Coffee and Walnut Sponge Cake from Delia’s Cakes

I’m beginning to catch up with my blog posts now, this week has been a bit of a mix up as I’ve been recovering from a minor operation.  Thankfully all went well and I’m more or less back to normal now despite still feeling tired.

The operation took place on Monday but before that I had a very busy few days.  It was my birthday followed by Open Gardens in our village.  So this meant a lot of baking but then again those of you who know me, know that I love any excuse to stick my apron on and to switch the oven on.

A week last Thursday was my last day at work before my birthday and I wanted to take a cake to share with my colleagues.  It was a toss up between a carrot cake and a coffee cake as I was choosing a recipe from my latest Cooking The Books Challenge.  Having said that I had got in late after a busy day at work and didn’t want anything too time consuming after spending time on the tea.  So that meant the carrot cake was out as I just couldn’t be bothered to grate all those carrots.  The Coffee and Walnut Sponge it was then, my choice of cake from the Sponge Cakes chapter.

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I started off by sifting self raising flour and baking powder into a mixing bowl.  I then remembered I hadn’t got the right cake tins out and looked through my very messy cake tin drawer.  What a surprise the tins I needed were right at the bottom of the deep drawer and loads of tins came crashing down onto the floor before I could get  hold of them.  It made a right din and my hubby came into the kitchen to see what had happened.  Thankfully no harm was done! Finally I got the tins out, lined and greased and ready for the cake mix!

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After this I added in some soft butter, eggs, caster sugar and some expresso coffee powder.  It was mixed together thoroughly with my hand held mixer.  Once this was blended together I threw in some chopped walnuts and mixed them evenly.  The mixture was divided equally between the two tins and put into the oven to bake.

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After about 25 minutes out came the baked cakes.  They were given some time to cool down and then I turned them out onto a wire rack.  They smelled absolutely delicious and I just couldn’t wait to dive in!004

Next, it was on with the icing.  Usually when I bake Coffee and Walnut cakes I ice them with a coffee buttercream but as this cake according to Delia is a “revised, more contemporary version of one of the original sponge cake in an earlier book… since the advent of mascarpone the icing is a great improvement”  As a huge Tiramisu fan, I love the taste of mascarpone and I know it goes well with coffee.  So I just knew it would work in this icing.  The mascarpone, some more coffee granules, caster sugar and a little milk were mixed together to make a spreadable icing.

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Half the icing was spread inside the cake and the rest on top of the cake.  I wish, but this is a personal preference is that I would like to have made more icing to spread more thickly on the top of the cake!  It tasted heavenly. As a final touch, on went some walnut halves.006

I took the cake into work and it went down well.  I will definitely bake it again, the mascarpone icing was absolutely gorgeous.

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx

Garlic and Coriander Naan Bread.

About two weeks ago I was going to cook Prawn Korma for dinner but forgot to buy some prawns.  I rushed off to Morrisons and forgot my shopping list.  I couldn’t even remember what I’d planned for dinner that night so we ended up with me buying some chicken breasts and a spice kit to help me make chicken tikka masala.  It tasted great and I was pleased even my fussy son enjoyed it.  One to try again sometime!

When we get Indian takeaways we love naan breads and chapatis but I’ve never had the courage to make them myself.  When I made some chilli and halloumi cheese flatbreads last year I was gobsmacked by how easy they were to make and how my family devoured them.  Of course being homemade they tasted much better too.  So I thought I would love to have a go at making naan bread as I had been told by my friend at work that they were really easy to make.  She was right!

The recipe I used was from the  book to accompany the very first series of The Great British Bake Off back in 2010- The Great British Book Of Baking.

Here’s how they were made:

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Plain flour, salt, water and natural yoghurt was put into a large mixing bowl and combined together to create dough.
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Here is the naan bread dough.
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Now for the naan’s flavouting- I used freshly chopped garlic and some chopped coriander.
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After an hour of leaving the dough to ferment in the mixing bowl which was left in my warm kitchen, I chopped the dough into eight equal portions to make the individual naan breads.
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I think you are meant to grill the naan breads but I put them in my small non stick frying pan one by one. They cooked for about 2 minutes on each side then I kept them warm in the oven while the rest were cooking.
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A plate of delicious naans. Well worth the effort.

Everyone in our house loved the naan breads and I’m so glad I tried making them.  They tasted much better than any bought ones and were great for mopping up leftover sauce from our curry.  I might try them again but with chilli and garlic or even with coconut.

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx

Promotion! 25% off Tickets for the BBC Cakes And Bakes Show- October 2014!

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Last week I was delighted to get an email from BBC Good Food asking if I would like to run a promotion on my blog.  As I have recently been to the Good Food Show in Harrogate and really enjoyed it I was excited to see there’s going to be a Bakes And Cakes Show in London this October.  I was planning on going along anyway as it ties in with half term week but even more exciting, I’ve been asked to run a promotion as a keen baking blogger.

The Good Food Bakes and Cakes Show will be held between 25th and 27th October 2014 at The Business Design Centre in Islington.  I’ve been given a promotional code which you can use to get your 25% off the entry ticket to the show.  I’m really looking forward to going and maybe I might get chance to meet up with you!

If you want to find out more about The Bakes And Cakes Show there is lots more information on their website :

http://www.bbcgoodfoodbakesandcakesshow.com/

Also, if you want to keep up to date with any other offers or things that are happening at the show, there is a link to a Newsletter you can sign up to if you want, more details here.

In the meantime, here is some information I was given about the BBC Good Food Bakes and Cakes Show to whet your appetite!  I can’t wait myself, especially as there’s going to be a whole host of baking heroes/ heroines there such as Mary Berry, Paul Hollywood and John Whaite!

The BBC Good Food Bakes & Cakes Show, sponsored by Lexus, launches at the beautiful Business Design Centre in Islington, London from 25-27 October 2014. Bringing the popular BBC Good Food Bakes & Cakes title to life, the show will be packed with baking, bread-making and cake-crafting demonstrations, free master classes, and hundreds of products to get you baking like a pro.

PLUS! Don’t miss out on seeing your favourite baking stars, LIVE at the show! Every full day adult ticket includes a seat for the Bakes & Cakes Theatre, where you can watch Mary Berry, Mich Turner, John Whaite, Paul Hollywood, and other expert bakers in LIVE 30 minute baking and technique demos.

Whether you’re new to baking or a seasoned baking veteran, the BBC Good Food Bakes & Cakes Show is the perfect place to meet bakers, cake-crafters and confectioners, learn new skills, and pick up all the essentials you need to develop your home baking hobby.

Tickets are now on sale! Just quote EBPAR1 when purchasing to receive 25% off tickets or Click here!

Looking forward to seeing you there!  Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx

Mary Berry’s Marbled Chocolate Ring Cake.

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Mary Berry’s Marbled Chocolate Ring Cake as featured in her Baking Bible. Baked by me, decorated by my daughter.

Last Sunday I wanted to make a pudding for Sunday lunch.  Funnily enough it turned into an evening meal as we had a late breakfast so skipped lunch completely.  It wasn’t even going to be a chocolate based pudding, I wanted to bake the Venetian Zabaglione Cake from Delia’s Cakes.  But when you start reading the ingredients list and realise on a Sunday afternoon that you need double cream and Marsala wine, well what can you do?

So I had to choose something else.  There were two bars of plain chocolate left in my baking cupboard and a load of chocolate sprinkles.  I had the ingredients for Mary Berry’s Marbled Chocolate Ring Cake which I could bake in my bundt tin and also it was a recipe I missed off last month’s Cooking The Books Challenge due to lack of time! The cake looked so inviting I just had to have a go.  I didn’t have any extra milk chocolate for drizzling on the top so I had to make do with what was in my cupboard.  Thankfully I had a tub of chocolate sprinkles!

 Here’s how it was made:

Softened butter, caster sugar, large free range eggs, self raising flour and baking powder were weighed out into a large bowl first of all.
Softened butter, caster sugar, large free range eggs, self raising flour and baking powder were weighed out into a large bowl first of all.
In a small bowl I mixed together some cocoa powder and hot water to make a stiff paste.
In a small bowl I mixed together some cocoa powder and hot water to make a stiff paste.
The cake mix was whisked together thoroughly.
The cake mix was whisked together thoroughly.
The cake mix was spooned into my prepared tin. Afterwards the cocoa paste was dotted in and gently swirled together.
The cake mix was spooned into my prepared tin. Afterwards the cocoa paste was dotted in and gently swirled together.
After about 40 minutes the cake was brought out of the oven.  I was pleased to see the marble pattern showing!
After about 40 minutes the cake was brought out of the oven. I was pleased to see the marble pattern showing!
The cake turned out onto the cooling rack.  Thank heavens it came out of the tin without any problems sticking.
The cake turned out onto the cooling rack. Thank heavens it came out of the tin without any problems sticking.
My daughter asked if she could decorate the cake.
My daughter asked if she could decorate the cake.

My 16 year old daughter came downstairs during a break from revising for her GCSE’s and asked if she could decorate the cake.  I let her and told her to have a look in my baking cupboard for decorations instead of the milk chocolate drizzle.  I had some chocolate sprinkles in a tub and some rainbow sugar but she opted for the chocolate.  I told her Mary’s cake had the icing spread so it completely covered the cake.  She told me she just wanted to spread it on the top and it looked great with the extra bits.  I couldn’t wait to cut the cake and eat some.

It was worth the wait.  A lovely chocolatey hit without being too sweet or overpowering.  I really enjoyed it with a tablespoonful of creme fraiche.  Perfect for a family dessert or a fabulous birthday cake offering!

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx

A slice cut ready for pudding.  It tasted very nice with a dollop of creme fraiche on the side.
A slice cut ready for pudding. It tasted very nice with a dollop of creme fraiche on the side.
Leftovers for another day!
Leftovers for another day!

Chocolate Marbled Energy Bars from Delia’s Cakes.

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In my monthly challenge “Cooking The Books“, where I choose a favourite baking book and bake one recipe from each chapter throughout that month, I thought I would have no problem at all in choosing a recipe from the Chocolate chapter.   After all I am a total chocolholic!  This month’s turn is to bake from Delia Smith’s fantastic and much loved “Delia’s Cakes”.  I have already fallen in love with her Chocolate Beer Cake but had to choose something else that would go down well at my neighbouring village’s Spring Festival.

I decided to go with the Chocolate Energy Bars  as they reminded me of a cross between a flapjack and chocolate fridge cake!  Whenever I have run cake stalls before, these always fly off and sell out!  So the Chocolate Energy Bars it just had to be.  Delia says in her introduction to the recipe that she “made them on TV with Dawn French for Comic Relief” and that “school children were making them all over the country to raise money and they were very popular”  I’m not surprised.  Judging by the beautiful picture to accompany the recipe, I would happily sink my teeth into a huge chunk of this!

So both my mum and I got on with baking this for our neighbouring village’s Spring Festival.  This was to be the last of the four bakes I chose to take along as my contribution to the cafe in the village school hall.   I noticed that pecan nuts were on the ingredients list but I thought I would put in crushed digestive biscuits instead of nuts in case it would put children off and what with allergy worries. I also didn’t have any Bran Flakes which were also needed for the recipe.  I can’t stand Bran Flakes, so I doubled the quantity of Rice Krispies that were needed.  The rest of the ingredients stayed the same: dried apricots, raisins, etc.  The recipe also called for molasses syrup.  I thought molasses was like black treacle but I didn’t have any so I substituted in golden syrup instead.  After all, you put golden syrup in flapjacks don’t you?

First I had to put all the dry ingredients into a big bowl.  In a small saucepan I heated up some condensed milk with the golden syrup.  I was surprised that you only needed to use half a tin of condensed milk.  It didn’t seem very much fluid at all to coat all the dried fruit and cereals.  In fact I thought the mixture was a bit dry and wondered whether to add in the rest of the condensed milk but wanted to stick to the recipe.  Then the mixture was  spooned into my traybake tin and baked in the oven for about 25 minutes.

 Once it had been let out and cooled I started to melt the chocolate for the topping.  In one bowl I melted white chocolate in my microwave, followed by some dark chocolate.  Even though it was exactly the same quantity it looked like I had far more dark than white chocolate!

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Now for the tricky bit!  Here was where it was all about the taste and not the appearance.  Instead of the bars being easy to cut with a sharp knife I found the whole thing just broke in half diagonally as I tried to turn it out of the tin.  The air was blue in my kitchen!  Then I spread the chocolate on, not looking as pretty as it looked like in Delia’s picture.  My mum and I tried to cut the traybake into even bars but in the end we decided on little squares.  Perhaps it was too crumbly and messy because we needed more fluid to bind the mixture together. It definitely wasn’t overbaked or anything like that.  Into the fridge it went and I hoped and prayed people would buy some the next day.

Whether people did buy some to try I don’t know.  I tried a piece and I thought it was too dry for my liking, though I liked the flavour combination and the chocolate on top.

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx

Chocolate Orange Biscuits From Delia’s Cakes.

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Even though the title of Delia Smith’s book is called Delia’s Cakes, it also includes recipes for lots of different biscuits and cookies.  I love baking biscuits (and stuffing them down my gob as fast as I bake them too!).  So I had loads of recipes I wanted to choose from to bake for, for the Biscuits chapter as part of my monthly Cooking The Books Challenge.

But, the Chocolate Orange biscuits stood out for me in the end.  It was the recipe introduction that did it for me.  Delia says “If you like chocolate and orange as a combination, then forget Jaffa Cakes. These are in a completely different class,”  How could you forget Jaffa Cakes?  All my family love them, especially my fourteen year old son.  I love Terry’s Chocolate Oranges too, so it’s a win win combination.  I just had to bake these even though they weren’t going to be eaten by us, they were off down to the neighbouring village’s Spring Festival to be served in the cafe with the coffee and teas in the school!  I hoped temptation wouldn’t get the better of me!

A week last  Saturday, the afternoon was beautiful and sunny.  My children had gone off into Leeds with friends and my mum had just arrived for the weekend as it was also my son’s birthday.  My mum offered to help me in the kitchen.  We set to with our baking and enjoyed our relaxing afternoon.

First I had to chop up a 100g bar of plain chocolate into small chunks.  Delia says to use chopped dark chocolate but I suppose chocolate chips would be fine.  After that I grated the zest of two oranges into a small bowl and squeezed one half of one of the oranges as I needed a tablespoonful of orange juice to add to the mixture.

After that I started on the actual biscuits themselves.  I beat spreadable butter and caster sugar together until it became light and creamy, followed by flour and some baking powder.  The mixture didn’t need an egg to combine it together as the fluid came from the orange juice. This gave it a nice smell and I was tempted to stick my finger in the mix and lick some dough.  I had to restrain myself though.

Once the dough had come together it had to be rolled out.  I find this difficult with mixtures containing fruit and chocolate as the cutter edge always seems to be where there’s a giant sultana or chocolate piece that won’t cut.  You end up with jagged lumps.  After managing to get 2 dozen cookies out of the dough I was pleased and they were put on the baking trays ready to be baked.

After the cookies came out the oven they went onto my cooling rack once I’d given them 5 minutes resting time on the oven tray.  The heavenly aroma was just far too tempting.  But I knew they weren’t for us!

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The chocolate orange cookies all ready and packed in a plastic box to take down to the Spring Festival.

Once they were cooled down, my mum put the cookies into a spare box for me.  We left them overnight ready for the Spring Festival the following day.  Unfortunately, my greedy son stole two cookies from the box.  He asked if he could have one on the Sunday morning.  I said no as they were for the Spring Festival but he helped himself anyway when I went upstairs.  He thinks I can’t count and I wouldn’t miss them.  I went ballistic!  Thank heavens they hadn’t been for a special order or anything.

I’m not sure how well the cookies sold at the cafe in the Spring Festival.  When my mum and I popped in for a cup of tea and cake in the afternoon there were still loads of cakes and biscuits left.  I didn’t taste one but they did look fine to me.  I will definitely bake them again.

Happy baking!

Love Sam xx

Blueberry and Pecan Muffin Cake from Delia’s Cakes.

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Blueberry and Pecan Muffin Cake: recipe from Delia’s Cakes.

This is the second recipe I baked from Delia’s Cakes as part of my monthly Cooking The Books Challenge.  I baked four recipes this weekend as I wanted to bake and donate some cakes to the cafe at my son’s old Primary school where they serve tea and cake during the village Spring Festival.

I love blueberries and any excuse to bake with them and there’s a couple of other posts on here with blueberry cakes.  But this cake with the addition of pecan nuts and a crumbly topping just made my mouth water from the picture.   I thought it would be a great bake to send down to the Spring Festival as not everyone likes fancy decorated cakes.  To be honest even though I love cake decorating,  it’s all about the taste for me!

First I greased my springform cake tin with Dr Oetker Cake Release Spray and lined it with a baking parchment circle.  The oven was still on from the previous bake at the right temperature so I got on straightaway with the weighing out.  All the dry ingredients were sifted together in a large mixing bowl- starting with plain flour, then I added some baking powder and cinnamon to the mixture.  In another bowl I mixed together some milk, melted butter, eggs and sugar.  These two mixtures were combined carefully and folded with a metal spoon.  Finally I added some blueberries.

The mixture was quickly spooned into the tin and then I added the crunchy crumbly topping.  This was some chopped pecan nuts, some more blueberries and a sprinkling of demerara sugar.  Into the oven it went for around an hour.  After an hour my mum checked the cake and it felt springy to the touch so she took it out of the oven and let it cool down.

I thought the cake looked a bit flat compared to other cakes but then when I checked the picture out in the book, thankfully there wasn’t much difference.  When it was cooled down I dusted the top of it with icing sugar and put it away in a box ready to be taken down to the Spring Festival.

Although I had been concerned about no one wanting to buy my Raspberry Cupcakes I noticed that my Blueberry Muffin cake had been cut up into 8 slices and by the end of the day they had all gone.  My son’s former teacher was eating the last slice of it when I was chatting to her on her stall in the playground and I was so grateful to hear her say it was delicious! My mum said to me afterwards that she thought people are turning away from the heavily decorated cupcakes and going for more plain things.  I agree with her.  I love the look of cupcakes but I always have a massive headache after eating loads of that buttercream!

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Delia says “Any of my muffin recipes can be adapted to any fruit and blueberries have always been popular so in this recipe I decided instead of making muffins, I’d use the mixture to make a cake, which has turned out to be a real winner!” I can definitely agree with that, Delia!

So, this cake in my opinion was a real success and one I would love to bake time and time again.  I think it would work well with raspberries and apples as well.  Watch this space!

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx