Thursday, 29 January 2015

AlphaBakes "L" Round up


Where has the time gone? I can't believe it's the end of January already as it seems to have gone by in a flash. Thank you to everyone who took the time to participate in this month's AlphaBakes. We kicked off the first AlphaBakes challenge back in Feb 2012 with the letter L so this is the second time round and there are quite a few new ideas. Remember to check out Caroline's blog on 1st Feb to find out what letter we are using in February. 

Kate from the Gluten Free Alchemist kicks off the round up in style with her gorgeous Layered Dark & White Chocolate Raspberry Cake which is of course gluten free. It has a white chocolate ganache and raspberry-pomegranate sauce and was declared the best birthday cake ever by the lucky recipient. 


Next is Jacqueline with her lemon cupcakes with lemon icing. 


Moving on to the other citrus fruit beginning with L we have a Lime & Ginger Angel Food Cake by Kat from the Baking Explorer. This is a good option if you are counting the calories as it contains no butter and has no buttery/sugary icing. Kat has decorated hers beautifully with lime zest and crystallized ginger.


Next we have a very unusual L ingredient which I would not have guessed just by the title. Suelle from Mainly Baking made some Cranberry-Date Crumble Squares... with a hidden ingredient. Can you guess what it is just by looking at it? No? Me neither. The secret ingredient is Lentils! These sound deliciously fruity and are definitely healthier than regular oat square recipes. There's lots of goodness in these what with the lentils, spelt flour, wholemeal flour, dates and cranberries. 


Next is my co host Caroline from Caroline Makes with a Bertie Bassett Liquorice Allsorts Cake. She made this for her boyfriend's dad's birthday as he likes Liquorice Allsorts. She decided not to use liquorice in the cake as it's not to everyone's taste but to decorate the cake with it and to make a model of Bertie Bassett using fondant icing. The cake is a chocolate cake with chocolate buttercream. Great work with the icing Caroline! 


Next is another very creative entry from Johanna from The Green Gourmet Giraffe. She made these cute Lego biscuits for her nephew's birthday. She lives in Australia so it's summer over there and the weather was predicted to be 38 or 39C. She decided against a cake and decided on these Lego biscuits. I am impressed at how realistic it looks and I'm sure the kids were too. 


Caroline is back with another entry in the form of Limoncello Cupcakes. She had some last minute visitors and baked these in about 40 minutes! It has limoncello in the cake and in the icing. 


We have something a little differnet next from Fiona from Let Them Eat (gluten free, lactose free) Cake! She made a Baked Chicken Liver Mousse which is also gluten, lactose/dairy free. It was very mousse like when warm and more like a pate when eaten cold.


Elizabeth from Elizabeth's Kitchen Diary made one of my favourite treats - cookies! She baked Double Chocolate Chunk Oatmeal Cookies which is adapted from the infamous £250 Neiman Marcus Cookie recipe. It's the first sweet treat she's baked in a while for the sake of her waistline but luckily it did not go to waste. Read her blog to find out who the lucky recipients were! Oh in case you were wondering, the L for this recipe comes from the Light Brown Sugar.


Next is Choclette from Chocolate Log Blog with her Lemon Cake with Chocolate Icing. She actually baked this back in 2012 but has only gotten round to blogging about it now! She needed a cake for a birthday and it had to travel well so she found this recipe from G&B unwrapped and adapted it to suit her needs.


Next is my own entry with a Chocolate and Raspberry Layer Cake. It's a really impressive looking cake which is actually fairly simple to make. The chocolate pairs well with the raspberry and I love the chocolate ganache topping. My favourite bit was the icing which is made with butter, jam and icing sugar.


Johanna from Green Gourmet Giraffe has a second entry for us in the form of an Apricot and Almond Tart. She had lots of fresh apricots from the brother's tree and it finally gave her the chance to bake Bill Granger's apricot and almond tart. The L here is from the lime zest which was noticeable in taste.


Fiona from Let Them Eat (gluten free, lactose free) Cake! is also back with a second entry in the form of a Lemon Victoria Sponge. January seems like a long, cold, dark month to most and pay day seems forever away. Fiona baked this cake to brighten up her day and to remind her that spring is on the way!


Finally we have a delicious and fruity Apple, Coconut, Mango and Kiwi Crumble from Charlene from Food Glorious Food. She's put a tropical twist on a classic apple crumble with exotic fruits and a splash of rum! The L is from the lemon juice.


That's the end of the L AlphaBakes round up. I hope you've enjoyed reading it as much as I have putting it together. Remember to check out Caroline's blog on 1st February to find out which letter we are using in Feb.


Sunday, 25 January 2015

Peanut Butter m&m's and chocolate chip cookies


Yes it's another peanut butter recipe but I make no apologies for it as it's amazing. I found a bag of peanut butter M&M's at the back of the cupboard and instead of eating the whole bag myself (which was tempting) I decided to bake them into cookies. I found a great recipe online from Sally's Baking Addiction and knew I had to make it immediately. It has peanut butter, peanut butter M&M's, chocolate chips and oats. Absolutely delicious! The cookies were really tasty and it was hard to stop at one. Needless to say these did not last long! I'm going to try these again with some Reece's pieces and maybe chopped up peanut butter cups. 


 adding the chocolate chips and peanut butter M&M's 

 I put an M&M on top before baking and I love how colourful the cookies look 

 

Recipea adapted from Sally's Baking Addiction


115g unsalted butter
100g light brown sugar
50g caster sugar
1 large egg
185g smooth peanut butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
160g all purpose flour
300g peanut butter M&Ms
100g chocolate chip

  • Preheat the oven to 180C. 
  • Line 2 baking trays with parchment paper.
  • Cream the butter and sugars for a few minutes.
  • Add in the peanut butter, egg, vanilla extract.
  • Add in the flour and bicarbonate of soda.
  • Finally stir in the peanut butter M&M's and chocolate chips.
  • Drop small scoops of dough spaced apart on the baking tray.
  • Press an M&M on top of the cookie before baking.
  • Bake for about 9-10 minutes or until golden brown. 
  • The cookie will be soft but they will harden as they cool.
  • Allow to cool on the tray for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. 

Saturday, 24 January 2015

Chocolate and Raspberry Layer Cake


Last week I asked J what cake he would like to have. He said chocolate so I asked him to pair it with a fruit so I could enter it to the Love Cake challenge which has the theme of Feeling Fruity.  He chose cherries but I'd only recently made a chocolate and cherry black forest cake so he chose raspberries. I love the combination of chocolate and raspberries so I immediately did a google search for 'chocolate and raspberry cake'. On the image search, we both pointed to this cake and said wow. Mine does not look as good as the picture on the blog but it's close enough and more importantly it tasted really good. 

The cake turned out to be humongous. I knew it was a 3 layer cake but I didn't expect it to be this tall. There was a good height to each of the sponges and with the addition of the icing it made for a very impressive looking cake. The chocolate sponge was really moist and chocolatey and still tasted fresh a week after baking. Yes it took us more than a week to eat the cake despite giving away almost half the cake! The icing was our favourite. I've not made icing using jam before and I'll definitely be using this idea again. I was worried it was going to be too sweet but it wasn't and it gave such a lovely pink colour to the icing. No artificial colouring required. The best bit of course is the chocolate ganache dripping down the cake. I was also rather pleased at finding some super large raspberries to decorate the cake with. 

I'm sending this to a few blogging challenges...

AlphaBakes hosted by myself this month and co hosted by Caroline from Caroline Makes. The letter is L and this is definitely a Layer cake. I have to thank Kate from the Gluten Free Alchemist for the idea of a layer cake for L for Alphabakes as she submitted a very gorgeous Layered Dark & White Chocolate Raspberry Cake for the challenge. 


Love Cake hosted by Ness from Jibber Jabber Uk. As mentioned this was the original inspiration for the fruit element of the cake as the theme this month is Feeling Fruity. This cake has fresh raspberries on top and raspberry jam in the icing. 



Bake of the Week hosted by Casa Costello 


 Cook Blog Share hosted by Supergolden Bakes






 making the raspberry icing - I love the bright pink colour 

 slightly messy icing but look at the size of that cake! 

 I love how the ganache drips down the side 


 with chocolate ganache and fresh raspberries on top 

 

 Look at the size of those raspberries! 

 A gigantic slice of cake 

Recipe adapted slightly from GrandBaby Cakes (which was adapted from Country Living) 

For the cake 
475g plain flour
160g cocoa powder
450g caster sugar
1.5 teaspoons bicarbonate of soda
1.5 teaspoons baking powder
3 eggs
180mls vevgetable oil
300mls sour cream
250mls hot water

For the icing
450g butter
490g seedless raspberry jam
380g icing sugar, sifted

For the chocolate ganache
150g dark chocolate
150mls double cream

To decorate
Fresh raspberries

  • Preheat the oven to 180C.
  • Spray 3 x 18cm sandwich tins with non stick spray and line with greaseproof paper.
  • Sift the flour and cocoa powder in to a large bowl.
  • Add in the bicarbonate or soda, baking powder and sugar.
  • Place these ingredients in your mixing bowl (if using an electric mixer; otherwise mix by hand)
  • Add in the remaining ingredients and mix until you get a smooth batter.
  • Divide the batter evenly between the 3 tins - I usually weigh mine so they are all the same size.
  • Bake in the preheated oven for about 35 - 40 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.
  • Allow to cool completely on a wire rack. 
  • To make the icing, beat the butter and icing sugar until smooth. Then add in the raspberry jam and continue beating until it's smooth.
  • Spread the icing between each layer of cake and cover the cake on the top and sides with the icing.
  • To make the chocolate ganache, heat the cream in a small saucepan until just boiling.
  • Remove from the heat and allow to stand for a few minutes. 
  • Add in the chocolate and stir continuously until smooth. 
  • Pour the chocolate ganache in the centre of the cake and allow it to drip over the sides. 
  • Decorate with fresh raspberries. 





Thursday, 22 January 2015

French Macarons by Cake-Cetera


Have you heard of Cake-Cetera? It's founded by Pauline who was inspired to set up the business after losing her mum to cancer. She was shocked to find out that flowers were banned from wards. She found that most people brought in cake instead hence the idea for Cake-Cetera. She started making and delivering cakes from home in Glasgow and has now expanded to extend deliveries nationwide. 

Their motto is 'Say it with Cake, yummy goodness right to your door' and I can't agree more! I only ever get bills or junk mail through my letterbox so it was very exciting to open a lovely box of treats. I received a box of 12 French macarons to try. My first impressions were that it's beautifully packaged and they arrived in one piece apart from a small crack in one of them. I always thought macarons are quite fragile so I was surprised to see that they survived the postal journey. 

It comes in a little black box which can easily fit through most letterboxes. It was packaged in another brown box which is not shown here. 


I love the beautiful colours and the display. It comes with a little information card listing the ingredients and allergy advice. There is 2 of each flavour which is handy for J and I so there's no fighting!  


The flavours are vanilla, pistachio, coffee, raspberry, lemon and chocolate. The macarons were of the same size and shape and they all have the characteristic 'feet' which I find really hard to achieve in my own kitchen. We tried each flavour and came up with our list of favourites. For J his preference was raspberry, lemon, pistachio, chocolate, coffee, vanilla. For me my preference was raspberry, coffee, lemon, chocolate, pistachio, vanilla. 



The macarons were light and held their shape well. They were just sweet enough without being overly sweet which can be a problem sometimes. Our favourite was the raspberry one because it had a strong raspberry flavour and the filling was similar to a raspberry jam. J does not like coffee in desserts which is probably why it ranked 5th for him but I thought it was very good. It had a strong coffee flavour without being overpowering. The chocolate and pistachio were in the middle and we both agreed that the lemon was also quite good. The vanilla was our least favourite as it seemed a bit lacking in flavour and taste. 


My verdict - I like the concept of ordering baked goods online to be delivered which is particularly handy for family or friends who live further afield. The macarons were of good quality and they were well packaged ensuring that they arrived in one piece. It's also a great gift for a special occasion and they have a wide range of different treats on their site.

Disclaimer: I was sent a box of 12 macarons for review purposes. A positive review was not required and all opinions expressed are my own. This is not a sponsored post. 

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Chocolate Peanut Butter Squares


I love watching the Food Channel when I get a chance and last week was such a moment. Lorraine Pascale was on TV and she was demonstrating a peanut butter recipe. It looked delicious and it was a simple no bake recipe. I knew that I had to try it and I'm so glad I did as it tastes amazing. If you love peanut butter and chocolate as much as me then you will definitely love this recipe. I know it's not the healthiest thing to eat in January but it could be worse! I love the addition of digestive biscuits to the peanut butter which gives it a really nice texture. 

These are perfect for lunch boxes or for an after dinner treat. The plus side is you can slice them into tiny little squares so you don't feel as guilty. The trick is not to eat more than one but they really are quite more-ish - you have been warned! I'm sending this to Tea Time Treats hosted by Janie from The Hedgecombers and Karen from Lavender and Lovage. The theme this month is packed lunches. 






 blitz the biscuits and brown sugar 

 press the peanut butter/biscuit mixture into the tin 

 pour the melted chocolate on top and let it set in the fridge 

 delicious squares 


Recipe can be found online here which also includes a helpful video. 

Sunday, 18 January 2015

Toffee Apple Cake


This cake came about because I wanted to make use of ingredients in my kitchen. I had initially planned to make toffee apple bites for my afternoon tea party but ran out of time. I started thinking about how I could incorporate toffees and apples into a cake. I found a recipe by Paul Hollywood online which looked really simple - just mix and bake. I doubled the recipe quantity as I wanted to use my large bundt tin and adding in a handful of extra toffees in the cake and a few more on top before baking. I debated about making a toffee sauce which would go well with the cake. 

The cake was really delicious. I love the combination of apples and toffees and that's exactly what you get with this cake. There's not many additions to mask the flavours and the melted toffee bits were my favourite. 

I'm sending this to the No Waste Food Challenge hosted by Elizabeth from Elizabeth's Kitchen Diary. I had a spare pack of toffees and some apples leftover which I used for this recipe.




 wet ingredients and dry ingredients - just mix together and add in the apples and toffees 

 adding chopped apples and toffee pieces (I didn't cut them as the recipe suggested) 

 I added some extra toffees on top before baking

 You can still see the apple chunks 


Recipe is from BBC Food from Paul Hollywood's Pies and Puds

The only change I made was to double the quantities which was perfect for my bundt tin and to add in more toffee pieces.