Monday, 8 February 2016

Chcocolate Peanut Butter Monkey Cake

Happy Chinese New Year! Today is the first day of the lunar calendar and it's the year of the Monkey. Wishing all my readers good health, prosperity and happiness. We had a little party at the weekend to celebrate the occasion. As it's a monkey year, I decided to make a monkey cake. Unfortunately I didn't deocrate it in time for the party so J has taken it to work today to share with his colleagues. It's a chocolate cake filled with peanut butter frosting. The decoration is simple yet effective albeit a bit messy to decorate! If you have kids, they will definitely enjoy decorating this cake with you. Chinese New Year goes on for 15 days so you have plenty of time to impress your family and friends with this cake. 

I'm sending this to #FoodYearLinkUp hosted by Charlotte from Charlotte's Lively Kitchen for Chinese New Year. 

It's also going to Love Cake hosted by Ness from Jibber Jabber UK. The theme this month is The Month Of Cake as it's the anniversary of the challenge. 

Finally to Simply Eggcellent hosted by Dom from Belleau Kitchen as the theme this month is Anything Goes. There's 2 large free range eggs in this cake.

 The cake batter is very liquid - don't worry it bakes beautifully. 

 spread peanut butter frosting on top of the first layer of cake 

 Add second layer of cake. I used a cocktail stick to roughly draw an outline of a monkey face. I'm terrible at drawing!! 

 Spread the peanut butter frosting where the monkey face will be 
 Carefully spread the chocolate ganache over the rest of the cake including the sides

 Press chocolate rice cereal on to the chocolate ganache. I used 2 white candy melts for the eyes and piped some chocolate ganache for the eye balls, nose and mouth (which was a littlewonky!) The ears are tiny as I didn't have any ginger biscuits at home and used golden Oreo cookies instead. 

Recipe from Bird on A Cake 
I reduced the sugar amount, substituted chocolate extract for vanilla extract and used more milk in the frosting 

For the cakes 
1 cup (250mls) boiling water
350g caster sugar
220g plain flour  
85 cocoa powder, sifted
2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 large, free range eggs
1 cup (250mls) buttermilk
1/2 cup (125mls) vegetable oil
1 teaspoon chocolate extract 

Peanut butter frosting
250g smooth peanut butter
113g butter
250g icing sugar
40-50 mls milk

Chocolate Ganache
175g dark chocolate 
80mls double cream
20g butter

To decorate
2 white candy melts
2 large cookies for the ears - I used golden oreos but they are too small, recommend ginger biscuits or digestive biscuit
Choco rice cereal 

  • Preheat the oven to 180C. 
  • Sift the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, bicarbonate of soda and baking powder in a bowl.
  • Place the dry ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer and add in the eggs, buttermilk, oil and chocolate extract.
  • Mix well.
  • Slowly pour in the water and continue mixing at a low speed until you have a smooth mixture. 
  • The batter will be very liquid, this is normal.
  • Divide the batter evenly between 2 sandwich tins and bake for approximately 30 - 35 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.
  • Allow the cakes to cool for 5 minutes in the tin before turning out to a wire rack to cool completely.
  • To make the peanut butter frosting, beat the peanut butter and butter until smooth.
  • Add in the icing sugar and continue beating.
  • Slowly add in the milk with the mixer running.
  • You  may need to add a little more or a little less of the milk depending on the consistency of your icing. You want a smooth, spreadable paste. 
  • To make the chocolate ganache, place the cream in a small saucepan and heat gently until bubbles are just visible. 
  • Add in the chocolate and whisk until smooth.
  • Remove from the heat.
  • Add in the butter and continue whisking until smooth.
  • Allow to cool and set a little before using.
  • Decorate the cake as shown above. 

Saturday, 30 January 2016

AlphaBakes "G" Round up

Welcome to January's "G" Roundup of AlphaBakes. It's hard to believe that we are at the end of January which has virtually disappeared! I'm guessing a lot of you have been busy and trying to get back into the swing of things. We've not had as many entries as usual so we are hoping that it will pick up in February. Caroline will be hosting so be sure to check out her blog to find out which letter we are using. 

First up is Caroline's mum with her chocolate and ginger cake. 

Following on with the same theme we have chocolate and ginger flapjacks by Suelle from Mainly Baking. She wanted to make something simple and chocolatey and came up with these flapjacks. It contains 100% cacao and Turkish crystallised ginger pieces which are quite fiery.

Kate from the Gluten Free Alchemist baked some Ginger cookies/biscuits which are of course gluten free and there's also the option for making them dairy free as well. These ginger biscuits have molasses, ginger and cinnamon. They are rolled in sugar before baking giving them a lovely sparkle. 

My co host Caroline from Caroline Makes baked a Chocolate and Peanut Butter Goo Goo Cake. I've not heard of Goo Goo until now and I do wish I could try some! The cake is inspired by her trip to Nashville, America. Goo Goo Cluster is a candy bar with chocolate, caramel, peanuts and marshmallow nougat invented in Nashville. It sounds a bit like a rocky road to me and looks great on top of her chocolate and peanut butter cake. 

Next is my own entry with a Golden Syrup Cake. It's a really simple cake which showcases the star ingredient, golden syrup. The cake keeps really well and was delicious served with creme fraiche, greek yoghurt or ice cream. 

Kate from the Gluten Free Alchemist is back with a Banana, Melon and Strawberry Smoothie. The G here is from Galia melon which is one of her favourite fruits. Melon is quite an unusual choice for a smoothie but it clearly works well and it looks really pretty too. It's a great way of getting extra fruit in your diet and home made smoothies mean less additives and pure goodness. 

Laura from How to Cook Good Food baked a very delicious sounding Marmalade, Ginger & Blood Orange Loaf Cake. The inspiration for this recipe is based on a Diana Henry recipe and makes use of her homemade marmalade. She used spelt flour, freshly grated ginger and ground ginger. It pairs well with the marmalade and is perfect for this time of the year. 

Last but not least is Elizabeth from The Law Student's Cookbook with a Gingerbread Bundt Cake. It's lovely and gingery with an orange glaze. Cake for breakfast is a definite yes in my book and that's exactly what Elizabeth did with this cake which lasted a week. 

That's the end of the G roundup. Thank you to everyone who joined in this month and hope to see more of you in February. Remember to check out Caroline's blog on 1st Feb to find out which letter we are using. 

Monday, 25 January 2016

Courgette, Basil, Polenta and Cheese Wedges

This is a great recipe for a simple weeknight meal. It does take a little bit of prep time but it's well worth it.  It's also vegetarian if you are looking to eat less meat of if you are a vegetarian. The recipe is quite versatile and you can add in a few extra ingredients if you wish. It's great for lunchboxes the next day and will also be good for picnics in the summer. I've made this a few times at home each time with a slight variation so I thought I'd share it with you. Mine turned out a little soft but it tasted delicious warm with the tomato sauce. You can really taste the polenta and the chili and tomatoes added an extra kick and bite to it. I loved the basil as well and used a lot of it in my recipe. I think it's going on the menu plan again this week! 

I'm sending this to a few blog challenges this month. 

Treat Petite hosted by Kat from The Baking Explorer and Stuart from Cakeyboi. The theme this month is fruit and veg. There's courgette and tomatoes in this recipe and as it's served in wedges I hope it qualifies for the challenge!

Cooking with Herbs hosted by Karen from Lavender and Lovage. This recipe uses a lot of fresh basil. 

Extra Veg hosted by Helen from Fuss Free Flavours and Michelle from Utterly Scrummy

Tea Time Treats hosted by Janie from The Hedgecombers and Karen from Lavender and Lovage. There's no theme this month and these would make for a great tea time treat! 

Meat Free Mondays hosted by Jacqueline from Tinned Tomatoes.

 courgette and cheese mixture


 ready to go in the oven

 making the tomato sauce

Recipe adapted slightly from The Veg Space

For the wedges
1 courgette, coarsely grated
50g cheddar cheese, grated
1 red chilli, finely chopped
2 fresh tomatoes, roughly chopped (also works well with sundried tomatoes)
20g butter, cut into small cubes
large handful fresh basil, roughly chopped
120g instant polenta
450ml vegetable stock

For the tomato sauce
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 red chilli, finely chopped
6 pitted black olives, finely chopped
250g passata
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp caster sugar

  • In a large bowl, mix the grated courgette, cheese, chili, fresh tomatoes, butter and basil leaves. 
  • Place the polenta in a medium sized pan.
  • Add in the hot vegetable stock, stirring constantly.
  • Cook the polenta and stock over a low heat whilst stirring continuously. 
  • Remove from the heat and stir in the courgette and cheese mixture. 
  • Pour the batter into a springform tin lined with greaseproof paper. 
  • Allow to cool and then place in the fridge for about half an hour (I skipped this step once and it still turned out ok).
  • Make the tomato sauce by heating the olive oil in a small saucepan. Add in the garlic and chili and cook over a low heat for a few minutes. 
  • Add the passata, balsamic vinegar, sugar and olives and simmer gently for 10-15 minutes. 
  • Preheat the oven to 180C. 
  • Bake the polenta for 45-40 minutes or until golden brown on top. 
  • Slice into wedges and serve with the tomato sauce. 

Saturday, 23 January 2016

Golden Syrup Cake

Happy New Year! I'm back from a long break and it's quite difficult to get back into the swing of things. I've not actually felt like baking which does happen from time to time. However, I wanted to bake something for our AlphaBakes challenge this month so I chose a simple recipe from BBC Good Food. It's a golden syrup cake which is really simple to make and tastes absolutely delicious! I've had it on its own, with creme fraiche and with ice cream and they are all equally good. My colleagues were extremely happy as they've been without cake for quite a few weeks! The cake smells of golden syrup and you can really taste it in the cake as it's the main ingredient. It's a lovely moist cake with a crispy topping. A definite winner! 

I'm sending this to AlphaBakes hosted by myself this month and Caroline from Caroline Makes on alternate months. The letter this month is G for Golden syrup.

 cooking the golden syrup, butter and sugar 

 ready to go in the oven - my batter was still a bit lumpy but it turned out ok in the end! 

 delicious moist cake with a crispy top 

Recipe from BBC Good Food

Friday, 1 January 2016

AlphaBakes January 2016

Happy New Year everyone! I hope you all had a nice festive break and are looking forward to seeing what 2016 brings. Thank you for all your festive entries to December's AlphaBakes "N" hosted by Caroline. You can read the fabulous round up here. We only have a handful of letters left so it's getting easier to predict which letter is next. The random letter generator has come up with ... G for January.

We look forward to seeing all your Gorgeous "G" entries for January. Remember it can be sweet or savoury, baked or unbaked. Entry is via the linky tool below and if for some reason it's not working then please email by 25th January 2016.

Quick reminder of the rules....

1. Post your RECIPE on your blog and link it to The More than Occasional Baker and Caroline Makes, stating the relevant month's host. If you do not have a blog, email us a picture and a brief description of your entry which we will include in the round-up at the end of the month.

2. You can use your own RECIPE or someone else's RECIPE. The recipe can be sweet, savoury or a mixture! Anything goes as long as the random letter is predominantly featured in the recipe as one of the main ingredients or flavours or in the name of the bake itself (i .e . not as a garnish , or using 'flour' for the letter F!) You can also republish old posts/RECIPES but you must include the information for this challenge as stated in these rules.

3. Add the logo to your post and add 'alphabakes' as a label to your post.

4. Entry is via the linky tool below. Alternatively, you can email your entries to by midnight (GMT) 25th of each month. Please include:

  • Your name (that you want included in the round up or we will use the name of your blog) 
  • Your blog post URL 
  • RECIPE title 
  • Photo of RECIPE (to be included in the round up) 
5. You can submit as many entries as you like.

6. You do not have to participate every month to join in.

7. You may submit your entry to other challenges as long as it complies with their rules.

8. If you use twitter, please use the tag #alphabakes and mention @bakingaddict and @Caroline_Makes. We will retweet all those that we see.

9. Have fun! :)