Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Sweet and Simple Bakes Monthly Bake ~ Snow-Flecked Brownies

For this month's bake at Sweet and Simple Bakes I chose these absolutely amazing brownies! We had not baked brownies over at Sweet and Simple Bakes and I was so excited to introduce this recipe to our bakers. This is my all time favourite brownie recipe which I make time and time again and one I am sure our bakers will keep making too. These brownies are the essence of decadence, with their gooey chocolate centre, studded with chunks of white chocolate and the final touch, a light dusting of icing sugar for a snowy effect! Perfect for the Christmas season.

Please pop over to Sweet and Simple Bakes (from the 2nd December) to view more brownie entries! If you would like to be part of our monthly bakes, we would be delighted to have you join in and bake with us – everyone is welcome! Visit our site for further details about joining.

Snow-Flecked Brownies

375g best quality dark chocolate
375g unsalted butter at room temperature
1 tablespoon real vanilla extract
6 eggs (large)
350g caster sugar (superfine)
1 teaspoon salt
225g plain flour
250g white chocolate buttons or chips, or white chocolate chopped into chunks (or your own choice of chocolate)
2 tsp icing sugar, for dusting

Tin measuring approx 33cm x 23cm x 5.5cm

Preheat the oven to 180C/Gas 4/350F.

Line the sides and base of a 33 x 23 x 5.5com baking tin with foil or baking parchment.

Melt the butter and dark chocolate together in a large heavy based pan.

In a bowl or wide mouthed large measuring jug, beat the eggs together with the caster sugar and vanilla extract.

Allow the chocolate mixture to cool a little, then add the egg and sugar mixture and beat well. Fold in the flour and salt. Then stir in the white chocolate buttons or choped white chocolate. Beat to combine then scrape and pour the brownie mixture into the prepared tin.

Bake for 25 minutes, You can see when the brownies are ready because the top dries to a slightly paler brown speckle, while the middle remains dark, dense and gooey. Even with such a big batch you do need to keep checking on it: the difference between gungey brownies and dry ones is only a few minutes. Remember, too, that they will continue to cook as they cool.

To serve, cut into squares while still warm and pile up on a large plate, sprinkling with icing sugar pushed with a teaspoon through a small sieve.

Sunday, 1 November 2009

Sweet and Simple Bakes Monthly Bake ~ White Chocolate and Orange Cookies

For our monthly bake at Sweet and Simple Bakes I chose White Chocolate and Orange Cookies! Cookies have not featured too much in our monthly bakes, so this month I decided to address that balance with this cookie recipe. Generally cookies are quick and easy to assemble and this recipe is no exception. I’ve baked these cookies before and they were a roaring success, they didn’t last 24hrs in the cookie jar! These cookies are light, crispy, chewy and full of intense orangey chocolate flavour. I challenge you to make them and have them last more than a day! Please pop over to Sweet and Simple Bakes to view more cookie entries! If you would like to be part of our monthly bakes, we would be delighted to have you join in and bake with us – everyone is welcome! Visit our site for further details about joining.

White Chocolate & Orange Cookies

Makes 2 dozen

115g unsalted butter, softened
200g caster sugar (superfine)
1 egg
Grated zest of 1 orange (2 to 3 tsp)
1 tsp vanilla extract
200g plain flour
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
¼ baking powder
¼ tsp salt
225g white chocolate chips (milk or dark chocolate)

Preheat the oven to 190oC/170oC fan oven/375oF/Gas mark 5.

Beat the butter and sugar. Add the egg, orange zest and vanilla extract.Sift together the dry ingredients.

Stir the dry ingredients and chocolate chips into the butter mixture and combine.

Roll into balls. Use your fingers to flatten onto a non-stick baking sheet 5cm/2in apart. Bake for 8-10 minutes.

Cool for five minutes and transfer to a cooling rack.

When cool, store in an airtight container for up to four to five days.

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Revisiting Vanilla Apple Cake

I love baking new recipes and the excitement that comes as you wait for your new creation to come out of the oven but I also love revisiting recipes that have become firm favourites in my home. I have an abundance of cooking apples as you know from my previous post and whilst browsing for ideas to incorporate my apples I remembered this favourite, Vanilla Apple Cake. It’s the perfect autumnal cake, with its deliciously moist vanilla sponge and chunky apple wedges. We love to savour this rustic looking cake with hot custard or cream but it's also delish on its own to be enjoyed with a nice cup of tea or coffee.

Vanilla Apple Cake

250g/9oz unsalted butter, softened, plus extra for greasing
250g/9oz golden caster sugar (or normal caster sugar)
4 eggs, beaten
250g/9oz self-raising flour
1 vanilla pod, split, seeds removed and reserved (or 1 tsp vanilla extract)
3 small Bramley apples, peeled, cored and cut into wedges (or any other type of cooking apple, if not apple of your choice)
2 tbsp Demerara sugar
¼ tsp ground cinnamon

Heat the oven to 180C/fan 160C/gas 4. Butter a 20cm/8inch springform tin, then line the base with baking paper.

Beat the caster sugar and butter together until the mixture turns pale and fluffy. Add the eggs, flour and vanilla seeds, then beat together quickly to make a smooth batter. Tip into the prepared tin, then lay the apple wedges on top, poking them halfway into the mix. Don’t worry if the apples appear crowded – they’ll shrink as they cook. Sprinkle with the Demerara and cinnamon, then bake for 1 hour 5 mins, or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean and the sponge is risen and golden.

Leave to cool for a few mins, then release the tin and cool the cake completely on a wire rack.

Today I'm adding a pic of my lovely cat Coco. Here she is in one of her favourite places to snuggle and sleep, her Willow's Cat-a-Sphere Cat Bed!

Friday, 2 October 2009

Apple and Cinnamon Cake

In the UK the first day of autumn falls in September and runs through to December and it has to be said that autumn is my favourite season! Apples come into their own in autumn, with the cooking apple being one of them. I am not short of cooking apples at the moment and my family and friends have been enjoying apple crumbles, pies and cakes galore. My mother in law has an apple tree in her garden which was brimming with apples, hence why I have enough cooking apples to keep me busy in the kitchen baking up a storm! Yesterday I received a couple of new cookbooks from my recent late night browsing session on Amazon and this recipe happened to be the first I landed on, must have been fate! This cake is incredibly yummy and is wonderful served warm with custard, cream or clotted cream.

Apple and Cinnamon Cake=A slice of comfort

Apple and Cinnamon Cake
Recipe adapted from Mary Berry's Baking Bible

225g softened butter
225g light muscovado sugar
3 large eggs
100g walnut pieces, chopped
100g sultanas
225g self-raising flour
2 level tsp baking powder
400g cooking apples, peeled, cored and grated
1 level tsp ground cinnamon

To Finish:
light muscovado sugar, for sprinkling
extra chopped walnuts, for sprinkling
icing sugar, for dusting

Preheat the oven to 180oc/Fan 160oC/Gas 4. Grease and base line a 9 inch (23 cm) deep round cake tin with baking parchment.

Measure the butter, sugar, eggs, chopped walnuts, sultanas, flour and baking powder into a large bowl and beat well for about 2 minutes until thoroughly blended.

Spoon half the mixture into the prepared tin then spread the grated apple and ground cinnamon in an even layer on top. Spread the remaining cake mixture on top, level the surface then sprinkle generously with light muscovado sugar and walnuts.

Bake in the pre-heated oven for about 1 ¼ - 1 ½ hours or until the cake is well risen and golden brown. Leave to cook in the tin for a few minutes then turn out, peel off the parchment and finish cooling on a wire rack. Dust with icing sugar to serve.

I had to share these pics of my gorgeous cat Madison whose been such a comfort to me in the recent weeks since Ollie's passing. His unconditional love for me never ceases to amaze me and his truly special! Here he is doing what he does best, being cute and posing for the camera.

"To some blind souls all cats are much alike. To a cat lover every cat from the beginning of time has been utterly and amazingly unique."

Thursday, 1 October 2009

Sweet and Simple Bakes Monthly Bake ~ St Clement's Drizzle Cake

For our monthly bake at Sweet and Simple Bakes I chose a British favourite, St Clement’s Drizzle Cake. This delectable cake recipe is quick, easy and produces a very light and moist sponge that is bursting with all those wonderful citrusy flavours soaked through, finished with a crunchy sugary top. The perfect refreshing afternoon teatime cake! Please pop over to Sweet and Simple Bakes to view more yummy entries! If you would like to be part of our monthly bakes, we would be delighted to have you join in and bake with us – everyone is welcome! Visit our site for further details about joining.

St Clement’s Drizzle Cake

175g caster sugar
175g softened butter
Grated zest and juice of 1 large lemon
Grated zest and juice of 1 large orange
4 tablespoons milk
2 eggs
175g self-raising flour
3 tablespoons granulated sugar

Preheat the oven to 180oC/fan 160oC/gas 4.

