21 March 2013

Chocolate Crunchie Cake

My dad used to eat the same breakfast cereal everyday for years. Always cornflakes. And when it comes to chocolate bars, its a mars bar or a crunchie. For his birthday a few years ago I made a mars bar based cake so I was left with little options to turn to this year....it had to be a crunchie.

Not that I'm complaining, I'll eat any kind of chocolate and you can quote me on that. This year I used the same chocolate cake recipe as before, but used a smaller tin. Its from the Primrose Bakery cookbook and it is without doubt the best chocolate cake ever. It uses dark chocolate not cocoa powder which accounts for a stronger chocolate taste, plus the light soft brown sugar adds a caramel-y taste.

The icing and filling for the cake came from The Art of Baking. The site, run by a couple from Melbourne, Australia, is packed with delicious recipes and beautifully shot images showing the process and final product. I literally spent hours lost in the pages, wishing the images were edible, and that I was back in Australia.

Rani of The Art of Baking says that the idea for her crunchie cake came about when they had 5kg of leftover crunchie chocolate bars...if there was that amount of chocolate in this house I suspect it wouldn't last long enough to be used in a cake.

The chunks of crushed up crunchie in the filling were my favourite part, closely followed by the icing - having two different elements to the cake meant it was like eating an enormous cake-y crunchie bar. Safe to say, if you couldn't tell, I loved this cake!

Chocolate Cake (makes 2 x 9" rounds)
230g dark chocolate
170g unsalted butter
350g soft light brown sugar
3 large eggs separated
370g plain flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tsp salt
500ml semi-skimmed milk
2 tsp vanilla extract

1) Preheat the oven to 170C and grease and line two 9" cake tins.
2) Break the chocolate into chunks and melt gently on the hob or in the microwave checking every 30 seconds. Once melted, set aside and allow to cool.
3) Beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
4) Beat in the egg yolks, followed by the cooled chocolate.
5) Combine the dry ingredients together and sieve.
6) Combine the milk and vanilla extract in a jug.
7) Add 1/3 of the dry mix and beat, followed by 1/3 of the wet. Continue to do this until all the flour and milk have been added - be aware not to overbeat the mix.
8) In a clean bowl whisk the the egg whites to form soft peaks - make sure the whisk you use is clean and free from grease or your whites will not whip!
9) Carefully fold the beaten egg whites into the cake batter using a metal spoon in a figure of 8 until just incorporated. Being overzealous and over folding will knock the air out of the egg whites and you won't get such a mammoth cake!
10) Bake for 30 minutes until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.
11) Allow to cool inside the tins for 10 minutes before removing and cooling on a wire rack.

Crunchie Filling & Chocolate Icing (makes enough to ice & fill a 9" cake)
Butter Filling:
125 g butter
1 1/2 cups icing sugar
2 tbsp milk
4 crushed up crunchie bars

1) Beat the butter with half the icing sugar until well mixed. Add in the milk and remaining sugar and beat again until the mix is smooth.
2) Stir through the smashed up crunchies.

Chocolate Ganache Icing:
375ml single cream
340g dark chocolate, broken up

1) Gently heat the cream and chocolate on the hob until the chocolate has melted.
* Do not allow the cream to boil and be aware the chocolate doesn't burn.*
2) Allow the icing to cool and thicken before use.

10 March 2013

Mother's Day: Lemon Loaf Cake

My mum loves lemon drizzle cake. Like, really loves it. I've never known anyone love it so much.

I think she has a point though, there is something refreshing about the tang of the lemon cutting through the softness of the sponge that is lighter lasting than my favourite coffee cake. So this Mother's Day I got up early and made her a lemon loaf cake for breakfast. Its a recipe by Raymond Blanc that I saw him make on his tv series 'Raymond's kitchen secrets' ages ago and have made once before a few years back.

The plan was to take a large slice of cake to her for breakfast in bed accompanied by the tiny puppy wearing a bow, but the universe conspired against me and my electronic scales ran out of battery before I realised, mid-bake, that we didn't have any bicarbonate of soda! Saved, not for the first time, by the co-op in the next village (the deli as we call it), I managed to produce the cake by half 10 by which time she was full dressed and hungry!

The cake itself is a bit of a labour of love, taking me around an hour and a half to make (not including emergency co-op trip and scale-directed anger) with its' double glazing and second short bake, but its worth it. 

The outside of the cake crisps beautifully like a crust, with added crunch from the double layer of glazing it gets when its out the oven - first comes a layer of melted lemon curd (the original recipe asks for apricot jam but I wanted to try out something different for taste) and the second is a delicious coating of a sugary lemon syrup dried in the cooling oven.

Lemon Loaf Cake (by Raymond Blanc)
5 large eggs
300g caster sugar
140ml double cream
3 lemons, zest only
1 1/2 tbsp rum
pinch of salt
80g unsalted butter, melted
240g plain flour
1/2 tsp baking powder

For the glaze
3 tbsp apricot jam, warmed - I used lemon curd

For the lemon glaze
1 lemon, zest and juice
150g icing sugar

1) Preheat the oven to 180C and grease and line a 2lb loaf tin measuring roughly 26cm x 9cm x 8/10cm.
2) Beat together the eggs, sugar, cream, lemon zest, rum, salt and melted butter.
3) Sift the flour and baking powder together in a separate bowl before beating into the wet mixture to make a smooth batter.
4) Pour into the tin and bake for about 50 minutes - the cake is cooked when a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.
5) When fully baked, remove from tin and allow to cool for 10 minutes before covering with the warmed jam glaze. Allow this to dry for about 5 minutes before the next step.
6) Mix the lemon juice and zest with the icing sugar and heat gently until the sugar has dissolved before brushing over the cake. After a few minutes, return the cake to the cooling oven for 5 minutes to dry the glaze to a glossy finish.
7) Slice and enjoy the soft lemony goodness.
8) Thank me later.

10 February 2013

Fluffy Buttermilk Pancakes

This year, the fabulous and delicious pancake day falls on Tuesday 12th February. I love big fluffy American-style pancakes, traditional English pancakes tend towards a runnier batter producing a thinner pancake that is rolled up to be eaten.

There are a plethora of pancake recipes around, the one I used for these came from Sophie at The Cake Hunter via the Company weekly edit which I get through my wonderful clever iPad which I love. Sophie has a great blog packed with recipes and  baking tips coupled with fantastic photos which is definitely worth checking out.

I managed to make 6 massive, thick pancakes from a recipe that should yield around 10....I suspect my additions to the batter didn't help.

Blueberries are a superfood and are packed with antioxidants, stick them in your pancakes and you get a huge health whammy, I promise!

Cover them in peanut butter and it ups the protein content....

For the second batch I mixed plain chocolate chips through the batter which was a brilliant idea. I am a food genius. I used agave nectar to top mine because I'm not a big fan of honey.

I did make a few changes to the original recipe, such as using coconut oil instead of vegetable oil for the batter and to fry the pancakes up, and using almond milk to thin the batter out as I'm cutting back on dairy. Use an alternative if you wish, they will still taste wonderful.

Fluffy Buttermilk Pancakes 
190g plain flour
60g caster sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 large egg
284ml buttermilk
50ml coconut oil
glug of almond milk
fun things to add to the batter such as blueberries, chocolate chips, cinnamon or ginger.

1) Mix all ingredients together, add the almond milk slowly and mix through until batter becomes thinner.
2) Heat the pan over a medium/high heat and use 1 tsp coconut oil to fry the pancakes.
3) Blob 1 tbsp of batter into the pan and spread it to a pancake-shape; cook until top side bubbles before flipping and cooking the other side.
4) Eat warm and enjoy.
5) The next day, give up chocolate, sweets, smoking, alcohol and general fun for Lent.

9 February 2013

Peanut Butter Protein Bars

This weekend I have mostly not left the house because I am so tired from my first week interning in London - I'm interning for Trace Publicity to help out during London Fashion Week and its the most awesome experience for me to get because its my first fashion internship - so far it hasn't been too busy, but that will all change come Monday as Fashion Week is at the end of next week.

The journey for me takes just under 2 hours, I don't mind it too much but I do get peckish - I get peckish almost every hour on the hour and where I'm working is a multitude of deliciously tempting eateries offering a selection of delectable snack-type items, particularly flapjacks which I cannot resist. However, these are all jammed with sugars and, as always, I am trying to learn to be more 'healthy' and make better choices regarding what I put in my stomach, and so spent my Friday night internet surfing for ideas - I am puppysitting this weekend and am not a housebound loser I swear, my friends will vouch for me!!

I figured I'd need something flapjack-y in appearance and texture so I can pop it in my bag, but lower in sugars and possibly higher in protein to help keep me full and make me feel virtuous - the recipe I've tried out is a combination of oats and crunchy peanut butter, which is easily one of the best things in the world.

The website I grabbed the recipe from is full of fitness advice for women covering diet and workouts and has a heap of 'clean' recipes - in my ongoing quest for inner-health-peace I'll be spending more time surfing this site for tips!

I cut the mix into 8 bars and wrapped each one in clingfilm so I could grab they easily on my way out the door in the mornings - fingers crossed I remember because I have a terrible habit of forgetting everything to do with myself.

They're a little crumbly because I adapted the recipe slightly, chiefly because I was paying too much attention to the tiny puppy and not enough to the recipe and so forgot the almond milk, but as I'd added coconut oil anyway I think I've saved myself any grief there!

Peanut Butter Protein Bars (adapted by mistake from Miss Fitness Life)
2 cups oats
5-6 scoops of protein powder
4 tbsp peanut butter
1 tbsp coconut oil
1/2 cup flaked almonds
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
2 tbsp ground flaxseed

1) Mix the dry ingredients together.
2) Melt together the peanut butter and coconut oil - I blasted it for 30 seconds in the microwave - and mix thoroughly through the dry ingredients.
3) If your mix is looking very dry and crumbly, add some almond milk gradually and mix through until the mix softens.
4) Press into a lined 8x8 tin, cover and place in the fridge with the mixture pressed flat - mine was covered with condiment jars!
5) After an hour, cut into bars and wrap to store in the fridge.

2 February 2013

Chelsea Buns

The last time I made chelsea buns I was at secondary school and made them in food tech; they were such a success that I went home clutching the recipe and insisted Mum take me to the supermarket immediately so I could make them again. I remember being given fresh yeast for free by the supermarket, my teacher told us they couldn't sell it to you so I wonder if dried yeast wasn't available over 10 years ago.

This time around I used dried yeast, but did make some other tweaks of my own, entirely due to eagerness to bake and lack of ingredients.

When Mum said she fancied something 'cakey and raisiny' this morning, I did my usual google images search for ideas and settled on making chelsea buns; the inside is filled with brown sugar and raisins, and pulled out my trusty 'Great British Book of Baking' for a fail-safe recipe.

It was only once I'd melted the butter into the milk (see recipe below) that I realised I only had 340 grams of wholemeal bread flour, not 450 grams of white bread flour. Cue a mild panic and decision to supplement the bread flour with plain white flour to make up the amount needed. This combination of flours, and the heavier quality provided by the wholemeal flour, which often doesn't rise as much as white flour, and not enough time for the dough to prove first time around meant the buns were dinky, but I prefer to call them 'bitesize'!

When I wrote up this post, I realised that I rolled by dough rectangles from end-to-end, i.e. from the short end up, but the recipe states to roll them from one long side like a Swiss roll - this is very likely another reason they were so teeny!  

Chealsea Buns (from 'Great British Book of Baking)
175ml milk
50g unsalted butter
450g strong white bread flour
1 tsp salt
3tbsp caster sugar
1 x 7g sachet of dried yeast
1 medium egg
For the filling:
50g unsalted butter
75g dark muscovado sugar
150g dried vine fruits (raisins, sultanas, currants)
For the sticky glaze:
2tbsp milk
2tbsp caster sugar
2tbsp runny honey
*a roasting

1) Gently heat the milk and butter together until the butter has melted, then allow to cool until lukewarm.
2) Meanwhile, combine the dry bun ingredients in a large bowl and make a well in the centre.
3) Whisk the egg into the milk and butter mixture, and pour into the well of the dry ingredients.
4) Using your hand, slowly work the flour into the liquid to make a soft, not sticky, dough.
5) Turn the dough out onto a well-floured surface and knead well for ten minutes - then return the dough to the bowl, cover with a damp towel and leave somewhere warm to prove, it should double in size and take around an hour.
6) After the proving time, punch the air out of the dough and split it into two equal parts. Roll these into rectangles measuring roughly 38 x 13cm.
7) Sprinkle the rectangles with the sugar, followed by the dried fruits and roll the rectangles from one long side like a Swiss roll, being gentle but firm to make tight scrolls.
8) Cut each scroll into 8 even slices and arrange in the tin for further proving - try not to let them touch and use extra tins if needed as, during the next 40 minutes or so, they'll almost double in size. Re-cover and allow to prove for around 40 minutes.
9) Heat the oven to 200C and uncover and bake the buns for 20-25 minutes until golden in colour; 5 minutes before they are due to 'finish', remove the buns and brush over the glaze (see next step).
10) Make the glaze whilst the buns are baking by gently warming the ingredients together without allowing the liquid to reach a boil.
11) Allow to cool before attempting to eat.

26 January 2013

No-bake Chocolate, Walnut & Avocado Cake

Are you struggling to stick to your New Year diet plan? Do you find yourself dreaming in cake? Is it taking all your strength to overcome that desperate craving for chocolate?

Then look no further, for I have found........A CHOCOLATE CAKE THAT IS (kind of ) GOOD FOR YOU!

Yes folks, you heard me, this once-in-a-lifetime no-bake chocolate, walnut & avocado cake is your ticket to the end of your cravings. Care of Australian Women's Health Magazine (I think), you can now make you cake, and eat it, whilst staying true to your New Year plans.

And it actually tastes awesome.

There it is, in all its' crumbly glory. When I first saw this recipe way back in September I was desperate to try it out, but with none of the tools required, I took a photo of the recipe and continued to think longingly of the cake. Cut to being home and trying to 'eat clean' and follow a Paleo diet, I was pretty keen to try this cake out as it fits almost all criteria, but cavemen ate cocoa powder right? We're all friends here.....

The cake itself was super sweet as it uses dates to bind the ground nuts and chocolate, but this is complimented beautifully by the bitter taste of the icing. It really tastes best cool, so I'd recommend refrigerating it before serving. The avocado adds the great texture and creaminess to the icing, and although the flavour is very mild, I found I could still taste it. This doesn't bother me, but see my notes below if you're trying to trick children/suspicious adults into trying your healthy concoction! The orange zest and juice added to the cake lends a strong and welcome zing, stopping the cake from tasting overwhelmingly like chocolate or walnuts.

It's definitely a cake I'd make again, I went back for thirds, I can't put my finger on what exactly kept me coming back but the flavours combined deliciously and I felt rather virtuous afterwards which was novel.

I've popped in the original photo I took of the recipe below, but there are a few things to note:
  • to freeze it instead of putting it in the fridge - it really is a very crumbly and delicate cake so freezing it helped hold it together for a little longer.
  • taste test the icing as you make it - I added extra vanilla and extra cocoa powder to cover the mild taste of the avocado so I could trick my mother into eating it, and the icing should taste bitter.
  • keep it in the fridge!!! Avocados taste HORRID if you leave them out, trust me, I know.

NOTE: If you recognise the recipe and it isn't from Australian Women's Health then please do let me know so I can amend the post!

22 January 2013

Dark Chocolate & Peanut Butter Flappy J's

As my new apron will inform you, I make the very best flappy j's (flapjacks)....I've experimented with the same good-old Be-Ro recipe for a few years and added things, modified it, tried less sweetener, no butter etc. and my most recent variation is dark chocolate and peanut butter.

I know I said I wasn't baking this month as I was on a diet (note the use of past tense) but, I am me, and therefore unable to stick to any diet of any type that does not incorporate baked goods. And with all the snow today I spotted the hahstag #EatForSnow on my Twitter feed whilst lounging in my bed around mid-day (I'm housebound because my Mini doesn't like snow) I figured it was a pretty understandable feeling to have in this cold weather and off I went down the stairs to do some baking.

There's not much I can resist more than peanut butter. I've revolted housemates in the past by settling down in front of the TV with a big jar and a spoon, yes, it's really that good. Throw in some dark chocolate and you're guaranteed a winner. 

Together the flavours were wonderful - the dark chocolate has a bittersweet edge to it which compliments the salty nutty-ness of the peanut butter. The blocks I cut were a little crumbly, but if there's anything I've learnt from my flappy j adventures, it's that the texture varies and soft and crumbly is a winner.

I've decided to do a picture recipe so if you're following it, then you know it looks right....well, that's the logic I follow!

Dark Chocolate and Peanut Butter Flapjacks
50g crunchy peanut butter
50g butter
50g demerara sugar
2 tbsp golden syrup
125g porridge oats
25g wholemeal plain flour
roughly 250g dark chocolate

1) Preheat the oven to 180C and grease and line an 8" square tin - I didn't and it was messy.

2) Melt the two butters, sugar and golden syrup over a low heat until dissolved.

3) Break the chocolate into rough chunks - I opted for a unique and rather aggressive method.

4) Add your dry ingredients to the melted fats and combine well.
5) Press into the tin and bake for 20-25 minutes.

14 January 2013

Kurtosh: Sydney {review}

Well and truly sticking to the January tradition of being healthy, I am yet to do any baking this month so am still happily recounting eating trips I had last month in Australia. This time, I'm sharing the cake-eating experience I had at Kurtosh, a bakery in Surry Hills, Sydney.

I was taken to the bakery by a childhood friend who now lives in Sydney and knows her baked goods - under her advice I somehow ended up with two pieces of cake because I 'had to test them out' and it was a late birthday outing! 

Obviously one of my choices was peanut butter and chocolate; the cake was layered on top of a peanuty, crunchy base and between the cake was a thick covering of delicious peanut butter. Unfortunately, with that much peanut butter (how many times can I say those words in one post), the overall effect can get a little heavy in your mouth, but delicious none-the-less.  

I also had a slice of a victoria sponge; the sponge was beautiful and soft and bouncy, just perfect, and filled with a delicate layer of cream. It made a great pair with the heavier peanut butter slice and made me very happy and full.

The bakery has two locations in Sydney and is definitely worth a visit; a kurtosh cake, as I was told by the staff, looks a little like a cakey chimney. In store they had kurtosh cakes with a variety of crunchy, sugary toppings which looked delicious, and I can't remember why I didn't try one - probably tempted away by the peanut butter cake!

Kurtosh cakes I found online.

7 January 2013

A quick note...

If you happen to notice that I've created more 'pages' to my blog, including a recipe index and a page of reviews please only look through squinted eyes because they are very much a work in progress.  I wanted to make them live to bulk up my blog, but to create the recipe index I'm re-writing all my old posts as some didn't originally have recipes posted, so bear with me, it'll be complete soon!


Emma Jane

3 January 2013

Lemon and Poppyseed Cake

As is the tradition in January, I am on a no-carb diet.  Therefore I am totally avoiding temptation by only looking at pictures of deliciously sugary cakes, reading recipes and re-visiting how wonderful they tasted. I definitely don't feel like breaking my diet. At all.

Back in the Australian winter, which is in June because they're upside down, I spent a weekend out in the west of New South Wales staying at the home of my friend's boyfriend's parents.  Their house is surrounded by orange and lemon trees, all bulging with fruit, and has a beautiful kitchen so I couldn't turn down the chance to do some baking after a 4 month break.

When Starbucks first opened in my local town at home, all I ever had was a chocolate frappuccino and a 'skinny' lemon and poppyseed muffin. There was something about this combination of tangy lemon and crunchy poppyseeds with its' 'skinny' label that attracted me, and gave me the idea for this cake to use a handful of fresh lemons from the garden.

If I'm honest, I don't remember the recipe I used, except that it has three layers which makes me think its likely to be from the Hummingbird Bakery cookbook....

All I can really remember is that I used the zest of 2 lemons to flavour the cake and a lot of poppyseeds poured and folded through carefully right before spreading the batter in the cake tins.  And the icing is swiss meringue buttercream, flavoured with lemon juice and topped with lemon zest.

It was pretty lemony and quite delicious.