Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Baking With Spirit July 14 Round Up

This last month I have had the fun of hosting not one but two baking challenges, the second being as a guest host for Janine's Baking With Spirit, originally seen over at Cake of the Week
I always feel like it's an honour to host another bloggers challenge, temporarily take over their own creation, but it has been a brilliant experience and one which I urge you to join in with if you have a blog yourself. Janine would still love to hear from anyone who would like to host in the future so pop on over to her blog to let her know or send her a tweet @CakeOfTheWeek. For now, let's have a look at the 'alcohol for parties' themed entries.

I got in there first this month with my idea for Strawberry Daiquiri Traybake. I'd had the cocktail inspired idea for a while and the result turned out to be an incredibly addictive sponge flavoured with strawberry puree, soaked in vodka, topped with more strawberries and finished with a lime infused layer.
Janine herself entered this Summer Punch Jelly Cheesecake. Flavoured with pineapple, coconut, orange and Malibu, Janine turned a self invented drink into a baseless cheesecake which is perfect served in ramekins or even shot glasses. Such an ideal summer pudding, not too heavy, doesn't require an oven but is still creamy and delicious.

Choclette from Chocolate Log Blog also entered something which doesn't require an oven because it is a refreshing drink! Her Pomegranate Choctail swirls dark chocolate liquor with a deep red pomegranate and gin drink. The finishing square of chocolate on the side is of course necessary for all chocolate lovers who might prefer to make a batch of this rather than just a couple of servings.

Kerene from The Dream Baker discovered this month just how easy Tiramisu is to make after wanting to use her successful lady fingers in another recipe. After a lot of research Kerence created something which made her incredibly pleased - layers of crea, mascarpone, coffee and the all important ladyfingers - the wait for it to chill was worth it.

Last months host, Craig from The Usual Saucepans has made use of a classic summer drink with this Pimm's Raspberry Cake after being inspired by some local raspberries and a desire to eat cake soon. The mixture can hold extra Pimms too if you get a big liberal when adding it which Craig quickly admits to!
That's it from me this month. I hope you've enjoyed a read of the recipes because I certainly wouldn't mind seeing any of them served at a gathering I attended. Janine is back in control for August so make sure you bookmark Cake of the Week so you don't miss out on the next theme!

Monday, 28 July 2014

Cheddar and Spring Onion Courgette Fritters

I have something a little bit different for you today - something savoury! I know I'm all about the sugar normally but these were so good that I wanted to share them with you. Plus, I have a confession to make. I really want to add more savoury recipes to this blog. Truth be told I want to add more recipes full stop but these things called uni and tiredness get in the way somewhat. Also, I think I need to practice and improve my food photography a lot more before I make a big push to add more savoury things. 
I know I've come a long way since I started (let's all have a laugh at this post for a moment) and recently I've been trying even harder but the thing with the savoury dishes I make is that I'm more interested in eating and enjoying my meal then taking good photos of it. Then there is the presentation. Cakes and biscuits etc are so much easier to manipulate and get looking pretty. Yet when I made these fritters all I really wanted to do was plonk everything on a plate and dig in. I knew they were going to be good.

After discovering Pinterest last summer I very quickly saw how versatile courgettes/zucchini are in food. Raw, roasted, fried, with pasta, with couscous, in brownies, in cakes, in muffins....I'm sure you get the idea. When sowing time came round this year I begged and nagged and finally got Mum to grow two plants for me. Our first harvest was last week and after reading through my collection of suitable recipes I chose this one to adapt, because of course I couldn't leave it as it was. 
Super easy to put together I was quickly enjoying the delicious result.  The spring onions, normally a gentle barely their essence really shone in conjunction with the mature cheddar by their side and the courgettes made sure everything was happy together in a soft moreish cushion of texture. And when I say moreish I mean it. One more disappeared while I was washing up and another with my supper. It was only the thought that I wanted some for my lunch the next day that stopped me from eating the lot!

print recipe

Cheddar and Spring Onion Courgette Fritters
Full of cheddar and onion flavour these super quick fritters are perfect for using up some of those summer courgettes.
  • 250g courgettes, grated and excess water squeezed out
  • 4 spring onions, sliced
  • Choice of herbs/spices (I ued parsley and nutmeg)
  • Pepper, to season
  • 1 egg
  • 30g plain flour
  • 50g mature cheddar, grated
  • Minimal oil, to fry
1. Combine all the ingredients except the oil and mix well.2. Heat a dibble of oil in a frying pan over a high heat and drop in dsp scoops of mixture. Turn the heat to medium-low and spread the scoops out a little making sure not to overcrowd the pan.3. Fry for 2-3 mins on each side then keep warm on a plate while you cook the rest, topping up the oil when necessary.4. Serve hot, warm or cold how you prefer - fish and salad is a good combination.

There are a couple of challenges I'd like to share these fritters with. Courgettes and spring onions are in abundance right now so are perfect for Ren's Simple and in Season, this month hosted by Sally from My Custard Pie. Also, Nadine from Juggle Mum is hosting Extra Veg this month on behalf of Helen from Fuss Free Flavours and Michelle from Utterly Scrummy Food For Families. I reckon there is an extra portion of veg in each serving.

Sunday, 27 July 2014

Biscuit Barrel July 14 Round Up

Scorching July is almost over and with the heat that we've had I'm surprised any of you has had the desire to bake but the kitchen fun has continued and there are some gorgeous treats in the Biscuit Barrel this time round.

This month it has been all about in season fruits and it was nice to see what you had created with he bounty that is provided every year. Most of these fruits are still in season over the next month so you can still take advantage and recreate your favourite entry.

First up is Kate from the Gluten Free Alchemist with these Courgette Cherry Cupcakes. Taking advantage of the abundance of courgettes that were growing in her garden Kate combined them with Kentish cherries to make a juicy, fruit and moist cupcake which is the perfect accompaniment for a sweet and creaming icing. And of course, the cherry on top! 

Janine from Cake of the Week had me at Strawberry with these Strawberry Surprise Cupcakes. I may have mentioned before just how much I love strawberries so it's no shocker that these appeal to me, though I'm not sure much of the white chocolate icing or how many of the strawberries intended to be hidden inside the vanilla sponge would have made it to where they were supposed to be.

My own offering is squares of this Strawberry Daiquiri Traybake which I've had the idea in my head for ages. I enjoyed it so much I'd eaten two pieces before I'd even finished the photos and had to get rid of the rest of it ASAP. The recipient loved the moist sponge flavoured with both strawberry yoghurt and pureed strawberries and topped with a lime infused icing.

Strawberries also feature in these Vegan Strawberry Cakes by Shaheen from Allottment 2 Kitchen. These adorable mini loaf cakes feature a half strawberry nestling in the top of the cake to remind you of what is inside and how yummy the cake is which awaits.

Choclette from Chocolate Log Blog has also used a red fruit but something different this time with these Red Gooseberry Cakes. Light texture and sweet to balance with the tart gooseberry hidden inside each one these are a very pretty bake which are easily frozen and lose none of their appeal after defrosting.

Stuart of Cakeyboi fame tried out a flavour cmbiation he had been considering with these Cherry Banana Mini Pies. I wouldn't have thought of the combination myself but having seen Stuart's recipe and photos I would quite like to rectify that.A lattice top encases a thick cherry filling with chuncks of banana, allowing just enough of a glimpse of what is inside to make you want to grab one and bite straight in.

Our final entry is by Alexandra from The Lass in the Apron who has made these rather ingenious Raspberry Cointreau Tarts. Using a liqueur infused chocolate pastry to hold a liqueur custard filling, the raspberries are the crowning glory on these summery delights. They would make the perfect finish to a relaxed summer meal.

That's it for now and I hope you've enjoyed perusing the gorgeous fruit goodies on offer. Come back soon for the August installment of the Biscuit Barrel challenge - I'm already dreaming up entries but who knows which one(s) will get made!

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Double Chocolate Cake Pop Truffles or Petit Fours

Gosh I'm tired tonight. For that reason I'm going to try and make this a quick one but we all know that once I get talking about cake I can't stop. Remember this cake? I think that was the most pictures I put into a post which made for a lot of talking. So I'll try and get on with it - I made cake pops. Except they don't have sticks so they are more like chocolate box chocolates. But made of cake. Cake pop truffles!

I have actually been here before with these Almond Cake Pop Truffles which were born out of a disaster yet turned out rather delicious. Thinking about those again has made me realise I've used white chocolate both times (and again in these proper peanut butter rocky road cake pops)  - I swear it is a coincidence and certainly no bad thing! These truffles aren't the result of needing to use up another gone wrong cake. Quite the opposite in fact as they are made from slices of this hugely successful Chocolate Chilli Loaf Cake which I had stored in the freezer for future use.
I had always intended to use the slices I couldn't eat for cake pops but because I find making such things too fiddly to do often I didn't actually expect to ever get round to making them. A couple of weekends ago though I was inspired by the lovely sun to get as many things made as possible and so the leftover cake got put to use. It's probably a good thing I made this cake ages ago because if I had made it recently I would have had an army of people at uni waiting to eat it meaning no leftovers and none of these highly addictive treats would have been made.

When I say addictive, I actually mean enslaving. I don't know just how much of the mixture I ate while rolling out the little globes of beauty and if I did I know I would be ashamed. Then there was the melted chocolate. This is precisely the reason why I don't much like to bake with chocolate despite chocolate cake being one of my favourites. I eat too many of the ingredients.

So yes, where there should have been at least 15 there ended up being only 10 cake pop truffles. I considered it a victory leaving them where they were in the cupboard until I could take them home and share them with my parents. Dad loved them despite hating chilli (he lies, he eats chilli con carne too readily to hate it) and Mum wanted to eat more despite complaining of the hint of peppery heat from the chilli powder in the original cake. Typical parents - you've got to love them.

 The chocolate chilli cake was fabulous on it's own but crumble it up (and eat some) and mix with the vanilla smooth creaminess that only white chocolate can bring (and eat some more) and the flavours of chilli, milk chocolate and it's blonde couterpart meld together into something new. Something exciting and indulgent and provocative. Provocative to eat just one more.

print recipe

Double Chocolate Cake Pop Truffles
Highly addictive chocolate cake pops smoothered in white chocolate and looking like they should be presented in a gift box for a special occasion.
  • 200g chocolate cake, crumbled (chilli flavoured is good)
  • 100g white chocolate, melted + at least 150g more melted to coat
  • Sprinkles of choice
1. Mix the cake crumbs and 100g chocolate in a bowl. Divide into 15 balls and chill on a plate in the fridge.2. When the cake balls have cooled and set, drop each one in turn into the second portion of melted chocolate using a spoon or spatula to coat. 3. Lift out using a fork and set on a baking paper lined tray or silicone mat. Add sprinkles while still wet and leave to set and harden.

Altough cake pops aren't actually French I'm hoping Ness from JibberJabberUK will see them as petit fours and so will allow them into her Love Cake challenge this month where the theme is French cakes.

Anne from Anne's Kitchen is hosting the No Waste Food Challenge this month on behalf of Elizabeth from Elizabeth's Kitchen Diary and because I used up some cake I had stored in the freezer so it didn't go dry before I could eat it fresh, I'm entering these truffles there too.

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Fresh Raspberry Swirl Loaf Cake

I think raspberries and I have finally made friends. I don't have the same love affair with raspberries as I do with strawberries and up until now I've always been left a bit disappointed with them. No more though which is why I'm pretty thankful to this cake.

I spend quite a lot of time being thankful about cake if I'm honest with myself. I should be showing the same devotion to fruit and exercise, you know, the healthier things in life but then I know which ones I'd rather give my undivided attention. Cake after all gives so much more back than a few vitamins and no, I'm not talking about calories. There is no room for talk like that on this blog.

Don't get me wrong, the rest of my diet behind all the sugar is actually pretty healthy. I rarely eat fast food or takeaways, don't like the taste of alcohol (unles it's in food), don't drink fizzy pops, choose whole fruit over juices, eat the all important variety of fruit and veg, avoid sugary (and delicious) cereals unless I'm ill, dry fry or use the teeniest smear of oil..... you get the picture. If it wasn't for the amount of cakes/biscuits/chocolate I ate I would be one of those very healthy people. Who could also easily find things in their cupboards because they haven't fit them in amongst the cake tins.

Or maybe not. There is the exercise thing as well. It's not as if I don't try. I just find it ever so boring. Even sports where you supposedly get the benefits of team spirit don't appeal and yet with my height I would in theory at least be good at netball or basketball. I say in theory because I have gone through secondary school where my PE teachers despaired at my lack of ability. I'd rather be in the kitchen.

I've even said to myself that I need to take up running. Note that I didn't say I was considering taking up running - I knew it would never happen. It's not as if I don't try. I walk two miles everyday between uni and the house, hula hoop and do squats. Have you any idea how puffed it is possible to get doing squats?!!! But like I say, the benefits from cake appeal far more.

Cake can bring comfort, joy, satisfaction. It can be a talking point, an introduction, some common ground. A thank you, a congratulation or a token of appreciation. If I could say I had a favourite time for cake it would be classic tea and cake. This could be with family or friends or simply on my own but whichever way, I love it. 

This example is a great success story. It could quite easily feature as all of the things mentioned above. Laden with moisture there is no chance of getting a moutful of anything but springy blissful crumb folded around piquant crushed raspberries that lead a spirited samba across your tongue to the consummating  elementary drizzle of creamy white chocolate. All taste buds be satisfied.

print recipe

Fresh Raspberry Swirl Loaf Cake
Wonderfully moist and quick to mix, tangy raspberries flavour the cake and provide a pretty pink swirled interior finished with white chocolate.
  • 250g plain flour
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 0.25 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 large egg
  • 125g granulated sugar
  • 50g dark soft brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp vinegar or lemon juice mixed with 225 ml milk
  • 80ml sunflower or olive oil
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 175g raspberries, frozen then crushed so the 'bobble' are loose
  • 50g white chocolate, melted
1. Set the oven to 170 C/150 C fan and line a 2 lb loaf tin. 2. In one bowl sift the flour, bicarbonate of soda and cinnamon together. In another bowl, or jug, whisk together the remaining ingredients apart from the raspberries and chocolate. Pour the wet into the dry ingredients and fold together until just combined - don't overmix.3. Pour half the mixture into the tin and layer on top half the crushed raspberries. Repeat with the remaiing portions then swirl together. 4. Bake in the reheated oven for 50-60 mins until a cake tester inserted into the centre comes out clean. Cool in the tin on a wire rack.5. When completely cool remove from the tin and lining and drizzle with the melted chocolate to finish.

Credit to Sally's Baking Addiction for the recipe I adapted.

As usual I can't resisit sharing this post with a couple of challenges. Alphabakes, this month hosted by Ros from The More Than Occasional Baker who alternates with Caroline from Caroline Makes, has the letter R theme so my raspberries make this loaf cake count.

Also, because I used raspberries which I had bought when I spied them reduced I'm entering this into this months Credit Crunch Munch hosted by Sarah at Maison Cupcake on behalf of Helen at Fuss Free Flavours and Camilla at Fab Food 4 All.

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Banana, Peanut Butter and Chocolate Ice Cream

Banana, peanut butter and chocolate ice cream. Just a quick (for me) post today to match the quick recipe. A 3 ingredient recipe but I'll leave you to guess what the ingredients might be!

Most us have seen by now those ice creams made from bananas. They might not be top of everyone's list of favourite puddings but I'm a big fan. So quick and so gratifying in my unhumble opinion. I actualy feel like a bit of a fraud posting this because they are so incredibly easy but after experimenting with flavour combinations last summer, I wanted to let you all know about one of my favourites. And because it is largely made up of fruit and nuts, I fail to see why you can't eat it for breakfast. Fruit and nuts are healthy after all and considering that Nutella contains chocolate and is advertised as a breakfast treat then why shouldn't a little milk chocolate sneak into breakfast ice cream? 

Not that I have ever eaten ice cream for breakfast myself but after making this I may seriously give it a go. And to think, I may not have even bothered if I hadn't trapped the end of one of my bananas in the office fridge door making it go really black. Adding peanut butter and crumbled chocolate was the problem to my banana dilemma. Like I say to a lot of people, chocolat eis always the answer.

It's graduation week at Huddersfield this week and someone has arranged for an adorable little ice cream van to be parked on campus. I thought it was part of the weird temporary art installations that have sprung up in the last few weeks but when I saw people in gowns and suits wandering about I realised I was a) wrong, and b) very jealous. The amount of noot particularly healthy food I have consumed this week may prevent me from visiting this novelty but if so then I'm so glad I have a fall back in this ice cream. 

If the sugar cravings become too much and I don't want to break into the emergency Ben & Jerry's I know that in as little as an hour I could be enjoying the delight that is homemade sweet and creamy ice cream shot through with velvety peanut butter and ingots of chocolate which disintegrate perfectly to little pools of pleasure. Load up a dish and top with whatever takes your fancy. The best bit? It's homemade so you get to control the ratio of chocolate to ice cream.... if you catch my drift!

print recipe

Banana, Peanut Butter and Chocolate Ice Cream
A 3 ingredient ice cream reciep that nobdoy could argue isn't suitable for breakfast. YOU get to decide the size of the add in scoops and it's no churn too!
  • 2 ripe bananas, peeled and sliced
  • A scoop of peanut butter, heated until runny
  • 1 Cadbury Twirl or Flake, crumbled
1. Place the sliced bananas in a bowl and use a stick blender to make them completley smooth. An electric mixer, regular blender or a fork all work too.2. Stir through the runny peanut butter and chocolate. Transfer to a freezer safe container and freeze until solid or your desired consistency.3. Remember, it is largely fruit so you can enjoy at any time of day!

Elizabeth from Elizabeth's Kitchen Diary is hosting We Should Cocoa this month on behalf of Choclette from Chocolate Log Blog and has chosen the theme of 'chocolate ice creams and toppings'. It might not be a chocolate ice cream itself but as it still contains chocolate, I hope my entry will count!

So many people have old bananas to use up at some point and most of us hate them going to waste so I'm offering this ice cream to the No Waste Food Challenge as an alternative to throwing them away. Anne from Anne's Kitchen is hosting on behalf of Elizabeth from Elizabeth's Kitchen Diary this month.

As a sneaky little promotion of two challenges I'm hosting, my Biscuit Barrel challenge has the theme of IN SEASON FRUITS this month and Janine from Cake of the Week's Baking with Spirit challenge has the theme of ALCOHOL FOR PARTIES. I hope you can join in!

Sunday, 13 July 2014

Strawberry Daiquiri Traybake

I am never baking with strawberries again. Ever. It's far too dangerous, like a drug but worse. Think of the most addictive substance on earth, multiply it by a million and factor it by the love of your favourite food and you've just about got how I was with these cakes. Yes. Oh dear indeed.

I know I've mentioned many a time before how much I love strawberries such as in my Boozy Butterfly Cupcakes post- I'm not exaggerating when I say I love them as much as chocolate. My food bill goes up during the spring/summer months when British strawberries are available because there is no way I am going to go without them when they are in season seeing as I can't get them all year round. Take advantage while you can and all that. 

I'm not even ashamed to admit that I can and will easily eat a whle punnet of strawberries in one sitting. Strawberry containing foods are almost as bad and hence why after eating two pieces of this cake plus the trimmings, before I'd even finished taking the photos, I knew I had to get the rest of the batch out of the house ASAP. 
My usual method of ridding myself of whatever I have been going crazy with in the kitchen is to take it into university and the people in my office, as well as the guys in my friends' office, make short work of it. Sadly, one of these friends has a strawberry allergy and I felt mean at the thought of taking cake in when he couldn't have any. And yes, I did nearly cry when I found out about said allergy.

I tried taking it to the nearby care home, thinking the residents would enjoy a little treat. I've been meaning to take something for them anyway and this seemed like the perfect time. No such luck though as for health and safety reasons they can't accept gifts of food. Fair point, I hadn't thought of that and so I traipsed back to the house with my bag still full of dangerous (to me) goods. Luckily for me my housemate Lauren's friend was still ensconced at the table crafting away. Having heard her response to some of my earlier bakes I thought it was a safe bet she would happily take it off my hands, and thus save me. The practically begging plea for it to be removed from my presence probably wasn't necesssary but it didn't hurt!
I might possibly have made Lauren a bit good-naturedly jealous when I made this traybake because I didn't make it gluten free and so she couldn't have any, yet straberry daiquiris are one of her favourite cocktails. Even when my original idea for the topping didn't work it still tasted delcious. The base isn't your typically light and airy cake but never fear, i wouldn't be telling you about it if it was the dreaded heavy and stodgy. Simply it has enough body to hold it's own against all the moisture given by the creamy strawberry yoghurt and the fresh strawberries pulverised to just the right state to give little flecks of fruit throughout the cake. It helps to create a lagoon of strawberry heaven after sinking through the lusciously thick fruit layer on top - a layer sweet enough to prevent amusing faces and tangy enough to allow the lime zestiness to come through the bold strawberry hit. 
The alcoholic component was a drizzle type addition when the cake was fresh from the oven but no suprises seeing as I'm strawberry crazy, the vodka (or white rum as you wish) isn't the predominant flavour. I don't regret the gorging which meant I had to exorcise the house of these cakes - it was far too enjoyable for that. Summer in a slice of cake.

print recipe

Strawberry Daquiri Traybake
A deliciously moist cake which is super easy to make using strawberry yoghurt, fresh strawberries, limes and vodka to add flavour.
For the cake:
  • 225g plain flour
  • 0.5 tsp baking powder
  • 0.5 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 175g granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 115g unsalted butter, melted
  • 100g strawberry yoghurt
  • 100 ml milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • Zest of 1 lime
  • 100g fresh strawberries, pureed
To finish:
  • 3 tbsp vodka or white rum
  • 100g fresh strawberries, chopped
  • 1 heaped dsp caster sugar
  • 1 heaped tsp cornflour
  • Juice of half a lime
  • Icing sugar
1. Set the oven to 180 C/160 C fan. Line a 8" square cake tin.2. Combine the plain flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and sugar in one bowl and the remaining cake ingredients in another. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry, stir until evenly combined and transfer to the cake tin.3. Bake in the preheated oven for about 45 mins, adjusting t your own oven, until a cake tester inserted into the centre comes out clean. Set on a wire rack, gently poke all over with the cake tester and brush over the alcohol. Allow to cool completely.4. Prepare the fruit topping by placing the chopped strawberries, caster sugar and cornflour in a bowl and heating in the mircowave for about five minutes. Stir periodically and don't lett it boil over. Set aside to cool completely - I put mine in the freezer.5. When cool, trim the cake of the edges (if you want to) and spread over the fruit topping.6. Combine the lime juice with enough icing sugar to make a thick icing and drizzle over the straberry topping. Don't worry when it dissolves into the straberries.7. Slice into as many cubes as desired - I made 12.

I am so pleased with the flavour of these cakes that I'm sharing them with lots of challenges this month. First Baking With Spirit, created by Janine from Cake of the Week and guested hosted this month by me. I've chosen the theme of 'alcohol for parties' and as cocktails are often served at parties I think these cocktail inspired cakes fit. 
Next is my own Biscuit Barrel Challenge where the theme for July is 'in season fruits'. I'm not fussy as to what fits into a biscuit container so any biscuit, cookie or small cake will be accepted...enter this traybake!

Shaheen from Allotment 2 Kitchen hosts the Vegetable Palette where the current theme is 'summer reds' so strawberries are in.

I couldn't leave out Nayna from Simply Food's Let's Cook with Strawberries event.
Treat Petite is a joint venture between Stuart from Cakeyboi and this months host, Kat from The Baking Explorer who has chosen the theme of 'summer'. Strawberries will always mean summer for me!

Last but never least is Lucy's CookBlogShare link party over at Supergolden Bakes for any homemade creations.