Chocolate Cherry Bakewell Loaf

It’s been a couple of months at least since I’ve been to a Clandestine Cake Club event.  I’ve been working full time and I haven’t baked much recently.  The Clandestine Cake Club’s VCake Events are a fantastic idea if you can’t get to an event but you still want to bake.  I love taking part in them and I baked a cake.  But unfortunately, I forgot to email my cake photos to the Club’s founder, Lynn Hill so my cake wasn’t included in the event write up.

The  event write up is featured on the Clandestine Cake Club website and the link is here  Magazines, Leaflets and Booklets 

The idea was that many people collect or stash recipes gleaned from magazines, leaflets and booklets. I do. I buy Good Food magazine and Delicious magazine but only get chance to cook recipes out of them sometimes.  I’m always picking up recipe leaflets and booklets but never seem to get round to cooking anything from them. This event was such a good idea to get you searching through those cake recipes you wish you had had chance to bake.  Funnily enough this month’s Good Food magazine came with a free cake recipe booklet to celebrate the magazine’s 300th issue! I’ve not been buying all of those, I was only 18 when the first issue of Good Food mag came out and as a sixth former cooking was the last thing I was interested in!

There were several recipes I wanted to try in the booklet but the one that I thought my whole family would eat was the Chocolate Cherry Bakewell Loaf.  All the flavours of a bakewell tart but in a loaf form and with chocolate as well.  Bound to be a hit!

Last Sunday I chose to bake this, along with some scones.  Mr SmartCookieSam was out at a Classic Car show and my two grown up children were at work. So it was me on my lonesome! Perfect opportunity to get my apron on and the scales out, especially as the weather has been so rubbish.

Recipe as featured in Good Food Magazine.

Cuts into 8-10 slices.

Ingredients:

200g softened butter

140g fresh, stoned and halved cherries *

140g plain flour

200g golden caster sugar

3 medium eggs

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

75g ground almonds

2 tbsp milk

1 tsp each of vanilla and almond extracts

200g dark or milk chocolate, chopped.

2 tbsp toasted, flaked almonds.

  • First, heat the oven to 160oC/ 140oC fan/ Gas Mark 3.  Line a 900g loaf tin with baking parchment.  I swear by the ready made loaf tin liners readily available from shops like Lakeland.
  • Now to deal with the cherries.  If you are using fresh cherries, you need to wash, destone and half them first.  Then toss them in a tablespoonful of the flour from the quantity already weighed out.  If you are choosing to use glace cherries like I did, then thoroughly wash them to get the syrup off.  Then pat dry on a paper towel, halve them, rinse and dry again.  Then toss in a tablespoonful of flour.
  • Cream the butter and sugar together in a large bowl until the mixture becomes light and fluffy.  When this is done, add the eggs one by one and mix well between each addition.
  • Fold in the rest of the flour, the baking powder and the ground almonds.
  • Stir in the milk, the two extracts and half of the chocolate.  Then add in the cherries.
  • Bake in the oven for 1 hour 10 minutes approx or until an inserted skewer comes out clean.
  • Leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes and then turn out on to a wire rack to cool down completely.
  • When the cake has cooled down, melt the remaining chocolate in the microwave and drizzle or pipe it on top of the cake.
  • Scatter on top with toasted, flaked almonds.
  • Wait for the chocolate on top to set a bit before slicing the cake.

Now as I’m always doing things in a hurry or have a zillion things on the go at once, I was a little bit disappointed to find my chocolate and cherries had sunk to the bottom of the cake.  I’ve made cherry cakes before which have remained in the middle.  So why not this one? I thoroughly rinsed and dried the cherries as well as tossing them in flour.  Maybe it was the rest of the cake mixture.  Didn’t spoil the taste of the cake though.  I also didn’t bother with adding toasted almond flakes to the top of the cake.

