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.

7 September 2015

Junk Cake

Anyone who has moved house will know that there comes a point where one must decide what to do with all the random bits of food in the backs of cupboards and the freezer. Do you a) keep them, and take them with you to your next home? Or b) try to use them up?

This cake is for those of you who chose option b.

 As regulars will know, I just moved house. During the chaotic last seven days in my flat, I was faced with the same decision I just gave all of you. When it came to clearing through all of my belongings and slowly realising that they would not all fit in my little Nissan Micra, holding on to scraps of food and open bags of cake decorations was not going to be worth the struggle. And so, this Junk Cake was born.

This cake is designed to hold everything you want to use up. It becomes a nifty way to feed all your sugary food scraps to innocent friends and family in the guise of making a farewell cake, albeit an unusual one. My cake contained scraps of: Sour Cherry & Pistachio Biscuit Dough; Golden Graham cheesecake base; white chocolate chips; glace cherries; fruit split ice lollies. Oh yes, I forgot to mention that this cake is based on ice cream.

I bought some fruit split lollies (the ones with a fruity ice exterior and an ice cream middle, all on a wooden stick) a while back but wasn’t keen on them, so they’d been lounging in my freezer for most of the summer. Whilst clearing through my food supplies to find scraps for my Junk Cake, I found them and, remembering the Salted Caramel Ice Cream Loaf Cake I’d made, knew exactly what I would do. The latter cake was made shortly after befriending my flatmate (in fact it was him who introduced me to the concept), so in a way it was nice to make another ice cream cake and bring our time together full circle.

In this cake, the ice cream replaces the egg, sugar and fat. I only had 100g ice cream so I made 100g of normal cake batter to make up the volume of the cake. If you have 200g (room temperature) ice cream, omit the sugar, butter and eggs and simply skip to the part where we fold in the ice cream.

  • 100g Butter
  • 100g Caster Sugar
  • 2 Eggs
  • 100g Ice Cream (room temperature)
  • 100g Plain Flour
  • 2 Tsp Baking Powder
  • 2-3 Tbsp Milk
  • 100-200g Sweet Food Scraps (see above for examples)

  •  Preheat the oven to 200C/180C fan and line two cake tins or a tray bake tin 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.
  • Sieve the flour and baking powder into the batter, and fold in until well combined.
  • Fold in the room temperature (i.e. melted) ice cream until well combined.
  • If the batter does not have a soft dropping consistency, fold in the milk until this is achieved.
  • Chop up any large lumps of sweet food scraps and fold into the batter until well combined.
  • Divide the batter between the cake tins, or spread over a tray bake tin. Bake in the oven for 22 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean (keeping in mind that some things like chocolate won’t solidify until the cake cools down).
  • Turn out onto a wire rack and allow to cool.

20 August 2015

Sour Cherry & Pistachio Crocodile Biscuits

Oh yeah. Crocodile shaped biscuits, flavoured with freeze dried sour cherries and coated with pistachio pieces.

So I know it's been a little while since my last post (or it feels like it). What have I been doing? Mostly preparing to move to Birmingham and start my new job. As previously mentioned, I'm incredibly happy to be finally leaving the Cambridgeshire Fens, and it feels like a new chapter of my life is about to begin. Since we last spoke, I've been hunting out and buying my first real furniture (I'm not counting my £30 book case, nor my £20 hat stand) and dealing with general moving house admin, like sorting bills and addresses out. It's all felt like quite the whirlwind, and has kept me pretty occupied, but I of course still found time to bake these biscuits.

I never had a very standard cookie cutter collection. Until my trip to Sweden in June, I only had a dinosaur and a heart. Now I also have a reindeer, a moose, a turtle and a crocodile. So... still not a standard collection, but a more varied one at least. Circles are boring, anyway; I prefer to think outside of the biscuit tin.

...Moving on from that attempt at a pun, these biscuits were very popular. The freeze-dried cherry flavour came through very well, and was complimented excellently by the pistachios. I'm not sure whether I like the white chocolate chip eyes that I gave the crocodiles, so I'll let you have the final decision on whether to use them or not. I found the cutters in Sweden, as mentioned earlier, but I'm sure any animal (or indeed any shape at all) would work just as well.

Makes Approx. 20
  • 2 Tbsp Freeze Dried Sour Cherry Powder
  • 175g Plain Flour
  • 80g Caster Sugar
  • 120g Butter
  • 1 Egg Yolk
  • 3 Tbsp Milk
  • 100g Ground Pistachios (this may be a gross miscalculation - use best judgement)
  • Put the freeze dried cherry powder, plain flour and sugar in a bowl and stir well. 
  • Add the butter and rub into the flour mixture with the fingertips until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.
  • Stir in the egg yolk and milk; the mixture should form a firm dough.
  • Alternatively place the dry ingredients and butter in a food processor and process until well mixed. Add the milk and egg yolk, then process again until the mixture forms a ball of dough.
  • Wrap the dough in cling film and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  • Roll out the dough on a floured surface (after removing the cling film) to about 1cm thickness. 
  • Cut out crocodile shapes using the cutter. Transfer the crocodiles to baking trays that are lined with baking parchment, then roll out the remaining dough and repeat until there is not enough left for another crocodile. Don't worry about putting too much space between the crocodiles, as the biscuits don't spread in the oven.
  • Cover the baking trays with cling film and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 200C/180C fan.
  • Remove the cling film and bake the biscuits in the oven for 10-15 minutes, or until they begin to firm up and turn slightly golden. They won't firm up completely in the oven; this happens as they cool.
  • Immediately after removing from the oven, sprinkle the biscuits with ground pistachio. Be as sparing or as liberal as you see fit.
  • Transfer to a wire rack and allow to cool.

Kat from The Baking Explorer runs Treat Petite with Stuart from Cakeyboi, and this month's challenge is to bake something that was made on Great British Bake Off. I have to confess that GBBO isn't really my thing and I have never watched it, but since Kat suggested that I enter I will trust that these biscuits fit into the theme.


4 August 2015

Roasted Balsamic Strawberry Cake

"Roasted Balsamic Strawberry Cake?!" I hear you cry in alarm. Fear not, dear readers! This is a tale of profound success. So much success, in fact, that I this is actually the third time I've made this cake in the space of about 3 weeks.

Perhaps you have already heard of roasting strawberries in balsamic vinegar. It's something I've seen on a couple of my favourite blogs, and eventually decided to give it a go myself. It brings out their flavour dramatically, and there is absolutely no hint of balsamic left over. I decided that the best way to present these strawberries would be in cake form - but of course!

I wanted to top my cake with a streusel topping of sorts, and recalled an amazing cinnamon-sugar-struesel concoction that I have previously made from The Candid Appetite. (The recipe that the streusel comes from is for a "Coffee Cake", but I was incredibly thrown to discover that there was actually no coffee in said cake. I guess this is an American thing, meaning it goes with coffee, rather than containing it. Americans - can you help me understand?) The topping works wonderfully with the strawberries, and turns a perfectly tasty cake into an exceptional one.

If I still haven't persuaded you to make it, this cake is moist, sweet (with just the right amount of acidity from the fruit) and has a slight crunch thanks to the streusel topping. Serve it for breakfast, for afternoon tea, or with coffee. (Does this make it a coffee cake, America?) Try it!

Roasted Strawberries - recipe from Completely Delicious
  • 400g Strawberries
  • 4 Tbsp Caster Sugar
  • 4 Tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
Cinnamon Sugar Streusel - recipe adapted from The Candid Appetite
  • 100g Caster Sugar
  • 1/2 Tsp Salt
  • 100g Plain Flour
  • 1/2 Tbsp Cinnamon
  • 100g Butter, melted
  • 200g Caster Sugar
  • 200g Butter
  • 3 Eggs
  • 200g Plain Flour
  • 2 Tsp Baking Powder
  • 1/2 Tsp Salt
  • 50mL Milk
Roasted Strawberries
  • Preheat the oven to 200C/180C fan.
  • Hull and halve the strawberries (slice them up a bit more if they are large).
  • Place the strawberries in a roasting tin and cover with the sugar and balsamic vinegar.
  • Toss the strawberries to ensure they are easily covered, then place in the oven and roast for 15-20 minutes, or until the juices have started to thicken.
  • Place to one side and allow to cool.
Cinnamon Sugar Streusel
  • Place the sugar, cinnamon, flour and salt in a bowl and mix well.
  • Make a well in the mixture and pour in the melted butter.
  • Use a whisk to mix the ingredients together well, breaking any chunks up as you go.
  • Place to one side.
Cake & Assembly
  • Preheat the oven to 200C/180C fan (or leave it on from when you roasted the strawberries), and line a tray bake tin or 2 x 9in square cake tins with baking parchment.
  • Beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.
  • Beat in the eggs, one at a time, until well combined.
  • Sift the flour and baking powder into the batter, folding in until well combined.
  • Stir in the salt and enough milk to give a soft dropping consistency.
  • Pour the mixture into your cake tin.
  • Cover the cake batter with the roasted strawberries, trying to achieve an even distribution.
  • Cover with the Cinnamon Sugar Streusel, again trying to achieve an even distribution.
  • Bake in the oven for 25 minutes, or until a skewer comes out without any batter on it.