topping:

  1. Place the butter and coffee in a bowl and gradually beat in the icing sugar until smooth and spreadable (if it’s too runny, add a bit more icing sugar until you have the desired consistency).
  2. Spread half of the buttercream on top of one of the cooled sponges (or one third if using three layers), then place the other sponge on top and spread with the remaining buttercream (or divide it between the remaining two sponges if using three layers).
  3. Sprinkle the chopped dark chocolate and fudge pieces over the cake before serving.
Categories: Icing, Layer Cakes, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Pineapple & White Chocolate Pavlova

Following the success of my first ever homemade meringues back in October last year, I’ve been keen to have a go at a full-blown pavlova. A sweet, snowy mountain adorned with smooth white cream and colourful fresh fruit, I’ve always thought pavlovas make a spectacular dessert, as well as being a nice lighter alternative to cake.

I thought if my attempt turned out like the delicious marshmallowy-on-the-inside-crisp-on-the-outside individual little clouds I made previously I’d be happy, but I was worried that this monster version would be more temperamental, and cook unevenly or shatter into sad little bits of chalk dust when baked. Luckily, I needn’t have had such concerns as it came out beautifully.

Although the topping combination was my idea, I can’t take credit for the meringue base here. My kitchen-whizz mum suggested I use her failsafe pavlova recipe from her trusty old copy of The Love of Cooking by Sonia Allison (from 1972!), and it proves that the oldies are certainly goodies as it worked perfectly. It’s definitely going to be be my go-to recipe in future!

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Now here I must confess that I’m not a massive fan of berries, which are a staple of the quintessential pavlova. I love anything strawberry, raspberry or blueberry flavoured, but I just don’t enjoy the texture of the fruits themselves. However, I needed something that would cut through the sweetness of both the meringue and white chocolate, so I decided to use refreshingly sharp pineapple instead and I think it worked really well.

The finished article went down an absolute storm with my family, and I’ve definitely been bitten by the homemade meringue bug, so I’ll certainly be making more pavs in the future!

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INGREDIENTS – serves approx. 6 people

For the meringue base:

  • 4 egg whites
  • 225g/8 oz caster sugar
  • Quarter tsp cream of tartar
  • 2 tsp cornflour
  • 1 tsp vinegar (any kind will do)

For the topping:

  • 1 x 36g sachet Dream Topping + milk as needed by the packet instructions (or 250ml/0.5 pint double cream)
  • 1 x 432g can pineapple chunks or slices in juice, drained
  • 50g/1.5 oz white chocolate, chopped into chunks
  • A sprinkling of white and pink edible pearls (optional)

METHOD

For the meringue base:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 130 degrees C (or 110 fan) and line a large flat baking tray with parchment paper.
  2. Place the egg whites in a very clean mixing bowl and whisk with the cream of tartar until white and frothy.
  3. Continue to whisk while adding the sugar a few tablespoons at a time until stiff, glossy peaks form – this will take a good few minutes (you should be able to hold the bowl of mixture over your head without it spilling out!)IMG_rd1c9n
  4. Gently fold in the cornflour and vinegar with a spatula (and don’t panic at the odd acidic smell like I did – this will disappear once it’s cooked, I promise!)
  5. Dollop the mixture in a rough circle on the baking parchment, ensuring it’s in a thick layer so you can’t see the paper through it at any point.
  6. Place in the oven and bake for around 1-1.5 hours, until a crisp shell has formed and the meringue is very slightly golden on the top but mostly white.
  7. When cooked, remove from the oven and leave to cool.

For the topping:

  1. Prepare the Dream Topping (or cream) according to the packet’s instructions – it should be quite thick and not runny – and then pile it on top of the meringue base.
  2. If using pineapple slices, cut them into small chunks and scatter on top of the Dream Topping, followed by the white chocolate chunks.
  3. Finish with a sprinkling of a few pretty pink and white pearls if you fancy, and serve immediately.
Categories: Other Treats | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Healthy Rice Krispie Granola Bars

Well, I think it’s about time to make my first blog post of 2017! A very belated Happy New Year to you all 🙂

In my last post I said I wanted to try and eat healthier and shift a bit of weight, and by some miracle I’ve actually stuck to it (thus far)! I’ve not been following any kind of radical diet, just cutting down on the amount of naughty stuff and exercising more. I’ve been going to the work gym twice a week, walking to and from the office every day and taking lunchtime yoga classes on Mondays, also at work (one of the great things about being employed by a university is the access to an array of convenient fitness facilities, and at a significant discount!)

I’ve managed to lose 6 pounds so far, which I’m really pleased about as I’m not trying to lose a shedload of weight in a short period, only to pile it all back on when the urge to eat a wheelbarrowful of Dairy Milk becomes too much. I want to do it gradually while still being able to enjoy my favourite treats in moderation. To be perfectly honest, I’ve not missed eating cake that much but chocolate is proving to be very much my Achilles’ heel…

The downside to this wee health kick is that I’ve not been doing as much baking, apart from a few cake requests for colleagues. However, my other half bought me the latest Bake Off book for my birthday last month and it contained a fabulous recipe for ‘Posh Granola Bars’, which I knew I had to try right away. Toasted oats, Rice Krispies, nuts, fruit and honey in yummy crunchy bar form and easy on the waistline to boot – what’s not to like?

They turned out delicious, but I decided to adapt them slightly in subsequent batches by increasing the quantity of Rice Krispies, substituting the butter for peanut butter and using raisins instead of dried cranberries. I like these ones even better, and they’re easier to cut without turning to crumbs, meaning they’re perfect to take to work for a healthy and filling mid-morning snack.

If you’re not as mad a fan of Rice Krispies as me, cut the amount down to 25-50g and up the oats to 200g, although personally I love the crunch they add! Also feel free to use whatever dried fruit you like, or maybe go wild and add some chocolate chips?

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INGREDIENTS – makes 12 bars

  • 150g/5 oz oats
  • 70g/2.5 oz Rice Krispies or other puffed rice cereal
  • 100g/3.5 oz mixed nuts, coarsely chopped (I used pecans, walnuts, almonds and Brazil nuts)
  • 50g/1.5 oz peanut butter
  • 160g/5.5 oz honey
  • 50g/1.5 oz raisins
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp cooking oil

METHOD

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees C (or 160 fan).
  2. Tip the oats and chopped nuts into a rectangular baking tray and add the cooking oil.
  3. Use your hands to combine the mixture, rubbing the oats so that they’re lightly coated in the oil.
  4. Place the tray in the oven for around 6-8 minutes until the oats become slightly dry and golden.
  5. Place the honey and peanut butter in a mixing bowl and melt together in the microwave in blasts of 1 minute until smooth.
  6. Pour the oat and nut mixture, Rice Krispies, raisins and cinnamon into the wet ingredients and stir thoroughly to combine. If the mixture seems too dry and crumbly, add a dash more honey.20170212_122217
  7. Wipe the baking tray clean and line with parchment paper, then pour in the mixture and press down evenly with a spatula.
  8. Place in the oven for around 10 minutes until the top of the mixture is light brown in colour.
  9.  Leave to cool on a wire rack and then cut up into bars using a sharp knife.
Categories: flapjacks, Healthier, Traybakes | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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