Saturday 29 May 2010

Individual lemon and lime drizzle cakes

Citrussy lemon and lime flavours are always popular with my colleagues, but spring seems a particularly appropriate time to use them, zesty flavours heralding the longer (and hopefully warmer!) days before the summer fruit really makes an appearance. You can tell I'm behind with my posting can't you! I did make these a while ago, but if I don't record them now, they'll be forgotten forever, a real shame! J has now given me a lovely little notebook to record the recipes I make up as I go along. Sadly I made these before receiving this gift, and since it's a while since I made them, I'll have to post what I'm fairly sure I did..... (and the annoying thing is that I absolutely know I've seen the recipe written down somewhere - in a notebook, amongst millions of other notes to myself....)

Katie's post here over at Apple and Spice reminded me that I too had that particular baking tin. I bought it a while ago (in the sale ;-)) and had completely forgotten about it, but thought at the time of purchase that it would make great individual cakes in a more interesting shape than cupcakes. So it was decided - lemon and lime, and a drizzle too.

Lemon and lime drizzle cakes
120g self raising flour
120g soft butter
120g caster sugar
2 eggs
zest of 1 lemon and 1 lime (unwaxed if possible)
75g lemon and lime marmalade

- Preheat the oven to gas 4/180C. You could use a 12 hole muffin tin but because of the syrup later on, I wouldn't line them with paper cases, just grease well, or grease your specially shaped eclair tin well with butter.
- Cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy, then add eggs beating after each addition and then flour. Mix well until combined.
- Add the lemon and lime zest and marmalade and beat the mixture until the marmalade is well mixed in.
- Divide the mixture between the tins and bake for around 25-35 minutes (sorry that's so vague, I can't honestly remember how long it took, although I guess it was probably more like 25 than 35!)

In the meantime, make the syrup.
- Dissolve around 100g icing sugar in the juice of the lemon and lime you used the zest from, plus the juice of another lemon (again this is by memory, I'm not entirely sure how much juice I used, but this is what I'd use if I did it again) by heating gently in a saucepan over a low flame.

- When cooked (feel springy and cake tester inserted comes out clean) remove from the oven, but leave in the tins.
- Poke holes in the cakes with either a fine skewer or a cocktail stick and pour over the syrup, trying to make sure that it goes into the top of the cakes as well as running down the sides.
- Leave to cool before enjoying. These would probably be good with a good dollop of creme fraiche on the side. Yum!

I think this photo makes the cake look not only pretty enormous (they aren't!) but also really, really reminds me of a cruise liner... just me? Perhaps I need a holiday more than I thought!

Sweet and sticky from the syrup, but not as zingy as I would have hoped. Disappeared pretty quickly at work all the same though!

Saturday 22 May 2010

Crystallised ginger oat biscuits

Another successful biscuit recipe from Delia. I seem to be on a ginger kick at the moment. Very similar to these chocolate and apricot oat crunchies I made a while ago. Easy to make, quick to bake and ideal when you don't want to have the oven on for too long. I made them smaller than suggested by Delia, but found they took about the same length of time to bake.

You can find the original ingredients and method here, but I'll list them again here, as I made a couple of changes. Simple ingredients, but tasty. I realised halfway through making them that my ground ginger was hiding from me, and not wishing to become involved in a game of hide and seek in my incredibly disorganised cupboards, I left out the ground ginger. If I had my time again I'd keep searching because I think these biscuits would have benefitted from the extra punch and heat of ginger flavour.

Crystallised ginger and oat biscuits
65g crystallised stem ginger, chopped fairly small
110g butter
75g demarara sugar
25g treacle
110g self raising flour
110g porridge oats
pinch salt
1tsp ground ginger (although I didn't add this I think they would benefit from it!)

- Preheat the oven to gas 3/170C. Line a baking tray with silicon baking parchment.
- Melt the butter, sugar and treacle over a low heat.
- Stir in all the remaining dry ingredients.
- Form into balls (Delia suggests 16 total, I decided to make smaller biscuits and got 28, baked in two batches of 14) and place on the baking sheet. Squash slightly.
- Bake for aroung 15-20 minutes (depending on size) until just lightly golden brown.
- Transfer to a wire rack to cool.
- Enjoy!

