Friday, 30 August 2013

AlphaBakes "G" Roundup

Welcome to the August round up of AlphaBakes. The letter was 'G' and as expected there were a lot of ginger entries but quite a few interesting and unusual recipes too. I am always impressed with everyone's creativity and this month is no different. Make yourself comfortable and enjoy the delicious selection of G entries.

First up is Jacqueline with two different ginger cakes. The first is a sticky honey and ginger loaf and the second is a plain ginger cake.

Next up is my own entry with crystallised ginger biscuits with a square of chocolate on top. The biscuits were very gingery and crunchy on the outside but soft in the middle. 

Moving away from ginger for a minute is this gorgeous looking wild strawberry, rose and purple gooseberry jam from Dom from Belleau Kitchen. The ingredients are fresh from his own garden and I'm sure they won't last long in my kitchen as it looks too good to resist!

Following on with the gooseberry theme is Jean from Baking in Franglais with a gooseberry and almond streusel cake. It's a cross between a pudding and a cake and reminded her of school dinners. These are perfect served warm with custard or served cold in squares.

Next a lovely double G entry by Elizabeth from Elizabeth's Kitchen Diary with a red kidney bean burger which contains ginger and garam masala.  This lovely homemade vegetarian burger is made with canned kidney beans and supermarket own brand mature cheddar which makes it a very economical meal for the family.

Mich from Piece of Cake delights us with some breakfast granola bars.  This is a Nigella recipe using oats, nuts, dried fruits and condensed milk. It's crunchy and flavourful and was not overly sweet despite the use of condensed milk.

My co-host Caroline from Caroline Makes made some sticky ginger cake to take along on a car journey to a car show. She wanted to make something that was easy, not messy to eat and contained ingredients that she already had in her cupboard and this recipe ticked all the boxes.

Jen from Blue Kitchen Bakes made frangipane tarts for the first time and I have to say they look perfect. She found some reduced price plums and cheap nectarines hence the flavours of the plum & nectarine frangipane tart with a plum compote and nectarine topping. In case you're wondering, the G is from ground almonds in the tart.

Back to ginger with these delicious gingersnaps by Elizabeth from Lawstudentscookbook. She had some store bought gingersnaps in her cabinet which were too gingery to eat so she decided to make her own and came up with these - gingery but edible. 

Next we have an unusual G entry, certainly one that I've not heard of before called Goosnargh Cake made by Eira from Cookbooks Galore. This is a traditional English cake or rather a biscuit made with caraway seeds that was traditionally sold at Easter and Whitsun.  They come from the Lancashire village of Goosnargh near Preston hence the name. 

Suelle from Mainly Baking sent in a rhubarb and ginger dessert. It has a ginger biscuit base and a rhubarb mousse with chopped stem ginger inside. She served it with roast rhubarb, leftover ginger crumbs and cream which was optional. I love the presentation of the dessert which looks restaurant worthy. 

Another entry from my co-host Caroline with these sex on the beach cupcakes which uses grenadine. The inspiration for these cupcakes comes from the cocktail named sex on the beach which contains vodka, peach schnapps, orange juice and grenadine. Love the little fondant decorations and cocktail umbrellas which are the perfect finishing touch. 

Yet another unusual G entry comes from Stuart from Cakeyboi with squashed smurf s'mores. S'mores are a campfire favourite made with toasting marshmallows and sandwiching them between graham crackers with some chocolate.  Graham crackers are not readily available in the UK but Stuart found some in his local Chinese supermarket.  He also had some smurf shaped marshmallows from a Haribo factory. 

Grace from Life can be simple made Chocolate Guinness Cake - one of my favourite cakes which I've not made for a long time. I usually use a Nigella recipe but this recipe is from Tish Boyle and contains chopped pecans. Grace says that the chopped pecans were crunchy and nutty and went well with the cake. 

Jennifer from What Jenny Baked made some healthy spiced banana nut muffins to take to a barbeque. It contains no butter, very little sugar and yoghurt which definitely sounds healthy to me! 

Choclette from Chocolate Log Blog hosted a six course chocolate themed party a few months ago. One of the courses was spinach, goat's cheese and chocolate filo pastry.  Choclette learnt how to make filo triangles on a Middle Eastern Mezze course at the Vegetarian Cookery School in Bath a couple of years ago which has been invaluable. As always she manages to incorporate chocolate and it worked really well with the other ingredients here. 

My co-host Caroline is back again with Ginger Peach Crisp. She wanted to use up some peaches which were going soft and made this crumble like dessert which was delicious. It's perfect served with cream or ice cream or even a splash of milk if that's all you have. 

Another entry from Jaqueline with this gooseberry fool.  It's made with stewed gooseberries, fresh cream and greek yoghurt all mixed together.

