Cakes & Bakes: Swedish almond cake

Slice of home-made Swedish almond cake | H is for Home

We’ve just about made our way through last week’s mammoth sourdough coffee chocolate cake. This week, Justin has requested another afternoon tea cake – so I’ve obliged with this Swedish almond cake… one of his favourite flavours!

Egg, sugar and flour in mixing bowls | H is for Home

I came across the loaf cake on the food blog, BakingBar. It’s a family recipe, passed down by David’s grandma.

Swedish almond cake batter | H is for Home

I only made a couple of little tweaks to the original recipe; I omitted the ½ teaspoon of ground cinnamon, added a sprinkling of flaked almonds and divided the batter into two, smaller loaf tins.

Swedish almond cake batter in loaf tins | H is for Home

As they baked, the smell of almond wafted through the house – I could barely wait for them to be taken out of the oven before I was ready to slice and devour!

Cooked Swedish almond cakes in loaf tins | H is for Home

Do sit tight and be patient though, allowing the loaf to cool for half an hour or so really does make all the difference. Brew yourself a lovely cup of tea, cut a couple of slices, take a set, put your feet up and tuck in!

Two loaves of Swedish almond cake | H is for Home

Click here to save this recipe to Pinterest for later!

Swedish almond cake
Serves 12
Ingredients
  1. 280g/10oz caster sugar
  2. 1 egg
  3. 160ml/5⅔ fl oz milk
  4. 1½tsp almond extract
  5. 150g/5¼oz plain flour
  6. 115g/4oz butter, melted
  7. ½tsp baking powder
  8. 30g/1oz flaked almonds
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Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 175ºC/ºF/Gas mark
  2. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, whisk together the sugar and egg
  3. Beat in the milk a little at a time
  4. Beat in the almond extract
  5. In a separate, medium-sized mixing bowl sieve together the flour and baking powder
  6. Add the dry mixture to the wet and combine
  7. Fold the melted butter into the batter
  8. Pour the batter equally into two greased & lined 500g/18oz loaf tins
  9. Sprinkle the flaked almonds over the top of both
  10. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the middle comes away clean
  11. Remove from the oven and allow the loaves to cool on their tins for 20 minutes
  12. Dredge with icing sugar, cut into slices and serve
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Adapted from Baking Bar
Adapted from Baking Bar
H is for Home Harbinger http://hisforhomeblog.com/

25 + 1 Wayfair baking essentials

Baking essentials inside my vintage kitchenette | H is for Home

As regular readers will know, I’m an ex-chef and remain a keen baker. Over the years, I’ve discovered which kitchen tools and appliances are vital and which ones lie neglected, collecting dust at the back of a cupboard.

With the help of Wayfair’s huge range of kitchenwares, I thought I’d share with you what I consider to be my baking essentials.

Wayfair baking essentials: 'Tools' | H is for Home

Tools

  1. Dihl 5.5L stand mixer – The workhorse of the kitchen, it’s a must for those jobs that require buckets of elbow grease; whipping up egg whites, mixing sponge batter and kneading bread dough.
  2. Premier Plus/Superior 9-piece knife block set – Every cutting job has its own particular knife. A long serrated one for slicing loaves of bread, a paring knife for peeling And a block or wall-mounted magnetic strip is essential for keeping them safe & sharp. Knives in drawers is not advised!
  3. 6-piece kitchen tool with holder set – We have a pot of bamboo spoons and spatulas beside the stove… crucial!
  4. Hans dough scraper – Not only does this scraper get your bread dough out of your mixer bowl with ease and no sticky fingers, it gets every last drop of batter into your cake tin.
  5. Original silicone brush – I find a silicone brush much better than a traditional one with bristles which tend to shed and end up sticking to the top of your pastry.
  6. Boxwood rolling pin (50.8cm) – When it comes to rolling pins, the longer the better. Too short, and your pastry ends up with lines and grooves all over it – causing you to over-roll and possibly overwork it. No one likes overworked pastry!

Wayfair baking essentials: 'Tins' | H is for Home

Tins, pans & racks

  1. 12-hole muffin pan – I’m not a big cupcake maker, but I’m very partial to muffins… chocolate, blueberry, apple & cinnamon… mmmm… This one’s non-stick, so you won’t need paper muffin cases. And don’t forget you need something to cook those Yorkshire puddings!
  2. Non-stick springform cake tin set – Every serious baker should have both round and square cake tins. Springform tins are the best, they’re so much easier to get delicate and sticky cakes out of – I don’t bake cheesecakes in anything else!
  3. 32.5cm non-stick rectangle baking sheet – I love home-made biscuits and cookies with my afternoon cup of tea. This is the best thing for cooking them on – ditto meringues, macarons and nut brittle. Like the rolling pin, the bigger the better. The more cookies you can get on your baking sheet, the quicker you can get the entire batched cooked off. Just make sure the one you buy isn’t too wide to fit into your oven!
  4. 27.94cm x 43.18cm cooling rack – If you’re going to be baking, you need somewhere for things to cool. If you leave a cake in the tin too long, it will get soggy or stick to the sides & bottom making it difficult to remove… and Mary Berry won’t like your soggy bottom!

Wayfair baking essentials: 'Measures' | H is for Home

Measures

  1. Baking and candy digital thermometer – If you make jam, jelly or fudge a thermometer is vital. You can judge by eye or consistency, but a thermometer removes the guess work.
  2. Zing digital kitchen scales – I’m rubbish at approximating weights and volumes. Yes, I kind of know the weight of a bag of sugar… or a pint of milk. Some people can just toss flour, sugar, eggs and butter into a bowl, stick it in the oven and presto, a melt-in-the-mouth sponge cake is magically produced. I however, need to create or follow a recipe to the gram. These particular digital scales are great for a number of reasons. Firstly, it has a function that allows you to weigh an ingredient and then zero the scale so you can add additional ingredients. Secondly, you can weigh as little as a gram and as much as 5 kilos – in gram increments. And lastly, they’re orange!
  3. Maison 4-piece metal measuring spoons set – A lot of the recipes I make I find on US food blogger websites. Their ingredients are invariably measured in cups and ‘sticks’ of butter. I used to spend AGES finding their metric equivalents. Now that I have measuring cups that’s a thing of the past. And, by the way, a stick of butter weighs 113 grams.
  4. Stainless steel 6-piece measuring spoon set – Do any of the teaspoons in your house actually hold exactly a teaspoon? How about your tablespoons? No, mine neither. A basic bit of kit for adding baking powder, bicarb, spices, cocoa, coffee, extracts, food colouring etc to your bakes.
  5. 2-hour kitchen timer – I NEVER put anything into the oven without switching on the kitchen timer. I have a memory like a goldfish. I get distracted by the slightest thing, and next thing I know there’s a burning smell coming from the stove-top or the oven. What I like about this one is that it counts down two hours. Lots of bread & cakes need a 1-hour+ bake.
  6. Alessi Twisted measuring jug – I love this measuring jug – it’s a jug with a ‘twist’! Instead of there being the usual gradation markings up the outside of the vessel, they’re on the inside… in a spiral… so you look down into the interior for a bird’s eye view of the volume. Brilliant!

Storage

  1. 2-piece glass mixing bowl set – I have lots of different sized mixing bowls depending on the job I’m doing. These glass mixing bowls get the thumbs up from me because they are perfect for bread making. You can keep an eye on how your prove is going without peering under the cover and, unlike most mixing bowls, they come with useful lids.
  2. Clip top 6-piece Kilner preserving jar set – I have clip-top Kilner jars in every size; from diddy ones that hold spices to jumbo ones that can hold a couple of packets of spaghetti. They’re so much easier to stack & store and look so much more attractive than a mish-mash of opened boxes, bags and packets.
  3. Coverblubber set – I go on all the time about hating waste. These coverblubbers are an ingenious invention. Not only do they cover part-used pieces of fruit & veg such as pineapple, melon, cucumber, onion and avocado; they can be stretched over bowls and jugs to store the food and drink within. Think of all the cling-film – and fruit & veg – you’d save over time!
  4. Cake stand – The only way to keep the cakes that you lovingly bake and ice is under a domed cake stand. We always have a home-made cake on the go; our cake stand has pride of place in the centre of the kitchen table.

Real bread-making

  1. Bread storage bag – If you take the time & effort to bake bread, you don’t want to spoil your loaves & rolls by storing them in a plastic bag. This inner-coated fabric bag is designed to keep your bread fresher for longer.
  2. Pizza peel (35.99cm) – A pizza peel my be for sliding your home-made pizzas into a hot oven. However, I use it for getting all my breads into the oven with ease – especially the wetter dough ones such as ciabatta.
  3. Home made round loaf proving basket – I have a round basket (or banneton) and an oval one. I use the round one perhaps twice as much as the latter as I sometimes use it in conjunction with my Le Cloche. If you make sourdough bread, you need a proving basket.
  4. Marble chopping board (46cm) – The secret to rolling and kneading successful pastry and dough is having a cold work surface (and hands). A top tip is having a large expanse of marble to work upon.
  5. Cast iron baking stone – Ideal for cooking bread products both on the stove-top and in the oven. Crumpets, Welsh cakes, all manner of flat-breads, crepes & pancakes and pizzas.

Textiles Union tea towel

And one last thing…

Textiles Union tea towels
Perhaps the most important of my baking essentials. I don’t know where I’d be without a pile of these! I use them for handling hot pans, covering proving bread, dusting down floury work surfaces, drying the washing up… oh, and putting out the occasional accidental fire!

What baking essentials could you not do without?

Cakes & Bakes: Sourdough coffee chocolate cake

Slice of home-made sourdough coffee chocolate cake | H is for Home #recipe #sourdough #cake #baking

This will be my final recipe celebrating Sourdough September – fitting really, that it’s a recipe for a dessert – sourdough coffee chocolate cake. I’ve lifted the instructions from one of my new favourite websites – King Arthur Flour. Their recipes quick-convert between Imperial, metric and US cups – a really useful feature!

Sourdough and coffee chocolate cake mixtures | H is for Home

As well as Sourdough September, this cake also honours International Coffee Day which happens each year on 1st October… and while I’m at it, why not honour Chocolate Week which runs from 9th-15th October. There… I’ve covered all the bases and no one was left out!

Sourdough coffee chocolate cake batter | H is for Home

Another good thing about this recipe is that it calls for ripe sourdough or discard. I love using up leftovers! It also lists espresso powder as an ingredient; I ground some espresso beans on the finest setting and that worked perfectly.

Baked sourdough coffee chocolate cake | H is for Home

The resulting sourdough coffee chocolate cake is HUGE – almost a kilo of icing alone! You may want to halve the recipe. The two of us will be eating a slice every day for a week… not that I’m complaining. It’s soft, moist, sweet and gorgeous!

Making the icing for a sourdough coffee chocolate cake | H is for Home

There are three separate parts to the process; the cake, the icing and the drizzle. If you don’t think you’ll have enough time in a single day to do all three, you can break it up into stages across two or even three days.

Slice of home-made sourdough coffee chocolate cake | H is for Home #recipe #sourdough #cake #baking

This would be a great one to make as a celebration cake. You could even divide the batter into two tins and make a layer cake if you prefer.

Click here to save the recipe to Pinterest for later.

Sourdough coffee chocolate cake
Yields 15
For the cake
  1. 240g/8½oz sourdough starter, ripe or discard
  2. 225g/8oz whole or evaporated milk
  3. 240g/8½oz plain flour
  4. 300g/10½oz granulated sugar
  5. 200g/7oz vegetable oil
  6. 2tsp vanilla extract
  7. 1tsp salt
  8. 1½tsp baking soda
  9. 65g/2⅓oz unsweetened cocoa
  10. 1tsp espresso powder (optional)
  11. 2 large eggs
For the icing
  1. 680g/24oz icing sugar
  2. 170g/6oz butter
  3. 115g/4oz plain yoghurt or buttermilk
  4. 1tbsp + 1½tsp espresso powder
  5. 15g/½oz hot water
For the drizzle
  1. 50g/1¾oz dark chocolate, broken into pieces
  2. 15g/½oz milk
  3. 20g/¾oz golden syrupHome-made sourdough coffee chocolate cake ingredients
Add ingredients to shopping list
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For the cake
  1. Combine the starter, milk and flour in a large mixing bowl
  2. Cover and rest at room temperature for 2-3 hours
  3. Preheat the oven to 175ºC/350°F/Gas mark 4
  4. Lightly grease a 23 x 33cm (9 x 13-inch) cake tin
  5. In a separate bowl, beat together the sugar, oil, vanilla, salt, baking soda, cocoa and espresso powder - the mixture will be grainy
  6. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition
  7. Gently combine the chocolate mixture with the starter/flour/milk mixture, stirring until smooth. It will be gloopy at first; however, the batter will become smoother as you continue to beat gently
  8. Pour the batter into the prepared cake tin
  9. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the middle comes away clean
  10. Remove the cake from the oven and set it on a wire rack to cool while you make the icing
For the icing
  1. Sift the icing sugar into a large mixing bowl. Set it aside
  2. In a small saucepan set over medium heat, melt the butter and add the buttermilk/yoghurt
  3. Dissolve the espresso powder in the hot water, add to the pan, and bring the mixture just to a boil
  4. Immediately pour the simmering liquid over the icing sugar in the bowl, and beat until smooth
  5. Pour the warm icing over the cake. If you wait too long and the icing stiffens up, just spread it over the cake with an offset spatula
For the drizzle
  1. Combine the chocolate pieces, milk and golden syrup in a microwave-safe container. Microwave until the chocolate softens, then stir until smooth (a couple of 10-second bursts)
  2. Drizzle the chocolate sauce over the icing
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Adapted from King Arthur Flour
Adapted from King Arthur Flour
H is for Home Harbinger http://hisforhomeblog.com/

Price Points: Marble pastry boards

Marble pastry boards | H is for Home

If, like me, you’re an avid home baker, you’ll know that there’s always another piece of kitchen kit that you really, really need in your quest for perfection. Assorted tins, bannetons, scrapers & cutters, a grignette, a peel, baking stone or steel… the list is never-ending.

I’ve been watching lots of YouTube videos to hone my dough kneading technique. I’ve noticed how effortless it looks when people handle & shape their dough using marble pastry boards; especially those really loose, wet ones like ciabatta. It’s also good for (as the name suggests) rolling pastry. That sealed it, my next bit of baking equipment is going to be one of those marble pastry boards – the larger, the better.

  1. Typhoon marble 40x30cm rectangular work surface protector: £16.00, Tesco
  2. J by Jasper Conran – white marble pastry board (42x28cm): £30.00, Debenhams
  3. Marble board – dark or light colour by Marbletree (60x40cm): £69.00, Notonthehighstreet

Cakes & Bakes: Caramelised onion sourdough loaf

Home-made caramelised onion sourdough loaf | H is for Home #recipe #sourdough #baking #realbread

It’s still Sourdough September, and it was also GBBO‘s bread week, so today’s bake celebrates them both; I’ve made a caramelised onion sourdough loaf.

Caramalised onions | H is for Home

The sweet caramelised onion is a wonderful addition – and you can intensify the flavour further with the substitution of onion salt (instead of ‘plain’) to the dough.

Caramelised onion sourdough loaf dough in round banneton | H is for Home

I often find timing sourdough bread proofing stages challenging. So, although I specify rises in this recipe at room temperature, I sometimes have to put my loaf in the coldest room (believe me, it can get really chilly!) in the house for an overnight rise. Then, first thing next morning, I switch the oven on to pre-heat and get baking. This long, slow prove makes the taste of the loaf even more delicious!

Home-made caramelised onion sourdough loaf | H is for Home #recipe #sourdough #baking #realbread

We’ve had this loaf as an accompaniment to a tomato pasta dish – it makes a great mopper-upper! The following day we had what was left with goats cheese and salad.

Click here to save my caramelised onion sourdough recipe to Pinterest.

Caramelised onion sourdough loaf
Yields 1
Cook Time
40 min
Cook Time
40 min
For the caramelised onions
  1. 2 medium-sized red or brown onions, finely sliced
  2. knob of butter
  3. pinch of salt
For the sourdough loaf
  1. 450g/1lb sourdough starter (100% hydration)
  2. 175ml/6⅛fl oz water
  3. 450g/1lb strong white flour
  4. 7g/¼ saltHome-made caramelised onion sourdough loaf ingredients
Add ingredients to shopping list
If you don’t have Buy Me a Pie! app installed you’ll see the list with ingredients right after downloading it
For the caramelised onions
  1. On a medium heat, cook off the onions in the knob of butter adding a pinch of salt. Allow to brown before setting aside to cool
For the sourdough loaf
  1. Mix together the starter, water and salt
  2. Make a well in the centre of the flour and pour in the starter mixture
  3. Combine until everything is thoroughly mixed together and the dough begins to feel smooth
  4. Cover the mixing bowl and allow to sit for about an hour
  5. Fold the dough 8 times (8 single folds)
  6. Re-cover the mixing bowl and allow to sit for about 12 hours at room temperature or until the volume of dough doubles
  7. Turn out the dough out on to a lightly-floured work surface and stretch it out into a rectangle
  8. Spread the cooled caramelised onion mixture evenly on to the rectangle of dough
  9. With the short side facing you, fold the dough on to itself in four, equal lengths ensuring that the mixture runs throughout the dough
  10. Shape the filled dough into your preferred loaf shape (boule, batard, etc.) trying not to have any of the onion mixture poking through the top
  11. Place it into a well-floured (rice flour is preferred) proofing basket/banneton; cover and allow it to sit at room temperature for an hour or until doubled in size
  12. Preheat the oven to 260ºC/500ºF
  13. Once the dough is fully risen and the oven pre-heated, gently transfer the dough from the proofing basket to the baking tray, score the top of the loaf and bake at 260ºC/500ºF/Gas mark 10 for 10 minutes
  14. Turn the oven temperature down to 200ºC/400ºF/Gas mark 6 and bake for another 30 minutes
  15. Remove the loaf from the oven and put it on a wire rack to cool for at least an hour before slicing
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H is for Home Harbinger http://hisforhomeblog.com/

Cakes & Bakes: Sourdough beer loaf

Home-made sourdough beer loaf | H is for Home #sourdough #realbread #recipe

I’m continuing with Sourdough September this week and making a sourdough beer loaf using a dark, delicious porter from Acorn Brewery in Barnsley.

Sourdough beer loaf autolyse | H is for Home

I’ve been baking with sourdough – on and off – for a few years now and it can be hit & miss with the temperature of our house. This recipe that I’ve used talks about room temperature being 22ºC; we have a thermometer in our kitchen that never gets past 15ºC at the peak of summer! I’ve picked up a couple of tricks to improve the ambient environment for bread baking. In the winter, I simply put the proofing bowl/banneton near the wood-burner. In the summer I boil a mug of water in the microwave, remove it, put the bowl/banneton in and close the door. It usually works quite well.

Home-made sourdough beer loaf with bottle of Old Moor porter | H is for Home #sourdough #realbread #recipe

The web page where I found this recipe has lots of photos of the finished loaf uploaded by all the people that tried it. Lots of lovely, round boules and shapely batards. As you can tell from my photos, mine was a bit of a ‘nailed it’ attempt! It wasn’t the temperature but the consistency of my dough that was to blame.

Sliced, home-made sourdough beer loaf | H is for Home #sourdough #realbread #recipe

Starter hydration is described as a percentage – e.g. 100% hydration or 75% hydration. I wasn’t at school on the day percentages were taught and I’ve still not mastered them… maths was always my worst subject too! My starter is kept at the former percentage i.e. equal weight (not volume) of flour & water at each feeding. I don’t know where it went wrong to be honest. I should have gone with my instinct and added more flour – I could tell that I would have to pour my dough out of the banneton, almost as if it was a batter. Even so, it still managed something of a rise and tastes great! I will revisit this sourdough beer loaf recipe very soon and post the results below.

Click here to save the recipe to Pinterest for later!

Sourdough beer loaf
Yields 1
Cook Time
50 min
Cook Time
50 min
Ingredients
  1. 400g/14oz strong white flour
  2. 100g/3½oz wholemeal flour
  3. 345g/12oz bottle of beer (I used most of a 500ml bottle of Old Moor porter brewed by Acorn Brewery of Barnsley here in Yorkshire)
  4. 75g/2⅔oz water
  5. 80g/2¾oz sourdough starter
  6. 12g/½oz saltHome-made sourdough beer loaf ingredients
Add ingredients to shopping list
If you don’t have Buy Me a Pie! app installed you’ll see the list with ingredients right after downloading it
Instructions
  1. Pour 345g/12oz of room temperature beer into a bowl and mix thoroughly to release the carbonation
  2. Add the 500g/17⅔oz flour mixture to the beer and mix until thoroughly incorporated into a shaggy mass
  3. Cover and set aside (autolyse) at room temperature (22ºC/72ºF) for 2-3 hours
  4. Combine the salt, water and starter and mix thoroughly before adding to the dough
  5. Fold repeatedly until everything is thoroughly mixed together and the dough begins to feel smooth
  6. Cover the mixing bowl and allow to sit for about an hour
  7. Fold the dough 8 times (8 single folds)
  8. Re-cover the mixing bowl and allow to sit for about 12 hours at room temperature (22ºC/72ºF) or until the volume of dough doubles (optionally stretch and fold periodically)
  9. Turn out the fermented dough on a lightly-floured work surface and shape into your preferred loaf (boule, batard, etc.) and then place dough into a well-floured (rice flour is preferred) proofing basket/banneton; cover and allow to sit at room temperature (22ºC/72ºF) for about an hour
  10. After 30 minutes or so, place your preferred baking vessel, stone or tray (I used my pizza steel) in the oven and preheat to 260ºC/500ºF (or your vessel's maximum safe temperature).
  11. With the dough fully risen and oven pre-heated, gently transfer the dough from the proofing basket to the baking vessel, score the top of the loaf, and then bake at 260ºC/500ºF with top on (if using) for 20 minutes
  12. Turn the oven temperature down to 230ºC/450ºF and bake for another 10 minutes
  13. Remove the top of the baking vessel (if using) and bake for 20 minutes or until the colour of the crust is as desired and the internal loaf temperature is at least 90ºC/200ºF
  14. Remove the loaf from the oven and place it on a wire rack and allow it to cool for at least an hour before slicing
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Adapted from Breadtopia
Adapted from Breadtopia
H is for Home Harbinger http://hisforhomeblog.com/