23 November 2015

Baking With Spirit: Spiced Up Bread & Butter Pudding

I know, I know...  Baking With Spirit posts: they're like buses. Months go by without a single one, and then two come along in the space of a fortnight.


Alas, the Technology Saga Of 2015 continues. In my last post I mentioned that I was having a long and drawn out battle with my laptop, and I am sad to say that I lost. It just refused to start up, even after being left "starting windows" for an entire eight hour work day, and I decided that it was time to let go. I now sit typing on a brand new, begrudgingly bought, laptop.

Getting used to Windows 10 has been one thing, but discovering that my external hard drive hadn't actually backed up my data was quite another. Not being able to access the hard drive left me with no option but to deal with the actual hardware and try to extract the data somehow. If you read my previous post, you'll know this is not my forte at all. Unscrewing the base of my old laptop and revealing the motherboard was completely new territory for me, and though I know it can't possibly be damaged any further, I still handled it like one probably handles a new born child, or some delicate, very ancient china.

Of course, this foray into the unknown could all have been for nothing if the hard drive is completely dead and cannot be restored, in which case all the recent photos that I haven't put on here or Facebook are gone, as are some useful documents like a spreadsheet that I use to budget. Oh, and my collection of logos and other information that I had stored for Cake Of The Week. Wish me luck, readers!

Now you may be asking yourself what a Spiced Up Bread & Butter Pudding involves. Well, it begins with soaking goji berries in spiced rum, and ends with a warm, spiced pudding that hits just the right spot at this time of year. This is adapted from the traditional British pudding, but here we use sour dough instead of white bread, and goji berries instead of raisins and sultanas (though these are totally acceptable if that's what you have in your cupboard). If you are foreign this dish may well sound revolting, but the creamy custard mixture is absorbed by the bread (day-old, or slightly stale, is best) to produce a soft, spicy and comforting pudding. Just trust me. Would I lead you astray?


  • 100g Dried Goji Berries
  • 50mL Spiced Rum (or enough to cover the berries)
  • 300g/ Approx. 1/2 Stale Sourdough Loaf
  • 80g Caster Sugar
  • 300mL Milk
  • 200mL Double Cream
  • 3 Eggs
  • 2 Tsp Ground Cinnamon
  • 1 Tsp Ground Nutmeg
Adapted from Classic British Puddings by LOVE FOOD
  • Put the goji berries in a glass or small bowl, and cover with the spiced rum. Cover and leave at room temperature for at least 12 hours.
  • Preheat the oven to 200C/180C fan and grease a medium sized oven proof dish with butter.
  • Break the sourdough into small bite-sized pieces (tear rather than chop to get rougher edges).
  • Use a spoon to evenly disperse the goji berries and any remaining rum amongst the bread pieces.
  • Sprinkle most of the sugar over the bread, reserving a couple of tablespoons for later.
  • In a jug, mix the eggs, cream, milk, cinnamon and nutmeg until well mixed. Pour over the bread and stir it around a bit to make sure it is evenly spread.
  • Sprinkle the remaining sugar on top of the pudding.
  • Cover with cling film and allow to soak for at least 15 minutes, but a couple of hours is better.
  • Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes, until the custard has set and the pudding is starting to brown on top. Serve hot.

14 November 2015

Baking With Spirt: Tequila Sunshine Cheesecake

Have you ever seen Zoolander? Remember the bit where Hans and Zoolander try to break into the computer? That's me with hardware. Printers, hoovers, televisions... You name it, I struggle with it. Having grown up with computers (we got our first one when I was seven), software is easy for me to get to grips with but if there's an external issue I am rather challenged. Cue my laptop keyboard suddenly deciding that random keys should no longer work. With my software talent (I use this word loosely) I've ruled out any driver or virus issues, so now all that is left is the actual keyboard itself being the problem. Here my expertise ends, so for the time being I'm making do with the on-screen keyboard and using my phone for writing full on paragraphs (like here on the blog). As I write this, I am also trying to break my laptop from a cycle of blue screening on opening the desktop, so it might just be time for a new one...

I hope that these issues will magically resolve themselves, but if not 2016 could be the year of a new laptop.

Now that I have shared with you just how mechanically challenged I am, let's talk about this cheesecake. Ever heard of a Tequila Sunshine Cocktail? Neither have I. Basically I wanted to put orange and tequila in a cheesecake, and wanted a snappy name for it. A classic Tequila cocktail is, of course, the Tequila Sunrise, containing tequila, orange juice and grenadine. Take away the grenadine and I believe this makes sunshine.

This rich and tangy cheesecake definitely has an adult feel to it. Please don't serve it to children because, if you weren't sure, this does contain a lot of tequila. The base is made from Bourbon Biscuits. (Non-British readers: these biscuits don't actually contain whisky; they are chocolate biscuits sandwiched with a chocolate filling. If you're ever making a cheesecake that goes with chocolate, I highly recommend that you give them a try for your base. If you don't have any orange extract, to hand, the juice from an orange should also do the trick.

Best served at an adult soirée, or as a decadent dessert, this cheesecake is well worth a try!


  • 200g Bourbon Biscuits
  • 50g Butter
  • 1 Sachet Gelatine
  • 400g Philadelphia Cheese
  • 200g Mascarpone Cheese
  • 150g Caster Sugar
  • 3-4 Drops Orange Extract
  • 25-50mL Tequila


  • Crush the biscuits into crumbs and stir into the melted butter. (Or blend it all together in a food processor - no need to melt the butter.) Press the biscuit mixture into the base of a 10" springform tin that has been lined with baking parchment. Place to one side.
  • Prepare the gelatine as per the manufacturer's instructions.
  • In a mixing bowl, beat the Philadelphia and mascarpone cheeses together with the caster sugar.
  • Stir in the orange extract and tequila to taste - if you like your tequila, you may need more than the recipe states to get the balance right.
  • Stir in the gelatine and mix until smooth.
  • Pour the mixture on top of the biscuit base.
  • To get the orange design on top of the cheesecake I swirled some yellow/orange food colouring gel through the cheesecake mixture before setting it.
  • Place the cheesecake in the fridge to set for at least 4 hours. Should be kept in the fridge until served.

17 October 2015

Caramel Apple Crumble Cake

It's Autumn again, and I couldn't go without showing you another apple & caramel combo. I don't know why exactly, but a chill in the air always sends me running for those ingredients. And crumble needs no explanation; it just makes everything better, don't you think? 

I made this cake twice: once to bring to work and once for some friends. It got some great reviews, and at work someone liked it so much that they had two slices, thus preventing someone else on the team from getting any. I mean, I couldn't exactly complain when I had a compliment like that, could I?

This Caramel Apple Crumble Cake has a crispy caramel and crumble topping which sits on a moist sponge filled with apple pieces. Perfect as a naughty breakfast, or an afternoon treat. Excellent with custard.


100g Butter
100g Caster Sugar
100g Plain Flour

200g Butter
200g Caster Sugar
3 Eggs
2 Bramley Apples, peeled and chopped into chunks 
200g Plain Flour
1 Tsp Cinnamon
2 Tsp Baking Powder

150g Caster Sugar
100mL (approx) Water
100mL Double Cream


  • Place the ingredients in a mixing bowl and rub together with fingertips until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Place to one side.

  • Preheat the oven to 180C/160C fan and line a 10" springform cake tin with baking parchment.
  • Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.
  • Beat the eggs in, one at a time, until smooth.
  • Fold the apple chunks into the batter until well combined.
  • Sieve the flour, cinnamon and baking powder into the batter and fold in until well combined.
  • Transfer the batter into the springform tin, then sprinkle the crumble over the top.
  • Bake in the oven for 1 hour, or until a skewer comes out clean.
  • While the cake bakes, put the sugar in a heavy-bottomed pan and cover with water. Heat on a medium setting until the water has boiled off and the sugar has turned golden brown.
  • Remove from the heat and immediately whisk in the butter, followed by the cream.
  • When the cake is removed from the oven, spike it all over with a skewer and pour the caramel over the top, ensuring that it covers the cake evenly.

8 October 2015

Baking With Spirit Spotlight: Chocolate & Whisky Cake

It's been quite a while since my last Baking With Spirit: Spotlight post, so you can be forgiven for not knowing what this is all about. The gist of it is that I enjoy baking with booze, and I want to highlight some of the great recipes I find on the blogosphere (thus encouraging myself to make more of them). Today, the spotlight falls on Linzi at Lancashire Food's Chocolate & Whisky Bundt Cake.

Linzi made this cake back in 2012 as a thank you to some helpful care staff. She describes it as a "dark delight, with more adult flavour", and says that the alcohol can be changed to one of your choosing, e.g. rum or amaretto. This post actually features in an old-style Baking With Spirit challenge, under the Whisky Round Up.

Unfortunately I don't own a bundt tin, so I made my Chocolate & Whisky Cake in a 10" springform cake tin. I don't own anything for guidance with American cup measurements, so I guestimated using my knowledge of cake ratios.

How was it? Well, although I couldn't taste the whisky, apparently everyone at work could. I don't know what that says about me... The cake was dense and chocolatey, and a few (misguided) people thought it was a chocolate brownie. I think either I should have whisked more air into the batter, or a bit more raising agent could have been used, as the cake didn't rise very well. That being said, I would absolutely make this cake again, and it was so popular at work that some strangers stole a bit... can't say I blame them!

Make sure you check out Lancashire Food for the recipe and many more excellent sweet and savoury recipes.

21 September 2015

Blackberry & Chocolate Cake

If you’ve been keeping up with me on social media, you’ll know that I recently came across a massive stock of blackberries. I’m very new to the area, but a friend of mine who knows it relatively well tipped me off on where to find them. The countryside is not for me, but at least there is a plentiful supply of wild fruit!

As you know, I don't really play by the rules when it comes to baking. My new work collegues had been pre-warned that I might bring in cake (about five minutes of my interview were spent discussing cake, which was not really anything to do with the job), but they don't know what weird and wonderful combinations they have in store for them! The first combination was this Blackberry & Chocolate Cake, and it went down rather well. Not everyone was a fan of the dark chocolate, but that's ok because they were in the minority. The more people eating my cake that aren't me, the better.

The sponge is full of blackberries, then sandwiched and topped with a dark chocolate ganache. It's very simple, but delicious too. Perfect as an afternoon indulgence.


  • 200g Butter
  • 200g Caster Sugar
  • 3 Eggs
  • 200g Plain Flour
  • 2 Tsp Baking Powder
  • 300g Blackberries
  • 50mL Milk
  • 200g Dark Chocolate
  • 100mL Double Cream
  • Preheat the oven to 200C/180C fan. Line two 9" cake tins with baking parchment.
  • Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.
  • Beat the eggs into the mixture one at a time until the batter is smooth.
  • Sift the flour and baking powder into the batter and fold in until well combined.
  • Fold in the blackberries and milk.
  • Divide the batter between the cake tins and bake for 22 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean.
  • Turn the cakes out onto a wire rack and allow to cool.
  • Meanwhile, make the ganache. Melt the chocolate and double cream in a saucepan over a low heat. Allow to cool, stirring occasionally.
  • Sandwich the cakes together with half of the ganache and spread the remainder over the top.