Sunday, 25 July 2010

Chocolate fudge cake

I know I haven't posted for a while - so much going on -  holidays, life - but thought I'd share my first real attempt at a chocolate cake which I've been threatening to make for some time now. There are so many recipes some using chocolate in the cake others cocoa, but this recipe was pretty straightforward and the cake was pretty moist and the icing very tasty.

Chocolate fudge cake


175g 6 oz of soft (room temp.) unsalted butter

3 large eggs

175g 6 oz self-raising flour

175g 6oz Castor sugar

30g of cocoa powder

1 teaspoon of vanilla essence

2 tablespoons of milk

For the Coating and filling

75g Unsalted butter

175g icing sugar

3 tablespoon cocoa powder

A drop of milk

Preheat the oven to 180C/gas 4 (350F).

Put all the butter into a good-sized mixing bowl and, using a wooden spoon or an electric mixer, beat until creamy. Add all the sugar, beating all the time until the mixture is very light and fluffy.

Break the eggs into another bowl or jug, add the vanilla essence, and beat together with a fork until this mixture is light and frothy. Pour this mixture a bit at a time into the bowl containing the butter and sugar mixture. Take time and care on each occasion that you add the mixture to mix carefully and beat thoroughly.

Sift the flour and cocoa powder together by gently tapping the sieve with the heel of your hand over the butter, sugar and egg mixture. At any point in making this recipe, the more air you can trap in the mixture the better; conversely, the more you knock out by mixing roughly, the poorer the texture of the cake will be.

Add the milk. Then using gentle folding movements with a large spoon, mix the flour and cocoa mixture together into the rest of the mixture, so that they are completely blended; i.e. no streaks, just a nice uniform colour, yet done very gently. Divide the mixture between the two tins 18-20cm in diameter and place in the preheated oven for 15 to 20 mins.

The cake is done when the sponge springs back when gently pressed in the centre; or is starting to brown on top and has shrunk away from the edges of the tin container.

Turn out onto a wire rack and let the cake cool completely before you ice.

To make the icing – cream the butter then add cocoa and icing sugar – add milk till you get a spreadable consistency. Sandwich the cakes together and spread the icing on top – decorate as desired.

Cut a slice and enjoy!

Sunday, 2 May 2010

M&S Raisin and Cinnamon Toasta Breads

Calories : 200 per toasta

I remember years ago loving square croissant pastries which went in the toaster from M&S. They were great with jam but sadly were one of the many M&S lines which didn't hang around for long. I'm not a huge fan of pastry and I love all things with raisins and cinnamon so thought these sounded pretty tasty, especially as they were made from focaccia bread and were described as being "chewy in the middle".

My mum sampled these first and wasn't that impressed, however I think this was more owing to the fact that she burnt them as she had the toaster too high.

I wasn't holding out much hope but was pleasantly suprised and thoroughly enjoyed them lightly toasted. They had a nice sugary sticky coating and were packed with juicy raisins while having the texture of foccacia.

There's also a chocolate chip version of these which I might try but I doubt that these will be available in M&S for long.

Thursday, 29 April 2010

Vanilla sugar cookies

I've read loads of recipes for sugar cookies so was looking forward to making my own. I actually made these initially for a friends baby shower and have just remembered that I have a batch of dough in the freezer which I need to use - (the mixture makes quite a lot of cookies). I cut out templates but next time will probably just use a standard cookie cutter / round. These went down pretty well at the shower
I tried some different toppings - rolled fondant, running icing and a thicker royal icing. Next time I think I might try dipping them in some chocolate !

• 200g unsalted butter , at room temperature

• 150g caster sugar

• 2 tsp vanilla extract

• 1 egg

• 300g plain flour , sifted

Preparation and cooking times

Ready in 1 hour

Cream the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer, or use a large bowl with a hand-held electric beater. Beat in the vanilla and egg, then add the flour. Beat until smooth, remove from the bowl bringing the dough together then half and shape into discs. Wrap with clingfilm and chill for about 40 minutes until firm. Heat oven to 180/fan 160C/gas 4.

