Apple Amber Cake

I cannot believe how lazy I’ve been about my blogging recently.  Life has just been so hectic and every time I try to sit down and write something, there’s always something else to do.  I’ve also started on a diet, so I have been trying my hardest not to bake as much. This is torture to me as I really miss it.  So I made a deal with myself. I  said I would bake only for Cake Club or for special occasions. Famous last words: I lasted 4 days after joining Slimming World!  It got to Sunday lunch time and I was working my way through a massive bag of beautiful rosy apples my Dad and step mum had given me.  I just had to bake something and found the perfect recipe in Miranda Gore Browne’s book Bake Me A Cake As Fast As You Can.

Apple Amber is a traditional Irish pudding which is a bit like an Apple Meringue Pie.  Miranda’s recipe is a cake version where the base is a whisked lemon sponge.  The apples are spooned on top as a filling and then the meringue goes on top and is baked in the oven.  It sounded too mouthwatering for words.

First, I had to make the apple filling.  This I tried to do on the Sunday morning when really I should have been finishing off my pile of ironing.  The ironing basket was getting as tall as the Empire State Building but that didn’t stop me from baking!  I used 3 apples as they were quite small and finely chopped them.  Miranda had said to grate them but I find grating things hard work. So I peeled the apples, cored and sliced them into little cubes. They were then put into a pan to stew with some sugar.  As my apples were eaters and quite sweet, I drastically reduced the sugar but added in lemon juice.  Once the apples were pureed down a bit, I took them off the heat and stirred in two egg yolks.

Miranda suggests using a springform cake tin but I couldn’t find the right size one in my cupboard. I just used a normal circular tin but a deep one I use for Christmas cakes.  This gave me enough depth for the lemon sponge cake base, the filling and the meringue part.  As the filling was cooling, I started on the cake part. I whisked butter and sugar together in my KitchenAid, then added in some vanilla extract and two more egg yolks.  While this was whisking away I weighed out the dry ingredients for the cake. I used self raising flour, baking powder and some lemon zest. Finally I added in some milk.

The cake baked very quickly in my fan oven and only took about 20 minutes. I felt the time passed by in a flash as I was doing the meringue part while the sponge was cooking.  Apart from smashing an egg on the work top and then making a mess of separating another egg, I finally managed to make some meringue.  I’m getting better at meringues but sometimes I worry about burning them.

At last it was time to assemble the whole cake together and finish it off in the oven.  I spooned the apple mixture on top of the sponge still in its cake tin and then finally on went the meringue.  I wanted it to look like a big snowy mountain but it just looked like a big mess.  I just hoped it would taste nice.  Back into the oven it went for 15 minutes.

When the cake was ready to come out it smelled wonderful in my kitchen.  I gave it time to cool down before attempting to get the cake out of the tin.  It slid out easily apart from one tiny bit of sponge which got stuck to the side of the tin.  I had greased it, too.

Later on I served the Apple Amber Cake up for pudding.  I had a tiny mouthful and found it quite sugary, even with my sweet tooth. Funnily enough Mr SmartCookieSam, who doesn’t have a sweet tooth liked it and over the next couple of days had more slices of it.  My son ate the cake and meringue bit and left the fruit! I will definitely have a go at baking it again but was wondering if there was a way of reducing the sugar content in the meringue and the apple puree so that it didn’t taste so sweet.

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx

Apple Scone Round

img_0522Last week my Dad and step mum gave me a bag of beautiful looking apples from the tree in their garden. I was delighted with them as the apples on my own tree in my front garden aren’t quire ready yet. The apples are a bit small and hard at the moment. To top all that, Mr SmartCookieSam had to prune the tree a couple of weeks back as our greedy and nosy Labrador worked out a way that he could shake the tree to make apples fall down. He had a great time doing this until he ended up hurting his tail after jumping up at the tree! I’ll have to see if they are worth using in a couple of weeks time.

Every year I think about what I could bake with the apples and I get fed up of the same things. Of course crumbles and pies work well and I did make a few different apple cakes. But sometimes you just want to try something different.  I gor out my recipe books and looked for all the apple recipes I could find.

One simple but delicious recipe is one I’ve baked before but never actually made it at home. In my previous post about Cheesy Feet I mentioned about working in a school and running a Cookery Club. This was a big success and wherever possible we tried to use fruit and veg that was grown in the school garden.  We did have an apple tree which on one year only produced two apples. So we made a big thing of using the two apples in a yummy apple scone round.

The original apple scone round recipe comes from the very first Great British Bake Off recipe book published back in 2010 to accompany the first series: The Great British Book Of Baking.

It’s a great recipe and I found it perfect for baking with children.

First, you need to peel, chop and core some apple. I used two medium sized ones. I put the chopped apple to one side in a bowl but worked quickly so that the apple didn’t start to turn brown. Then in another bowl I rubbed in butter, self raising flour, bicarbonate of soda and cinnamon to create a breadcrumb texture. Then some demarera sugar was added to sweeten the mixture.  When this was done I added a little bit of whole milk bit by bit until it formed a manageable ball of dough.

On a large baking sheet covered in baking parchment, I put the dough but flattened it out gently until it was about 20cm in diameter. I then got a knife and divided the scone into 8 by scoring the lines on the top of the dough.  Into the oven it went for about 20 minutes.

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Ready for the oven.
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Apple Scone Round; a great way of using all those leftover apples.
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A slice of apple scone with a cup of tea and some Cheddar cheese.

To get the best out of the flavour and taste, as with all scones it is best to eat them warm and fresh.  As I’d baked the scone round on a late Saturday afternoon and was going out for dinner, we didn’t eat any til the following day. It was ok but probably should have been eaten straightaway. A great serving suggestion popular round my way is to serve it with a slice of cheese: something like Cheddar or Wensleydale would work well. Failing that, it would also be delicious with a good dollop of clotted cream on the side.

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx

 

 

Apple and Blackberry Loaf Cake- A Passion For Baking.

I’ve probably mentioned before that I’m a big fan of Jo Wheatley who won the Great British Bake Off back in 2011.  I love baking from her two recipe books and her Apple and Blackberry Loaf Cake is absolutely gorgeous.   I have baked this recipe a couple of times before but last week I planned to bake it for the parents at school where I work.  When the new starters settle into school we have a Welcome Mass in church and then the parents are invited back for tea or coffee.  I usually bake some goodies to treat the parents.

I wanted to bake something seasonal and using fruit from my garden.  I have a small apple tree in my front garden with some eating apples on it but my greedy labrador has worked out a way of shaking the tree so an apple will fall off and he can get it! No apples for us then, so I used ones from the supermarket but I did manage to get the blackberries from the hedge in my garden.

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Blackberries picked from the hedge in my back garden.

Anyway, last week was very stressful in lots of ways.  It started off with a powercut in our village on the Sunday night which was a massive problem for me.  It had a knock on effect all week.  At least it had its merits: we got to talk to one another instead of my hubby being glued to the telly.  It was also pretty to look out at the full moon.  Instead of going to bed at 11pm, it was 9.30pm and I hadn’t got my work done on the computer.  The power ended up being off until about 4am and there were workmen across the road from me setting up a noisy generator.  I was very grateful that they got us wired up to a generator though.

So, two days later and our end of the village is still wired up to a generator. But I came home at lunchtime on the Tuesday ready to start baking that afternoon for our coffee morning.  I wanted to bake two different traybakes and an Apple and Blackberry Loaf cake, hence the title of this post!  It never happened!  The generator wasn’t working and there were two vans next to it with workmen near it.  The power was off AGAIN in our village! Why not another time?  In the end I chose to go up to my hubby’s office 5 miles away and work on his spare computer on my planning (which I was going to do that night) and to get a much needed cup of tea!  Hubby said that was fine when I phoned him on my mobile.  Only when I got there twenty minutes later, we find that his internet server had gone down!  What a joke!

So, all I could do was have a cup of tea and then go and collect the kids from school.  What a wasted afternoon!  When I got back in from the school run, the power had come back on again so I opted to bake just the loaf cake.

The cake had a crunchy streusel type topping on it made from brown sugar, butter and flour.  The rest of the ingredients for the main cake were mixed together with the chopped apple and blackberries folded in at the end.  I always use paper loaf tin liners and I popped the cake into the oven before our dinner.  At the same time I hoped and prayed that the power would stay on while it was baking!

At the time I was very distracted and had lots going through my mind. When the cake was baking I couldn’t remember when I’d put it in  the oven as I’d forgotten to set the timer! It was complete guesswork so I went by the look of the cake.  I tested it and when it seemed cooked I put it on the worktop to cool.  To save time at these events I usually pre slice the cakes and I tried to slice the loaf at home.  What a mistake!  The cake crumbled and looked a complete mess.  So I gave up and planned on buying some biscuits at the garage on the way to school the next morning instead.

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As I had rushed my baking, all the blackberries had sunk to the bottom of the cake. The cake was also very crumbly when I cut it.

 

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My family ended up with another cake to go into the freezer and my school ended up with biscuits bought from the garage.

 

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Crammed into a plastic box to put in the freezer for another day.

If you would like to bake this recipe for yourself, then you can find it in Jo’s first book “A Passion For Baking”.  I’m sure it would work well with other fruits such as raspberries or pears.  Last Friday after a busy time catching up on jobs, I defrosted a slice and enjoyed it with a cup of coffee.  It was gorgeous.

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx

 

Fruit and Macadamia Nut Cookies from John Whaite Bakes At Home.

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A variation on John Whaite’s Apple, Macadamia Nut and Oatmeal Cookies.

Last weekend my village had a yard sale and I usually bake a couple of batches of cookies and flapjacks to sell on a stall. I had my eye on the Apple and Macadamia Nut Cookies in John Whaite’s latest book John Whaite Bakes At Home and wanted to bake them from the Breakfasts chapter at the beginning of the book.  This was part of my latest Cooking The Books Challenge for June 2014.

I read the recipe and realised that the recipe needed dried apple, not fresh apple chopped up in chunks.  I hadn’t got any dried apple so I found a bag of mixed, dried fruit which I thought I’d use instead.

John says “These inelegant cookies are nothing short of heaven sent.  The dried apples are chewy, the macadamia nuts are crunchy and the oatmeal adds great texture in between the two”  I could imagine me scoffing a whole plateful of these!  So I thought I’d try them out on visitors to our Yard Sale.

First I creamed butter and sugar together in a large mixing bowl, then added vanilla and egg. After this I tossed in some oats, plain flour and baking powder.  Once this was brought together into a dough, in went some mixed dried fruit and some chopped macadamia nuts.

The ball of dough was then formed into a long sausage on a piece of cling film and wrapped carefully to chill in the fridge for about half an hour.  When it was chilled enough, I cut the cookie sausage into 1cm slices and arranged them on a baking tray, baking them for about 10 or so minutes.

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The finished cookies piled up on the cooling rack ready to be boxed up for our yard sale.

The Yard Sale started off well and all my chocolate flapjack and my white chocolate fudge cookies sold.  I was left with about six out of twenty of these beauties.  Many people who realised they had dried fruit in said “Oh no, I don’t like raisins” or “My kids won’t eat those,”  The people who did buy them said they were delicious.  I would love to bake the recipe again but will buy in some dried apple especially!

Here are a couple of pictures of the other two bakes for the Yard Sale:

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White Chocolate and Fudge Cookies.
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Chocolate Covered flapjacks.
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Bakes laid out on the table ready for the customers.

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx

Sticky Toffee Apple Pudding- The Great British Bake Off Everyday

Last weekend I was delighted when our neighbour popped round to see us with a couple of carrier bags full of apples picked from their tree.  I was pleased as my own apple tree hadn’t produced anything this year. This was disappointing as although it is a small tree, I did manage to get a few good apples off it last year.  One bag from my neighbour’s stash was full of small apples ideal for my daughter’s horse to chomp on, the other was full of crisp apples perfect for cooking and baking with.

As we had my Mum staying with us last weekend I chose to cook a Sunday roast- a large chicken followed by a naughty but nice pudding involving apples.  I didn’t want to make something I had already made before, though.  I also didn’t want to make a steamed pudding as I have never made one before and wouldn’t know where to start!

Once again I turned to my copy of The Great British Bake Off Everyday as I remembered there being a Sticky Toffee Apple Pudding recipe in there.  It seems like I am doing a lot of baking from this book at the moment but I suppose I go through fads and phases.  Upon reading the recipe, the introduction said it was a “very simple all-in-one sponge mix.. a good way to use slightly tart windfall apples”.  This was good news to me, I didn’t want to spend ages faffing about.

To be honest I wasn’t really in a baking mood as I had been up half the night worrying about my daughter the night before. She had been to a concert and was staying overnight at her friends’ house. I wanted to know that she was back safely at her friends’ house but my stomach was churning so much, it took me until 3am to get some sleep.  I also woke up with a sore throat which wasn’t good news as it has not been long since I had a cold! I had to produce something for Sunday lunch though.

I chose these four beautiful apples for the pudding.
I chose these four beautiful apples for the pudding.
The apples were peeled, cored, chopped into quarters and then into large chunks.
The apples were peeled, cored, chopped into quarters and then into large chunks.
I weighed out some walnut halves and broke some of them up to make them a little smaller.
I weighed out some walnut halves and broke some of them up to make them a little smaller.
Butter, sugar, flour and eggs were creamed together in a large mixing bowl.
Butter, sugar, flour and eggs were creamed together in a large mixing bowl.
The walnuts and apples were then folded into the mixture.
The walnuts and apples were then folded into the mixture.
The mixture was then spooned into a greased baking dish.
The mixture was then spooned into a greased baking dish.
While the pudding was baking I made some toffee sauce. Sugar, butter and double cream were heated together.
While the pudding was baking I made some toffee sauce. Sugar, butter and double cream were heated together.
This is what the sticky toffee apple pudding looked like when it came out of the oven.
This is what the sticky toffee apple pudding looked like when it came out of the oven.
The toffee sauce is put into a separate jug. It is a pale colour as I had run out of brown sugar, only had caster sugar left!
The toffee sauce is put into a separate jug. It is a pale colour as I had run out of brown sugar, only had caster sugar left!
A serving of the Sticky Toffee Apple Pudding with the toffee sauce poured over. We also had it with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
Leftovers for another day!
Leftovers for another day!

We all really enjoyed the pudding and the apples were a great addition to the mix.  My son said “Why do you have to ruin it with apples?” and “I don’t like it when apples are cooked” but he did eat all the sponge and sauce part.  Everyone else enjoyed it and it made a huge portion. The recipe stated that it served 6 but I thought it was nearer 10-12!  I thought the portions were generous too.  I will definitely bake this again and might try it with pears instead.

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx

Dorset Apple Cake

I’m still catching up on all my blog posts and realised I had made this cake over three weeks ago for the Clandestine Cake Club VCake Event which was called “Regional Cakes”.  As I am originally from Nottinghamshire I wanted to find something that reflected my home county’s heritage.  This was easier said than done.  When I searched on the internet for some Nottinghamshire baking recipes I was very unlucky.  I only found one recipe, which was for Nottingham Goose Fair Gingerbread (which are rather like brandy snaps and certainly would not be allowed at the whole cake only Clandestine Cake Club!

After a good hour searching an idea came to me.  I knew that the Bramley Apple tree originated from Southwell in Nottinghamshire (pronounced Suthall, not South-well). Southwell is slap bang in the middle of the county and is a pretty town with a Minster and a racecourse.  It wasn’t far from where I grew up and I remember as an 8 year old going on a school trip to the Minster as part of a History topic on The Normans. I don’t remember much about the trip all except I bought a pen with my spending money in the Minster and I left it on the coach.  I didn’t get any sympathy from Mr Clarke, our teacher!

Anyway, I thought well I could adapt a recipe I already had using Bramley Apples from Nottinghamshire. It had been my wedding anniversary a couple of days previously and my mum (who lives in Nottingham) was up staying with us for the weekend.  I thought we could have some Apple Cake for our pudding at lunchtime served with some ice cream.  There was a gorgeous sounding recipe that I could use from The Clandestine Cake Club Cookbook called Dorset Apple Cake.  The original recipe was by Karen Burns Booth.  Karen said in the recipe introduction that the cake could be baked in a springform round tin or in a rectangular traybake tin.  I chose to bake my version in my Alan Silverwood traybake tin as I just couldn’t find the base of my springform one!

So, here;s how it was made:

I used three large Bramley Apples given to me!
I used three large Bramley Apples given to me!

 

They were chopped up and sliced.
They were chopped up and sliced.
Butter and sugar was then creamed together with my hand mixer.
Butter and sugar was then creamed together with my hand mixer.
The eggs were added in gradually to try and prevent curdling.
The eggs were added in gradually to try and prevent curdling.
Self raising flour was folded in to the mixture.
Self raising flour was folded in to the mixture.
A thin layer of mixture was put into the bottom of my greased  traybake tin.
A thin layer of mixture was put into the bottom of my greased traybake tin.
A layer of sliced apples dusted with cinnamon was added to the traybake.
A layer of sliced apples dusted with cinnamon was added to the traybake.
After repeating the two previous steps the cake mixture was now used up.
After repeating the two previous steps the cake mixture was now used up.
The cake was baked in the oven for just about an hour.  The apples burnt a bit on top but they had a lovely, caramelised taste to them.
The cake was baked in the oven for just about an hour. The apples burnt a bit on top but they had a lovely, caramelised taste to them.
The Dorset Apple cake was turned out onto a wire rack to cool down.
The Dorset Apple cake was turned out onto a wire rack to cool down.
One slice cut up.
One slice cut up.

The rest of the cake!

The rest of the cake!

The cake was a big success with the adults in our house although my son said he didn’t like it because it had cooked apple in it.  All the more for us then!  I cut the cake up into 16 pieces which were large ones and served it with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.  There was plenty left over for me to take into work in a box the next day to share with my work colleagues.  It went down well as there was none left by the Tuesday!

If any of you reading this do know of any Nottinghamshire baking recipes then please do tell me. I would love to bake more.

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx

Happy Baking