Spiced Dorset Apple Traybake.

Another tried and tested favourite from Mary Berry’s “Cooks The Perfect..Step By Step” recipe book,  Mary says in the introduction: ” As well as being a good coffee or tea time cake, this makes a comforting pudding, served warm with clotted cream or creme fraiche. I often make it in Autumn when I have a glut of apples,”

This was the very reason I bake this traybake often.  I get lots of beautiful apples given to me and although we like crumbles and pies in our house, sometimes you always want to make something different.  Traybakes are great as you can use them like a pudding or a slice of cake but a little goes a long way.  I also find them so easy to make, especially if you don’t have a lot of time to bake.

My dad and step mum gave me two huge bags of apples from their tree in their garden. I’m sure they said they were Pink Lady apples.  Not only did they look really pretty on the outside, but the inside had a lovely pink hue to them too.  They always tasted delicious so I knew they would taste incredible in this bake.

I have a well used and loved Alan Silverwood traybake tin which came out of the cupboard again on this wet and cold Sunday afternoon.  It doesn’t need a lot of greasing but I used a small amount of Wilton Cake Release to stop any stubborn bits sticking to the tin.

Once all the apples were peeled, cored and cut into thin slices, I put them into a shallow dish and sprinkled them with some lemon juice to stop them going brown.

Next, I mixed together butter, light brown muscovado sugar, self raising flour, baking powder, ground cinnamon, eggs and milk into a large bowl.  So easy being an all in one method and I made sure everything was well mixed.

Now this is where I lost concentration.  I got distracted and put all the apples in a layer on the bottom of the tin and then topped them with all of the sponge mix.  In the recipe you are meant  to put half the apples on the bottom, then half the cake mixture, then to repeat it. Rather like making a lasagne!  In the end my cake turned up a bit like an upside down cake and didn’t have the defined layers that Mary Berry mentions in her “Keys To Perfection” part of the recipe.  My motto is well if it tastes fine, then who cares what it looks like?

We had Toad In The Hole for Sunday lunch followed by a slice of the traybake and a scoop of vanilla ice cream. I love the smell of apples and cinnamon as they’re cooking. Definitely an aroma of Autumn there! As the traybake was so big, the rest of it got cut up into slices and put in the freezer for my family to eat in weeks to come.

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Leek and Potato Soup

I love a good bowl of soup. I don’t make it often enough and I should do.  It’s cheap to make, filling and keeps you warm on a cold day.

One of my favourite soups is Leek and Potato and thankfully it’s one that the rest of my family will eat, too.  Though in the past I didn’t tell my son it had leeks in it, I just used to say it was vegetable soup to him in case he turned his nose up at it.

About  three weeks back I made this delicious, comforting soup. (see, I’m really behind with the blogging at the moment). Anyone fancy buying me a new laptop? No, I thought not. My laptop is slow and keeps disconnecting from the Internet. Not a serious problem in the scheme of things but it does slow work down somewhat.

I adapted the recipe from Mary Berry’s Cookery Course, which is a well used book on my shelf.  First the leeks and onions were chopped up and fried gently in butter. After that, in went some thinly sliced potatoes.  To this I then added some hot chicken stock.  Unfortunately it wasn’t home made, sorry Mary! The soup was then seasoned and left to simmer.  Mary Berry’s recipe also suggests a few gratings of nutmeg. I didn’t have any nutmeg but I sprinkled on some parsley instead.

After about 20-30 minutes simmering I took the pan off the heat and allowed the soup to cool down for a couple of minutes. Out came the stick blender to puree up the soup. Finally. I added in a swirl of half fat creme fraiche. Mary’s recipe uses single cream but I didn’t have any so, creme fraiche had to do.

A perfect lunchtime bowl of soup for myself and Mr SmartCookieSam with a chunk of crusty bread.  There was enough left for me to have for lunch on two days during the week either at home or at work.

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Pumpkin Bundt With Ginger Cream Filling.

A week last Sunday was Pudsey and West Leeds’ Clandestine Cake Club event. The theme was Harvest Time and it was a great opportunity to bake with fruits or vegetables which are abundant at this time of year.  I don’t have green fingers or the space to grow vegetables in my garden though it’s something I would love to be able to do if I had a bigger back garden.  Instead I used a tin of Libby’s Pureed Pumpkin which had been in my cupboard for a few months.  My friend Linda had bought me a couple of tins when she was out shopping in Waitrose for herself and I thought a Pumpkin Bundt cake would be perfect for cake club.

I keep telling myself I have enough Nordicware Bundt pans.  I’ve lost count of how many I have.  Then again, I see a new one or one I’ve coveted for a while and I think !I just have to have that! On my day off from work I went over to TKMaxx thinking I could do with a couple of nice cake boxes and ended up coming out with the cake boxes, a mini chopper, some Christmas cupcake cases and the Nordicware Kugelhopf pan.  Did I need it? Did I heck? But it’s a beautiful pan and will last forever.  Being as it’s a traditional design it will get used all year round, too!

My baking inspiration came from a Bundt recipe book bought a few months back. It’s a Nordicware publication entitled “Best Of The Bundt” and I was very impressed with the quality of the recipes.  Even though it’s an American publication with measurements in cups, etc. thankfully there are metric equivalents given as well.

Last Sunday morning I started on the Pumpkin Cake with a Ginger Cream Filling.  The bundt contains a filling of cream cheese, ginger, sugar and flour which is baked into the middle of the cake. The cake itself was a delicately spiced pumpkin bundt infused with cardamom and cinnamon and then flavoured with buttermilk. It sounded too mouthwatering for words and perfect for an Autumn cakey gathering.

I’d left it a bit late to start on the baking. Normally I bake my cake the day before but we were out and about, so I ran out of time.  So last Sunday morning it was. I greased and floured the Kugelhopf pan which is quite a narrow and tall tin.  I hoped this wouldn’t affect the bake.  I reckoned I would have to stick the tin onto a flat baking tray so it wouldn’t tip over in the oven.

First I opened up the tin of pumpkin puree and reserved 2 tablespoonfuls of the puree towards the frosting.  The rest was going into the cake itself.  In a large bowl I creamed together butter and sugar.  As I weighed out the sugar I couldn’t believe how much was going into the cake.  Then into the bowl went 4 large eggs, followed by the pumpkin puree.  This got mixed well together. In another bowl I sifted together some dry ingredients which included some plain flour, ground cardamom, cinnamon and baking powder.  Then, I measured out some buttermilk.  The dry ingredients and the buttermilk got folded into the creamed mixture bit by bit until I ended up with a delicious and aromatic mix.

Then it was time to make up the ginger cream filling.  I’d bought a large tub of full fat Philadelphia cheese especially for the cake.  I was really angry when I got the tub out of the fridge and found it had been opened! Mr SmartCookieSam must’ve nicked some to go on his crackers! It can’t have been my daughter, the other cheese lover in our house as she has been at uni for the past month!  About 2 tbsp had gone which wasn’t much but it meant I didn’t have enough for the frosting. I hoped it wouldn’t spoil it but I wasn’t going to make a fuss over 2 tbsp of cream cheese!

The cream cheese, ground ginger, light brown sugar and 2 tbsp of plain flour all got mixed together to make the ginger cream filling.  I then started to fill the cake tin, starting with 2/3 of the pumpkin mixture. I followed that with the ginger cream cheese mixture, taking care that it wouldn’t get mixed in with the pumpkin flavour or to touch the sides of the pan. Finally, I finished off the cake with the remaining pumpkin mixture.

The bundt was meant to be baked for 65 to 70 minutes but after this time it still felt like the cake wasn’t cooked. I tested it with a skewer but there was still soggy mixture stuck to it in about three places.  After about 80 minutes the cake looked like it had cracked on the top and was ready to come out of the oven.  I had to give it about 10 minutes before I was able to turn it out onto a wire rack. I always panic at this point. This is when all your hard work can be undone in seconds if the cake won’t come out of the tin or it comes out in several pieces.  Thankfully the cake slid out in one piece which made me feel so relieved. Usually I find if the cake is meant for a special occasion or for cake club it turns into a disaster area!

While the cake was cooling down I had to make a glaze cum frosting for the top of the cake. I whipped cream, icing sugar and a little bit of milk together to form the frosting. To this I added finely chopped pecans.  The frosting was then piped onto the top of the bundt with my large star nozzle. To finish off I added whole pecans to decorate the top.

When I cut the cake at cake club later that afternoon I was bitterly disappointed. Despite the cake being in the oven longer than needed and presumably I did stick it in at the right temperature, it came out looking like the middle was uncooked.  I thought it looked disgusting inside but it still got eaten.

Would I bake the cake again? I’d like to try it out again but will have to watch the baking time and the oven temperature.

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

 

 

Sticky Gingerbread Traybake.

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Sticky Gingerbread Traybake- an absolutely delicious recipe from the latest Great British Bake Off Book –The Great British Bake Off Celebrations.

Happy New Year to anyone who might be reading this. I’m determined to get back into my neglected blog this year.  It’s been so long but you know what it’s like leading up to Christmas, things just go crazy. Here’s another recipe I had a go at a few weeks ago.  I just love anything with ginger in it and was keen to have a go at baking the Sticky Ginger Traybake from the latest Great British Bake Off cookbook. The recipe introduction made it sound even more mouthwatering: “..this dark, almost black, sticky toffee gingerbread with a crunchy topping.  Dark muscovado sugar and black treacle give it a rich bitter sweetness while stem ginger adds fire and heat,”

The traybake is a sticky gingerbread base with a crunchy topping and just speaks of Autumn and Bonfire Night to me. The base is baked separately from the topping.

First of all I put butter, treacle and dark muscovado sugar into a pan and heated it gently.  Then I chopped some stem ginger into large chunks and added it to the pan with some reserved syrup from the stem ginger jar.

As this was melting, I sifted plain flour, ground ginger, mixed spice and some bicarbonate of soda into a large mixing bowl.  Once this was done I then mixed in two medium eggs. The melted ginger mixture was also added to the bowl to make the gingerbread. This was then poured into my prepared traybake tin and baked in the oven for about 15 minutes.

While the gingerbread base was in the oven I made the topping which was made up of plain flour, ground ginger, light brown muscovado sugar, unsalted butter and stem ginger.  It was a rubbed in mixture.  When the gingerbread base came out of the oven I sprinkled the topping onto it and then put it back into the oven for another 25 minutes.  The aroma of spicy gingerbread was just gorgeous and I couldn’t wait to try a piece.

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The Sticky Gingerbread Traybake was cut up into sixteen generous sizes.
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One spare for me to taste, the rest went into work to share out!

I was really pleased with how the gingerbread traybake turned out and it will be something I’d love to bake more of in the future.  The flavour of the gingerbread was very spicy and intense so it might not appeal to those who love strong flavours.  It did to me though, in fact if I’d not stopped myself I would have eaten more slices.  I put them in a box and took them to the school I was teaching in the following day to share out in the staff room.  I’m not sure whether they went down well or not, I forgot to ask!

Happy Baking.

Love Sam xx

 

Pumpkin Slices

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Pumpkin Slice from the Primrose Bakery Christmas book.

I can’t believe I haven’t updated my blog for weeks and weeks.  Time has just slipped by. Even during the Christmas holidays I didn’t have time to log on and update on what has been baking in the SmartCookieSam kitchen.

A few weeks ago one of my Cake Club friends very kindly bought a couple of cans of Libby’s Pumpkin Puree when she was shopping for some herself. I was grateful as I wasn’t sure when I would be able to get hold of some myself. I’ve bought it in Waitrose before. My family think pumpkin tastes disgusting but I love it so any excuse to bake something that wouldn’t get troughed before I manage to get a slice!

Anyway, what to bake? I wanted to try something different so I had a look through my recipe books and spotted an interesting looking bake in the Primrose Bakery Christmas.book. I don’t really associate pumpkin with Christmas, more with Autumn and Thanksgiving but I was keen to try it out.

The recipe introduction states: “This spicy and slightly alcoholic pumpkin slice would actually make a great dessert served with some whipped or double cream or vanilla ice cream on the side,” 

So, with an afternoon to spare out came my traybake tin and on went the oven.  The pumpkin slice has two parts to it, an unusual crumble base and a mousse like topping which are baked separately.  The base comprised of sugar, oats, plain flour and butter which were rubbed in together just like you do when you make a crumble.  Once the mixture looked like breadcrumbs I had to press the mixture into the base of my greased traybake tin.  The crumble base was baked in the oven for about 20 minutes.

While the crumble base was baking I prepared the mousse topping.  I was meant to put rum in the mixture but I didn’t have any so I used some leftover brandy instead.  To make the topping I simply mixed together a whole can of Libby’s Pumpkin Puree, three large beaten eggs, some caster sugar, self raising flour, vanilla extract, cinnamon. ginger and nutmeg.The mixture was a bright orange colour and reminded me of the purees I used to make for my children when they were babies!

The mousse like topping was then spread over the cooked crumble base. To finish off I sprinkled over some flaked almonds before putting the slice back into the oven for another 20-25 minutes.

The pumpkin slice came out of the oven and looked a bit unappealing to me.  It wasn’t a very deep slice but it looked claggy and stodgy.  I thought I would try a piece when it had cooled down. I was disappointed. I ended up eating a couple of mouthfuls and the rest went in the bin. It was revolting and the topping wasn’t the texture I was expecting at all. What a shame.

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Happy New Year to you and Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx

 

 

Pear and Ginger Upside Down Cake from The Clandestine Cake Club’s A Year Of Cake.

The second Clandestine Cake Club Cookbook was published last Thursday and is already proving very popular both with members and non-members.  I have been a member of the Clandestine Cake Club for nearly three years now and I can honestly say it has changed my life.  I have made some wonderful friends over cake and regularly meet up with a few of them for afternoon tea or lunch and a girly gossip at the same time.

The recipe I baked for our Sunday lunch dessert yesterday was created as a homage to the seventh Duchess of Bedford who is believed to have created the idea of the English Afternoon Tea. She needed something to keep her hunger at bay until she ate dinner but then as time progressed friends began to share tea with her.  The recipe in the book is called Pear and Ginger Upside Down cake and was created by member Jean Lacey who is from the Loire Valley Clandestine Cake Club.  I can just picture this delectable cake being served at an afternoon tea.  Pears and ginger are a winning combination to me, although my two children weren’t impressed.  Neither my daughter or son like pears though I was convinced they’d eat them in a cake.  They said the same about ginger but I’ve seen them eating gingerbread men!

So yesterday was going to be a very busy one.  Loads of jobs to do on top of trying to cook a roast beef dinner and to try out the pear and ginger cake recipe. But the ironing could wait!

I got out my well used 8″ sandwich tins, greased and lined them and put on the oven.  While it was heating up I made the cake batter and prepared the pears.

In one bowl I sifted together self raising flour, baking powder and some ground ginger. To this I then added softened unsalted butter, eggs and some caster sugar.  All the ingredients were mixed together and then I got the pears ready.

On the base of one of the greased tins I sprinkled some light brown soft sugar and then topped them with sliced pears.  The recipe said to peel two pears, halve and core them, then cut each half into three wedges. My pears were quite small so I used three but still cut each of the halves into three pieces. There was just enough fruit to cover the bottom of the tin.

After that I divided the cake mixture equally between the two tins but had to take care to make sure the pears stayed intact on the bottom of the tin.  Once this had been done, into the oven they went and were baked for about 20-25 minutes.

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The Pear and Ginger Upside Down Cake was baked in two separate 8″ sandwich tins. There was a layer of brown sugar topped with sliced pears in the bottom of one of the cakes.

The cakes cooked beautifully in the oven and rose well.  I put them on a wire rack to cool down and left them for a while when I went out for a dog walk.  When I came back I turned the cakes out onto the wire rack. I had to use my Nordicware Cake Lifter to help me move the pear layer as it seemed more fragile.

To finish the cake there was a delectable filling to make up.  It consisted of a layer of ginger preserve or jam with some sweetened whipped cream on top.  I found some delicious Tiptree Ginger Jam from Ocado the other day.  I was meant to spread a layer of the jam on top of one of the cake layers, then add the whipped cream. Only I didn’t read the recipe properly and I added the jam into the whipped cream mixture. It still looked okay though.

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The cake was layered with a divine tasting ginger infused whipped cream filling.
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To finish I dusted the cake with some icing sugar and put it on my cake stand ready for dinner.
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I was very impressed by the flavour of this cake. It was very enjoyable to make and I felt it was one I could bake over and over again.

 In the end I scoffed a piece at 4 pm. We weren’t eating our roast dinner til about 6.30pm when my daughter had got in from work and I was ravenous.  It’s fatal having cake in the house when you are hungry, especially one that you know you’ll enjoy the flavours of. My husband had a small slice after his roast but my kids turned their nose up at it: “What have you put fruit in it for?” So the rest got cut up and is now in a plastic box in the fridge. I’m trying to forget about the rest of the cake but then I’ve started back at Weightwatchers….

To find out more about the Clandestine Cake Club and the fun we have at all our events all around the world then please go to www.clandestinecakeclub.co.uk

Happy Baking.

Love Sam xx