Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Peanut Butter and Jam and Chocolate Bars: Crowd Pleasers.

As I’ve mentioned before, cooking to request is one of my favourite things, and so I was most pleased when, one day last week, I left work under strict instruction to bake something peanut buttery and chocolatey. I already had half a plan to make these as Peanut Butter and Jam Bars, and so a bit of doubling up and swapping for Nutella seemed easypeasy and the perfect way to fulfil said demand.

And Wowzas...I have not baked something in a while that has gone down as well as these bad boys. Even after they’d endured half an hour of walking, a squished hour on the train and 3 flights of stairs. Aaaaaand even with people who nibbled first thing in the morning at a time that I assumed normal people deemed the consumption of baked goods inappropriate (YeY to cake for breakfast).

Turns out, they don’t and they kept nibbling all day long. And loved it.

So if you’ve got to bake for a crown, and want something universally pleasing, which will stand a bumpy ride...HERE, bake theeeeese. Just make sure you snaffle a few away for you, somewhere secret, so you can give with a glow of generosity, safe in the knowledge that there’s treats waiting for you at home. With Love and Cake.

Peanut Butter and Jam/Chocolate Bars
Original recipe by My Baking Addiction

A few notes:
  • So I'll give you the recipe I used to make 2 rounds; one jam and one chocolate. Of course if you only want to make one or the other, just halve the amounts.
  • My preferred J-as in-am, to go with the PB, is strawberry but most berry-ey ones go well...blueberry is divIIINe, as is cherry.
Makes lots and lots of bars
You will need

2x18cm loose bottomed tins, greased and bases lined

225g butter, at room temperature
330g caster sugar
2 eggs
4 heaped tbsps peanut butter
375g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
3 heaped tbsp each of jam and Nutella
90g salted peanuts

  • First things first...get that oven on to 180°c.
  • Now to cream the butter and sugar until pale and smooth.
  • Beat in the eggs and peanut butter until you had a lovely light coffee coloured paste.
  • Sift in the flour and baking powder and fold in so everything gets well combined.
  • Split 2/3 of the mixture between the 2 tins and press down into the base of each.
  • Now for the yum factor...spread the jam of the top of the mixture in one tin and Nutella in the other.
  • Split the remaining peanut butter mix between the 2 tins. It wont spread over the slippy jam or chocolate easily so just go for a blobbing method and it'll spread out in the oven.
  • Sprinkle the peanuts over the top of both sets of mixture.
  • Pop the tins on a baking sheet to prevent any sugary spillages and bake in your preheated oven for 45 minutes.
  • When you've got 2 lovely golden and firm discs, remove from the oven and allow to cool for a while before removing them from their tins, slicing and sharing (just remember to snaffle).

Friday, 25 May 2012

VIP Rhubarb Crumb Cake.

This is a bake again cake. And I don’t have many of those. My baking addiction is fuelled by creativity you see; exploring new ideas and expecting surprises rather than just having a scrummy repertoire.

But this cake, this spongy, gooey fruited, crisp and crumbly topped cake, has whole heartedly muscled its way into the VIP list of make agains. Well I guess actually it’s a VIC.

It’s also the only way that I’ve found so far that I really enjoy rhubarb. There’s just something that doesn’t usually please. But dressed up in a little cake batter, it turns into one of my favs.

Of course it doesn’t have to be a rhubarb crumb cake. It would be a great use for those supermarket strawbs that you just can’t help buying, fuelled by the excitement of the sunshine, yet knowing that they will taste of nothing. Or if you’re lucky enough to have a bush, how about gooseberries? Go crazy with apples in autumn. Either/or, just go and make this cake now. I mean NOW. GogO. With Love and Cake.

Rhubarb Crumb Cake. 
Adapted from Delicious Magazine.

A few notes:
  • It might seem like there’s a few steps going on here but they’re all simple so no worries.
  • Best served with thickthick cream. I'm currently on mascarpone but clotted is also HEAVEN.
Makes one large cake
You will need

a 23cm cake tin, greased and lined

For the rhubarb
225g rhubarb, cut into 2.5cm pieces
50g caster sugar
2 tsp plain flour

For the crumbs
50g butter, melted
25g soft brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
100g plain flour

For the cake
6 tbsp sour cream
1 egg and 1 egg yolk
1 tsp vanilla extract
100g plain flour
100g caster sugar
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
pinch salt
75g unsalted butter, at room temp
50g ground almonds

  • So...preheat the oven to 180°c.
  • Now stir the rhubarb pieces in and amongst the sugar and flour and set aside, giving it a stir around occasionally, as you get on with the rest of the cake.
  • Next job is to make the crumbs. Stir the sugar into the butter to make a smooth paste.
  • Then mix in the vanilla and flour to form a stiff dough. Press it down firmly so it becomes compact and leave to set in the fridge.
  • Now for the cake proper. Stir the sour cream, egg, yolk and vanilla together in a small bowl.
  • Into another, larger bowl sift the flour, sugar, bicarb, baking powder and salt and then rub in the butter until the mixture looks like fine bread crumbs.
  • Stir through the almonds and then gradually beat in the sour cream mixture until well combined and smooth.
  • Pour the cake batter into your prepared tin and scatter the rhubarb over the top.
  • Get your 'crumbs' out the fridge. To turn the stiff mix into actual crumbs, break it up into small chunks and strew over the rhubarb. 
  • Pop it all in the oven and bake for 40-45 minuted until puffed up and golden brown.
  • Cool for a bit before removing from the tin. Enjoy warm or at room temperature with cream and a smile.

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Churros and Chocolate Sauce: Deep Fried Joy.

Please make these. Pleaseplease make these. Because good heavens are they good. And not in the way you’d expect. Firstly, I think you’d expect them to be tricky and fiddly to make. Frying and piping bag-ing and all sorts of faff. But NO. Oh nonono. As long as you go steady, and are in possession of said piping bag, even if you’re not (see notes), it will be a breeze.

Secondly I think you’d expect stodge. Deep fried, carby-fullness stodge. But again nonoNO. These little sausages of joy are light as a cloud; all crispy on the outside and airy on the inside. Even the chocolate sauce is smooth and silky rather than sticky and gooey.

They’re so light and non-deep-fried-feeling that they, I’ll admit, appeared on my breakfast plate this morning. And I’m only a teeeensy bit ashamed. In fact no, not even a teensy bit...the Spanish wouldn’t be. Especially as they were accompanied by sweet and juicy and oh so healthy pineapple, which didn’t even go neeeeeear the sauce. Though if it happened to have fallen in I wouldn’t have complained.

So go on, give it a go, and you’ll see that frying doesn’t have to mean stress and doesn’t have to mean stodge. And you will then love me forever for directing you to the MOST delicious of revelation. With Love and Cake.

Churros and Chocolate Sauce.
From Thomasina Miers' Mexican Food Made Simple

A few notes:
  • If you don’t have a piping bag, fear not. Just fry little spoonfuls of batter, and you’ll have mini donuts...and my goodness is that a result that doesn't feel like 'making do'. If you do have one and also happen to have a large star nozzle then BRILL...yours will have the more traditional serrated edges. I thought I had one but didn’t. Hey ho.  
  • To achieve the light, non-stodge texture we're after you need the oil to be hot enough to cook speedily without being so hot that the outside burns before the inside is cooked. If you have a cooking thermometer just make sure that the oil is around 170°c. If not, when the pan has been on a medium heat for 5 minutes or so, pop a little cube of bread in the oil and you want it to bubble and turn golden brown in less that 30 seconds...if not, adjust the temperature accordingly.
  • In terms of the amount of oil, it's more about the level it reaches in you pan than millilitres, so go for it being filled about a third full. When frying like this I always choose the smallest pan sensible, so that you have to deal with as little hot fat as possible. It might mean a few more batches but I'll take that over vats of boiling oil.
Makes enough for 6
You will need

For the sauce

250g chocolate of your choice
2 tbsp golden syrup
300ml double cream

For the churros
a heavy based saucepan 
a piping bag if poss (see notes)

90g caster sugar
1 tbsp cinnamon
125g plain flour
125g self raising flour
pinch salt
2 tbsp olive oil
450ml freshly boiled water
around 1 litre of vegetable or sunflower oil

  • First job is to make the sauce. All you do is pop all the ingredients into a little saucepan and heat gently until everything is lovely and melty. Done.
  • Next for the churros. First mix the sugar and cinnamon together on a plate and set aside.
  • Now for the dough. Sift the flours and salt into a bowl and make a well in the middle.
  • In another bowl mix the water and olive oil together and pour into the well in the flour
  • Beat together until combined and you will have a firm dough. Set it aside to rest for 10 minutes.
  • Meanwhile get the oil on a medium heat and heat to 170°c or so that a cube of bread browns in less that 30 seconds (see notes).
  • When it's ready, pop the dough into your piping bag and squeeze out sausages of dough as long as you want them, into the oil, snipping them away from the nozzle of the piping bag with scissors. Don't overcrowd the pan, you don't want the churros to stick together.
  • Leave to cook for 3-4 minutes, flipping them over once or twice, until golden brown and a bit of the bubbling has subsided.
  • After a quick drain on kitchen paper, roll the hot churros in the spiced sugar.
  • Get on with cooking the rest of the dough in the same manner.
  •'s time...lay back, dunk and enjoy. Yesssss.

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Chocolate and Orange Makes Bread and Butter Pudding.

Bread and Butter Pudding. Not something, I’m afraid, that usually gets my juices flowing. It’s stupid really, because I think bread is brilliant and butter, even better. But b&b pud just isn’t usually the one for me. I’d take sticky toffee any day. But when you have a bread making disaster and therefore a loaf going spare....needs must.

And how do you make a boring pudding a ‘juices flowing’ one? Throw chocolate and orange at it of cooooourse.

OO, just as I wrote that I realised that I have the exact same thoughts towards French toast. It must be an eggy bready thing. And what cured my distaste of that particular breakfast treat? Why chocolate and orange obv. Maybe I should try it with chickpeas too, my food nemesis. Then I’d be totally cured.

Because here, what’s not to like? Squishy and chewy bread, sweet, chocolate-ey custard and little nuggets of sunshiney orange. Not exactly a light and airy dessert option but perfect for those days when only the carby-est of concoctions will do. Like, um, all the May days that tantalise with sun and trick with hail and gails. Soooo right now then. With Love and Cake.

Chocolate and Orange Bread and Butter Pudding.

A few notes:
  • To be honest, if I made this again I'd double up on the quantity of custard for the same amount of bread- just for a little bit of extra goo, but I'll give you the quantities I actually used.
  • This is a great way to use up bread that's past it's best, in fact the dryer the better, for soaking up the chocolatey, eggy goodness.
  • As always, feel free to freestyle a bit. Dark chocolate would be divine, and you could absolutely leave out the about replacing it with a shot or two of rummmm......

Serves 6ish
You will need

a large oven proof dish, lightly greased

around 3/4 loaf of good quality white bread, cut into 2 cm cubes
Juice of 2 oranges
300ml double cream
2 egg yolks
180g milk chocolate, finely chopped
150g candied orange peel, finely chopped
1 tbsp chocolate chips
icing sugar for dusting

  • So first job is to get the oven on to preheat at 180°c.
  • Then tumble the cubes of bread into your oven dish and pour over the orange juice so the bread gets a chance to soak it all up.
  • Next job...pop the cream into a saucepan and heat slowly until just simmering.
  • Meanwhile whisk the egg yolks in a bowl until lighter in colour and thickened.
  • When the cream is ready, pour it in a slow, steady stream over the egg yolks, whisking all the time.
  • Add the chocolate and peel into the custard and stir so that the chocolate melts.
  • Transfer the chocolate custard back into the saucepan and heat slllooooowly for a few minutes, stirring all the time, so the custard thickens a teeny bit.
  • Pour the custard over the bread. Mix everything around a bit and poke 'sticking out bits' of bread back in so everything gets a good soak.
  • Pop the dish in the oven and bake for 25 minutes until firm and bubbling round the edges.
  • When the pud has cooled a bit, sprinkle over the chocolate chips and dust with icing sugar through a sieve.
  •'s carb o clock.

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Oat and Raisin Cookies.

Well hellohello. I have some gooood cookies for you today. You know that thing where you have a passion for eating something shop bought and you try and make it at home. Sometimes it’s a triumph and sometimes, however much you pretend that it’s wonderful and oh so much more delicious than the shop one, really, it’s the air and sugar filled factory produced one that hits the spot.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s only the case for a few shop muffins, fancy hot chocolate and oat and raisin cookies. Or at least I thought so. Because not that.

Very much an American cookie rather than a ‘tea and biscuits’ biscuit, they are bendy and just short of gooey and just a teensy bit sweet and oaty without feeling toooooo healthy. Just like, or maaaybe even better, than the benchmark supermarket ones.

YESSSSSSSS. Cheers because I always feel a teensy bit guilty for liking shop bought things. This way I get to have cookies for breakfast with a spring in my step (whhhhhaaa? They’re oaty and have fruit in them...perfect for a train picnic. Don't judge). With Love and Cake.

Oat and Raisin Cookies
original recipe by Dana Treat

A few notes:
  • Feel free to make omissions and additions. Nuts would be great and would up the health factor. In fact I didn’t have raisins so used half sultanas and half currants.
  • Similarly, my mix of oats and oatmeal just came about because of what I had in my cupboards. You could quite happily use rolled oats for the full amount.
  • You want to leave a fair amount of space for the biscuits to spread out in the oven so you'll probably have to bake in batches.
Makes around 20
You will need

a large baking sheet, greased

225g butter, at room temperature
200g soft brown sugar
100g caster sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
190g plain flour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp cinnamon
200g rolled oats
70g oatmeal
150g raisins

  • First job...preheat the oven to 180°c.
  • Then, in a nice big bowl, beat the butter and sugars together until creamy. I used my trusty hand whisk...a wooden spoon would be fine also.
  • Beat in the eggs and vanilla until the mixture increases in volume and looks light and fluffy.
  • Fold in the flour, bicarb and cinnamon until smooth, followed by the oats and raisins so all is well combined.
  • Spoon round tablespoon-fulls of dough onto your baking sheet, leaving a good couple of centimetres between each one to allow room for spreading.
  • Bake for 12-15 minutes until golden and just firm.
  • Leave the biscuits on the hot tray to become sturdier for a few minutes, before removing them to a wire rack to cool....if you can contain yourself. 

Friday, 11 May 2012

Chai Pancakes: A Reunion.

Oh hellooooooo. Pancakes and I have been taking a little break from one another recently. Not for any particular reason really, but sometimes a break from something you love happens on its own and it turns out to be brilliant in a funny way. You sort of don’t realise that you miss it until it’s back and then you fall in love all over again. That’s what happened here.

I’ve been seeing and lusting after recipes for chai spiced pancakes for a little while now but all have looked fairly inaccessible. Mostly, to be honest, because they’re American recipes and call for ingredients that we just don’t come across.

But I had a stroke of genius. Well not really a stroke, more of a gradual realisation of the answer followed by the inevitable ‘duuuuuh, OBVIOUSLY I will flavour the milk with teabags...fool’.

So here I am, reunited with the Queen of Breakfasts (yes that is an official title...) with just enough fiddle to my original and ultimate pancake recipe to provide all the fabulous fluffyness I require from my pancakes while remaining new and exciting and spiced to high heaven. With Love and Cake.

Chai Pancakes with Cinnamon Butter

A few notes:
  • Of course you don’t have to accompany the pancakes with the cinnamon butter, just the regular stuff and a drizzle of maple syrup would be divine.
  • The butter will freeze well though, just chop it all into disc and open freeze, then keep them in a bag in the freezer, ready for more pancakes, French toast, you could even pop some in a chilli to make it shiny and delish.
  • The more pancakes I make, the more I realise what a difference a good quality pan makes.I have one lovely Le Creuset one and one 'not Le Creuset' one, and I have them both on the go at the same time for time saving purposes...which makes for an excellent comparison. Obviously I'm not suggesting you have to buy a new pan before you make your next batch of pancakes, but if you have a choice go for non-stick and as heavy a base as poss.
  • I used a blender to whizz my pancake batter up, but a bowl and whisk would be a.ok.
Makes around 10
You will need

For the butter
1x250g pack butter, at room temperature
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tbsp demerara sugar
greaseproof paper

For the pancakes
300ml milk
3 chai teabags
225g self raising flour
2 tsp baking powder
25g caster sugar
1 egg

  • The first thing to do, the night before you want pancakes, is to pop the tea bags in the milk and leave them to infuse overnight.
  • Then, on 'pancake day', lets do the butter first. All you need to do is mash the cinnamon and sugar into the butter so it's well combined.
  • Then, on a nice large rectangle of greaseproof paper blob the butter along one of the long edges of the paper. Roll the paper around it tight and then twist the ends so it looks like a giant sweet.
  • Pop it in the fridge to firm up while you get on with the pancakes.
  • Remove the tea bags from the milk and add it and all the other ingredients to the blender or bowl and whizz/whisk to a thick, stiff batter.
  • Get you pan hot over a medium heat and pour rounds of the batter into it, as big or small as you want your pancakes...up to you really.
  • Leave alone until the edges firm up and come away from the pan and bubble form on the uncooked side.
  • Flip the pancakes over and cook the second side until golden and firm.
  • Eateateat with the butter dripping over or pop into a warm oven while you cook with the rest of the batter. Then eateateat,

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Salted Caramel and Popcorn Ice Cream.

So I’ve gone and done it. I’ve jumped on the ‘Jubilympics: let’s smother everything in Union Jacks’ bandwagon. Not really for any other reason than aesthetics at the mo; our flag just seems so cheerful and celebratory to me. Don’t worry though, come June I will find real reasons; whole heartedly abandoning my default position of apathy towards all things royal and make sure I brush up on the curtseying skills I learnt for The Wedding last year. You know, just in case. Then August, and I plan not to be able to move for copious amounts of self-inflicted red, white and blue.

Summer nationalist fun wasn’t my initial thought when I was planning on making this frozen joy however. It was more of a case of not wanting to throw away left over popcorn, combined with a recent love affair with ‘Heston Blumenthal for Waitrose’s’ ice creams; one of which was indeed salted caramel and popcorn.

Although divine, Heston’s, I’m afraid, was lacking the salty richness of salted caramel and instead relied on crunchy sugary nuggets of set caramel. My version, while not being a traditional custard-based ice cream, is more heavily laden with the joys that are associated with salted caramel. Ooozy, gooey, sweet and mineral-ey.

The fact that it’s not custard based has pros and cons. Pro: you don’t need an ice cream maker (high on my list of ‘WANT but can’t have until I have a giant beast of a kitchen’ just below the waffle iron FYI) and is a cinch to whip up. Con: it doesn’t melt in the same drippy way that your tub of Ben and Jerry’s does, remaining more mousse-ey. But no matter really- a gooey brownie and a scoop of this? OOOooooheeeMMMGeeeeeee. With Love and Cake.

Salted Caramel and Popcorn Ice Cream.

A few notes:
  • I used microwave popcorn here, simply because I had some leftover, but in hindsight I think I would find it preferable to the ready popped super sugary 'toffee popcorn' anyway, given the sweetness of the other main ingredient. But if you don't have some microwave stuff lying around and don't want to pop some especially, feel free to experiment with a popped variety or simply leave it out all together (just don't tell Heston).
  • I made this salted caramel. You won't need it all, but make it anyway for extra drizzle and eating with anything and everything or just with a spoon. Mmmmmmmm.
Makes about 1 pint
You will need

500ml double cream
10-20g popcorn, slightly chopped

  • Now it's easypeasy, just whip the cream so in becomes big and billowy but remains pour-able. It will stiffen further as you stir the other ingredients in.
  • Stir in 1 tbsp of the caramel so it is totally combined, followed by the popcorn.
  • Then add the rest of the caramel, folding it through gently so it remains rippled and pooled.
  • Pop in a freezer proof tub, cover and pop in the freezer overnight and sleep awaiting frozen joy.

Friday, 4 May 2012

I am an Orange Fool.

So here we go...the easypeasy-est, most versatile, most melt-in-the-mouth, not to mention speediest pud there ever was. And the last orange recipe for a good while, I promise...thanks for going along with it.

It's basically a take on Eton Mess, an easypeasy pud itself, but without the fruit, and therefore without the chopping and therefore even more wondrously, serenely 'whip-up-able'. 

Serve it by itself, serve it drizzled with extra curd, spread it on top of a cake, on top of your cereal even. No?

And really you can make it with whatever you fancy. A lemon curd one would be delightful, but how about using salted caramel sauce instead, or some raspberry jam. As you can see, this isn't really a recipe but a turbo charged vehicle to almost instant gratification. Enjoy. With Love and Cake.

Orange Fool.

A few notes:
  • To be honest, I don't know what the exACt definition of a 'fool' is...I just know that it's something fruity and creamy and that it's pretty easy to spoon gallon-fulls down one's throat. This therefore, fits the fool criteria.
  • Like I've said above, feel free to experiment according to taste and available produce, you really can't go wrong if you use flavours that you like.
  • This amount makes a healthy serving for 3 people, though if you want to keep the recipe the same and serve 4, you'd simply need to serve a nice shortbread biscuit, homemade or shop bought...whatever, next to it and it'd be fine.
Serves 3-4
You will need

1 300ml tub double cream
4 tbsp fruity curd plus extra for drizzling
1 meringue nest

  • It's easy...just whip the cream to voluminousness careful to sop at this point as anymore whipping will lead to a stiff fool, not quite as desirable.
  • Carefully fold the curd into the cream and crumble in the meringue, stirring a teeny bit more to combine everything but still leaving a nice marble effect.
  • Transfer to your serving receptacles and add a final drizzle of the curd.
  • Trrrrrry to make it last more than 5 seconds.