Cakes & Bakes: Date and walnut loaf

Home-made date and walnut loaf | H is for Home

This date and walnut loaf is outstanding as an afternoon tea cake. It’s like a cross between malt loaf, a Yorkshire tea loaf and sticky toffee pudding.

Date and walnut loaf tins | H is for Home

Justin can never get enough of teatime loaf cakes, so this was made with him in mind.

Date and walnut loaf tins | H is for Home

So, if you’ve got a packet of dates lurking at the back of your food cupboard (perhaps from Christmas) this is the perfect way to use them all up.

Date and walnut loaf
Yields 2
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Cook Time
1 hr
Cook Time
1 hr
Ingredients
  1. 450g/1lb stoned dates
  2. 1½tsp bicarbonate of soda
  3. 280ml/½pt boiling water or black tea
  4. 60g/2oz butter, softened
  5. 300g/12oz demerara sugar
  6. 2tbsp black treacle
  7. 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  8. 450g/1lb plain flour
  9. pinch of salt
  10. 60g/2oz chopped walnuts
  11.  
  12. Home-made date and walnut loaf ingredients
  13.  
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF/Gas mark 4
  2. Line two loaf tins with parchment paper
  3. Mix the bicarbonate of soda into the boiling water/black tea and pour over the dates making sure they're all covered. Leave until it goes cold
  4. Beat together the butter and sugar
  5. Add the beaten eggs
  6. Gradually add the flour, salt and chopped nuts
  7. Add the dates and the liquid they were soaking in. Combine thoroughly
  8. Divide the mixture between the two lined loaf tins
  9. Bake in the middle of the oven for an hour. Check on them after 45 minutes to make sure that their tops aren't cooking too quickly. If they start appearing too brown, cover the tops over with tin foil for the final 15 minutes cooking time
  10. Allow to cool on a wire rack
  11. To eat, slice and spread with butter
Adapted from Yorkshire W. I. Recipe book
Adapted from Yorkshire W. I. Recipe book
H is for Home Harbinger http://hisforhomeblog.com/

Cakes & Bakes: White velvet cake with creamy mascarpone frosting

Slice of home-made white velvet cake with creamy mascarpone frosting | H is for Home

My chicken-sitting ended yesterday, I really enjoyed looking after them, they’re all such characters. During my 10 days of fostering, we must have got almost 100 eggs! We gave a few away and ate loads of omelettes, French toast and plenty of fried/boiled/poached eggs.

Baked white velvet cakes in their tins | H is for Home

Last week, I made a delicious all-yolk layer cake and, as promised, this week it’s an all whites one. It’s Rose Levy Beranbaum’s white velvet cake. Sometimes with this type of recipe, what you’re trying to achieve is a cake as white as pure, fresh snow. If that’s the case, you can make a few minor adjustments to the original cake recipe below.

Home-made white velvet cake with creamy mascarpone frosting | H is for Home

Instead of using vanilla extract, use white caster sugar that has been stored in an airtight jar along with a split vanilla pod for a few weeks so that the flavour infuses. Some people swear by the use of shortening such as Stork which gives less colour than butter. Other people who care more about the taste than the colour say that butter is far superior.

Have a look at the pair of YouTube videos below the recipe where Rose herself shows us how it’s done!

White velvet cake
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Cook Time
25 min
Cook Time
25 min
For the cake
  1. 4½ large egg whites
  2. 240ml/8½ fl oz milk
  3. 2¼tsp vanilla extract
  4. 300g/10½oz bleached cake flour*, sifted
  5. 300g/10½oz caster sugar
  6. 1tbsp + 1tsp baking powder
  7. ¼tsp salt
  8. 170g/6oz butter, softened
For the frosting
  1. 275ml/9¾ fl oz whipping cream
  2. 225g/8oz mascarpone
  3. 125g/4½oz icing sugar
  4.  
  5. Home-made white velvet cake ingredients
  6.  
For the cake
  1. Preheat the oven to 175ºC/350°F/Gas mark 4
  2. Grease two 23cm x 4cm (9-in x 1½-in) cake tins, line the bottoms with parchment paper, then grease again and flour
  3. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, lightly combine the egg whites, ¼ of the milk and vanilla extract
  4. In a large mixing bowl combine all the dry ingredients and mix on low speed for 30 seconds to blend
  5. Add the butter and remaining ¾ of the milk. Mix on a low speed until the dry ingredients are moistened
  6. Increase to medium speed (high speed if using a hand mixer) and beat for 1½ minutes to aerate and develop the cake's structure
  7. Scrape down the sides
  8. Gradually add the egg mixture in 3 batches, beating for 20 seconds after each addition to incorporate the ingredients and strengthen the structure
  9. Scrape down the sides again
  10. Scrape the batter into the prepared pans and smooth the surface with a spatula. The pans should be about half full
  11. Bake for 25-35 minutes or until a skewer inserted near the centre comes away clean and the cake springs back when pressed lightly in the centre. The cakes should start to shrink from the sides of the pans only after removal from the oven
  12. Allow the cakes cool in the pans on wire racks for 10 minutes
  13. Loosen the sides with a small metal spatula and invert onto two other greased wire racks. To prevent splitting, flip over again so that the tops face up. Allow to cool completely before frosting
For the frosting
  1. With an electric mixer on medium speed, whisk the whipping cream until stiff peaks form (be careful not to overbeat, or the cream will become grainy)
  2. In another bowl, whisk together the mascarpone and icing sugar until smooth
  3. Gently fold the whipped cream into mascarpone mixture until completely incorporated
  4. Use immediately to frost the top of one cake
  5. Place the other cake on top of the first and frost the top & sides
Notes
  1. *If like me you're based in the UK and find it hard to find bleached cake flour in the shops, have a look at Kate Coldrick's meticulous method to make your own version
Adapted from Rose's Heavenly Cakes
H is for Home Harbinger http://hisforhomeblog.com/
part I
 
