Tuesday 30 August 2011

Bread rolls and playing with your food

Inspired (and aided!) by Celia, Brydie and Joanna, these are my bread rolls made with my new bread presses a spiral, a kaiser/vienna and a rosette/rosetta (I bought two of them from Bakery Bits, here you need to scroll down) but I need to play around some more with the recipe that I'm using. When I press the rolls they flatten a lot, and my dough doesn't seem to have much oven spring, resulting in rather flat rolls. It's just a straight yeasted dough, a little lower in hydration than my usual, and with a little olive oil added.

I suspect that this is partly to do with the fact that as they proove they seem to develop a bit of a skin, I ought to try prooving them in a moister environment to prevent this and try and get them to spring a bit more. I also think that the white rolls weren't aided by a further experiment in using some quite elderly '00' pasta flour I had hanging around. I don't think it was designed for bread really - not only did they not spring very well, they staled quite quickly too. I ought to try either Joanna's recipe or Celia's sourdough rather than just freestyling.

I also found that if I pressed them immediately before baking I got the patterns you see above

whereas if I pressed them and allowed them to proove a little further, the pattern all but disappeared on baking seen here at the front - I pressed the back one just before baking. All good fun but I do need some more practice before I can emulate the three bakers I linked to at the beginning of this post. If you want stunning pictures, hop through to their blogs!

This one is my best one!

Typically though, the bread rolls I made the morning I was expecting the presses to arrive in the post (and they didn't arrive until after the bread needed baking.... one of those days) sprang much better and were reasonably tasty if nothing special. Just goes to show though, that even if you don't have fancy presses, you can still make pretty bread rolls. I just used my small dough scraper, but any reasonably firm piece of plastic would probably do.

Monday 29 August 2011

Bread - less successful

Maize bread

One of the points of keeping this blog is to record the things I make and bake - wonderful, and not so wonderful. Periodically I have a complete fail and occasionally just can't bring myself to blog about it, but mostly you get the good, the bad and the indifferent (in my opinion - you might try these and love them). Blogging the indifferent reminds me that I've made it, why I wasn't that keen and reminds me not to bother trying again! Not everything can be fantastic and, in my opinion, the two breads that follow fall in the indifferent, not really worth trying again category.

Both are from Dan Lepard's book The Handmade Loaf. I feel bad saying that I didn't like these, but it's true. There are lots of recipes in there and it's down to personal taste that I don't like these rather than bad recipes so don't let this put you off the book.

Lemon Barley Loaf

Up first: Lemon Barley Cob. This is a hybrid sourdough/yeasted loaf and for some reason the flavour combination just didn't do it for me. I don't know whether I let the bread overproof (I seem to remember that I did) but the texture was quite odd too - sort of crumbly, so I'm not quite sure where/if I went wrong here. In any event I wasn't all that keen on the lemon. Dan says this is a savoury bread, and I would totally agree that it wasn't sweet at all, but I couldn't find a good partner for it, so I'm unlikely to make it again with lemon. I might try the base recipe with the barley flour and sourdough/yeast hybrid again at some point, but I might not.

Lemon Barley loaf

Secondly: Maize Bread. This is a straight yeasted dough using white bread flour and maize flour plus buttermilk as part of the wet ingredients, and has cooked polenta broken up into it. The recipe worked fine, I didn't allow it to overproof and it was straightforward to make. My antipathy towards this one is based mostly on texture - again it seems slightly crumbly to me, which I'm putting down to lack of gluten in the maize flour (which is 30% of the flour in the recipe) and my taste buds can't really detect any specific flavour in there, it seems insipid which I wasn't expecting. I wonder if I forgot the salt? Anyway, I probably won't make this one again. The day I made it, J dropped in on her way home from holiday. I was planning to give her half of this so she probably feels glad that it wasn't made in time!!! I'm eating it, I'm just not over the moon about it.

Maize bread

So there you go, two that I just didn't enjoy that much. Live and learn!

Friday 26 August 2011

We should cocoa - chocolate rose rice pudding

Well, it's the end of the month, and this month Choclette set us the challenge of using rose with chocolate. I have seen lots of  lovely looking cakes popping up all over the place, but lots of people saying they weren't sure what to make. I have to admit that I am definitely in the 'don't know how to pair rose and chocolate' camp on this one! Definitely a challenge.

I was going to make a dark chocolate rose cake, and in fact I did indeed do this, but unfortunately it was such a disaster that I can't bring myself to even show you a photo of my failure. Shall we just say that me, yogurt and cakes don't always mix. Sometimes they turn out really well, and occasionally they are an utter disaster. So it was back to the drawing board on this challenge.

I decided that instead of doing a cake, I would do a quick mid-week dessert. This definitely still needs some work on it, but has the potential to be repeated, so I am going to enter it for the challenge.

I used to love rice pudding as a child, and especially when it was thick and gungy, baked for ages in the oven and coming out with a golden nutmeggy skin. Yum. However, not right for this challenge, and not achievable for dinner on a week night when you're home late from work in need of comfort food. I decided to take the quick route. Flaked rice is something I've often seen in the supermarkets but have never bought or cooked with, but since it promised to be ready after only 12 minutes cooking it seemed the perfect contender!

The amount I made was rather less than I expected. From memory, 2oz of rice swelled magically in the milk to give enough rice pudding for 4 people, so I used 1/2 oz, or 12g for my rice dessert. There really wasn't very much of it!

Chocolate rose rice pudding
12g flaked rice
150ml rice milk
1/2 tsp rosewater
1 tsp caster sugar
chocolate to taste

Place rice, milk, sugar and rosewater in a small pan. Bring to the boil, reduce to a simmer and continue to cook, stirring for around 12-15 minutes until the rice is thick and gelatinous and the milk has been absorbed. Stir in the chocolate to turn your pudding a lovely chocolate shade!


Pretty simple, and pretty tasty. The pudding was quite soft when warm but quickly became very thick when it cooled, so I think I should have added more liquid. I have to say that I couldn't really taste the rose, but I could definitely smell it whilst this was cooking. Perhaps my taste buds don't work?!! This reminded me of the chocolate semolina pudding I used to have as a child, which always set solid, yum! It made a nice change from making something cake related too!

Thursday 25 August 2011

And the winners are...

Congratulations to Choclette and I'll be Sally for now, you are the winners of a copy of the Great British Bake Off second series cook book. Apologies to all those who didn't win!

Choclette, I've emailed you details, I'll be Sally for now, please get in touch with me at cakecrumbsandcooking@googlemail.com - I tried your email but it failed to deliver.

Sunday 21 August 2011

In my kitchen - August 2011

In my kitchen (inspired by Celia).... some goodies from Bakery Bits - pure lemon oil, I can't wait to use this. It smells sweeter than lemons, lemony but without the acidic backnote of either zest or juice. I'm sure this will enhance anything lemon I make. And because I'm a chocoholic, chocolate essence. I just couldn't resist. Smells pretty good, but not as bitter as my preferred dark chocolate. I shall just have to wait and see. They have lots more too, here.

Obscure Objects of Desire. Thank you Joanna. My shiny new danish dough whisk, already used for mixing up bread doughs. It seems like the perfect object to mix the sticky sourdough starter into the water before proceeding with the rest of the flour. And easy to clean too, only one tiny bit where dough gets a little stuck. Fab, looking forward to using it more....

To make more bread like this. Once I'd succeeded with the rye and barley sourdough from Dan Lepard, I decided to make it with wholemeal flour rather than rye and barley. So not totally wholemeal (there is white flour in the recipe too, and my starter is white flour based) but I think that actually I prefer the flavour of this one to the rye and barley incarnation.

And a couple of pictures for Celia - I haven't opened either of these yet, wondering how to showcase them to best effect. I bought the mezzi rigatoni because they reminded me of a shape Nigella had used in a recipe containing squid rings. I don't like squid though....

And finally, I adore cut flowers and gladioli in particular, so when I saw these deep, velvety red gladioli I just couldn't resist!

What's in your kitchen this August? Head over to Celia's blog to see her round up of what's in everyone elses kitchens now!

Saturday 20 August 2011

Peach, Nectarine and Apricot Butter Cake

I'm doing pretty well with using my magazines at the moment. This is another cake recipe from BBC Good Food, this time from the August 2011 issue. The original recipe is for an apricot cake, and also has a flaked almond topping, but I decided to adapt it to use the mixture of stone fruit I had available at the time.

I changed the recipe slightly by using 150g butter and 50ml olive oil. This was purely out of curiosity at how the oil would work in the cake since the recipe called for melted butter anyway (always a bonus in my disorganised books!), and I honestly couldn't tell I'd swapped some of the butter for oil. Next time I might try swapping 100g butter for oil and seeing how that goes. I also swapped the 9" round cake tin for an 8" square and didn't do the topping. I sprinkled a little demerara sugar over the base of the tin, but I'm not sure you could tell by the time the fruit had leaked lots of juice and dissolved it all! 

The cake rose a little in the middle (as cakes do...) and so before I turned it out of the tin onto the wire rack, I levelled the top off so that when it was turned out the base (formerly the top) of the cake would be level on the rack and wouldn't cause the cake to break apart. I'm glad that I thought to do this, it worked well.

This was a fabulous cake. The sponge was really moist and close textured and a gorgeous colour and flavour. I loved the way the soft sponge contrasted with the lovely moist, gooey fruit at the bottom of the cake. In fact, I think next time I might make a shallower cake too, so that you get a higher ratio of the fruit at the bottom to the cake. This would be perfect served with some vanilla icecream and either a compote of the fruit, or perhaps a chopped nectarine salsa type effort for a truly delicious dessert.

Wednesday 17 August 2011

Roast plum sorbet

Firstly, remember that you can still win a copy of The Great British Bake Off - How to Bake .... by going here. Right, now onto the rest of the post!

I have a terrible confession to make. I am lucky enough to own a lovely freestanding icecream maker (like this one), bought as a birthday present by my parents when I was 21. I don't use it very often. I like ice-cream, but the palaver of making sure it's clean and preparing the mixture to freeze means that it rarely gets used. Add to this the distinct lack of summer sunshine in my part of the UK and you'll start to understand why this amazing machine is sadly neglected. I hang my head in shame.

However, J has friends with plum trees and at this time of year they are laden with fruit, ripe for the picking before the wasps get the lions share (although J's friend P has more plums than even the wasps can eat!!!). J is therefore often over-run with plums and after jamming pounds and pounds of them, made this plum sorbet recipe published recently in the Guardian newspaper. However, she didn't find the recipe that brilliant, so I've learnt from her experience and gone a slightly different route. The recipe published online has 2kg of plums, whereas the recipe in Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's River Cottage Everyday recipe book has only 1kg of plums with the amounts of the other ingredients all the same. After J's comments that her sorbet wasn't very sweet, I decided to use the ratio of sugar:fruit for the smaller quantity of plums. And since I don't want to be eating this forever, I also halved the recipe. I found when tasting the puree before freezing that it needed more sugar. Don't be afraid of adding more sugar to taste - in fact, you want the puree over-sweetened before freezing as the freezing process dulls the flavour and sweetness. I also used vanilla extract because vanilla pods are horrendously expensive!!!

Roast plum sorbet
400g red British plums
50g caster sugar
1/2tsp vanilla extract
icing sugar to taste (I used 15g)

- Preheat the oven to gas 6/200C.
- Wash and halve the plums, remove the stones and place in the baking tray. Sprinkle over 50g caster sugar and add 125ml water (I used some that had just boiled).
- Roast for around 30 minutes until very soft. Don't leave them in the oven whilst baking a cake meaning that you can't check on them....otherwise they char a little. No harm done though....
- Pass the plums and roasting juices through a sieve. I found this pretty quick and easy, but I know J found it took her ages. I think my plums were very ripe and soft by this stage.
- Taste and add more sugar until it is slightly too sweet. This is deliberate because freezing will dull both the flavours and the sweetness of the mixture.
- Add the vanilla extract and allow to cool completely.
- Churn in an ice-cream maker following the manufacturers instructions. I allowed mine to pre-cool for around 10 minutes and then churned the sorbet until I could no longer stand the horrific noise the motor seemed to be making whilst churning the mixture. I think this was just over 10 minutes, and the mixture seemed to be starting to set.
- Transfer to a clean plastic container and freeze until firm.

I should really, really make more use of my fantastic ice-cream maker! The taste of this sorbet seems to be the essence of plums and it's such a beautiful colour too. The colour will obviously depend on the variety of plum you use, but as there are some gorgeous British plums available at the moment I would urge you to make this. The sorbet tasted really creamy and rich and J commented that it was much smoother than hers, even though she had taken hers out three times to beat it whilst freezing - I guess having an ice-cream maker does make a difference. I can't believe that something as simple as a combination of fruit and sugar can taste so good. The vanilla flavour wasn't obvious, which I was pleased about and roasting the fruit seems to have intensified the flavour. When I was roasting my plums they caught a little, but I discarded this bit and it doesn't seem to have affected the taste of the rest of the mixture. Mmm, yum, sorbet!

Sunday 14 August 2011

Review: The Great British Bake Off - How to Bake.....

When the Great British Bake-Off was on the BBC last year, I really enjoyed watching the contestants progress through the rounds, seeing what they would come up with for the various different challenges, and seeing how they all interpreted the 'technical challenge' recipes set by Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood. I can't say I've baked many of either Mary or Paul's recipes, not owning any books by them. Quite a few of the recipes from the first series are available here, on the BBC Food website. The new series starts on Tuesday 16th August, 8-9pm, BBC2. There will be 11 episodes and I'm looking forward to it!

I'm sure you can probably guess where this is leading... I was recently contacted by someone from Random House, the publishers who are behind the book that accompanies the new series of the Great British Bake Off to see if I would like to review the book. Now I didn't immediately jump at this offer, because I wasn't sure if the book would contain anything new or indeed, anything I wanted to bake, but after a delay and some umming and ahhing I decided to accept their offer. A book speedily arrived.

Disclaimer: Clearly, this is a publicity exercise for the book, and I received my copy free of charge. However, I have not been paid to write this review, and the opinions contained are my own - good or bad.

The book is laid out in chapters, presumably according to the order of the challenges that the participants will undertake in the TV series; Cakes, Biscuits and Teatime Treats, Bread, Pies and Savoury pastry, Tarts and Sweet Pastry, Patisserie, Puddings and Desserts and finally, Celebration Cakes. The recipes are predominantly by Linda Collister, with some of the technical challenge recipes (7 in total) by Mary Berry or Paul Hollywood, with some 'Best of the Bake Off' recipes in each chapter which are the contestant's own. I really like Linda Collister's baking, from another book that I already own by her, which swayed me to accepting this offer. And although initially dubious I'm glad I did.

The book is well laid out, and beautifully photographed and although some of the recipes don't have corresponding photos there are some very indepth step by step recipe photographs, for the 'How to Make the Perfect....' (one of these in most chapters) and the technical challenge recipes, which is a good idea. I appreciate photos of what I'm aiming for, being more of the inspired by photos than intimidated by them school of thought.

As I went through the book I was glad I'd accepted the offer because there are quite a few recipes that I wanted to bake straightaway, and more that I would like to bake when I have more time or want to challenge myself with something new (pastry and patisserie chapters, I'm thinking of you!). Some of the particularly delicious sounding recipes (well, to my mind anyway) are Rhubarb and Custard Cupcakes, Brandy Snaps, Sticky Maple-Apple Traybake, Monkey Bread, Stilton, Potato and Caramelised Onion Pie, Chocolate, Fennel and Ginger tarts and Chocolate Fudge Hot-Pot Pudding but there are many more calling out my name. I have lots of baking books but I really could spend a long time just baking from this one!

So what did I decide to make to start? I chose Stem Ginger Shortbread, Sticky Orange Marmalade Cake, and Chocolate Velvet Cup Cakes with Chocolate Fudge Frosting.

The stem ginger shortbread was lovely and easy to make, and eat. Perhaps not as crumbly as some I have made before, not my best, but a lovely basic recipe all the same. The sticky orange marmalade cake was lovely - again easy to make (are you seeing a theme emerging here!) but it looked really lovely and showed off my lovely homemade orange marmalade off to good effect. The only slight problem I had with it was that it sunk slightly when it cooled and had overbrowned slightly in the oven. I removed the very top layer of over-browning because the marmalade glaze on the cake and the icing would hide the top of the cake, but I found myself berating myself for not managing to make it perfectly and imagining what Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood would have said had my cake been up for judging. I'm sure that the dip in the middle wouldn't have gone down well, but I think they would have been pleased with the final taste and texture!

My favourite was the chocolate velvet cup cakes with chocolate fudge frosting. These can be found right at the back of the book, in the celebration cakes chapter, and it would be a shame to miss them, because they're delicious!

Chocolate Velvet Cup Cakes with Chocolate Fudge Frosting (reproduced with permission)
175ml semi-skimmed or full-fat milk (I used semi-skimmed aka 2%)
100g dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids)
125g caster sugar
60g unsalted butter, softened
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 large free-range egg, at room temperature, beaten
150g self raising flour, sifted

- Preheat the oven to 180C/gas 4. Pour the milk into a small, heavy-based pan (preferably non-stick). Chop the chocolate and add to the milk with one-third of the sugar. Set over the lowest possible heat and leave until melted and smooth, stirring frequently. Remove from the heat. If necessary, give the liquid a quick whisk to amalgamate, then set aside until needed.
- Put the butter into a mixing bowl and beat until creamy with a wooden spoon or an electric mixer. Add the rest of the sugar and the vanilla and beat thoroughly for about 4 minutes or until the mixture is very light and fluffy.
- Gradually add the egg, beating well after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl from time to time. Using a large metal spoon fold in the flour in 3 batches alternatley with the chocolate liquid. When completely amalgamated spoon the mixture into the paper casess so they are evenly filled.
- Bake for 15-18 minutes or until the cakes are well risen and spring back when gently pressed with a finger. Remove the tray from the oven and leave to cool for about 2 minutes, then transfer the cup cakes to a wire rack and leave to cool completely before icing.

Chocolate fudge frosting
Enough for 12 cupcakes
100g dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids), chopped or broken up
1 rounded tablespoon golden syrup
50g unsalted butter

- Put the chocolate, golden syrup and butter into a heatproof bowl. Set over a pan of steaming hot but not boiling water (don't let the base of the bowl touch the water) and melt gently, stirring frequently. As soon as the mixture is smooth remove the bowl from the pan and cool, stirring frequently.
- When very thick and on the point of setting, swirl the frosting on top of the cup cakes using a round-bladed knife. Quickly add any decorations and leave to set.

My notes:
- My chocolate mixture did look a bit grainy, but it seemed to work ok.
- I inadvertently added half of the sugar to the milk mixture (why can't I divide 125g by three and get 40g not 60g???) but just put the rest in with the butter and it was fine!
- They actually took 15 minutes to bake!!! Yay, I usually find my cakes need longer than stated!
- Don't worry that the batter is very runny. I sort of spoon/poured it into the cases feeling very dubious indeed with visions of flat pancakes coming out of the oven only to be greeted by the beauties in the pic below!

I love this chocolate fudge frosting! It was beautifully bitter (I used Green and Black's 72% cooking chocolate) to offset the smooth sweetness of the cakes.
- Don't be greedy like me, and increase the quantities by 50%, you'll have far too much to fit on the cakes!
- The frosting took about 2 hours at ambient temperature (about 20C here) to reach almost-setting point, and until then was pretty much liquid. Have faith, and patience and you'll be rewarded!
These were utterly delicious. The cake was soft and smooth, moist and sweet and was offset really well by the slightly bitter chocolate frosting. I think this will be my go-to recipe for chocolate cupcakes from now, with the added advantage of needing less butter and eggs than a standard recipe and tasting fabulous! I'll also try and remember to make the frosting too, I much, much prefer it to chocolate buttercream which I tend to find too sickly sweet.

And if you've managed to get all the way to the end of that.... I have been offered two copies of the book to give away to my readers, but because it's a heavy book I'm sorry that this is only open to UK readers. Apologies to all my international visitors. To have a chance to win a copy of this book;
1. Become a follower of Cake, Crumbs and Cooking, if you aren't already.
2. Leave me a comment and let me know what your baking nemesis is - does pastry make you pale? do your scones leave people speechless? and what is your absolute favourite thing to bake?

This will close at midnight on the 20th August and I'll pick the winners by random number generator. I'll then contact you by email so if your email isn't obvious on your blog/website, please leave it in your comment :-)

Thursday 11 August 2011

Sourdough success - barley and rye bread

Woo-hoo! Sourdough success! Thanks are again due to the amazing Mr Lepard (plus my sourdough starter, more on that later) and his book The Handmade Loaf. Every time I look at this book I find breads that I really, really want to make. There are some breads requiring only commercial yeast (fresh/dried), some requiring only sourdough and a few hybrids too. There are even some that don't need yeast at all, but they ones that always seem to catch my eye are the sourdough breads.

I have to admit that this is only based on Dan's recipe. I don't currently have a rye sourdough on the go and didn't want to convert my white sourdough so I just made a straight substitution of white sourdough for the rye specified in the recipe. I kept everything else the same though and halved the recipe.

My sourdough had spent a while sleeping in the fridge and when I came to wake it up again it seemed rather sluggish. After a couple of refreshes it wasn't quite smelling how I expected and I wondered how I could boost it. A couple of tsp of natural yogurt came to mind - the acidity and the bacteria help balance the culture. I didn't have any yogurt. Well, only rhubarb flavour, I didn't think my yeast would appreciate that. So I had a think about what else was acidic and hit on the idea of adding a little vinegar. No bacteria to help out, but acidity in abundance. I probably only added 1/2tsp or a tiny bit more, but the next day my starter was frothing away, more active than it's ever been! Has anyone else out there ever fed their starter a little vinegar to help the acidity? All knowledge gratefully accepted!

The second prooving step did take quite a long time to get to the puffed up stage you see in the prooving basket below, but I was occupied with other tasks so the wait didn't seem onerous. There was a moment of tension as I upended the banneton and hoped that the loaf wouldn't stick.... some of it was reluctant to leave it's wicker home, but going gently with it and a little coaxing released the loaf intact. I think perhaps I over-proofed it slightly as there wasn't very much oven spring, a little, but not much. The slashes have opened out but the loaf is a slightly slumped shape. I'm not complaining though because the crumb is excellent.

I think next time I'll have the oven as hot as possible to get the oven spring I'm looking for, but then turn it down straightaway, to prevent the loaf becoming overbrowned. This is just the right side of burnt, but only just!

I'm really pleased with the crumb texture - it was even throughout the loaf rather than some of my past efforts that have been full of massive holes in some places yet quite dense in others. This is definitely the best yet but I'm not complacent - this is just the beginning of the sourdough adventure.

Monday 8 August 2011

MM8 - Crunchy crusted citrus scones - International scone week

What, you mean you hadn't heard about this?!? It's international scone week!!! (Check out Celia's blog for links to some of last year's participants) And I couldn't be happier because I love scones. I'm sure I've said this before, but never mind, now I've said it again. They're just such a good portable snack - not too sweet, not too rich (well, until you slather with butter/clotted cream/jam), they're quick and easy to make and bake and they're all round fantastic. I've tried out a few recipes for scones, but tend to stick to my old tried and true recipe (1lb self raising flour, 4oz butter, 2oz sugar, 3.5oz raisins) which I know by heart, in pounds and ounces because I've been making them since I can remember and I started to cook in pounds and ounces! I've been known to go to the freezer after dinner, realise that I'm all out of scones and turn the oven back on to knock out a quick batch to satisfy my craving...

So it takes some recipe to trump my T&T. Well, I think this one has done it and done it with style. And what's most annoying is that I've known of the recipe for years. I remember reading the recipe in the April 2002 edition of BBC Good Food and wondering when I could make them. I was at uni, without a reliable oven and then by the time I arrived home I'd forgotten about them. Over the years they've popped in and out of my memory, always being pushed down by something else that looked more exciting, but I have finally, finally managed to get round to making them. I'm so cross - nine years of missing out on these delicious treats. If you're a fan of scones make sure to make these soon, don't make my mistake and wait for years before trying them.

As you can see, I've already made them three times! The recipe is here, and I followed it exactly, well almost. I subbed lemon for orange. The first time I made them I decided to make a large round, as instructed in the recipe. Mine caught a little because I was unsure as to whether it was cooked through and left it in a little too long. It didn't taste burnt though, contrary to appearance. I did divide it into eight rather than six though, which was a good decision as the eight were still quite large! The next time I decided to use a cutter and got 12 rounds. There is a lot to be said for making one large round though - it's much quicker to shape the dough, and the end result seemed to be moister than the smaller ones. Don't forget to sprinkle with sugar - that crunch is one of the lovely things about them!

Having made this discovery, when I made the third batch I switched back to one large round. For the third making, I chose fresh cherries and vanilla although I can't quite remember how much of either I added, I'd guess about 100g fresh cherries, stoned and halved and a tsp of vanilla. Wow were they delicious - the vanilla and cherry combo was just gorgeous - the dough being vanilla flavoured and punctuated by juicy bursts of cherry. Can you tell I'm in love?

This is such a good recipe - these are the moistest scones I've ever had, and the lemon flavour permeates them so well. I can imagine that they'd be great served as suggested with clotted cream and lemon curd, but actually, they're moist enough to be utterly delicious on their own - no added butter or other embellishment needed. And I still have some in my freezer ..... yum!!!

This is the next in my series of 'Marked and Made' recipes - those that have been languishing too long in the 'to make' pile. Jac, over at Tinned Tomatoes has recently revived the Bookmarked Recipes (founded by Ruth at Ruth's Kitchen Experiments) event and so I'm submitting it to that too. Have you finally got round to making something that's been in the pile for far too long?  (And don't pretend you don't have a pile, you know exactly what I'm talking about!!!) Check out the round up too!

Saturday 6 August 2011

Soured cream double chocolate cranberry ring

Mmm, I realised after I wrote the title that there's no way of you knowing that this cake was originally in ring form! I promise that I did make it in my bundt tin, and it was circular once upon a time. I was sort of intending this cake to be my birthday cake, but then it didn't really turn out as well as I had hoped and I ran out of time to do any sort of decoration, so it was just another cake... Well, another pretty tasty cake that also used up the tub of soured cream that needed using.

I'm pretty sure that I've made this Nigella recipe before, in fact I know I certainly have in pre-blogging days, but I'm not sure about recently. The last time I made it I stuck to the recipe exactly, made it in two 8" tins and decorated it with buttercream. Yum! I made it as a leaving present for some colleagues many, many years ago, in the first job I had after I left university. In a workplace where everything was either 'grins' or 'doom' this cake was definitely grins!!!

Time has moved on though, and I'm more confident (rightly or wrongly) in playing about with recipes - adding ingredients, changing tin size... and luckily it worked ok this time round! My additions were chopped white chocolate and cranberries. I like bundt tins - they tend to cook evenly in my (limited) experience, and there's no centre to undercook! I'd love this one! The other good thing is that if you misjudge a recipe and most of your add-ins fall to the bottom, it becomes the top of the turned out cake! The only problem then becomes if the add-ins stick to the tin and rip your cake apart as you gently try and get it out..... (looks away in an embarrassed fashion....)

Nigella's Soured Cream Chocolate Cake, with C's additions
200g plain flour
200g caster sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
40g best quality cocoa powder
175g butter, very soft
2 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
150ml soured cream
60g white chocolate, chopped
85g dried cranberries

- Grease your bundt tin. I'm not really sure how to give sizes because I don't know the capacity of it, but if it's any help the diameter across the top is 9"/23cm with a 3"/7cm middle bit... I also added four little strips of baking parchment to help aid the cake out. I was glad I had done, and sorry I hadn't taken the time to line it better.
- Preheat the oven to gas 4/180C.
- Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
- Add the remaining ingredients except the white chocolate and cranberries and beat until smooth.
- Fold in the white chocolate and cranberries and spoon into the bundt tin.
- Bake for 40-45 minutes until a cake tester/wooden cocktail stick comes out clean.
- Allow to cool for a little in the tin then turn out onto a wire rack.

I had to scoop the bits stuck in the tin onto the corresponding place on the cake and hoped that no-one noticed. I don't think they did. Anyway, it's chocolate cake, who really cares how it looks! I took this cake to colleagues in a different department. I haven't taken them cake in a while now, and when I put this one down at 11am I then went off to do some odds and sods. When I went past at 11.30 two small pieces remained.... the fastest moving cake I've ever seen!

It was a lot more moist than I remember it, very buttery and rich yet light too in an odd way. Nicely chocolatey. I guess this is why Nigella uses it for her old fashioned chocolate cake recipe. It's fairly delicate, but partly because of the add ins I used, which made it a little difficult to pick up a piece without the top portion dropping off, oh wait, that's because I sneakily tried to pretend it hadn't got stuck to the tin as you can just make out below ;-)


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