Amazing Cakes #20: Vegan Marble Cake

It’s been about three weeks since I baked this cake.  I wanted to try out another recipe from The Big Book of Amazing Cakes but not to make anything which would be time consuming and fiddly to do. I wanted something which would double up like a pudding with a scoop of ice cream.

Looking through the book, I found a perfect recipe for a Vegan Marble Cake in the Free From chapter.  This would work out perfectly for me as I had a lot of dairy free spread to use up and was very low on eggs before going to the supermarket.  Although I am not vegan, I try out lots of vegan recipes and both my children have lactose intolerance so we have oat milk in the house. To be honest I have been trying to cut down on dairy too recently and I now have oat milk in my porridge and coffee.  Just wish I could manage it in my tea. 

Baking the Vegan Marble Cake was a good excuse to get out one of my Nordicware bundt pans.  The accompanying illustration to the recipe shows the cake baked in the Jubilee pan which is pretty but I chose my Harlequin one instead to make a change. 

The cake was simple to make.  I had to put soya milk mixed together with a spoonful of apple cider vinegar in a jug and left for a few minutes to curdle or react.  But I chose to use oat milk instead as we didn’t have soya.  No idea whether this made a difference or not!

I then beat together some caster sugar, the dairy free spread and some vanilla extract with my hand held mixer.  The curdled oat milk got added to it followed by some sifted self raising flour and some baking powder. 



After this was all mixed together, I got another bowl out and put about one third of the mixture into it.  To this I added some cocoa powder. 

The recipe suggested using two separate piping bags and piping both the vanilla and chocolate mixtures into the tin carefully.  I didn’t want to waste two of my piping bags so I just spooned the mixture into the bundt tin instead.  I guess it didn’t look as neat but the marble effect was still there!

The cake went into the oven at 180oC fan but I was concerned at the baking time.  Most times when I bake using my bundt pans, the cakes tend to take about 45 minutes to an hour.  This recipe stated 25 minutes. I checked the cake after 25 minutes and it was still raw in places! I ended up keeping it in the oven for 45 minutes.  I wonder if anyone else has had this happen to them if they have baked the recipe?



We were far too full to eat cake after our Sunday roast so I cut the cake up and put it into a tin.  It got eaten over the next week and was a real pick me up with a cup of tea or coffee when I fancied the munchies getting in from work.

I’ll definitely bake this again.

Happy Baking!
Love Sam xx

Lemon Drizzle Bundt Cake.

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I’m a huge fan of Nordicware Bundt pans much to the annoyance of Mr SmartCookieSam and my kids.  I’ve lost count of how many pans I’ve got since I started collecting them seven years ago.  My first one was the giant cupcake pan and since then I’ve been lucky enough to find ones in local shops, chain stores, Ebay, Amazon and even over in Canada in Williams Sonoma.  I spend birthday and Christmas money on them. Even only a few days ago as I type I managed to buy the Blossom pan. It turned up when Mr SmartCookieSam was there and he said “But you’ve got already got that one!” Er no, but then I suppose they all look the same to him.

The other week I managed to find the Star Pan (pictured below with the Heritage pan and the Elegant Party pan) in my local Home Sense.  I’d only gone in to find a blanket for my dog to lie on when he goes in my car.  Thankfully he did get his beautiful tartan blanket but I also came out with a bundt pan!  I wasn’t expecting that!

Fast forward to a month later and I had the perfect chance to use my star pan for the first time.  In my previous two posts about the Pinata Cake and the Decadent Chocolate Bundt Cake I mentioned about my wasted day baking three sumptuous cakes for my local WI Supper, only for there to be a mix up on the rota.  The third and final cake I chose to bake was one that always goes down really well at WI is my Lemon Drizzle Bundt.

By this time it was early afternoon and I had already baked two cakes and decorated one of them. I had yet to decorate the second and to bake this one.  Fortunately lemon drizzle cake doesn’t need any icing on it, just the syrup and a dusting of icing sugar.  At least time was on my side.

I greased the Star Bundt pan with Wilton Cake Release, preheated the oven to 160oC and then started to weigh out the ingredients.  I beat together butter and caster sugar until it was light and fluffy and then added in four eggs one by one.  When the eggs were beaten in, I also added a tablespoonful of self raising flour from the whole amount each time to prevent any curdling.  In another bowl I grated the zest from two large lemons and also added the juice from one of them in with some natural yoghurt.  This was mixed together.

To bring the mixture together I alternated spoonfuls of the remaining flour along with the lemony yoghurt mixure.  This was carefully folded in so I didn’t see any flour not mixed in.  Then the mixture was ready to go into the tin and into the oven.

After about 40 minutes I checked the cake and noticed it was still a little bit runny in the middle.  I kept this cooking for another ten minutes or so and that did the trick.  The cake came out of the oven and was ready to cool down.

While the cake was cooling I had to make the lemon sugar syrup.  This was made with caster sugar, lemon zest and lemon juice gently heated up in a saucepan until the sugar had dissolved.

It needed to cool a little bit for a few minutes but the cake needed to still be warm for the syrup to soak into the sponge.  I did this as the cake was still cooling in the tin.

When the cake was ready to come out I felt as anxious as I always do every time I take a bundt cake out of it’s pan.  This one would have to look good as it wasn’t going to be heavily decorated and any chunks missing from still being stuck in the tin would be on show!

Fortunately, thanks to taking great care with greasing the pans carefully I didn’t have any problems.  So all that remained was to let the cake cool down on a cake board and to dust it with icing sugar.

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Decadent Chocolate Bundt. 

Just before Easter I finally managed to get round to using my Nordicware Elegant Party Bundt pan. Easter was weeks ago but my blogging has gone by the wayside.  Life has just been too hectic recently.  The Elegant Party pan was a Christmas present and I’d wanted to use it for a while. What better than to bake a mouthwatering chocolate cake in it and decorate it with any Easter chocolates and mini eggs I had to hand?

As mentioned in my previous post, I had a bit of a fiasco with my turn doing supper for my local WI meeting.  Luckily three ladies took the three cakes off my hands for me and paid me to cover the cost of the ingredients.  I was so grateful, after all I had spent a lot on extra chocolate to give this cake the wow factor!

To bake the actual chocolate bundt itself I started off by greasing the pan with some trusty Wilton Cake Release.  I made sure it went into all the nooks and crannies of the pan so the cake would slide out easily and the pattern would stay intact.  Once this was done, I preheated my oven to 160oC (it’s a fan oven).

Then to start on the cake. I melted some dark chocolate in the microwave carefully then left it to cool down but not to set.  As this was happening I creamed together some soft unsalted butter and some golden caster sugar.  Once this was soft and fluffy I then added in some eggs one at a time.  In between adding the eggs I also added a tablespoonful of self raising flour from the flour already weighed out to mix in.  This prevented the mixture from becoming curdled.  The rest of the flour along with some baking powder was folded in afterwards.  In a third bowl along with the cooled down melted chocolate I also had some natural yoghurt and some vanilla extract mixed up.  To combine all the ingredients I put in about a third of the flour mixture, then folded it in and then repeated that with the chocolate mixture.  I did this again twice more so all the ingredients were combined.

The mixture was then carefully spooned into the pan and went straight into the oven.  Luckily the base of the Elegant Party pan is quite stable so I didn’t need a baking tray underneath to stop it tipping all over the floor of my oven.

After about an hour’s baking time the bundt was ready to come out of the oven.  At home by this time it was lunchtime and the smell was making me desperate to eat something.  I was so tempted to raid the chocolate stash and unfortunately the temptation was too great.  A mini creme egg slipped into my mouth, closely followed by about four min Milky Bar eggs.  The embarrassment of not having enough chocolate to decorate the cake was enough to stop me working my way through the rest of them, though!

Then to the moment of reckoning- the dreaded will the bundt come out of the pan in one piece moment? All cake bakers feel like this! But I usually find its typical when a cake has to look perfect, it doesn’t come out in one piece and most of it sticks to the bottom.  And when you don’t have to worry about a perfect cake, it slides out immaculately.  Thankfully I knew that any mistakes could be covered up with chocolate ganache on this cake.

Out if slid in one piece! Yayyyy! I left it to completely cool and went off to get some lunch for myself and my two teenagers.  Only both of them at lunchtime had only just got out of bed and had just eaten breakfast.  This means that at 3.00pm when I’m slap bang in the middle of something they’ll saunter into the kitchen to see whats for lunch and wonder why I can’t drop everything and cook something.  Or they’ll start making something themselves taking up space and making my cake baking space in a mess. So I ended up with beans on toast just for myself.

After the cake had cooled down it was time to add a chocolate ganache to the cake.  This was made by melting three bars of dark chocolate in the microwave and then pouring some double cream over the top of it. This made a beautifully runny and smooth icing.  To get the ganache into the grooves of the bundt cake I got a disposable piping bag and snipped off a tiny corner of the tip. The ganache was poured into the bag and piped over the top of the bundt, coaxing the drips so they went down in between the grooves.

As it was nearly Easter and I needed all those Easter treats using up without me gobbling them, I went completely over the top.  Starting off with Cadbury’s Mini Eggs, I filled the middle of the bundt until the eggs reached the top. Then on top I stuck Malteser bunnies, Galaxy mini eggs, Oreo mini eggs, Milky Bar mini eggs and mini Creme Eggs. Definitely not a cake to eat if you are on a diet.  But the original idea was that each person would have a tiny sliver with a couple of mini eggs. 

This chocolate bundt could be adapted for any occasion where you need a chocolate cake. You could use anyone’s favourite sweets or chocolates to decorate it.  It can be for a birthday or even for Christmas if you fancy something like this instead of a traditional fruit cake.

Happy Baking.

Love Sam xx

Sugar and Crumbs’ Natural Icing Sugar Winter Flavours- Creme Brulee Snowflake Bundt and Cupcakes.

I really love Sugar and Crumbs’ Natural flavoured icing sugars and was really keen to try out their new limited edition flavours brought out for this Christmas and the Winter season.  I was lucky enough to win a £25 gift voucher from them in a Great British Bake Off competition on their Facebook page. We had to predict the winner of the Bake Off for this year. My name along with another lady, won because we were drawn out of the names who predicted Candice would win. I was so happy when I heard I’d won the prize as I wanted to buy packets of the new four flavours released in time for Christmas.  Not only that but I wanted to get some more packets of my favourite flavours, like Chocolate Mint and Salted Caramel.

The four new flavours included the decadent sounding Creme Brulee.  I love Creme Brulee although I never make it at home.  It sounded like a perfect creamy vanilla flavour to enhance a Christmas themed sponge, cupcakes or fudge.

Those of you who read my blog regularly might see I’ve not been writing much recently. This is down to me working full time with a position in a nursery.  It has been very long hours and as soon as I get in on an evening, the last thing I think about is baking or blogging.  But baking is a massive part of my life, it keeps me sane and helps me relax.  I really missed it.

Before the end of last term it was going to be a Christmas tea party at the nursery I’ve been working in.  I baked some plain vanilla cupcakes with glace icing and snowflake sugarpaste shapes for the children.  I didn’t want the adults to miss out, after all in the busy lead up to Christmas you definitely need a sugar boost to get you through the day.

Plain vanilla cupcakes baked for the children to eat at their tea party.

The Snowflake Creme Brulee Bundt was a great excuse to use my Nordicware snowflake bundt pan bought back in July when on holiday in Canada.  I couldn’t believe my luck when I saw it on the shelf in Williams Sonoma in Edmonton. I made sure I greased the bundt pan carefully with cake release, then got on with baking the bundt itself.  The recipe I used is adapted from The Hummingbird Bakery’s book Life Is Sweet.  On page 28 there is a delicious recipe for a Tunnel of Fudge Bundt cake.  Here is my adaptation:

SNOWFLAKE CREME BRULEE BUNDT

INGREDIENTS:

390g unsalted, softened butter

375g caster sugar

6 large eggs

250g icing sugar (Sugar and Crumbs’ Creme Brulee natural flavour)

395g plain flour

1 tsp vanilla extract

extra icing sugar to dust 

To begin with preheat the oven to 170oC/ 325oF or Gas Mark 3.Grease the bundt pan with Cake release.

In a mixing bowl with a hand held electric mixer or a freestanding mixer, beat the softened butter and the caster sugar together until it is light and creamy.

Then add the eggs one at a time, beating the mixture after each addition. Then add the icing sugar to the bowl, followed by the vanilla extract.

After that, add in the plain flour. Mix this with a metal spoon by folding in the flour until everything is incorporated.  

Spoon the mixture into the prepared bundt tin.  I found that there was some mixture left over when I use a smaller bundt pan.  I ended up having enough mixture to bake several cupcakes.  Of course this does depend on the size of your bundt pan, just make sure it is filled to three quarters full. 

Bake your bundt cake in the oven for about 55-60 minutes. I usually need to check with a skewer inserted into the cake but it is usually done when the cake starts to come away from the side of the tin.

As the snowflake bundt has so much pretty detail on it, I felt it didn’t need any icing. All it needed was a dusting of the creme brulee icing sugar on top and it was finished.

The remainder of the 500g packet of creme brulee icing sugar was turned into a simple glace icing for the top of the cupcakes.I then cut out some sugarpaste snowflake shapes with some mini plunger cutters bought from Lakeland.  They were gorgeous and looked pretty on top of the cupcakes in their sparkly foil cases.

The Creme Brulee Snowflake Bundt in all its glory.

The snowflake bundt only needed a dusting of icing sugar to show the beautiful detail off.

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Love these pretty snowflake plunger cutters from Lakeland.

Cupcakes baked with the remaining mixture which was left.  Topped with the remaining creme brulee icing and finished with sugarpaste snowflakes

Different snowflake patterns

Everything went down very well at work.  Though it’s nearly 3 weeks since I made them now, such a distant memory. But I’m determined to get myself organised and blog more in 2017.  Wonder if I’ll still be saying that next month!

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx

 SmartCookieSam’s Christmas Baking.

I dream about baking and love any excuse to get in my kitchen.  But the week before Christmas I just couldn’t get into it. I knew I had lots to make but every time I thought “Right, let’s make that fudge,” something would happen and it would get pushed to the wayside.  I started off the week with a thumping fuzzy headache.  It was brought on by having to get everything I hadn’t done sorted out in three days flat because of all the work commitments leading up to the end of term. In the end I decided I would have to get up at 5.30am and get cracking on what was needed for foodie presents and for our own Christmas food.

It was a very long day and by the time I sat down at 10pm having cleaned the kitchen floor, I was ready for bed.  These photos showed what I made.

My Gingerbread House Bundt Cake baked as an alternative to Christmas cake.

Using a recipe from the Sugar and Crumbs website I made their simple fudge using Salted Caramel icing sugar, condensed milk and butter. So easy to make.

Brownies always go down well for foodie presents and I baked three different batches, starting with these Mint M&M ones.

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Brownies baked with Oreo Cookies inside, yum yum!

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Some baking for us: Mince Pies and homemade sausage rolls.

For those who don’t like mince pies I baked some peanut butter M&M cookies.  

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Gingerbread Cupcakes using the scrumptious and delicious smelling Sugar and Crumbs Gingerbread Icing sugar in the buttercream.

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx

Clandestine Cake Club “A Year Of Cake” December Bakealong- Nordic Spice Cake.

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I love being a member of the internationally renowned Clandestine Cake Club.  I’ve made lots of lovely friends through chatting over cake. I can honestly say that cake club has changed my life in lots of ways and I wouldn’t be without it.  I haven’t been able to get along to any events for a couple of months due to work commitments but I’m excited to be getting back to it in January!

For those who can’t always make the events and meet up with friends there are a couple of other options.  Members can join in a virtual cake event or a bakealong.  I have joined in with several of these in the past, including the CCCBook Club “A Year Of Cake” bakealong.  These events are monthly and by the end of that month those who want to take part choose to bake a cake which features in that particular chapter of the Year Of Cake book. You take photos and email this with a short description of the cake and why you baked it, etc for Lynn Hill founder of the Clandestine Cake Club to put into a write up or blog post of the event. Though sometimes I’ve forgotten to post the photos by the deadline and missed it a couple of times!

Anyway, being December it was the last of the Year Of Cake bakealongs.  There were twelve scrumptious recipes to choose from all of which I would love to have baked.  I had to go with something I know everyone would eat at home.  I decided on the Nordic Spice Cake.  It is a cake typical of the flavours in Scandinavian cooking which is shared at the time of St. Lucia’s Day (the Swedish festival of lights) Baked in a circular bundt pan it could be resplendent of an Advent wreath or a St Lucia crown.

I chose to bake my version in the Gingerbread House Bundt pan instead of a wreath shape.  This is because I’m absolutely rubbish at making gingerbread houses, they always collapse on me no matter how much icing I throw on them. So I could have a cakey version instead.  It was 8.30am on December 23rd and I had so much to do. The gingerbread house was only one of a few things I was going to bake.

First things first- to grease the gingerbread house pan.  This was a complex job as it had lots of nooks and crannies.  Lots of Cake Release needed here! Then I made sure the oven was on and preheating with the top shelf removed so I could get the tin in without knocking it.

Then for the cake itself. I creamed together butter and brown sugar until it became light and fluffy.  Next I beat eggs, natural yoghurt and the zest of a large orange together in another bowl.  Finally in another bowl I measured out sifted self raising flour and three teaspoonfuls of my friend Heidi’s special Christmas Spice.  Lynn Hill’s recipe also uses 35ml of mulled wine in the mix.  I didn’t have mulled wine so instead I added in the juice of the orange I had taken the zest off first. The aroma coming out of the kitchen smelled wonderful and I couldn’t wait to try it.  Nothing smells as nice to me as the smell of baking gingerbread.

With the gingerbread house bundt pan being an uneven shape I usually put it on a flat baking tray in the oven so it can bake flat. Nothing worse than the gingerbread house’s chimney sticking through the gap in the oven tray and the mixture all falling out on the bottom of the oven. Believe me, I’ve been there.

As luck would have it the cake baked perfectly and came out of the pan in one piece. I couldn’t decorate it straight away as I had other things to do. So the gingerbread house went into a corner of the kitchen for a few hours while I started on some fudge.

Decorated with piped glace icing and some Wilton Gingerbread house sugar shapes as well as some M&Ms the cake looked really festive.  It made a beautiful centrepiece on Christmas Eve and also tasted fantastic.  Not everyone likes fruit cake or marzipan and this was a perfect alternative.

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx

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

Banana Bundt from the Nordic Bakery Cookbook.


Today was a day off from work. All very quiet on the supply teaching front when it’s SATs week so I took the chance to catch up with jobs at home and to relax a bit. 

When I was ironing this morning I looked across at my fruit bowl and spotted some bananas that were so ripe I’m surprised they didn’t grow wings and run away! My kids are going through a refusing to eat fruit phase and there’s no way I’d eat six bananas in one sitting. So there was one thing for it- bake a cake with them in!

A few weeks ago I found a lovely book in my local Waterstones called The Nordic Bakery Cookbook by Miisa Mink. I had never heard of The Nordic Bakery before but it is in London, Soho to be precise. I love Scandinavian baking and regularly sample the delights of a local Norwegian cafe in Harrogate called Baltzersens which makes the most gorgeous cinnamon buns. I’ve always wanted to have go at some Nordic baking myself, so I was pleased to find this book!

The recipe for Banana Cake on page 66 was a perfect way to use up my ripe bananas and also some ground cardamom I’d bought and needed to use before it went out of date. As the recipe introduction states: “Everyone loves banana bread or cake as we call it. Ours is packed with the spices that typify Nordic baking: ginger, cardamom and cinnamon. Throw in some ground cloves and really ripe bananas and you have a delicious and very easy cake for any time of day,”

Being a Bundt addict and an avid collector of Nordicware bundt pans, the accompanying picture showed the banana cake as a bundt ring cake. That’s what did it for me, I had to get out one of my pans and bake the banana cake there and then.  I chose my Heritage bundt pan which is a very pretty swirl design and makes an ordinary cake look special.  I love banana cake anyway and it would be perfect served plain with a cup of tea or as a dessert with a scoop of ice cream.

My favourite Nordicware Heritage Bundt pan was greased with some Wilton Cake Release.
Six small , ripe bananas were mashed with a fork.
Butter and sugar were creamed together in a mixing bowl.
To the creamed butter and sugar I added two beaten eggs.
All the dry ingredients were added to another bowl: plain flour, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, ground cardamom and mixed spice.

All the dry ingredients were sifted together and added to the creamed mixture.

The flour mixture was folded in, then I added in the mashed banana.
The mixture was then spooned into the bundt pan and put in the oven.
The finished Banana Cake cooling down and smelling wonderful.
A piece of cake cut to try out.

I love the array of different spices used in Nordic baking and the aroma permeating around my kitchen smelled wonderful. I love the smell of ginger and cinnamon in baking but it was great to experiment with a spice I don’t know as much and that’s cardamom. It’s hugely popular and a staple of Scandinavian baking so when I found some ground cardamom in a local shop, I had to try it out. It saved me messing about crushing cardamom pods with a mortar and pestle! Another spice in the recipe called for using ground cloves. I didn’t have any so I substituted a teaspoonful of ground mixed spice instead.

When the cake was baking, the smell was so tempting. I’m trying so hard to keep off the sweet stuff at the moment but when you are faced with temptation all around you, it’s fatal. Luckily it was near dinner time and I had to make do with a plate of chilli and rice instead!  The cake got put into a box and is now hiding away from me. Though I know I might succumb to it tomorrow night after a long, busy day at work! I’ll let you know!

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx

John Whaite Bakes At Home- Update on my June Cooking The Books Challenge.

Unfortunately things have gone a bit pear shaped in my monthly Cooking The Books Challenge.  It got to the end of the month yesterday and I realised I’d not baked two of the recipes I wanted to for the challenge.  I missed out on baking some Utterly Nutterly Shortbreads and some Wedding Party Rings!  Oh dear, well not to worry.  Instead I have had other baking to do, including a Labrador shaped cake for my friend.  I’ve also been working some extra hours, so time has been precious.  Not only this but I rejoined Weightwatchers two weeks ago.  I lost 6lbs the first week but last week I didn’t follow it properly as I was too busy.  I can feel all those lost pounds creeping back on and I haven’t had the guts to weigh myself….

So this post is really to show what I did get around to baking.  A week last Sunday the village where I go to WI (when I can get to the meetings, that is!) had their Open Gardens.  I baked three things to donate to the WI tea and cake stand.  I was meant to help at the end of the day but I ended up having to say no, after all hubby was out and I needed to be the children’s taxi service!

First up was the Aussie Crunch.  Rather moreish and Gilchrists, the bakery in my nearby town of Boroughbridge makes delicious Aussie Crunch.  It’s quick and simple to make and John includes it in the Family Bakes section of his book.  Great for all the family to eat and to have a go at baking too!  Though John says “Why it is called Aussie Crunch when it comes from Bolton is a mystery to me!”  I was glad in a way it was heading up to the WI stall, if I’d even tried one bite, the whole lot would end up being scoffed!

To make the Aussie Crunch it was simple.  I put butter and sugar into a saucepan and let the butter melt and the sugar dissolve.  In a large mixing bowl I mixed together dessicated coconut and cornflakes, then tossed in some cocoa powder and self raising flour. This was all mixed together with the melted butter and then put into my greased 8″ square tin ready for baking.  It only took 20 minutes to bake and smelled fab.

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While the Aussie crunch was still cooling in the tin, John suggests adding the chocolate topping by breaking it up into squares and putting it on top of the crunch. The chocolate melts from the heat of the warm cake.

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I spread the melted chocolate into all corners of the tin and then left it in the fridge to set.

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The finished Aussie Crunch cut up into 12 large heavenly pieces.

While the Aussie Crunch was setting in the fridge, I got on with the next bake.  As I love baking bundt cakes so much I was really keen to try John’s Fig, Pecan and Orange Bundt Cake in the Friendship Feasts chapter in the book.  I’m not really keen on figs and even though I wasn’t going to be baking the cake for myself I still fancied putting something else in the cake instead!  So I plumped for chopped, dried dates.  I wanted to use my Jubilee bundt pan again as it has such a pretty lattice design on it and hoped that it would encourage people to try it.

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Butter and sugar was creamed together, then I added in grated orange zest. After this, eggs, buttermilk and vanilla extract were added in carefully, followed by plain flour, baking powder and some ground cinnamon. After everything was folded in, I added in chopped pecan pieces and the dried dates.

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The finished Date, Pecan and Orange Bundt Cake baked in the pretty Nordicware Jubilee pan.

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View from the top! It looks like a flower when you look at it this way too!

I was very impressed with the results I had with the bundt.  I will definitely be baking this again.  John says “This makes for perfect toast, toppped with some boisterous Stilton cheese!”  Sounds good to me!

The final bake for the WI Open Gardens Stall was John’s Lemon Sherbet Cake.  It contains the sherbet (not the lollies though!) from Sherbet Dip dabs!  I’d never thought to put them in a cake before and it was funny buying Dip-dabs in the shop, haven’t done that since I was about 10!  I also added my own slant to the cake by decorating it with sherbet lemon sweets instead of handmade lemon peel. I just felt a bit lazy by then and wanted to cut a few corners to save time!

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Lemon Sherbet candy heaven!

The lemon sherbet cake is from the Family Bakes chapter of John Whaite Bakes At Home and is definitely one to avoid if you are on a diet but perfect for a family get-together or celebration.  John’s version involves vertically slicing the two cake layers so you have four altogether.  I find this dead fiddly so I kept the two and had all my filling in the middle of the cake.  The filling was absolutely gorgeous: whipping cream, mascarpone cheese, icing sugar, the Dip dabs, lemon juice and zest whipped together.  I piped it in the middle and on the top of the cake using my large star shaped nozzle.

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The Sherbet Lemon cake had a delicious mascarpone, lemon sherbet and cream frosting.

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Sherbet Lemon sweets on top of the cake. I put whole ones around the edge and then got the remaining ones in the packet and crushed them up to sprinkle them in the middle.

Again, I was really pleased with how the cake turned out and thought I would love to try this with different flavours and sweets.  Very retro.  I took the three cakes around to my friend’s house as I couldn’t help at the stall myself.  She was pleased with them but I haven’t had chance to ask her how they went.  I hope they tasted ok.

As I type this, it is now July 4th.  I’m meant to be thinking about July’s challenge.  I’d better get my bum into gear or else it will be August!

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx