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Archive for the ‘Cake’ Category

My Christmas Cake

This year is my second attempt at making a Christmas cake. I am not a fan of fruit cakes at all, but I made one to bring home for Christmas last year and it went down a storm. Though that could be something to do with the copious amounts of rum I dribbled into the cake during the weeks leading up to Christmas!

Unfortunately, dope that I am, I never wrote down the exact quantities of ingredients I used. I knew I based my recipe on English Mum’s personalised Christmas cake, so I started with that again, and with a bit of thinking and some consultations with those who actually ate it last year, I think I have managed to recreate it.

At least I hope so, as two extra cakes have been requested this year! I’m also going to go the whole hog and ice two of them. I’ll report back on that (scary) process closer to Christmas.

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Oh my, it’s been a while, hasn’t it? Just when I thought I had all the time in the world to make fancy cakes and write about them, my new lack of routine just threw everything askew and time just marched by. I have been baking my ass off but sadly never got round to posting about it. Things have to change around here!

First up, this great recipe for courgette and walnut cake with lime mascarpone frosting. The frosting took (a lot) of inspiration from Jamie Oliver, and is almost the best part, so creamy and lime-y, and goes so well with the rougher, crunchier texture of the cake. Just try not to eat the frosting straight from the bowl.

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Courgette Cake

This past weekend was so sunny and warm, a proper sign that summer is here. And, if we ignore the forecast for crappy rain this week and skip straight to next week’s outlook, there’s a heatwave on the way! Could it be time to dig out the dusty barbecue? Alfresco dining (with beer) is truly one of the best ways to pass a summer’s evening. And, let’s face it, we’re well overdue a good sunny spell here on the west coast! Roll on heatwave, I say. 🙂

This is a recipe I’ve had my eye on since it featured in the boards.ie Cooking Club last year. Courgettes are in season at the moment, and the supermarkets and market stalls are awash with them. Courgette cake is very similar to carrot cake in consistency and flavour. You could certainly go the whole hog and smother the courgette cake with cream cheese frosting, though you probably don’t have the “it’s got vegetables in it so it’s good for me” excuse anymore.

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Back to Basics

What has happened to the last MONTH?! I really can’t believe that it’s been that long since I last sat down to write a post here. Life has been busy. Busy busy busy. Pushing the thesis to the final stages has taken all the wind out my sails of enthusiasm (so to speak). But now I am back, fresh from a weekend of pork, cake and beer in Prague, and plan to use my increasing spare time to get back to the kitchen.  I have so many recipes piled up to try out, a pasta maker and an ice-cream maker to get into action (yes, they have been sitting in their boxes since Christmas. For shame.) and as summer is birthday season (among my friends at least) there are lots of fancy cakes on the horizon.

So it’s time to get back to basics. And what is more basically fantastic than a deliciously dark chocolate cake (with frosting to die for)? This is a Devil’s Chocolate cake, taken from Nigella’s latest book, Kitchen. It’s a great book, but my one grumble is the layout. For this recipe the ingredients are on one page and you need to use your chocolatey fingers to turn over to the next page to see the method. Annoying. But the end result makes this annoyance forgivable.

What You Need:

50g cocoa powder, sifted

100g dark muscovado sugar

250ml boiling water

125g unsalted butter

150g caster sugar

225g plain flour

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda

2 tsp vanilla extract

2 eggs

For the frosting:

125ml water

30g dark muscovado sugar

175g unsalted butter, cubed

300g best quality dark chocolate, finely chopped

Firstly, prepare your tins. Nigella recommends two 20 cm (about 8 in) sandwich tins. I used two 9 inch tins and baked the batter for a little less time. Grease the tins, and line the bottom of each tin with parchment paper. Pop on the oven to preheat at 180C.

Put the cocoa and 100g muscovado sugar into a bowl and add the boiling water. Whisk until smooth and set aside.

Cream the butter and caster sugar together until pale and fluffy. Meanwhile, stir the flour, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda together in a bowl and set aside.

Dribble the vanilla extract into the butter and sugar mixture. Then drop in one egg, immediately followed by a tablespoon of flour, then the second egg. Keep mixing, adding in the rest of the flour mix, and finally add in the cocoa mixture.

Divide between the two tins and bake for about 30 minutes, until a cake tester emerges clean and the cake is beginning to come away from the sides of the tins.  Cool in the tins, on a wire rack, for 5 – 10 minutes before turning out of the tins and leaving to cool completely.

As soon as the cakes go into the oven, get started on the frosting as it needs to sit for an hour or more before it can be used. Put the water, 30g muscovado sugar and 175g butter in a saucepan over a low heat to melt. As soon as this mixture begins to bubble, remove the pan from the heat and add the chopped chocolate, swirling the pan so that all the chocolate is hit with heat. Leave for a minute to melt before whisking until smooth and glossy. Leave for about 1 hour, whisking every now and then while the cakes cool.

By the time the cakes were cool, it was about midnight (my schedule is crazy) so I popped the still not fully cooled frosting into the fridge. If you do this don’t forget about it! After only 5 minutes in the fridge, the frosting had set considerably.

Set one of the cooled cakes, top side down, and spread with about one third of the frosting.

Place the second cake on top and cover with the remaining icing. Make it all swirly because it’s much easier than trying to get it perfectly smooth.

Eat and enjoy! The frosting is so incredibly chocolatey you will want to eat it all. Promise.

x

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It’s a cake. It’s a crumble. It’s got rhubarb in it. A cake that’s a cake and also a crumble. With rhubarb. What’s not to like?  We had our first slice served warm with custard (it seems summer happened in April and it’s back to rain and wind = custard weather), but it was just as delicious eaten cold with a cup of tea.

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Last weekend, the lovely Grace from Grace Daniels Cakes held a sugarcraft course for beginners here in Galway. I was there, I learned so much, my cake looked fabulous (see above), and I think I found myself a new hobby 🙂

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When I first spied this recipe over on englishmum.com, I knew I had to make it. I love finding alternatives to butter in cake baking, and though I had started cooking with rapeseed oil, I hadn’t yet baked with it. This cake also has ground almonds, which I love. They give a great almondy flavour which isn’t overpowering, and I find a cake stays moist for much longer with ground almonds in it. I was so impressed with this recipe that I made it again, this time adding in a few tablespoons of poppy seeds and splitting the mixture between muffin cases. Another top result.  This is a really simple batter to put together – no waiting about for butter to soften – and the most time-consuming part is zesting the lemon, which, let’s be honest, doesn’t take very long at all.

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