Amazing Cakes #27: White Chocolate and Blueberry Layer Cake.

The White Chocolate and Blueberry Layer Cake from the Great British Bake Off Big Book Of Amazing Cakes.

It’s been a few weeks since I’ve tried out a recipe from The Great British Bake Off The Big Book Of Amazing Cakes. Most of the recipes I have left over in the challenge are the more complicated ones or the ones you would bake for a special occasion. Can’t imagine me baking a three tier wedding cake just for my family to have with a cuppa!

This week I have had a lot of baking to do for smartcookiesam.com, my online baking business. These have been brownies, blondies and cookies so it was a change to bake a cake for once! I chose to bake the White Chocolate and Blueberry Cake in the Chocolate chapter of the Amazing Cakes book.

The cake is a three layer blueberry sponge filled with white chocolate buttercream and finished with another layer of buttercream. The top decoration is some more white chocolate buttercream but with blueberry jam swirled in the icing to add flavour and to turn the icing a beautiful shade of lilac.

As with baking these recipes, I look to see what ingredients I have or need to get in. I had to buy double cream in for the recipe but I didn’t have any blueberry jam. I used some blackcurrant jam we had bought on holiday on the Isle of Arran instead which is gorgeous.

After doing my blondie and cookie order, I adjusted the oven termperature to 180oC fan which was stipulated in the recipe. I then thought this was a bit too hot, so I reduced it to 160o.

The cake itself was simple to make itself in a stand mixer: unsalted butter, caster sugar, vanilla extract, free range eggs and self raising flour mixed together to create the cake batter. Then I added in the blueberries, folding them in carefully until they were combined but taking care that they wouldn’t get squashed! I prepared three 20cm/ 8″ diameter sandwich tins with greaseproof lining and Cake Release Spray.

While the cake was baking, I made the buttercream in my KitchenAid mixer. First I whipped the butter for a few minutes. While that was being whipped, I melted some white chocolate in the microwave. I know some don’t approve of using the microwave method but it works for me if I do it in short blasts of time! When the white chocolate was melted and still warm, I stirred some double cream into it. The butter was now ready for me to add the icing sugar to it. No matter how hard I try I still get icing sugar all over the worktops and on the floor even on the lowest speed on the mixer! Finally, when this was blended I added in the white chocolate cream mixture to whip up into the buttercream.

The recipe time said to bake the cake for 20-25 minutes. I checked on it after 20 minutes and I noticed they were already done and coming away from the sides of the tin. I quickly got them out of the oven and onto the cooling racks.

When it was time to ice the cake I noticed the buttercream was a bit runny. It was really hot in my kitchen and I had no spare space in my fridge to chill the cake between it’s crumb coat and needing the top layer on. I also found it impossible to do the white chocolate shavings myself as the chocolate was melting in my hot hands! When the crumb coat was on, I then split the remaining icing in two. One half went as part of the topping and then the remaining part had some of the blackcurrant jam added to it to turn it lilac. I made up a piping bag fitted with a star nozzle and then piped the rose swirls on the top of the cake. As the kitchen got hotter and hotter, so did the blooming icing which drove me crazy! It was definitely too runny for my liking. The white chocolate curls were meant to go on the side of the cake but I found this far too fiddly. Instead i just sprinkled them on top.

Would I bake this cake again? Yes I would, although there are a couple of issues I have with the recipe. I think the oven temperatures are too hot and also the cooking times were too long. This is definitely a special occasion cake as you need three packets of butter, some double cream and 400g of white chocolate as well as a huge box of icing sugar! Definitely not a recipe you would bake every day. But worth it when you do. I also think that you could change the flavours by using raspberries and raspberry jam instead of blueberries.

Happy Baking!

Love Sam. xx

Blueberry and White Chocolate Layer Cake

Cake baking to me is a great stressbuster and it really helps with my anxiety. It brings me back into the moment and has been a huge help to get me through all the worries brought about by this coronavirus pandemic. I was feeling a bit off it on Monday. I know I am far from alone though. I always feel anxious and stressed on a Monday going to the supermarket. I missed about four things off the shopping list. Only one of them was important: some dishwasher tablets. I hadn’t realised we were down to the last one when I opened the pouch in the cupboard. But I was still made to feel like a senile old bat for forgetting them!

