Amazing Cakes #29: Fondant Fancies

When you hear the name Fondant Fancies you immediately think of Mr Kipling’s yellow, chocolate and pink creations. Or if you live in Yorkshire like me, you might have even tasted the delectable version which Betty’s creates. I must admit I find Fondant Fancies too sweet and sickly, even though I’ve got a sweet tooth. The other week I met my friend at Betty’s and while she had a Fondant Fancy, I tucked into a Fat Rascal! Her Fondant Fancy looked so pretty though, with the icing and delicate pink flowers.

Last Thursday and Friday were my main baking days for SmartCookieSam as I had had my Mum up here visiting. I had an afternoon tea order as well as some brownies and shortbread to go out to customers. I thought of what I could maybe offer as an option on my afternoon teas and Fondant Fancies came into my head. Although I don’t really like eating them, there are plenty of people who do.

For Fondant Fancies you start off by baking a square shaped sponge cake. I did this in one of my square tins I use for my brownies, etc. It was a simple sponge, delicately flavoured with lemon.

As soon as I started baking, I realised I had not got any marzipan in. I only tend to have marzipan in around Christmas for my Christmas cakes and also at Easter for Simnel Cake. I’d been to do my shop the day before and completely forgot. Luckily later on that day I was heading out to the post office to ship my brownies and shortbread and the village shop it was attached to has a wonderful array of baking products. Phew!

After the sponge came out of the oven and I was home after my post office run, I removed the sponge from the tin. It had to be cooled but it was so hot in my kitchen that nothing was cooling down.

To the sponge I added a layer of apricot jam and then a layer of the marzipan on the top. The marzipan was very sticky to work with and my hands felt so hot. I had to dust the surfaces very thickly with icing sugar to stop the marzipan from sticking to it when I was rolling it out. I then put it on top of the sponge and trimmed round the edges of it.

The next job was to make up a batch of buttercream. This buttercream needed to be put in the fridge to harden up slightly but this didn’t work because as soon as I got it out of the fridge it became runny again.

The sponge cake was then cut into 16 equal squares and on top of each square I put a blob of buttercream. This blob is to create the little hump you get in the middle of a traditional fondant fancy.

Of course when you are tired, you misread recipes. This one being a complicated recipe with zillions of steps should have been read carefully and I didn’t. I was meant to put the cakes into the fridge to harden up again for 20 minutes but I didn’t. This then made the next steps more tricky. I had to crumb coat each of the four sides of the fondant fancies with the rest of the buttercream. This was very awkward. How do you hold the blinking things and ensure that they are all covered without getting your hands covered in more buttercream?

Now for another complicated part. The recipe asked for roll out fondant icing or sugar paste which to make runny you have to put in a mixer with water to make it runny. I felt this made it extremely messy and didn’t give the effect I wanted. I wondered whether I should have bought some fondant icing sugar instead and coloured it with food colouring. I started off trying to colour the pink icing first. It took ages to get even a hint of pink with the food colouring I have at the moment (a mixed box of Wilton food colours, which to be honest I’m not a fan of, compared to the likes of Sugarflair, etc.) The cakes from not been hard enough through not being in the fridge, were difficult to hold and the icing just went everywhere. It was meant to pour over the cakes but it didn’t. It was too thick despite me following how much water to add to the icing. I tried spreading it with a small pallette knife but that made it even messier!

Then I tried to colour the rest of the icing yellow. Unfortunately the yellow in my food colouring set doesn’t bring the icing out a deliciate pastel yellow, it came out as this flourescent, lurid yellow like you would have on a high-viz vest! You’d be able to spot it from the International Space Station. By this time I had given up caring and so long as I’d got the bloody things iced and all the stuff cleared up, I didn’t care what colour it was.

Finally, I used some left over lemon drizzle icing for the pink fondant fancies which seemed to pipe on ok through my plastic bottle. But the melted chocolate was having none of it and just wouldn’t go through the hole. It just clogged up the whole time.

There’s a couple of lessons to be learned here: Don’t make Fondant Fancies when you are short of time or are tired. Always read the recipe and use ready made fondant icing sugar, not sugarpaste watered down.

I did taste one of the Fondant Fancies and it was sooooooo sickly sweet. Not my favourite bake to eat or to make, I’m afraid.