More popular with colleagues than their rustic appearance might have led you to believe - I was certainly expecting them to hang around for a few days, but these were disappearing from the biscuit tin before my eyes! I enjoyed them, the treacle was subtle, but noticeable (well, it was noticeable to me because I knew it was there, but I'm not convinced anyone else noticed!) but think they would definitely have benefitted from my being able to locate the ground ginger in my kitchen cupboards, hmmm, I wonder where it's hiding? Makes mental note to go and check.....

Friday 14 May 2010

Fat free cake - tea loaf

Regular readers will know that my colleagues generally benefit from the baking I talk about on this blog. Notable exceptions are the various breads I make, which are for me and a few cakes I make for myself (and guard jealously) plus a few I make for family and friends. Now, at the moment, some of my colleagues are on diets, trying to lose a little weight before summer comes (oh, wait, didn't we have summer that lovely week in the middle of April - are they being overly optimistic in thinking that we'll see the sun again?!?) and short sleeved tops are the order of the day.

I am a firm believer of everything in moderation (although I suppose this may change as I get older and my metabolism slows down - not looking forward to that one little bit, and making the most of being able to eat cake while I can!) but if you are taking Alli, as my colleagues are, then the fat content really does have to come right down! (Please note, I am not advertising this product, why would I? take it and you can't eat most of what I blog about!!!)

However, as one colleague said wistfully 'I just really like cake though....'. So this one's for those on low fat diets. I should clarify though - this is not low calorie cake, it's stuffed full (literally!) of dried fruit, which while relatively good for you, is also packed full of sugar....

I've been making this cake for quite a long time now, ever since Delia Smith first published it in her How to Cook Book 1 in 1998. It requires a little forethought to soak the dried fruit overnight, but is otherwise easy as anything - just mix and bake! The original recipe is here and I make it pretty much as written, and it really does take quite a long time to cook. The actual cake mixture part looks a little dry in my photos, but this isn't apparent when eating the cake as the juiciness of the fruit is the thing you taste. I think the cake batter is essentially there to stick the dried fruit together! Speaking of dried fruit - glace cherries are not specified in the recipe, but I always put them in because I love their texture and the way they brighten up the cake. I usually add around 110g, i.e. substitute them for the pecans. I don't tend to soak the cherries with the rest of the dried fruit because they don't need plumping up, they're already juicy. I also don't wash off the sugar syrup that collects around them. For a lighter cake batter I would, to prevent them sinking, but here it just isn't a problem. You can use any combination of dried fruit that adds up to about 900g/2lb. I usually add more raisins and fewer sultanas than specifed, stick to the amount of currants given, use the mixed peel and sub glace cherries for the pecans.

The eagle eyed will note that there is no mixed peel this time - I was unsure whether colleagues would like it or not, so chose to leave it out. Incidentally this is the recipe in which I discovered that I do like dried peel after all. I should qualify that statement - I abhor the mixed dried peel that comes in little pots ready chopped from the supermarket, instead, the stuff I like comes whole and is a completely different thing in taste and texture. Where the former is bitter and hard, the latter is sweet, juicy and deliciously chewy. If you've only had the former and not cut up your own, do try it and taste the difference between them.
Well, this mixture makes a lot of cake, but this apparently wasn't a problem at all for my colleagues who quickly polished off both loaves! I'm always pleased when people enjoy the baking I do so much, it's very gratifying! If, however, you don't have obliging colleagues to eat this up quickly, it will keep well for quite a number of days. Although all the pictures here show the cake 'au naturel', my preferred way of eating it is with a generous spreading of butter. This negates the fact that the recipe is low fat, and therefore brings life, the universe and everything back into balance. After all, what is cake without fat.......!!!

As a side note, lots of my colleagues remarked on the cherries while eating this 'Ooooh, I've got a really big cherry in my slice...' I think a cherry cake must surely be on the baking horizon!

For the pedants, clearly this is not entirely fat free, but the fat contained in the egg yolk and a little milk is very little in the scheme of things.

Tuesday 11 May 2010

Honey cake

I'm an untidy person. I'm the first to admit this. If there's a horizontal surface I will put something down on it and when I've run out of horizontal surfaces I'll rearrange things into piles so that I can carry on putting things down rather than tidy up.

However, sometimes this has advantages. I was doing a little tidying (don't worry though, the house doesn't look any tidier than it did - I got to the getting it all out in view of tidying and then deciding I couldn't be bothered stage, so it ends up looking worse than it did when I started....) and I discovered a jar of honey sitting on my sofa arm. I don't really recall how it came to be encumbent on the sofa arm, but it is a flat surface so perhaps that's all it took. Anyway, I remembered this honey as being delicious, and it certainly deserved better than to be sitting in my living room.

I decided to make a honey cake to showcase it's flavour (and to find out if the flavour of the honey would actually come through or not...) and set about searching for a suitable recipe on the internet. Unfortunately all the recipes I came across paired the honey with multiple spices, lemon, citrus peel, dried fruit and so on. Much as I like all of the these ingredients in cakes, this time I wanted to make the honey the star so set about creating my own recipe.

My honey was a set honey, so I decided that creaming with the butter was the technique of choice here, but I'm sure that this recipe will work with any honey really.

Honey cake
60g butter
40g light muscovado sugar
40g honey (mine was tasmanian leatherwood honey)
1 large egg
80g self raising flour

Most of these ingredients were actually 2-3 g more, I aim for a whole number but tend to overshoot a little!

- Preheat the oven to Gas 4/180C. Grease and line a 6"/15cm round tin. I was using a loose based tin so did the whole base and side lining thing to try and avoid cake mix getting in the tin seams which makes it a pain to clean.
- Cream the butter, sugar and honey until light and fluffy.
- Add the egg and flour and continue to beat until all well combined and light.
- Scrape into the prepared tin and spread around/level off a bit.
- Place in the oven and bake for 30 minutes until springy to the touch and/or a cake tester inserted comes out clean.
- Allow to cool a little then remove from the tin and allow to cool completely on a wire rack.

My house smelled so deliciously of warm honey while this cake was cooking! And I'm pleased to say that the honey flavour really came through well in the final cake - it was moist and fragrant and the honey was the star of the show. Next time I make this I might try adding a touch of spice to see if that complements the honey, or if it just drowns out the flavour. I might also try it again with a more delicately flavoured honey too. So many possibilities!

Saturday 8 May 2010

Turkish delight condensed milk cupcakes

When I was little, we had a phrase in our household - the 'eyes and tummies problem'. Yep, it was how my mum referred to my brother and I being slightly greedy and taking more from the serving dish than we could manage and subsequently complaining of being full and not able to finish our dinner. These cupcakes are the result of an adult variation of this problem. I shall explain... at Christmas time I look at all the delicious boxes of chocolates and sweet treats and I buy them. I do not logically consider how long it will take one person to finish up the excess purchases. Although many of the boxes I buy end up as presents, I often find that I've overbought to the extent of not having anyone left to give them too, and there is always the element of wanting to enjoy them myself. Yes, I am hanging my head in shame at my greed...

Why am I confessing this? Well, these rather good cupcakes are the result of part of the remaining box of turkish delight. I also at some point bought a squeezy bottle of condensed milk, no doubt thinking that it would be really useful to be able to use a smaller amount than comes in a tin. I'm sure it would be if I had multiple uses for condensed milk. I don't! Although feel free to suggest some more. So I ended up making two batches of these cupcakes. The first batch were vanilla and the second turkish delight.

You can see the vanilla cupcakes above. The vanilla buttercream is piped in a slightly odd way because I was using a new tip that I had hoped would let me do something else, but turned out to be completely wrong. By that stage I had a bag of buttercream and needed to get it out - i.e. through the nozzle!

There are a couple of differences between the vanilla and turkish delight cupcakes. The vanilla ones were the first I made and I stuck to a recipe I found here pretty closely. The second batch I didn't have enough condensed milk left, so decided to improvise by substituting milk and caster sugar. It worked well, unsurprisingly since condensed milk is effectively milk and sugar as far as I understand!

Vanilla cupcakes
125g self raising flour
250g condensed milk
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
85g butter, softened

(For the turkish delight cupcakes I only had 160g condensed milk left, so added that plus 50g caster sugar and 50ml milk. I also added 1tsp rosewater and 125g chopped turkish delight and left out the vanilla extract)

- Preheat the oven to gas 4/180C. Line a muffin tin with paper cases (I recently found some pretty ones with flowers on them - small things please me!). The vanilla cakes made 9, the turkish delight 10.
- Place all ingredients (except chopped turkish delight if making this flavour) into a large bowl. Beat with an electric hand mixer for 3-4 minutes until well combined. Now fold through the turkish delight if you're using it, or I guess an equal weight of any other flavour you fancy - chocolate chips, dried fruit and so on.
- Spoon into the waiting paper cases and bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown. If you like your cakes paler, bake for less time (oh, the joy of common sense!)
- When baked, remove to a wire rack to cool.

For the vanilla cupcakes I made a simple vanilla buttercream by beating 50g softened butter and probably about 125g icing sugar together with 1tsp vanilla extract until very light, creamy and fluffy. Decorate the cupcakes as you want, which is probably not by copying what I did.....

For the turkish delight cupcakes I made a simple glace water icing using icing sugar (probably about 125g, but this depends how thick you want the icing to be and how much icing sugar you've got left....) and 1tsp rosewater. Add more water until desired consistency is reached, then top with a little piece of turkish delight. When I was chopping the turkish delight up, I did so with a little pile of icing sugar at my side to dip the sticky cut sides of the turkish delight in as I went, and to dip my knife in when it got too sticky. Worked well.

I was really pleased with the way these turned out - soft and sweet and the mixture had enough strengh to hold the pieces of turkish delight in suspension so they didn't all end up on the bottom of the cupcakes (although a fair few did). Vanilla is always popular and turkish delight went down well too. I have to admit that the flavour of the rosewater didn't really seem to come through. I was quite cautious adding it to both the cupcake mixture and the icing, next time I'll add more.

Tuesday 4 May 2010

Banana and chocolate mini loaf

I found a gorgeous, dinky little loaf tin recently and had been wondering what to make in it first when I noticed the rather over-ripe banana languishing in the fruit bowl, a perennial problem. I also decided to use up some dark chocolate easter egg, broken into chunks. It's got to be used somehow!
Mini banana and chocolate loaf
60g soft butter
50g caster sugar
80g self raising flour
1 egg
2/3 mashed banana*
40g chopped chocolate

* the other 1/3 had gone black and mushy from the inside and I didn't fancy using it. It all depends on the size of your bananas I suppose. This was sort of medium, so use a small banana.

A slight confession here. I have studiously written down the ingredient amounts and am copying them from the notebook on my lap. I have discovered with some dismay that I have written down neither cooking temperature nor time. So I am assuming temperature is the same as I cook everything else at, and will suggest a sensible-ish time.
- Preheat the oven to gas 4/180C. Grease and line the base and long sides of a dinky loaf tin - mine measures 15x8cm at the top, and is 5cm deep. I suppose it might be a 1/2lb loaf tin, but there wasn't a label stating the size when I bought it. It's much smaller than a 1lb loaf tin anyway.
- Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
- Add the egg and beat until combined then add the flour and repeat the beating until all mixed in.
- Add the mashed banana and stir through, then stir in the chocolate.
- Blob into the prepared tin and place in the oven.
- My guesstimate at cooking time is 30 minutes, but it's a case of test and see when it's done. I use a wooden cocktail stick and when it comes out clean, the cake is done.
- Remove from tin and allow to cool completely on a wire rack before slicing and eating.

Enjoy! I love making banana cakes because the house always smells so delicious while they are cooking.... mmmmm banana-ry!
Really moist with a lovely sticky top and a delicately banana-y flavour, rather than being overpowering, this was a great way of using up that nasty banana and to make a start on the remaining Easter eggs....

I'm guessing this would keep quite well, with the banana adding moisture to the cake, but because it was such a little cake I didn't get the chance to find out...


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