Thursday, 29 May 2014

Cherry and Chocolate Orange Weetabix Cake for my Blogiversary

Happy Blogiversary I'd Much Rather Bake Than...!!! I made you a cake to celebrate. Of course I did. Cake is my thing. Our thing. You and I and cake go way back. Two years in fact.
Cherry and Terrys Chocolate Orange Weetabix Cake
Technically it's not my two two year blogiversary until June 5th but seeing as I didn't keep blogging up past a few sporadic months in that first year I don't feel like I can count that but at the same time I don't feel like I can ignore it completely. One year ago today is the day I posted a recipe after finishing my second year exams and kept up blogging properly, becoming more and more addicted to cake as I've worked to grow I'd Much Rather Bake Than... So, because the dates are so close together I've decided to have an eight day celebration starting today. I'm not even going to try to deny it - yes, it's another excuse to have cake.
Cherry and Terrys Chocolate Orange Weetabix Cake
I couldn't decide what to make to mark the occasion but Mum immediately came up with the idea of revisiting the very first recipe I posted. I couldn't just reproduce the exact same thing though. That isn't me at all. So I changed it. I finally made the adaptations that I suggested in my very first post - Weetabix Cake.
Cherry and Terrys Chocolate Orange Weetabix Cake
When I look back to when I started and I shudder. Those posts are awful. I don't know why I thought I would make it going about blogging in the way I did. I simply had this idea that it would be fun to do and my baking enthusiasm was all that I would need. Photos? Ha, that doesn't matter. Structure? What's wrong with it - the words are there aren't they?!! Blog promotion? No idea where to start so I'll leave that one. Wow, I was certainly wrong.
Cherry and Terrys Chocolate Orange Weetabix Cake
When I stopped blogging for all those months I missed it terribly and it was only when I was determined to start it back up and keep it going that I did a bit of research onto how to improve. I'm not going to pretend that I have the most perfect blog in the world or the biggest. I'd be pretty stupid if I did but I enjoy it. I've come a long way and I'm proud of what I've achieved. I want other people to enjoy it but I never started blogging for the page views and the ranking - that is just a bonus. I started because I'm obsessed with foodie things and because I enjoy writing. I' a very shy and nervous person but get me talking about baking and I'm off. Hence why I every time I intend to write a quick post I end up going way overboard, pretty much like I'm doing now.
Cherry and Terrys Chocolate Orange Weetabix Cake
More cake will be coming between now and June 5th though I haven't decided quite what. The photos for this revamped (and much, much improved) Weetabix cake are better than the original but still terrible because they weather has been appalling of late and dullness does not make for good photos, even with someone who understnads their camera, let alone me. I had to bake it though. Had to. Good, bad or ugly the flavours were delicious, fruity highlights from the cherries, sweet creamy depth from the chocolate and the wholesome knowledge that this is a no added fat cake that still provides a moist flavourful interior. Everyone who had some at uni didn't care about it's appearance they were too busy munching it down.

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Cherry and Chocolate Orange Weetabix Loaf Cake
A fat free recipe that keeps moisture locked in providing a texture that perfectly complements the fruity burst from the cherries and the posckets of creamy chocolate orange.
  • 300g plain flour
  • 1 rounded tsp baking powder
  • 175g caster sugar
  • 1 tsp mixed spice
  • 2 Weetabix, crushed
  • 100g glace cherries, rinsed, dried and sliced in half
  • 100g Terrys chocolate orange, chopped + 30g to finish
  • 275ml milk
  • 1 scoop marmalade
  • 1 large egg
1. Set the oven to 180 C/160 C fan and line a 2lb loaf tin. You may need to have a muffin case or two ready if you have too much mixture.2. Sift together the flour, baking powder, sugar and mixed spice then stir in the crushed Weetabix follwed by the cherries and 100g chocolate. In a jug, mix the milk, egg and marmalade together well.3. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry then fold in until just combined. Pour into the loaf tin and bake for 50-60 mins though depending on your individual oven you might need to adjust this. 4. When a cake tester inserted into the centre comes out clean, remove from the oven and scatter over the remaining chocolate. Cool in the tin on a wire rack before slicing.

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Biscuit Barrel May 14 Round Up

When I set the May theme as favourites, I was eager as always but not quite sure what to expect. Would people want to revisit something they've done before or would they be disappointed that they weren't being encourage to try out something new? I needn't have worried though because the entries were soon flowing in and it has been really interesting to see what people think of as a special recipe in whatever way.

And I really do have to say, I'm not surprised any of these are favourites. Each time I saw a new entry came in I wanted to eat it!

First up is Sue from A Palatble Pastime with these Quick Caramel Pecan Sticky Buns. Oozing with the most glorious of sauces and scattered with all those pecans, these are extra quick to make if you need to get a fix quickly because they use a bought dough sheet.

These Malted Choc Chip Cookies found over at Chocolate Log Blog use Choclette's favourite malty flavours. Inspired by Ruby from GBBO 2013, Choclette added her own stamp with different flours and of course, chocolate chips so they became like Maltesers in biscuit form and hence why they sound perfect to me!

This Mini Victoria Sponge from Ros at The More Than Occasional Baker was made because it was a special someone's favourite and it is easy to see why, filled with fresh strawberries and luscious clotted cream. The ideal birthday treat though if I had been the rcipient, I probably would have wanted to keep it all to myself. 

Kate from The Gluten Free Alchemist made these Dark & Chewy Chocolate-Peanut Butter Cookies for her family because it is a very popular flavour combination amongst them. Rich and gooey with chocolate chips and cocoa instead of flour, the crackly tops make them all the more appealing.

These Caramel Buckwheat Chocolate Chip Cookies from Linzi at Lancashire Food are gluten free and the result of continuing adventures with buckwheat flour with the addition of a bargain buy from a baking show. Described as an adult cookie, I wouldn't feel guilty in the slightest at witholding these from my monster darling nephews.

Angela from Garden, Tea, Cakes and Me made this batch of Chocolate Chip Shortbread while reviewing an adjustable rolling pin. Not only did her post make me want that rolling pin, I immediately wanted some of these buttery, cumbly biscuits with a good old chocolate hit myself.

A favourite since childhood, Camilla from Fab Food 4 All made these Danish Vanilla Wreaths as soon as she found the right product to help her along. A crisp, buttery cookie with a hint of almond, the recipe makes quite a lot so you can enjoy them for a good amount of time. 

Until recently Corine from Searching for Spice didn't realise just how good peanut butter is biscuits was but these Peanut Butter Cookies changed all that for her. Good for both cutting out and for rolled round cookies I suspect this recipe will be revisited soon.

Elizabeth from Elizabeth's Kitchen Diary wasn't actually happy with these Boston Creme Doughnuts but I couldn't see the flaws and would be hard pushed not to be reaching for a second before I'd even finished the first. Sometimes you have to let go and satisfy that desire for a traditional fried doughnut filled with the most luxurious of creme patissieres and topped with dark chocolate ganache.

Stuart from Cakeyboi is well known for his inventive recipes and these Cookie Dough Tarty Pops certainly do not let hime down. Shortcrust pastry with a cookie dough truffle filling, these homemdae versions are far better than the basic flavours available from UK stockists. I've never tried a Pop Tart but I think these would be a good initiation.

Ros from The More Occasional Baker showcased one of her favourite flavour combinations in these Raspberry and White Chocolate Cupcakes. Baked for a truly good cause and designed to use up available ingredients, they look so pretty and were, needless to say, a big hit with the recipients.

Sudha from Spicy, Quirky and Serendipitous has given us a very inventive variation on a classic in these Carrot Cup Cakes with Coconut Cream, Turmeric and Saffron Frosting. Created when something extraordinary was needed to satisfy a craving, these unusual flavours give just enough to the bake without being overpowering creating a good balance. 

Elizabeth from Elizabeth's Kitchen Diary found that these Oatmeal Raisin Spice Cookies were just the thing to accompany a picnic packed for adventuring. Crunchy outsides and chewy insides lend themselves to spices and source of slow release energy held within - ideal for keeping energetic explorers going.

Have you ever wanted to try stamped biscuits but couldn't decide which recipe would be best to show off the design? Well Choclette from Chocolate Log Blog has done the hard work for us all and reported back that these Chocolate Stamped Biscuits are a safe bet. The impressions held well and the biscuits themselves had a well rounded chocolate flavour with the addition of a little bit of spice. Is anyone putting the kettle on soon?

It took a little while for me to decide what to enter for this months challenge - I thought I'd have it easy but it turns out that there are so many biscuits that I love that I couldn't choose a favourite. In the end though I plumped for Millionaire's Shortbread because it combines some of my favourite things - buttery shortbread, rich, creamy caramel and of course, chocolate. Plus, it holds lots of lovely memories for me, traditionally being made by one of my favourite people - my mum!

Kerene from The Dream Baker made these Lemon Glazed Vanilla Pound Cupcakes in honour of her sister and the memories they share. A good vanilla base suitable for several adaptations is topped by a lemony glaze which shows off the zesty speckles. 
Kerene from The Dream Baker dedicated her first attempt at Cinnamon Rolls to her other sister and tells of a very useful single prooving method which I'm sure will be intriguing to a good number of people. Baked together so they nestle up closely in their circular cake tin I want to tear right into the batch - I baggythe centre one!

Rebecca from BakeNQuilt made these No-Bake Swedish Chocolate Balls after being served them in a chocolate shop and needing something which didn't add heat to the already hot kitchen. Quick to make and addictive to eat, these little treats are made from basic cupboard ingredients and given another texture by being rolledin coconut so you can easily make them yourself.

Alexandra from The Lass in the Apron made these Everyday Double Chocolate Cookies from a much-loved base recipe discovered for her mum who cannot eat eggs and by sharing them with us has allowed more people to be aware of the beauty of an egg-free cookie. Fuss free to make, Alexandra says that the absence of the egg allows the flavours of the other ingredients to come through more and when there is chocolate and cocoa involved that could never be a bad thing.

Shaheen from Allotment 2 Kitchen baked these Crisp Crumbly Cocoa Biscuits to satisfy the wishes of her nephew but they proved to be popular with all who got to try them. I think the recipe title says it all but then when you consider they are based off a melting Viennese biscuit recipe, you know for a certainty that they are going to be good.

Ros from The More Than Occasional Baker rounds us off now with these Chocolate and Mint Ice Cream Cupcakes. Baked in ice cream cones for that extra fun element, these fabulous treats feature a good chocolate cake base with a scoop of mint chocolate chip buttercream ice cream with a chocolate ganache drippy sauce, sprinkles and of course a cherry on top to finish. These are even more appealing than a real ice cream!

So that's it for this month and thank you to all you participated for sharing your favourite recipes. Hopefully some of you will discover new favourites from this list and I'd be ever so pleased to hear if you have done so. Don't forget to check back in a few days time to see what I have in store for the June edition of the Biscuit Barrel and if you have a theme you would particularly like to see then let me know - I'm always open to suggestions!

Saturday, 24 May 2014

Honey and Chocolate Chip Cupcakes

Let me jump right in there with a warning that this post might contain more moaning and oddites about my life at the moment than what it does about these cakes. I'm not sure how it is going to pan out so please bare (bear?) with me. If  you find that prospect boring you should perhaps read maybe the next couple of paragraphs then scroll down to the recipe. Yes, still head to the recipe because if you like honey these little cakes are delicious. Their simplicity is their sterling character. Not every cupcake needs a mountain of buttercream on top.

They were born out of a desire to make something with a little jar of locally made grown sourced honey that I was easily persuaded to buy from one of the PhDs one lunch time. Yes, it was expensive at £2 for a such a little jar but I was immediately taken with it so that signified to me that it needed to be bought. And used in a cake. Naturally.

I used to say that I'm not a massive fan of honey, only liking the taste in baked goods, but that tiny jar of wholesome sweetness might just have changed that. We shall see. I can bake more cakes if I feel the desire to test that theory. If you are already a self-professed honey fan then please make these immediately. If you need convincing then please make them immediately anyway. They are really easy, involve very little faffing about and have just the perfect honey flavour to be developed without being overpowering. The ideal introduction.

A soft, moist crumb surrounds chunks of milk chocolate delivering a beautiful essence of willow blossom honey in every bite. Gentle and delicate flavours mingle with the pools of molten cocoa richness when fresh from the oven while still holding their own against the necessity of an intricate swirl of honey buttercream icing. 

I was tempted by the thought of that addition but I really wanted the honey to shine through. Quality ingredients ought to be able to speak for themselves. All that is required is an extra teaspoon of honey allowed to run over the top of each cupcake immediatey on removal from the oven, and a few chunks of remaining chocolate added for that finishing touch. If you have any remaing chocolate that is. I might have deprived these cupcakes from having a heavier chocolate load. Not that I believe they suffered for it.

It has been a funny old week. I feel like lots has been going on yet at the same time not very much. I've realised quite a few things (besides my liking for honey and chocolate chip cakes) and been quite emotional about others. I'd like to give a special shout out to Jodie from Jo Bakes Jo Blogs. Aside from having a big variety of gorgeous recipes on her blog and the photos to match, Jo is a lovely lady who has helped me almost double my likers on my Facebook page. I even commented that I don't normally get soppy over things other than baking, but seeing my likers go up so quickly from Jodie's sharing of my page made me go slightly mushy. Although I absolutely 100% blame Jodie for me now wanting a waffle maker. A dangerous desire when I have an Amazon voucher which will cover it sat in my inbox.

So there you have it. A yummy yet simple recipe for Honey and Chocolate Chip Cupcakes and next to no moaning. I thought I would be venting this time round but true to form as soon as I started talking about cake I could not stop. And really, who wants to hear about the disdain of reverting back to tights after a few days of sun, the gutting feeling when  you present your mother with a piece of perfect Millionaire's Shortbread only for her to not get excited at the first taste, NMRs coming back showing nothing useful or the desperation felt when you want to get the right sample concentration for the Seliwanoff's test to actually work when there are baked goods to be spoken of? It's all good.

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Honey and Chocolate Chip Cupcakes
A simplistic cupcake infused with locally sourced honey and studded with creamy milk chocolate. No icing required.
  • 45g softened butter
  • 40g caster sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 45g runny honey + extra for finishing
  • 90g plain flour
  • 0.5 tsp baking powder 
  • 40g yoghurt
  • 60g milk chocolate, chopped
1. Set the oven to 180 C/160 C fan and place 6 cupcake cases in a mufin tin.2. Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy then beat in the egg a little at a time followed by the honey. Mix in a little of the measured flour if the mixture threatens to curdle.3. Sift in the flour and baking powder and fold into the mixture alternating with the yoghurt, then fold in most of the chocolate. 4. Divide between the cases and bake for 20 mins in the preheated oven until a cake tester inserted into the middle comes out clean. 5. As soon as the cupcakes come out of the oven spoon a little more honey on top of each one and add a few chocolate chips. Cool on a wire rack if you wait that long.

Recipe adapted from UKTV.

I'm sharing these cupcakes with a couple of challenges this month. First of all is Alphabakes where Ros from The More Than Occasional Baker is hosting this month, alternating with Caroline from Caroline Makes. The chosen letter for May is E and these cupcakes use English honey. Other honey can be used, most supermarket ones being blends from the EU which would still technically count but it is always nice to use produce from your own country.

Secondly is Shop Local run by Elizabeth from Elizabeth's Kitchen Diary. I have been wanting to enter Elizabeth's challeneg right from the start but it is quite hard for me to get hold of locally produced things even though there are so many farms in Yorkshire. My purchase of this honey was part of an attempt though to use more locally sourced things when I do get the chance. I wish the arable farm up the road sold its own flours because I'd be there all the time.

Sunday, 18 May 2014

Millionaire's Shortbread

If you have ever looked at my Recipe Book page you may have noticed that I have a bit of a thing for shortbread. This is quite accidental that I have several variations of this classic on here but nonetheless they are all warranted. I've mentioned in just about all of these posts how shortbread is a speciality of my mum's and it always has lovely connotations with it (as well as a lovely taste!) so I've inadvertantly put my own stamp on the tradition in the form of meddling additions.
Millionaires Shortbread or Caramel Shortbread - these bars are a perfect luxury
Chocolate Shortbread as a quick, easy and delicious step away from the norm. Perfect with a cup of tea. Or even hot chocolate. Drinkable chocolate with chocolate shortbread to dunk? Yes please.
Millionaires Shortbread or Caramel Shortbread - these bars are a perfect luxury
Apricot and Walnut Shortbread for a fruity nutty variation. Lots of different textures and falvours in there and still perfect with a cup of tea.
Millionaires Shortbread or Caramel Shortbread - these bars are a perfect luxury
Brown Sugar Shortbread is still the buttery biscuit in its classic form with a hint of a caramel flavour.
Millionaires Shortbread or Caramel Shortbread - these bars are a perfect luxury
Ginger Iced Shortbread created by my mum for my brother but I got a hankering for it after the usual season had passed so I made my own.
Millionaires Shortbread or Caramel Shortbread - these bars are a perfect luxury
Gluten Free Shortbread for my housemate who has to miss out on so many other goodies and this is one of the ones she misses the most.
Millionaires Shortbread or Caramel Shortbread - these bars are a perfect luxury
Oddly, I haven't actually done a separate post for the classic recipe, on its own, in all its glory. I think I'll have to rectify that soon. If I don't get distracted by another adaptation before then.
Millionaires Shortbread or Caramel Shortbread - these bars are a perfect luxury
Millionaire's Shortbread though is somehting else entirely. Called Caramel Shortbread Bars by some, that title really doesn't do it justice. Made in our house by Mum only at Christmas and for the most necessary of occasions where extreme comfort is needed, these are my absolute favourite version. I defy anyone to turn down the most richly buttery of biscuit bases hiding underneath the glory that is a sweet, creamy caramel made from condensed milk them topped a layer of brooding chocolate. You can of course use whichever chocolate you prefer but we always go for a Bournville type dark chocolate which tempers the sheer ambrosia of the lower layers just enough so you can float back down to earth for another piece/fix before the plate has been emptied by others having the same wistful dreams. 
Millionaires Shortbread or Caramel Shortbread - these bars are a perfect luxury
My only sadness in this is that for some reason I have never been able to get the caramel that my mum uses just right myself. I've tried many a time and had to take the failures into uni as a result where they nonetheless disappeared too quickly to count despite their gritty faults. Eventually I said to myself enough is enough an went for a slightly different caramel. I won't say it is better than Mum's because that one will always be the best but this one is so close it is unreal. I will not believe you if you say when using condensed milk you don't sneak a spoonful or two (alright, five) like I do and this one tastes so similar to said condensed milk that I really struggled to pour it onto the base and not eat the hot concoction straight from the pan. 
Millionaires Shortbread or Caramel Shortbread - these bars are a perfect luxury
I think this is my cue to leave before I get myself into an even bigger guilty hole.

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Millionaire's Shortbread
A thick. buttery shortbread base covered with the most delicious caramel and finished off with a dark chocolate topping.
For the shortbread:
  • 4oz butter, softened
  • 2oz caster sugar
  • 1oz semolina or cornflour
  • 5oz plain flour
For the caramel:
  • 125g butter
  • 1 397g tin of condensed milk
  • 75g golden syrup
To finish:
  • Approx 175g chocolate, chopped
1. Set the oven to 170 C/150 C fan and grease a shallow 8" square tin.2. Cream the butter and sugar until just incorporated then mix in the flour. Form into a ball then press into the tin making sure it is level. 3. Bake for about 30 mins until just the palest of golden browns. Cool on a wire rack but do not remove from the tin.4. For the caramel, place all the ingredients into a pan and over a low heat stir until melted. Have a glass of ice cold water ready then turn up the heat and continue stirring constantly making sure all areas of the pan base are covered so none of the caramel catches and burns. Let the caramel simmer gently until thickened and a rich golden caramel colour. Continue until a small blob dropped into the cold water forms a soft ball.*4. When ready pour onto the shortbread and leave to cool. Pop any bubble that form.5. When the caramel has set, melt the chocolate using your preferred method, cool slightly and pour over the caramel. Leave to set then turn out and cut into squares - I always make 16 though I would prefer to eat the entire piece in one go.

*Cooks perks dictate you pour the water away and enjoy that test caramel as your own.

When I set the theme as 'favourites' for this months Biscuit Barrel challenge I hadn't thought about it very much. I realised that I don't have an all time 'normal' biscuit favourite but then I remembered this Millionaire's shortbread recipe and all was ok again. They are definitely a favourite treat.
In honour of World Baking Day which is today, May 18th, Kat from The Baking Explorer has set the theme of Treat Petite (alternating host duties with Stuart from Cakeyboi) this month as something you would bake for others. Mum always bakes this for our family and I want to learn the skill of this recipe so I can do the same in time to come.
Also in honour of May, Rachel from Dollybakes has set the theme of this months Calendar Cakes as Bank Holiday Bakes. I made these especially to relax and they are ideal as a finishing treat to take on picnics wrapped in their little individual packages, just like my mum does.