9/25/2017

Walnut and Date Cake

Another case of using up something at its ' Use By' date; this time some chopped dates. Wanted to make an easy cake, so made my Mum's Date cake with walnuts.
It's a cake that keeps very well.

Oven 180C/gas4                            Grease and base line a 20cm square cake tin.

In a bowl put 210ml boiling water, 175g chopped dates and 3/4 level tspn bicarbonate of soda. Leave it for 5 mins.
Cream together 175g soft brown sugar and 50g soft margarine, then beat in 1 beaten egg and the water and dates.
Sieve 225g plain flour with 3/4 tspn baking powder and pinch salt, then fold into the date mixture. Add 40g of chopped walnuts and mix together.
Spoon into the tin and bake for about 45-50 mins.
Cool on a wire rack then remove the paper.


This is just part of the cake, as I gave the rest to my lovely Polish neighbour! I sprinkled some sugar on the top  - not really sure why!
It has a lovely flavour, almost caramel taste from the dates and a nice crunch from the walnuts. It has a nice moist texture, and is excellent with a cup of tea or coffee. A nice old fashioned tea treat.

9/16/2017

Chocolate and Hazelnut Biscuits

When 2 of my grandsons, aged 13 and 16 came to visit, to keep them off their x-boxes, I baked with them! We made these chocolate biscuits, and they were a great hit. Sadly there weren't any left to take home to their brother, so next time we'll have to make double the amount!

Preheat oven 190C/gas5                Line 2 baking trays with parchment paper.

you need: 125g butter, 125g caster sugar, 50g dark brown sugar, 1 beaten egg, 1/2 tspn vanilla extract, 100g plain flour, 25g cocoa powder, 75g oats, 1/2tspn baking powder, 1/2 tspn bicarb, 125g chopped hazelnuts and 25g demerara sugar

Beat the butter and caster and dark brown sugars together till nice and smooth. Add the egg and vanilla and beat again.
Mix together the flour, cocoa, baking powder and bicarb. and add to the batter. Stir in the nuts.
Take tspns of the mixture and roll into about 30 balls. Put the demerara sugar on a plate and roll the balls in it. Put the biscuits about 5cm apart on the baking trays. Press them down gently then bake for about 10 mins. Cool on the trays for 5 mins, then turn onto a wire rack to cool.



You could use other nuts instead of hazelnuts. They're nice and nutty and crunchy. Very moreish.

9/11/2017

White Chocolate Crunchies

My daughter's favourite chocolate is white, so having recently made my son's favourite dessert, and as she was coming to stay for a week - a very rare occurrence - I decided to make her something using her favourite ingredient.

I tried one of these crunchies at a coffee morning, and asked for the recipe.

The only cooking involved is melting the chocolate, butter and crème fraîche.

You need an 18cm square tin which you line with baking parchment.

Break up 300g white chocolate and put in a bowl. Add 150g butter and 1 tbspn crème fraîche and melt together gently over a simmering pan of water.

Crumble 100g Amaretti biscuits and chop up 100g candied fruit [I got mine in Waitrose].

When the mixture is melted, take the bowl and add the biscuits, fruit 25g dessicated coconut and 50g toasted flaked almonds. Mix it all together carefully. Spoon into the tin and leave to set in the fridge for 4 hours.

Cut into 20 squares when set, using a knife dipped in hot water.


It's very fruity and nutty. As expected with white chocolate, it's quite sweet. I like the combination of textures - the candied fruit, the biscuits and the smooth chocolate. Not something to have regularly, but a nice occasional treat.

9/01/2017

Norfolk Tart

I don't make many sweet tarts these days, but my son loves treacle tart and especially this version, which is a Norfolk Tart. As he was coming for the weekend, I decided to indulge him with his favourite pudd!

Preheat oven 200C/gas6

Roll out 225g shortcrust pastry [bought or home made] and line a 7" or 17.5 cm round tin.
Fill with baking beans and bake for 15 mins. Take out the beans and reduce the oven to 180C/gas4.
Warm 100g syrup in a pan till runny, then take off the heat and stir in 25g unsalted butter and the grated zest of a lemon.
Beat 1 egg and 3 tbspn double cream together gently then stir into the syrup mixture.
Pour this into the pastry case and bake for 30 mins.
Serve this warm with some cream or ice cream.


This is very rich and moreish. It has a lovely creamy filling with a good lemony hint.





8/20/2017

Cinnamon Sugar Apple Cake

My love of cinnamon is well known, so when I got given some apples, I decided to try a recipe given to me ages ago by an American friend. It's nothing special to look at, but tastes great - that's of course, if you like cinnamon! It's not overwhelming, as there's none in the cake only in the topping.

The recipe uses butter milk and oil. The amount of cinnamon sugar topping suggested for the cake was far too much, even for me, so I reduced it drastically, and there was still plenty.

225g light brown sugar, 75ml oil, 1 large egg, 225ml buttermilk, 1 tspn bicarbonate of soda, 1 tspn vanilla extract, 350g plain flour, 180g chopped apples [weight after peeled - I used 3 eating apples]

Topping: 2 tbspn granulated sugar and 11/2 tspn cinnamon

Preheat oven 160C/gas3                  Grease and base line a 20cm round cake tin.

Put the brown sugar, oil, egg, buttermilk, bicarb, vanilla extract and flour in a big bowl and mis together well. Stir in the apples then spoon the batter in the tin.
Mix the granulated sugar and cinnamon together and sprinkle over the top of the batter.
Bake for about 1 hour 10 mins. The recipe said 45 -55 mins, but although the topping was nice and crunchy, the cake wasn't cooked in the middle. Leave in the tin for 5 mins, then turn out onto a wire rack.




Sorry about the photos. My camera has died, so am trying to use my husband's 'posh' one!

It's a typical American cake in that it's very sweet. I served some as a dessert with crème fraîche, which counteracted some of the sweetness. Some friends had a slice with a cuppa and they didn't find it too sweet.
 You can see that there's plenty of sugar topping, but the recipe said 150g sugar and 3 tspn cinnamon!
It's a light crumb and a soft texture, and the crunchy topping makes a good contrast.


8/09/2017

Chocolate and Tonka Bean Muffins

I think I've mentioned before that I much prefer muffins to cupcakes - I find the icing on cupcakes just too much.

We have a lovely shop in town which sells a great range of herbs and spices, particularly difficult to find ones. In France I did a day's cookery course in a local restaurant, and one of the ingredients we used was Tonka beans. If you want to find out more about them:

http://www.greatbritishchefs.com/how-to-cook/how-to-cook-with-tonka-beans

I'd never heard of them, so was interested to taste their flavour. It's hard to describe - a bit similar to vanilla, but with fruity and spicy elements! You only use a little, as they can be harmful in large quantities, so it's claimed. I bought 3 beans from my local shop.

I'm explaining all this, because my lovely friend who owns the tea shop, gave me her recipe for chocolate muffins with Tonka bean.

The recipe!

200g sr flour, 1 tspn baking powder, 150g white chocolate, 12 small squares of dark chocolate, 1 Tonka bean, 100g caster sugar, 1 tspn vanilla extract, 2 eggs and 50ml milk. Icing sugar to dust tops [opt]

Preheat oven 180C                     grease a 12 hole muffin tin or use muffin paper cases

Break the white chocolate into pieces and melt over pan of simmering water. I usually use my microwave for melting chocolate, but have had a few disasters in it when melting white chocolate!
Sieve the flour and baking powder into a bowl then add the sugar and mix.
Add the beaten eggs, vanilla extract, milk and melted chocolate. Grate half of the Tonka bean into the batter using a small grater. Beat together.
Fill the holes in the muffin tin or the paper cases 3/4 full then press a square of dark chocolate down into the middle.
Bake for 20 and cool on a wire rack. Dust tops with icing sugar.


These were delicious. Lovely soft texture, melted chocolate in the middle, hint of the exotic bean. Very different flavour from my usual muffins. Will definitely make them again. Now I have to work out what to do with the half of the bean I didn't grate! More muffins?

8/01/2017

Upside Down Plum Cake

I bought a punnet of local grown red plums, and wanted to use them in a cake rather than my usual pie or crumble.
This is a nice easy recipe I was given by my French friend, and I often use it with different fruits.

250g red plums, 180g caster sugar, 130g soft butter, 100g sr flour, 4 eggs, icing sugar to sprinkle over top [opt]

Preheat oven 200C/gas6                           Grease a 20cm cake tin

Wash plums then cut in half and remove stones.
Separate the eggs and add the yolks to the sugar. Beat till white and fluffy.
Beat in the butter then fold in the flour.
Whisk the egg whites till stiff then fold into the batter.
Line the base of the tin with the plums, cut side down, and cover with the batter.
After 20 mins, turn the oven down to 180C and bake for a further 20 mins.
When cool, turn out upside down and dust the top with icing sugar.



I like the cake mixture - it has a soft crumb and a light texture. It's a good contrast to the juicy plums. The cake makes a good dessert with some ice cream or cream. I sometimes use pears or apples instead of plums.