Honey buns

Honey buns

I received an unexpected Amazon voucher from work a few weeks ago. I don’t really buy books from Amazon any more, simply because I would rather support actual bookshops, but I thought it would be rude not indulge just this once! I got quite a few baking books, including Paul Hollywood’s British Baking, which contains this rather fine recipe for honey buns (you can find it online here).

Despite the name, these aren’t the yeasted variety of buns; they’re more like mini cakes. As you might expect, there’s a fair bit of honey in both the cakes themselves and the wonderfully sticky cream cheese icing. The cakes also contain chopped pecans and cinnamon.

Honey buns
The cakes were very straightforward to make. The only issue I had was trying to divide the mix equally between 18 cases, when I could only bake them in batches of 12! As a result, I ended up with some buns that were much bigger or smaller than the others.

The icing was also really easy to make, although I suspect mine was a little runnier than it should have been. For once, I seemed to make the right amount of icing and didn’t end up with any left over, which is always nice. I ran out of pecans after making the cakes, so I topped the honey buns with walnut halves instead.

Honey buns
I had two of the buns straight away, and was very pleased with how they turned out. The cakes themselves were lovely – spicy but with a strong honey flavour. The icing was delicious, too – I almost wished there had been some left over so I could have eaten it from the bowl with a spoon!

Honey buns
This is a brilliant little recipe and one I would highly recommend. It’s worth investing in some good quality honey for baking purposes, but I managed to make these with supermarket own-brand honey and it was perfectly fine. I’d love to try making these again with orange blossom honey or another flavoured honey – I suspect they’d be divine!

Chocolate and hazelnut bundt cake

Chocolate and hazelnut bundt cake
I nearly forgot to blog about this one! It was my fiancé‘s birthday at the end of July, and I decided to make him a cake involving his all-time favourite combination: chocolate and hazelnuts.

I found a recipe for chocolate and hazelnut bundt cake on the Dolly Bakes blog and attempted to do my best with it. It was a little bit involved and made a LOT of cake mix – I actually ended up with a fair amount mix of all over the bottom of the oven. I assume my bundt tin is smaller than average, so be warned!

The best thing about the cake is the layer of Nutella running through the middle – you make this happen by putting some of the mix in the tin, then throwing some Nutella in and topping this with the rest of the mix. I also chucked in some roughly chopped milk chocolate chunks instead of chocolate chips – I just think they’re so much nicer.

Chocolate and hazelnut bundt cake
Unfortunately, I had a bit of a disaster when turning out the cake thanks to the annoying nature of bundt tins, even when they’re very well greased and floured. Luckily, I could hide the cracks with lots of icing!

Despite the cake’s somewhat messy appearance, it went down extremely well with my fiancé – he said it was one of his favourite cakes out of all the ones I’ve ever made (and I’ve made A LOT). I don’t know if I’d make this again just because it seemed to take ages to get to grips with, but I suppose I better had for the sake of good future marital relations!

Chocolate and hazelnut bundt cake

Bakewell slices + an epic afternoon tea

Bakewell slices
A few weeks ago, my fiancé and I hosted a celebratory afternoon tea for some friends to belatedly mark our engagement. If you know us, you’ll know that we do love to throw a bit of a do, and this was definitely a do and a half! One of the many things we made was these Bakewell slices.

Before I go on, I do apologise for the quality of the photos – I’ve never been great at taking pictures, but in my defence, we did happen to have a magnum of prosecco on the go at the time!

Anyway, the Bakewell slices were the one thing I hadn’t made before, so I suppose it was a bit of a gamble. However, I used a Mary Berry recipe for these, and she rarely puts a foot wrong, so I was pretty confident that they’d turn out well. And turn out well they did!

It basically just involved making some pastry, lining a tin with it and topping it with a layer of raspberry jam, some almond sponge mix (flavoured with almond extract rather than ground almonds, which surprised me a bit) and flaked almonds. Then the whole thing went in the oven. And that was it!

They were truly scrumptious, and got thumbs up from the guests. They’re great to make if you want to impress with something easy to make, and are easily made in advance (I made mine the day before and they kept well in the tin).

Afternoon tea
So, what else did we make? We also had the following on the menu…

  • Finger sandwiches (savoury cheese and beetroot; egg mayo and cress; cucumber, dill and cream cheese)
  • Plain and fruit scones (recipe from BBC Good Food; I made two batches and put sultanas in one of them)
  • Viennese whirls (recipe from the Hairy Bikers and previously blogged here)
  • Victoria sponge (recipe from BBC Good Food and previously blogged here)
  • Lemon tart (recipe from The Best-Ever Mediterranean Cookbook)
  • Dark and white chocolate eclairs (recipe from Raymond Blanc)
  • Assorted afternoon cocktails (hic!)
Viennese whirls, scones and finger sandwiches

Viennese whirls, scones and finger sandwiches

Victoria sponge

Victoria sponge

Lemon tart

Lemon tart

All in all, it was a great do and all of the food was lovely (even if I do say so myself). We made far too much as usual, but it’s always better to make too much than too little. Especially when it means you can basically have afternoon tea for breakfast AND lunch the next day…

Spiced teacakes

Spiced teacakes
A few weeks ago I asked my fiancé whether he had any baking-related requests, and he mentioned that he’d been enjoying toasted teacakes of late. After a quick search online I found a recipe for spiced teacakes that didn’t look too difficult to make, so I decided to have a go.

Spiced teacakes
At least, I thought they were easy until I realised I didn’t have quite enough strong white flour, so I had to substitute half of it for strong wholemeal flour and cross my fingers!

Spiced teacakes
They seemed to rise okay the first time, but didn’t rise very much at all the second time. I put them in the oven anyway and continued to cross my fingers…

Spiced teacakes
They were a tiny bit underdone in the middle, but otherwise, they tasted really nice thanks to the spices and orange zest. The teacakes were a tad heavy and became more so after a day or two, so if you make these and also use wholemeal flour, do bear this in mind!

I think I wouldn’t make these with wholemeal flour again, but I’ll definitely give them another go with the correct amount of strong white flour soon – they really were delicious warm with lashings of butter.

The recipe

Can be found on the BBC Food website here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/spiced_teacakes_29429

Cherry, white chocolate and coconut muffins

Cherry, white chocolate and coconut muffins
I was in the supermarket a few weeks ago when I stumbled across one of the holy grails of summer produce – fresh British cherries! I had to buy them immediately and, after ‘sampling’ quite a few of them, decided to bake these cherry, white chocolate and coconut muffins to make the most of them.

Cherry, white chocolate and coconut muffins
I adapted a recipe for coconut and raspberry muffins to make these, and they turned out wonderfully. They were a doddle to make, too. I like that there’s no butter in the recipe, but the texture is still lovely and rich thanks to the oil and coconut milk.

Cherry, white chocolate and coconut muffins
I think the muffins could have stood a little more coconut, but that’s just me being me! The fresh cherries were so delicious and added a nice bit of moisture.

It would be really easy to change this recipe to suit whatever you have in – swap the cherries for raspberries, blackberries or strawberries, or change the white chocolate for milk or dark chocolate, or even (gasp) omit the coconut altogether.

Cherry, white chocolate and coconut muffins
I took these muffins into work and they seemed to go down a treat. I haven’t done nearly as much baking for work as I used to since I changed jobs, so it was nice to be able to take something in and have my colleagues enjoy it!

Cherry, white chocolate and coconut muffins
Cherry, white chocolate and coconut muffins recipe

Makes 12

  • 200g plain flour, sifted
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 0.5 tsp salt
  • 50g dessicated coconut
  • 100ml sunflower oil
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 150ml coconut milk
  • 100g fresh cherries, halved and stones removed
  • 75g white chocolate, chopped

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 200C/gas 6. Line a 12-hole muffin with paper cases or squares of baking parchment.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, sugar, salt and coconut.
  3. In another bowl or jug, combine the oil, egg and coconut milk.
  4. Gradually stir the oil mixture into the flour mixture, being careful not to overmix.
  5. Fold in the cherries and white chocolate.
  6. Spoon the mixture into the muffin tin and bake for 20-25 minutes, until risen and golden.

 

Blackberry, raspberry and almond cake

Blackberry, raspberry and almond cake
My favourite thing about summer is definitely the abundance of lovely produce we get here in the UK, especially the type of produce that I can bake with! Summer berries offer a foolproof way to incorporate a splash of sunshine into baked goods, and it doesn’t get much easier than this blackberry, raspberry and almond cake.

Blackberry, raspberry and almond cake
I’ve made similar cakes before (see my blackberry and almond cake, raspberry and almond madeira cake and cherry Bakewell cake, among others!), but I just can’t get enough of the combination of summer berries and almonds.

This really was very easy to make. The main thing to get right is the distribution of the berries to avoid them all sinking to the bottom. I chose to coat half of the berries in flour and stir them into the cake mix, then plop the rest on top of the mix in the tin – and it seemed to work a treat!

Blackberry, raspberry and almond cake
I also threw a few whole almonds on top (I picked them out of a packet of M&S St Clements cashews and almonds, which are coated in orange and honey – yum!) but you could top the cake with flaked almonds instead, or just leave them out altogether – the main almond flavour comes from the ground almonds and almond extract in the cake mix.

Blackberry, raspberry and almond cake
The cake really is delicious – the tart berries and tangy lemon zest go so well with the sweet, almond-y sponge. I think it works perfectly as a dessert with a generous dollop of cream, but it’s lovely on its own as well. I would perhaps recommend incorporating fewer berries if you choose to eat it on its own, just to get a slightly firmer texture that’s easier to hold.

Blackberry, raspberry and almond cake
This truly is summer on a plate – go and make this before the sunshine disappears!

Blackberry, raspberry and almond cake
Blackberry, raspberry and almond cake recipe

Serves 8-10

  • 125g butter, softened
  • 125g caster sugar
  • 0.5 tsp almond extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 100g self-raising flour, sifted, plus a little extra for the berries
  • 75g ground almonds
  • finely grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 3 tbsp milk
  • 100-150g raspberries (use 150g if serving as a dessert with cream; less for eating the cake on its own)
  • 100-150g blackberries (as above)
  • handful of whole or flaked almonds (optional)

Method:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180C/160C fan/gas mark 4. Grease and line the base of a round 23cm cake tin with baking paper.
  2. Beat the butter, sugar and almond extract until light and creamy.
  3. Beat in the eggs one at a time, adding a spoonful of the flour with the second egg to limit curdling (but don’t worry if it curdles anyway).
  4. Add the rest of the flour to the mix, along with the ground almonds, lemon zest and milk. Fold gently until combined.
  5. Toss half of the berries with a little extra flour until they’re thinly coated, then stir these into the cake mix.
  6. Transfer the mix to the tin and level the top. Scatter the remaining berries and whole/flaked almonds (if using) on top.
  7. Bake the cake for 45 minutes, or until it springs back when lightly pressed in the middle.
  8. Let the cake cool in the tin for 15 mins then transfer it to a wire rack to cool completely (or serve warm with cream or ice cream).

Chocolate orange carrot muffins

Chocolate orange carrot muffins
It’s been hot, hasn’t it? Some of the last few days have definitely been too hot for any kind of baking activity, but luckily for me, I was able to knock out these chocolate orange carrot muffins last Sunday, when it wasn’t as sweltering as it has been.

I was feeling inspired by the lovely mini carrot cakes I had at Luis Troyano’s afternoon tea the previous week and wanted to make something carrot-y. So, I found a recipe for carrot and orange muffins online and adapted it to add the chocolate.

Chocolate orange carrot muffins
All I really did was add a bit of cocoa powder and some milk chocolate chunks that needed using up – but that definitely did the trick! The resulting muffins were incredibly light (thanks to the carrot) and flavoursome (thanks to the cocoa and the zest of two oranges).

Chocolate orange carrot muffins
What I really like about these muffins is that you can see the grated carrot within them – and they could easily be mistaken for shreds of orange zest! I left in the cinnamon from the original recipe, and I’m glad I did, because it added an extra dimension to the flavours.

Chocolate orange carrot muffins
We finished these off in around 3 days and I didn’t feel particularly guilty about it – I reckon these were around 200 calories each. Definitely not as decadent as my usual triple/quadruple chocolate chunk muffins, but just as delicious!

Chocolate orange carrot muffins
Chocolate orange carrot muffins recipe

Adapted from this recipe on the Olive magazine website.

Makes 12 muffins

  • 300g plain flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 0.5 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 50g cocoa powder
  • 75g milk or dark chocolate, roughly chopped
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • finely grated zest of 2 oranges
  • juice of 2 oranges
  • 100g carrots, peeled and grated
  • 75g butter, melted

Method:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 190c/fan 170c/gas 5. Line a 12-hole muffin tin with muffin cases or squares of baking paper.
  2. Mix together the flour, baking powder, sugar, cinnamon, cocoa powder, chocolate and salt in a bowl.
  3. In another bowl, whisk together the egg, zest, juice, carrots and butter.
  4. Gently stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until just combined, being careful not to overmix.
  5. Spoon the mixture into the muffin tin and bake for 20-25 minutes until risen.

Afternoon tea with GBBO’s Luis Troyano

Luis Troyano afternoon tea
You might know from some of my previous posts that I’m a massive fan of Great British Bake Off – and that I was a particular fan of finalist Luis Troyano in last year’s series.

I absolutely loved his attention to both visual detail and flavour (check out my attempt at one of his recipes), and was ever so slightly disappointed that he didn’t win. However, he’s still baking and has a book, Bake It Great, coming out in August.

I was rather delighted when he announced that he would be holding a special afternoon at the Stockport Plaza (a beautiful old cinema conveniently close to my area) to promote the book. Of course, I just had to get a ticket!

The cinema really was a lovely setting. The afternoon tea was held in an Art Deco cafe/restaurant decorated in a tasteful yet simple style – very much like what you’d expect a classy tearoom would have looked like in the 1930s.

There were quite a few people already tucking into their cakes when we got there, but it was all very relaxed and friendly. We were shown to a table, and tea and three tiers of food loveliness appeared soon after we sat down. You can’t see them in the photo above, but the bottom tier had lots of finger sandwiches – egg, cucumber and salmon.

However, it was the sweet treats we were most interested in, and which Luis himself had made in their entirety. As well as the compulsory scones with clotted cream and strawberry jam, there were chocolate brownies, Bakewell cupcakes, carrot cake cupcakes, and blueberry cheesecake eclairs. YUM.

Carrot cake cupcake
After polishing off the sandwiches, we started with the scones, which were perfect – substantial yet extremely light. Then I moved on to the carrot cake cupcake, which was bursting with zesty orange and fruity sultanas and topped with a fantastic mascarpone buttercream. I’m so glad it was proper buttercream and not the overly sugary icing you usually get on cupcakes!

Blueberry cheesecake eclair
Then it was on to the blueberry cheesecake eclairs – choux pastry sandwiched with a cheesecake-y filling and fresh blueberries. This was so inspired – I’ve never thought of using cheesecake as a filling for eclairs, but it’s such a fantastic idea! The choux was very nicely made and not too heavy. Perfect.

Bakewell cupcake
Next, the star of the show – Bakewell cupcakes. My, these were so good! They looked pretty unassuming, but they were actually filled with delicious jam. The sponge itself was delightfully almond-y. So very good.

Bakewell cupcake
The recipe for these cupcakes will feature in Luis’s book – I know what I’m going to make as soon as I get my hands on it!

Chocolate brownie
Finally, it was time for the chocolate brownie (apologies for the blurry photo, but I was concentrating more on eating than on taking pictures!).

I was a bit worried I might not have room for everything, but going for a long run that morning seemed to increase my appetite quite a lot! I savoured every bite of this brownie – it was very chocolatey indeed, but balanced nicely against vanilla and salt, so it wasn’t too sweet and was scarily addictive.

As we ate, Luis made his way through the room and stopped to speak to everyone and answer questions, which I thought was nice of him. I asked him what was in the brownies, and my boyfriend fiancé praised the eclairs.

Luis then revealed his secret to making the perfect choux, which I can’t actually remember in its entirety now (it’ll be in his book, hopefully), but involved keeping it in the oven for as long as possible without opening the door before you’re supposed to, as that affects the bake. It was lovely talking to Luis, and nice to know that he’s every bit as approachable and kind as he seemed in the show.

All in all, we had a fantastic time and enjoyed all of the food immensely. I’m now hoping that Luis’s fellow GBBO contestant Chetna Makan has the same idea and decides to hold an event near me too…!

Chocolate, coconut and cardamom cookies

Chocolate, coconut and cardamom cookies
I had a hankering for cookies yesterday, so I opened a few of my recipe books for inspiration. I came across a few cookies recipes that I quite liked the sound of, but weren’t quite what I was looking for, so I decided to combine them to create these chocolate, coconut and cardamom cookies.

Chocolate, coconut and cardamom cookies
I used my usual basic cookie recipe and pretty much just made up the rest as I went along, adding freshly ground cardamom seeds, dessicated coconut, white chocolate and a little dark chocolate that needed using up. Then it was time to bake them and keep my fingers crossed.

The result was delicious, if not quite what I expected! My experience of baking with cardamom is that a little goes a very long way, as it can be quite a pungent flavour, so I was surprised that the cardamom wasn’t quite as strong as I thought it would be.

Chocolate, coconut and cardamom cookies
However, that’s no bad thing, as it was still in the background and didn’t overpower the chocolate and coconut. As always, I thought the cookies could have been a bit more coconutty, but they’re lovely as they are.

I think this recipe would work well with any type of chocolate, really – you just need to be careful to adjust the amount of sugar you put in accordingly, depending on whether you go for all white chocolate, milk chocolate or dark chocolate, or a combination of these.

My recipe below lists the quantities that I used, with suggestions for adjusting these depending on which flavour you most like. If you’re looking for a cookie recipe with a difference, this could be it!

Chocolate, coconut and cardamom cookies
Chocolate, coconut and cardamom cookies recipe

  • 250g butter, softened
  • 30g caster sugar (use around 20g more if using all dark chocolate; 10g less for all white chocolate. Keep the same for milk chocolate)
  • 100g brown sugar
  • 5 cardamom pods (use more for a stronger flavour)
  • 300g self-raising flour
  • 30g dessicated coconut (use more for a stronger flavour)
  • 2 tbsp milk
  • 125g white chocolate, roughly chopped (or use any chocolate you like)
  • 50g dark chocolate, roughly chopped (or use any chocolate you like)

 

Method:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180C/Gas 4/fan 160C. Line some baking trays with baking paper.
  2. Release the seeds from the cardamom pods and grind them to a powder in a spice grinder or mortar and pestle.
  3. Add the butter, sugars and cardamom to a large bowl and beat until light and fluffy.
  4. Stir in the flour, coconut and milk, and mix well to create a loose cookie dough.
  5. Stir in the chocolate, ensuring it’s evenly distributed throughout the mixture.
  6. Take spoonfuls of the dough and roll them into balls, flattening them slightly as you place them on the trays. Space them out to allow for spreading (I usually place no more than nine dough balls on my medium-sized trays).
  7. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until you can see the edges browning but the middles still look a little soft. Take the cookies out of the oven and leave to cool on the trays for 5 minutes, before transferring them a wire rack to cool completely.

Strawberry yoghurt cake with lemon drizzle icing

Strawberry yogurt cake with lemon drizzle icing
This is my first post about something I’ve baked in well over a month… crazy! I got back on to the baking wagon in fine style the other week with this strawberry yoghurt cake with lemon drizzle icing, which I decided to make thanks to some leftover strawberries that were practically begging me to bake with them.

Strawberry yogurt cake with lemon drizzle icing

I decided to use this recipe because I’m a sucker for a cake recipe that has that something extra to create a lovely, rich texture – it was yoghurt in this case, but buttermilk and soured cream are just as fantastic. I made sure to use full-fat yoghurt here, as low-fat yoghurt lacks the richness that makes a cake truly special.

Strawberry yogurt cake with lemon drizzle icing

The cake was brilliantly easy to make, although I did have to leave it in the oven for a bit longer than the recipe said. I also added a little lemon zest to the cake mix to add some extra tang. And you can never have too much lemon!

Strawberry yogurt cake with lemon drizzle icing

The texture of this cake was BEAUTIFUL – soft, moist and oh so addictive. I’m slightly ashamed to say that two of us demolished the cake in just two days (although I only had a quarter of it!). We just couldn’t stop eating it.

I’d highly recommend making this cake if you want a teatime treat that makes the most of our wonderful British strawberries while they’re in season. You won’t regret it!

The recipe

Can be found on Cider With Rosie here: http://www.ciderwithrosie.com/2014/05/fresh-strawberry-yoghurt-cake-with-lemon-glaze/