At the beginnning of lockdown I had an order from Sugar and Crumbs. I love their flavoured icing sugars and there were several flavours I’d yet to try. One of the flavours I had bought previously and liked was their Mermaid one (what are mermaids meant to taste like?!) It must mean that the flavour is inspired by mermaids as the icing sugar is actually blueberry and white chocolate. I love both blueberries and white chocolate so I was thinking what bake I could come up with which incorporated this flavour into it. Even more so, could I come up with a recipe?

I didn’t come up with my own recipe but instead adapted an old favourite recipe. It comes from the fantastic John Whaite (Bake Off winner from Season 3 in 2012). It’s originally his Raspberry and White Chocolate Melting Cake which was featured in BBC Good Food Magazine as well as in John’s first book, the fabulous John Whaite Bakes.

Here is the original recipe; https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/johns-white-chocolate-raspberry-cake

I have made the original cake before and it is divine! The filling is a white chocolate ganache but I changed the filling and added a topping instead. This was mainly so I could use the icing sugar and also because I didn’t have enough white chocolate for both the cake and the filling. Not only that, I didn’t have cream in.

In place of the raspberries in the cake I substituted the same weight of blueberries. For the filling I spread one cake with some St Dalfour Blueberry Preserve left over from a hamper I had won before Christmas. I made up some buttercream using the Sugar and Crumbs icing sugar and a splash of food colouring to turn it lilac. I then assembled the cake. I added some stars and swirls to the top of the cake and finished it with whole blueberries and a sprinkling of some white chocolate strands.

Althought the cake looked beautiful, I personally found the buttercream far too sweet and sickly for my taste. I think I might have to rethink my quantities next time.

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx

Blueberry Cheesecake

On my Patisserie course at college this week, we got to make blueberry cheesecake. I do love a good cheesecake even though they are not healthy. I’ve made a few over the years, some fantastic and others: well you’d put them straight in the bin. But this one made during my evening class I have to say was the best yet. It was another one where I couldn’t wait to get home to show my family what I’d created. I’d also managed to use gelatine for the very first time without it ruining the whole dessert.

This cheesecake was less sweet and cloying than some cheesecakes I’ve tasted. Yet it still tasted rich and decadent. I also love blueberries and the purple/ lilac colour palette turned it into a pretty looking dessert as well.

We used frozen blueberries to make a compote which formed the basis of the flavour throughout the whole cheesecake. Our tutor said fresh blueberries would also work but as they were going to be pureed eventually it was fine to use frozen. Not only that, but frozen blueberries are so much cheaper than fresh ones! The blueberries were placed into a medium saucepan and heated through. As soon as liquid started to seep out, we added caster sugar. Our tutor then told us to wait until the blueberries were “violently boiling” to add a splash of lemon juice to the pan. We then took the blueberries off the heat and let them cool.

Our cheesecake was to have a ginger nut base. This worked really well with the blueberries. We crushed up the ginger nuts in a giant bowl using the end of a rolling pin and then added melted butter to the crushed biscuits. These were then put into the base of a lined springform tin. The springform tin had also been greased.

The next step was to weigh out and prepare the filling. Our tutor explained to us that we were going to make our cheesecake with a graduated colour layer effect starting with a plain layer of cheesecake and then adding blueberries to a smaller and smaller proportion of cheesecake mixture so that it darked the colour. Using leaf gelatine made me feel nervous but we were told to put the leaves into a small jug with cold water to cover. This softened the gelatine. While this was soaking, we weighed out some double cream and had to whisk it so it increased in volume by 50%. I was the only one in the class who chickened out of whisking my cream by hand. I just couldn’t get it to thicken. As soon as I got out the electric whisk, it thickened up immediately! Why waste time and effort when you have labour saving devices to help?

We then had to weigh out some cream cheese, caster sugar, natural yoghurt, vanilla extract and lemon juice into separate bowls. The cream cheese was whisked a bit first as it always comes out of the tub in one lump. I know you can get “low fat” cheesecakes and the like but I hate using low fat cream cheese and natural yoghurt for baking with. You never get the same effect. If you are making cream cheese frosting with low fat cream cheese, it never thickens up.

Once the cream cheese was ready, we had to add all the other ingredients into the bowl along with the whipped cream. My God this was when I felt like getting a massive spoon and digging in. I had to steel myself. The gelatine was then ready to be microwaved for 20 seconds and then folded into the cream cheese mix.

We also had to puree the blueberries using a hand held stick blender. It got very messy and we had to be careful that purple blueberry juice didn’t get splattered all over the kitchen and on ourselves.

We then were asked to measure out about half the cream cheese mix (which equated to roughly 300g) and to spread this on the ginger nut base. This needed to chill for about half an hour while we got on with the next layer. It didn’t quite set in the time, so our tutor shoved them in the college blast chiller for a few minutes.

We weighed out 50g of the blueberry puree into a separate bowl and then added it to the remaining cheesecake mix. This turned the mix into a delicate lilac colour. We then used half of this remaining mix to make the middle layer of the cheesecake. Once again, the cheesecakes were returned to the blast chiller to make the next layer set.

We had to set aside another 50g of puree to add to the remaining cheesecake mix. This turned the mixture into a purple colour as the photo below shows. The remaining puree was put into a presentation plastic bottle which chefs use for garnishes.

While the purple layer was being set in the blast chiller, our tutor asked us to make some sweet shortcrust pastry up for next week. This would be put into the freezer as we are going to be baking lemon meringue pie. Always great to make a head start!

We were also given ideas of how to decorate our cheesecakes. Whenever I’ve seen feathered patterns or hearts on garnished plates, they look so pretty. I was really keen to have a go at some hearts. We were shown how you use a skewer to drag it through the cheesecake. I started off around the edges like a clock face then chose to add extra hearts in between.

After a final blast in the chiller, we were asked if we wanted to add cream to our cheesecake decoration. I whipped up enough cream to make some rosettes around the edges and put the cream into a large piping bag fitted with a star nozzle. But I thought a two-tone effect would also work where you put some puree into the bag.

To finish my cheesecake, I piped twelve rosettes around the edge of the cake and then topped each one with a spare frozen blueberry. I was so thrilled with the whole thing but the next test was to get the cheesecake out from under the base and into my cake box to take home. One of the tutors suggested sticking it on the hot plate for a few seconds. This worked a treat!

We didn’t get to try out the cheesecake until the following day. I know I am doing WeightWatchers and to date I have lost 9.5lbs in 3 weeks. But faced with such a treat in front of me, that was too much temptation to bear. Mr S’s sister was coming for the weekend and we would have a slice of cheesecake for dinner. I dread to think what the Smartpoints were for it and I am ashamed to say I also had another slice on the Saturday. Wipe the slate clean, Sam enjoy the weekend and start again on Monday!

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx

Blueberry and Lemon Yoghurt Muffins

It’s very hard when you want to bake but you can’t because you know you’ll just eat it all. The other day I had the urge to bake some muffins. I told myself that it would be ok if I ate one for breakfast. Yes, it was very nice but I don’t recommend it because two hours later I was starving. Mind you, it didn’t help that in that two hours I’d done a load of jobs and walked the dog in between. So maybe I was genuinely in need of something. Well, that’s my excuse anyway!

These blueberry and lemon yoghurt muffins were so easy to knock up and were so light. The recipe was adapted from one in Annie Bell’s Baking Bible and was originally a blueberry and orange muffin recipe. They are dairy free and the fat content comes from using olive oil in the batter. Instead of using orange zest and juice, which I didn’t have, I used lemon zest and natural yoghurt in its place. This worked extremely well and I was pleased with the result.

Annie Bell has a tip at the end of her recipe saying “It is only one step on in imagination to use extra virgin olive oil in a muffin, rather than groundnut or sunflower. It mellows with cooking and the resulting scent, while distinctive, is very pleasing,”

I must admit I had never thought to bake with olive oil before as I thought the flavour would be too strong. It was, as Annie Bell said, a very mellow flavour within the muffin.

Happy baking!