Grease and line the base of 1 large (900g) or 2 small (450g) loaf tins.

Place the caster sugar, butter and zest of the lemon and orange in a bowl and beat together until pale and creamy. Add the milk, and then beat in the eggs, one at a time, with a spoon of flour to prevent the mixture from curdling. Mix in the remaining flour. Spoon into the prepared tin/tins and level the surface flat.

Bake in the oven for about 45 minutes for a large cake or 30 minutes for the smaller cakes until they are golden and a skewer comes out clean when inserted into the centre of the cake.

While the cake is cooking, place the lemon and orange juice in a saucepan, bring to the boil and allow to reduce in quantity to about 3 tablespoons. Leave to cool, and then stir in the granulated sugar so it just starts to dissolve.

As soon as the cake comes out of the oven, prick several times with a skewer, then slowly pour the lemon and orange sugar all over the top, letting it soak into the cake. Leave to cool completely in the tin before turning out and cutting into slices to serve.

Thursday, 3 September 2009

Banana Strawberry and White Chocolate Loaf

I want to start off by thanking each and every one of you for the lovely messages of condolence and support. It’s been a tough time and I miss Ollie very much, it’s hard waking up some mornings not being greeted by his beautiful face but I take strength from him and how much he fought for life. Last week we picked up his ashes and both hubby and I shed some more tears together as we placed his wooden casket alongside the burning candle we light in his memory each day since his passing. Each day is a new day and as everyone keeps telling me time is a great healer but Ollie will always be in my heart and I won’t ever forget the happiness and love he gave me. Today was not a good day for me but I know I need to carry on and do the things I enjoy, so I ventured into the kitchen and did some baking.

I had some strawberries and ripe bananas and decided to combine the both with some white chocolate and make a quick cake loaf. I love this combo of flavours, having made some muffins with the same combo not long ago. This utterly lush loaf delivers a moist sweet sponge, with the delightful blend of mashed banana and studded through with bite-sized strawberry chunks and white chocolate chips. A match made in heaven!

Banana, Strawberry and White Chocolate Loaf

½ cup butter, softened
½ cup brown sugar, packed
½ cup sugar
2 eggs
1 cup banana, mashed (about 2 medium sized bananas)
¼ cup milk
2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt1 cup strawberries, hulled and chopped
½ cup white chocolate chips or chunks

Preheat oven to 350. In a mixing bowl cream the butter and sugar. Add the eggs one at a time and beat well after each one. Add the banana and the milk. In a separate bowl mix together the flour, baking soda and salt and add to the creamed mixture until just blended. Using a spoon mix in the strawberries and chocolate chips. Pour into a greased 9X5X3 inch loaf pan and bake in your preheated 350 degree oven for about 1 hr and 20 minutes or until tester comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes in pan then remove to cool completely on a wire rack.

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Jammy Doughnut Muffins~Sweet and Simple Bake!

I present this month's offering for Sweet and Simple Bakes. I've not done much baking in the last couple of weeks but I didn't want to let down Rosie and all the hard work she's done over the last couple of month's, plus getting back in the kitchen was a pleasant distraction. My family definitely appreciated this return to baking and these muffins were a big hit. They are super easy to make and in the words of my family, "these are the best kind of doughnuts in muffin form"! I will certainly be making them again. Please pop over to Sweet and Simple Bakes to view more yummy entries!

Jammy Doughnut Muffins

Makes 12

275g (10 oz) plain (all-purpose) flour
3 tsp baking powder
Pinch salt
100g (4 oz) caster (superfine) sugar
2 eggs
200ml (7 fl oz) milk
75g (3 oz) unsalted (sweet) butter, melted and cooled
1 tsp vanilla extract
12 tsp strawberry or raspberry jam

For The Toping
100g (4 oz) unsalted (sweet) butter
150g (5 oz) granulated sugar
½ tsp ground cinnamon (optional)

You will need 12 hole muffin tin lined with paper cases.
Preheat the oven to 190°C/375°F/Gas mark 5.

Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a large mixing bowl, and stir through the sugar. In large jug, lightly beat the eggs then add the milk, cooled butter and vanilla extract and beat together. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients stir gently until just combined. (Do not over mix, its fine to have a few lumps in the mixture.) Spoon half the muffin mixture into the base of each paper case. Top each muffin with a teaspoon of jam. Now equally between each paper case, top with the remaining muffin mixture. Bake in the preheated oven for 15 – 20 minutes until well risen, golden and firm to the touch.

