Posts Tagged ‘cake’

Cakes & Bakes: Carrot muffins

Thursday, February 11th, 2016

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Home-made carrot muffins | H is for Home

Earlier this week, Justin bought a big bag of special offer carrots… and then, couple of days later, his mum gave us half a bag of her bulk buy special offer carrots. We had a sudden glut!

grated carrot, sultanas and chopped walnuts

So this week’s cake baking had to utilise some!

Adding pineapple to egg white, milk and vegetable oil mixture

Fortunately we do love a good carrot cake, but decided on a little twist by making some carrot muffins with spiced Quark topping.

Spooning carrot muffin batter into cases

Cinnamon and pineapple are the dominant flavours – there’s a hint of ginger in there too.

Carrot muffins cooling on a wire rack

Quark a fairly unusual ingredient with a taste and consistency somewhere between crème fraîche and cream cheese. We think it worked really well.

Quark, sugar and cinnamon for muffin topping

The resulting muffins are moist and full of flavour – and just a little bit different.

Adding Quark topping to the carrot muffins

It’s an easy recipe, so a batch can be knocked up quickly.

Home-made carrot muffins | H is for Home

They’re a great partner for that afternoon cup of tea we talked about recently.

Carrot muffins
Yields 12
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Cook Time
25 min
Cook Time
25 min
For the muffins
  1. 2tbs vegetable oil
  2. 100g/3½oz plain flour
  3. 100g/3½oz wholemeal flour
  4. 1tsp bicarbonate of soda
  5. ¼tsp salt
  6. 1tsp ground cinnamon
  7. ½tsp ground ginger
  8. 2tbsp caster sugar
  9. 2 egg whites
  10. 5tbsp semi-skimmed milk
  11. 225g/8oz canned pineapple chunks in juice, drained & chopped
  12. 250g/9oz carrots, grated
  13. 40g/1½oz sultanas
  14. 40g/1½oz walnuts, chopped
For the topping
  1. 250g/9oz Quark (or any low-fat soft cream cheese)
  2. 1½tbsp caster sugar
  3. 1½tsp vanilla essence
  4. 1½tsp ground cinnamon
  6. Home-made carrot muffin ingredients
  1. Preheat the oven to 190ºC/375ºF/Gas mark 5. Oil a 12-cup muffin tin with vegetable or line it with muffin paper cases
  2. Sift the flours, bicarbonate of soda, salt, cinnamon and ginger into a mixing bowl. Add the caster sugar and mix together
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg whites then pour the milk and the oil and mix together
  4. Mash the pineapple chunks, then add to the egg mixture
  5. Add the carrots, sultanas and walnuts and stir together gently
  6. Add the fruit mixture to the flour mixture and gently stir together until just combined. Do not over-stir the mixture - it is fine for it to be a little lumpy
  7. Divide the mixture evenly between the 12 cups in the muffin tin or paper cases (they should be about ⅔s full)
  8. Transfer to the oven and bake for about 25 minutes or until risen and golden
  9. While the muffins are in the oven, make the topping. Put the Quark into a mixing bowl with the caster sugar, vanilla essence and 1 teaspoon of the cinnamon. Mix together well, then cover with clingfilm and transfer to the fridge until ready to use
  10. When the muffins are cooked, remove them from the oven, put them on a wire rack and leave to cool. When they have cooled to room temperature, remove the topping from the fridge and spread some evenly over the top of each muffin
  11. Lightly sprinkle over the remaining cinnamon and serve
Adapted from Muffins
Adapted from Muffins
H is for Home Harbinger

Cakes & Bakes: Chocolate caramel chestnut cake

Thursday, January 21st, 2016

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Home-made chocolate caramel chestnut cake | H is for Home

When we did our Christmas shop, we picked up a bag of chestnuts – something you’d only really see in the shops around that time of year.

stack of orange cake tins and handful of chestnuts

We had thoughts of a lovely Christmas lunch, followed by a walk in the snowy countryside and then coming home to roast the chestnuts in our wood-burner. Chance would be a fine thing! Three weeks on, the bag of chestnuts was still in our vegetable rack waiting for its big day.

making caramel sauce

I had a look through my cookbooks and online and came across a recipe for a chocolate caramel chestnut cake. The original recipe has a brandy syrup which I substituted with rum. It also calls for edible gold dust to brush on the chestnut garnish – not something I had to hand! It looks so pretty that I’d definitely plan ahead and order some if I was making the cake for Christmas or another special occasion.

brushing rum syrup on a layer of chocolate caramel chestnut cake

This recipe looks like a big, time-consuming job but as its author, Dorie Greenspan, says:

Because every element of the cake can be made ahead, you can work on it in stages. The filled and glazed cake can be kept in the refrigerator for a day, but add the chestnut garnish right before serving.”

