Saturday, 8 November 2014

Baked Raspberry Ripple New York Cheesecake

Two posts within days of each other?! Can this be real? Yes, mainly because I've been at home and so had access to a kitchen and abundant cooking supplies. It's been amazing. I came home to about 5 packs of Philadelphia my mum had bought for making a red velvet cake which never materialised, so I decided a cheesecake would be a good way to use it all up! I was correct (said cheesecake was demolished within a day of me letting my dad near it).

I've seen a lot of raspberry cheesecakes knocking about on instagram recently, and it made me really want to create my own! I wasn't quite sure how to go about it, so I just made a basic vanilla cheesecake and my own improvised version of raspberry puree. I bought frozen raspberries for the puree, and didn't really think about defrosting them until I needed to make the puree. I didn't defrost them, and it turned out fine! This cheesecake is creamy, thick and decadent, but the raspberry cuts through the sweetness to ensure it isn't overpowering - the best combination!

The recipe is adapted from Nigel Slater's Baked Lemon and Vanilla Cheesecake in his 'Real Food' book.

Recipe (serves 8-10):
  • 250g digestives
  • 90g butter, melted
  • 500g full fat cream cheese
  • 250g caster sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 165ml double cream
  • 1-2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 250g raspberries (fresh or frozen)
  • 1 tbsp icing sugar
  1. Preheat the oven to 150oC, and grease a 23cm springform tin.
  2. Smash the digestives into small crumbs by placing them in a plastic bag and bashing them with a rolling pin.
  3. Mix the digestives and the butter, and flatten into the prepared tin. Put in the fridge while preparing the cheesecake.
  4. Beat the cream cheese and the sugar together until thick and creamy.
  5. Beat the eggs in, one at a time, until well combined.
  6. Pour in the cream.
  7. Mix in the vanilla extract.
  8. Pour the mixture into the tin.
  9. Blend the raspberries with 1tbsp of icing sugar (and some water if frozen) until smooth.
  10. Lightly dot the raspberry mixture around the top of the cheesecake mixture (you will not use all of the puree).
  11. Swirl the dots into the cake with a skewer, and decorate with a few raspberries if desired.
  12. Cook in the oven for 1 hour 15 minutes, or until the cheesecake is lightly golden and slightly wobbly in the centre.
  13. Leave to cool (and refrigerate overnight if possible).

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Chocolate Birthday Cake

Hi! It's been a while. Even though I promised it wouldn't be. Then again, I think we've realised through the duration of this blog that my blogging promises mean very little. Ah well. I had a birthday! I turned 19!! I feel old. 19 isn't very old, but it's the last year I can call myself a 'teenager', and 20 sounds very old and grown-up, which I'm not ready to be. At least I've got another year to get my head around it before I actually turn 20! Anyway, this cake - I wanted something big, cool, and calorific for my 19th, so I decided to make a 5-layer chocolate cake with chocolate frosting, marshmallow icing and Katherine Sabbath-inspired decorations.

The first step consisted of making the chocolate bark. I melted some dairy milk, spread it out on a baking tray lined with baking parchment, mixed some melted white chocolate with pink food colouring and dolloped that on, sprinkled on some 'eton mess' mix I found in sainsbury's (basically small bits of meringue and dried raspberries), and put it in the fridge. Very simple.

After the bark was made, I moved onto the cake. Some may say this is the best part. I'm inclined to agree. I baked 5 layers (well, 6, but I dropped one...) of moist, dense chocolate cake, and left it overnight to settle. It makes it a lot less crumbly and much easier to work with when it's been allowed time to set!

I sandwiched the layers together with chocolate frosting, one of the most amazing substances ever to be invented. I ate half of the mix before it even made its way to the cake.

For the outside of the cake, I used Primrose Bakery's marshmallow icing recipe. The quantity was just enough to cover the cake, but it really could have done with a bit more (oops). I smashed into the chocolate bark with a knife to create shard-like blocks, and stuck them into the cake with maltesers propping them up - any excuse to put more maltesers on a cake! I decorated the outside with a ring of maltesers, and then threw 100s & 1000s around the base. Finally, lashings of edible glitter were added as the finishing touches. 

I then promptly dropped something into the front of the cake, leaving a dent and a quick patching up exercise. I managed to do this before photos were taken on the good camera, hence the number of side shots and iPhone photos. That was a lot of birthday drama! I think the rubber duck candles more than make up for the ruined icing though!

Recipe - makes enough for a good three days of cake-eating/serves at least 10:

Cake - per 2 layers:
  • 6oz caster/soft brown sugar
  • 6oz butter
  • 3 eggs
  • 4.5oz self-raising flour
  • 1.5oz cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180oC. Grease and line two 8" cake tins.
  2. Cream the butter and sugar together until very light and fluffy.
  3. Beat the eggs in, one at a time, until well combined. Don't worry if the mixtures curdles, it will all be rectified with the addition of flour.
  4. Sift in the flour, cocoa powder and baking powder.
  5. Fold it in gently, until all incorporated.
  6. Halve the mixture between the two baking tins.
  7. Bake for 12-15 minutes, until the a knife inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.
  8. Leave to cool, preferable overnight if you want to have a crumb-free icing experience.
Chocolate buttercream - I never weigh out my icing measurements because I prefer just to add things until I get the right consistency, but here is my mum's icing recipe (which is basically the exact same one I use!)

Enough to fill 5 layers of cake:

  • 400-450g icing sugar
  • 75g cocoa powder
  • 100g soft butter
  • 3-4 tablespoons milk to mix
  1. Sift 400g icing sugar and the cocoa powder into a large mixing bowl. 
  2. Add the butter and two tablespoons of milk. 
  3. Mix well with a large spoon or electric whisk, adding more milk if necessary to make a soft, smooth, spreadable buttercream. 
  4. Taste and adjust the flavour, adding more sifted icing sugar and/or cocoa powder if needed.
Marshmallow icing:
  • 120g granulated sugar
  • 80g golden syrup
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • Food colouring of choice.
  1. In a large saucepan, heat sugar, golden syrup and water on a high heat until it reaches soft ball stage (the mixture, when a small amount is dropped in cool water, should ball together to form a squishy, not hard ball).
  2. Beat egg whites until they form soft peaks when the beater is removed.
  3. Slowly whisk the sugar mixture into the egg whites.
  4. Continue beating until thick and smooth.
  5. Beat in the vanilla.
  6. Add food colouring, until desired concentration has been reached.

Friday, 10 October 2014

Billington's #BakeFace Brownies

I'm alive!! Sorry for the massive lack of posts recently, but settling into life as a university student takes a bit of time, plus there's not all that much time left over for baking (sadly). Also, I left my camera at home so it's iPhone pics all the way!

Anyway, to the point - brownies. More specifically, Billington's brownies. If you follow me on instagram (which you totally should, click here), then you may have seen me post about these a little bit. Billington's, together with Baking Mad, are running a #BakeFace competition to win some cool prizes, and all you need to do to enter is submit a photo here of your best #BakeFace!

Now to what's most important - the food itself. These brownies were made according to the Billington's recipe, and they were pretty different to other brownies I've made (see here, and here, and here, aaaand here - I love brownies ok don't judge). The recipe calls for 350g of dark chocolate, which is a heck of a lot, especially when you're a student whose baking chocolate stocks are severely limited. However, it's worth it - the end result is dense, chocolately gooeyness which led me to eat about half the pan before remembering I had a Baking Society meeting later in the day which I was meant to take the brownies to...

The use of dark muscovado sugar definitely made this richer than other recipes, and the texture was just so good. Once I've saved up enough money to stock up on cooking chocolate, I'll be making these again - perfect comfort food for the dark days, after all: winter is coming.

Last but not least, I would be very grateful if you could please vote for me in this competition! I really want to own a mug with my face on! 

Please click here to vote!

DISCLAIMER: For this post I did receive a small hamper of baking goods from a PR company, but this has not affected my opinion at all - these brownies are damn good and I do really want a mug with my face on!

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Trifle Birthday Cake

It was my dad's birthday the other day, and I took it upon myself to make a cake - a birthday does not exist without cake, it's scientifically proven. My dad likes trifle, and recently watched the episode of GBBO where they make Swedish Princess Cake, so I thought the best thing to do would be to make a weird hybrid of these things (and it worked!).

I started off by making two normal vanilla sponges, then when they were cool I set to work. I covered the bottom layer with about an entire jar of jam - my dad loves jam - and built up little walls around the edges. I then thickened some custard with a little cornflour, and poured that into the middle of the jam, so it got kept in by the jam walls.

I sandwiched the other sponge layer on top, and sadly the jam walls didn't quite hold up and so the custard leaked out - I remedied it by pouring the rest of the custard around the edge of the cake to make it look deliberate. I then piped whipped cream on the top, plopped some  balls of marzipan on top of them, and dusted it off with some icing sugar.

The result was a rich, decadent, pretty damn tasty cake. The next day, the remaining custard had soaked into the sponge and created a really cool custard-cake, something I will be exploring in the future...

Also, I know I haven't been posting much, but everything is so hectic - I'm moving to university on Saturday, and I don't think I'll have much time to do anything until I've settled in!

Saturday, 30 August 2014

Chocolate Chunk Cookie Bars

I've found my happy place - it's on the settee, listening to George Ezra, browsing tumblr and eating these. Perfection. These cookie bars are a remake of the ones I made at Christmas time, with a couple of changes. The chocolate is bigger, chunkier, and much better. The butter, rather than being melted, is creamed with the sugar to create a nicer texture - less oily than the previous version.

These are the best thing - more substantial than cookies, yet with a similar taste and a sufficient amount of chocolate. A wonderful A Level result celebration food! On the morning of my results I could really have done with one of these to settle my nerves, but sadly I had to settle with baking afterwards and lining my stomach with them before a big night of forgetting we even did A Levels by downing all the vodka. In the morning, however, it all came back to me... Including the fact that I will be moving to Camden in September, in order to start a shiny new life as a History undergraduate! Luckily, my accommodation is amazing and has photograph-worthy kitchens in which I can bake to my heart's content (until my loan runs out)! 

If you've never made cookie bars, I strongly recommend making these right now. Even if you're reading this at 3am mid-air on a flight to Tokyo, make these right now. Or, if you've made some before, make these now! Why would you want to live in a world without cookie bars?!

Recipe (makes 24-ish squares):

  • 170g butter, melted
  • 200g soft light brown sugar
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 300g plain flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 150g chocolate, chopped into chunks
  1. Preheat the oven to 165oC and line a 9"x12" baking tray.
  2. Cream the sugars and the butter together using an electric mixer until light and fluffy.
  3. Beat in the eggs and vanilla.
  4. Sift the flour, salt and baking soda into the mixture and gently fold it in.
  5. Stir in the chocolate until just combined.
  6. Press the mixture into the baking tray and bake for 25-30 minutes, until golden on top and a skewer/knife inserted into the middle comes out clean.

Saturday, 9 August 2014

Homer Simpson Style Funfetti Vanilla Glazed Baked Doughnuts

**I got an instagram account for baking! Please follow it here for updates and lots of food pics!**

Two batches of baked doughnuts in two days. I don't even care, these are my new obsession. They're just so easy and quick to make, it's addicting. You can make these without the sprinkles inside to get that proper Simpson-esque feel, but I love sprinkles so the more the merrier! 

Yesterday's chocolate baked doughnuts were adapted from Joy the Baker, whereas today's come from my hero Sally's Baking Addiction. The differences in the recipes are subtle, but clear - Joy uses buttermilk, where Sally uses yoghurt and milk. I didn't have any normal greek yoghurt, so I used coconut greek yoghurt - a difference you don't even notice (but I will probably be making some coconut baked doughnuts soon, why not?). Joy also uses browned butter, but Sally's recipe calls just for melted butter (and less of it). At the end of the day, both recipes are amazing, and the doughnuts turn out perfectly! 

I realised that I wanted to do a Homer Simpson inspired doughnut when I was making the glaze, partly because the sprinkles I had used weren't the most beautiful (I blame Jane for not buying any rainbow sprinkles), and partly because I've always wanted to eat a doughnut with Homer  - they look so good! This is my first attempt, but boy are they good. The initial, white glaze provides a base for the thicker, pink glaze to stick to - it dries at super speed so I had to employ a water-dipping technique to glue the 100s&1000s on!

Recipe (makes 10 large or 16 small - estimations, I made 6 large and 8 small):

The recipe is found here at Sally's Baking Addiction, but I'll list the substitutes/changes I made below:
  • In place of plain yoghurt, I used coconut greek yoghurt
  • Instead of granulated sugar, I used caster sugar
For the glaze, mix 240g icing sugar with 60ml milk and 1 tsp vanilla in a saucepan over a low heat until smooth and glossy (I would advise sifting the icing sugar). Remove from the heat and dip the doughnuts, one by one, into the glaze, ensuring the whole doughnut is covered. Leave to cool. Mix any leftover glaze with a lot more icing sugar and less milk, and some food colouring (I didn't measure mine, oops), until it is thick and sets almost immediately upon stopping whisking. It needs to be thick enough to prevent any water getting through, into the doughnut. Remove from the heat, and dip one side of the glazed doughnuts into the glaze. When that is set, quickly dip the top of the doughnut into a small bowl of water, and sprinkle with decorations.

Friday, 8 August 2014

Baked Chocolate Doughnuts

Baked doughnuts. Undoubtedly the best way to forget any results-day-induced anxiety (no matter how many recurring dreams I have, I'm sure my results will not be given to me on a post-it note, dammit subconscious). These are so simple and quick to make - mine were cooked and decorated and eaten within an hour of deciding I wanted to bake them.

The sponge is light and fluffy, while also being moist and damp. It tastes like a brownie-cake hybrid, but 10 times better. The glaze is runny and adds an extra chocolate hit, and allows for a mega-ton of sprinkles to be added to the doughnuts - perfect.

I made both large and small doughnuts, mainly because we had one big pan and one small pan and I'm impatient and wanted to get them all cooked in one go, but it also allows for a taste comparison - to be honest, both sizes are equally good, but I'll always pick a big one because you get more food...

Another plus side to these doughnuts is that they can be decorated with pretty much anything - I went for a range of sprinkles, chocolate chips, chocolate sprinkles, and glitter. They look great plain as well, the options are endless (but I wouldn't advise decorating them with onions or something weird that wouldn't taste too good).

I used this recipe from Joy the Baker, but I changed the measurements into grams below, and made a couple of changes.

Recipe (makes 6 large and 7 small doughnuts, or around 9 large/15 small):
  • 60g butter
  • 125g plain flour
  • 30g cocoa powder
  • 100g light brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 120ml buttermilk (I used a substitute as I didn't have any - mix 120ml milk with 1 tbsp lemon juice, leave to stand for 5-10 minutes before using)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  1. Preheat the oven to 160oC, and make sure the rack is in the top 3rd of the oven. Grease doughnut pans.
  2. Melt the butter on a low heat, and keep heating it until it is just browned. Remove from the heat.
  3. In a large bowl, mix the flour, cocoa powder, sugar, baking soda and salt together.
  4. Whisk the butter, buttermilk, egg and vanilla together until well combined.
  5. Fold the wet ingredients into the dry, ensuring all the flour is well incorporated.
  6. Fill the doughnut circles in the pan up to around 2/3rds of the way up. I found the easiest way to do this was by putting the mixture in a ziploc bag, cutting a corner off, and piping it in. Alternatively, use a teaspoon.
  7. Bake small doughnuts for 10 minutes, and larger ones for 12 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.
  8. Leave to cool, turning out onto a wire rack after 10 minutes or so.
  • 150g icing sugar
  • 3 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 3-4 tbsp milk 
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  1. Mix all ingredients together until smooth.
  2. Press the doughnuts into the glaze, being careful not to submerge/break them in half.
  3. Decorate with sprinkles galore!

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Bad Feminism

Personally, I object to the label 'bad feminist'. I've noticed an increasing number of women in magazines and on the internet proclaiming themselves 'bad feminists' because they want a husband to take care of them, or a man to hold a door open for them, or they hate opening jars of jam etc etc. In my opinion, a feminist is someone who wants equality for the sexes, better treatment of and respect for women worldwide, and an end to gender-based violence and sexism. A feminist is not, necessarily, a person who has to take care of themselves the whole time, or to open every single jar of jam (my biceps can't take that, I really like jam).

Therefore, surely the concept of 'bad feminism' is redundant. As long as you believe in the aforementioned basics of feminism (which I expanded on in this post), it should not be anyone's place to criticise you for wanting to be supported and cared for and looked after, because that's pretty much a fundamental part of human nature.

It becomes clear, then, that there is still a barrier between feminism and the wider world. Many people find it hard to identify with feminism because they believe it to be for 'perfect' women who are militant in ensuring they need no help from men, in life or otherwise. This barrier needs to be broken down. No person should ever feel like they cannot be included in the 'feminist' category because they want things which the most extreme of feminists do no consider necessary. No woman is a 'bad feminist' because she has hairless legs, just as no woman is a 'perfect feminist' because she can plait her leg hair. 

'Bad feminism' is saying you're a feminist, but then saying the pay gap is a myth and women make terrible bosses anyway. 'Bad feminism' is tearing down other women for their body shape, their clothing, their appearance, their choices, their lifestyle or otherwise. 'Bad feminism' is parading as a feminist whilst attacking the movement from the inside, by actually disagreeing with its core concepts. 'Bad feminism' is not occasionally letting men do things for you or wanting to sit at home and bake all day (otherwise I really am the worst feminist around).

I believe it is time for women, and men, around the world to start declaring themselves to be the best damn feminists ever created, because there is no such thing as a 'perfect' feminist, and anyone who claims to be one is clearly just a little bit deluded. Perfection is impossible, whereas confidence and conviction in your own beliefs can take humanity to brilliant new extremes, extremes where people understand what feminism is, why it is necessary, and potentially to the extreme of gender equality. Anything is possible once the first barrier is breached.

**Disclaimer: none of this is meant to be an attack on Roxane Gay's new book 'Bad Feminist' because she is absolutely awesome and incredible and I love her**

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Banana Chocolate Chip Whoopie Pies

 (with Salted Caramel Sauce and White Chocolate Frosting)

Whoopie pies. These are something I have never made before, so I'm kind of achieving the goal I made recently. They were a big thing a couple of years ago, but I sort of missed the boat and had no idea what to expect because I've never had one from a shop/cafe. I would describe them as a cake-biscuit hybrid, they looked like cookies before being sandwiched together, but they taste more spongy than a normal cookie.

I couldn't decide how to fill mine, because I didn't have the right equipment to make the whoopie pie filling in the book I was using (on that note - why do we not have an electric whisk, mother? The old one broke months ago I'm dying here), so I decided to make some salted caramel sauce and the white chocolate frosting in the same recipe book. Great decision me, the flavours worked well together without being too sweet or any flavour overpowering the others. Synergy.

I used the recipes in Baked in America (a great book which I cannot believe I had never picked up before this!) for the whoopie pies and the white chocolate frosting, I used the recipes in   and this recipe for the salted caramel sauce (my tip is to avoid stirring the sugar as it melts, as this leads it to form clumps which ruined my first batch of sauce!).

In other news, have you seen that I changed my url?!?! I tried to do that a few months ago, but I failed miserably. I attempted it again after feeling like an internet magician due to attending a Decoded coding course (an incredible day!) and actually succeeded, so now I have a real, official-looking url!

I also made blueberry meringue pies with my own recipe and everything but I didn't get a chance to photograph them, which means I'll have to make them again soon - what a shame... So watch out for those!

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

The Perfect Single-Serving Brownie

My life is so tough. Not only have I been having to cook all my meals myself (what a shame...), but I've also been having to eat my way through countless one-serving brownies in order to create the perfect version. Hard, but someone's got to do it, right? The things I do for food... However, after many, many attempts, I'm pretty sure I've deciphered the secret to a gooey, chocolatey, molten, warming, filling, indulgent single-serving brownie, and my god I am in love.

This isn't a microwave-and-go recipe, because I sadly don't have access to one. On the other hand, I think using an oven gives you more reliability and therefore more happiness. Everyone wins! Plus, you get enough time while it's cooking to give your preferred tv/film enough time to load, or fast forward it on the tv to the perfect starting point, or even to run a bath, put a face mask on, or just to lie on the floor in a puddle of contentment. I have done all of these whilst waiting for it cook. 

Recipe (makes one large brownie, enough for two people if you're feeling generous):

4 tbsp plain flour
3 tbsp caster sugar
Just over 1/8tsp baking powder
2 tbsp cocoa powder
12g butter
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tbsp milk
1 tbsp water
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
Handful chocolate chips
  1. Preheat the oven to 180oC.
  2. Mix all dry ingredients in a bowl.
  3. Add the wet ingredients, and whisk until combined.
  4. Scatter chocolate chips on top/combine in the brownie if desired.
  5. Place in the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes, depending on how gooey you want the centre to be.

Monday, 21 July 2014

Life Hacks: Doing Nothing

I think I have a serious case of procrastinating life. I'm not sure that that's even a real thing, but it's a self-diagnosis which is just as good. Every day I think of new, exciting, cool things that I want to do, and then about 10 minutes later I can't even peel myself off the settee to get food from the fridge, let alone do something interesting with my life. 

HOWEVER, I have decided that this is going to change. It's summer, I have all the time in the world, I've just got back from a week's holiday with my friends in Ayia Napa (admittedly not the most relaxing of holidays, and it's given me some form of cold/flu which isn't great), and I am ready to actually do things. Most of my life has been spent seeing other people do amazing things, and planning for a future that may never even happen. I always thought of myself as someone who did things and was self-motivated and all that, but recently it seems like I've just got stuck in a rut of nothingness. Now, it feels like time to get out of the rut. I have so many ideas that I need to put them into practice, and I want to make the most of my summer while I still have it. 

The only way I can think of making myself do things is to put them on the internet in the form of a blog post, and then hopefully I will actually stick to my goals because I know my mum will see this (hi, Jane), and she will constantly ask about how I'm doing with them. Cheers, mum. OK, here goes:
  1. I want to bake. I know I bake a lot already, but I want to bake properly. I want to make my own recipes, learn how to work with pastry, understand fiddly things I've never contemplated before. Therefore, I'm setting myself the goal of making one new and completely different recipe to anything I've ever done before each week. The updates will be posted on here (along with other, more simple recipes, because I'll be damned if I ever stop baking brownies).
  2. I want to make videos. I told myself ages ago that I was going to do this, and I even did wind up filming one (link here). It's something I've been wanting to do for so long, but I can never work up the energy/creativity/attention span to do it. Now, I will! So, recipe videos shall be featuring soon.
  3. I want to start being healthier. I promised myself I was going to go to the gym so much this summer, but it just hasn't happened yet. So, my goal is this: go to 3 gym classes a week, and get outside every single day. That's right, I'm going to go outside of the house. Brace yourselves.
  4. I want to become more politically literate, and more vocal in my opinions. I find it hard to argue with people in person, because my insides do a really annoying thing where my mouth dries up and my brain malfunctions and my heart feels like its going to explode. So, to avoid that, I shall be taking to the internet/my blog to vocalise my opinions on things that are important to me, as I have done a couple of times before (like this time). I'm also going to try and learn more about the world, maybe I'll even read a newspaper all the way through. Then again, maybe I won't.
So, there we have it. These are the 4 main things that come to my head right now. If I don't update my blog, or I just go silent again, comment on my posts and send me emails and shout at me on twitter or instagram and I will maybe feel guilty enough to do something. Hopefully, it won't come to that. 

Now, though, it's time I went to bed, seeing as I've had an average of 3 hours sleep each day for the past week! 

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Bourbons and Custard Creams

I love biscuits. I don't eat them all that often anymore, but when I was younger I would always eat a couple straight after school in front of Blue Peter (and then Neighbours, which I got hooked on solely because it was on straight after Blue Peter...) and damn, those were the days. Nowadays, I have a lot more time on my hands so I can actually make them for myself! 

Lately, I've been baking a lot of American-style food, so I thought a return to good, old-fashioned English biscuits was in order. Plus I ran out of chocolate chips. The custard creams were made following the recipe in Justin Gellatly's book, my current favourite. The dough is very buttery (as is the filling), and it's almost impossible to roll, but I got there in the end! These taste so nice, far better than any shop bought custard creams!

The bourbons, however, were entirely improvised and guessed at by me (and, if I say so myself, they turned out extremely well!). This is the first time I've made a recipe from scratch, so I'm very proud of myself! 

Bourbon biscuits (makes about 15 sandwiches):
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 125g butter
  • 1 egg
  • 180g plain flour
  • 50g cocoa powder
For the filling:
  • 100g dark chocolate
  • 50g butter
  • 150g icing sugar
  • 1 tsp cocoa powder
  1. Cream the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy.
  2. Beat in the egg.
  3. Sift in the flour and cocoa powder, combining until a ball of dough forms.
  4. Cover the dough, and leave to chill in the fridge for at least two hours.
  5. Preheat the oven to 140oC and line two trays with baking parchment.
  6. Roll out the dough on a floured surface to about 3-4mm thick, and cut into circles using cookie cutters (or cut freehand!).
  7. Bake for around 20 minutes, until the biscuits seem cooked and firm on top.
  8. Leave to cool.
  9. Melt the chocolate and butter in a bowl over a pan of simmering water.
  10. Remove from the heat and allow to cool a little.
  11. Sieve in the icing sugar and cocoa powder, and mix until well combined.
  12. Leave until cool.
  13. Sandwich the cooled biscuits together using the filling.
Keep them stored in an air-tight container (although they're definitely best fresh!).

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Cake Batter Chocolate Chip Cookies

I'm alive! I did it, I survived my A Level exams! Which means, as you can guess, a return to blogging! Technically, I finished last week but I thought I deserved a nice break before doing anything too strenuous... like baking... I am so happy that summer is finally here, and so far I've celebrated by reading all the Harry Potter books and sleeping. Lots of sleeping. I've also been into London, to see The Pajama Game (which was AMAZING), eat the best doughnut I have ever eaten ever (and will soon be creating thanks to the book by Justin Gellatly), as well as to see the Matisse exhibition at the Tate and to explore Shoreditch a little (aka eating salted caramel tarts in Albion and custard tarts in Leila's).

Anyway, to the point of the post - these cookies. These are from my IDOL Sally McKenny's book, and so I won't be including the recipe because it isn't mine. All I have to say is this: these cookies are amazing. I was sceptical, because the recipe includes cake mix (the boxed stuff), something I've never used in baking before, but it came out perfectly! I used a mix of white, milk and dark chocolate chips and I think I may have fallen in love. They're definitely best after 7 or 8 minutes in an 190oC oven, eaten fresh! 

I will (hopefully) be back properly in the next few days, I have my 'prom' tonight so I've not been baking as much as usual in a bid to fit into my dress, but once that's over it will be chocolate galore! 

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Fruit Water Infusions

Something weird happened to the weather, and it was all sunny and stuff. It made me feel very uncomfortable, although luckily I didn't have to confront the idea of actually spending time outside because of the wonderful excuse of revision. I hate revision, but it does stop me from having to leave the house, so I suppose there's always a silver lining... To try and combat the boredom of revision, combined with heat outside and the pressure of summer coming ever closer (and therefore the need to improve my health a bit), I joined the water infusion bandwagon! To be honest, I really enjoyed these drinks, I ended up drinking a lot more water than usual.

To make the first one, I combined the slices of half a lemon, half a lime and a handful of frozen raspberries in a big glass with lots of ice and water, mixed it all around and drank it. The second one is half a lemon, half a lime and half a 'blush' orange. The orange made it amazingly tasty! I'll definitely be experimenting with far more flavour combinations, and there may (or more likely may not) be a follow up post to this with *gasp* photos taken on a real camera not an iPhone! However, don't get your hopes up.

Also, my blog may be a little inactive over the coming 4 weeks, as I have my A Level exams, and, as much as I hate revision, I do kind of want to go to university so I suppose I should probably get off the internet and do some work! I will try to post as much as I can, but once my exams are over there will be an onslaught of new recipes and food and calories and just everything good with the world!

Saturday, 10 May 2014

Strawberry Cake with Fresh Strawberry Icing

If there's fruit in a cake, that means it's healthy, right? I think that's my new philosophy. It can't be unhealthy if it has a tiny proportion of one of your 5 a day in, definitely. Five slices are justified in the name of getting a whole portion of fruit. Even if it isn't healthy (which it isn't), this cake is still damn good. Jane came home with some super fresh and juicy looking strawberries, and instead of eating them like a normal human, they looked perfect to be baked into a cake - I was correct in that assumption. 

I couldn't be bothered to do much research into how other people had tackled a strawberry cake, and just went with my general instincts. The result is a great tasting sponge - normal vanilla with chunks of strawberry swimming about that make it amazingly moist, with a strawberry icing that actually tastes of strawberries. I, for one, am sold. It makes a great change to chocolate, and is a perfect cake for baking to belatedly welcome spring (if you can call this weather spring).

In other news, and because I don't know what else to say about a cake, I 'finished' school this week! I say 'finished' because I still have another week, yet we had our muck up day and 'graduation' ceremony this week, due to the amount of people doing exams next week. It really was a lovely way to end 7 years at my school, and our muck up day was really fun - roller skating around school squirting people with water (until the roller skates were banned by teachers), and fulfilling a lifelong dream to see the inside of the staff room were some highlights! Once exams are over, I think the fact I'll be leaving all my friends will start to sink in! I'll be baking plenty of cake to eat my feelings...

Recipe (serves 8-10):

Strawberry Cake:
  • 8oz butter
  • 8oz caster sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 8oz self-raising flour
  • 15 small/10 large chopped strawberries
  1. Preheat the oven to 180oC. Grease and line two 8" cake tins.
  2. Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.
  3. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, and vanilla.
  4. Continue to beat until the batter is extremely light - around 3 or 4 minutes.
  5. Sift in flour, and fold it in.
  6. Gently mix in the chopped strawberries.
  7. Divide between the two prepared tins.
  8. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.
Fresh Strawberry Icing:
  • 10-15 chopped strawberries/100ml strawberry puree
  • 350g (or more) icing sugar, sifted
  • 60g butter
  1. Blend the strawberries into a puree in a blender/food processor.
  2. Beat all the ingredients together until well combined.
  3. Spread on your cake! The icing will not be the most solid/thick of all icings, but it will set more over time.

Sunday, 4 May 2014

Quadruple Chocolate Brownies

I don't know if these actually classify as 'quadruple' chocolate brownies, but for the purposes of the post title they are. They have: cocoa powder, white chocolate, milk chocolate and Smarties. That's four types of chocolate, right? Of course, they could be made without any of the extra bits, making them just normal brownies, but that's not quite as exciting.

I really love these brownies. When I was at the gym (I know!!?!?!), the only thing that got me through the workout was the thought of going home and doing no revision, but instead making brownies! I wanted something dense, chocolatey and just super indulgent - I was planning on Nutella brownies, but the pot of Nutella mysteriously disappeared...

These went down extremely well with my friends, and passed the very tough MAT (Mother Approval test). They went down so well at school, in fact, that one of my friends tried to start a Twitter campaign to get me to give her a second brownie... She was successful. The brownie recipe itself is different to other ones I've tried (see here, here and here - I like brownies), as it involves melting things over a bowl of hot water etc. It's much simpler than it sounds, I promise. I'm not about to get all Heston Blumenthal on yo' ass.

Recipe (adapted from Smitten Kitchen, makes about 25 small, or 15ish large):
  • 140g butter
  • 250g caster sugar
  • 65g cocoa powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 65g self-raising flour (I find this makes them extra dense in the centre)
  • Assortment of chocolate or nuts etc. (optional) - I used 100g white chocolate (chopped), 2 tubes of Smarties, and a handful of milk chocolate chips to scatter on top
  1. Preheat the oven to 160oC. Grease and line an 8"x8" square tin.
  2. Put the butter, sugar, cocoa powder and salt in a bowl over a pan of simmering water, stirring sometimes until all melted and combined.
  3. Take the mix off the heat, and allow to cool a little.
  4. Beat in the vanilla, and the eggs one at a time. The mix should start to combine and go thick and shiny at this point.
  5. Mix in the flour, and when all is just combined beat vigorously for 40 strokes (this is a tip from Smitten Kitchen that seemed to work, so I couldn't leave it out!).
  6. Stir in the chocolate/Smarties etc.
  7. Pour the mix into the prepared tin, and spread out evenly.
  8. Scatter chocolate chips over the brownie mix.
  9. Place in the oven, and bake for around 40 minutes. Remove when a skewer inserted into the middle comes out almost clean.