Chocolate Cherry Bakewell Loaf

It’s been a couple of months at least since I’ve been to a Clandestine Cake Club event.  I’ve been working full time and I haven’t baked much recently.  The Clandestine Cake Club’s VCake Events are a fantastic idea if you can’t get to an event but you still want to bake.  I love taking part in them and I baked a cake.  But unfortunately, I forgot to email my cake photos to the Club’s founder, Lynn Hill so my cake wasn’t included in the event write up.

The  event write up is featured on the Clandestine Cake Club website and the link is here  Magazines, Leaflets and Booklets 

The idea was that many people collect or stash recipes gleaned from magazines, leaflets and booklets. I do. I buy Good Food magazine and Delicious magazine but only get chance to cook recipes out of them sometimes.  I’m always picking up recipe leaflets and booklets but never seem to get round to cooking anything from them. This event was such a good idea to get you searching through those cake recipes you wish you had had chance to bake.  Funnily enough this month’s Good Food magazine came with a free cake recipe booklet to celebrate the magazine’s 300th issue! I’ve not been buying all of those, I was only 18 when the first issue of Good Food mag came out and as a sixth former cooking was the last thing I was interested in!

There were several recipes I wanted to try in the booklet but the one that I thought my whole family would eat was the Chocolate Cherry Bakewell Loaf.  All the flavours of a bakewell tart but in a loaf form and with chocolate as well.  Bound to be a hit!

Last Sunday I chose to bake this, along with some scones.  Mr SmartCookieSam was out at a Classic Car show and my two grown up children were at work. So it was me on my lonesome! Perfect opportunity to get my apron on and the scales out, especially as the weather has been so rubbish.

Recipe as featured in Good Food Magazine.

Cuts into 8-10 slices.

Ingredients:

200g softened butter

140g fresh, stoned and halved cherries *

140g plain flour

200g golden caster sugar

3 medium eggs

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

75g ground almonds

2 tbsp milk

1 tsp each of vanilla and almond extracts

200g dark or milk chocolate, chopped.

2 tbsp toasted, flaked almonds.

  • First, heat the oven to 160oC/ 140oC fan/ Gas Mark 3.  Line a 900g loaf tin with baking parchment.  I swear by the ready made loaf tin liners readily available from shops like Lakeland.
  • Now to deal with the cherries.  If you are using fresh cherries, you need to wash, destone and half them first.  Then toss them in a tablespoonful of the flour from the quantity already weighed out.  If you are choosing to use glace cherries like I did, then thoroughly wash them to get the syrup off.  Then pat dry on a paper towel, halve them, rinse and dry again.  Then toss in a tablespoonful of flour.
  • Cream the butter and sugar together in a large bowl until the mixture becomes light and fluffy.  When this is done, add the eggs one by one and mix well between each addition.
  • Fold in the rest of the flour, the baking powder and the ground almonds.
  • Stir in the milk, the two extracts and half of the chocolate.  Then add in the cherries.
  • Bake in the oven for 1 hour 10 minutes approx or until an inserted skewer comes out clean.
  • Leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes and then turn out on to a wire rack to cool down completely.
  • When the cake has cooled down, melt the remaining chocolate in the microwave and drizzle or pipe it on top of the cake.
  • Scatter on top with toasted, flaked almonds.
  • Wait for the chocolate on top to set a bit before slicing the cake.

Now as I’m always doing things in a hurry or have a zillion things on the go at once, I was a little bit disappointed to find my chocolate and cherries had sunk to the bottom of the cake.  I’ve made cherry cakes before which have remained in the middle.  So why not this one? I thoroughly rinsed and dried the cherries as well as tossing them in flour.  Maybe it was the rest of the cake mixture.  Didn’t spoil the taste of the cake though.  I also didn’t bother with adding toasted almond flakes to the top of the cake.

I demolished a slice of this gorgeous cake with a cup of tea on that Sunday afternoon while reading a magazine.  It had the almond flavour running through it and tasted just like a cherry bakewell cake should taste with the added dimension of dark chocolate.  Cherries and chocolate work so well together.  I will definitely make this cake again as my family really enjoyed it.  The remainder froze well, although the cake apparently does keep in a cake tin for up to four days.

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx

Syrniki from the Great British Bake Off Celebrations.

I’m a bit at sixes and sevens with my blog posting recently.  I started writing this post last week but the WordPress app kept crashing on my ipad. I had nearly finished it too and the whole thing was lost.  I was fuming and ended up giving it up on the night.  Now I’m trying to type it on my laptop while crossing my fingers at the same time.

Anyway, you’ve all probably gathered I’m a real Bake Off fan and I love watching the series.  I did apply for series 2, the one that Jo Wheatley won back in 2011.  But looking back I could never put myself under that pressure. I would cry my eyes out if Paul Hollywood said my cake tasted like wallpaper paste or like rubber. So I have immense admiration for all the contestants who take part in the series.  I’m content with baking from the book and trying out new recipes without Paul and Mary commenting on it.

Instead I have the critical eye and tastebuds of my family. My son is usually the one who comes out with all the comments, like “That looks like a giant turd” or “It tastes like cat wee!” Then again he is fifteen and being nice to Mum isn’t what he does!  The same went for when I tried to make Syrniki the other day for breakfast.

Syrniki? Well I wondered what they were, too!  According to the recipe in The Great British Bake Off Celebrations book on page 68, they are “a treat for Easter morning” and are “the festive version of the thick Russian breakfast pancakes popular also in Ukraine and Poland.” They are usually made with local soft cheese to produce a thick pancake batter.  The recipe in the book used Quark.  I had bought a tub of Quark the week before to go in a recipe but ended up not using it. The recipe also was quite fiddly because you had to separate the eggs.

First Quark was mixed in a large bowl along with some sugar and a little lemon zest.  After that I added in some plain flour and then some egg yolks.  The egg whites were whisked separately and then folded in to the mixture. Finally I added some raisins to the batter.

The batter came out really thick, even thicker than American pancakes or drop scones.  I fried two of them at a time and asked my children to stand with a plate ready to get one as they were being cooked.  My son took one look at them and said “I’m not eating them, they’ve got raisins in!” My daughter ate one and said the cheese made it taste “wierd”. So I cooked a couple for myself and tried them out.

IMG_2559
Syrniki-a type of thick Russian pancake.

I served the Syrniki with some blueberries. You could also have them with yoghurt, jam or maple syrup. I found them filling and the taste did not put me off like it was with my children.  I guess it’s what you’re used to, these had less sugar in them.

Would I make Syrniki again? Probably not as my family weren’t keen on them and I found having to separate eggs a bit of a faff first thing in the morning when everyone is hungy and wanting their breakfast.

Happy Baking.

Love Sam xx

Bundts, Bundts and More Bundts.

I’m getting just that teensy weensy bit obsessed with collecting Nordicware Bundt pans now. I think it needs to stop or else I will need a kitchen extension!  I just love the interesting shapes that the pans come in and how you can make a cake into a showstopper bake by using one of the pans.  I still see pans I want and the wish list is getting longer and longer by the day!

This post is to share some of the more recent bakes I have made so far this year using my bundt pans.  For recipe inspiration I can recommend the fabulous website by Rachel McGrath the Bundt Queen herself.  She has lots of ideas and fantastic flavour combinations to try out.  I would recommend looking at her Bundt recipe page and also adapting and creating your own ideas from her Build a Bundt recipe.

Rachel’s feature on her blog called Bundts on The Brain is a great insight into the history of the Bundt:

http://www.dollybakes.co.uk/p/bundts-on-brain.html

Here are my new bundt pans I have been getting excited about!

115
The Heritage Bundt pan. I’ve been after this for ages, such a pretty design.
145
My two loaf bundt pans: a lemon loaf one and a gingerbread man one.
163
A pretty rose bundt pan. I haven’t had much success with this, tried to bake a white chocolate and raspberry bundt in it a few weeks back and it just wouldn’t come out of the tin. When I finally got it out, the top part fell out leaving half of it welded to the bottom! Try and try again I suppose!
188
For Valentine’s Day I baked a chocolate and chocolate themed bundt heart cake. It featured Sugar and Crumbs‘s chocolate and coconut icing sugar which worked really well in both the mixture and the chocolate glaze. To top the cake I added miniature sugarpaste hearts.
028
Connected with a previous blog post written in conjunction with Sugar and Crumbs, I baked this Jaffa Orange Bundt cake. This recipe was adapted from one in the latest Hummingbird Bakery recipe book and looked fab baked in my Heritage bundt pan.
004
Bundt cakes are those baked in pans manufactured by Nordicware and not necessarily a cake with a hole in the middle. This sticky lemon loaf cake baked from one of my Nana’s old recipe books went along to a Clandestine Cake Club event in February.
040
I spotted the Nordicware Pineapple Upside down cake pan on Ebay in March and just had to have it. Luckily it was a Buy It Now option but I did have to send for it from the USA. It was worth it to bake one of my family’s favourite desserts in such a pretty way.  The recipe itself I used from an American website but I am not sure if I got the quantities right having to use baking cups!
117
Back in January I wanted to experiment with some Monin coffee syrups I was given just before Christmas. So I used one of Dollybakes’ recipes to bake this Cinnamon and Apple Bundt Cake with apple flavour glace icing.
132
For my hubby’s birthday in January I baked my usual carrot cake recipe in a traditional bundt pan and decorated it with cream cheese frosting, chopped nuts and some ready made carrot decorations.
156
My heart shaped bundt pan gets used at all times of the year, not just for Valentine’s Day! I baked Jamie Oliver’s Sticky Toffee Pudding from his latest book Comfort Food in my pan instead of in a traybake tin.
160
My piece of sticky toffee pudding with some sauce drizzled over. Perfect for a cold February dessert.

Keep watching this space, there will be more bundts to come in the future!

Happy Baking.

Love Sam xx

Chocolate Mocha Hedgehog Birthday Cake.

Who had a chocolate hedgehog birthday cake as a child?  I can’t remember having one myself but I do remember my mum making me a Mr Greedy cake when I was about 6 or 7!  It was iced with pink buttercream and I loved it as I was a huge fan of the Mr Men.  (The Little Misses hadn’t been invented then, shows how old I am doesn’t it?)  I have made chocolate hedgehog cakes for others though I never made one for my own children.  They ended up with things like pirate ships and mermaids.

Both my Dad and my step-mum celebrate their birthdays in December and with it being close to Christmas they sometimes miss out on their own birthday cakes.  So as they were coming over to our house for a birthday dinner I decided they just had to have a fun birthday cake.

I decided to test out the Chocolate Mocha Hedgehog Cake recipe from The Clandestine Cake Club Cookbook.  It was baked in a different way to the way I had baked mine.  I had used a half sphere mould or a pudding basin to give the rounded shape in the past.  This recipe involved baking a round sandwich cake and cutting it in half.  It had the extra flavour of the coffee in it and I was pleased that it was a chocolate buttercream for the icing rather than a ganache.  My step mum can’t eat cream so a ganache topping was out.

Starting off the cake- I put butter, sugar, eggs, flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and a spoonful of Camp coffee essence into my KitchenAid.
Starting off the cake- I put butter, sugar, eggs, flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and a spoonful of Camp coffee essence into my KitchenAid.
060
I greased and lined one of my 20cm diameter cake tins.
061
The cake mixture was ready to spoon into the tin.
062
Once the mixture was in the tin, I levelled it with a spatula and put it in the oven to bake.
063
Out of the oven and cooling down on the side. The cake took about 35 minutes to bake.
064
Once it had cooled down I cut the cake in half vertically so that it made two semi-circles.
065
Now, on with the filling and icing. This was made by beating margarine, a spoonful of Camp Coffee, icing sugar and cocoa powder together in the mixer.

Now to assemble the hedgehog cake.  I sandwiched the two halves together using some of the mocha chocolate icing. So far so good.  When I put the cake on its side it definitely did not look like a hedgehog.  It looked far too flat.  I was meant to carve some cake off each side but me being thick couldn’t work out WHICH side I was meant to cut.  The hedgehog looked like it had been squashed trying to squeeze through a gate or door!  Oh well.  Also the recipe said to use two bags of chocolate buttons but it did not specify which size bag to use.  I thought it meant the standard size bags you buy individually.  I only just had enough buttons to cover my flat hedgehog.  To create the hedgehog’s eyes and nose I used some Skittles.  The recipe mentioned using Smarties but I hadn’t got any so Skittles had to do.  The eyes looked a bit small and lost, so I tried to make a big nose.  It looked a right mess.  My son came in and started laughing at the hedgehog saying it looked stupid.

066
My flat and rather cross-eyed hedgehog.
067
I only just had enough Chocolate Buttons to cover the cake and give the hedgehog his prickles.
068
I thought this could be an ideal shape for a mouse in future.

My Dad and step mum loved the cake and we all had a little bit after dinner. They then took most of it home in a plastic box to finish it off. As the cake had the coffee flavour it wouldn’t be ideal for very young children, better for someone who is a child at heart.  I really enjoyed the cake, despite it’s appearance and it tasted fab.

Happy Baking.

Love Sam xx