21 October 2014

White Chocolate Chip Biscuits


It feels like I lost my baking mojo for a while. Posts became less frequent and I stopped baking every week. This was partly because I was busy doing other things, and partly because I just didn't feel like cultivating my baking hobby.

Baking the Happy Cake has reignited my love of baking, and has reminded me that the time consuming bakes are often the most enjoyable (see my Eight Layer Kahlua Cake). Baking also feels quite therapeutic (as long as everything is going to plan...); recently it has helped me get back into my groove after feeling adrift - in several areas of my life - for some months now.



I chose to make these biscuits because cutting shapes out of dough is fun. I have a dinosaur cutter from some PiƱata Biscuits I made a few years back, so I made a few dinosaurs as well as some more traditional circles. I adapted my recipe for Cinnamon Biscuits, and aside from the obvious I substituted some whisky as the liquid because I wanted the subtle background flavour that it passes on so well in baking.

Makes 20 Circles/Approx. 10 Dinosaurs
Ingredients

  • 175g Plain Flour
  • 80g Butter
  • 100g Caster Sugar
  • 100g White Chocolate
  • 1 Egg Yolk
  • 3 Tbsp Whisky
Recipe

  • Preheat the oven to 180C/165C fan and line two baking trays with baking parchment.
  • Dump the flour, butter and caster sugar in a bowl.
  • Rub the ingredients together with the tips of your fingers until all the ingredients have combined to produce a mixture that resembles breadcrumbs.
  • Finely chop the chocolate and stir it into the mixture.
  • Stir in the egg yolk and whisky, then push the mixture together to form a dough.
  • Wrap in cling film and leave to rest in the fridge for 30 mins.
  • Roll out the dough on a floured surface to 1cm thickness, or as thin as the chocolate will allow.
  • Cut out pieces of dough using cookie cutters (I used a 1.5in diameter shot glass to cut the circles), rolling out the waste cuttings until all of the dough has been shaped. 
  • Place the pieces of dough onto the baking trays, placed evenly apart.
  • Cover with cling film and refrigerate for another 30 mins (this ensures that the biscuits keep their shape).
  • Remove the cling film and bake the biscuits for 12-15 minutes, or until they start to turn gold. They won't harden until they have cooled outside the oven!
  • Cool on a wire rack.
                              

Laura at I'd Much Rather Bake Than... holds the monthly Biscuit Barrel Challenge. This month the challenge is to bake some comfort food, as long as it fits into a biscuit barrel. I'm entering these biscuits as they are comforting to me for the reasons mentioned above, and because who doesn't love chocolate chip cookies?!

11 October 2014

Caramel Apple Crumble


Long-time readers of Cake Of The Week may remember my quest to recreate a Caramel Apple pie that used to be served in a childhood local cafe. Of course the flavours may have been romanticised over time, but I'm pretty sure I've finally got it right.

This post was going to be where I showed it to you, but I ate the original without photographing it and, when I came to making it again, I decided I was more in the mood for crumble than for pie.


Apples are briefly cooked with dark muscovado sugar, then tossed in flour and covered with crumble mix. The dish is baked before being smothered in caramel. Simple, but very effective; it certainly hits the spot on cold autumn evenings.

If you're nervous about making caramel, check out this comprehensive guide from Completely Delicious, complete with step-by-step photos.

Ingredients

For the apple crumble
  • 1kg Apples
  • 150g Dark Muscovado Sugar
  • 100g Caster Sugar
  • 100g Butter
  • 200g + 2 Tbsp Plain Flour
For the caramel
  • 150g Caster Sugar
  • 50g Butter
  • 100mL Double Cream
Recipe

  • Preheat the oven to 200C.
  • Core and slice the apples (peel if desired).
  • Place the apple slices in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over a low heat, and stir in the dark muscovado sugar. Cover with a lid.
  • Stir occasionally until the apples are soft, then remove from the heat and transfer to an oven proof dish.
  • Meanwhile, make the crumble mix by placing all of the remaining crumble ingredients into a mixing bowl and rubbing them together with the tips of the fingers until they resemble breadcrumbs.
  • Cover the apples with the crumble mix, then bake in the oven for 20-30 minutes, or until the crumble has browned slightly.
  • While the crumble bakes, make the caramel. Place the caster sugar into a heavy-bottomed saucepan and cover with water.
  • Heat the sugar on a low heat until the water has evaporated and the sugar is golden brown.
  • Remove the caramel from the heat and immediately beat in the butter, followed by the cream.
  • Allow to cool slightly before pouring over the crumble.
  • When the crumble has cooled completely, it is best stored in the fridge. 
  • Serve with custard or a scoop of vanilla ice cream.



I'm linking this up to Mila's Big Autumn Bash link party - all things autumn are welcome!

5 October 2014

Happy Cake


As long-time readers may remember, I only moved to Cambridgeshire just over a year ago. I didn't know anyone in my local area and had to make friends from scratch. Luckily, my workplace was full of friendly people in my age group, so I quickly built up a circle of friends.

[Sidebar: how does one make new friends as an adult, apart from at work? In a world that is increasingly unsociable unless communication involves an app, where can I find the group of kooky friends that countless sitcoms have led me to believe I will have as an adult? I live in a hopeless area where, for example, fitness classes for the under-65s/non-pregnant don't exist, so I can't even use those as social avenues. All responses to be written on a postcard.]


Lately, however, there has been a mass exodus at work: people moving on to new jobs, new locations or just taking time out to travel. Though I'm very happy for everyone who has left, this means my local friendship circle has taken a bit of a hit. A lot of the people I knew and hung out with outside of work have moved on, and I'm feeling a bit lonely.

