Hi everyone! I’ve realised I’ve not been on my blog and updated it for well over two months! Happy New Year to you all for a start! Not only that but it hasn’t been a great start to 2021 has it? The pandemic and the latest lockdown aside, I always find January and February really difficult. I know I’m not alone in struggling with SAD and the depressing, miserable rainy weather we have but this year it has been doubly hard. There has been another reason for the lack of blogging: I am currently setting up a little business selling cookies and other treats online! So watch this space! This is something I have wanted to do for years but I never had the time due to work commitments in the day job. Leading up to Christmas I was working long 10 hour shifts in a day nursery with a 40 minute commute each way. I had no time for my family and I was relying on Mr S to cook dinner. It got to Christmas and when I realised that I had the first night’s decent sleep in ages, I realised something had to give. So for now I am supply teaching in local primary schools part time and hopefully trying to achieve part of my dream of baking for a living. I feel like a different person!
Looking back in the drafts on the blog I found I had a post for Carrot Cake. It was a shock to look back and realise I’d actually baked this cake on 30th November. This Carrot Cake was another recipe from The Big Book Of Amazing Cakes and do you know I can’t even remember why I baked it. I think it ended up at work for the other staff to eat to keep them going! I don’t remember eating any of it. But I do remember it not lasting long.
This carrot cake recipe contains sultanas but I guess you could swap them for nuts, such as pecans or walnuts if you aren’t keen on dried fruit. I left the sultanas in as I don’t like taking products with nuts into work for fear of allergies even though no one had a nut allergy at the time. Other flavour in the carrot cake was created with the zest of an orange and also with ground mixed spice.
The frosting is a traditional cream cheese frosting flavoured with orange and vanilla paste. I “cheated” by buying the carrot decorations in my local supermarket as I didn’t want to go out and buy sugarpaste and colour it myself for just these decorations. The original recipe illustration in the Amazing Cakes book had three real, tiny carrots poking out of the cake and with added cocoa powder and chopped hazelnuts to look like soil on the top of the cake. I didn’t want this effect as it would mean having to go out and buy some hazelnuts just for two tablespoonfuls. It looked like an effective decoration idea, but not for me this time!
I love spicy and aromatic Lebkuchen cookies. My mum used to buy a special packet of them every year at Christmas from Sainsburys. The biscuits were small and in traditional shapes like trees, stars and hearts covered with a crisp royal icing and sprinkles. When I moved up to Yorkshire I discovered Betty’s own version of Lebkuchen cookies which they sell in their shop. The cookies are usually of a seasonal design and covered in a thin, white royal icing and finished with piping detail.
According to the recipe introduction Lebkuchen is “a classic German Christmas delight, these are a little bit like gingerbread, but with a deeper, more treacly and spiced flavour.”
It was the last day of term but as a supply teacher on day to day work I thought there would be no work available that day. Not only that, but with the last day of term being so close to Christmas Day I didn’t have enough time to get everything done. I normally make some foodie gifts for friends and family but this had to be cut down a lot this year. Anything I did make would have to be quick to make and bag up!
The recipe used a star cookie cutter but I chose to use another winter/ Christmas themed cutter, a mitten one. I’d not used that one before and thought with white details piped on then that would make the cookies look pretty.
To start with I heated runny honey, black treacle and sugar with some butter in a pan. When the sugar had disolved and the butter had melted I took the mixture off the heat while I weighed out and mixed the dry ingredients together.
In a large bowl I sifted self raising flour, bicarbonate of soda, ground cinnamon, ground nutmeg, ground ginger and some mixed spice together. This was combined with the melted butter mixture and then a beaten egg. I then added in some grated orange zest. Finally I could combine the dough in a ball. The dough had to be chilled in the fridge for about half an hour while I got on with other baking.
When the dough had chilled sufficiently I rolled it out to a 5mm thickness and cut out the mitten shapes. I lost count of how many mittens I cut out but there was enough to go on 3 baking trays. I can bake two trays of cookies at the same time so I had to put the 3rd tray in after the others had finished. The kitchen smelled wonderful. Baking gingerbread is one of my favourite smells of all time.
The cookies didn’t need long in the oven. They usually take about 12 minutes for me. When I took them out of the oven I left them on the tray before transferring them across to the wire rack. I bet if I didn’t, they would have fallen apart! Later on, when they were completely cooled I put them into a plastic box overnight until I was ready to decorate them.
The following day, which was Saturday I finally got round to icing the lebkuchen cookies. I chose to ice them differently instead of the traditional egg white, icing sugar and lemon juice mixture. Instead I made up royal icing so I could pipe on the details, like spots, stripes and zig zags, etc. I’m not really that confident at piping the icing on as sometimes I find the bag splits and the icing explodes all over the work top! I think I had three goes this time! Anyway I got there in the end.
After the cookies dried for a few hours I was able to put them into their gift bags and tie them with some pretty Christmas ribbon. There were two spare ones so I kept them back and ate them for my breakfast on Christmas Eve!
Since I gave up baking professionally to concentrate on the day job full time, I’ve had less time to spend on baking things like Christmas cakes. Mr Smartcookiesam says to me every year that I should just go and buy a small one from Marks and Spencer but to me part of Christmas is baking and decorating a Christmas cake. Why should I go out and buy something I enjoy baking at home?
I’ve never been a massive fan of roll out icing and marzipan but I love fruit cakes. If I eat Christmas cake I always take the icing off and serve it with a slice of Wensleydale cheese as you do in my part of the world. I try to decorate my cake differently each year but if I’m short of time I always get out my The Snowman and the Snowdog decorations and cake ribbon. At the time of writing I’ve no idea how I’m going to decorate this year’s cake, please send some inspiration my way!
As for the previous couple of years I’ve used Mary Berry’s Classic Christmas Cake recipe for my family Christmas cake. The recipe features in both The Great British Bake Off Christmas book and Mary’s own Christmas Collection. Dried fruit (a mixture of currants, sultanas, raisins, mixed peel and halved glacé cherries) had been soaking in some brandy for a few days along with some orange zest.
This afternoon, albeit a few days after it should have been done but I thought I’d better get started on the cake. I knew I needed time where I’d be in all afternoon while it was baking. Sundays are not usually a day of rest in our house. I’m normally catching up on all the jobs I haven’t done from the previous week or trying to get ahead for the next week. No time like the present, as they always say.
In a large bowl I creamed together unsalted butter, light brown sugar, treacle and eggs. After these were mixed together, I added in some flour and some ground mixed spice along with some chopped blanched almonds. Then this was combined with the dried fruit mixture.
I had greased and carefully double lined a deep 9″ or 23cm diameter circular cake tin. Mary Berry says in her recipe intro that the cake isn’t a very deep one but it definitely makes a big enough cake for our Christmas celebrations. I found the cake mixture went just over halfway up the cake tin and was deep enough for me.
My oven had been preheated to 140oC and I put the cake tin into the oven on the central shelf. By this time it was 2.30pm and time was cracking on. The cooking time was estimated between 4- 4 1/2 hours so I wanted the cake out by the time we were due to go out.
Jobs done and now it was time to chill. Every now and again throughout the 4 hours I kept popping backwards and forwards to the kitchen to check on the cake. I’m always worried about fruit cakes burning and to be honest I think I need to get my oven checked out. I don’t think the temperature is as accurate any more. Well my oven is 11 years old and it has had a lot of use over the past few years.
At 6.30pm the cake was ready to come out of the oven. The fruit looked a bit burnt on top to be honest and I should have covered the cake with some foil or baking parchment to stop it catching. You can never tell with my oven at the moment.
I’ll be wrapping the cake up in foil and feeding it with brandy every few days or so. In the week leading up to Christmas I will be marzipanning and icing the cake. Watch this space to see it finished!
I’m so excited that The Great British Bake Off is back. What do you think of it so far? In the first couple of episodes I spend most of the time getting confused as you begin to find out who’s who. I get muddled up with what each contestant bakes to begin with but after this week’s programme I felt ravenous. I’d already had my dinner but all I could think about was eating a great big piece of drizzle cake, followed by some Jaffa cakes and finished off with a slice of a mirrored chocolate cake! Much too tempting and as someone who really struggles with dieting, it’s going to be hard not to succumb!
Anyway, Bake Off mania started the day before the first episode came out in SmartCookieSam’s house. My copy of the brand new Bake Off book arrived. The book to accompany this series is called Perfect Cakes and Bakes to Make At Home. I wasn’t disappointed and this year the book wasn’t too heavily bread and yeast bakes biased as last year’s one was. I was impressed with the layout and the introduction featuring all the bakers too. The recipes in this year’s book are also ones which I can see myself baking so I think I’ll be having a go at a few over the next few weeks- watch this space!
It didn’t take me long to plan out what my first bake from the book would be. Week 1’s Technical Bake was for Jaffa Cakes. Not only that but it was the theme for this week’s #GBBOTwitterBakelalong. This was perfect as they’re my son’s favourites as well. He has always loved Jaffa Cakes and once came home from school at Christmas with one of those giant metre long packets. His mate had bought him it as a Christmas present. We were allowed to have some but I think it was me who gave him the taste for them! When I was pregnant with him, I loved eating Jaffa cakes. Then again I had a craving for mushy peas when I was expecting my daughter and she hates them!
The thing is though, when you have a much loved shop bought biscuit or cake, you never know what a homemade version will turn out like. I never forget my one and only time trying to make chocolate teacakes and faffing about with making homemade marshmallow! I’ve never made them since, only bought Tunnocks instead! The same applies to Jaffa cakes, could I make them taste like McVities ones and would they be too much faff?
Last Saturday afternoon was typical August Bank Holiday weather. I’d done my cleaning and was about to go outside to start hoovering out my car. It’s in a terrible state as my dog sat on the back seat after a muddy walk and I’d forgotten to take a towel with me. But just as I was about to get the Hoover out, it started raining. Secretly I thought this was great as I could do some baking.
Baking the Jaffa Cakes didn’t take that long even though it was broken down into stages. Once the jelly was setting in the fridge I got on with the sponge bases. These are a fat less whisked sponge mixture, where you whisked sugar and eggs together for five minutes and then some self raising flour was folded in. To bake the sponges I used a shallow 12 hole tart or mince pie tin which was greased before with Wilton Cake Release. The sponges didn’t take much baking, only 9 minutes. I took them out when the sponges sprung back when I touched them.
After a few minutes the sponges were ready to come out of the tin. This is where I always panic as I didn’t want anything sticking. Thankfully apart from one cake which was a bit on the small side, they came out ok. By the way, the recipe says that there is more than enough mixture and when spooning it into the tin, you only need to fill it three quarters full! There was a bit left over but I wouldn’t have had enough chocolate to cover any extras.
I left the sponges to cool down but as it was a day when I was trying to catch up on everything I was desperate to get on with the next stage. I poked the jelly setting in the fridge and it seemed alright. So I thought I’d try and cut out the jelly circles. The recipe says you are meant to turn out the whole jelly rectangle onto a piece of baking paper and cut circles out of it. I was rushing so much that I realised the jelly wasn’t properly set and it slid out onto the baking paper in a massive orange blob! So there was one thing for it, I had to pile teaspoonfuls of orange jelly on top of the sponges, not neat little circles!
I then melted some dark chocolate and spooned it on top of the jelly blobbed sponges. Of course this wasn’t going to be a neat job with the mess I’d made with the jelly! The jelly began to move about as I spread the chocolate on. As for doing the criss-cross pattern on top of the Jaffa Cakes- forget it!
Would I bake the Jaffa Cakes again? They tasted wonderful and not as sweet as the shop bought ones. They were quite faffy to make though but I might try again when I’m not rushing things.
I get itchy hands when I haven’t baked for a few days. It’s been a mad few days in SmartCookieSam land. I had a really busy week doing a teaching assignment in a nursery, then that very weekend I went down with a chest infection. Before I started feeling really rough, I did manage to bake my son’s 16th birthday cake. After that, it all went downhill. I had three days in bed either coughing my guts up or dozing off to sleep. I had to cancel two days pre-booked supply work in schools I go to regularly. I only worked last Friday in the end and felt completely useless. Baking was the last thing on my mind, in fact it was even a struggle to muster up the energy to make myself a cup of tea!
By yesterday, though, apart from the odd coughing fit I have got back to my normal self. I’m still feeling very tired and have been trying to take it easy but I really wanted to bake something quick and simple. To me, muffins fit the bill there, they take no time at all to make and don’t need much mixing. You just throw all the ingredients together and hey presto in about half an hour you have a gorgeous smell wafting out of your kitchen.
I chose to adapt a Mary Berry muffin recipe which is in her Cookery Course book. Her original recipe is for Blueberry Muffins, which I love but I wanted to use chocolate chunks in mine. I grated some orange zest and used a pot of natural yoghurt, as well as 5 tablespoonfuls of milk. These muffins are also baked using melted butter, instead of oil. As for muffin cases, I used brown tulip shaped ones but it really doesn’t matter what you use.
This is how the muffins were made: first I beat two large eggs together, then added caster sugar, milk, natural yoghurt, vanilla extract and the grated orange zest to a large bowl. All of these were stirred up gently so they were just combined, not beaten. To this, I sifted in self raising flour and baking powder. This needed to be folded into the wet mixture, and then finally in went a whole packet of dark chocolate chunks. The batter was then divided equally among 12 muffin cases and put into a pre-heated oven. The muffins came out well risen after about 25 minutes baking time with a wonderful aroma permeating the whole of the house. I put them onto a wire rack and let them cool down.
It was gorgeous BBQ weather yesterday and not really the right time for eating warm muffins straight from the oven. To be honest, it was the last thing I wanted to eat, even though I could eat cake all day and every day normally! The muffins ended up in a box and ready to go into the freezer for a day when cake would hit the spot. I forgot to put them in the freezer and found hubby eating one when he came back in from work. He said they were lovely as they weren’t too overpoweringly sweet like you can find with some shop bought muffins.
I’ve been at sixes and sevens with blogging recently. It’s a pain, my laptop never seems to work properly and I struggle with the WordPress app on my iPad. Anyway I’m trying out the app again. So if you hear lots of screaming and swearing coming from my house, then you know why.
Anyway, I haven’t done much baking either as we’ve had a lot on in the SmartCookieSam house. My daughter has been going on a few uni open day visits and I’ve been very busy getting back into the day job (I’m a primary school supply teacher) after the summer holidays.
Last Wednesday I had a free afternoon. I was teaching in the morning, came home and walked the dog but it was one of those afternoons where I just wanted to bake. If you are a baking addict like me then you will understand…
I decided to have a go at the Chocolate Orange Cake which is featured in the October chapter of the Clandestine Cake Club’s book “A Year Of Cake”. The recipe creator Fiona O’Donnell created it with World Mental Health Day in mind, which falls on 10th October. Although I’d baked the cake two weeks after the day itself, it is a day to me which will never be forgotten on my calendar.
The recipe introduction states “Members have often said how joining the Clandestine Cake Club has made their lives so much richer” and “that baking has helped them through difficult times in their lives.”
World Mental Health Day is held annually to raise awareness of mental health and this cake is no exception. To me, baking is not just baking a cake. It is a focus on doing something positive and productive. Baking is therapeutic and makes me feel good about myself. When I bake a cake I don’t feel like a useless fat lump but someone who can actually achieve something. If baking was taken away from me I wouldn’t be the person I was. Unfortunately it has its problems, I’m 2 stone heavier than I was 5 years ago! So anything I bake I can’t eat now, or in very small amounts. But this doesn’t stop me from feeling passionately that a pastime like baking or or another hobby like sewing have enormous benefits for people’s wellbeing.
So, with my new health regime in mind I decided to bake the Chcocolate Orange Cake which is a true feel good cake in lots of ways. It was easy to bake, looked stunning as it was a marble cake and it contains all the wonderful flavours of that ultimate feel good food- chocolate!
The cake itself was simple to bake- flour and baking powder were sifted together in a bowl, then caster sugar was added to it. After that I added in some softened unsalted butter and medium beaten eggs. This formed the main cake. To create the marble effect I then halved the mixture into two separate bowls. To one bowl I added orange juice and zest and to the other some cocoa powder.
Now this is where my heckles started rising. I’d run out of my favourite Sugar and Crumbs cocoa powder and the normal cocoa powder kept in my baking stash had gone! I was livid, think my kids had nicked it to make brownies in a mug but didn’t tell me they’d done it. Not happy. So in the end I had to use some hot chocolate powder. I wasn’t sure if this would work, especially since the mixture looked a lot paler than it would with normal cocoa powder. If only I could padlock my baking cupboard!
The mixture then went into a pre-greased and lined tin. I tried carefully to create a marble effect so it looked good when the cake was cut up.
After about 45 minutes the cake was ready. There was a gorgeous orangey smell coming from my kitchen and it was mouthwatering. I had to leave the cake cooling before I took it out of the tin but I made the chocolate orange icing while I was waiting. It was a simple runny icing: icing sugar, cocoa powder and orange juice. Though once again was using the hot chocolate powder. It worked out ok, it was just a little bit lighter than the icing shown in the picture!
As I was teaching at one of my regular schools the following day I decided to take the cake along to share with the staff there. They are all very kind and welcoming to me and I thought they deserved a treat coming up to half term. Thankfully the cake went down very well.
I’m always up for trying out new baking products, especially those which add an extra dimension or an extra special something to my bakes.
Just recently I have discovered Sugar and Crumbs who make a range of natural cocoa powders and icing sugars to enhance your bakes and to turn them into something really special. Not only this but they also sell a great range of crumbs and sprinkles to finish off the top of your cakes with a pretty touch. Sugar and Crumbs sell their products online through their own website but they also have a really useful local stockist search facility on their website. If you type in your postcode it comes up with who stocks the Sugar and Crumbs products nearby. As I live in North Yorkshire I was pleased to see that Sugarcraft Supplies in Garforth sells them! I know where I’ll be heading on my next day off from work!
I belong to to the Clandestine Cake Club and a few of my cakey friends had bought Sugar and Crumbs products to try out in their cakes from a stand at The Cake and Bake Show last year. They were absolutely delighted with them and I was intrigued to try the products out for myself.
From coconut to lime and from Black Forest to Cherry Bakewell there is a flavour to suit everyone’s taste buds. I even noticed there is a chilli flavoured cocoa powder on the website which I would love to try out in the future! Though what I do wish to see is a mint flavour cocoa powder and icing sugar as that is my overall favourite and I would buy it by the shedload!
So when Sugar and Crumbs set me a challenge to bake with a goodie bag of their cocoa powder and icing sugars I jumped at the chance. Mother’s Day is coming up and what better occasion than to bake a cake or something delicious for your mum? I’m a mum of two teenagers myself but I love baking cakes for my own mum. She came to visit me when it was half term so I thought it was a great excuse to get out the cake tins and come up with some treats to share for Mother’s Day.
Sugar and Crumbs offered me a choice of cocoa powders and icing sugars from their wide variety of flavours and extensive range. I chose to go with the Chocolate Orange Natural Flavoured Cocoa Powder which was accompanied by two different icing sugars. One was the Jaffa Twist Natural Flavoured Cocoa Icing Sugar and the other was the Orange Zest Natural Flavoured Icing Sugar which all came in the most gorgeous pink or white resealable pouches. So pretty, just made me want to open it straightaway and get baking! I was very impressed with the packaging and I felt you got a lot in a packet, especially with the cocoa powder as it would last for a couple or several bakes depending on what you were making.
Those of you that read my SmartCookieSam blog regularly will know that I’m addicted to baking bundts and have started collecting Nordicware bundt pans. So my Mother’s Day bake just HAD to include a bundt cake somewhere. I adapted the recipe from the latest Hummingbird Bakery recipe book which is just out called Life Is Sweet. On page there is a recipe for the Tunnel of Fudge Bundt Cake which I turned into a Jaffa Orange Cake instead. Not only this but I wanted to see what else I could create with my big bag of cocoa powder and hit upon the idea of baking some chocolate orange cookies at the same time.
The smell coming from my oven was just so enticing. I chose to bake the cake in my Heritage Bundt pan which always produces excellent results so I thought I would try and see how the Sugar and Crumbs products worked when baked in a bundt!
Meanwhile I attempted to bake some cookies using some more of the Jaffa Orange Cocoa Powder. I adapted a recipe from a trusty cookie book I have had for a few years now, called The Genuine American Cookie and Muffin Book. In this book there is a recipe for double chocolate cookies. This gave me a great idea to adapt the recipe using the cocoa powder and also to sprinkle some Orange Zest natural icing sugar on top of the cookies for an extra orangey hit. The batch baked two dozen mouthwatering cookies to complement the Jaffa Orange Bundt Cake.
Meanwhile I had to finish off the bundt. This was done by creating a chocolate glace to adorn the top of the cake. I used the chocolate orange icing sugar accompanied with some sugar and mixed it all together with a little bit of butter to form a paste. This was then drizzled carefully in the grooves on the cake. Before it had chance to set I sprinkled on cut up pieces of mini Jaffa Cakes and then some whole ones on top. I used Marks and Spencers’ own ones which are retangular, not round.
The extra flavour that the Sugar and Crumbs cocoa powder and icing sugars added to my bakes was phenomenal. My whole family, including my mum said you could definitely taste the orange in the cake and the cookies. We had a small slice of cake and a cookie each. They tasted absolutely delicious. If there is cake around in my house it always disappears like lightning so I chose to take the rest into one of the schools I teach at to share out with the staff. I hope they liked their treats!
After my Mother’s Day baking session I was pleased I still had most of one of the icing sugars left to use up and also a small amount of Jaffa Orange cocoa powder. I ran out of time to bake more last Sunday but have earmarked a couple of the recipes featured on the Sugar and Crumbs website. There are numerous useful recipes including a mouthwatering sounding brownie recipe. I am definitely going to try that one out. There are also other recipes for fudge and for meringues amongst lots of others though I know that my mum would love a box of homemade fudge!
Here is a link to the Recipe section of the website:
Unfortunately things have gone a bit pear shaped in my monthly Cooking The Books Challenge. It got to the end of the month yesterday and I realised I’d not baked two of the recipes I wanted to for the challenge. I missed out on baking some Utterly Nutterly Shortbreads and some Wedding Party Rings! Oh dear, well not to worry. Instead I have had other baking to do, including a Labrador shaped cake for my friend. I’ve also been working some extra hours, so time has been precious. Not only this but I rejoined Weightwatchers two weeks ago. I lost 6lbs the first week but last week I didn’t follow it properly as I was too busy. I can feel all those lost pounds creeping back on and I haven’t had the guts to weigh myself….
So this post is really to show what I did get around to baking. A week last Sunday the village where I go to WI (when I can get to the meetings, that is!) had their Open Gardens. I baked three things to donate to the WI tea and cake stand. I was meant to help at the end of the day but I ended up having to say no, after all hubby was out and I needed to be the children’s taxi service!
First up was the Aussie Crunch. Rather moreish and Gilchrists, the bakery in my nearby town of Boroughbridge makes delicious Aussie Crunch. It’s quick and simple to make and John includes it in the Family Bakes section of his book. Great for all the family to eat and to have a go at baking too! Though John says “Why it is called Aussie Crunch when it comes from Bolton is a mystery to me!” I was glad in a way it was heading up to the WI stall, if I’d even tried one bite, the whole lot would end up being scoffed!
To make the Aussie Crunch it was simple. I put butter and sugar into a saucepan and let the butter melt and the sugar dissolve. In a large mixing bowl I mixed together dessicated coconut and cornflakes, then tossed in some cocoa powder and self raising flour. This was all mixed together with the melted butter and then put into my greased 8″ square tin ready for baking. It only took 20 minutes to bake and smelled fab.
While the Aussie Crunch was setting in the fridge, I got on with the next bake. As I love baking bundt cakes so much I was really keen to try John’s Fig, Pecan and Orange Bundt Cake in the Friendship Feasts chapter in the book. I’m not really keen on figs and even though I wasn’t going to be baking the cake for myself I still fancied putting something else in the cake instead! So I plumped for chopped, dried dates. I wanted to use my Jubilee bundt pan again as it has such a pretty lattice design on it and hoped that it would encourage people to try it.
I was very impressed with the results I had with the bundt. I will definitely be baking this again. John says “This makes for perfect toast, toppped with some boisterous Stilton cheese!” Sounds good to me!
The final bake for the WI Open Gardens Stall was John’s Lemon Sherbet Cake. It contains the sherbet (not the lollies though!) from Sherbet Dip dabs! I’d never thought to put them in a cake before and it was funny buying Dip-dabs in the shop, haven’t done that since I was about 10! I also added my own slant to the cake by decorating it with sherbet lemon sweets instead of handmade lemon peel. I just felt a bit lazy by then and wanted to cut a few corners to save time!
The lemon sherbet cake is from the Family Bakes chapter of John Whaite Bakes At Home and is definitely one to avoid if you are on a diet but perfect for a family get-together or celebration. John’s version involves vertically slicing the two cake layers so you have four altogether. I find this dead fiddly so I kept the two and had all my filling in the middle of the cake. The filling was absolutely gorgeous: whipping cream, mascarpone cheese, icing sugar, the Dip dabs, lemon juice and zest whipped together. I piped it in the middle and on the top of the cake using my large star shaped nozzle.
Again, I was really pleased with how the cake turned out and thought I would love to try this with different flavours and sweets. Very retro. I took the three cakes around to my friend’s house as I couldn’t help at the stall myself. She was pleased with them but I haven’t had chance to ask her how they went. I hope they tasted ok.
As I type this, it is now July 4th. I’m meant to be thinking about July’s challenge. I’d better get my bum into gear or else it will be August!
Even though the title of Delia Smith’s book is called Delia’s Cakes, it also includes recipes for lots of different biscuits and cookies. I love baking biscuits (and stuffing them down my gob as fast as I bake them too!). So I had loads of recipes I wanted to choose from to bake for, for the Biscuits chapter as part of my monthly Cooking The Books Challenge.
But, the Chocolate Orange biscuits stood out for me in the end. It was the recipe introduction that did it for me. Delia says “If you like chocolate and orange as a combination, then forget Jaffa Cakes. These are in a completely different class,” How could you forget Jaffa Cakes? All my family love them, especially my fourteen year old son. I love Terry’s Chocolate Oranges too, so it’s a win win combination. I just had to bake these even though they weren’t going to be eaten by us, they were off down to the neighbouring village’s Spring Festival to be served in the cafe with the coffee and teas in the school! I hoped temptation wouldn’t get the better of me!
A week last Saturday, the afternoon was beautiful and sunny. My children had gone off into Leeds with friends and my mum had just arrived for the weekend as it was also my son’s birthday. My mum offered to help me in the kitchen. We set to with our baking and enjoyed our relaxing afternoon.
First I had to chop up a 100g bar of plain chocolate into small chunks. Delia says to use chopped dark chocolate but I suppose chocolate chips would be fine. After that I grated the zest of two oranges into a small bowl and squeezed one half of one of the oranges as I needed a tablespoonful of orange juice to add to the mixture.
After that I started on the actual biscuits themselves. I beat spreadable butter and caster sugar together until it became light and creamy, followed by flour and some baking powder. The mixture didn’t need an egg to combine it together as the fluid came from the orange juice. This gave it a nice smell and I was tempted to stick my finger in the mix and lick some dough. I had to restrain myself though.
Once the dough had come together it had to be rolled out. I find this difficult with mixtures containing fruit and chocolate as the cutter edge always seems to be where there’s a giant sultana or chocolate piece that won’t cut. You end up with jagged lumps. After managing to get 2 dozen cookies out of the dough I was pleased and they were put on the baking trays ready to be baked.
After the cookies came out the oven they went onto my cooling rack once I’d given them 5 minutes resting time on the oven tray. The heavenly aroma was just far too tempting. But I knew they weren’t for us!
Once they were cooled down, my mum put the cookies into a spare box for me. We left them overnight ready for the Spring Festival the following day. Unfortunately, my greedy son stole two cookies from the box. He asked if he could have one on the Sunday morning. I said no as they were for the Spring Festival but he helped himself anyway when I went upstairs. He thinks I can’t count and I wouldn’t miss them. I went ballistic! Thank heavens they hadn’t been for a special order or anything.
I’m not sure how well the cookies sold at the cafe in the Spring Festival. When my mum and I popped in for a cup of tea and cake in the afternoon there were still loads of cakes and biscuits left. I didn’t taste one but they did look fine to me. I will definitely bake them again.