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

Cooking The Books March 2014- Chocolate Birthday Cake from A Passion For Baking.

Now for the last challenge in my Cooking The Books challenge using Jo Wheatley’s  A Passion For Baking.  I had already signed up to take part in a Virtual Cake Event with The Clandestine Cake Club which was taking place this weekend.  This is designed for members who can’t always get along to a cake club or if there isn’t one in their local area.  I love taking part and this month was a great theme- Sweet Shop Fantasy!  As soon as I signed up I began to think about what sweets I could use in and on a cake.  After lots of choosing I narrowed it down to two favourites: Percy Pigs from Marks and Spencers and Revels.  Though I nearly went with Maltesers but then again I wanted a cake flavour I’d never made before. So, to tick off more than one box I chose to bake a recipe from A Passion For Baking using the Chocolate Birthday Cake recipe in the Celebration Cakes chapter of the book.

My daughter was working today and was out all afternoon so my son came and asked if he could bake me a Mother’s Day cake.  I explained that I only had enough eggs and butter in to make a chocolate sweetie cake but if he wanted to he could bake this cake for me. He has made a chocolate cake before and did a great job so I let him loose in my kitchen!

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Choice of sweetie decorations? Do we go for Revels or Percy Pigs? Or both?

Well, first things first! If you’re a sweet toothed gal like me, DO NOT open the packets and put the sweets into a bowl to make them easier to handle. This is fatal!  As soon as that packet was open, my hand slid over to the bowl. Once I had tasted one Percy Pig, then I had to have another.. and another!  My son did the same. Before we knew it half the packet of Revels and Percy Pigs had disappeared down our cakeholes!  So I went into my baking cupboard and found a couple of packets of M&M’s!  These were meant to go in cookies donated to a coffee morning over the Easter holidays.  Now there would be enough to go on the cake.

My son, who is nearly 14 really enjoys being in the kitchen and sometimes cooks the tea on a Saturday night or bakes the odd cake for us.  He did ask me for instructions like “What does creaming mean?” and he asked if he was doing the chocolate ganache right for the icing. He was. I didn’t need to stand over him or watch him as I knew he would be fine.

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My son decorating the chocolate cake with ganache.
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The ganache (melted plain chocolate and double cream) filled and topped the cake. He then added the sweets to the top of the cake.

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Percy Pig sweets were put in the middle and round the edge of the cake with all the Revels and the M&M’s round the outside.
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Once decorated we had a slice with a cup of tea as a mid afternoon Mother’s Day treat. It was gorgeous.
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Ooops! Naughty, naughty! I caught my son nicking some M&M’s off the top of the cake!
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Get your hands off my cake!!!
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The rest of the cake what was left over. Put away in a tin for another time. Don’t think it will last long though!

I was very impressed with the flavour of the cake and the bright sweetie colours against the dark brown chocolate.  Definitely a Sweet Shop Fantasy for me and a wonderful treat for Mother’s Day.  Back on that diet again tomorrow- famous last words!

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx

Cooking The Books February 2014- Chocolate Macaroons from How To Be A Domestic Goddess.

A week last Friday, when it was Valentine’s Day marked the end of a very busy week for us.  We had just got over a nasty flu virus and were still not feeling one hundred per cent.  The last thing on my mind was Valentine’s Day.  To be honest I don’t really care much for Valentine’s Day, if you love someone you show them every day, not just on 14th February. I do like to buy my hubby a card, we have a nice meal at home and I bake something for him.  It’s usually a big chocolate cake but this year I wanted to make something different.

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Chocolate Macaroons- a pretty Valentine’s Day treat for my hubby.

After I had managed to bake some pistachio and hazelnut macaroons a few weeks back, I was keen to try another recipe.  My hubby was pleased when I bought some macaroons home from Betty’s in Harrogate once and he enjoyed them.  So once again I turned to my trusty Nigella book “How To Be A Domestic Goddess” which I am baking from for this month’s Cooking The Books challenge.  Nigella has a recipe for Chocolate Macaroons within the Chocolate chapter of her book.  These sounded utterly sublime sandwiched together with a swirl of chocolate ganache.

So off I nipped to Morrisons to buy some chocolate and cream to make the recipe.  I had everything else in the cupboard and I hoped that Nigella’s method for making the macaroons would work as well as Lorraine Pascale’s did the previous time.

I needn’t have worried.  The macaroons came off the baking tray perfectly and I spread chocolate ganache in between two shells to sandwich them together.

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Deliciously chewy, the chocolate macaroons came out well. I’m afraid to say my hubby wasn’t the only one who ate them!

When my hubby got home he ate a couple with a cup of tea and said they were delicious.  My appetite had begun to come back after my flu virus so I must admit I sneaked a couple out of the tin, so did my daughter.  They vanished very quickly.  I will definitely bake them again as they worked out so well. I need to try some other flavours, my daughter has asked if I’ll make some raspberry ones.

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx

The Great British Bake Off Christmas Special- Mary Berry’s Tunis Cake.

As I type, it’s now December 30th. the rain is lashing against the windows and it feels decidedly un- Christmassy. I’m catching up on all the blog posts and getting up to date.  It’s been great to veg out at home and I’m now feeling totally relaxed.  I won’t be saying that this time next week when I’m back at work and the kids are back at school.  My hubby has had some time off over Christmas but he has been nipping into work to see things tick over.  So, for me it’s time to catch up on the blog.

One of my favourite bakes this year just has to be this gorgeous Tunis Cake which Mary Berry baked on the Great British Bake Off Christmas Special from a couple of weeks back.  Not only did it look simple to make, it looked pretty impressive and would be a fantastic pudding or cake for someone who doesn’t like lots of dried fruit.  My children don’t like fruit cake or Christmas pudding so it would be perfect for them.  I had never heard of a Tunis Cake before so it was great to try something new to me, although it is said they originate from Edwardian times according to Wikipedia!

Here is a link to the original recipe on the Great British Bake Off website.  http://thegreatbritishbakeoff.co.uk/mary-berrys-tunis-cake/

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All the ingredients were chucked together in the KitchenAid; flour, butter, sugar, eggs and ground almonds.

The Tunis cake followed an all in one method and included ground almonds which gave the cake a lovely moist texture.  It took no time at all to prepare in my trusty KitchenAid.  I like cakes that do this, saves a great deal of time not faffing about!

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Mixing all the ingredients together.
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My large springform cake tin was greased and lined.
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The mixture was put in the tin and then went straight into the oven for about 45 minutes.
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Meanwhile I heated up some double cream to make the ganache. When the cream had heated up and I’d taken it off the heat I added some plain chocolate.

For the ganache you needed 400g plain chocolate. I used some 70% cocoa solids Swiss chocolate from Tesco which was the cheapest good quality chocolate I could find.  I’ve used it in lots of different recipes before and it always works out well.

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Making some holly sugarpaste leaves. I added the veining in by using my mini wheel, Scoring the paste with a small knife works well, too.

In the recipe Mary uses marzipan coloured with food colouring for her holly leaves but I couldn’t be bothered to get my food colourings out and mess about with the marzipan.  I needed to keep some back for using in stollen (which in the end I never got round to making, but that’s another story).  I had a special Christmas Cake Decorating pack from Renshaw Icing which contained five different coloured packs of their Christmas colours.  The green one was perfect for the holly leaves so out it came!  The red berries were made from some leftover icing (also Renshaw but coloured the previous week) when I was baking Christmas cookies with the children I work with in school.

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The finished cake.

The cake turned out completely different to the way it looked on the programme.  My cake looked a lot wider and shallower and I obviously in a rush had baked the cake in the wrong tin.  Also, being as Mary’s cake was a lot deeper, she made the ganache go halfway down the side of the cake.  As my cake was a lot shallower I couldn’t do that without making a mess so I just put the ganache on the top of it.  The holly leaves were put on a bit haphazardly but I thought the cake still turned out well.

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Next time I think I’ll use smaller holly leaves as these swamped the cake a bit. It would have been nicer if they had looked like they were in a wreath.
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A slice cut for Sunday lunch dessert. Great with a dollop of cream after our Roast Beef and Yorkshire pudding.

All of my family really enjoyed the cake and it didn’t last long enough til Christmas Day. I had to make another Christmas Pudding alternative instead.

I was so glad that Mary featured this recipe on the Great British Bake Off.  Looking through Facebook and Twitter just after the programme was on, it seemed like lots of us cake bakers were keen to try the Tunis Cake.  If you baked it, what did you think?  I’d love to know.

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx