25 August 2014

Chocolate Tart

Well it looks like we're having another dreary bank holiday weekend. I spent the first two days in Norfolk watching my good friend Ross Woodhouse (expect big things from this guy) sing at a festival, followed by his excellent Disney cover band, Club 33, the day after. Though I have to admit that the weather included sunny spells (without summery temperatures) on Sunday, I could have done without the frequent cloudbursts on Saturday. Let's not even mention the awful rain we've had today.

To cheer you up, today I'm bringing you a very tasty chocolate tart. I've been teasing this for quite a while on my Facebook page, so if you've been waiting on tenterhooks you can finally relax. I took a bit longer than I should have with this post because I didn't really have a lot to say, and wasn't in the mood to ramble (though I appear to have risen to the challenge this afternoon!)

This tart came about because I had serious chocolate cravings. I'm not usually a pastry girl, but I used a recipe I've used in the past and had forgotten how surprisingly easy shortcrust is to make, especially with the help of a food processor. Ever trying to cut back on fat, I used 0% fat Greek yoghurt instead of the more traditional double cream.

I wasn't thinking when I made the filling and added fridge-cold Greek yogurt to warm melted chocolate, causing the filling to seize up a bit and set prematurely, hence the rugged look. The tart tasted as I would have hoped, however: chocolatey, rich and there was an added tang from the Greek yoghurt. I'd definitely recommend giving this a try for an afternoon coffee accompaniment.



  • 125g Plain Flour
  • 55g Salted Butter
  • 15g Caster Sugar
  • 15mL Cold Water
  • 15mL Whisky
  • 200g Dark Chocolate
  • 150g Milk Chocolate
  • 120g 0% Fat Greek Yoghurt
  • To make the pastry, either a) throw all the ingredients into a food processor and pulse until they start to clump together; dump onto a floured surface and use hands to bring the dough together or b) use your fingers to rub the flour, butter and sugar together to form a mixture resembling breadcrumbs; stir in the water and whisky and use hands to bring the dough together.
  • Wrap the dough in cling film and place in the fridge for 30 mins to allow it to rest.
  • Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 180C/160C fan and line a 23cm greased cake tin with parchment paper.
  • Bring the dough out of the fridge, take the cling film off and place the dough on a floured surface.
  • Use a rolling pin to roll the dough so that it is just wider than the cake tin and about 1/2 cm thick.
  • Use the rolling pin to help pick the dough up and place it inside the tin. Use your fingers to push it into shape and cut any excess off the top with a sharp knife. Prick the pastry all over.
  • Bake the pastry in the oven for 15 mins, or until it has turned golden. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
  • Make the filling by breaking the chocolate up and placing it in a microwave proof bowl. Heat it at 30 second intervals until melted.
  • Allow the chocolate to cool (this is important, otherwise the mixture will seize up), then stir in the Greek yoghurt. 
  • Pour the filling into the middle of the pastry and allow to set before serving. 

I'm entering this into Baking With Spirit, my monthly challenge which is centred around baking with alcohol. This month I have let you all go mad and do what you please, and you have until the 28th to get your entries in.

I'm also entering this into Lucy's #CookBlogShare link up over at Supergolden Bakes.

                              HOME OF

13 August 2014

Wild Cherry Cake

My Dad recently was courageous enough to drive for five hours just to see his beloved eldest daughter (me). We tend to do a bit of exploration of the local area when he comes to visit, since I've only lived here for a year and he had never been until he came to see me here for the first time. This time we decided to go and explore the Sandringham estate and Hunstanton (one of the closest beaches), hoping that the forecast rain would not materialise.

Sandringham, for those who don't know, is an estate owned by the Royal family and advertised as "the Norfolk retreat of HM The Queen". One of the things I like most about the scenery is that the backdrop to the estate is a large pine forest. A while ago I wouldn't have thought much of this, but in the depths of Cambridgeshire where farmland and irrigation dominate the landscape, trees are hard to come by and it is rather refreshing to be surrounded by forest.

To be honest, we didn't spend a lot of time at Sandringham and didn't go into the official estate and gardens because of the eye-wateringly high entry fees. Instead, we drove to the coast. I'd not been to the seaside in the UK for well over a year, so despite the ominous dark clouds and high winds it was refreshing to see the North Sea and inhale the salty-seaweed smell that you only find on the beach. We were only on the beach for five minutes before we were treated to a heavy downpour and an unwanted shower. We quickly retreated back to the car before driving further inland, away from the rain.

Towards the end of the day I suggested we go and pick some blackberries. I had been really surprised to find ripe berries in July, but nobody at work was very surprised so it must be common in East Anglia; in Devon, where I grew up, we were lucky to see them before September. On the way to my blackberry spot we were treated to another downpour and headed to some trees for shelter. As we got closer I noticed some fruit hanging from the nearest tree, and as we looked more closely we saw we were surrounded by trees laden with fruit.

We weren't entirely clear on the exact species of fruit we were picking/eating, but we identified several types of plum and some wild cherries that were a yellow-red colour. I was especially excited to find the cherries because they are so expensive to buy, and here they were, practically on my doorstep, for free. We took as much as we could, and the next day I came back for more. The plums were on the small side so when it came to dividing up the species it was tricky at times to decide if they were plums or cherries, but I don't think it really matters too much.

I'm pretty pleased with this cake, and have naturally found excuses to eat it for breakfast as well as at other times of day. You can of course use store-bought cherries, or even another stone fruit if it suits you better. Hulling the cherries was rather laborious, but unless you enjoy risking your teeth with every mouthful I can't see another way around it. If you don't fancy the whisky, just leave it out.


  • 300g Cherries
  • 200g Plain Flour
  • 200g Caster Sugar
  • 2 Tbsp Baking Powder
  • 200g Butter
  • 3 Eggs
  • 50mL Whisky
  • Preheat the oven to 180C/160C fan and line a springform tin with baking parchment.
  • Hull and halve the cherries. You can drain any excess juice and add it with the whisky at the end of the recipe, if you like.
  • Put the cherries in a mixing bowl and stir in the flour, making sure all the cherries are covered.
  • Add the caster sugar and baking powder and stir well.
  • Melt the butter in a saucepan over a low heat, then pour into the cherry mixture.
  • Add the eggs to the mixture, followed by the whisky.
  • Use a spoon to break the egg yolks, then fold the ingredients together until well combined.
  • Pour the batter into the springform tin. Bake in the oven for 40 minutes, or until a skewer comes out without any batter on it and the top springs back when gently pressed down.
  • Serve warm with custard or ice cream; equally delicious served cold.
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I'm adding this to Lucy's #CookBlogShare link up at Supergolden Bakes. She writes a round up every week and has a pinterest board dedicated to entries.

9 August 2014

Baking With Spirit: August 2014

Hello, and welcome back to a Baking With Spirit that is hosted by Cake Of The Week. I hope you enjoyed the challenges hosted by The Usual Saucepans and I'd Much Rather Bake Than... and that you've found plenty of inspiration in their round ups. Many thanks to Laura and Craig for giving me a little break!

I had a pretty good idea for this month, but you may have noticed I had some technical difficulties at the start of the month and so accessing and getting around the blog was harder than normal. Because of that, I waited a few extra days to post the challenge to ensure maximum accessibility, but it does mean that you all have less time to come up with an idea. I'm sorry it took so long to get this up.

My solution is to hold off with my idea until next month, and in the mean time the challenge is to just go crazy and do whatever you want, as long as you're doing something with alcohol. If you want to make a cocktail that's cool, or if you want to go down our more traditional baking route, that's cool too.

Don't forget to spread the word about the challenge; it's only still going because of the entries it receives! 

If you want a chance to host Baking With Spirit, don't hesitate to get in touch.

Here are the rules:
  1. Make something where the recipe includes alcohol
  2. Write a post about it and include a link to this page and Cake Of The Week.
  3. Email me at cakeoftheweek@hotmail.co.uk
  4. Deadline is midnight BST on the 28th August

20 July 2014

Summer Punch Jelly Cheesecake

Would you believe that I've been living in Cambridgeshire for a year now? That's a year in which I have come to understand what a Fen is, why Ely has its name and what a Fenland Tiger is. A year in which I have got so used to being surrounded by fields and being able to see for miles because the landscape is just so flat that forestry is a novelty and hills are way more challenging than they should be.

My life is very different to when I was a student (when I moved down here I had just graduated from Newcastle University) - not just because I actually have money now. I simultaneously have more time than before and also have less time for baking than when I was a student. I'm not going home to study and my free time is my time, which is really nice; it also means that I have more time to socialise, and I'm finding that I have less and less time where I have the time and energy to make dramatic cakes like this Eight Layer Kahlua Cake, or even the less dramatic Vodka Rainbow Cake.

Fortunately, this Summer Punch Jelly Cheesecake didn't take longer than 15 minutes to put together. I made it for this month's Baking With Spirit challenge, alcohol for parties. Laura at I'd Much Rather Bake Than... is kindly giving me a break and guest hosting this month. You've still got eight days to enter, so why not have a go?

So what does this dessert consist of? I based it off a drink I invented for myself using Pineapple & Coconut juice (easy to find at the supermarket), Malibu and some orange liqueur which I obtained from the duty free on a recent holiday to Spain. I think peach schnapps would make a fine replacement for the orange liqueur, on the probable chance that you don't have any knocking about in your cupboard.

I used the juice as a base for the jelly, and added orange liqueur and gelatine to make it set. I then added the liqueur and Malibu to the cheesecake part. You'll notice that there isn't a base on here; this is entirely aesthetic as I prefer not to eat the base, but if you can't go without you can use the base in the recipe here.

Makes 6-7 Tumblers

  • 520mL Pineapple & Coconut Juice
  • 4 Leaves Gelatine
  • 75mL Orange Liqueur/Peach Schnapps
  • 25mL Malibu
  • 600g Philadelphia Cheese
  • 1 Tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 150g Caster Sugar
  • Prepare the gelatine as per the maufacturer's instructions.
  • Pour the juice and 50mL of the orange liqueur/peach schnapps into a saucepan and heat on low until hot, but not boiling.
  • Stir in the gelatine, then continue to stir the mixture for 2 minutes. 
  • Remove from the heat and leave to one side to cool.
  • Put the Philadelphia cheese, Malibu, vanilla extract, caster sugar and the remainder of the orange liqueur/peach schnapps into a mixing bowl. Stir until well combined.
  • Divide the Philadelphia mixture between six or seven tumblers, then gently pour some of the juice mixture on top - try not to let the pressure from the juice falling onto the cheese mixture disrupt the layers.
  • Place the tumblers in the fridge for at least four hours until the jelly has set, then decorate however you wish. Sprinkles and whipped cream, perhaps?

12 July 2014

Stem Ginger & Banana Muffins

I recently made two fatal errors. The first was buying more bananas than I was going to eat. The second was throwing the bananas into the same cupboard as some more, already over-ripe, bananas. Bananas release a ripening chemical into the air as it is, so putting these two bunches together quickly led to some rather black bananas. 

What to do with these over-ripe bananas? I've already made Chocolate & Banana Loaf Cake, Peanut Butter, Banana & Chocolate Cake  and a Totally Bananas Banana Cake; maybe it was time to try something different. For some reason I was drawn to the concept of ginger and banana, and so the concept for these Stem Ginger & Banana Muffins was born.

Right at the back of my baking cupboard was a jar of stem ginger in syrup, so I used what was left in these muffins. As always, this recipe was a but ad-hoc but the results were spectacular. The muffins tasted of fiery ginger and toffee-banana, and were very moist. I brought them into work so I wouldn't have to eat them all, and they went down very well.

Makes 24

  • 225g Plain Flour
  • 2 Tsp Baking Powder
  • 150g Caster Sugar
  • 75g Dark Muscovado Sugar
  • 2 Ripe Bananas
  • 1/2 Jar Stem Ginger + Syrup
  • 350mL Milk
  • 225g Butter
  • 2 Eggs
  • Preheat the oven to 200C/180C fan and line a muffin tin with muffin cases.
  • Sift the flour into a mixing bowl and stir in the caster sugar, muscovado sugar and baking powder.
  • Roughly chop the bananas and stem ginger, then stir into the flour mixture.
  • Melt the butter over a low heat, then remove from the heat.
  • Make a well in the flour mixture, then pour in the melted butter, followed by the stem ginger syrup, the milk and the eggs.
  • Gently stir until the mixture is just combined. Overmixing will lead to tougher muffins.
  • Divide the mixture between the muffin cases, then bake for 20 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.

I'm adding this to Cook Blog Share, a round up of recent recipe posts hosted by Lucy at Supergolden Bakes.
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