Archive | November, 2011

Christmas cake update

27 Nov

A nasty cold may have stopped me baking for a while but there’s no stopping me from topping up my Christmas cake with brandy!

I wish this blog had smellavision because it smells awesome!
It might look funny wrapped up but had to take the picture as soon as I smelt it.
So my second top up is now complete. Just one more to go in a fortnight before I serve it up in three weeks time at my friend’s Christmas party.
And in the meantime I’ll have to think of ways to stop the boyfriend from drinking the brandy (we’re already on the second bottle)!


Caramel dreaming (kind of)

14 Nov

Today my usually strong immune system decided to succumb to my boyfriend’s cold, leaving me feeling well and truly sorry for myself.
The cure? A dose of lemsip and Hummingbird’s caramel cupcakes.
I’ve been meaning to make them since I bought the new Cake Days book but until last weekend hadn’t been able to find the Carnation Caramel needed to make them (anyone looking for it should go straight to your local Asda).
Whether it’s my rubbish cold or just a bad first attempt, the cakes didn’t quite come out as I hoped. The first batch exploded after I filled the cupcake cases too high and the second batch didn’t rise enough. But caramel frosting solves a magnitude of sins and despite their less than perfect insides, they’ve come out quite well.
I’m yet to master the caramel hearts though!
Here’s the best one:

Christmas comes early

12 Nov

Today’s task was making this year’s Christmas cake. I meant to do it weeks ago but haven’t been able to dedicate four hours of my life to the kitchen until today.
Last year I used a Delia Smith recipe but this time I spotted one in the Asda magazine so thought I’d give it a go.
And, despite almost forgetting to add the flour and somehow accidentally stopping my timer halfway through, leaving me to guess when it was ready, it looks pretty good – albeit slightly darker than the cake in the photograph!

In case you’re looking for a recipe, here’s the one I used:

-200g butter;
-200g dark brown soft sugar;
-1tbsp black treacle;
-4 medium eggs;
-100g glacé cherries;
-2tsp mixed spice;
-900g Whitworths fruit mix;
-finely grated zest of one lemon and one orange;
-225g plain flour, sifted;
-50g ground almonds;
-50g flakes almonds (although I decided not to use these);
-50ml rum or brandy (I chose brandy, French to be precise!)

1. Preheat oven to 150C and line a 24cm round deep cake tin with treble-thickness baking paper.
2. In a large bowl, beat sugar, treacle and butter until soft.

3. Gradually beat in eggs then quarter the glacé cherries and add to the mixture along with mixed spice, mixed fruit and zest. Stir until combined.

4. Fold in the flour, almonds and rum/brandy then spoon mixture into cake tin and level off the surface.

5. Bake in centre of oven for 2 hours then reduce temperature to 140C and cook for another 1 hour 30 mins or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.
6. Leave to cool in the tin for an hour then turn out onto wire rack to cool completely.
7. When cool, prick the surface and spoon over 2tbsps rum/brandy. Repeat this step every 2 weeks until ready to ice.

8. Wrap tightly in greaseproof paper and foil and store in a cool, dry place for at least a week before icing or eating.


8 Nov

Today I got home to find my boyfriend has decided to jump on the bandwagon and bake some cupcakes.
Usually Troy is a terrible baker-mainly because he thinks he knows better than the recipe’s author and makes it up as he goes along.
But not today. Courtesy of my Hummingbird book he’s done pretty well, although his choice of icing is questionable!
In true Troy fashion, he’s customised the recipe slightly and hidden a chunk of Toblerone inside some of them (although he can’t remember which ones!). I think this cake sums up my apprehension:


5 Nov

Hi everyone.
Welcome to the first of many ramblings about my favourite hobby-baking.
What better way to start it off than a birthday cake! The paper I work for, The Loughborough Echo, turned 120 this week. We had a bumper edition paper and a day of celebration in town but there was one thing missing…cake! Sunday’s mission was therefore to set that right.
It might sound stupid but I couldn’t find a recipe for birthday cake anywhere so in the end I went for the good old fashioned Victoria sponge. It was actually my first attempt at making one and I have to say it went pretty well (although it was a bit touch and go trying to get it out of the tin after I didn’t read the recipe properly and forgot to put baking paper on the bottom,which meant it got slightly stuck-oops).
It was also my first attempt at writing in icing. It was much harder than I expected and the 2 on my 120 looked more like something carved by Zorro!
Nevertheless everyone at work seemed to enjoy it and that’s the main thing.
In case you are looking for a recipe, I used one from ‘Cakes and Bakes’ by Love Food:
-175g unsalted butter, softened, plus extra for greasing;
-175g caster sugar;
-3 eggs, beaten;
-175g self raising flour;
-3tbsp jam;
1. Preheat oven to 180 deg c and grease two 20cm/8in sandwich tins with butter. Line bases with baking parchment.
2. Put the butter and sugar in a mixing bowl and cream together until the mixture is pale and white and fluffy. Cream for 1-2mins if using an electric whisk or 5-6mins by hand (my chosen method).
3. Add the eggs a little at a time, beating well after each addition.
4. Sift the flour and carefully add it to the mixture, folding it in with a metal spoon or palette knife.
5. Divide the mixture between the tins and smooth over with palette knife.
6. Bake in middle of oven for 25-30mins until well risen, golden brown and beginning to shrink away from the sides of the tins.
7. Leave to stand for one minute then use a palette knife to loosen the cakes away from the sides of the tins and turn out onto cooling rack.
8. Leave for 30-45mins to cool and sandwich together with jam.

If you’re doing a regular Victoria sponge it says to shake over 1tbsp caster sugar but as mine was a birthday cake I used Asda’s ready to roll white icing and finished it off with chocolate icing.

Here’s my finished product: