Chocolate and Salted Caramel Brownies: Amazing Cakes #18

Whenever I take brownies to work they always go down really well. I get fed up of baking the same things over and over again and like to try new things, though.

When I was looking through Amazing Cakes From The Great British Bake Off and thinking what I’d like to make next, I found a brownie recipe in the Chocolate Chapter for Chocolate and Salted Caramel Brownies. I’ve made Salted Caramel Brownies before but have done it with a ready made jar of caramel sauce. I’ve never had the confidence to bake it myself. So I thought I’d have a go.

First, I had to make the salted caramel sauce. This was made by heating caster sugar and butter until it dissolved and melted then adding double cream to the pan. This was then brought to the boil and kept on a rolling boil until thickened. You had to stir the mixture constantly so that the caramel didn’t go grainy or stick to the bottom of the pan. It seemed to take absolutely ages to get to where I wanted it to be and then it looked more like fudge than caramel! When it was ready, I let it cool down while I made the main part of the brownies.

Compared to my regular brownie recipe, this recipe contains more chocolate. I used a mixture of dark and milk chocolate mainly because that was all I had in my cupboard. Lindt had had a special offer on their 100g bars in Morrisons so I bought two dark bars and two milk ones. Usually I only use one bar of one kind of chocolate and add in some little extras, such as chocolate chips or nuts. The rest of the ingredients were the same: brown sugar, eggs, plain flour, baking powder and butter. I didn’t use cocoa powder either.

As with all brownie recipes I always start by melting the chocolate and butter together. To the melted butter and chocolate I add the caster sugar and mix that in, followed by beaten eggs. I did not add any vanilla extract this time either. Finally, I folded in the flour and baking powder.

I spooned all the brownie mixture into a prepared loose bottomed square tin. The caramel was then spooned into the mixture and poked in so that it wasn’t just sitting on the top. It did look very pretty with its marble effect.

After half an hour’s baking the brownies were ready. I left them to cool down on the wire rack while I started making dinner.

Whenever I make brownies I find that I’m asked “Can I have one?” before I’ve even cut them up. This was no exception. I cut them up then made sure that I took four out for my family before boxing the rest up for work.

These were so yummy that I will make these again. I think I’ll cheat and use a ready made sauce if I’m short of time, though!

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx

Amazing Cakes #17: Traditional Fruit Cake

I was far too disorganised to bake my Christmas Cake early, let alone on Stir Up Sunday! I got as far as buying and mixing the dried fruit up and soaking it in some port on that day. I did manage my Christmas pudding as that steamed away in my slow cooker while I did other things. I was even thinking of not making a Christmas cake at all this year. Things as you know are very different this year and it will just be my own household for Christmas: Mr S, myself and our two grown up children. Neither of my children like Christmas cake. Mr S and I like it but by the time we get round to eating it in the New Year I am always on my usual New Year Diet!

Last year’s Christmas Cake leftovers are still in the same tin I put them in back in January. We had one slice each I think on New Year’s Day after I had cut some off for my mum to have. I think I love making the Christmas Cake just to decorate it to be honest! Last year’s cake was decorated with Christmas roses and holly leaves but I just do not have the time this year. Mr S suggested buying a small cake from M&S. I was outraged! Telling a cake baker to buy a cake is not what you do and although I love M&S food and their cakes are lovely, there’s nothing like homemade.

In the end I decided on a compromise. I would like something like a Christmas cake but with smaller bitesize portions and less marzipan and icing. So I found a recipe in the Amazing Cakes book which would do just that. There is a recipe for a traditional fruit cake but there are adaptations to and ingredient quantities for baking the cake in various size tins. I was pleased to see one option was for a shallow traybake cake. This meant I could cut the cake into tiny amounts and only be able to ice the top as well.

Finally, my cake was baked last Monday morning when I had a day off work. I was at home catching up and so glad I could finally put all that dried fruit soaking into a cake instead of seeing it in a bowl covered in a clean tea towel on the worktop.

Now you may be wondering why I had soaked my dried fruit in port when usually it is traditional to soak it in brandy. Well that’s because I forgot to get some brandy and we had a bottle of port left over from Christmas last year. We ended up with two bottles of it given to us and it’s not something we really drink much of except at Christmas. I have a port with my Christmas pudding or with cheese and that’s about it! So the dried fruit was soaked in some port and it did smell lovely. I will feed the cake once a week until I get round to icing it nearer Christmas.

To start the cake itself I had to melt butter and dark brown sugar in a pan on the hob. The recipe asked for molasses sugar but I couldn’t find any so used dark brown muscovado sugar instead. Once this had melted I took it off the heat.

I then weighed out some plain flour and various spices, such as ginger, cinnamon and ground mixed spice. The mixed spice was in place of ground cloves and nutmeg as I wanted to use what I had in the cupboard. Then I added beaten eggs and the whole mixture was carefully folded in before spooning carefully into my prepared traybake tin.

As it was a traybake tin, the cake’s cooking time was a lot shorter had it been in a different and deeper tin. It only needed roughly about an hour but I checked with a skewer.

The cake doesn’t look all that attractive and looks very bumpy but I am sure it will look much better once it is decorated! I will update the post as soon as that’s done nearer Christmas.

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx

Lime and Coconut Drizzle Bundt Cake: Amazing Cakes #16

Those of you who know me might remember that I have an addiction to collecting Nordicware Bundt pans. I haven’t got as many pans as some people but I have enough to drive Mr S to wish he could flog them all on Ebay! To me, they are pretty and stylish and make an ordinary cake even more exciting to look at. To me, a bundt pan is a thing of beauty.

Recently though, I have had a spate of bundt pan disasters. I know I’m not the only one as I discovered online but it still is heartbreaking when you spend ages and also lots of money on ingredients to find the blinking thing sticks in the tin or falls apart when you try to get it out of the pan. It got to the stage where I was getting so frustrated and it was happening with recipes I had used before!

I am currently having a go at different recipes in the 2019 Great British Bake Off book: Amazing Cakes From The Great British Bake Off. A couple of weeks ago we were at home on the Sunday afternoon and I wanted to bake something I could share at work. I looked through the book and also at what I had in the cupboards and the fridge. I noticed we had some limes which needed using up. Why I had bought three limes I don’t know. I might buy one to cut up in my weekend gin and tonic or to enhance a recipe but not three. So a recipe using limes was a good idea.

Phil who was one of the bakers from the 2019 GBBO series and made a Lime and Coconut Drizzle Bundt Cake on one of the programmes. His recipe is in the Amazing Cakes book and was pictured in the Nordicware Heritage Bundt pan. I love using my Heritage pan and it’s the first pan I bought when I started back full time teaching in 2015. Before that I only had a couple of pans and they had been presents as I couldn’t justify spending it out of my earnings.

Back to this particular Sunday afternoon and I got all the ingredients out of the cupboard. I then started to prep the limes by zesting them and then juicing them. My zester is actually a fine grater which works better than the zester I have. It comes out a lot finer.

To make the cake itself I creamed butter and sugar together until it became light and creamy. I then added in eggs one by one and carefully mixed them in followed by self raising flour and some desiccated coconut. After this I folded in the juice and zest of one of the limes, keeping the other two for the drizzle and decoration to follow.

The cake baked in the oven for 40 minutes approx. This seemed to be much less cooking time than an ordinary bundt cake recipe and even so it came out a little too well done in places. The oven was on at the right temperature: 160oC fan!

Meanwhile I made up a little bit of lime crunch to sprinkle on the top of the cake. This was done by spreading the zest of two limes and some caster sugar mixed up out flat on some baking paper to dry out. Then on with the drizzle which was made up of lime juice and sifted icing sugar. This was ready to be poured onto the cake when it was still warm from the oven. To get an even drizzle, I poke holes in the warm cake with a skewer so that the drizzle syrup soaks the sponge and keeps it moist.

I also made a runny icing glaze to go on the top of the cake and to pour down the sides. This was also with icing sugar mixed with lime juice but there was far more icing sugar to juice here. To pour it evenly I used a plastic bottle with a nozzle to help me. This was put onto the cake when it had cooled down or else it would have soaked into the cake. To finish off, I sprinkled on some of the lime zest crunch. I didn’t need it all in the end.

The cake tasted delicious and moist. A lovely zesty combination of the lime and the coconut which is a good all round bake which was a hit with everyone. I will definitely bake this again!

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx