Bundts, Bundts and More Bundts.

I’m getting just that teensy weensy bit obsessed with collecting Nordicware Bundt pans now. I think it needs to stop or else I will need a kitchen extension!  I just love the interesting shapes that the pans come in and how you can make a cake into a showstopper bake by using one of the pans.  I still see pans I want and the wish list is getting longer and longer by the day!

This post is to share some of the more recent bakes I have made so far this year using my bundt pans.  For recipe inspiration I can recommend the fabulous website by Rachel McGrath the Bundt Queen herself.  She has lots of ideas and fantastic flavour combinations to try out.  I would recommend looking at her Bundt recipe page and also adapting and creating your own ideas from her Build a Bundt recipe.

Rachel’s feature on her blog called Bundts on The Brain is a great insight into the history of the Bundt:

http://www.dollybakes.co.uk/p/bundts-on-brain.html

Here are my new bundt pans I have been getting excited about!

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The Heritage Bundt pan. I’ve been after this for ages, such a pretty design.
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My two loaf bundt pans: a lemon loaf one and a gingerbread man one.
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A pretty rose bundt pan. I haven’t had much success with this, tried to bake a white chocolate and raspberry bundt in it a few weeks back and it just wouldn’t come out of the tin. When I finally got it out, the top part fell out leaving half of it welded to the bottom! Try and try again I suppose!
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For Valentine’s Day I baked a chocolate and chocolate themed bundt heart cake. It featured Sugar and Crumbs‘s chocolate and coconut icing sugar which worked really well in both the mixture and the chocolate glaze. To top the cake I added miniature sugarpaste hearts.
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Connected with a previous blog post written in conjunction with Sugar and Crumbs, I baked this Jaffa Orange Bundt cake. This recipe was adapted from one in the latest Hummingbird Bakery recipe book and looked fab baked in my Heritage bundt pan.
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Bundt cakes are those baked in pans manufactured by Nordicware and not necessarily a cake with a hole in the middle. This sticky lemon loaf cake baked from one of my Nana’s old recipe books went along to a Clandestine Cake Club event in February.
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I spotted the Nordicware Pineapple Upside down cake pan on Ebay in March and just had to have it. Luckily it was a Buy It Now option but I did have to send for it from the USA. It was worth it to bake one of my family’s favourite desserts in such a pretty way.  The recipe itself I used from an American website but I am not sure if I got the quantities right having to use baking cups!
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Back in January I wanted to experiment with some Monin coffee syrups I was given just before Christmas. So I used one of Dollybakes’ recipes to bake this Cinnamon and Apple Bundt Cake with apple flavour glace icing.
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For my hubby’s birthday in January I baked my usual carrot cake recipe in a traditional bundt pan and decorated it with cream cheese frosting, chopped nuts and some ready made carrot decorations.
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My heart shaped bundt pan gets used at all times of the year, not just for Valentine’s Day! I baked Jamie Oliver’s Sticky Toffee Pudding from his latest book Comfort Food in my pan instead of in a traybake tin.
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My piece of sticky toffee pudding with some sauce drizzled over. Perfect for a cold February dessert.

Keep watching this space, there will be more bundts to come in the future!

Happy Baking.

Love Sam xx

Update! September and October’s Cooking The Books Challenge.

Those of you who read my blog regularly will know that I’m doing a Cooking The Books Challenge.  This started off well back at the start of the year but then as life got in the way! I logged on to update SmartCookieSam and realised it’s been well over a month since my last post. I haven’t been quiet on the baking front though.  It’s mainly been trying out recipes from The Great British Bake Off Big Book Of Baking  cookbook that came out to accompany the latest series.

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The front cover of the latest Great British Bake Off Book- Big Book Of Baking. I intended to blog a review of it but never got round to it.

So the idea of this post is to share with you some of the bakes I’ve made from the book.  Here goes!

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Golden Carrot Traybake.

I love baking traybakes as a little goes a long way, especially at coffee mornings or fairs.  The Golden Carrot traybake was a big success at my school’s MacMillan Coffee morning.  I had to put pieces aside for the staff before they all got sold!

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Irish Brack.

I also baked the Irish Brack recipe from the Bread Chapter of the book. It was very similar to the Yorkshire Tea Loaf recipe I regularly make.  This went along to the MacMillan Coffee morning and about half of it sold, not as popular as carrot cake!

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Somerset Apple Tart.

For one of the Sunday lunch puddings over the past few weeks I’ve been trying out various recipes from the Bake Off book.  When on holiday in Normandy several years ago I loved the melt in the mouth apple tarts you could buy in the local patisseries.  The tart is called Somerset Apple Tart in this recipe because it calls for Somerset Apple Brandy if you have it. Mine was Normandy Apple Tart as it had genuine Calvados in it. I love Calvados in cream to go with mince pies at Christmas but would struggle to drink any, too strong for me! Of course I would not get a job as a patisserie chef with my offering.  When blind baking the pastry case I left it in the oven a bit too long and the sides burned.  At least Mary Berry would be impressed that the tart didn’t have a soggy bottom though!  My two kids, especially my son weren’t impressed by the tart.  They said “Yuck, cooked apples!”  Everyone else enjoyed it though and all the better with a splodge of whipped cream on the side.

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Cheddar and Mustard Loaf.

Being a sweet toothed monster I thought it was about time I tried out some savoury recipes and I wanted to try out the cheese and mustard loaf.  I thought it would be perfect on an Autumn Saturday along with a bowl of warming soup.  So last Saturday I baked the loaf to have with some homemade vegetable soup.  Again, my son wasn’t complimentary about my baking saying “Why do you have to put cheese in it? Why can’t you just cook some “normal” white bread?”  Been there, done that, wanted to try something else!  Both my hubby and I enjoyed a big slice with our soup though.

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Norman’s Farthing Biscuits.

My hubby is a cheese lover and would prefer cheese and biscuits instead of a pudding if we go out anywhere.  He reminds me of Wallace when he says “Got any cheese?” so the other day I bought some Harrogate Blue Shepherd’s Purse Cheese and had a go at Norman’s Farthing Biscuits from the Bake Off book. I thought Norman was a lovely guy, one of my favourite contestants from this year’s series.  His quote about Tiramisu “I can’t even spell it” or words to that effect makes me smile.  So I was keen to try out his recipe for Farthing Biscuits although mine seemed to puff up a bit in the oven.  They tasted great though and even my fussy son liked them.  Thankyou Norman, will be baking these again!

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Hot White Chocolate Puddings with chocolate sauce.

Another Sunday dinner or lunch dessert.  These individual puddings were made in my Alan Silverwood Pudding Moulds which I think I bought from Lakeland.  They are massive though and I should have shared one with my hubby.  Anyway both of us were feeling greedy and had one to ourselves.  No wonder I am struggling with my weight and was up half the night afterwards with heartburn.  It did taste like heaven though; white chocolate sponge topped with a chocolate sauce.  The chocolate sauce is plain chocolate, cream and butter heated together.

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Sticky Apple Sponge Pudding.

I was given some apples to use up from a neighbour so I incorporated some of them into this Sticky Apple Sponge Pudding.  Very like the flavours of a Sticky Toffee Pudding but with sliced apples added to the bottom of the dish.  A hit with all of the family despite the kids pulling the sliced apples off the cake. Apart from that it was scrumptious.

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Grassmere Gingerbread

I love anything with ginger in it so I just had to bake the Grasmere Gingerbread recipe in the Bake Off book.  I can’t get enough of Grasmere Gingerbread but the original recipe is a closely guarded secret.  I bet this is as near to it as you get though.  The gingerbread was going to be taken with me into work to put in the staff room but it never got there.  All my family kept nibbling!

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Morello Cherry Bakewell Tart.

I also love anything with almonds in, so I was keen to have a go at the Morello Cherry Bakewell Tart.  I’ve had a go at Bakewell tart a few times before but always used raspberry jam in it.  I bought some Morello Cherry Jam in the supermarket and baked this version for another of our Sunday lunch desserts. I was surprised when my son said he liked it!  I nearly passed out cold on the floor!  HE ACTUALLY LIKED SOMETHING I BAKED! Well, I know it’s a winner then.  Again I managed to overbake the pastry.  Why is it that there’s always something else going on?

In the true spirit of the challenge I haven’t baked everything I set out to bake.  I really wanted to have a go at some of the more complicated bakes such as the Princesstarta, the Kouign Amann’s and a couple of the savoury pies.  But it has been so busy recently and I have really struggled to fit these bakes in around my day job and what I’d actually need them for.

Watch this space for November’s challenge:  I’m going to be changing things a bit so I’ll let you know as soon as I’ve worked it all out!

Happy Baking!

Love Sam

Cooking The Books February 2014- Blueberry Boy Bait from How To Be A Domestic Goddess.

For my second recipe out of Nigella’s “How To Be A Domestic Goddess” as part of my February Cooking The Books Challenge I turned to the Puddings chapter for ideas for our usual Sunday lunch dessert treat. I wanted to try out something unusual yet be something everyone would eat in our house.  We had all been ill the previous week, struck down with a flu virus and no one had much appetite for dinner.  Though by the time we had got to the Sunday, I was still off my food, yet my hubby and son were feeling better.  My daughter was yet to go down with it!

Nigella has a recipe for Blueberry Boy Bait in her book. The title has always made me laugh,ever since I first heard of the recipe when Ruth Clemens (aka The Pink Whisk) baked a Peach and Blueberry Boy Bait in the very first series of The Great British Bake Off.  Although I don’t need to be “baiting” any boys as I am already happily married, I was secretly hoping the man in my life, plus my two children would be attracted by it.  The original Boy Bait recipe dates back from 1954 and was invented by a Chicago teenager for the Pillsbury $100,000 Recipe and Baking Contest.  It is still popular today.

Nigella says in her introduction to the recipe that she “wanted something different, something more luscious and perhaps something more English”  So, her version, to me comes out more like a Blueberry Queen Of Puddings. It has a custardy breadcrumbed based sponge, topped with blueberry jam and finished with a pile of crispy meringue.

First I heated some full fat milk and butter in a saucepan.
First I heated some full fat milk and butter in a saucepan.
Then I stirred in some breadcrumbs, sugar and lemon zest.
Then I stirred in some breadcrumbs, sugar and lemon zest.
The bread thickened custard base is put into the oven and baked for about 20-30 minutes.
The bread thickened custard base is put into the oven and baked for about 20-30 minutes.
In another saucepan went the blueberries, some caster sugar, some flour and some lemon juice.
In another saucepan went the blueberries, some caster sugar, some flour and some lemon juice.

When I got the blueberries out of the fridge I noticed the big punnet I’d bought had been opened and some had been eaten already! So the blueberry jam only had two thirds of the blueberries in it!

Stirring in the sugar and flour till it dissolved but I still wanted to keep the blueberries whole.
Stirring in the sugar and flour till it dissolved but I still wanted to keep the blueberries whole.
The blueberry jam.
The blueberry jam.
I whisked 5 egg whites together using my hand mixer.
I whisked 5 egg whites together using my hand mixer.
The baked base came out of the oven. It looked a bit stodgy and unappealing to me!
The baked base came out of the oven. It looked a bit stodgy and unappealing to me!

I was a bit unimpressed by the look of the sponge layer when it came out of the oven.  If this was meant to be boy bait…  well we would have to see what happened. More like boy running a mile from looking at that!

The jam layer was spread on top of the sponge in the dish.
The jam layer was spread on top of the sponge in the dish.
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The meringue is now ready after I’d whisked the egg whites. I added caster sugar to it, bit by bit.
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Piling the meringue on top of the pudding!
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Trying to make the meringue topping more interesting, like big fluffy clouds.
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The pudding went back into the oven for about 20 minutes to crisp up the meringues.
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I got three separate layers! Last time I made a Queen of Puddings like this all the layers merged into one and the meringue was squishy.

The verdict?  My husband tasted it and thought the base tasted a bit claggy.  I agreed with him although being off my food I only had a mouthful.  My son ate the meringue bit off the top and my hubby left the base part but loved the rest.  My daughter did the same.  Afterwards my hubby picked off the bits of overhanging crispy meringue but sadly this was definitely not boy bait here.  I think I will try Ruth Clemens’ version (which is on her Pink Whisk website) another time to compare. What a shame.

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx

Sticky Toffee Cake.

About three weeks ago we had a special family Sunday meal at our house for my Dad and step-mum.  After some gammon which was the smallest joint ever and had to be padded out with pigs in blankets and lots of veg, I had to think of a pudding that everyone would like.

When it’s cold, dark and miserable outside I love nothing more than Sticky Toffee Pudding.  It’s simple to make yet tastes gorgeous and most people I know love eating it.  I wanted to try out the Scrumptious Sticky Toffee Cake in The Clandestine Cake Club Cookbook as the photo in the book looked absolutely mouthwatering.  The recipe was created by Jane Edgar who is a member of the  Pudsey and West Leeds Clandestine Cake Club. It also came with a separate toffee sauce which would work really well to cater for everyone’s tastes.  My step mum can’t eat cream which is in the toffee sauce so this was perfect for her.  She could eat the cake without the sauce and have custard if she wanted to instead.

First of all I had to put some chopped, stoned dates into a pan with some milk and water.  These had to cook until all the liquid had been absorbed.
First of all I had to put some chopped, stoned dates into a pan with some milk and water. These had to cook until all the liquid had been absorbed.
Once the liquid had been absorbed, I removed the dates from the heat and added some bicarbonate of soda.
Once the liquid had been absorbed, I removed the dates from the heat and added some bicarbonate of soda.
The bicarbonate of soda fizzed up when it was added to the date mixture.  It was fun to watch this happen!
The bicarbonate of soda fizzed up when it was added to the date mixture. It was fun to watch this happen!
Into my mixer went Pure Soya spread and  soft light brown sugar.  This was creamed together, then eggs were added to the mixture gradually.
Into my mixer went Pure Soya spread and soft light brown sugar. This was creamed together, then eggs were added to the mixture gradually.
Sifting in some flour.
Sifting in some flour.
Folding in the date mixture with a teaspoonful of vanilla extract.
Folding in the date mixture with a teaspoonful of vanilla extract.
The mixture was then spooned into a prepared cake tin.  This was a 20cm round cake tin.
The mixture was then spooned into a prepared cake tin. This was a 20cm round cake tin.
After the cake baked in the oven for about 45 minutes it was left to cool out on the worktop.  It came out a lovely dark golden colour.
After the cake baked in the oven for about 45 minutes it was left to cool out on the worktop. It came out a lovely dark golden colour.
While the cake was cooling I made the toffee sauce.  I heated double cream, brown sugar and butter together in a saucepan.
While the cake was cooling I made the toffee sauce. I heated double cream, brown sugar and butter together in a saucepan.
The cooled cake was put onto my stand and the sauce into a separate jug.  In the recipe book Jane, the recipe creator suggests pouring the sauce all over the top.  I chose to serve it separately so my step-mum could still eat some.
The cooled cake was put onto my stand and the sauce into a separate jug. In the recipe book Jane, the recipe creator suggests pouring the sauce all over the top. I chose to serve it separately so my step-mum could still eat some.
Here is the separate jug of toffee sauce.  I doubled the quantities suggested in the recipe as the toffee sauce would be great with some ice cream for the kids.
Here is the separate jug of toffee sauce. I doubled the quantities suggested in the recipe as the toffee sauce would be great with some ice cream for the kids.
All ready and waiting to be eaten.  Yum yum!
All ready and waiting to be eaten. Yum yum!

The Scrumptious Sticky Toffee Cake really lived up to it’s name.  It was delicious and everyone enjoyed their piece of cake.  We also had some Kelly’s Clotted Cream Ice cream to serve with it which was perfect.  There was even some left over for my hubby to eat after his tea the night after.

Definitely one I will bake again and again as it’s perfect for a Sunday lunch or a dinner party and I found it easy to bake.

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx