About my baking challenge

I discovered the joy of baking for the first time ever in 2013, shortly after my dear mum passed away from cancer. During 2014 I tried to bring these two things together in a positive way , have fun and raise some money for Ashgate Hospice in Chesterfield where my mum passed away. Throughout the year I tried out new techniques and recipes from time to time ... and then sold some of my bakes for charity in my workplace. Since then I have continued to bake with some ups and downs .. and this blog charts my baking experiences, good and bad!

Sunday, 20 April 2014

Chocolate rum Easter torte

Happy Easter everyone ... hope you are all enjoying the extended break from work.

As this is the first Easter time since I started baking, I decided to swerve Easter eggs this year and do a spot of Easter themed baking instead.  There were some fabulous-looking recipes in  last week's Mail On Sunday You magazine, so I thought I would try one ... and here it is 

Chocolate rum Easter torte

Taken from The Mail On Sunday You Magazine 13/4/2014 - recipe by Annie Bell

Serves: 6-8

For the cake:
150g dark chocloate (approx. 70% cocoa solids)
4 eggs, separated
150g golden caster sugar
150g unsalted butter, softened
25g plain flour, sifted
1 tbsp dark rum (I substituted approx. 1/2 tsp natural rum flavouring)

For the glaze:
100g dark chocloate
55ml boiling water
1 tsp dark rum (I substituted approx 1/8 tsp natural rum flavouring)

To finish: 
Easter themed edible decorations (I used micro eggs and choclate spaghetti)

1 * 20cm (8") loose bottomed cake tin (I used my Lakeland non-stick pushpan)

1. Preheat oven to 180 C/160 C fan/gas mark 4. Grease cake tin and line the base with baking parchment.
2. Gently melt the chocolate for the cake in a heatproof bowl over a pan of gently simmering water, then set aside to cool.

3. Beat the egg yolks and sugar until pale and creamy, then add the butter and continue to beat until smooth.

4. Incorporate the chocolate and then the flour and rum.

5. Whisk the egg whites in a large bowl until stiff, and fold into the chocolate mixture in two halves.

6. Pour the mixture into the prepared cake tin, and smooth the top.

7. Bake for approx 25 minutes or until risen, and a cake skewer comes out clean or with only the slightest moist crumb. Run a small palette knife around the cake and leave to cool - it will sink a little (mine didn't actually!!)

8. When cool, turn out the cake onto a plate with the base uppermost, and peel off the baking parchment.
9. melt the chocolate for the glaze, then add in 55ml of boiling water and the rum. Smooth the glaze over the top of the cake and top with edible decorations.  Leave to cool - you can refrigerate for a short while to serve chilled. Serve  with creme fraiche.

This cake was very easy, though boy did it create a lot of washing up!! Yesterday afternoon when I went out I couldn't get any Cadbury's mini eggs for love nor money, but luckily I spotted some micro eggs in my local Tesco which I think were actually a better size for topping a cake. I also decided to use a bit of stray chocolate spaghetti I had around the place to give a slightly more nest-like appearance. 

I did have to guess the amount of rum flavouring to use, but googling indicated I should use 1/9 of the amount of actual rum (ie 1 tsp flavouring for every 3 tbsp of rum). My husband said he couldn't really taste the rum, though the cake was very rich although light ... I thought it better to err on the side of caution so maybe I would use a bit more next time :-)  Eating it with a dollop of creme fraiche was definitely the way to go though ... fab treat after our Easter dinner!

I would like to enter this cake into a few baking challenges, namely ...

Cake of the Week: Baking With Spirit - Chocolate & Alcohol (my rum flavouring does contain alcohol .. it's just more concentrated and cheaper than buying a whole bottle lol!)

Simply Food - Let's Cook Sweet Treats For Easter

Calendar Cakes (April), hosted by Dollybakes -  Easter Bakes

April's Calendar Cakes Challenge - Easter Bakes
The Pink Whisk (in conjunction with Two Little Fleas) - Easter Bake & Make  (2nd entry - I'm not sure if more than 1 is allowed as I couldn't see anything bout it in the rules .. so hope this is ok!! :-) )

Easter Bakes Recipe Competition

That's all from me for today .... all caked out now so I think I will be having a little rest from baking. Til next time ...

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Charity Bake #5 - Easter chocolate cornflake nests

Hi everyone,
Well, easy peasy though these may be, I had never made Easter chocolate cornflake nests before, so as I'm very busy at work at the moment I thought they would be the perfect quick charity bake!

Easter chocolate cornflake nests

Serves: 24

450g cooking chocolate, broken into small pieces (I used a mixture of milk and dark)
125g butter
200g cornflakes
5 tbsp golden syrup
72 Cadbury's mini eggs

1. Melt the chocolate and butter gently in a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water, stirring constantly  until completely smooth.
2. Stir in the golden syrup.
3. Place the cornflakes into a large bowl and pour the chocolate over. Stir gently with a heatproof spatula or wooden spoon to combine.
4. Place paper cases into 2 muffin trays, and spoon the mixture into them, wedging 3 mini eggs into the top of each cake.
5. Place in the refrigerator to cool and set for approx 1 hour.

I googled around and found several recipes, all with slightly different proportions of cornflakes and chocolate. Most seemed to use 100g of chocolate and 75-100g of cornflakes for 12 cakes; but several commenters had said this amount of chocolate isn't enough to bind the mixture. I can't emphasize this enough .. it isn't NEARLY enough. You definitely need 200g + of chocolate for each 100g of cornflakes. that's the reason i used a mixture of milk and dark chocolate - I used up the milk choc I intended for the job, and had to pull some dark choc out of the cupboard to top it up!!

Also I used less golden syrup than some recipes which use up to 2 tbsp per 100g of chocolate!  The other thing I would say is that I used medium size cupcake cases (not the largest) and didn't overfill them but this mixture made 19 cakes.

Having said all of the above they were one of the quickest and easiest things I have made, so i hope they'll go down well with my colleagues.

I would like to enter these into a couple of Easter baking challenges as follows:

We Should Cocoa (hosted by Rachel Cotterill) - Easter

Treat Petite (hosted this month by Cakeyboi and also by The Baking Explorer) - Spring Into Easter

That's all for today. I'll be back later with a fundraising update.

Update: well these seemed to go down an Easter treat - they were soon snapped up, and when I tried one I definitely think it was worth using the extra chocolate :-)

Amount raised: £18.00

Saturday, 5 April 2014

Passion Fruit Cake at the Clandestine Cake Club

Good afternoon everyone and hope you're having a great weekend.

I was very excited on Thursday, as I attended my first ever meeting of the Clandestine Cake Club - Warrington branch. I live in Liverpool but work in Warrington, so I thought a branch which meets weekday evenings would be perfect for me to visit and unwind after a hard day's slog in the office. 

The event was held in Jenny Wren's Coffee and Ceramics - a lovely cafe and pottery studio in Stockton Heath, a pretty village area to the south of Warrington town centre.  The theme was to bake a recipe from the Clandestine Cake Club Cookbook which you have never baked before ... a theme which had apparently been requested by several members. This was easy for me as I didn't own the book .. but I quickly went out and bought it and wasn't disappointed as it contains some great recipes. (For anyone who hasn't got it, it is currently on offer for £4.99 in The Works .... alas cheaper than when I bought it two weeks ago!!)

I was a bit nervous, partly because I'm not very familiar with the area so hoped I would find both the venue and parking ok; and also because I wasn't sure whether I would know anyone and whether my cake would be up to standard given that I have still only been baking for a few months. I needn't have worried though ... I found the place ok, and everyone was very friendly. It was lovely to meet Helen Rimmer the organiser, and I also got talking to several other ladies including Julie Carney who actually has a recipe published in the book!!  There were also a couple of ladies there from my office so all in all it was a great social get together.

In my initial state of apprehension when I first entered I forgot to take any photos  of the cake table while it was still "intact", so the photos show the state of play after we had all dived in !!

There really was an amazing selection of cakes  as you can see, covering a whole spectrum of flavours. There really was something for everyone!

I made a heroic effort to sample several of them but there was such an array of delciousness that I was defeated way before I got through the whole range of cakes, even though I only took mini slices lol!

 Here is what I made ..... 

As you can see I made a passion fruit cake - and here's the recipe.

Passion Fruit Cake

Serves: the book says 8-10, but I would say 12 medium or 16 small slices.

For the cake:
225g butter, softened
225g cater sugar
2 heaped tbsp passion fruit curd (the recipe in the book contains details of how to make your own, but I have to confess I wasn't really geared up to making and storing preserves so I bought some Thursday Cottage Passion Fruit Curd from a local deli - and very nice it was too!)
4 large eggs
225g plain flour (ideally half white, half wholemeal)
1 heaped tsp baking powder
2 tbsp milk
1 tbsp lemon jiuce (I used concentrate so used 1 tsp)

For the filling and topping:
100g white chocolate
100g butter, softened
160g icing sugar
3 tbsp passion fruit curd

2 * 8" (20cm) round sandwich tins

1 Preheat the oven to 190°C / fan 170°C / Gas mark 5. Grease and line  the 2 sandwich tins.

2. Beat the sugar and butter until light and fluffy, then beat in the curd. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition, and add a tablespoon of flour with the final egg to help prevent curdling. Sift in the remaining flour and baking powder, and fold in gently until thoroughly combined. Combine the milk and lemon juice and stir into the mixture. Divide the mixture between the two tins, spreading evenly. bake for about 25 minutes until a skewer comes out clean. Leave to cool in the tin for a few minutes and then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

3. Make the icing by melting the white chocolate gently in a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of barely simmering water. Beat the butter and icing sugar for the icing together in a separate bowl until light and fluffy, then mix in the melted chocolate until well combined. Finally beat in the curd. You will need to use the icing quite quickly as it will firm up as it sets.

4. To assemble the cake, spread half the icing mixture over the top of one sponge (I actually turned it upside down to get the flat surface uppermost), then sandwich the two together and spread the remaining icing over the top.  As an optional extra I decorated the top of the finished cake with some white chocolate curls (pre-bought from Asda).

Here's the finished article ....

This cake had a really nice flavour imparted by the passion fruit curd - this recipe is a definite keeper.  I was little apprehensive as to how it would turn out, as for the first time ever I broke my eggs straight into the mixing bowl one by one (instead of whisking them first in a separate bowl) and THREE IN A ROW had double yolks - yikes!! I don't think I've ever had a double yolk egg before so that was pretty remarkable and I didn't know how much difference it would make to the finished result. 

Luckily it didn't seem to spoil things as the cake seemed to down fairly well at the CCC, my husband liked it, and when I took some leftovers to work the  next day they also got a positive response. Overall this was quite a confidence-boosting bake as it was easy to make and the results were good.

I would like to enter this cake into a couple of baking challenges ...

First of all, Love Cake (April) - Spring into Easter

I deliberately chose Passion Fruit cake for my CCC bake as it ties into Easter through the theme of Christ's Passion, rather than through the usual chocolate eggs and bunnies!.

Secondly, The Pink Whisk (in conjunction with Two Little Fleas) - Easter Bake & Make 

Easter Bakes Recipe Competition

That's all from me for now - feeling a little "caked out" right now, but I'm sure I'll soon get over that!! ;-)