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.