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx

Amazing Cakes #28: Mint Chocolate Roulade

Baking roulades and Swiss Rolls always fills me with dread. They look fiddly and messy whenever I make them and the filling never looks neat when I roll them up. Or the actual sponge cracks so much.

Roulades are usually made without flour and fat and are whisked sponges baked in a flat rectangular cake tin. I have a new Swiss Roll tin but it gets used for all manner of things including roast potatoes. Before using it for cakes, I make sure it has been cleaned carefully and I always line it with baking parchment. With this cake being flour free, it is also gluten free.

Last Sunday I had my mum visiting for a few days and planned a roast chicken dinner followed by a dessert. Now it’s usually just Mr S and I at home on a Sunday (our daughter is at work and our son is at uni), we don’t usually do roasts for ourselves. I thought having my mum to stay was the perfect excuse to have a roast as well as a pudding after!

The Chocolate Roulade as featured in The Great British Bake Off Book Of Amazing Cakes looked stunning, yet fairly quick to bake. However, looking in my baking cupboard I didn’t have any plain/ dark chocolate left. I did have two bars of mint chocolate which I love. Whenever we go up to the Isle of Arran on holiday I buy bars of Mackies chocolate in the Co-op there. Where I live in North Yorkshire, you can get Mackies icet cream but not the chocolate. Mint is just one of the best flavours out there, I love it! So a Chocolate Mint Roulade it had to be, then!

First things first was to prepare the Swiss Roll tin for baking. As I said before, it was cleaned carefully as I didn’t want residues of olive oil on it from the last time I used it. Then I lined it with some baking paper. At the same time I also cut out another sheet of baking paper to use to help me roll up the roulade later.

I then melted the mint chocolate in the microwave carefully. The recipe said to do this on the stove in a bowl over simmering water, but I find it easier to do in a microwave if I do it in small stages. Then, in my KitchenAid I whisked egg yolks and caster sugar together until the mixture had turned into a thick type mousse.

As the eggs had had to be separated, in another bowl I whisked up the egg whites. They had to be whisked up until they were stiff peaks. These egg whites were then folded into the whisked yolks and sugar mixture. Finally I folded in some cocoa powder.

When the roulade was ready, I put it on a wire rack to cool down but left it in the tin until it was completely cool to move it. I still managed to make it crack as I got it out of the tin. Using the spare piece of baking parchment sprinkled with a little icing sugar, I turned the roulade out onto it upside down. I then filled it with whipped cream. As I kept doing this, the roulade started cracking. The instructions said that it was normal for it to crack. But the recipe book photo didn’t have the massive cracks that mine did! Upon looking at the roulade from above, it resembled a giant long poo! Tasted amazing though, and I sneaked a couple of off cuts!

The complete mixture was then poured into the tin and spread carefully so that it touched each corner of the tin. I then baked it in my fan oven at 160oC for roughly just over 20 minutes.

A recipe I think I will bake again as it was quite quick to make. I just need to work on the good old presentation.

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx

Flourless Chocolate Almond Easter Torte

Hi everyone! Happy Easter! I hope that you are all ok, despite the difficult times we are living in at the moment. I am trying to keep busy despite the quarantine and am doing as much as I can to help where I can.

My blog has been neglected again recently but I need to put that right. I have done lots of baking and unfortunately my waistline is now suffering for it. Thankfully the weather has been lovely for our daily exercise! But today, being Easter I thought I’d share a recipe with you that we have had for our Easter lunch. We don’t eat roast lamb at Easter (I think lamb stinks when it’s cooking) so I don’t bother. We’re having roast chicken with all the trimmings instead. For dessert we are having this Flourless Chocolate Easter Cake. Although it could be eaten at any time of the year, this is just so appropriate at the moment.

For a start, this cake doesn’t contain flour and that’s handy if you’ve been struggling to get flour when doing your food shopping. I have been fine so far but I couldn’t find any more baking powder or bicarbonate of soda last week when I went to my local Morrison’s. Instead of flour, this recipe uses ground almonds.

Ingredients:

175g unsalted, softened butter

200g plain/ dark chocolate (use one with high cocoa solids if you can)

140g caster sugar

3 large free range eggs (separated)

90g ground almonds

1/2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp almond extract

Mini eggs, chocolates or sprinkles to decorate.

You will a need loose bottomed, 18cm/ 7″ diameter cake tin.

  1. Preheat your oven to 180oC/ 350oF or Gas 4. Fan oven, preheat to 160o.
  1. Grease your tin with cake release spray or some butter and line the base with a baking parchment circle.
  2. Melt half the chocolate in a bowl over a pan of simmering water. Leave this to cool down.
  3. In a separate mixing bowl, cream 115g of the butter and all of the caster sugar together. One by one, add the egg yolks and beat well.
  4. Then beat in the chocolate as well as the almond extract.
  5. Fold in the ground almonds and the baking powder with a metal spoon.
  6. In another clean mixing bowl, whisk the egg whites until they form soft peaks. Fold the egg whites into the cake mixture.
  7. Spoon the cake mixture into the prepared tin and then bake for 25 minutes.
  8. Let the cake cool on a wire rack in its tin. When it is completely cool, turn it out.
  9. Melt the remaining chocolate and butter together in a bowl over a pan of simmering water.
  10. Cool slightly and then spread over the top of your cake.
  11. Decorate your cake with your chosen treats!
  • I chose to use Galaxy Enchanted Mini Eggs for my decoration. I just love Galaxy chocolate and saw these a few weeks ago. They were put away out of sight or I would have scoffed them there and then! All it needs is a spoonful of cream to go with it.
  • Happy Easter and Stay Safe! 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

    Tarte Tatin with Creme Anglaise

    Last Thursday was the first session in the next part of my Patisserie and Confectionery Course at York College. It was a change of night and we had a new tutor. For my first session I ended up arriving five minutes late as there had been a massive traffic jam driving to York. I had to drive the back way and avoid the Ring Road! Still didn’t make a difference as everyone else had the same idea as me!

    We made Tarte Tatin and Creme Anglaise in our first session. I love Tarte Tatin though I’ve never made it before. It’s because I thought you needed a heavy duty frying pan which can also go in the oven. But our tutor said that you didn’t have to use a frying pan but could use an ordinary saucepan and an ovenproof pie dish.

    Tarte Tatin is a popular French dessert which was accidentally created at a hotel in Loire et Cher, France back in the 1880s. The hotel was run by two sisters called Stephanie and Caroline Tatin. The hotel was called Hotel Tatin as well. There are different stories regarding how the tarte came about. But the one that sticks in people’s minds is the one that Stephanie started to make a traditional apple pie. She left the apples cooking in butter and sugar for too long. She smelled burning and tried to saave the dish by putting a pastry lid on top of the pan. She then baked it in the oven and turned it out upside down when it was finished. The hotel guests liked the dessert, much to her surprise. The sisters made it their signature dish after that. I have seen versions of Tarte Tatin with different fruits, such as bananas or pears but the apple is a delicious classic.

    First, we set to work peeling, coring and chopping apples for our tartes. We had to cut the apples finely but not too fine that they would disintegrate. They were then put into a bowl of cold water and lemon juice so that the apple pieces didn’t turn brown.

    The next step was to make the caramel for the apples. This was more fiddly than it looked and I had to throw mine out twice and start again. First we started in the ovenproof frying pans but this seemed to make everyone’s caramel grainy! Finally for the third time I used a saucepan and it worked. We learned that once the butter had melted into the sugar we were not to stir the mixture at all. We could swirl the mixture around in the pan and wait for it to change into the light brown caramel colour. As soon as it was ready, I immersed the pan in a bowl of cold water, then quickly transferred the caramel to the bottom of the ovenproof frying pan before it set! By this time I was struggling as the hotplates/ rings of the cookers in the college kitchens do give off a lot of heat and that did not do my menopausal hot flushes any good! The rest of my body was cold but my face felt like it was in a furnace!

    Once the caramel was in the bottom of the pan, we had to arrange the apple pieces on top of the caramel. I chose to put mine in circles fanning round the edges and overlapping.

    As we don’t have a lot of time to make puff pastry from scratch in our sessions, we used some ready made puff pastry. We cut out a circle of puff pastry no thicker than a pound coin to put on the top of our caramelised apples. The pastry had to completely cover the apples and we had to use a knife to make some slits in the pastry so that air could escape out.

    After putting our tartes in the oven and setting the timers for 30 minutes, we started on our creme anglaise. I’ve never made creme anglaise before and presumed it was a French version of custard. We could flavour ours with vanilla or cinnamon which would complement the apples in the tarte tatin perfectly. I chose vanilla though.

    Once again, the creme anglaise was tricky. We had to put some whole milk on to simmer in a pan while beating egg yolks and caster sugar together using a whisk. It took a while to get them pale and creamy. So that the eggs didn’t cook and scramble, we added a little milk to the mixture then put the whole mixture into the saucepan to gently heat until thickened. Unfortunately, my first attempt at the creme anglaise scrambled as some had stuck to the bottom of the pan. I had to start again from scratch. But thankfully it worked the second time around!

    Meanwhile the Tarte Tatins had finished baking and were out of the oven cooling down. Then it was time to take them out of the pans. We had to use a plate to flip it upside down. I was impressed with mine because the caramel juice was oozing through and it just looked so tempting!

    Once the Creme Anglaise was ready to pour, we were given a plastic tub to take it home in as well as a foil pie dish for our tartes. I was very happy with what I’d created even though I had found it awkward to make in places.

    It was too late to try some that night but Mr SmartCookieSam was impressed. It gives me a huge sense of achievement and accomplishment when I get to try making things like this. I come home all happy and excited as Mr S is sat down watching TV usually at that time. I’m always telling him to come and see what I’ve made. He was saying he would eat some for breakfast!

    He didn’t though and he ate a piece when he got in from work. I’m doing WeightWatchers at the moment but I wanted to have a taste. I cut myself a small slice and had a tablespoonful of creme anglaise with it. It was such a small piece, it was gone in two bites! At the time of writing there is still half of it left. More for Mr S tomorrow as our daughter is vegan so can’t eat it!

    I’m excited to know what we’re baking next week at college.

    Happy Baking!

    Love Sam xx

    Scandelicious Baking- Toscakaka.

    I don’t miss baking and eating cakes when I’m on holiday in places like Spain.  I think it’s because it’s far too hot to be thinking about eating cake and I’m not in my own kitchen.  Although the villas we usually stay at have pretty impressive kitchens I’m happier getting a salad ready, cooking something with pasta or warming up croissants!  But as soon as I’m back home, that’s it.  I want to be baking again and eating comfort food.  When we left Spain on Saturday morning it was 30oC, now as I type it’s 14oC.  No wonder I’m craving carbs!  Or maybe it’s the fault of The Great British Bake Off?

    Once I was back from holiday and had to get stocked up again in our local Morrisons I thought of what we could have to go after our Sunday lunch pudding.  I didn’t have one single pudding on holiday, apart from a couple of ice creams.  I got out my Scandelicious Baking book which is part of my Cooking The Books Challenge from this month and decided on the Toscakaka.  Of course when I told my kids I was making Toscakaka they started laughing about the kaka bit and said it sounded like cack , I think caca is also French for poo which made them laugh even more when I told them that.  Though in this case I think it’s either Norwegian or Swedish for cake!

    Toscakaka is actually a very delicious cake and I’ve been lucky enough to eat it at a local  Scandinavian cafe, called Baltzersens in Harrogate which serves the most yummy cakes.  The sponge base is a light vanilla sponge made with buttermilk and topped with an almond praline.  It isn’t overly sweet which I thought would appeal to my husband.

    We ate our dinner quite late that day as a main meal, I couldn’t be bothered with a full roast or anything like that so I made up a lasagne with some salad for our mains followed by a slice of the Toscakaka.  Here’s how it was made:

    055
    First I whisked eggs with sugar and vanilla extract. This had to be done by hand as my hand held mixer has broken.

    056
    All the “dry ingredients” were mixed together in another bowl. In another bowl I was meant to add some buttermilk but Morrisons didn’t have any. I used creme fraiche instead!

    057
    Making the almond praline- by heating butter, brown sugar, flaked almonds and milk in a pan until caramelised.

    058
    The baked cake out of the oven and cooling down on the rack. I left the cake inside the tin as you have to put it back in the oven with the praline topping on it.

    059
    The cake with the praline topping on it, it went back into the oven for about 10 minutes to cook.

    061
    Here is the finished cake after it was turned out onto the cooling rack. Although the sides weren’t very neat it tasted fantastic.

    062
    The flaked almonds look a bit lighter than the ones in the recipe’s picture but I was worried about them burning!

    064
    A slice for me! My hubby had his with a dollop of creme fraiche on the side.

    065
    Leftovers for another day.

    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.

    Photo 03-08-2014 16 25 21 (1)
    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!

    Photo 03-08-2014 16 26 05 (1)
    The elderflower cordial was poured over a large punnet of blueberries.

    Photo 03-08-2014 16 30 14 (1)
    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.

    Photo 03-08-2014 16 36 34
    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.

    Photo 03-08-2014 16 49 19
    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?”

    Photo 03-08-2014 18 44 51 (1)
    The finished blueberry and elderflower upside down cake. Complete with sunken middle.

    Photo 03-08-2014 18 46 21 (1)
    A slice of the blueberry cake cut up and appearances can be deceptive. It tasted lovely.

    Photo 03-08-2014 18 46 25 (1)
    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

    Lemon Yoghurt Pound Cake- A Lighter Way To Bake (Cooking The Books, January 2014.)

    January 26th 2014.

    Even though I’m trying to lose weight I just can’t face giving up my Sunday lunch pudding.  You’ve got to have SOME enjoyment in life.  A pudding after the Sunday roast rounds it all off nicely and although it can’t be a calorific, cream laden affair (now wouldn’t that be heaven?). I was thinking of what I could bake from my Lorraine Pascale “A Lighter Way To Bake”  book as part of my Cooking The Books January Baking Challenge.  It would have to be one of the bakes in the Cake chapter.

    I fancied the idea of the Lemon Yoghurt Pound cake as it reminded me of a lemon drizzle cake but without the calories. Lorraine mentions in the introduction to the recipe was that she adapted a lemon drizzle cake from another of her books and gave it the least amount of sugar and butter possible. We all love Lemon Drizzle cake in our house and a small slice would fit in around my diet, everyone else could have theirs with a scoop of ice cream if they wanted to.

    So here is how it was made:

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    Butter and sugar were creamed together in my mixing bowl.

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    Then eggs, egg white and Greek yoghurt were added to the bowl and mixed in.

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    Adding in the “dry” ingredients: flour and baking powder. I then added some vanilla extract as well as some lemon zest to the mixture.

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    Mixed all together. You could smell the lemon flavour as it was being prepared, what a gorgeous smell and so enticing!

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    I lined my loaf tin with a special loaf tin liner.

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    Then, the mixture was spooned into the prepared tin. My loaf tin was either too big or there wasn’t that much mixture compared to my usual lemon drizzle loaf recipe.

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    The cake was taken out of its wrapper and tin and left to cool down on the surface. I think I left the cake in a bit too long as the top burned a little!

    Time was running out and I put the glaze on before I was really meant to. This meant some of it soaked into the cake instead of resting on the top like a separate layer of icing.  It did add to my cake’s rustic charm though.

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    With the citrus glaze poured on top, this was icing sugar and lemon juice mixed together.

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    Cut up into small slices ready for our pudding.

    Our lemon cake ended up being eaten before pudding!  As we were all busy with the usual family things, chores and the like I ended up doing the roast at tea time instead.  I had made the cake mid-afternoon in between trying to get the ironing done and my son popped in the kitchen and begged for a slice.  As he was hungry and I was tempted, how could I refuse?  It meant no cake for pudding later though!

    The cake appeared slightly smaller than my standard lemon drizzle cake recipe but, to me, what mattered most was that I could enjoy a small piece without the massive guilt trip.  It tasted fab and you wouldn’t believe it was a “lighter” version!

    Happy Baking!

    Love Sam xx

    Blooming Brownies from Lorraine Pascale’s “A Lighter Way To Bake”

    I have always been a huge fan of Lorraine Pascale ever since I first saw her TV series “Baking Made Easy” a couple of years back.  Since then I have bought her books and enjoyed making her no-fuss, yet utterly delicious recipes.  We love both her savoury and sweet recipes and can’t get enough of them.

    So a couple of months back I was excited to hear that Lorraine was bringing out another baking book and it would be featuring “favourites that you could enjoy everyday”, in other words it would be a baking book that features our best loved classics but made a bit lighter so we can enjoy them without feeling that we are being naughty.  As a serial dieter who manages to lose a few pounds and then promptly puts them back on again, I thought this book sounded like a great idea.  I will be reviewing the book in the next week or so, so watch this space!

    The front cover of Lorraine Pascale's fab new book "A Lighter Way To Bake".
    The front cover of Lorraine Pascale’s fab new book “A Lighter Way To Bake”.

    Of course this does not mean you can trough the whole plate of brownies or cookies- far from it. It just means you can enjoy one and it is a little bit better for you than a standard bake.  I absolutley detest shop bought “low-fat” type cakes and biscuits.  They taste awful, are usually packed with extra sugar and other rubbish to compensate for the lack of fat and are usually so sickly sweet you are left with a huge headache after eating them.  I would rather have something small and home-made instead.

    So, last Sunday afternoon for our usual Sunday lunch pudding I decided to put one of Lorraine’s “Lighter Bake” recipes to the test.  I chose to go for the “Blooming Brownies” on page 164.

    Lorraine says in the recipe introduction that “the outcome is a much lighter brownie, with a slightly more cakey taste, but it’s still the right sort of naughtiness to feel that you are getting a tasty treat,”

    Here’s how I made the Blooming Brownies.  I made mine into a Mint Chocolate version as I had a bar of Lindt Chocolate Mint Intense in my cupboard and no plain chocolate left.

    First butter was melted in a small pan over medium heat.
    First butter was melted in a small pan over medium heat.

    I used a bar of Lindt Mint Chocolate Intense pg of good quality milk chocolate. This one was from Waitrose.
    I used a bar of Lindt Mint Chocolate Intense pg of good quality milk chocolate. This one was from Waitrose.

    Once the butter had melted and was taken off the heat, I added in the chunks of chocolate.  These melted from the heat of the hot butter.
    Once the butter had melted and was taken off the heat, I added in the chunks of chocolate. These melted from the heat of the hot butter.

    Three whole eggs plus two extra egg whites were whisked with my hand held electric mixer. Sugar was added bit by bit and mixed in carefully.
    Three whole eggs plus two extra egg whites were whisked with my hand held electric mixer. Sugar was added bit by bit and mixed in carefully.

    Here's the melted chocolate- gorgeous!
    Here’s the melted chocolate- gorgeous!

    The wet ingredients were then folded in with  some wholemeal flour, cocoa powder and bicarbonate of soda.
    The wet ingredients were then folded in with some wholemeal flour, cocoa powder and bicarbonate of soda.

    The mixture was poured into a well greased and lined loose bottomed square tin.
    The mixture was poured into a well greased and lined loose bottomed square tin.

    The brownies were baked in the oven for about 20-25 minutes.
    The brownies were baked in the oven for about 20-25 minutes.

    The brownies were cut up into 16 squares. I dusted them with a small sprinkling of icing sugar.
    The brownies were cut up into 16 squares. I dusted them with a small sprinkling of icing sugar.

    The leftovers were put into an airtight container to go into the freezer though my son did take a couple before they got put in there!
    The leftovers were put into an airtight container to go into the freezer though my son did take a couple before they got put in there!

    So, the verdict?  Lighter Bake Brownies versus my own “standard” ones?  Lorraine compares her lighter version with another recipe she has in Baking Made Easy for her Oreo Cookie Crumble Brownies.  These have been a massive hit when we have made them in our house before.  My own brownie recipe I use uses much more sugar but less eggs, more butter, less chocolate and less cocoa powder but more flour. The result is definitely more fudgy and chewy.  Lorraine was absolutely right in saying that these are more “cakey” but this did not put me off. In fact it was great to have the delicious chocolate hit without the over powering sweetness or the artificial “low fat” shop bought taste.  The rest of my family loved the brownies too and couldn’t tell the difference.  I thought one square at 165 calories was great, you could indulge without feeling “naughty”.  I had to hide the rest though!

    Happy Baking!

    Love Sam xx