Sunday, 28 September 2014

Biscuit Barrel September 14 Round Up

Ah September is over and we are firmly into autumn. I've also survived my first few weeks back at uni and my final year project research is under way but the baking hasn't let up.
I set the theme this month as Birthday Celebrations because I know of a few birthdays in Spetember, including that of the Biscuit Barrel itself. With all these fine entries, it would certainly be a very handsome birthday spread. Here they are for your perusal. 
First up is Corina at Searching for Spice with these Raspberry Blondies she made for her husband's birthday. Corina and her husband rarely agree on cake matters and she thought she had finallly found a common delight for them only for her husband to say there was enough raspberry flavour when Corina wanted more. Never mind though because these are soft and moist with caramelised bits of white chocolate and a treat I suspect Corina's husband wouldn't mind eating again even if he did prefer the original blondie recipe

Have you ever had the 'Are Jaffa Cakes biscuits or cake?' discussion'? Kate from The Gluten Free Alchemist asks this question in her post for Gluten Free Mixed Berry Jaffa Cakes. I'm firmly in the cakes camp but who cares when you are talking about something so creative? Kate tells you how to make jelly from fruity jam as well as providing a perfect gluten free base using glutinous rice flour. Even her white Jaffa Cakes look incredibly addictive.

Cupcakes are always a good idea for birthdays and Caroline from Caroline Makes has created some Kinder Bueno Cupcakes which would be very welcome at any birthday spread where I was present, not least because Caroline has combined chocolate upon chocolate. There is a hazelnut sponge filled with white chocolate spread and a topping comprising of a heap of chocolate buttercream, a chocolate drizzle and a piece of the Kinder Bueno itself. The sound just as heavenly as the chocolate bar.

My own entry now which are these Sprinkle Dipped Viennese Fingers. Everybody knows how yummy the classic buttery, crumbly, melting biscuit is but have you ever thought of loading them with sprinkles? It really is very fun to bit into the chocolate covered end made crunchy by a thick layer of rainbow sprinkles and of course, sprinkles are a heavy feature of birthdays in one form or another. Plus, they're still perfect to dunck in your cup of tea. 

Choclette from Chocolate Log Blog has shared these Orange and Beetroot Cupcakes and filled them with a delicious homemade plum jam surprise before baking then finishedd them off with a shocking pink icing which is bound to brighten up any birthday party or even a simple gathering of friends for afternoon tea. They certainly set me off smiling when I saw the pictures. With that golden and spiced crumb I wouldn't need the 'eat me' instruction - I'd be too busy peeling away the cake case.

These Blackcurrant Macarons come via Janine from Cake of the Week. Filled with a blackcurrant jam and white chocolate ganache, the combination of creamy sweet and fruity tang goes so well with the almond shells and finished off with a bit of glitter these would shine amongst a birthday spread. Best keep the plate away from me!

That's it for this month and thank to all those who have helped to celebrate the Biscuit Barrel birthday. It has been a truly indulgent month and it's probably a good job it was only pictures and wods that I had to look at with all these delcious goodies! Pop back on October 1st for the new Biscuit Barrel challenge - I think you'll enjoy it.

Saturday, 27 September 2014

Almond Apple Traybake

I know it is the cardinal sin of blogging to republish an old recipe but I feel wholly justified in this instance because I first talked about these apple and almond cake squares in the very early days of I'd Much Rather Bake Than... when I didn't even know food photography and styling was a thing let alone that I had an interest in it. Even if that doesn't justify fleecing you off with a recipe I've given before, well, the success of the second time round batch does. They were divine.
Apple and almond traybake cake (aka cake bars or slices)
This is actually the first post I'm writing back in Huddersfield because I've now started my final year of Chemisy. On the day I was due to travel back Mum didn't feel like baking so she said I should do it as my one final cake. Except she said it like it was the last supper and she would be saying goodbye to me forever. Can you imagine the raised eyebrows from me?
Apple and almond traybake cake (aka cake bars or slices)
This was a good cake to go out on I reckon. I thought it was perfect the first time (please, for Gods sake ignore that picture of the original) but this time, somehow, it was more so. I should bake this more often.
Apple and almond traybake cake (aka cake bars or slices)
It somehow manages to be buttery and creamy simultaneously without containing either. The interior crumb is fluffy and openly moist, encouraged by the healthy oils from the ground almonds and the juicy apple chunks. The fruit pieces, available in each and every bite, begin to meld with their surroundings, lending an almost fudge like quality to the cake while maintaining enough tang to cut through the caramel toned cake.
Apple and almond traybake cake (aka cake bars or slices)
The best part is that it is an all in one mixture - simply dump the ingredients in a bowl, give them a wick blast with the mixer to just combine and fold through the apples. Even the decoration is added pre-baking so it is the oven which does the hard work, toasting and caramelising the flaked almonds to crunchy perfection. Add a little cinnamon or enjoy with custard if you wish - I wanted to stick with the pure apple and almond flavours but either way this traybake cake is the perfect comforter for autumn. Now, why haven't I baked this cake more often? The kitchen awaits me.

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Apple and Almond Traybake
A deliciously moist and richly flavourful autumn traybake style cake shot through with chunks of apple and caramel hints. The whole thing is made easy by using the all in one method.
  • 4 large eggs
  • 200g tub margarine, softened
  • 25g demerara sugar
  • 175g caster sugar
  • 150g self-raising flour
  • 125g ground almonds
  • 0.5 tsp almond extract
  • 1 large bramley apple, peeled, cored and chopped into small chunks
  • 1 tbsp flaked almonds, to sprinkle
  • 1 tbsp demerara sugar, to sprinkled
1. Set the oven to 180 C/160 C fan and line a 9" square cake tin.2. Place all the cake ingredients in a bowl except the apple chunks and mix with an electric mixer until just well combined. Toss the apple chunks in a little flour then fold into the cake mixture,3. Transfer to the cake tin, level and sprinkle over the flaked almonds then the sugar. Bake in the preheated oven for about 45 minutes or until a cake tester inserted into the middle comes out clean.4. Cool in the tin on a wire rack for at least half an hour then turn out to cool completely. Don't remove from the tin until it has firmed up a bit because this cake is quite fragile until cold.

I'm sharing this recipe with Lucy's CookBlogShare event at Supergolden Bakes and Helen's Bake of the Week at Casa Costello in the hope that other people will enjoy it as much as we did. The ease of which the cake is made using the all in one method makes it fitting for Ren's Simple and in Season, hosted this month by Nazima from Franglais Kitchen. Also, the apples make it perfect for Four Seasons Food, this month hosted by Louisa from Eat Your Veg alternatively with Anneli from Delicieux.

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Kentish Cake

Hands up, who loves adventures? I LOVE adventures and I'm pretty lucky to have had a few in the last six weeks since I finished placement and came home to wait for the start of my final year. This cake came out of one of those trips so it's that little bit extra special to me. 
Trains will always signify adventures to me. I don't know why - maybe it is a little bit of the child still in me. Mum is the same. It's with my wonderful mum that I've had several of my adventures lately. We've been off exploring different market towns and what they have to offer, being attracted mainly by the antiques stalls because we both have a bit of a thing for old crockery. I blame this blogging thing. Vintage plates and tea cups look so pretty in pictures and I do so like pretty things. I'm all for the functional aspect but what is wrong with wanting something to look good while it does it's job? This is a regular discussion I have with one of my friends in connection to lab coats funnily enough.
This cake is one which came out of one of those adventures with Mum. We were wandering around Chesterfield antiques market when I came across a stall selling old recipe books. Some of them were really old and the one which caught my eye turned out to be published in 1921 when I researched it later that day. It's called The Pot-Luck Cookery Book and after a detailed perusal of the cakes section, naturally, it was this Kentish Cake which demanded that I make it ASAP.
Kentish Cake - a truly vintage recipe perfect for afternoon tea. Flavoured with ground almonds, coconut and chocolate.
It's a very interesting cake and I mean that in an honest way, not a I'm-trying-to-put-a-positive-light-on-it kind of way. The crumb is soft and close, like your favourite cosy cushion but not dense in the slightest. Vanilla undertones pair with butter highlights amongst the almond infused sponge, speckled with coconut and a subtle sweetness from slivers of chocolate. The topping is rustic yet charming, a simple melted chocolate and icing sugar concoction that you simply have to trust - no bitterness or toothache sweetness exists as each component tempers the other.
Kentish Cake - a truly vintage recipe perfect for afternoon tea. Flavoured with ground almonds, coconut and chocolate.
 Determined to do this true vintage recipe justice I stuck to the recipe as much as I could. The ingredients are all the same although I will admit I changed the method slightly, using updated knowledge to keep as much air in the cake as possible instead of knocking it out like the book suggests. This  cake is the perfect accompaniment to afternoon tea - a wedge of this and a golden hot drink will really set off your afternoon. Experience allows me to highly recommend it. And yes, I suspect there will be more vintage baking adventures soon. 

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Kentish Cake
A true vintage recipe yielding a soft cake flavoured with ground almonds, coconut and chocolate. The speckles of chocolate creat a pretty pattern throughout. (Note the quantities are in ounces to keep true to the recipe source - The Pot-Luck Cookery Book.)
For the cake:
  • 4oz softened butter
  • 4oz granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 0.5 tsp vanilla extract
  • 4oz plain flour
  • 0.5 tsp baking powder
  • 1oz ground almonds
  • 1oz dessicated coconut
  • 1oz dark chocolate, grated
For the icing:
  • 4oz dark chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1tbsp water
  • 2-4oz icing sugar
  • Dessicated coconut, to finish, if you wish
1. Set the oven to 170 C/150 C fan and grease/line a 7" round, deep loose bottomed tin.2. Beat the butter until creamy then add the suagr and cream together until light and fluffy. Whisk the eggs with the vanilla and mix into the butter and sugar a spoonful at a time. If the mixture threatens to curdle, mix in a spoonful of the measured flour.3. Sift together the flour and baking powder then fold into the creamed mixture in batches along with the ground almonds, coconut and grated chocolate. Transfer to the tin, level the top then make a shallow dip in the centre with the back of a spoon to help minimise peaking.4. Bake in the preheated oven for 35-40 minutes until a cake tester inserted into the middle comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes then remove from the tin and allow to cool completely.5. For the icing, put the chocolate and water into a bowl and set over a pan of simmering water making sure the bowl doesn't touch the water. Stir until melted and smooth then quickly mix in the icing sugar. It will become very thick very quickly so you may not manage to mix in all the icing sugar. I only managed about half and it tasted delicious! Spread over the cake before it sets completely. Finish with a sprinkle of coconut if you wish.

The name of this Kentish Cake makes it ideal for AlphaBakes this month where the random letter is K. Ros from The More Than Occasional Baker hosts this month, alternatively with Caroline from Caroline Makes.
I'm also sharing this recipe with Love Cake, run by Ness from JibberJabberUK. Her September theme is Back to School - Something New. It might be from a very old book recipe book but it is new to me!

Sunday, 21 September 2014

Tunnel of Jam Chocolate Bundt Cake

I've been bitten by the bundt bug. I would like to blame Rachel from Dollybakes for introducing me to them but that would indicate that I don't want to fall in love with bundts and all the new recipes I can collect now. First it was this chocolate whisky bundt, then my favourite Madeira recipe and in between there was a marmalade bundt that never mad it to the blog because the photos were disappointing. Now it's this blackberry jam filled bundt cake.
 I love that you can produce such an attractive cake so quickly. The tin does all the hard work for you, cradling a quickly mixed cake batter in all it moldings and grooves. It's an ideal partnership. Minimum input, quick result, enough cake to share amongst a crowd.
 The result is always magnificent. I've already got my eye on about three other bundt tins, one of which is Christmas themed. There's no holding me back now. I want to bake all of the Christmas recipes.
 This cake is an ode to autumn though and the last dregs of summer. First off I wanted to make a blackberry jam filled chocolate Victoria sponge. That was before Mum bought me this cake tin from Lakeland for my birthday. It's a beauty isn't it? The tin demanded to be christened and thankfully so. It was a pleasure to turn out a devilishly dark chocolate cake, the flavour intensified by a touch of coffee. The richness of flavour hides well the airy, open sponge beneath the surface, a wealth of lightness where every pore shines with the moisture trapped within. Bite into the jam layer and a smooth fruity tang hits you. A nod to its sweet surrounds.
With any luck you will recognise the chocolate cake mixture. It's the same one which I used to make this blogiversary cookie dough frosted traybake and the already mentioned whisky bundt. Mum's ultimate chocolate cake recipe. Time served and easily adaptable. The proof is in the jam. A tunnel of jam sitting right below the surface waiting to ooze out of the fragile crust.

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Tunnel of Jam Bundt Cake
A moist, light sponge, deeply flavoured with chocolate and hiding a tunnel of extra fruity jam just below the surface. It needs no accompaniment besides a cup of tea.
  • Melted butter, for greasing
  •  Cocoa powder, to dust
  • 170g caster sugar
  • 7 tbsp sunflower or olive oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 120 ml milk + 1 dsp vinegar + 2 tsp coffee granules
  • 155g self-raising flour
  • 0.75 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 0.75 tsp baking powder
  • 45g cocoa powder
  • 4-5 tsp scoops jam, your favourite flavour
  • Icing sugar, to finish
1. Set the oven to 170 C/150 C fan. Brush the melted butter all over the inside of a bundt tin making sure it goes right into every crevice. Dust with cocoa powder or flour.2. Place all the remaining ingredients in a large bowl, except the jam and icing sugar, sieving the flour, raising agents and cocoa powder. Mix together until smooth but no longer.3. Fill the bundt tin with the mixture and level off. Mix the jam in a cup to loosen then carefully spoon it on top of the cake mixture in a ring. Even more carefully lift a tiny bit of the cake mixture from the side of the jam ring over the top so the jam is covered.4. Bake in the preheated oven for 50-60 mins or until a cake tester inserted into the middle comes out wihout cake mixture on it - some jam is to be expected.5. Cool on a wire rack for at least 30 mins then turn out of the tin onto the rack to finish cooling. Dust with icing sugar to serve if you wish.

Choclette from Chocolate Log Blog has chosen Jam to be paired with chocolate in some way this month for her We Should Cocoa challenge so I'm entering my jam filled bundt there.
Also, I'm entering Love Cake, run by Ness from JobberJabberUK, for the second time this month because it was the first time I had used this bundt tin and the theme is Back to School - Something New.  

Friday, 19 September 2014

Three Cheese and Caramelised Onion Pasties

I must be one of the most easily influenced people in the world. Maybe it comes with the lack of willpower. If I see a poster on my way into uni I'll want whatever new ice cream KFC have to offer. A wrapper on the pavement will have me wanting that new KitKat Chunky. This weekend I saw a folded up paper wrapper that one of my nephews left which reminded me of Starburst and I craved them for two days. Wednesday night the GBBO bakers had to make pasties. I wanted to make pasties. Well, for once, craving satisfied.
3 Cheese and Caramelised Onion Pasties. Cheddar, Wensleydale and Red Leicester encased in shortcrust pastry. Inspired by the Great British Bake Off.
 I could have happily eaten any or all of the pasties that the final six bakers were offering yesterday. I would have been doing a Sue, stuffing a sample of each one into my pockets. When it comes to making them myself though I go for easy. Simple done good. In this case very good. The name of my blog should realy be I'd Much Rather Bake Quickly and Eat Than.... but that doesn't have quite the same ring to it.
3 Cheese and Caramelised Onion Pasties. Cheddar, Wensleydale and Red Leicester encased in shortcrust pastry. Inspired by the Great British Bake Off.
I also had to use up what was in the fridge. I've said it many times before that restrictions in ingredients can force creativity in recipe development and so into the mixture went mustard powder, nutmeg, chives, caramelised onion, a mixture of cheeses and grated potato. I said it was going to be simple and easy. I didn't say it was going to be boring.
3 Cheese and Caramelised Onion Pasties. Cheddar, Wensleydale and Red Leicester encased in shortcrust pastry. Inspired by the Great British Bake Off.
The combination of cheeses was perfect. You can of course use whatever you want but if you can't decide which of your favourites to use then smoked Cheddar, Red Leicester and Wensleydale are a good combination. You get the creamy nuttiness with a hint of tang from the Leicester and a milder crumbliness with a touch of saltiness from the Wensleydale all rounded off by the depth of maturity from the smoked cheddar. Mustard and nutmeg brings out the individual flavours of the cheeses allowing them to twist and meld together. The sweetness of caramelised onions sits snuggly within each parcel, boosted by a generous helping of homegrown chives while everything is lovingly encased in melt in the mouth shortcrust pastry.
3 Cheese and Caramelised Onion Pasties. Cheddar, Wensleydale and Red Leicester encased in shortcrust pastry. Inspired by the Great British Bake Off.
Mum and Dad loved them. I got a big thumbs up when Dad had scraped up the last morsel and a 'they were nice' from Mum which equates to a profession of love and permission for me to make them again. It's always nice to make something a little bit different to mince and mash and have my plain-eating picky mother (who I love dearly) enjoy what I've made. I was the lucky one, getting the chance to eat one for lunch as well as one for dinner so I could take some photos. And to think I was considering not posting the recipe.

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Three Cheese and Caramelised Onion Pasties
A range of cheeses combines with sweet caramelised onions and a crumbly shortcrust pastry. Perfect for lunch or dinner. Choose your favourite cheeses to make it even better.
For the pastry:
  • 225g plain flour
  • 0.5 tsp mustard powder
  • 115g cold block Stork or butter, cubed
  • Spalsh of cold water
For the filling:
  • 1 tbsp sunflower or olive oil
  • 1 large onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • Approx 150g potato, washed, scabs removed and grated
  • 1 tsp mustard powder
  • 0.5 tsp nutmeg
  • Ground pepper, to taste
  • 1 medium egg, beaten
  • Approx 150g cheese of your choice e.g. smoked Cheddar, Red Leicester & Wensleydale, grated
  • Milk, to glaze
1. First make the pastry. Sift the flour and mustard powder together then rub in the butter unil it resembles breadcrumbs. Stir in enough water to make a soft but not sticky dough. Bring together in a ball, flatten to a thick disc, cover and chill in the fridge while you prepare the filling.2. Heat the oil in a frying pan then add the onion and cook over a medium heat, stirring occasionally until golden brown in colour and sweet tasting. This will take a while. Once ready, place in a bowl to cool.3. Squeeze the excess water from the potato and combine with the remaining filling ingredients except the milk. Stir in the onions, squeezing everything by hand to combine well. 4. Set the oven to 200 C/180 C and place a baking tray inside to heat up - this helps to cook the pasties from the bottom. Remove the pasttry from the fridge, roll out to a few mm and cut around a side plate, re-rolling the trimmings as necessary. I managed 4 discs.5. Dampen the edges of the discs with water and divide the filling between them. Bring the pastry edges together and press, then crimp to seal. Brush the pasties with milk to glaze.6. Place the pasties on the hot baking tray and bake in the preheated oven for 20-30 minutes until golden brown and crisp. Enjoy hot or leave to cool on a wire rack.

Seeing as it was the Great British Bake Off that made me bake these cheese and onion pasties, I'm linking the recipe up with  the GBBO Bake Along which Lucy from Supergolden Bakes is hosting until the series finishes.Lucy isn't very well at the moment so get well soon!

Thursday, 18 September 2014

London's Best Bakery Competition with BBC Good Food Bakes & Cakes Show

Have you heard about the all new BBC Good Food Bakes & Cakes Show taking place in London next month? I for one cannot wait to go. It's going to be even more eonderful and fantastic even than the regular BBC Good Food Shows and the last I went to of those was pretty awesome. Luckily for you I have an extra special discount code for you right here.
BBC Good Food Show Disocunt Code Promotion Bake and Cakes
It's safe to say that Britain has some pretty amazing bakeries and many of those are in our capital city of London. BBC Good Food is hosting a competition to find the best of the city and will present the winner with their award at the show itself and YOU get to help decide the worthy winner. 
BBC Good Food Show Disocunt Code Promotion Bake and Cakes
If you follow this link you can have a nosey at those who had been nominated. were up for the public vote. Now it's up to the mystery shoppers to decide the top three from the shortlist below - I wish I lived closer to London. I would gladly have spent a couple of days mooching around tasting lots of different breads, cakes and biscuits!
No of Votes

Katy Truss, artisan food expert and one of the competition judges, who is managing the competition on behalf of the BBC Good Food Bakes and Cakes Show says about the campaign…

“London is full of amazing bakeries, and with ‘real bread’ and artisan producers more popular than ever, I’m sure that with the help of London’s food-lovers we’ll uncover some real gems. It’s a fabulous way of giving recognition to those going the extra mile, mindfully sourcing their ingredients, engaging with their community, and above all selling high quality bakes and cakes.”

I don't get to go to london very often but he next time I do I'll be passing by all the high street coffee shop chains and heading straight for a selection of these bakeries instead. I'm incredibly jealous of those bloggers who will get to mystery shop those on the shortlist! There's still more than a month to go before the show opens but I'm already super excited to visit and to see the winner. Grab your discount code and I'll see you there.

So tell me, have you visited any of these bakeries which have been deemed among the best? Do you have a favourite? Or do you think there is a bakery which deserves to be on the list which has been missed off?