Pineapple Upside Down Bundt.

Who remembers having Pineapple Upside Down Cake as a child?  Did you have it for school dinners? I did, although when I was little I didn’t like the pineapple and left it. I remember a very strict teacher at our Infant School telling me off for not eating it and making me sit there at the table until I’d eaten every last mouthful! I’m surprised it hasn’t put me off pineapple for life!

I’ve had the NordicWare Pineapple Upside Down Bundt pan for a couple of years now.  I spotted it on Ebay from the US and just HAD TO HAVE IT! I love how you already have the shape of where to stick the pineapple rings and the cherries in. Alternatively as with other bundt pans, you could bake a pineapple flavoured cake and the pretty pattern will come out on top of the cake when you take it out of the tin. Personally, I’ve not got round to trying this out yet, but maybe one day?

To be honest I’ve not had much chance for blogging recently so this cake was baked over a month ago.  It was my 19 year old daughter’s last day at home before going back to uni for her second year. She was moving into a new house and would be going back early to work on a film shoot.  As with the last year before she left for uni we had a family meal at our house.  My Dad and step mum came over and I cooked a roast  chicken dinner followed by either Pistachio and White Chocolate Blondies and the Pineapple Upside Down Cake.  What would you serve with it? I went for a choice of double cream or vanilla ice cream.

As for the recipe used, I tried googling for a recipe specifically for the Nordicware pan but could I find one? No such luck, so I tried adapting a recipe I’ve used before. Nigella Lawson has a lovely recipe in her Express book, but the cake comes out a lot smaller. I doubled the quantities of the cake mixture itself and that seemed to work. I had to keep an eye on the time in the oven though. As it was over a month ago I can’t remember the exact time but my guess is it took me about an hour to bake.

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The bundt pan has been greased in the usual way. I put the cherries and the pineapples in the right places and then sprinkled sugar on the top of them to help make them caramelise.
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The finished Pineapple Upside Down Cake. It was perfect for a Sunday lunch dessert.

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx

Chocolate Malteser Cake

Anyone who knows me knows I have a terrible addiction to Maltesers.  I don’t know why I do, I just love them.  These big “sharing” bags are a big joke to me as they have resealable tops.  How can this be possible?  I’ve never resealed anything that has chocolate inside it!

I can't get enough of Maltesers. Does anyone else have the same problem?
I can’t get enough of Maltesers. Does anyone else have the same problem?

Last month my baking cupboard had many packs of Maltesers in it because they were supporting Comic Relief this year with their Bake Yourself Silly campaign. for Red Nose Day 2015. I always love to get involved with Comic Relief and baking is one of my ways of doing my bit.  The Maltesers website has some brilliant baking recipes to use for fundraising and I was keen to have a go.

I’m now working as a primary supply teacher in various schools in my area.  One of the schools I work in regularly was going to have a Comic Relief bake sale on the day after I was working there.  I brought in two dozen cupcakes and a batch of Malteser Rocky Road for the stall.  The school were over the moon with them and on the following Monday when I was next teaching there, they said all the cupcakes and Rocky Road sold out.  What a relief.

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I baked two dozen vanilla cupcakes for the bake sale. The cupcake cases and toppers came in a special pack from Sainsburys.

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I used Lorraine Pascale’s fridge cake recipe which is in one of her books. Unfortunately it was meant to have marshmallows in it. I found my kids had nicked my mini marshmallow packet to use in their hot chocolate!

I also tried baking some cheeky Red Nose Day Empire biscuits, which were shortbread rounds sandwiched together with jam. They were finished off with white glace icing, a big glace cherry red nose and funny faces piped on with melted Cadbury’s Dairy Milk.

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My cheeky Red Nose Day Empire Biscuits.
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Mary Berry’s fantastic new book.

After all this baking I was still left with a whole packet of Maltesers.  Knowing me, this packet sitting there in the cupboard would be taunting me every time I went to get something else out.  What could I do with it?  I had recently bought a copy of Mary Berry’s latest book “Mary Berry’s Absolute Favourites” and had already decided what I wanted to cook from it.  Although I love baking I was glad to see there would be lots of other delicious savoury recipes to try.  But one recipe I just had to try was the Malted Chocolate Cake.

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Mary Berry’s Malted Chocolate Cake was a perfect treat to serve on Mother’s Day.

I chose to bake the chocolate cake on Mother’s Day. Although I wouldn’t be seeing my Mum until the following weekend I was spending time with my own husband and two teenagers.  Normally they would bake a cake for me but both of them were busy with schoolwork so I baked it myself! After all you are meant to spend time doing things on Mother’s Day that you enjoy the most and baking to me is just that!

The Malted Chocolate Cake was very simple to bake in two 8″ sandwich tins and involves using cocoa powder and chocolate flavoured Ovaltine to get the malty taste.  The chocolate buttercream was the same.  I was also impressed that it wasn’t too sweet which both my daughter and hubby commented on when they ate some.

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The finished Malted Chocolate cake.

After the cake had cooled enough I made up the chocolate icing.  It did not need real bars of chocolate melted in the mixture but the chocolate flavour once again came from cocoa powder.  I always try to use a good brand of cocoa powder in my bakes, such as Green and Blacks.

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Oh, go on then, don’t mind if I do! The diet starts AGAIN tomorrow!

Now, you’re probably wondering what happened to the remaining Maltesers which were left over after adorning the top of the cake.  Well, I was a kind mum to my kids and shared them out equally between the two of them.  I don’t think they were expecting that to happen with my track record.  The cake itself got eaten over the next few days, it kept well in an airtight tin.

Happy Baking.

Love Sam xx

Empire Biscuits on The Isle of Mull.

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Empire biscuits, a UK treat but especially popular in Scotland.

Over May half term week my family went on holiday to the Isle of Mull. It’s a place very special to  me and to my hubby.  We had loved trips to the island before we met, he watched the Isle of Mull Rally which takes place every October and I had been to Mull a couple of times before as a student on travels around the UK.  So when we first started going out together about 18 years ago,  we chose to spend a week on the Isle of Mull as our first holiday together.  We always said we would go back and visit when the kids were older and that’s what we ended up doing.

We stayed in a very remote, midge infested, but beautiful part of the island near Lochbuie in the south.  Our cottage overlooked a loch and was absolutely stunning.  It was comfortable, immaculately clean and was definitely a home from home.  The only thing that spoilt it was all the midges which swarmed round the front porch and somehow managed to get in through the bathroom and our bedroom window.  I was covered in bites and one became infected when I came home.  But apart from that we had a fantastic time, wandering around Tobermory, playing on the beaches at Calgary Bay and on Iona, exploring Duart Castle and eating of course!

Now whenever I have a UK holiday I love to try out the local baking delicacies.  I don’t really think about sweet stuff when I go to Spain or something like that but in the UK it’s definitely about the cakes!  There was one bake I couldn’t get enough of and that was the Empire Biscuit.

I’ve had Empire Biscuits before and I’m sure they used to sell them in my local Sainsbury’s years ago on the bakery counter.  They are shortbread biscuits sandwiched together with jam and have glace icing spread on top with a cherry to finish.  But they’re very popular in Scotland and according to Wikipedia you can also get them with Jelly Tots on.

On the ferry over to Mull I had the 4 o’clock munchies and we went up to the Coffee Bar on the top deck.  I ended up buying a cup of tea and an Empire biscuit for myself.  It was just what I needed and kept me going until we had dinner that evening.  But throughout the week all I could think about were Empire Biscuits.  We enjoyed some Selkirk Bannock which I bought from a local Spar shop but I wanted more Empires!  On the last day of our holiday we were in Tobermory and I popped into the bakery on the High Street.  They had some scrummy looking Empires for sale and they were massive!  I bought four to take back to the cottage with us to have with a cup of tea and they were absolutely delicious.  The shortbread was perfect, which melted in the mouth and the icing wasn’t too sweet and sickly.  A perfect treat and ever since I’ve wanted to bake some Empires for myself.

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The mouthwatering Empire biscuits which I bought in the Tobermory Bakery. Absolute heaven!

Last Friday was my usual day off work and I had been really busy all day catching up on chores.  I hadn’t baked anything for nearly three weeks, apart from a quiche  for last Sunday lunch and I was having serious withdrawal symptoms.  So I got Googling and found out all about Empire biscuits through Wikipedia.  I decided to use my usual shortbread biscuit recipe but my biscuits would come out smaller as I couldn’t get in the garage to get my big circular cutters out.  We had a workman putting a new back door on and it was chaos. So I used my small circular cutter I found in the kitchen drawer from last time I baked cookies.

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Plain flour, sugar and salt is mixed in to a large bowl.
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Cold, small cubes of butter are weighed out and added in to the mixing bowl.
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After rubbing in the mixture and adding a large free range egg, I formed the dough into a large ball. This was then put into the fridge wrapped up in cling film to chill for about half an hour.

My daughter, who is on study leave at the moment doing her GCSE’s came downstairs and asked what I was doing.  She asked if she could roll out the dough and cut out the biscuits.  I let her as she is a great baker.  I just wish she would use a pallette knife to put the biscuits on the tray, not her hands!  Grrr! Anyway, she rolled the biscuits out beautifully and we looked forward to them being ready to ice.    The workman, as if on cue asked if I knew where the nearest cafe was for when he finished.  He was probably hoping for a biscuit but they weren’t ready then.

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The biscuits laid out and spaced well apart on baking trays ready to be put into the oven.

The biscuits were left on the tray to cool while I went out to walk the dog.  Then out came some seedless raspberry jam and the biscuits were sandwiched together.

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The biscuits now sandwiched together with seedless raspberry jam.

When this was done, I made up a quick glace icing but in my usual rush I made it a bit too runny.  It still spread ok and made the biscuits look presentable.  Finally, for the finishing touch I added half a glace cherry to each one.

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The finished Empire biscuits, left on the cooling rack so that the icing would set.

So the verdict?  These biscuits were just absolutely divine.  We all had one each, hubby and I had one sat outside in the sun with a cup of tea before I got on with the dinner and he said they were lovely.  That’s a compliment from him!  The rest got hidden away in a biscuit tin!

Now, if I ever realise my dream of owning a tearoom then Empire biscuits will definitely be on my menu!

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx