Tag Archives: easy

“Poor is the pupil who does not exceed his master,”… Leonardo

3 Mar

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The eagle-eyed among you will have noticed a lack of Cakealogue posts of late. It’s true, I’ve not done any baking since the end of December. And I’ve not done any thinking about baking either. The reason is simple – I realised,  towards the end of 2012 that I had gained a lot of weight. I was looking like a hippo  Action was required and that meant changing the way I ate. Sadly it also meant no baking – at least for a few months.

My family and regular cake testers have been supportive because they have seen the transformation. At least it’s the start of the transformation. I have some way to go yet.

But as I write this I am smugly aware that there’s 12kg less of me than there was on the 31st December 2012. Hopefully, by the middle of May another 12 kg will have gone. For good.

Baking, much as I love it, was doing me no favours. It’s not that I even eat what I bake! It’s the tasting and the testing along the way that did it.

The Cakefans have been reassured though, that I will bake over the Easter holidays when the university bunch are back in town. In fact this year’s Cake challenge has already been set and accepted, so watch this space. A friend has suggested I blog about losing weight – a sort of Slimalogue – and I might just do it. Unless anyone thinks it’s a horribly boring topic to read about…

Meanwhile, the pans and measures at Cakealogue Towers have been in action once again. My elder son wanted to bake a cake as a treat for his lovely girlfriend, and so, under my watchful eye, he mixed, baked, decorated and presented a superb   chocolate  cake. He used my Beat and Mix easy peasy chocolate cake recipe, substituting dark molasses sugar for regular caster sugar, which resulted in deep, dark, caramelly splodges. He sandwiched the two halves with Nutella and then topped it with butter cream into which he’d mixed cocoa powder and  another spoonful of Nutella.

The result looked stunning. And apparently it tasted gorgeous too. But I have to rely on reports because I didn’t get to try it!

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Marvellous Marzipan Mince Pies

23 Dec

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Mmmm, it’s that time of year again, when the whole house smells of delicious things baking in the kitchen. Mince pies really evoke the season with their boozy fruitiness and aromatic spiciness. I like to make my own and serve them warm from the oven. Of course, when I say “make my own” I mean the cheat’s version. I could make the mincemeat – indeed I once did – and I could make my own pastry, but really  life’s too short. And anyway, the supermarkets do such a fantastic selection of Christmas mince it would be rude not to buy it.

This year I tried two quite spectacular bought  mincemeats and used both in my marzipanned versions of the pies  The result is yummy and more-ish.

Lots of mincemeat varieties are available but these two really impressed this year. At Sainsbury I found a jar of “Taste the Difference”  mincemeat made with cassis. The alcohol gives it quite a deep pinky-red colour and it has a sweet/sharp jamminess.  And at Waitrose, their standard, non-posh variety has such a wonderful citrus and spice flavour I feel I could eat it straight from the jar by the spoonful.

To make my Mavellous Marzipan Mince Pies, here is what you need.

INGREDIENTS

Ready to roll pastry – puff or short crust, any type works well
A jar of Christmas mince
A little marzipan – the leftover bits from your Christmas cake are ideal
A little ready-to-roll icing – again, use the leftover bits from the cake

Heat the oven to 190 C

METHOD20121221_13013120121221_13022220121221_130254

  1. Cut out twelve rounds of pastry using a plastic tumbler or food preparation ring.
  2. Use them to line a twelve hole shallow muffin tin.
  3. Place teaspoonfuls of mince in each pie. Don’t be tempted to put too much in and resist the feeling that you are being mean. You’re not. A teaspoon is enough. Any more and it will bubble up and make a sticky gooey mess that makes cleaning your tin impossible.
  4. Now top each mound with a blob of marzipan.
  5. Roll out the icing and cut stars or snowflakes using a cutter.
  6. Top each marzipan blob with an icing shape.
  7. Place the muffin tray in the preheated oven and bake for no more than 15 minutes.
  8. Allow to cool a little before sprinkling with icing sugar (not essential) and enjoy with a cup of tea.

 

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Chocolate Brownie Cake

6 Oct

Yes – you read that right! Chocolate brownie cake. And why not?

Chocolate Brownie Cake

I was off to dinner at some friends last week and needed to take something. I didn’t have much time, so this was just perfect. It can be prepared so quickly, needs little or no decorating, and works as a decadent pudding or a slice of cake. It’s rather rich so a little goes a long way – I reckon this quantity would serve 8 people. Not in my family, though!

INGREDIENTS

100 g butter
175 g golden caster sugar
75 g dark brown sugar
125 g dark chocolate
1 tablespoon golden syrup
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon almond essence
100 g plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 heaped tablespoons cocoa powder (The bitter stuff – not drinking chocolate!)

METHOD

  1. Heat the oven to 180 C and grease and line a 20 cm round tin, loose bottomed if possible.
  2. PLace the butter, the sugars, the essence and the chocolate in a small pan and melt over a low heat, stirring with a wooden spoon until all combined.
  3. Remove the pan from the heat and allow to cool a little.
  4. PLace the flour, cocoa powder and baking powder in a large bowl, pour in the chocolate mixture, then stir in the beaten eggs and mix thoroughly.
  5. Pour into the prepared tin and bake in the oven for 25 – 30 minutes.
  6. Allow to cool for about half an hour before removing from the tin and dusting with icing sugar.
  7. Serve, cut into wedges with ice cream or cream.

Thanks to my friend Ian for adding the footprints!

 

 

Ginger Fingers

4 Aug

Ginger Fingers

Mmmmmm, the smell of gingery yumminess is wafting from the kitchen as I type this. I’ve adapted this old recipe of my mom’s and so far so good.

Preheat the oven to 180 C

Line and grease a brownie-type tin

INGREDIENTS

220 g butter, melted

350 g Self Raising flour
1 teaspoon ground ginger
200 g caster sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 large egg
3 large chunks of stem ginger in syrup (chopped into tiny bits)

METHOD

  1. Sift all the dry ingredients into a large bowl.
  2. Pour in the melted butter and stir in the egg and stem ginger pieces.
  3. Stir thoroughly to combine everything to a thick but not-too-smooth batter.
  4. Spoon the batter into the tin, smooth it a little, and pop in the oven for 25 minutes.
  5. Leave to cool on a wire rack and then top with a smooth, runny water icing.

Everything goes in one bowl!

Leave to cool now – exercise some willpower!

ICING

200 g Icing sugar
A few teaspoons of boiled, cooled water – enough to mix to a smooth paste.

Stir the water into the icing sugar, a little at a time, until you have the desired consistency. Spread over the cooled cake, sprinkle on a little ground ginger and perhaps a few bits of stem ginger if you wish. Cut into fingers, and tadaaaa! Yum.

Iced, cut into fingers and they’re ready to eat

Billionaire’s Shortbread

8 Jun

Want to make something impressive, something with the wow factor? Try these – completely divine and as easy as can be.

Billionaire’s Shortbread

Making shortbread is a doddle, and once the shortbread has baked and cooled, the topping is as simple as opening a tin and melting some chocolate. You could make your own caramel – you could – but this is the lazy, easy method and it requires nothing more challenging than a tin opener.

Let’s start with the shortbread.

INGREDIENTS

225 g Butter
65 g caster sugar
275 g plain flour
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
65 g cornflour

Tin of caramel sauce (I used Carnation)

200 g dark chocolate
100 g white chocolate

You’ll need a brownie tin, greased and lined with baking paper.

METHOD 

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 C.
  2. Cream the butter and caster sugar together.
  3. Add all the other ingredients and mix to a smooth, stiff dough.
  4. Turn into the prepared tin and press down lightly with yous fingers.
  5. Prick all over with the tines of a fork.
  6. Bake for 20 – 30 minutes until lightly browned – a nice biscuity colour.
  7. Leave in the tin to cool completely on a wire rack.

Baked shortbread

When the shortbread has cooled completely, spread the tinned caramel over the surface.

Caramel

Now melt the dark chocolate in a heat-proof bowl over a pan of simmering water. Don’t let the bottom of the bowl touch the water or the chocolate will become granually. Melt the white chocolate in the same way. Remove both from the heat and beat with a metal spoon until smooth.

Pour the dark chocolate all over the caramel and smooth with the metal spoon.

Spread on the melted dark chocolate…

Drop blobs and trails of white chocolate over the dark chcocalte.

Blob on the white chocolate

Use a skewer or wooden toothpick to drag the white chocolate into marbled patterns.

Marbleous!

Leave overnight in a cool place (or in the fridge) until completley cool. Cut into slices using a sharp serrated knife. You may need to dip the knife in boiling water to make the cutting a little easier.

Best eaten in a bowl, as it’s rather messy. Calories count? A billion!

Mmmm, enjoy!

 

Banana and Poppy Seed Cup Cakes

13 May

Banana and Poppy seed cup cakes

Yesterday was one of those tidy-out-the-baking-cupboard days. From time to time it becomes essential to have a good old tidy out, chuck out the items that are past their best or past their sell-by dates, rescue long-forgotten gizmos lurking a the back, and generally have a good old spring clean.  So it was that I discovered the following : 2 packs of poppy seeds, both open, both half-used; two packs of pistachio nuts, ditto; three open tubs of bicarbonate of soda – why?; two unopened tubs of Italian mixed peel – what was I planning?; three full bags of flaked almonds; countless little packs of this and that, nuts and fruits and decorations. Clearly the time had come for a) a sort out and b) a decision to do something with all the bits. So today I tackled the poppy seeds and came up with the following recipe, a kind of variation on the banana loaf theme, this time as cupcakes. Nice and quick and simple, an all-in-one recipe with minimal washing up, which results in a moist and tasty cupcake equally delicious iced or un-iced.

This quantity made 24 dainty little cakes. You could easily make about twelve larger ones, but I rather like them small. That way you can have two, and as they contain bananas, you can feel a teeny bit healthy and smug whilst you eat them.

Preheat the oven to 180 C and line a cupcake tin with 24 (or 12) paper cases

INGREDIENTS

2 large, ripe bananas, mashed
175 g butter at room temperature
175 g self raising flour
175 g soft brown sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 tablespoons poppy seeds
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

METHOD

  1. Place all the ingredients – yes all of them – in  a large bowl and beat well until smoothly combined. You can do this more quickly in a food processor if you wish, or just enjoy using some elbow grease and beat the daylights out of the mixture by hand 🙂
  2. Plop tablespoonfuls into each paper case. About 2/3 full should be fine as they will rise a little.
  3. Place in the oven and bake for twenty minutes before peeping.
  4. Mine were ready in twenty in minutes but if yours need a little longer kleep an eye on them. You want them lightly browned and springy to the touch.
  5. Leave to cool on a wire rack, and if you wish stop at this point and wolf them down with a cup of coffee.
ICING (OPTIONAL)
I topped mine with a little butter cream and a sprinkle of cinnamon but honestly they didn’t need icing. I just fancied indulging. As always.
So if you wish to here’s what you need:
150 g softened butter
300 g sifted icing sugar
a little ground cinnamon

Whizz the butter and icing sugar together in a processor or beat by hand, which is very satisfying.
Pipe a little onto each cake, or just swirl it on with a palette knife, then sprinkle on a little cinnamon.

Banana and Poppy Seed Cup Cakes

I’m going to dedicate these cupcakes to my lovely friend Zara who has recently been bitten by the baking bug 🙂

Victoria Sponge with a Difference

8 May

And the difference of course, is chocolate. Cocoa to be precise. In fact, every bit of this recipe needs you to be precise. The secret of a great Vic Sponge, light, fluffy and downright delicious, is precise measurements. Normally I’m more laid-back with quantities and have been known to throw in a bit of this, chuck in a bit of that, add more flour or less, depending on how the mixture looks. But not with the old Vic. Oh no. Precision is the name of the game. Digital scales are your friend when making this particular cake.

Chocolate Victoria Sponge with vanilla buttercream icing

However, it’s important to remember that this is also the easiest cake in the universe. Ok maybe there are easier ones, but this recipe really is a doddle, quick to whizz up, a short time in the oven, and in less than a couple of the hours, on the table while you sit back and bask in the compliments.

So here we go. You’ll need two 20cm “sandwich” tins, well greased and bottom lined. You’ll also need scales and a sieve, and a couple of bowls, one large, one small. Preheat the oven to 180 C.

INGREDIENTS

3 large free range eggs – crack them into the small bowl and weigh them! They’ll be about 175 g
175g (or equivalent weight of eggs) of each of the following: caster sugar; softened butter; self-raising flour.
2 heaped tablespoons cocoa
3 tablespoons milk

METHOD 

  1. Whizz the butter and sugar together until really light and fluffy.
  2. Add the eggs and blend well.
  3. Now place the sieve over the large bowl and add the two tablespoons of cocoa.
  4. Add the flour until the scales read 175 g (or equivalent weight of eggs)
  5. Fold in the flour/cocoa  and then add the milk, folding gently with a metal spoon.
  6. divide the mixture between the two tins and bake for approximately 25 minutes until risen and springy to the touch.
  7. Allow to cool on a wire rack before icing.

ICING

4 – 5 table spoons strawberry or apricot jam, slightly warmed.
150 g softened butter
300 g icing sugar

METHOD

  1. Whizz the icing sugar and butter together to make a nice thick, smooth, butter cream.
  2. Place one cake on a serving plate.
  3. Spread the top of the cake with the warmed jam.
  4. Then spread on half the butter cream.
  5. Place the second cake on top and smooth on the remaining butter cream.
  6. Decorate with pretty sugar paste flowers (optional – haha!)

It’s a lovely light cake and a versatil recipe and the jam makes the cake supermoist. Have fun trying out different combinations 🙂

Chocolate Victoria Sponge

The seal of approval!

One of my regular cakefans

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