I don't like to sulk or mope around, so to cheer myself up I have made this cake to brighten my day. With a whisky scented funfetti (sprinkle-filled) sponge that has been soaked in strawberry jelly and topped with White Chocolate Cloud Icing (plus more sprinkles), I dare you to not be made happy when you look at this cake. If looking it doesn't make you happy, eating it certainly will.


I reckon this would not only make a good "cheer up" cake, but also a good celebration cake. Anything with sprinkles instantly spells out "celebration" to me. You could also change the jelly flavour as you please, and the whisky can either be swapped for your favourite spirit or left out entirely.

I will advise that sprinkles can be hit and miss in cake, dependent on brand. From experience I can tell you that the colour in Tesco and Morrisons own brand sprinkles degrades in the oven (i.e. disappears); Dr Oetker is normally a safe option. For any other brand, your guess is as good as mine. Try using sprinkles from two different brands in the cake just in case. Maybe use different shapes so you can see which ones work? 


We're now verging on getting too technical, so I'll hurry up and give you the recipe:

Ingredients
For the cake (inspired by Cakeyboi)
  • 200g Butter
  • 200g Caster Sugar
  • 3 Eggs
  • Excessive Amount Of Sprinkles [see note above]
  • 200g Plain Flour
  • 2 Tsp Baking Powder
  • 50mL Whisky
  • 100mL Milk
  • Strawberry Jelly (Jello) Packet
For the White Chocolate Cloud Icing (adapted from Sweetapolita)
  • 230g Butter
  • 190g Icing Sugar
  • 125g White Chocolate
Recipe
  • Preheat the oven to 200C/180C fan; line two cake tins with baking parchment.
  • Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.
  • Beat in the eggs, one at a time, until the batter is smooth.
  • Stir the sprinkles into the batter.
  • Sieve the flour and baking powder into the batter, then fold in until well combined.
  • Fold in the whisky and milk, ensuring that the batter has a soft dropping consistency.
  • Divide the mixture between the cake tins, then bake in the oven for 22 mins, or until a skewer comes out clean.
  • Make up the jelly according to the manufacturer's instructions and allow to cool. Note that you might not need all of the jelly - I had about 250mL left over so made myself a cup of jelly.
  • When the cake has had about 20 mins to cool, use the handle end of a spoon (or other piece of cutlery) to poke holes in the cake.
  • Pour the jelly mixture over the cake a little at a time until as much as possible has been absorbed.
  • Cover the cakes with cling film and put in the fridge for at least 3 hours.
  • Make the icing by first melting the white chocolate in the microwave, using 30 second bursts until smooth.
  • In a mixing bowl, whisk the butter and icing sugar together until well incorporated, then whisk for a further 2 mins.
  • Add the melted chocolate, then whisk the buttercream for another 2 minutes.
  • Decorate the cake as desired.

1 October 2014

Baking With Spirit: The October Challenge

Does the fact I initially wrote "The September Challenge" give you any idea as to how poorly I have wrapped my head around the concept that it is now October?  Maybe it's because it's the second month of Autumn and yet, despite a few leaves starting to hit the ground, the weather still feels almost summery.

Following this theme, I've decided we should get ourselves into the autumnal groove by baking something autumnal, as long as it's also spiked with alcohol. This has quite a wide scope, so I'm hoping it will be a popular month for Baking With Spirit. We shall see...

Rules:

  • Bake (or cook... or don't even heat it up... I'm not fussy) something autumnal that also contains alcohol
  • Blog about it and link back to this page, mentioning Baking With Spirit and Cake Of The Week
  • Email your entry to cakeoftheweek@hotmail.co.uk - please don't forget!
  • Tweet your entry with #bakingwithspirit and/or @cakeoftheweek for a retweet
  • The deadline is midnight on the 28th October
Have fun!

29 September 2014

Baking With Spirit: The Acquired Tastes Round Up


Did you know that I set up Baking With Spirit two years ago? No? Probably because I forgot to mention that this is your favourite boozy challenge's birthday month. Well, it is. Now go and have a boozy cake to celebrate.

Or, even more fittingly, you could bake one of these clever inventions from September's entries. I asked you all to bake something using an alcohol that you didn't always like as much as you do now - an acquired taste. I was worried this wouldn't get a lot of entries because it might require you to bake specifically for the challenge, but was pleasantly surprised. Check out the entries below:

Laura was barking right up my street with this Chunky Blackberry Hazelnut Crumble at I'd Much Rather Bake Than... She doesn't actually like alcohol at all unless it's baked into food, and says that roasting the blackberries in white wine makes them taste incredible. I might buy some white wine (a taste for which I have not yet acquired) just to try this.


Next we have a new participant in the form of Jennifer from A Girl Eats World. She baked this Bourbon Pecan Pound Cake; just writing the title is making my mouth water. I'm glad she entered because it made me discover her blog, and I hope she comes back to enter BWS again!


These Rum and Raisin Cinnamon Rolls were entered by Elizabeth at Elizabeth's Kitchen Diary. Click through to read about her lifetime of struggles, and eventual triumph, with these rolls. Elizabeth is another newbie to the challenge (I'm pretty sure, at least...) so let's welcome her along.

                      rum and raisin cinnamon rolls

Just in the nick of time I managed to enter this Ginger Beer Cake (after leaving my memory card at home during a week long holiday). I never liked beer until very recently, and the Newcastle Brown Ale I used here went down very well both in the cake and as I sipped at the leftovers.


Lucia at Tortadirose says her acquired taste is rum. She's showcasing it in this delicious looking Italian Apple Cake, which uses yoghurt and rum - a variation I might have to try.


That's it for this month! Thanks to all those who took part. Come back on Wednesday to find out what I have in store for next month's challenge.

If you're interested in taking over Baking With Spirit and hosting for a month, don't hesitate to get in touch.
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