For The Topping: melt the butter in a saucepan over a low heat. Spread the granulated sugar in a wide, shallow bowl with the cinnamon if using. When the muffins are baked, leave in the tin for 5 minutes. Dip the tops of the muffins in the melted butter and then roll in the sugar. You can serve these muffins warm or cold; however, I do prefer to eat them whilst warm.

Saturday, 15 August 2009

Goodbye my darling Ollie

I'm very sad to be writing this but my Ollie passed away this morning. He fought as hard as he could but unfortunately he could not beat the FIP disease. This morning it was evident he had no more fight left in him and after not having eaten barely anything these past couple of days we had to bring him to the vet. The vet confirmed our fears and said it was the right time to let Ollie go. At 9.35am this morning Ollie passed away peacefully in my hubby's arms. Today has been one of the saddest days of my life but I am at peace in the knowledge that Ollie is now in a better place and no longer suffering. I am really going to miss him so much!!

Rest in Peace Ollie
08/07/08 - 15/08/09

Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge. When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge. There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together. There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.

All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor; those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by. The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.

They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent; His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster.

You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.

Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together....

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

♥ Happy Birthday Hubby ♥

Today we are celebrating my hubby's 37th birthday! To celebrate the occasion I baked him a 4 layer Vanilla and Chocolate Cake and Chocolate Fudge Cupcakes. Both of which have been thoroughly enjoyed today. It's been a great day of retail therapy, followed by lunch and then ten pin bowling with our son and his girlfriend. We plan to finish the celebrations this evening with a romantic meal for hubby and I at our local Thai restaurant.

Vanilla and Chocolate Layer Cake

For the cake:
340g butter, at room temperature
280g caster sugar
6 eggs, medium
280g self-raising flour
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp cocoa powder, sifted

For the icing:
520 icing sugar, sifted
220g butter, at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 tbsp milk

Preheat the oven to 180oC/fan oven 160oC/Gas mark 4. Grease four 8in cake tins, and line the bottoms with greaseproof or baking paper.

Beat together the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time. Sift the flour on top and fold in. Separate half the mixture into another bowl and sift in the cocoa powder until well combined. Stir in the vanilla extract to the other mixture. Spoon the cake batter into the prepared tins and spread out evenly, using the back of the spoon. Bake for 20-25 minutes. Turn out the cakes out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

To make the icing, beat together the icing sugar, butter, vanilla and milk until smooth and creamy. Spread each cake layer and then swirl the remaining icing all over the cake.

Chocolate Fudge Birthday Cupcakes

Makes 12

140g soft butter
140g golden caster sugar
3 medium eggs
100g self-raising flour
25g cocoa, sifted

For the frosting:
85g milk chocolate, broken
85g soft butter
140g icing sugar, sifted
Sprinkles (optional)

Heat oven to 190C/fan 170C/gas 5 and put 16 gold cases into a fairy-cake tin. Tip all the ingredients for the cake into a mixing bowl and beat for 2 mins with an electric hand-whisk until smooth. Divide between the cases so they are two-thirds filled, then bake for 12-15 mins until risen. Cool on a wire rack.For the frosting, microwave the chocolate on high for 1 min. Cream the butter and sugar together, then beat in the melted chocolate. Spread on the cakes and decorate with various sprinkles.

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

Raspberry and Peach Cake

It’s now raspberry season and I love making use of the current season’s fruits especially in bakes or desserts. I’ve had my eye on this recipe for a while now and it comes courtesy of a wonderful book that I bought last year called Cakes & Bakes, a must have! The recipes in the book are all easy to make and this cake was without doubt quick and easy, which is great when you’re short for time. I’d never tried the raspberry and peach combo and the flavours together are simply beautiful and work wonderfully. This is the perfect summer cake with the sweet peaches and fresh raspberries providing a delightfully fruity combination in this light and fluffy cake, topped with a coating of apricot glaze!

Raspberry and Peach Cake

200g unsalted butter, melted
250g self-raising flour, sifted
100g golden caster sugar
4 medium eggs, beaten
125g raspberries
2 large almost-ripe peaches or nectarines, halved, stoned and sliced
4 tbsp apricot jam
Juice of ½ lemon

Preheat the oven to 190oC (170oC fan oven) mark 5. Grease a 8in springform cake tin and baseline with baking parchment.

Put the flour and sugar into a large bowl. Make a well in the centre, and add the melted butter and the eggs. Mix well.

Spread half the mixture over the base of the cake tin and add half the raspberries and sliced peaches. Spoon on the remaining cake mixture, smooth over, then add the remaining raspberries and peaches, pressing them down into the mixture slightly.

Bake for 1-1 ¼ hours until risen and golden, and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Remove from the oven and leave in the tin to cool for 10 minutes.

Warm the jam and lemon juice together in a small pan and brush over the cake to glaze.

Saturday, 1 August 2009

Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting~Sweet and Simple Bake!

I present to you my offering for this month’s Sweet and Simple Bake! I was over the moon when Rosie presented us with my favourite carrot cake recipe. I have baked this amazing carrot cake many times and it never fails me. It is always a big hit with family and friends, attracting many positive comments and exclamations of delight! 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 frosting (my cream cheese frosting didn't come out as good as other times due to the humid weather). This recipe without doubt delivers all this; the cake is delectable and a carrot cake lover’s dream! Please pop over to Sweet and Simple Bakes to check out more yummy entries.

Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Serves 12

180g (6½ oz) self-raising flour
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
Pinch of salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
½ tsp mixed spice
2 eggs
150 ml (5 fl oz) vegetable or sunflower oil
200g (7 oz) soft light or dark brown sugar
300g (11 oz) grated carrots
100g (4 oz) sultanas
75g (3 oz) walnuts, chopped (optional)

Cream Cheese icing
75g (3 oz) cream cheese
75g (3 oz) softened butter
125g (4½ oz) icing sugar
½ tsp vanilla extract

For Decoration
Sprinkles or walnut halves – optional
You will need a 13cm x 23cm (5 in x 9 in) loaf tin, oil and line the loaf tin with greaseproof paper.

Preheat the oven to 150°C/300°F/Gas mark 2. Sift all the dry ingredients into a bowl and leave aside. Beat the eggs in a large bowl, now add the oil, brown sugar, grated carrot, sultanas and chopped walnuts. Stir in all sifted dry ingredients and bring the mixture together with a wooden spoon. Turn into the prepared tin, smooth the top of the mixture and bake in the oven for 1 – 1¼ hours or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Allow to cool in the tin for 10 minutes before turning out on a wire rack to cool completely.

To make The Cream Cheese Frosting:
Beat the cream cheese and butter together in a bowl until combined. Add the vanilla extract, icing sugar and mix to combine. Using a palette knife, spread the frosting evenly over the top of the cooled cake. Add the sprinkles or walnut halves if desired. Served cut into slices.

Friday, 31 July 2009

Raspberry Bakewell Cake

If you are a lover of the Bakewell Tart you will love this cake! I came across this recipe on the BBC Good Food website whilst on my search for something quick and easy to bake using some juicy raspberries that I had in my fridge and the recipe ticked all the boxes. My hubby and I have always loved the combo of raspberries and almond together and this golden coloured cake is bursting with sweet almond flavour, dotted with fresh raspberries within a moist and fluffy sponge!

Raspberry Bakewell Cake


140g ground almonds
140g butter, softened
140g golden caster sugar
140g self-raising flour
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
250g raspberries
2 tbsp flaked almonds
Icing sugar, to serve

Heat oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4 and base-line and grease a deep 20cm loose-bottomed cake tin. Blitz the ground almonds, butter, sugar, flour, eggs and vanilla extract in a food processor until well combined.
Spread half the mix over the cake tin and smooth over the top. Scatter the raspberries over, then dollop the remaining cake mixture on top and roughly spread - you might find this easier to do with your fingers. Scatter with flaked almonds and bake for 50 mins until golden. Cool, remove from the tin and dust with icing sugar to serve.

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Banana Strawberry and White Chocolate Muffins

This is my all time favourite muffin recipe, I just love how quick and easy these muffins are to make up. The recipe is very flexible and you can add all types of chocolate chips, fruit or whatever your taste buds desire. On this occasion I made use of some strawberries I had in the fridge and thought the combination of banana, strawberry and white chocolate would be utterly luscious. I definitely hit a winner with this combo! These muffins deliver a moist sweet sponge, with the delightful blend of mashed banana and studded through with bite-sized strawberry chunks and white chocolate chips. A match made in heaven!

Banana Strawberry and White Chocolate 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
300g strawberries hulled and chopped into bite size chunks
150g white chocolate chips

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 strawberries and the white chocolate chips, then place equal quantities in the prepared muffin tin and bake in the oven for 20 minutes. Cool in the tin for 5 minutes before removing to cool completely on a wire rack.