part II




Cakes & Bakes: Yellow layer cake with buttercream icing

Slice of home-made yellow layer cake | H is for Home

Our neighbours have gone on holiday this week and have asked me to look after their chickens again. They have about twice as many chickens as they did last time… so that means twice as many eggs every day.

Separated eggs | H is for Home

I’ve been looking into recipes where you use lots of just yolks and just whites – as I don’t like to waste half the eggs. I found a couple of recipes by Rose Levy Beranbaum that fit the bill. I’ll be attempting her favourite yellow layer cake this week.

Flour, butter & sugar in a food mixer bowl | H is for Home

I decided to make the yolks-only cake first as I discovered, on my online travels, that egg whites can be easily and successfully frozen for use at a later date. Yolks take a little more effort. The yellow layer cake I made today – as you’ve probably deduced – uses just egg yolks.

Yellow layer cake batter in an orange vintage Kenwood food mixer | H is for Home

It also uses bleached cake flour, something you don’t tend to find in supermarkets here in the UK. I took a lengthy detour on the website of Rose’s Devon-based friend, Kate Coldrick, who shows you in great detail how to make your own substitute.

Yellow layer cake batter in a round baking tin | H is for Home Yellow layer cake cooling on a wire rack | H is for Home

I followed both Rose’s and Kate’s instructions almost to the letter, hoping that I’d produce a cake like never before.

Yellow layer cake sliced in half horizontally | H is for Home Yellow layer cake with buttercream icing in the centre and on the top | H is for Home

The sponge was light & airy and the texture was crumbly. I teamed it with a vanilla buttercream icing which complements, not overpowers the flavour.

Detail of a yellow layer cake with buttercream icing | H is for home

Stay tuned next week Thursday for my egg white recipe!

Yellow layer cake with buttercream icing
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Cook Time
35 min
Cook Time
35 min
For the cake
  1. 4 large egg yolks
  2. 160g/5½oz sour cream
  3. 1½tsp vanilla extract
  4. 200g/7oz bleached cake flour*
  5. ½tsp baking powder
  6. ½tsp bicarbonate of soda
  7. 200g/7oz caster sugar
  8. ¼tsp salt
  9. 170g/6oz butter, softened
For the icing
  1. 250g/9oz butter, softened
  2. ½tsp vanilla extract
  3. 300g/10½oz icing sugar
  4. 1tbsp milk
For the cake
  1. Grease a 23cm/9-inch spring-form cake tin then line it with parchment paper
  2. 20 minutes or longer before baking, set an oven rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 175ºC/350°F/Gas mark 4
  3. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, lightly combine the yolks, about ¼ of the sour cream and the vanilla
  4. In a stand mixer bowl, with paddle attachment, combine the cake flour, caster sugar, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, and salt
  5. Mix on a low speed for 30 seconds to blend
  6. Add the butter and the remaining sour cream and mix on a low speed until the dry ingredients are moistened
  7. Increase to medium speed, or high speed if using a hand held mixer and beat for 1 minute to aerate and develop the structure
  8. Scrape down the sides
  9. Gradually add the egg mixture in 2 batches, beating for 20 seconds after each addition until fully incorporated
  10. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan. Smooth the surface. Bake for 35-45 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes away clean and it springs back when pressed lightly in the centre
  11. Remove the cake from the oven and allow it to cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes
  12. Loosen the sides of the cake with a small metal spatula, and remove the sides of the spring-form tin
  13. Invert the cake onto a wire rack and flip it again onto a second rack it so that the top faces up
  14. Allow to cool completely before slicing in half horizontally and icing the middle and top
For the icing
  1. In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter and vanilla essence
  2. Blend in the icing sugar, a quarter at a time, beating well after each addition
  3. Beat in the milk and continue mixing until light and fluffy
  4. Keep the icing covered until ready to use
Notes
  1. *If like me you're based in the UK and find it hard to find bleached cake flour in the shops, have a look at Kate Coldrick's meticulous method to make your own version
Adapted from The Baking Bible
Adapted from The Baking Bible
H is for Home Harbinger http://hisforhomeblog.com/

Cakes & Bakes: Panipopo

Portion of home-made panipopo torn form the loaf | H is for Home

I’ve been seeing recipes for panipopo sweeping by on my Pinterest feed for quite a while. I’ve never really stopped & clicked because I thought that the sweetened coconut bread would be too wet and sickly.

Panipopo dough | H is for Home Risen panipopo dough | H is for Home

How wrong I was! I’m glad I read some of the comments remarking on how delicious it is and how ex-pat islanders hanker after it when they’re away from home.

Rolled & sliced panipopo dough | H is for Home Panipopo dough in a rectangular baking tin | H is for Home

Panipopo (or pani-popo or pani popo) is a Polynesian bread originating from Samoa or Hawaii – depending on who you believe.

Risen panipopo dough in a rectangular baking tin | H is for Home Pouring sweetened coconut milk on the risen panipopo dough | H is for Home

I thought that all that liquid would make for a soggy bread, but most of it is absorbed by the dough in cooking. The liquid that is left turns into a thick, unctuous, syrupy sauce. We weren’t sure what to eat it with – I chose to have it as it comes, dunking it in more of the  sauce that I’d reserved. Justin went all adventurous and had his with a little bit of Cambozola…  he reckons it’s a winner.

Cooked panipopo on a oven cloth | H is for Home

Here’s the recipe – why don’t you have a go? Let us know what you think!

Panipopo
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Cook Time
25 min
Cook Time
25 min
For the dough
  1. 7g/¼oz active dry yeast
  2. 240ml/8½ fl oz warm water
  3. 450g/16oz plain or bread flour
  4. 50g/1¾oz caster sugar
  5. ½ tsp salt
  6. 1 egg
  7. 2 tbsp vegetable oil
For the coconut sauce
  1. 200ml/7 fl oz tinned coconut milk (check the tin, mine was already diluted to 50% coconut milk, 50% water)
  2. 200ml/7 fl oz water (omit this if your coconut milk is already diluted)
  3. 100g/3½oz caster sugar
  4.  
  5. Home-made panipopo ingredients
  6.  
For the dough
  1. In a measuring jug, stir the yeast into the warm water and leave for 10 minutes
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar and salt
  3. In another measuring jug, lightly mix the egg and vegetable oil
  4. Make a well in the centre of the flour mixture and pour in the wet ingredients. Combine well, adding a little more flour if the dough is too sticky
  5. Empty out the dough on to a floured surface and knead for 10-20 minutes until smooth and elastic
  6. Put the dough back into the mixing bowl, cover with cling film or put inside a large plastic bag. Leave in a warm place to prove until doubled in size
  7. Grease a large, deep rectangular or round baking tin. Set aside
  8. Punch the dough down and turn it out onto a lightly floured surface
  9. Roll the dough into a long rectangle, roll it up and slice it into 2.5cm/1-inch or any even-sized rounds
  10. Put the rounds into the baking tin, cover with cling film or put into a large plastic bag and allow to prove until doubled in size
  11. Wile the bread is proving, preheat the oven to 180ºC/375°F/Gas mark 4
For the coconut sauce
  1. In a large measuring jug, combine the coconut milk, water (if using) and sugar and stir until all the sugar has dissolved
  2. When the dough has doubled in size, pour the coconut sauce evenly over the dough
  3. Bake for 25-30 minutes until the top of the bread is has turned a golden brown
  4. Allow them to cool in the tin for at least an hour before serving
Adapted from SamoaFood.com
Adapted from SamoaFood.com
H is for Home Harbinger http://hisforhomeblog.com/

Cakes & Bakes: Chocolate chip & brazil nut cookies

Home-made chocolate chip & brazil nut cookies with mug of tea | H is for Home

The focus is back on Rio this week with the start of the Paralympics. Which made me remember that I still have half a bag of Brazil nuts in the cupboard leftover from making a double espresso brazil nut cake a few weeks ago.

Chocolate chip & brazil nut cookie dough mixture | H is for Home Chocolate chip & brazil nut cookie dough and reserved chocolate chips | H is for Home

I’ve been in something of a cookie & biscuit frame of mind recently, so I thought I’d use them up by making some chocolate chip & brazil nut cookies.

Chocolate chip & brazil nut cookie dough portions on a tray | H is for Home

I use quite a lot of chocolate in my baking – cocoa, dark chocolate, mocha – but I’ve never used chocolate chips before. In most recipes that call for chocolate chips, I’ve always just used chopped up chocolate pieces.

Chocolate chip & brazil nut cookies cooling on a wire rack | H is for Home

Chocolate chip cookies I’ll make an exception for, because those perfect little dots of chocolate are just essential!

Stack of home-made chocolate chip & brazil nut cookies | H is for Home

The recipe makes over 2 dozen lovely, soft cookies. They’re quick & easy and the perfect thing to get the kids involved in making.

Chocolate chip & brazil nut cookies
Yields 30
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Cook Time
10 min
Cook Time
10 min
Ingredients
  1. 115g/4oz plain flour
  2. 1tsp baking powder
  3. pinch of salt
  4. 75g/3oz butter, softened
  5. 150g/5oz golden caster sugar
  6. 1 egg
  7. 1tsp vanilla extract
  8. 100g/3½oz dark chocolate chips
  9. 75g/2½oz brazil nuts, chopped
  10.  
  11. Home-made chocolate chip brazil nut cookies ingredients
  12.  
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF/Gas mark 4
  2. Grease a baking sheet or line it with a parchment paper
  3. In a small mixing bowl sift together the flour, baking powder and salt
  4. In another larger mixing bowl cream together the butter and sugar (using an electric mixer is best)
  5. Beat in the egg and vanilla extract
  6. Add the flour mixture and beat well on a low speed
  7. Using a wooden spoon, stir in 70g of the chocolate chips and the chopped brazil nuts
  8. Drop teaspoonfuls of the cookie dough on to the prepared baking sheet. Space them 2½-5cm / 1-2 inches apart as they spread quite a bit in the cooking
  9. Dot the top of each cookie with 3 or so of the reserved chocolate chips pressing lightly into the dough
  10. Bake for 10-12 minutes until they just begin to turn a golden brown
  11. Allow to cool on a wire rack while you make the next batch. Repeat until all the cookie dough has been used (My large baking tray took 3 batches to use up all the dough)
  12. Store in an air-tight lidded container for up to 3 days
Adapted from The Great Big Cookie Book
H is for Home Harbinger http://hisforhomeblog.com/

Cakes & Bakes: Macadamia nut & cranberry cookies

Home-made macadamia nut & cranberry cookies | H is for Home

I keep forgetting how quick and easy it is to rustle up a batch of cookies. I have a bag of pistachios in the cupboard that needs to be used up, so I decided to make some pistachio & cranberry cookies using a recipe I found on the BBC Good Food website.

Chopped macadamia nuts ans dried cranberries | H is for Home

However, when I popped across to the supermarket to get some dried cranberries, I saw that they also did packets of cranberries WITH macadamia nuts.

Home-made macadamia nut & cranberry cookie dough batons | H is for Home Home-made macadamia nut & cranberry cookie dough batons wrapped in cling film | H is for Home

I love macadamia nuts – a little on the expensive side, but you don’t need that many in the macadamia nut & cranberry cookies I ended up making.

Home-made macadamia nut & cranberry cookies, uncooked on a baking tray | H is for Home

They were just so scrumptious! Crumbly, sweet and nutty. A few chunks of white chocolate added to the mix would have gone down a treat as well. I’ll try that combination very soon. I guess I’ll use that bag of pistachios some other time!

Home-made macadamia nut & cranberry cookies on a wire cooling rack | H is for Home

Macadamia nut & cranberry cookies
Yields 30
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Cook Time
12 min
Cook Time
12 min
Ingredients
  1. 175g/6oz butter, softened
  2. 85g/3oz golden caster sugar
  3. ½ tsp vanilla extract
  4. 225g/8oz plain flour
  5. 150g/5oz macadamia nuts & cranberries
  6.  
  7. Home-made macadamia nut & cranberry cookies ingredients
  8.  
Instructions
  1. In a large mixing bowl, combine the butter, sugar and vanilla extract
  2. Stir in the flour
  3. Roughly chop the macadamia nuts & cranberries before adding to the mixing bowl. Bring the mix together as a dough
  4. Halve the dough and shape each half into a log about 5cm across. Wrap in cling film, then chill for an hour or freeze for up to 3 months
  5. Pre-heat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF fan/Gas mark 4
  6. Slice the logs into 1cm-thick rounds, place on a baking tray lined with baking parchment and bake for 12-15 minutes
  7. Remove from the oven, leaving the cookies on the tray for 5 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely
H is for Home Harbinger http://hisforhomeblog.com/