Love Sam xx

Scandelicious Baking- Blueberry and Elderflower Upside Down Cake.

I’m a bit behind with my blog posts recently but I’m trying to catch up with it all.  We had a few mad days before going off to Spain on our summer holidays so cake and baking was the last thing on my mind!  But I always love to have a cake or a pudding for Sunday lunch dessert.  So on the first Sunday back at the beginning of August, it was a busy day as my hubby was out all day doing a classic car rally and I was at home with my two children. The kids were busy doing their own thing as teenagers do and  I had a pile of ironing the height of the Empire State Building. I was just so unmotivated to get it done.  In the end I did about half of it but at least I had some baking to look forward to!

I chose to bake Signe Johansen’s Upside Down Blueberry and Elderflower Cake from her Scandelicious Baking book.  I have tried this delicious cake before in Baltzersens which is a Scandinavian coffee shop in Harrogate.  It is just gorgeous and I love the blueberries glistening like shiny jewels on top of the cake against the pale vanilla sponge.  A pretty cake with lots of flavour but not overpoweringly sweet and sickly.

In the recipe introduction Signe says “This cake doesn’t keep well as the blueberries lose their fresh intensity relatively quickly after cooking so be sure to get your friends around to enjoy it on the day of baking!”

It was a shame I hadn’t got any friends coming round on that day then but I was sure it would go down well with the family when I served it up for pudding. Or so I thought.

On this day I just seemed to have one baking disaster after another.  I was in tears as I had also tried to bake a quiche for our dinner.  We were having our main meal of the day at dinnertime when my hubby was due to get back but I wasn’t sure what time he would be back. The quiche going wrong was another story and I was just so tempted to say “B******r it, lets have a Chinese!” I didn’t have much food in, being as we were off on holiday a few days later I was trying to run stocks down a little.

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The elderflower flavour in the cake comes from this gorgeous elderflower cordial. I recently bought some at the Harrogate Good Food Show from the Belvoir Fruit Farms stand. I love it and have bought more as it’s delicious with fizzy water!

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The elderflower cordial was poured over a large punnet of blueberries.

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In a large bowl I whisked together eggs, sugar and vanilla extract.

Disaster in the kitchen part one started when yet another of my hand held mixers (I’ve gone through about 5 in the last 2 years) decided to pack up.  I have a KitchenAid which I love but my hubby moans about it being in the way in the kitchen when I use it and makes me put it away in the garage or the cupboard every time I’ve finished baking.  This does my head in and isn’t convienient so the handheld one does the trick if I’m only baking one thing at a time.  On a Sunday afternoon there wasn’t time to go and get another one so I used the whisk attachment on my stick blender which isn’t very strong.

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Whisking the eggs, sugar and vanilla extract up.

Then I added spelt flour, ground almonds and baking powder and alternated folding these ingredients into the mixture along with some melted butter and some Greek yoghurt.  I used a large metal spoon but the mixture did seem a little bit runny to me.

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Here is the mixture all whisked up.

In the recipe Signe mentions using a 23cm round cake tin.  I didn’t know whether she meant a deep one or a sandwich one. I got the deep one out that I use for Christmas cakes but I think I used the wrong base!  As the cake is an upside down one, I had to put all the elderflower soaked blueberries in first. followed by the cake mixture.  All seemed to be fine until about half way through the cooking time I looked through the oven window and noticed blueberry juice seeping out of the bottom of the cake tin and splashing onto the oven bottom!  I could have cried.  The cake was meant to be in the oven for 30-35 minutes but it got beyond that time and the cake was still raw in the middle.  I kept it in for about 50 minutes in the end but because I’d had the oven door open a couple of times testing the cake it came out with a big dip in the middle.  Then the tears did come and afterwards I thought “Why am I crying over a cake?”

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The finished blueberry and elderflower upside down cake. Complete with sunken middle.

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A slice of the blueberry cake cut up and appearances can be deceptive. It tasted lovely.

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After my daughter also had a slice this is what was left. No one was really that impressed by it, sadly.

When the cake had cooled down and I’d cleared up I found out that my hubby was being given dinner after his race meeting. So a big blueberry cake dessert wasn’t needed after all.  I cut up the cake and asked my children if they would like some.  My daughter loves blueberries and she enjoyed it but my son turned his nose up at it.  I really enjoyed it and would love to try and bake it again another time.  A couple of days later we still had half the cake left so I decided to get it out and see if it was still worth eating.  Unfortunately I dropped the plate and my greedy labrador scoffed the lot!  I was fuming but he obviously liked it as there wasn’t anything but crumbs left on the floor!  Bad dog!

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

Eton Mess

Now there’s two days until the end of the month and I have two recipes left to try out from Jo Wheatley’s A Passion For Baking as part of my Cooking The Books challenge for March 2014.  Today, being Mothers’ Day I wanted to make a scrummy dessert for our lunch.  I wanted something everyone in our house would eat and something not too heavy and sickly.  All of the desserts in Jo’s first book looked lovely and I want to try them all out eventually.  I chose Eton Mess because it meant I would have to try out making meringues, something which I haven’t really done. Normally I just buy the ready made meringue nests you get in the supermarkets, but Jo’s recipe would not only test my meringue skills but jam making ones too! I would have to make a strawberry jam like sauce, now jam making is something else I really struggle with.  I can never get it to set properly!

Late this morning I was also trying to make an Onion and Cheese Tart  for our lunch with the Eton Mess as the pudding.  The meringue was going to be the time consuming bit as they would be in the oven for an hour baking plus the time they had to stay in there after to cool down.  This was a bit of a pain as I needed the oven to bake the tart in.  I have a double oven range cooker but I only cook roasts in the other one. It was funny as I was trying to sort out the Eton Mess downstairs in my kitchen, my hubby was upstairs moaning at my kids for the mess in their bedrooms.  I give up!

Anyway, I was well out of it down in the kitchen and I got down to it straightaway. Here’s how I got on:

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I had to make the meringues first. Here, I am whisking up three egg whites until they held soft peaks.

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After that, the second stage was to add some caster sugar bit by bit to the egg whites. It took a long time to get the meringues stiff!

The meringues were a bit runnier than I expected but I managed to pipe them onto some baking parchment ready to pop in the oven.  They were baked for about an hour on a low temperature (of 100oC), then were left to cool down in the oven afterwards even when the oven was switched off.  This helped them to crisp up and set a little bit.

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Here are my finished meringues. They don’t look very pretty but then it didn’t matter as I was going to break them up in chunks anyway!

While the meringues were baking I got on with the jam.  Jo’s recipe mentions strawberries but being as strawberries aren’t in season at the moment I used a mixture of strawberries, raspberries and blueberries to make up the same quantity needed for the jam.  I got the pan to the boil first to get the sugar dissolved which was also in the pan, then the heat was turned down and cooked for another 15 to 20 minutes longer to thicken up. Once this had happened I set it aside to cool down until I was ready to assemble the pudding.

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Boiling the jam.

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Whipping double cream and half fat creme fraiche together.

When it was time to get the pudding ready I got out some double cream and half fat creme fraiche.  I’d had to use some of my double cream in the onion and cheese tart so there wasn’t enough to put on the Eton Mess!  You needed 600ml of double cream, I only had 350ml, so I added in a small tub of half fat creme fraiche I had in the fridge.  This was whipped up together with my  electric hand whisk.

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A huge bowlful of whipped cream and creme fraiche.

When it was ready I started to assemble the puddings.  I don’t have any tall sundae glasses so I used some tumblers.  The strawberry jam went in the bottom of the glasses first, with pieces of crushed meringue, cream with jam stirred through, followed by plain cream and finished with more meringue pieces. I’d forgotten to save some fruit to keep for the top of the puddings.

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My finished Eton Messes!

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Showing the crushed homemade meringues on top of the cake.

We all thoroughly enjoyed our puddings and they were very naughty but nice.  My hubby is convinced that Eton Mess has vanilla ice cream in it, I told him he was wrong! To me Eton Mess is like a pavlova but messed up! If he wants ice cream with it I suppose you could have a scoop of it on the side.  I couldn’t help him out there, we didn’t have any ice cream in to give him!

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx