Saturday, 12 April 2014

Review: The Little Pancake Company Pancake Mix


If any of you follow me on social media, you might notice a heightened level of excitement around pancake day. As a day dedicated to pancakes, it warrants such excitement. But what about the rest of the year?

Pancake houses are very hard to come by in this country, and there is little variety in the pancakes served by the few cafes that provide them. Where can those of us too lazy or unskilled to make our own pancakes go for a fix, then?

The Little Pancake Company might just have the answer. Founded by a fellow pancake lover, the company strives to make pancakes a year round tradition, rather than just a once-a-year kind of thing. The Little Pancake Company sells American style pancake mixes in seven flavours (including raspberry & white chocolate, zingy ginger, apple crumble & cinnamon and jelly bean), as well as kitchen equipment to help make them. The company also works for a good cause: a hot meal is donated to FoodCycle for every pancake mix sold.


 I was sent a pack of the raspberry & white chocolate mix to try out. Topped with a cute bow, the packaging looks very professional and meant I couldn't wait to try the mix. The pancakes are very easy to make, and the instructions are very clear. The mix isn't just a floury powder; mine had a generous portion of sizable white chocolate chips and (from what I can tell) freeze dried raspberries in there too. All you need is an egg, some milk and a frying pan and you are on your way.

My pancakes turned out very well. As suggested on the back of the pack, I topped them with a scoop of ice cream for a little extra luxury. The ice cream wasn't really needed, as the pancakes tasted great on their own. The taste of white chocolate and raspberry really came through, and the pancake itself was flavourful and not too sweet.

Would I buy these pancake mixes? In short, yes I would as they taste great and contain ingredients I might not have to hand at home. At £6.50 per pack, though, I would be discouraged from buying them as I could probably buy all the ingredients myself for less than this. Overall, however, I am very impressed with this product and hope the company gets the success it deserves.


The Little Pancake Company stocks its pancake mixes and kitchen essentials in its Etsy shop and are looking for stockists.

I was sent a pack of The Little Pancake Company's pancake mix to review. All opinions are my own.

Monday, 7 April 2014

Malibu Sprinkle Cake


It's a weird week at work because an extension is in its final stages, and today (Monday) the builders are connecting the power up so there will be a lot of power cuts. In a lab, much as in any workplace, power cuts are very disruptive so my employer decided to get us all in on Saturday instead. Of course, not everyone could work on Saturday but they got about half of us to agree to it, and here I am with a nice day off while most of the country are slogging away at work.


Yes, I did have to work a six day week last week, but do you know what? For the next three weeks I only have to work four days. That's pretty good if you ask me.


What did I do with my day off, you ask? I did what any normal adult would do and went to look at baby animals at a farm. To be honest I just went because I was invited (and I always think it's always better to go out than mooch about at home), but I actually had quite a good time. I held baby rabbits and baby guinea pigs, bottle fed a lamb and stroked various other farm animals. I also fed some sheep the grass from my side of the fence. They were all crowding around to get a taste of it, so I guess the grass really is greener on the other side. Baby animals are suitable for all ages after all!


I've been planning this cake for a while, but due to several crazy weekends it took me a while to find the energy to make it. The sponge contains copious amounts of Malibu, and is sandwiched with a milk chocolate ganache. The icing is my white chocolate cloud icing, which was adapted from a recipe at Sweetapolita. I brought the cake in on Saturday to help with Saturday Work morale, and everyone gave good feedback. I highly recommend that you make this cake as it tastes excellent.

Ingredients
For the sponge

  • 200g Butter
  • 200g Caster Sugar
  • 3 Eggs
  • 200g Plain Flour
  • 2 Tsp Baking Powder
  • 75mL Malibu
  • 50mL Milk
For the ganache (makes more than needed)
  • 175g Milk Chocolate
  • 150mL Water
For the white chocolate cloud icing:
  • 190g Icing Sugar
  • 230g Butter
  • 125g White Chocolate
  • Sprinkles (for decoration)
Recipe
  • Preheat the oven to 200C/180C fan. Line two 8" cake tins with parchment paper.
  • For the cake, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.
  • Beat in the eggs, one at a time, until the batter is smooth.
  • Sift the flour and baking powder into the batter, then fold in until well combined.
  • Add the Malibu and milk, folding gently into the batter. The batter will be a bit wet, but this ensures both an intense flavour and moist cake.
  • Divide the batter between the cake tins, then bake for 22 mins, or until a skewer comes out clean.
  • Meanwhile, make the ganache by placing the milk chocolate and water in a saucepan over a low heat.
  • Stir gently until the chocolate has almost completely melted, then remove from the heat. 
  • Stir until completely melted, then leave to cool. Once cooled, place in the fridge for about 30 mins to speed up the setting of the ganache.
  • Make the icing by beating the icing sugar and butter together until well combined, then beating with an electric whisk for one minute.
  • Melt the white chocolate, allow to cool slightly and then pour onto the buttercream.
  • Beat using an electric whisk until combined, then for an extra minute.
  • When the cake has cooled, spoon the ganache onto one cake before sandwiching it with the other.
  • Use the white chocolate cloud icing to decorate the cake as desired, then go crazy with the sprinkles. I used a cone-shaped piece of parchment paper to get them up the sides. The sprinkles also went all over my kitchen!

This month's Baking With Spirit (run by yours truly) challenges you to bake with chocolate and alcohol, tying Easter nicely into the challenge. This is my entry since it contains Malibu rum and chocolate gananche (and also chocolate icing!) If you'd like to enter, the deadline is the 28th.



Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Baking With Spirit: The April Challenge

Since this month contains Easter, I thought I'd go with a chocolate theme for the Baking With Spirit challenge. Creme de Cacao is surprisingly difficult to find in the supermarket, though, so as a compromise I've decided to ask you all to bake something that contains both chocolate and alcohol.

There is a vast range of choice here, so I'm hoping to see some interesting posts!

Don't forget to check out last month's dark spirits round up for ideas on what to bake with whisky (apparently Baking With Spirit entrants' favourite dark spirit).

Finally, before I give you the rules, I'm running out of ideas for the challenge, so if anyone is interested in hosting a particular month please let me know!

Here are the rules (find a comprehensive list here):
  1. Make something food-related containing chocolate and alcohol.
  2. Write a post about it on your blog, link back to Cake Of The Week and mention Baking With Spirit.
  3. Email the link to me at cakeoftheweek@hotmail.co.uk and include your name, your blog and the photo you want me to use in the round-up. If you tweet me @CakeOfTheWeek and/or use #bakingwithspirit I will endeavour to retweet!
  4. The deadline is midnight on the 28th.
Don't forget that The Food Blog Diary is a handy site where a lot of the UK blogging challenges are collated into a list. It makes it a whole lot easier to remember what to enter when!

Monday, 31 March 2014

Baking With Spirit: The Dark Spirits Round Up


Another pay day, another Baking With Spirit round up.

I hope you all had an enjoyable March. For those of you still wringing out your personal belongings after all the winter flooding, I hope your summer is long and hot to make up for it. Really, I hope we all have a long, hot summer, though I hope my friends in California avoid drought!

Time for the round up! I only had a few entries this month, but if everyone was as busy as I was, this is understandable. Remember to check back tomorrow for April's challenge.

Speaking of friends in California, Ellen at Bake It With Booze made this Brandied Apple Pie With Cheddar Crumb Topping. I know from experience that cheese and apple bakes go well together, so I would be all too happy to try some.


Next, Caroline at Caroline Makes... made these cute Mini Sticky Toffee Puddings with Irish Whiskey Sauce for St Patrick's day. I bet that sauce packs quite the punch, but I would happily take that punch as I love the flavours whiskey adds to baked goods.

                                

Finally, I entered my (very tasty) Banana Bourbon Bread & Butter Pudding. How's that for alliteration? It's also low fat, dontcha know.


I'm starting to run out of challenge ideas, so if anyone wants to host the challenge for a month please get in touch!

Sunday, 23 March 2014

Coffee Tray Bake



This is a cake that is easy to throw together at the last minute and can be eaten at almost any time of day. The only time of day that I would personally avoid is in the evening, because I have quite a low caffeine tolerance and like being able to sleep at night.


I brought this cake with me on a trip to see my cousin in Burgess Hill. He liked the way that the coffee granules melt in your mouth, giving little bursts of caffeine. I think he must have liked it quite a bit because he had two pieces even though we were on our way to get lunch.


As always, this was a throw-together-invent-as-you-go kind of cake, even though it is based on my standard cake mix. I chose to throw the instant coffee into the batter without dissolving it first, which is what gave the bursts of caffeine, but if you don't want a speckled cake then go right ahead and make an espresso first. The icing is flavoured with hints of cinnamon and vanilla along with the coffee, giving the cake a bit of depth and harking back to my penchant for flavoured coffee.


Ingredients
For the cake:

  • 200g Butter
  • 200g Caster Sugar
  • 3 Eggs
  • 200g Plain Flour
  • 2 Tsp Baking Powder
  • 3 Tsp Instant Coffee
  • 1 Tsp Ground Cinnamon
  • 100mL Milk
For the icing:
  • 200g Icing Sugar
  • 70g Butter
  • 2 Tsp Instant Coffee
  • 1 Tsp Ground Cinnamon
  • 1/2 Tsp Vanilla Extract

Recipe
  • Preheat the oven to 200C/180C fan and line a deep baking tray with parchment paper.
For the cake:
  • Cream the butter and  caster sugar together until light and fluffy.
  • Beat in the eggs, one at a time, until smooth.
  • Sift the flour and baking powder into the batter and fold in until well combined.
  • Stir in the coffee and cinnamon.
  • Add enough milk to give the batter a soft dropping consistency.
  • Pour the batter into the baking tray and bake in the oven for 22 mins, or until a skewer comes out clean.
  • Allow the cake to cool completely before icing it.
For the icing:
  • Beat all of the ingredients together until smooth.
  • Spread over the top of the cake.

Monday, 10 March 2014

Banana Bourbon Bread & Butter Pudding [Low Fat]


 I know, I know. What better dessert to share with you than a comforting, wintry pudding after the warmest and most spring-like Sunday of the year so far?

This is definitely worth the untimeliness, though. This pudding has a lot going for it: whisky, bananas, custard and, one of my favourite carbohydrate-laden foods, bread. You can eat this hot or cold, and I reckon it's fine for any time of day. The alcohol mostly bakes out, right? Right? (I definitely didn't eat this for breakfast this morning.)


This pudding is also low fat, so it's totally appropriate even if you're starting to think about toning up for that bikini. If you're not into low fat things, you can replace half of the skimmed milk with double cream and the other half with whole milk.

My final selling point is that there isn't a lot of work or hands-on time here. You butter the bread, chop the bananas, stir the custard ingredients, pour the custard, put the dish in the oven. Go and watch Mad Men or two episodes of New Girl, then take it out of the oven. Eat. Done.


That's your recipe, by the way.

Just kidding... here you go:

Ingredients

  • 6 Buttered Slices White Bread
  • 4 Small Bananas
  • 120g Caster Sugar
  • 3 Eggs
  • 3 Tbsp Cornflour
  • 400mL Skimmed Milk
  • 60mL Bourbon Whisky
  • 40g Dark Muscovado Sugar
Recipe
  • Grease a square dish and lay three of the buttered bread slices on the bottom. 
  • Slice up three of the bananas, and cover the bread with half of the slices.
  • Cover the banana slices with the rest of the bread, and cover with the bananas.
  • Place all of the remaining ingredients, except for the banana and muscovado sugar, in a saucepan.
  • Stir gently over a medium-high heat until the mixture thickens into a custard.
  • Pour the custard over the bread and banana slices.
  • Chop up the remaining banana into slices and layer over the top of the custard. 
  • Sprinkle the top with the dark muscovado sugar.
  • Bake in the oven for 40 minutes. To stop the custard browning too much you can cover the dish with parchment paper until the last ten minutes of cooking.

This is my entry to March's Baking With Spirit challenge. The challenge is run by yours truly, and this month I have set dark spirits as the theme (we're talking strictly alcohol; no demons or ghouls here, please). The deadline is the 28th so if you're feeling inspired there's still plenty of time to get involved.


Sunday, 2 March 2014

Baking With Spirit: The Light Spirits Round Up

February is always an awkward month for challenge round ups because the last day coincides with the deadline. This makes it hard to organise the round up for the previous month and post the challenge announcement for the new month in logical order. Yesterday I therefore announced the Baking With Spirit challenge for March, and today I am posting the round up for February.

February's challenge was to bake with light coloured spirits, and I received a nice variety of entries. Let's take a look, shall we?
         
Chris at Cooking Around The World made this Sachertorte, containing rum, to celebrate his second blogiversary. I had Sachertorte recently and have to say it is very tasty, so I think this was a fitting celebration cake. Congrats to Chris for two years of blogging!

        

Tina at The Worktop created this delicious sounding Banana Whipped Cream With Strawberries & Biscuits to run with the theme of a charity run where participants dress up as gorillas. The whipped cream contains vanilla extract made with gin, and I know for a fact that several regular readers will be pretty excited by that concept!

        lemon, ginger and gin cake
On a cake-craving whim, Craig at The Usual Saucepans made this Lemon, Ginger & Gin Loaflette. For an impulse bake this does look rather good. I've not tried that flavour combination, but I imagine that it would work very well.


This Crustless Malibu Chocolate Mousse Cheesecake was my entry to February's Baking With Spirit. It's a really tasty dessert and would work well in small pots for an easy, yet fancy, dessert.


Finally, Ellen at Bake It With Booze entered her Aztec Hot Chocolate Whoopie Pies. They contain silver tequila, Kahlua and chocolate - what more could you want? These are definitely on my 'to bake' list.

Thanks to all the bloggers who entered this challenge. The challenge for March can be found here; I look forward to seeing what you come up with!
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