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Apple and Blackberry Loaf Cake- A Passion For Baking.

I’ve probably mentioned before that I’m a big fan of Jo Wheatley who won the Great British Bake Off back in 2011.  I love baking from her two recipe books and her Apple and Blackberry Loaf Cake is absolutely gorgeous.   I have baked this recipe a couple of times before but last week I planned to bake it for the parents at school where I work.  When the new starters settle into school we have a Welcome Mass in church and then the parents are invited back for tea or coffee.  I usually bake some goodies to treat the parents.

I wanted to bake something seasonal and using fruit from my garden.  I have a small apple tree in my front garden with some eating apples on it but my greedy labrador has worked out a way of shaking the tree so an apple will fall off and he can get it! No apples for us then, so I used ones from the supermarket but I did manage to get the blackberries from the hedge in my garden.

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Blackberries picked from the hedge in my back garden.

Anyway, last week was very stressful in lots of ways.  It started off with a powercut in our village on the Sunday night which was a massive problem for me.  It had a knock on effect all week.  At least it had its merits: we got to talk to one another instead of my hubby being glued to the telly.  It was also pretty to look out at the full moon.  Instead of going to bed at 11pm, it was 9.30pm and I hadn’t got my work done on the computer.  The power ended up being off until about 4am and there were workmen across the road from me setting up a noisy generator.  I was very grateful that they got us wired up to a generator though.

So, two days later and our end of the village is still wired up to a generator. But I came home at lunchtime on the Tuesday ready to start baking that afternoon for our coffee morning.  I wanted to bake two different traybakes and an Apple and Blackberry Loaf cake, hence the title of this post!  It never happened!  The generator wasn’t working and there were two vans next to it with workmen near it.  The power was off AGAIN in our village! Why not another time?  In the end I chose to go up to my hubby’s office 5 miles away and work on his spare computer on my planning (which I was going to do that night) and to get a much needed cup of tea!  Hubby said that was fine when I phoned him on my mobile.  Only when I got there twenty minutes later, we find that his internet server had gone down!  What a joke!

So, all I could do was have a cup of tea and then go and collect the kids from school.  What a wasted afternoon!  When I got back in from the school run, the power had come back on again so I opted to bake just the loaf cake.

The cake had a crunchy streusel type topping on it made from brown sugar, butter and flour.  The rest of the ingredients for the main cake were mixed together with the chopped apple and blackberries folded in at the end.  I always use paper loaf tin liners and I popped the cake into the oven before our dinner.  At the same time I hoped and prayed that the power would stay on while it was baking!

At the time I was very distracted and had lots going through my mind. When the cake was baking I couldn’t remember when I’d put it in  the oven as I’d forgotten to set the timer! It was complete guesswork so I went by the look of the cake.  I tested it and when it seemed cooked I put it on the worktop to cool.  To save time at these events I usually pre slice the cakes and I tried to slice the loaf at home.  What a mistake!  The cake crumbled and looked a complete mess.  So I gave up and planned on buying some biscuits at the garage on the way to school the next morning instead.

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As I had rushed my baking, all the blackberries had sunk to the bottom of the cake. The cake was also very crumbly when I cut it.

 

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My family ended up with another cake to go into the freezer and my school ended up with biscuits bought from the garage.

 

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Crammed into a plastic box to put in the freezer for another day.

If you would like to bake this recipe for yourself, then you can find it in Jo’s first book “A Passion For Baking”.  I’m sure it would work well with other fruits such as raspberries or pears.  Last Friday after a busy time catching up on jobs, I defrosted a slice and enjoyed it with a cup of coffee.  It was gorgeous.

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx

 

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Cupcakes Three Ways with Dr Oetker Premium Sprinkles.

 

On the first Friday evening back after the holidays my school held their postponed summer barbecue.   Usually if it’s needed I bring along some cupcakes or cookies as part of the pudding.  I was looking forward to going along to the BBQ, even though I had been feeling very tired and had lots going on at home.  So, on that Friday morning I shot off into Harrogate to get some jobs done and then whizzed back home to bake and catch up on the chores.  I went into Lakeland to get a couple of things and fell in love with their cupcake carrier. I already have a couple of cupcake carriers from The Works but they are very poorly made and the base which the cupcakes sit in isn’t level.  So my eyes lit up when I saw the cupcake carrier which worked like a carousel and two dozen cupcakes sit neatly on top of one another inside a pretty cupcake shaped dome! I thought this would be perfect to transport my cakes in without resorting to my giant plastic boxes which take up so much room.

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My new cupcake carrier from Lakeland showing how 24 cupcakes can stack carefully on top of one another easily.

 

I must admit I get a bit carried away when I get to the baking aisle in any supermarket.  It doesn’t matter what supermarket it is or whether I actually NEED those decorations but I feel as if I just HAVE to have them.  The other week I was in Tesco and spotted Dr Oetker had brought out a new range of sprinkles called their Premium Range.  I liked the look of these as they were a bit different to the old silver balls and hundreds and thousands you see everywhere.  I chose three different pots: the Banoffee Sprinkles, some Rainbow Popping Candy and some Lemon Meringue sprinkles.  All of these I knew would end up on top of some cupcakes or a traybake that I would take along to school or a coffee morning somewhere along the way.  So our school’s BBQ was the perfect occasion to give them a try out.

I matched or complimented the flavours of the sprinkles to the flavours of the cupcakes and used my regular recipes which I use all the time for cupcake baking.  So once I was home from Harrogate out came the mixer and all my ingredients.  I put on all the programmes I hadn’t seen on BBC Iplayer and immersed myself with my favourite hobby.

Here’s what I came up with:

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Here are my vanilla cupcakes finished off with vanilla buttercream and the Dr Oetker Popping Candy Rainbow Sprinkles on top.

Second lot of cupcakes to be baked: these are my chocolate cupcakes topped with a chocolate buttercream and finished off with the Dr Oetker banoffee sprinkles.

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The final bake was these lemon meringue cupcakes finished off with lemon buttercream and with the Dr Oetker Lemon Meringue Sprinkles.

However, my day didn’t quite go to plan.  My daughter goes to dance class on a Friday evening and my hubby had offered to pick her up on the way home from work.  Anyway, he rang to say he was stuck in a massive traffic jam on the M1 and couldn’t get to my daughter in time.  So I had to pick her up.  This was about the same time as the BBQ was starting.  I had to get my daughter home and put the dinner on instead of hubby so in the end we went via school and dropped off the cupcakes but I couldn’t stay for the BBQ.  It was a lovely sunny evening too and I would have liked to have gone.  At least 3 dozen cupcakes got to where they were meant to be going!

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Two out of the three dozen cupcakes ready and waiting to be taken off to the BBQ. The other dozen went in my not so good cupcake carrier.

The cupcakes were very well received at the BBQ.  I never tasted any but people told me they were lovely and the children went mad for the popping candy ones.  Definitely a big hit then, will be buying those sprinkles again in the future.

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx

 

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Oreo Rosette Cake

Back in the last week of August I finally was free to go along to one of Wharfedale Clandestine Cake Club’s events.  This was the first time I’d managed to get along, there was always something else happening.  Thankfully being the summer holidays I had more time and I was free to go along being as the event was on a Thursday night.  We met up in Otley and the cake theme for this event was “Go On, Surprise Me”!

I thought of baking a cake which had a pattern inside or was a rainbow cake but I also wanted to bake something I had never baked before.  I scoured my recipe books and fell upon a pretty looking Oreo Cookie Cake with rosette swirls of buttercream in the Clandestine Cake Club Cookbook.  This recipe is by Helen Costello from St Helen’s Clandestine Cake Club and had originally been baked for an American themed cake event. I had a bag of Oreo cookie pieces in my baking cupboard which I had bought in an American candy shop a couple of days earlier.  The cake had Oreo pieces crushed inside the cake and I thought that the pieces were hidden inside covered up by the rosette buttercream piping.  So the cake would have its surprise after all!

On with the baking.  I started to bake the cake the day before the event by greasing two of my 8″ diameter loose bottomed sandwich tins.  The cake itself was baked by beating butter and sugar together until light and creamy.  The cake used seven egg whites and no yolks so it was great fun separating them.. NOT! After that I added in vanilla extract, some self raising flour and then finally added in some crushed Oreo pieces.

The cakes baked for about 45-50 minutes in my fan oven.

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The Oreo sandwich cakes cooling down on the worktop.

On the morning of the event I made up the vanilla frosting.  I spread some frosting on the top of one of the cakes and sandwiched it to the other one.  Then I coated the top and the sides of the cake.  Unfortunately the frosting quantity wasn’t enough to go round and I only managed to piped the rosettes on the top of the cake.  I was very disappointed with my rustic decorating skills.

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Spreading the vanilla frosting on one of the cakes.

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The two Oreo cookie cakes on top of one another.

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The decorated cake with it’s messy sides.

Once I saw the finished cake I was ashamed and disappointed with my cake wreck.  So unfortunately my surprise ingredient ended up being sprinkled around the bottom of the cake so it would detract away from the messy sides of the cake.  The top ended up with more Oreos being thrown on top of it and then as suggested in the recipe about sprinkling your cake with edible lustre dust.  I did have some gold and silver lustre dust in my cupboard last Christmas but it had all gone so I had to use my lilac edible glitter instead. I was a bit heavy handed with it as you can see!

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View from the top. I don’t know what possessed me to chuck all that edible glitter on the top of it, though!

There were lots of lovely cakes at the event and I enjoyed lots of different surprises.  From sweetie pinata cakes to a chocolate cake containing quinoa, we were well and truly spoilt.  We had some delicious cakey leftovers to take home and I made sure I took some home for my family to enjoy as much as I did.

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx

 

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Scandelicious Baking- An Update on the August Cooking The Books Challenge.

It’s been a few weeks since I updated my blog. There’s been so much going on.  Once the school holidays are over I’m back into work mode and there is barely time to get the jobs around the house done.  Then again, I haven’t managed to get anywhere near my computer.  So I thought I’d better get something writen down.

My August Cooking The Books recipe book challenge from Scandelicious Baking seems like a lifetime ago now.  Although I found it enjoyable and I had plenty of time, I didn’t get round to baking two of the recipes I’d originally planned to bake. These were a Pistachio Pavlova with Boozy Cherries and a Norwegian AlmondTart.  I don’t know what happened at the end of the holidays, guess I just ran out of time.

So, to recap I think I would like to look at what I did get round to making.  On the whole I have really enjoyed testing out some delicious recipes. Different flavours and things I wouldn’t have thought to try.

I love making fish pie for my family so I thought the Scandelicious Fish Gratin would go down well with my family.  Instead of being topped with pastry, mashed potato or breadcrumbs this version of a fish pie was topped with some crushed Swedish Krisprolls.  Well I didn’t crush them enough so the topping looked very rustic and unappealing.  Also my son (who used to love my fish pie) refused to eat it.

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The Scandelicious Fish Gratin had a topping of crushed Krisprolls.

To make the Fish Gratin filling I poached some cod cut into large chunks in some milk infused with peppercorns and nutmeg.  After this I made a sauce which had leeks, onion, eggs and creme fraiche in to add to the fish.  This was then poured into a baking dish ready to be topped with the crushed krisprolls!

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The fish gratin filling.

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The finished fish gratin. Looked a bit unappealing and appealed even less to myself and my family. Not a big success at all.

After eating some savoury cheesecake from a buffet once I was keen to have a go at baking one myself. So I had a go at the Scandelicious Cheese and Onion Cheesecake.  The cheesecake contained an oatcake and porridge oat base which had been combined with melted butter.  To make the filling I whisked egg yolks with a pinch of salt, then added some Quark and some cream cheese along with some flour, chopped spring onions and some cheese.  Now in the recipe Signe Johansen suggests Vasterbotten cheese which I have never even heard of, let alone seen it in my local shops.  In the end I used Jarlsberg cheese and grated it straight into the mixture.  In another bowl I beat some egg whites which were then combined with the cheese mixture.  When this was ready it went straight on top of the base and was baked in the oven for about half an hour.

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The finished Cheese and Onion Cheesecake.

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Delicious with a salad.

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I had a slice on its own for lunch the following day.

I’m not very good at baking bread or using yeast but I wanted to have a go at the Spelt Picnic Buns.  I’m not that used to using spelt flour either but I like eating spelt bread.  These buns were meant to be useful for eating on a picnic but we never got to go on one as it was too cold or wet during the last couple of weeks of the school summer holidays.  I baked the buns in my muffin tin but they were not what I was expecting at all. I was expecting them to turn out a lot a bigger than they were.  They tasted delicious though and I had one spread with butter at breakfast.

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Scandelicious Spelt Picnic Buns.

So here ends the Cooking The Books Challenge for August and I had more challenges for days in the month than I had time for.  There are lots more recipes I would love to bake from Scandelicious Baking.  I can definitely recommend the book.

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx

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Pecan Shorties From The Great British Bake Off Big Book Of Baking.

Back in August I was excited when the brand new Great British Bake Off book to accompany series 5 came out: The Great British Book Of Baking.  Being at home for the summer holidays off work from my teaching assisting and teaching I have more time to bake and enjoy my obsession.  Biscuits and cookies are my absolute favourites to bake but unfortunately they don’t do much good for my figure though.  I couldn’t resist creating these little lovelies though.

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My copy of the latest Great British Bake Off book. Well worth buying, I love it!

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Pecan Shorties. Recipe is on page 14 of the book.

In the Biscuits and Traybakes chapter of the book there is a wonderful recipe for Pecan Shorties.  As I love shortbread biscuits, pecans and plain chocolate, this combination sounded wonderful.  I just HAD to try these out!

The weather was cold and rainy, the kids were up in their rooms doing what teenagers do so I set to in my kitchen to try and create something magic.  First things first was to chop and lightly toast the pecan nuts.

Once this was done I creamed butter and icing sugar together in a large mixing bowl.  The icing sugar instead of caster sugar gives it a lovely crumbly but short texture.  After that I added in some vanilla extract then some plain flour until it was mixed into a dough.  The pecans were folded into the dough last of all.

The dough was then carefully divided into twenty pieces.  Each piece was then rolled into a ball and placed well apart on a lined baking sheet.  The cookies were flattened slightly and then baked in the oven for roughly between 12-15 minutes.  I kept a close eye on the oven- nothing worse than burnt cookies!

Once the finished cookies were out of the oven I let them cool on my wire rack and then melted some chocolate to dip the shortbreads into.  I used a bar of dark chocolate which was about 70% cocoa solids (Green and Blacks). I then let the chocolate set on the cookies before telling my kids there were cookies around!

I’m ashamed to say I pigged out on these beauties.  I couldn’t stop at one and they were delicious.  I’d love to try them again but this time using chopped stem ginger instead of pecan nuts.  Or white chocolate would be a great variation!

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The finished Pecan Shorties setting on a wire rack in my kitchen.

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A mid afternoon treat for myself and my two kids.

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx

 

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Mary Berry’s Cherry Cake- Great British Bake Off Technical Challenge.

I’ve already been back at work for over two weeks now but for our school training day at the very beginning of the year we always have a shared lunch.  As I love baking I always bring in the pudding or some cake.  This time as normal I brought along some peanut butter and chocolate chip cookies and a cake.  The cake was one I’d been wanting to bake for a couple of weeks now, ever since it was the Technical Challenge in the first week of this year’s Great British Bake Off! So Mary’s Cherry Cake it had to be!

For the link to Mary’s own recipe you can find it here:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/marys_cherry_cake_17869

In the Bake Off it was lovely to see the cakes baked in ring tins and I thought that one of my Nordicware Bundt pans would be perfect for the job.  My bundt pans are my new obsession and I can’t wait to add to the collection when I can afford it.  So I got out my heart shaped one, greased it carefully and got on with the baking.

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I carefully washed the cherries to get rid of all the sticky syrup and then dried them on some kitchen towels.

More often than not my cherries sink to the bottom of my cakes.  I try to rinse them carefully but I’ve since found out that taking a couple of tablespoonfuls of flour out of the total amount and tossing the cherries in it works well to stop the sinking.  I realised also if I needed to halve or quarter the cherries I should really rinse off the sticky syrup after cutting them as you end up with the stickiness on the inside too! Maybe that was another reason why my cherries sank!

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The quartered cherries now thoroughly rinsed and ready to go in the mixture.

All the other ingredients were simply weighed out and mixed together in one large bowl. Self raising flour, caster sugar, butter, eggs, along with a delicate flavour of grated lemon zest and a small amount of ground almonds.  I was pleased about that, almonds always go really well with cherries.

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Here’s the mixture spooned into my heart shaped tin and ready to be baked.

The cake was meant to stay in the oven for about 35-40 minutes.  I found this was ample time for the cake and thankfully it rose well inside my bundt tin.  I always feel nervous when turning out a cake from its tin, especially so with a shaped cake.  But I can honestly say I don’t have any trouble with Nordicware bundt pans so long as you spray the tin with Dr Oetker Cake Release first!

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The cake turned out onto the wire rack and ready to cool down.

While the cake was cooling it was time to make the icing.  I mixed up icing sugar and the juice of one lemon to make a glace icing.  I think my lemon made a lot of juice as the icing was very runny and I ended up having to add twice as much icing sugar than was asked to make the icing thick enough.  It was still runny though but I didn’t mind that as I wanted it to trickle down the sides of the heart in the grooves.  When I’d done this I added some halved cherries and some flaked almonds to decorate the top.  Hey presto, it was finished and ready to take along to work.

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The finished cake as seen from the top.

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View from the side.

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The cake was cut up into slices to enjoy for pudding at our school training day lunch.

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I was pleased with how the cake turned out.

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Whoohooo! Suspended cherries! Mary and Paul would be proud!

My cake went down well at the training day.  There wasn’t much left the next day, although I did manage to have a small slice myself.  I love cherry cake so I know I’ll be having another go at this in the future.

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx

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Scandelicious Baking- Flappenjacken.

The other day when we were sat round the table eating breakfast on holiday the conversation turned to my obsession with baking.  Well we were eating croissants at the time and I said I would love to have a go at baking my own croissants one day.  My family sometimes appreciate my efforts, sometimes don’t.  What they don’t realise is that baking is therapy to me like some people play music, some paint, some do sewing or play sport.  I like the feeling baking something gives me and when I get it right there is nothing else to match those feelings.  Although baking isn’t very kind to my hips and thighs it has brought back a sense of wellbeing and boosted my self esteem enormously over the past few years.

My husband said to me “Why don’t you bake some more flapjack?” and I agreed with him.  Flapjack always goes down well with my family and I have to hide the tin from them. Sometimes I have to hide the tin from myself as I can never stop at one piece! So when we got back from holiday I knew I’d planned to try a version of flapjack called Flappenjacken from Scandelicious Baking by Signe Johansen as part of my monthly Cooking The Books Challenge.

In the recipe title Flappenjacken are also described as salted caramel granola biscuits but looking at the ingredients mine had to be a complete variation on the recipe.  I also chose to bake them as a complete traybake rather than as individual biscuits. Signe says “I can’t claim that these are authentically Scandinavian in anyway but they are inspired by my love for salted caramel, Norwegian crispy havreflarn oat biscuits and British flapjacks or flappenjacken as the Muppet Show’s Swedish Chef likes to call them!”

In the recipe Signe calls for a mixture of oats to be used comprising of spelt, rye and barley flakes but I had to use plain porridge oats as I couldn’t find any other flakes in my local supermarket.  I noticed also that the recipe used egg, milk, flour and baking powder unlike my traditional flapjack recipe so that meant it was more cakeified!

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Here’s the flappenjacken mix before being tipped into the cake tin.

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All ready to go into the oven!

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Out of the oven and cut up into slices. Looks more cakey than like traditional flapjack but tasted wonderful.

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The flappenjacken was perfect for me as it wasn’t too overly sweet. My hubby enjoyed it too for the very same reason.

I was pleased with the results and should have waited a little bit longer before cutting it up as the flappenjacken crumbled as I took it out of the tin and tried to put it onto the plate.  I scoffed a piece right away with my soup at lunchtime. It should have been a sandwich but I couldn’t help myself, they smelled so good!

As for my family my hubby has spotted them in the tin and has enjoyed them, the children weren’t impressed as they had almonds, and dessicated coconut  in them.  Never mind, all the more for us as they say!

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx