It’s very hard when you want to bake but you can’t because you know you’ll just eat it all. The other day I had the urge to bake some muffins. I told myself that it would be ok if I ate one for breakfast. Yes, it was very nice but I don’t recommend it because two hours later I was starving. Mind you, it didn’t help that in that two hours I’d done a load of jobs and walked the dog in between. So maybe I was genuinely in need of something. Well, that’s my excuse anyway!
These blueberry and lemon yoghurt muffins were so easy to knock up and were so light. The recipe was adapted from one in Annie Bell’s Baking Bible and was originally a blueberry and orange muffin recipe. They are dairy free and the fat content comes from using olive oil in the batter. Instead of using orange zest and juice, which I didn’t have, I used lemon zest and natural yoghurt in its place. This worked extremely well and I was pleased with the result.
Annie Bell has a tip at the end of her recipe saying “It is only one step on in imagination to use extra virgin olive oil in a muffin, rather than groundnut or sunflower. It mellows with cooking and the resulting scent, while distinctive, is very pleasing,”
I must admit I had never thought to bake with olive oil before as I thought the flavour would be too strong. It was, as Annie Bell said, a very mellow flavour within the muffin.
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.
Long time, no see! It’s been over a month since I’ve last blogged. My excuse is I’ve simply been busy working. Teaching full time on different supply contacts, doing extra shifts in a day nursery during the Easter holidays definitely took it’s toll though and by the Easter weekend I felt terrible. I went down with a stinking cold which then turned into a horrible cough. This pretty much made me feel like not doing anything much for the second week of the Easter holidays. So much for wanting to go out running. I didn’t even feel like getting my bum off the sofa let alone gathering up some energy to stick my trainers on!
This cake was one I baked right back at the beginning of April. I really miss baking and hadn’t done much mainly because I’m meant to be on a diet. This hasn’t really worked well the last few weeks as I have been so tired after coming in from work. Slimming World has gone by the wayside, especially when Mr SmartCookieSam gets involved with the cooking. He thinks nothing of using lots of olive oil. So when I get chance I like to take a cake into a school I’m teaching in. I was working in a school for the last week before the Easter holidays and decided to take a cake to leave in the staff room on the table. I explained I loved baking but baking didn’t love my figure.
This Lemon Curd Victoria Sponge is from a recipe in Lorraine Pascale’s latest book “Bake,” You might have realised I’ve baked a few recipes from her book recently but that’s what I usually do when I get a new book. I get a bit carried away. It’s a traditional two layer Victoria Sponge baked in an 8″ or 20cm diameter sandwich tin and sandwiched together with both lemon curd and a little buttercream. I was definitely not going to spend my precious time making my own Lemon Curd so I bought a jar of Tiptree with my weekly shop. I used about half the jar in the filling so Mr SmartCookieSam was happy to use the rest on his toast in the morning!The cake was very quick to bake and perfect for a Spring day. I reckon I only spent an hour baking it from start to finish, if that. A quick dusting of icing sugar on top and the cake was good to go. Or if you prefer caster sugar, go with that.
The morning after I arrived at the school, put my lunch in the staffroom fridge and the cake in a plastic box on the table. I left a note telling people to help themselves. It was quite a big school so I didn’t get along to the staff room until lunchtime. When I got there I noticed nearly three quarters of the cake had gone. Several staff members thanked me for the cake. I said I would bring some more another time, if I had time to bake. It gave me a warm, cosy feeling knowing that some teachers appreciated my baking. Especially at a time when it was getting near to the end of term and everyone was tired. A little bit of cake just helps you get through the day.
Along with millions of others I got whipped up into all the excitement now that The Great British Bake Off is back! Week one started with cakes. Now for me that wouldn’t be a problem but may be with Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry watching me I might feel different.
First of all the bakers were asked to bake their Signature Cake- their take on a Madeira Cake. To me, a Madeira cake is a well loved classic that shouldn’t be messed about with too much. I think the simpler the better and the recipe on page 17 of The reat British Bake Off Celebrations book fits the bill perfectly. It is a lemon flavoured cake with accompanying home made candied lemon peel. It has a closer texture than an ordinary sponge and I use a Madeira recipe when I want a plain cake to carve into a shape for a birthday cake.
Madeira cakes first became popular in Victorian times where a slice was served with a glass of Madeira wine.They don’t come from the island of Madeira like I originally thought!
Last Thursday, the day after the Bake Off had been on TV I had a day at home. I had lemons in the fruit bowl and wanted to bake. Bake Off has two effects on me, it makes me want to get my apron on and also to stuff my face! It was also a crazy day, I had to take my dog to the vets, run around after my two teenage children and get some ironing done in between all that. But at least I had time in between.
First of all I needed to make some candied lemon peel. I’ve never made this before, seems such a faff. I had to cut a large lemon into 8 wedges, cutting off the flesh and leaving the pith and some peel behind. Then each wedge needed to be cut into 4 strips.
At this time I had to break off to go and take the dog up to the vets and then collect my son’s friend from the train station. I had to leave the peel out on the surface to harden up and hope it turned out ok later on.
Later on I finally got round to actually starting on the cake itself. I was still giggling and laughing to myself about the Bake Off the previous night with all the innuendoes flying around the tent, this week was all about showing your cracks! Mary Berry said that she expected a Madeira cake to have a crack and a dome. So of course I wanted to make sure I had a “crack” too!
The lemon Madeira cake was baked using an all in one method and mixed together using my hand held mixer. Butter, caster sugar, self raising flour, ground almonds, eggs and the grated zest of a large lemon were weighed out and combined. This was done until the mixture was smooth, yet well combined. It was then put into a deep filled 18cm diameter cake tin which had been lined and greased carefully.
The cake was meant to be baked in the oven first for about 35 minutes. Then you added a few pieces of the candied peel to the top of the cake and returned the cake to the oven for another 20 minutes or so. This was until a cake tester poked into the cake came out clean. Unfortunately my phone started ringing as I was putting the cake in the oven so I stupidly forgot to switch the oven timer on. I had to guess the time I’d put the cake in the oven. So it does look a little bit pale on the top but it was definitely cooked when I tested it!
I did take the cake out of the tin when it was still a little bit warm and it was a bit crumbly when I cut a slice. I should have waited but I was running out of time. It tasted absolutely delicious although it didn’t taste as lemony as I thought it would.
The Technical Bake featured on the Great British Bake Off last week was Mary Berry’s Walnut Cake. It was described as “the de-caf version” by Mel and Sue. Usually you do get coffee and walnut together in a cake but this cake was different. The recipe is featured in the new Bake Off book but there is also a version like this in Mary Berry’s Baking Bible. I baked this cake last year and it didn’t come out too well. It was the icing that let me down. It just wouldn’t thicken up and I was too ashamed to take it along to my WI meeting as one of my contributions to our supper.
As you can tell from the above picture it looked nothing like it should have done and to me, it also tasted strange. One for me to practise again in the future!
The final challenge for the Bakers was to produce a showstopping Black Forest Gateau. I love the flavours of Black Forest Gateaux and really enjoyed baking one a couple of years back for my hubby’s birthday. Even though he doesn’t have a sweet tooth, he was impressed with the cake I baked for him using a recipe in the Hairy Bikers’ Bakeation book.
I’m looking forward to the Bake Off again tomorrow. Biscuits this week. I can’t wait to see what everyone’s baking and I fancy having a go myself later on this week if I have time.
I can’t believe it is April already though to be honest I am so relieved. As soon as the clocks go back in October, I am on countdown until they go forward again the following March. My hubby and I were saying the other day that we should move to Australia for 6 months of the year and then return to the UK for the summer…
Anyway, being a new month means a new book in my Cooking The Books challenge. This month’s book is Mary Berry’s Baking Bible and the first recipe I wanted to try out was the Lemon Griesetorte. I’ve no idea what a Griesetorte is but I think it is German or Austrian in origin. I had never baked one before although a lady brought one along to a Clandestine Cake Club event I went to. It was absolutely delicious and the lemon flavour was a great hit with all of us. So, I was keen to try it out myself.
As soon as I realised the cake was in the Special Cakes chapter I began to think, was it included in there because it was complicated? The cake doesn’t contain flour but a small amount of semolina and ground almonds. It also doesn’t contain fat but you end up putting loads of lemon curd and whipped cream inside it anyway which defeats the object a bit! But, having said that, it has been one of the most delicious cakes I have tasted and believe you, me I have tasted lots!
So, being as it is the last day of term for me before we break up for the Easter holidays I decided to bake the Griesetorte to take into work to share as an end of term treat with my work colleagues. I don’t usually work on a Friday so on Wednesday night I was busy in the kitchen getting the cake ready for my last working day on the Thursday.
Heres how I got on:
I got a bit muddled at this stage. Mary says you also need the grated zest of a lemon but I’d already squeezed the juice out of it first. Silly me, I should have grated the zest first. It was very difficult trying to take the zest off a squashed lemon! Not only was it difficult to hold but the leftover juice went on my hand, stinging it! Ooops!
Now the cake mix had to be transferred to a deep cake tin. I couldn’t find my deep 8″ cake tin so I got out two sandwich tins instead and thought I’d watch them baking instead as I’d need to adjust the cooking time a bit. I was worried they wouldn’t rise and turn out like flat pancakes.
I was trying like mad to get the cake baked before my hubby got in from work. He had promised to call at the supermarket on the way home with some tea for us as he had forgotten to take some pork out of the freezer for me this morning. I’d got in and panicked as there was nothing much in the fridge. Luckily the cake was out of the oven and cooling before he arrived back so at least I could use the oven for the dinner!
The cooked cake didn’t look very appetising at all. When I got them out of the tins onto the wire rack one of them broke in a corner and looked a right old mess. Thankfully I could tart it up when I filled it.
Mary says as an optional filling you can add some raspberries. along with some double whipped cream and some lemon curd. The version I tried before didn’t have raspberries but I had some in the fridge so I thought I would use them. There was also an option to use double the amount of lemon curd and cream to put on the top of the cake. I chose to just add the filling as I didn’t have enough cream.
I thought the cake looked a bit rustic and messy but this was due to me rushing trying to get everything done before teatime! As the cake contained fresh cream I put it into an airtight box and it went straight into the fridge.
Well as a result of me rushing off to work this morning the cake stayed put in the fridge and I completely forgot to take it to work! Mary says in the recipe introduction that the cake keeps well, I was relieved as I knew I would have to take it up to school on the Friday on my day off after doing my children’s school run! All I can say is I hope it tastes ok because it certainly doesn’t look that appetising!
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:
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.
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!