Wednesday 20 August 2014

Florentines (Great British Bake Off)

As I said with the previous post, I am making some of the technical challenges from BBC's Great British Bake Off.

This week the challenge was to make Florentines - Italian, nutty, caramel biscuits covered on one side in chocolate.

To watch a  video of me making the Florentines, please click on the video below:

Equipment required:
heavy bottom pan
3 baking trays
greaseproof paper

The recipe:
50g (1 3/4 oz) unsalted butter
50g (1 3/4 oz) demerara sugar
50g (1 3/4 oz) golden syrup
50g (1 3/4 oz) plain flour
25g (1 oz) dried cranberries, finely chopped
50g (1 3/4 oz) candied peel, finely chopped
25g (1 oz) almonds, finely chopped
25g (1 oz) walnuts, finely chopped
200g (7oz) plain chocolate

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees centigrade (350 fahrenheit or gas mark 4). Brush melted butter over the baking trays and line with greaseproof paper.

Put the butter, sugar and golden syrup in a heavy based pan and slowly melt on the hob.  Once melted, remove from the heat and add in all other ingredients (other than the chocolate) and stir well.

This should make 18 florentines so spoon a teaspoon of mixture on to the baking trays leaving plenty of room between each one (6 per tray).

Bake for around 8-10 minutes until golden-brown. Be careful as they go from cooked to burnt quickly!  Leave to cool for a few minutes on the tray and then move to a wire rack.

Melt the chocolate in a bowl over simmering water.  Ideally melt half of the chocolate to 53 degrees centigrade (127 Fahrenheit) and then add in the rest of the chocolate finely chopped and keep stirring until the chocolate gets to 26 degrees centigrade (79 Fahrenheit).  This is temper the chocolate and should give a shiny finish and help the chocolate set properly.  Spread chocolate on the base of the florentine and then when cooled a little use a fork to create a wavy pattern. Leave to set.

Sunday 10 August 2014

Iced Cherry Cake (as seen on Great British Bake Off)

If you live in the UK I am sure you are watching the new series of the BBC's Great British Bake Off. Each week they have a technical challenge and so I have decided to make these myself and video it and give you the recipe used on the show.

The first challenge was to make a cherry cake with lemon icing.  This is fairly straightforward cake but using a savarin mould and then adding lemon icing and decorating with cherries and almonds makes it looks great.

To watch a  video of me making the cherry cake, please click on the video below:

Equipment required:
Large mixing bowl
23cm/9inch savarin mould tin
Electric mixer

The recipe :
Cherry Cake
200g (7oz) glace cherries
225g (8oz) self-raising flour
175g (6oz) softened butter
175g (6oz) caster sugar
1 lemon - zest only
50g (1 3/4 oz) ground almonds
3 eggs

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees centigrade (350 fahrenheit or gas mark 4). Brush melted butter over the savarin mould.

Cut the cherries into halves or quarters and then put in a sieve and rinse under running water.  Drain well and then dry using kitchen roll and then toss in two tablespoons of flour.

Put all other ingredients in a bowl and mix well with an electric mixer (or by hand). Fold in the cherries.  Spoon into the tin and spread evenly.

Bake for around 35 minutes until golden-brown and a cake tester comes out clean.  Leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes and the turn out onto a wire rack. Do not ice until completely cool.

175g (6oz) icing sugar
juice of one lemon
15g flaked almonds
5 glace cherries

Lightly toast the almonds in a pan until lightly brown (be careful they don't burn) and set aside. Cut the cherries in half.  To make the icing mix the icing sugar with some of the lemon juice - adding a bit at a time until the icing gets to a nice thick consistency.  Drizzle thickly over the cake and decorate with the almonds and cherries.

Tuesday 17 June 2014

Banana Bread - with chocolate

Having just come back from a trip to Australia I was surprised how popular banana bread was.  It is eaten a lot for breakfast and all coffee shops and cafes have banana bread on the menu. So on my return I decided to try and make it myself and have created a version with chocolate in also.

To watch a  video of me making the swiss roll please click on the video below:

2 large mixing bowls
Electric mixer
Loaf tin 22cm X 12cm  (approx 8 1/2 inches X 4 1/2 inches) lined with greaseproof paper

Banana Bread
150g  (5 1/2 ounces) brown sugar
250g (9 ounces) plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
2 eggs
3 very ripe bananas
100g (3 1/2 ounces) dark chocolate chopped into small chunks
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
100g (3 1/2 ounces) melted unsalted butter

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees centigrade (350 fahrenheit or gas mark 4). Brush melted butter over the loaf tin and then line with greaseproof paper ensuring that it comes up the side also.  Brush further melted butter on the greaseproof paper.

Sieve the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and cinnamon into a large bowl and stir in the sugar.  In a separate bowl mash the bananas and the mix in the eggs (lightly beat them first), the melted butter and the vanilla essence.

Make a well in the dry ingredients and add in the banana mixture and fold together.  Once it is partly mixed add in the chocolate chunks and continue folding.  Once everything is mixed together pour the mixture into the lined tin.  The batter will be thick.

Bake in the oven for approximately one hour until it is brown and a cake tester comes out clean.

Leave it to cool in the tin for around ten minutes and then turn out onto a wire rack.

It is very nice to have a slice warm from the oven!

If you are a nut fan then you could add some walnuts instead of the chocolate or have some of both in.

Sunday 4 August 2013

Swiss roll

It appears that the swiss roll does not have its origins in Switzerland although it is thought to have have come from Europe.  Also known as a 'jelly roll' it is a fatless sponge filled with jam and sometimes cream and rolled.  In fact it could be filled with a whole number of fillings such as jam, fresh cream, buttercream, lemon curd or chocolate buttercream.  In the recipe below I make a simple jam swiss roll.

To watch a  video of me making the swiss roll please click on the video below:

Large mixing bowl
Electric mixer
Swiss roll tin 25cm X 38cm (approx 10 inches by 15 inches)
Greaseproof paper

Swiss roll
125g (4 1/2 oz) caster sugar
4 eggs
125g (4 1/2 oz) plain flour
2 tablespoons warm water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 tablespoons raspberry jam

Preheat the oven to 190 degrees centigrade (375 fahrenheit or gas mark 5). Brush melted butter over the swiss roll tin.  Then put greaseproof paper in the tin ensuring that it comes up the side also.  Brush further melted butter on the greaseproof paper.

Beat together the eggs and the sugar for a few minutes until it has more than doubled in volume and is very fluffy.  Then add in the warm water and vanilla essence and stir in.  Sift half of the plain flour in to the batter and carefully fold in.  Add the remaining flour and fold in ensuring all the flour is well mixed in.

Pour into the tin ensuring the whole tin is covered but be careful not to use too pressure on the batter as you need to keep the air in the sponge.  Bake in the oven for 12-15 minutes until the sponge is springy and starting to brown.

While it is cooking cut a large piece of greaseproof paper (bigger than the swiss roll tin) and spread with caster sugar.  Also put a  clean tea towel under the tap and then wring out so it is damp still.

When the swiss roll is cooked turn it out onto the sugared greaseproof paper and carefully remove the greaseproof paper from the base of the swiss roll.  Place the damp tea towel over the sponge and leave to cool for 30 minutes.  This will help the sponge stay flexible for rolling.

When cool, spread around 4 tablespoons of jam on the sponge.  The thickness is a little thicker than you may have on toast.  Ensure the jam goes right to the edge of the sponge.  Then start rolling the swiss roll. For the first roll make it nice and neat and keep the greaseproof paper on to start with. Then peel back the paper and continue rolling the sponge. Don't worry if there is the occasional crack but keep rolling.  Using a sharp knife cut the ends off and you will be left with a nice neat swiss roll.

You could also add buttercream as well and you can see my recipe for buttercream I use for a Victoria Sponge here - be careful not to spread it too thick however.

Sunday 12 May 2013

Carrot cake with maple buttercream

I have previously posted a carrot cake recipe but came across this one recently and tried it with a maple syrup buttercream which I think worked really well so decided to post the new recipe and video.

The history of carrot cake dates back to the medieval period - from the 5th century to the 15th century. Carrots were used as a sweetener because other sweeteners were scarce at this time. According to, carrots contains more sugar than any other vegetables. Originally carrot puddings were more made but from the 1900's the concept of the carrot cake became more popular. During the Second World War when sugar was rationed the carrot cake grew in popularity. It was not until the 1960's that they became commonplace in the United States. Nowadays they are in all coffee shops and cafes.

To watch a  video of me making the cake please click on the video below:

Large mixing bowl
Electric mixer
Measuring jug
square cake tin 8" by 8"

Carrot cake
150g (5 1/4 oz) dark muscavado sugar
175ml (6 fl oz) vegetable oil/sunflower oil
3 eggs
175g (6 oz) self raising flour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
175g (6 oz) grated carrots
100g (3 1/2 oz) sultanas

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees centigrade (350 fahrenheit or gas mark 4). First beat together the oil, eggs, sugar and beat well until all mixed. Add in the carrot and sultanas and mix together.  Then add in the sieved flour, bicarbonate of soda, cinnamon and nutmeg and mix together.

Pour the mixture into the baking tin. Bake in the centre of the oven (with the oven on a regular (not fan) setting) for about 40 to 45 minutes. Once cooked the cake should feel springy to the touch and a cake tester or tooth pick should come out clean. Allow to cool for about 10 minutes in the tray and then cool on a wire rack. Leave to cool completely before adding the buttercream topping.

Maple buttercream frosting - see alternative cream cheese version below

350g (12 1/4 oz) icing sugar
175g (6oz) softened unsalted butter
3 tbsp maple syrup

 Cream cheese alternative

350g (12 1/4 oz) icing sugar
100g (3 1/2 oz) cream cheese
75g (2 1/2 oz) softened unsalted butter
3 tbsp maple syrup

Sieve the icing sugar and beat in the butter (and cream cheese) and maple syrup with an electric beater (starting very slowly).  It should be smooth and thick and creamy.

Using a palette knife spread the frosting over top of the cake. It should be a generous thick frosting making sure you spread it right to the edge of the cake.

Cut into squares.

Sunday 20 January 2013

Chocolate Victoria Sponge

Following several email requests for a basic chocolate cake, I have modified my Victoria Sponge recipe to create a light chocolate cake with chocolate buttercream.

To watch a video of this cake being made please click on the image below:

Victoria Sponge Ingredients 
285g butter or margarine (at room temperature)
285g caster sugar
240g self-raising flour
45g cocoa
2 teaspoons (12.5ml) baking powder
5 Eggs

Buttercream Ingredients 
150g softened butter
300g icing sugar
40g cocoa
3 tablespoons (45ml) warm water

Equipment required 
2 greased 8-inch (20cm) sandwich tins
Large mixing bowl
Electric whisk

This cake uses the all in-in-one method so first sieve the flour, cocoa and baking powder into a large bowl and then add all the other ingredients into the bowl.  Using an electric whisk beat the ingredients together, starting slowly then on medium speed until you get a smooth, creamy consistency.  Ensure it is all mixed together.

Divide the mixture between the two sandwich tins and bake at 180 degrees centigrade (350 degrees fahrenheit) for 30-40 minutes. The cake should be springy to the touch.  When cooked leave to cool for a few minutes and then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Once the cakes are cool make the buttercream - first soften the butter by beating slowly and then gradually add the sieved icing sugar and cocoa and the water.  Slowly beat together until smooth.  If the buttercream is still thick then add a little more water.

Spread the buttercream on one half of the sponge and sandwich together. Sieve icing sugar and cocoa on top

Sunday 4 November 2012

Mini Victoria Sponges

The Victoria Sponge recipe on my blog has been the most popular entry and so I thought i would share this recipe for mini versions of them. It makes a great change from cupcakes and everyone gets their own individual cake! In the 'Equipment required' section below I have also given a link to get the cake tin I used which is perfect for these.

Mini Victoria Sponges
Mini Victoria Sponges

Mini Victoria Sponges
Mini Victoria Sponges
Mini Victoria Sponges
Mini Victoria Sponges
Watch a video of how to make Mini Victoria Sponges:

Sponge Ingredients
180g self raising flour
180g unsalted butter (at room temperature)
180g caster sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
pinch salt 
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Equipment required
Large mixing bowl
Electric whisk
Deep bun tin (this one from Lakeland is perfect)

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees centigrade on a conventional setting (170 fan)(350 fahrenheit or gas mark 4).  First cream together the butter and sugar until light and creamy.  Then add the eggs one at a time and add a small amount of flour with the last egg to stop the mixture from curdling.  Add the vanilla extract and stir in.  Once all mixed, add the rest of the flour with the baking powder and salt (sieved) and fold in.

Put the mixture into the tin and fill about three-quarters full and bake for about 12-15 minutes. Leave them in the tin to cool and then take them out and put them on a wire rack to completely cool.

Buttercream filling
150g unsalted butter (at room temperature) 
300g icing sugar 
1 teaspoon valilla extract

Plus strawberry jam

Soften the butter first and then add the sifted icing sugar and vanilla essence and mix together slowly until fully mixed and creamy.

With the jam mix it in a bowl first to soften it to make it easier to spread.

Once the cakes are cooled cut them in half and spread jam on the top of the bottom sponge and some buttercream on the bottom of the top one and sandwich together. Sprinkle the top with icing sugar.

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