I demolished a slice of this gorgeous cake with a cup of tea on that Sunday afternoon while reading a magazine.  It had the almond flavour running through it and tasted just like a cherry bakewell cake should taste with the added dimension of dark chocolate.  Cherries and chocolate work so well together.  I will definitely make this cake again as my family really enjoyed it.  The remainder froze well, although the cake apparently does keep in a cake tin for up to four days.

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx

White Chocolate And Raspberry Fridge Cake.

It’s been nearly two weeks before I broke up for the summer holidays but it’s taken me ages to get round to blogging this recipe.  My White Chocolate and Raspberry Fridge Cake turned out to be a real experiment.  It was the last day of term in the school I’d been working in on a long term supply placement.  I’d come home the night before wanting to bake two or three really gorgeous layer cakes for the staff to share.  By the time I’d got myself sorted I couldn’t face icing the cakes so I just thought of quick things that people would like. I’d originally wanted to bake a white chocolate and raspberry cake topping it with some Lind’t Dor White Chocolate and Strawberry balls. I had 12 in my baking stash, bought with 12 mint chocolate balls and 12 caramel ones from the Pick n’ Mix in the Lindt shop at the York Designer Outlet. But all my plans were also scuppered when I found 3 strawberry ones missing and 4 caramel ones had gone!  Both my children swore blind they hadn’t eaten them and I must be senile because I hadn’t counted them properly! One of these days I’ll get some chocolates made with disgusting flavours in the centres and trick them!

So, what could I bake instead that wouldn’t take long to prepare?  I thought about a no bake cake as that could just set in the fridge while I baked something else.  I had white chocolate, Cadbury’s White Chocolate Fingers, digestive biscuits, double cream and a punnet of raspberries.  I had forgotten about the unopened pack of digestive biscuits lurking in the back of my baking cupboard from the last time I made Rocky Road.  Then the idea of a White Chocolate Fridge Cake came to me as soon as I saw the digestive biscuits.

WHITE CHOCOLATE AND RASPBERRY FRIDGE CAKE

Ingredients:

500g good quality white chocolate (I use Green and Blacks or Lindt)

3 large packets of Cadbury White Chocolate Fingers

400g Digestive biscuits

200ml double cream

250g raspberries

200g dark chocolate (good quality)

First, weigh out all the ingredients.

Then find a 20cm x 30cm traybake tin, preferably with a loose bottom and line it with cling film.  Make sure the cling film overhangs the sides of the tin.

When you have done this, melt the white chocolate over a pan of barely simmering water or in the microwave.  If you are melting the chocolate in the microwave, put the chocolate in for a minute on high, then take out and stir. Repeat for another 20-30 seconds then take out and then continue stirring until the chocolate has completely melted. Allow to cool for a little.

Stir in the double cream.

Break up the Digestive biscuits and the white chocolate fingers into small pieces. Don’t crush them completely but leave them in little pieces to add texture.  Stir into the melted cream and chocolate mixture.  Fold in the raspberries.

Tip the mixture into the prepared traybake tin and spread out with the back of a wooden spoon or a potato masher.  Put in the fridge to set for a couple of hours.

Later on, if you want to have a topping on your fridge cake melt 200g of dark chocolate in the same way as the white chocolate.  Leave to cool slightly, then snip a tiny hole off a disposible piping bag.  Pour the melted dark chocolate into the piping bag then drizzle chocolate over the top of the fridge cake.

Put back into the fridge to set for another half an hour.  When set, remove the fridge cake from the tin and slice into 16 pieces.  Best kept in the fridge until needed, though but I can guarantee it won’t last long.

 

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx

My Favourite Brownie Recipe

I just love baking brownies and they’re one of the first things to go when I have a stall.  Not that I’ve done many stalls recently.  My family love my brownies and they’re always popular when I’ve taken them into schools where I teach in the past.  I still laugh my head off from the marriage proposal I got once from a man who bought a pack of my brownies from my stall.  He came back about half an hour later having eaten the brownies, bought another pack and asked if he could marry me!  Sorry, but I’m already taken!

Anyway, it’s always fun baking brownies and I bake loads of different versions.  My most popular varieties are the plain ones, my Maya Gold ones and the Oreo cookie ones.  I experimented with using Green and Blacks Maya Gold chocolate in them a couple of years back and loved the taste.  I now have a baby niece called Maya so one day maybe I can teach Maya to bake them!  The Oreo cookie ones are so naughty but nice as well, though.

SmartCookieSam’s Favourite Brownies

100g  good quality chocolate of your choice

150g unsalted butter

125g plain flour

15g cocoa powder

300g soft light brown sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 pinch of salt

1/2 tsp baking powder

2 large, free range eggs

100g chopped nuts/ chocolate chips/ dried fruit, Oreo cookie pieces/ Smarties or similar.

This recipe is so adaptable.  For instance if you want to have mint brownies, use a good quality bar of mint chocolate.  I recommend Lindt Intense or one similar where the mint flavour comes from crispy bits, not fondant like an After Eight Mint.  Instead of vanilla extract, use a good quality peppermint extract. Just remember to keep the quantities the same.  Let your imagination run wild!

Preheat the oven to 180oC/ 350oF/ Gas 4.  Grease and line the base of a loose bottom square baking tin (mine is about 8″ square). I swear by Wilton Cake Release available from Lakeland to help here!

Break up the chocolate into squares and add the butter in cubes. Melt the butter and chocolate over a saucepan of barely simmering water or if you prefer use the microwave.  I must admit I use the microwave. I put the chocolate to melt for 1 minute, then take it out, stir it and put it back in for 10 second intervals. Works for me.

Allow the chocolate to cool slightly and then sieve the cocoa powder, plain flour, baking powder and salt into another mixing bowl.

In yet another mixing bowl, beat the eggs and add the brown sugar in, along with the vanilla extract.  Stir the ingredients together but until they are just combined. Make sure there isn’t any flour visible.

Finally, fold in the melted chocolate along with any additional ingredients, such as Oreo cookies.

Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin and bake in the centre of the oven for about 20 minutes.  Brownies should be chewy and gooey inside, so don’t overbake them.

Let the brownies cool in the tin before you cut them into squares.  I usually get 16 squares from a batch.  Now try to keep them from being scoffed all at once!

Happy Baking.

Love Sam xx

My Favourite Cookies.

Back in my favourite place.

Well hello everyone!  I’m back on my blogging after a break.  I’ve been teaching full time and there’s been no time at all to get jobs done at home, let alone having time to bake.  I really missed baking though, as that’s definitely my chill out and relax go-to activity. I broke up for the summer holidays yesterday and that means more time to bake.  Yayyy! Though my waistline won’t thank me for it!

On Sunday afternoon, though I had time to bake for the first time in a month at least. I baked cookies as an end of term treat for the class I’ve been teaching for the past few weeks. We had watched a DVD and half way through before playtime.we had a cookie break. I baked three types of cookies so they had a choice. The leftovers went into the staff room.

I’m sharing my fool-proof recipes for my cookies here.  They’re the recipes I always swear by and I always get compliments about them.

Chocolate Chip  or White Chocolate and Cranberry Cookies

Ingredients:

100g softened, unsalted butter

100g each of caster sugar and soft, light brown sugar

1 large egg

1 tsp vanilla extract

175g plain flour

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

100g dark or milk chocolate chips (whatever you prefer)

For the Cranberry and White chocolate cookies, add 100g of chopped white chocolate and 50g of dried cranberries into the mix instead of the dark chocolate chips.

Preheat the oven to 180oC/ 350oF or Gas Mark 4.  Line 3 baking trays with non- stick baking parchment.

In a large bowl, weigh out the butter in small cubes. To this, weigh out both sugars, the baking powder and the plain flour. Rub the mixture together until it resembles breadcrumbs.

Break the large egg into a cup and beat it. Add the beaten egg and the vanilla extract to the cookie dough and bring it all together with a blunt knife.  When the dough is nearly together, throw in the chocolate chips and cranberries, if using them.

If you wish, you can chill the dough in the fridge for about half an hour before baking the cookies.  I didn’t have time for this, though.

If you have one, use a cookie dough scoop to place the mixture on to the baking trays so that they are spaced evenly.  These cookies grow enormously, so I tend to only have 6 cookies on a tray. I usually get about 18 cookies out of a batch.  My cookie scoop broke so I use a tablespoon now to get evenly sized cookies.

Put the cookies into the oven. Depending on the size of your oven you might need to bake them in two goes. (I do, I would love to have a massive oven where I could bake hundreds at a time!)

Bake for about 12-15 minutes.  About half way through cooking, take the cookie tray out of the oven and give it a sharp bang on the top of the cooker.  This flattens the cookies out. A wonderful tip picked up from Great British Bake Off 2011 winner, Jo Wheatley.  Then return the cookies to the oven for the final 7-8 minutes.  The cookies should still be slightly soft and chewy. Don’t be tempted to move them straight off the baking tray as they’ll fall apart. Give them 5 minutes or so and then move them onto a wire rack to cool.

 

Chocolate M&M Cookies

The recipe above can also be adapted to use Smarties or M&Ms in.  I love M&Ms, especially the mint and the peanut butter ones.  The link to the mint recipe can be found here: Mint M&M Cookies

I chose to bake a plain version using an adaptation of the recipe above.  To bake them, this is what you need to do:

  • Instead of 175g plain flour, use 150g plain flour and 25g cocoa powder.
  • Substitute the chocolate chips and cranberries, etc. for a large “sharing” resealable type bag of M&Ms.  By the way, these bags make me laugh, Chocolate manufacturers know us only too well, once you open the damn things, that’s it!
  • I put half the quantity of M&Ms in the actual dough. Then halfway through baking when I tap the cookie tray on the top of the cooker, I stud about 3 or 4 extra M&Ms on the top of the cookie before returning them to the oven for the rest of the baking time. This makes sure the M&Ms don’t burn or split open and also ensures you get a good selection of colours on one cookie.
Baking chocolate chip, white chocolate and cranberry and M&M Cookies.

Hoping to share some more favourite cookie recipes with you over the summer.

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx

 

Pecan Pie Popcorn Naked Cake.

I love the trend for naked cakes (cakes with little or no icing on top). I have a sweet tooth but am finding a lot of buttercream and sugarpaste a bit too much when I eat it on a cake no matter how beautiful and delicious it looks.  This cake is the third and last cake I baked for our local village’s Spring Festival nearly a couple of weeks ago.  I had a full bag of pecan nuts which needed using up and also wanted to use up a bag of Sugar and Crumbs Toffee Apple Icing Sugar in the cupboard. These would work amazingly well with some Butterkist Toffee Popcorn to top the cake off.

I had already baked a carrot cake and a banana loaf as seen in my previous two blog posts.  By now it was Saturday afternoon and I still had to get this cake baked.  I needed to chop the pecan nuts and toast them first. This I did roughly with a small, sharp knife and then chucked them onto a baking tray. They were lightly toasted for about 10 minutes then left to cool down.

The cake itself was made by creaming together butter and sugar for a few minutes until the mixture became light and fluffy.  I used my hand held whisk to speed this up. After this I added in three eggs and half the quantity needed of milk, vanilla extract, self raising flour and baking powder. Then the rest was added in, all except I used four eggs the second time round making seven all together.  Once all the mixture was combined well, I folded in the toasted pecan nuts.

As you can see in the pictures, the cake is a triple layer cake. So I had to use three 20cm (8″) circular sandwich tins. These I greased and lined. I love the ready made baking parchment circles you can buy in varying diameters as they save the hassle of cutting out circles by hand when you’re pushed for time.

I was very impressed with the way the Popcorn Naked Cake turned out. Each layer rose beautifully in the tin and was left to cool down before turning out onto a rack.  While these were cooling down I made up some frosting.  It was a buttercream filling using butter, Toffee Apple Sugar and Crumbs Natural flavoured icing sugar and full fat cream cheese.  I know full fat cream cheese doesn’t sound healthy but using the low fat stuff just doesn’t work when you’re making icing. It goes all watery and separates. The icing was easy to spread and there was just enough to decorate the two filling layers and the top.  About half a packet of Toffee Butterkist popcorn adorned the top of the cake.

At the Spring Festival that afternoon after dropping off the three cakes I had baked my mum and I sampled two of my cakes. We cut each piece in half. Apart from the cream cheese icing in the Naked Pecan Popcorn Cake being a bit too sweet for me, the main cake was delicious.  I also had to watch the popcorn as I had refridgerated the cake and it did taste a little bit soggy. What I really needed to do was to have added the popcorn to the top just prior to serving the cake. Having said that, I’ll definitely be making this cake again. It tasted fabulous and looked it as well.

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx

Banana and Peanut Butter Loaf.

I’ve baked loads of recipes from Lorraine Pascale’s new book “Bake” now.  I’ve been really impressed with the range of recipes on offer from cakes to biscuits and desserts and savoury bakes.  I can’t bake as much as I’ve done in the past which does make me feel upset. But it doesn’t do me or my family’s health any good and also I just don’t have the time any more.  So baking for local happenings and for Clandestine Cake Club events is really special.

This Banana Loaf with Peanut Butter Frosting was the second cake I baked to donate to a local village’s Spring Festival on the May Day Bank Holiday weekend.  I love banana loaf and peanut butter but I’ve never attempted to use both these ingredients together in a cake before.

Lorraine says in her recipe introduction: “The bananas need to be super ripe for this cake recipe”. This is never a problem in our house. I always buy bananas in our weekly shop and it’s only really Mr SmartCookieSam that eats them. I like them but prefer berries on top of my porridge. Sometimes Mr SmartCookieSam puts them on his toast with peanut butter. I was lucky that there were two ripe bananas left which would be ideal to use in this recipe.

The main cake was very quick to bake.  I always use ready made loaf tin liners which are so easy to use. When the oven was preheating, I creamed together butter and sugar until it became light and fluffy. I then added one egg, followed by half the quantity of self raising flour needed. This was repeated with another egg and the remaining flour.  When all this was combined, in went two ripe mashed bananas.

The loaf was baked in the oven for about an hour.  I had to keep checking that the top didn’t over brown.  Thankfully it didn’t but I kept poking a skewer in the cake to check it was cooked.  Finally after an hour it was ready to come out.

The cake was put on a wire rack and left to cool down still with the loaf tin liner wrapped around it. I didn’t dare move it before just in case it made the whole blinking thing fall apart.

Later on that afternoon I made the Peanut Butter frosting.  I used Crunchy Peanut butter to add texture.  I prefer to use a sugar free brand, such as Whole Earth or Meridian.  There was no point in using a sugary one as I was already adding icing sugar to the frosting.  The frosting also used a little bit of butter and a small amount of cream cheese which gave it a delicious flavour.  This was simply all weighed out and mixed together with my hand held mixer.  The frosting was spread on the top of the cake with a palette knife.  To finish off I had bought a bag of salted peanuts to sprinkle on the top.  I had to hide the rest of the bag so I wasn’t tempted to eat them.

At the Spring Festival the following day I chose to buy a slice of the Banana and Peanut Butter Loaf to test it out (pictured above with a slice of my Pecan Pie Popcorn Naked Cake). My mum and I halved the slices of both cakes to check them out. I really enjoyed the banana loaf although I did find the frosting a bit on the sweet side. Since losing weight I’ve found my sweet tooth isn’t there as much as it used to be.

I’ll definitely bake the cake again.  It would also work well with chocolate chips sprinkled in the cake itself and on top of the cake instead of salted peanuts.

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx

Carrot and Apple Cake with a Maple Cream Cheese Frosting.

You can’t beat a good carrot cake can you? Well maybe there are lots of other favourite cakes out there but I can’t resist carrot cake.  I’ve baked lots of them over the years and tried different recipes.

I’ve been enjoying testing out a few recipes from Lorraine Pascale’s new book “Bake” recently.  Our neighbouring village had it’s Spring Festival a couple of weekends ago and I always like to donate a cake or few to the cafe that the PTA run in the primary school hall.  As my son went to that school a few years back I always like to support it as he had such a happy time there.

Carrot Cakes always seem to be popular with lots of people and this one from Lorraine Pascale was no exception. This version contains not only grated carrots but also some grated apple.  This works extremely well with carrot and adds some natural sweetness. To add maple syrup to the cream cheese frosting was also a delicious touch which worked really well.

On the Saturday morning, the day before the Spring Festival I got up really early.  It had been a crazy busy week working full time teaching a Reception class in a local school and I was due to be there another week afterwards.   The night before I had gone off to bed at 9.30pm absolutely exhausted and laid there thinking would I have time to get everything done over the weekend? Thank heavens it was a Bank Holiday that weekend. I was up at 6am and was already baking.  I had to be at my beauty therapist friend’s house for my appointment at 10am and I had to have a headstart.  I find if I get up early without distractions then I get loads done.

I was so grateful to the grating attachment on my new food processor to help me out with grating the carrots and the apple.  I don’t mind grating by hand but I was in a rush and getting a machine to do the hard work really helped to cut the time down.  The carrots and apple came out a little bit chunkier than I would have liked but it did add to the texture of the cake.  In other carrot cakes I’ve added walnuts or pecan nuts but this one doesn’t contain nuts at all. It doesn’t have any dried fruit in either, like raisins or sultanas.

The recipe itself is simple to put together as all the ingredients are weighed out and put into one bowl.  This includes using vegetable oil as the fat instead of butter as is traditionally seen in a carrot cake or a muffin mixture.  Along with this was some light brown soft sugar, eggs, the apple and carrot, some self raising flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, mixed spice, cinnamon and some vanilla extract.

When all the batter had been mixed together it was divided between two greased and lined circular loose bottomed sandwich tins. The cakes were then baked in my oven for about 30-35 minutes at around 160oC in my fan oven. While they were baking I went upstairs, sorted out some washing, put some washing away and tried to get my son’s uniform ironed for work. All while I kept an eye and an ear out for the oven timer.

Half an hour or so later the cakes were ready and out of the oven.  I left them to cool in their tins on the work top on top of a wire rack and headed down to see my friend to get my nails done.

In the afternoon I got round to decorating the carrot cake.  The frosting was a traditional cream cheese one but with the addition of maple syrup. Maple syrup goes beautifully with carrot cake and I was happy I had just enough in the cupboard from pancake day.  I’m not the neatest cake decorator and to be honest I found it really tricky to keep my frosting neat. My mum was standing next to me watching me ice it and she got her fork out and fluffed up the icing.  This wasn’t the original way I wanted to decorate the cake with neat, smooth edges but the more I tried to smooth the icing the more it wanted to fall off!  To finish off I used a dozen sugar carrots bought from a pack found in the supermarket a few weeks back.

The following morning I dropped all three cakes baked down at the school.  They were gratefully received and to help the servers in the cafe I pre-cut the cakes for them.  When my mum and I went back down to the festival a couple of hours later I noticed that the carrot cake had completely gone. It had sold out.  That made me so happy.

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx