Sunday, 23 February 2014

Carrot Cake with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting and Caramelised Walnuts

Until this week, I had never made a carrot cake before. I had never even tasted a carrot cake before! I don't know why, but the idea of vegetables in a cake just seemed completely wrong to me. I'm off work this week, so was in a mood to do something different, something I'd never tried before. I was going to visit my friend in her new house and, for some reason, carrot cake just seemed like the 'homely' cake to make.

I searched through my baking books and found a few different options, but in the end I went with a recipe from Donal Skehan's Kitchen Hero: Great Food for Less. I'm a huge fan of Donal's, both of his books and his tv shows, and have made both sweet (check out his 'Ultimate' cake) and savoury recipes of his to great success, so knew that I wouldn't go too wrong with this one!

 I was pleasantly surprised with the end results, although I had to rely solely on my friends to let me know if it actually tasted like carrot cake should. They said it did, so guess I'll just have to trust them!!

(adapted from Donal Skehan)
275g self-raising flour
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 tsp ground cinnamon
275g caster sugar
4 large eggs
250ml rapeseed oil
1 tbsp vanilla extract
400g carrots, peeled and grated

Preheat your oven to 180ºC and grease and line two cake tins. In a large bowl, sift in the flour, bicarb and cinnamon (or just give it a good whisk). In another bowl, beat together the eggs and sugar, until light and fluffy. Slowly pour in the oil, until completely incorporated and then add in the vanilla. Fold in the dry ingredients, until just mixed through. Finally, fold through the grated carrots. Divide the batter between your two lined tins and bake for 30 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean. Remove cakes from the oven and leave to cool for about 10 minutes on a wire rack. Remove the cakes from the tins and leave to cool completely.

Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting
(adapted from Donal Skehan)
200g cream cheese, softened
50g unsalted butter, softened
450g icing sugar
2 tsp cinnamon

Beat together the cream cheese and butter, until light and fluffy. Gradually add in the icing sugar and cinnamon until well combined.

Caramelised Walnuts
1 cup walnuts
1/2 cup light brown sugar

Line a baking tray with parchment paper. Add the nuts and sugar to a non-stick pan and stir constantly until all the sugar has melted and the walnuts are covered in a golden caramel. Pour the nuts onto the baking tray and leave to cool. 

Assemble the cakes by spreading half of the cream cheese frosting onto one of the cakes with a large palette knife. Gently place the second cake on top and cover with the remaining frosting. Top with the caramelised walnuts.

Monday, 17 February 2014

Valentine's Sugar Cookies

As I've mentioned a few times before, I teach four and five year olds. I wanted to do something a bit different with them for Valentine's Day, so we baked cookies!!  The recipe is a simple one, perfect for baking with children. The cookies are crisp on the outside and slightly soft in the middle and they keep their shape really well when baking.

I used to make these all the time as a kid and loved decorating them with whatever I could get my hands on! We used pink glacé icing and all the sprinkles I could find to decorate these, but unfortunately they were scoffed before I could take a picture!!

225g plain flour
125g butter, softened
125g brown sugar
1 egg, beaten
Pinch of salt

Line a couple of baking trays and preheat your oven to 190ºC. Beat the butter and sugar together until fluffy. Beat in the egg, slowly.  Sift in the flour and salt. Mix well until it makes a firm dough. You may need to add a little bit more flour.  Sprinkle some flour on your work surface and a rolling pin. Roll out the dough until it is about 1/2 cm thick. Cut out your shapes and place on the baking tray. Gather up any leftover dough, roll it out again and cut out more shapes. Keep on going until all the dough is gone.  Bake for about 15 minutes, until light brown. Leave on a wire rack to cool completely before decorating.

Hidden Heart Cake

I wasn't going to show you this cake. Everything that could go wrong with this cake, went wrong. It was not a great day in the kitchen. But I decided to show it to you all anyway, because everything in life doesn't always go exactly as you plan!!

It started off okay. I baked the first cake, the pink one, which turned out lovely. Left it to cool, sliced it up and cut out my hearts. And then it all went downhill. I poured some of the white mixture into the tin, and added the hearts. But they started moving all over the place, and wouldn't line up straight. Then as I poured over the remaining mixture and tried to smooth it out, I just knew it wasn't going to turn out right.

I'm pretty sure I've said it before, but my oven is seriously out to get me!! The top of the cake started to burn, and the inside was still completely raw.  I left it to cook through and then cried taking it out of the oven. I tried to scrape off as much of the burnt top as I could and then covered it with neon glacé icing to try and hide the mess!!

Then came the moment of truth: the slicing. One side didn't work at all!! But the other side actually looked alright. The inside was just slightly underdone. I was planning on bringing it in to work for the staff, but I just couldn't bring myself to serve it to grown ups. So instead, I gave it to my class of 4 and 5 years olds. And they loved it!! I love how easily impressed kids are...

Has anyone else out there tried this before? If you have, please let me know where I went wrong!! I am determined to remake this cake. I promise to let you know how it goes!!

6 large eggs
340g self-raising flour
340g caster sugar
340g unsalted butter, softened
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp baking powder
Red food colouring

Preheat oven to 180ºC and line two loaf tins. Put cake ingredients in a bowl and beat until smooth. Split mixture into two bowls and add a drop of red food colouring to one. Pour the pink mixture into a cake tin and bake for 30-35 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean. Leave to cool completely.  When cooled, slice the cake into 1cm slices. Use a heart shaped cutter to cut a heart out of each slice. Pour 1/3 of the white mixture into the second loaf tin. Place the pink cake hearts into the tin, standing upright. Pour over the remaining mixture. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean. Leave to cool.

Glacé Icing
220g icing sugar
2 tbsp hot water
Red food colouring

Mix together the icing sugar, hot water and a drop of red food colouring to make the icing. Poor over the cooled cake.

Happy (belated) Valentine's Day

So as it was Valentine's Weekend, it was a busy week in the kitchen. I had three recipes to share: one each for Friday, Saturday and Sunday. I was super organised (for once) and scheduled the posts on Thursday. But, instead of clicking the 'publish' button, I hit 'save'. Rookie mistake. So here are all three recipes at once!

The first is one of my favourite cake recipes of all time, and it's featured on the blog before. My go-to red velvet cake. This time I halved the cake recipe and quartered the cream cheese icing recipe to make a smaller cake. And as it was for Valentine's Day, I baked it in my new heart shaped tin and covered it in heart sprinkles.

(adapted from Food Network)
280g plain flour
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp cocoa powder
170g granulated sugar
1 large eggs
170ml vegetable oil
1/2 tsp vinegar
15ml red food coloring
1 tsp vanilla extract
115ml buttermilk

Preheat the oven to 180ºC. Line your cake tin. Sift the flour, bicarbonate of soda and cocoa together. Beat the sugar and egg together in a separate large bowl. In another bowl mix together the oil, vinegar, food colouring and vanilla and then add to the bowl of egg and sugar and beat until combined. Add the flour mixture in batches to the sugar/egg mixture, alternating with the buttermilk. Always start and end with the flour. Pour the batter into the prepared tin. Tap it on the table to level out the batter and release air bubbles. Bake for 25-35 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean. Let the cake to cool on a wire rack for about 10 minutes before turning out of the tin and allowing to cool completely.

Cream Cheese Icing
(adapted from Raspberri Cupcakes)
65g cream cheese, softened
65g unsalted butter, softened
Juice of 1/2
190g icing sugar

Beat cream cheese and butter in a large mixing bowl until smooth and fluffy. Add lemon juice and icing sugar gradually, and beat until smooth.

Sunday, 9 February 2014

Chocolate Fudge Cake with White Chocolate Cream Cheese Icing

There wasn't going to be a blog post today. It's been a crazy week and I haven't been in the kitchen for more than 10 minutes each day. My friend was having a few people over to her house last night and at about 6.30 I decided that I just had to make a cake. A monster cake at that.

This cake is one of Donal Skehan's recipes from his Kitchen Hero: Great Food For Less book. He calls it the 'Ultimate' cake, and it really is. Four layers of moist chocolate fudge cake, sandwiched with creamy white chocolate cream cheese icing.

And the best part? It is ridiculously easy to make!! Dry ingredients in one bowl. Wet ingredients in a jug. Combine. Simple as. My kind of cake!!

It is an absolutely GIANT of a cake, but the quantities can be easily halved if you want to make a smaller cake. But really, who wants a smaller cake?!?!

(adapted from Donal Skehan)
350g self-raising flour
5 tbsp cocoa powder
2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
300g caster sugar
300ml sunflower oil
300ml semi-skimmed milk
4 large eggs, beaten
4 tbsp golden syrup

Preheat your oven to 180ºC and line two baking tins. Sieve the flour, cocoa powder and bicarb into the biggest bowl you have. (Or if you're lazy, like me, put them into the bowl and give it a good whisk). Add in the sugar and mix well. In a jug, measure in the wet ingredients (oil, milk, eggs, syrup) and mix. Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and gradually add in the wet ingredients until you have a smooth (and quite wet) mixture. Pour evenly between your baking tins and bake in the oven for about 40 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean. Leave to cool slightly, before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

White Chocolate Cream Cheese Icing
220g unsalted butter, softened
450g cream cheese 
400g white chocolate, melted
440g icing sugar

Beat your butter and cream cheese together until light and fluffy. Mix through the white chocolate and then gradually add in the icing sugar until smooth.

When your cake has cooled completely, carefully split your cakes. Sandwich with thick layers of the icing. It 's up to you whether you cover the sides or not. I wasn't planning to, but my cake was still warm when I cut it so it didn't look too pretty and there was plenty of icing left so decided to go for it. For a finishing touch, grate some dark chocolate over the top.

Sunday, 2 February 2014

Slutty Brownies

They're oh so easy and a little bit filthy!! Just look at them!!

Chocolate chip cookies, Oreos and brownies... What's not to love!?!

These have been floating around the internet for years, but I think the first time I saw them was on The Londoner. They really are the most amazingly delicious and gooey brownies you will ever have!!

Let's just have one more closer look! So good!!

1 Box Cookie Mix
1 Box Brownie Mix
2 packets of Oreos
Vegetable Oil
2 eggs

Preheat your oven to 180ºC and line a baking tin. Make up your cookie dough according to the box instructions and press into the baking tin. Layer the Oreos on top!! Eat a couple along the way. Make up your brownie mix according to the box instructions and pour on top of the cookie and Oreos. Bake for around 20-25 minutes. To check if they're done, place a skewer or knife into the brownies halfway between the edge and the middle and it should come out barely clean. You want the middle to still be gooey. Leave to cool in the tin on a wire rack. When completely cool, turn out of the tin and cut into squares.