Dust the work top with flour and roll out one portion of dough to 3mm thick. Cut stars or other shapes with cutters.

Line 2 baking sheets with non-stick baking paper and lift the cookies onto it using a palette knife. Chill for 10 minutes and then bake for 10-12 minutes until just turning golden at the edges. Cool on a baking rack. When cool ice or decorate as desired.

Saturday, 24 April 2010

Carrot cake

Carrot cake reminds me of visits to garden centres and I used to love it when I was younger - particularly the ones with a thick layer of buttercream frosting in the middle and on the top.
I initially tried to make a cream cheese butter frosting but - note to self - don't use low fat cream cheese as it curdles and doesn't make for tasty icing! - I quickly resorted to butter cream icing which went down a treat - although I was a little too eager to spread it on the cake and next time I'll leave the cake to cool a little first.
I baked this in my loaf pan but next time think it might be nice to try a round cake.

I got loads of compliments for this including "the best carrot cake I've ever had!" - high praise indeed!

Serves 12


180g (6½ oz) self-raising flour

½ tsp bicarbonate of soda

1 tsp ground cinnamon

½ tsp freshly grated nutmeg

½ tsp mixed spice

2 eggs

120 ml vegetable or sunflower oil

175g (6 oz) soft light or dark brown sugar

225g grated carrots

100g (4 oz) sultanas

Butter cream icing
75g (3 oz) softened butter

125g (4½ oz) icing sugar

½ tsp vanilla extract

A few tbsp milk
You will need a 13cm x 23cm (5 in x 9 in) loaf tin, oil and line the loaf tin with greaseproof paper.
Preheat the oven to 150°C/300°F/Gas mark 2. Sift all the dry ingredients into a bowl and leave aside. Beat the eggs in a large bowl, now add the oil, brown sugar, grated carrot and sultanas. Stir in all sifted dry ingredients and bring the mixture together with a wooden spoon. Turn into the prepared tin, smooth the top of the mixture and bake in the oven for 1 – 1¼ hours – middle shelf or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Allow to cool in the tin for 10 minutes before turning out on a wire rack to cool completely.

To make The Buttercream frosting:

Beat the butter in a bowl until smooth; add the vanilla extract, slowly add the icing sugar and add a little milk to make a smooth icing. Using a palette knife, spread the frosting evenly over the top of the cooled cake. Served cut into slices.

Friday, 23 April 2010

Rolo Brownies

I’ve never tried baking brownies before and have read various recipes some of which use cocoa only and other made with chocolate. I usually prefer milk chocolate so used this for the brownies but I think if I was to make these again I’d try dark to give a richer taste.

My mum enjoyed these brownies hot with melted Nutella and ice cream while I think they tasted better the next day when they were more firm. Either way I think they turned out pretty well for my first attempt at brownies!
I’ll definitely be trying more traybakes in the future!

Rolo Brownies (makes 12)

150g (5oz) luxury Belgian plain chocolate (I used green and blacks milk and Cadburys but next time would try a dark chocolate)
110g (4oz) unsalted butter
225g (8oz) caster sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
3 large eggs
75g (30z) plain flour
1 level teaspoon baking powder
12 rolos / slices of mini chocolate bars or Mars celebrations*

A baking tin – roughly 25.5 x 16 x 2.5cm (10 x 6 ½ x 1in), greased and lined with greaseproof paper

Preheat the oven to 170ºC, 325ºF.
Melt the chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water. Remove from the heat and stir until smooth. Allow to cool slightly.
Whisk the sugar, vanilla and the eggs until combined, add the melted chocolate and butter mixture and mix until smooth.

Sift over the flour, baking powder and stir to combine.
Pour into the prepared tin and smooth the surface. Place the Rolos/ chocolate pieces at even intervals in the batter so that when you cut each brownies will contain a piece. Bake on the middle shelf of the oven for 30 – 40 minutes or until a skewer comes out with a moist crumb. Cool then cut into 12 pieces.

* I used a combination of Rolos and slices of Mars Bar. I actually placed half the mixture in the tin then added the chocolates then topped with remaining mixture. The Rolos seemed to sink slightly to the bottom of the brownies and a few of the Mars ones sank.

Product Review - Milka Daim

Milka Daim - 45g , 240 cals per bar

Apparently this bar has been around for a while in the 100g format but has just hit the shelves in the new 45g format. On first looks this appears quite a substantial bar and when opening you get the lovely sweet smell of milka chocolate which is broken into 6 chunks. The chunks are a lot deeper than those from the 100g bar format and the crunchy sweet daim complements the milka chocolate brillantly. Each bite was very satisfying – a definite must try for milka and daim fans.

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Dorset Cereals Chocolate Granola with Macademia Nuts

Calories – 263 per 40g serving with 125ml milk

Being a huge cereal lover I’m not sure why I’ve not tried a lot of the Dorset cereals. I think the main reason is that a lot of them tend to have nuts in the cereal mix which I’m not totally keen on unless they can’t be detected in the taste.

I do however like my granolas and the idea of a chocolate version sounded pretty delicious and reminded me that I must get back to eating one of my old breakfast cereal favourites – The Marks and Spencer Triple Chocolate Crunch.
Anyway, I couldn’t track down the Dorset granola in any of my local supermarkets but with a bit of luck I won a competition from Dorset which included 3 boxes of each of the chocolate & macadamia nuts and the chocolate with coconut version.

The chocolate taste from this Granola is pretty intense and this is no surprise given that it uses dark chocolate along with oats, sunflower seeds and barley flakes. It’s really very good although for my liking there was slightly too many nuts (although I did manage to pick some of the larger pieces out). I did find it a little heavy going though and thought that it tasted best when mixed with other slightly lighter cereals. Its also pretty high in calories and tastes almost dessert like but overall I’d say this is a pretty tasty breakfast option.

Monday, 19 April 2010

Sultana Fruit Cake recipe

This recipe was my first attempt at making a fruit cake in my newly purchased loaf pan. It’s really easy to make and turned pretty good. My gran loved it and it also freezes really well once cooled. It actually tastes better a few days later and becomes easier to slice.

1 egg
1 cup of sugar (light brown used about 150g)
1 cup of water (about 210ml)
2 cups of sultanas (200g)

2 cups of self raising flour (just less than this about 200g)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ginger
1 teaspoon mixed spice
½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

½ teaspoon baking powder

3 oz butter/margarine

Preheat oven to 160 degrees – lightly grease the loaf tin with butter or low fat spray.
In a large saucepan bring to the boil over a medium heat the sultanas, water, sugar, butter and spices. This should take about 5 minutes until bubbling.
Leave to cool until lukewarm then add the lightly beaten egg, bicarbonate of soda, baking powder and flour.

Mix well then add to prepared loaf pan. Bake in the oven for 45 – 60 minutes or until a skewer/ knife comes out clean (probably takes about 50 minutes).Cover and store for a few days before serving – wrap in foil or airtight container.
Can also be served with butter, jam or Nutella – Yum ! Yum !

Please bear with me on the photograph front  - I'm going to try learn how to take better photos!

Sunday, 18 April 2010


Hello and welcome my first official post. Let me introduce myself - I'm a 20 something living in Scotland.
Over the last few years I've become a bit obsessed with reading other peoples blogs and have finally got round to starting my own.
I've always been a pretty creative person and have my own website where you can view my handmade cards / work.  I'm a keen vegetarian and have recently become something of an amateur baker and hope to share my efforts with you as I try new technques and ideas. I also love finding new products and hope to share my views. A bit of a dreamer I hope to one day have my own business - perhaps a small cafe with homebaking which sells handmade gifts.
I welcome all comments and look forward to joining the blogging community.