The ganache is best if refrigerated overnight. The glaze needs a 4-hour rest and the cake, if it’s been seriously chilled, needs some serious time on the counter to come to room temperature – serve it cold, and you won’t get the full measure of pleasure from the ganache so plan ahead.”

Pouring chocolate glaze on to the chocolate caramel chestnut cake

To roast the chestnuts (in an oven, if you don’t have the quintessential ‘open fire’), preheat the oven to 200ºC/400ºF/gas mark 6. Mark a small cross on the flat side of each using a small sharp kitchen knife making sure you pierce the skin but not cut the nut inside. You could also pierce a few times with the fork. Put the nuts on a baking sheet, cut side up, and cook for about 10-20 minutes, turning a couple of times until the skins open. Peel while still warm.

Home-made chocolate caramel chestnut cake, sliced | H is for Home

The completed cake looks very impressive with it’s height, multiple layers and glossy finish. Tasty too – well worth the time and effort!

Chocolate caramel chestnut cake
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For the caramel ganache
  1. 250g/9oz milk chocolate
  2. 85g/3oz dark chocolate, finely chopped
  3. 6 tbs golden granulated sugar
  4. 2 tbs water
  5. 1 cinnamon stick
  6. 275ml/10fl oz tablespoons whipping cream
  7. ¼ teaspoon salt
  8. 250g/9oz butter, softened
For the cake
  1. 265g/9oz plain flour
  2. 35g/1oz cornflour
  3. 2 tsp baking powder
  4. 1 tsp salt
  5. 225g/8oz butter, softened
  6. 250g/9oz golden granulated sugar, divided
  7. 4 large eggs, separated
  8. 2 tsp vanilla extract
  9. 250g/9oz sweetened chestnut spread with vanilla (not something in my store cupboard, but similar can be made with several cooked chestnuts puréed in a processor with 1tsp vanilla essence and 2tbs of caster sugar)
  10. 60ml/2fl oz milk
For the syrup
  1. 60ml/2fl oz rum
  2. 2 tbs golden caster sugar
  3. 12 roasted chestnuts, coarsely chopped
For the glaze
  1. 240ml/8½fl oz whipping cream
  2. 35g/1oz sugar
  3. 60ml/2fl oz water
  4. 225g/8oz dark chocolate, chopped
For the garnish
  1. 8 roasted chestnuts, whole
  2. edible gold dust (optional)
  4. Home-made chocolate caramel chestnut cake ingredients
For the ganache
  1. Combine milk chocolate and dark chocolate in medium-sized bowl
  2. Stir sugar, 2 tbs water, and cinnamon stick in heavy medium saucepan over medium-low heat until sugar dissolves. Increase heat and boil without stirring until syrup turns deep amber, occasionally brushing down sides of pan with wet pastry brush and swirling pan, about 6 minutes (time will vary depending on size of pan). Add cream and salt (mixture will bubble vigorously). Bring caramel to boil, whisking until smooth and caramel bits dissolve, about 1 minute. Discard cinnamon stick
  3. Pour the hot caramel over chocolate; stir until chocolate has melted and mixture is smooth
  4. Let stand until completely cool, stirring occasionally, about 1 hour
  5. Using an electric mixer, beat butter in large bowl until fluffy
  6. Beat in the chocolate mixture in 4 additions
  7. Cover and refrigerate the ganache overnight
For the cake
  1. Preheat oven to 175ºC/350°F/gas mark 4
  2. Grease 4 rectangular 18cm x 9cm 450g/1lb loaf tins before lining the bottoms with parchment paper. (If you don't have this number of tins, you can cook the cakes one by one)
  3. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, sift together the flour, cornflower, baking powder and salt
  4. In another bowl and using an electric mixer, beat the butter until pale & fluffy
  5. Add 200g/7oz of the sugar, egg yolks and vanilla extract and combine well
  6. Add the chestnut spread, then the milk and combine well
  7. Sift the dry ingredients over and carefully mix together
  8. In another large bowl, and using clean beaters, beat the egg whites into soft peaks
  9. Add the remaining 50g/1¾oz sugar and beat until stiff but not dry
  10. Fold the egg whites into the batter in 3 additions
  11. Transfer batter equally across the prepared cake tin(s) (kitchen scales can be useful for this - I made it about 325g per tin)
  12. Bake the cakes until golden and a skewer inserted into the middle comes away clean (about 25-30 minutes)
  13. Allow to cool completely in the pan(s) on a wire rack
For the syrup
  1. Stir the rum and brown sugar in small bowl until the sugar completely dissolves
To complete
  1. Turn cakes out onto work surface and peel off the parchment
  2. Place one of the cakes, bottom side up, on a clean piece of parchment
  3. Brush the cake layer with ¼ of the rum syrup
  4. Spread with ¼ of the ganache and sprinkle with ¼ of the chopped chestnuts
  5. Top with second cake layer, bottom side up
  6. Repeat this twice - ¼ rum syrup, ¼ ganache, and ¼ chopped chestnuts
  7. Top with the fourth, final cake layer, bottom side up
  8. Spread the remaining ¼ of the ganache over the top and sides of the cake
  9. Place cake rack on sheet of foil; place assembled cake on rack
  10. Chill while you prepare glaze
For the glaze
  1. Bring cream, sugar, and 60ml/2fl oz water to boil in heavy medium saucepan, stirring until sugar dissolves
  2. Add the chocolate and whisk until melted and the glaze is smooth. Allow to cool until thick but still pourable
  3. Pour glaze over the top of the cake, spreading evenly over the sides
  4. Chill until the glaze sets
For the garnish
  1. Brush the top of the whole chestnuts with the edible gold dust (optional)
  2. Arrange the chestnuts across top of cake
  3. Serve at room temperature
Adapted from Baking: From My Home to Yours
H is for Home Harbinger

Cakes & Bakes: Sticky date cake

Thursday, December 17th, 2015

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Home made sticky date cake with vanilla ice cream | H is for Home

Delia Smith is probably my favourite ‘celebrity chef’. I think it’s because she’s really down to earth, and so are her recipes. Easy to follow recipes that result in simple, hearty, tasty food.

Mixed dried fruit , butter and condensed milk in a saucepan

This week’s recipe is a case in point, her sticky date cake. Delia calls it a ‘boil and bake’ cake – not terribly enticing I admit, but bear with me.

Boiled mixed dried fruit , butter and condensed milk in a saucepan

It’s quick to mix but takes up to 3 hours to bake in a low oven. The result is a big, unctuous, flavourful fruit-filled cake. The original recipe calls for a dollop of orange marmalade – which we never have in the house – so I substituted it for some lime marmalade I made a while ago.

Pouring sticky date cake batter into the lined cake tin

The taste and texture of this cake make it like a cross between a sticky toffee pudding and a Christmas cake.

Home made sticky date cake | H is for Home

Try it with vanilla ice cream, thick pouring cream and a splash of brandy or rum for a festive flourish!

Sticky date cake
Somewhere between a Christmas cake and a sticky toffee pudding!
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Cook Time
2 hr 30 min
Cook Time
2 hr 30 min
  1. 225g/8oz chopped dried dates
  2. 175g/6oz sultanas
  3. 110g/4oz raisins
  4. 110g/4oz currants
  5. 27g/10oz margarine
  6. 275ml/½pt water
  7. 1 tin condensed milk
  8. 150g/5oz plain flour
  9. 150g/5oz wholemeal flour
  10. ¾tsp bicarbonate of soda
  11. pinch of salt
  12. 1 generous tbsp chunky marmalade
  14. sticky date cake ingredients
  1. Preheat the oven to 170ºC/325ºF/Gas mark 3
  2. Grease & line a 20cm/8-inch square cake tin
  3. Place all of the dried fruit in a large saucepan together with the margerine, water and condensed milk and bring to the boil
  4. Stir frequently to avoid sticking
  5. Simmer the mixture for exactly 3 minutes and stir occasionally
  6. Transfer the mixture to a large mixing bowl and allow to cool for half an hour
  7. While it's cooling, weigh the flours and sift them into a bowl together with the salt and bicarbonate of soda. (When sieving wholemeal flour, you often find small quantities of bran left in the sieve; these can be tipped on to the already sieved flour)
  8. When the mixture has cooled stir in the flour mix and add a good round tablespoon of marmalade
  9. Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin and bake on the centre shelf of the oven for 2½-3 hours. (Take a look at the cake about ¾ of the way through the baking time and, if the top looks a bit dark, cover it with a double square of greaseproof paper to prevent further browning)
  10. After removing the cake from the oven, let it cool in the tin for 5 minutes before turning it out onto a wire rack
  1. This is quite a large cake which will keep well for several weeks in an airtight tin
Adapted from Delia Smith's Cookery Course: Part Two
H is for Home Harbinger