Next we have an Oaty Ginger and Plum Crumble by Shaheen from Allotment 2 Kitchen.  She had some plums from her father's plum tree and initially thought of making an almond, plum and thyme tart but decided on this lovely crumble instead as she wanted something homely. 

Laura from I'd Much Rather Bake Than... delights us with this gorgeous Chocolate and Ginger Pecan Pie. She has been trying to cope with change and has been making improvements to her blog. The first time she made a pecan pie a few years ago was a disaster as it would not set so this is a vast improvement on that as it looks and tastes good and definitely got her mum's seal of approval. 

The next 2 entries are from my mum. The first is gingernut cookies which contains homemade stem ginger, ground ginger and walnuts. The second is a giant oreo cookie cake - it's a chocolate cake made to look like a giant oreo cookie with a vanilla buttercream filling. 

Moving on to a savoury dish for a change, we have oven baked gnocchi with tomato sauce from Folasayo from Delectable Eats & Treats. It's one of her favourite things to make and it's always a big hit whenever it's served. The sauce contains sausage, cayenne pepper and passata. 

When I selected the letter G for this month's AlphaBakes, I hoped that someone would make gingerbreadmen and am really pleased that Olivia from Liv a Little Bakery made some for us. As she says, they are not just for Christmas as they are perfect all year round. I love how these have been decorated - they look too cute to eat! 

Sneaking in with a late entry is Laura from How to Cook Good Food with her Allotment Berry Galette with Spelt Cinnamon Pastry. She used fruits from her allotment including gooseberries, blackberries, raspberries, red currants, blackcurrants and tayberries and baked them in a delicious sounding spelt cinnamon pastry. She replaced the sugar content with date syrup to make this a very virtuous treat! 

That's the end of the "G" round up.  Make sure you check out Caroline's blog on 1st September to find out which letter we are baking with then. There's not many left and we've already done most of the easy ones so be prepared to think outside the box! 

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Chocolate Chip and Vanilla Marble Cake

It's been a while since I've participated in Dom from Belleau Kitchen's Random Recipe Challenge so I decided to make the effort and make a last minute attempt at the challenge this month which was quite fitting as the theme is grab and run. The premise of the challenge came from Dom having to grab a cookbook quickly from his shelves and run for the car as they were running late. So he tasked us with the challenge of choosing one book from our shelves if we only had 10 seconds to choose. 

I took this challenge quite literally as I only had about an hour before I had to leave for the airport to send someone off when I decided I'd bake something for Random Recipes. So I ran into my living room and grabbed the book that I would go to for baking recipes which is Mary Berry's Ultimate Cake Book. It's not my favourite book but I have used it a lot and it's never failed to disappoint.  I opened it to a random page which was page 78 for a chocolate chip and vanilla marble cake. I breathed a sigh of relief as it was quick and simple to make and I had all the ingredients to hand. 

I had more chocolate batter than vanilla batter so the cake was not marbled in the end but extremely tasty. I particularly love the addition of chocolate chips in the chocolate batter of this cake and the chocolate drizzle on top was literally the icing on the cake. The sponge was light and moist and everyone thoroughly enjoyed the cake. 

 homemade vanilla extract, cocoa powder, caster sugar, butter, chocolate chips, milk, self raising flour and eggs 

 place a few blobs of vanilla sponge

 then add in the chocolate sponge to create a marble effect 

 still looks vaguely marbled here 

 add a white and dark chocolate drizzle 

 you can't really see the marble effect so it tasted more like a chocolate chip cake 

I've not printed the recipe here but it's a basic sponge recipe which you divide into half. Add cocoa powder and chocolate chips to half the batter to form the chocolate batter. 

Monday, 26 August 2013

SRC: Cream Cheese Pound Cake

It's Secret Recipe Club reveal day again. I was really organised this month and made my entry within a week of receiving my assignment so it feels like I've been waiting forever to share this amazing recipe with you. Just a quick recap in case you are wondering what the secret recipe club is about. The idea is very simple - each blogger is assigned another blogger in secret and you must choose 1 recipe to make and post on the same day of each month. It's always a tough choice choosing just one recipe and this month is no different.

My secret blog is Lynsey Lou's written by Lynsey who started food blogging in June 2008.  She has a passion for food and cooking, loves to entertain, research new recipes, read cookbooks and talk about food.  She grew up in the kitchen which is the heart of her current home. She was surrounded by talented family cooks and likes trying new types and styles of food. 

She has a lot of delicious recipes on her blog, both sweet and savoury. Obviously I went for the sweet stuff but it was really hard to pick one recipe as I wanted to try everything on there! In the end I decided on this Cream Cheese Pound Cake as I had seen this recipe before and bookmarked it but never got round to it. It sounds so simple yet delicious. Sometimes simple is best and this is definitely the case.  The cake was moist and light with a slight lemony tang to it from the lemon zest. Everyone at worked enjoyed it and needless to say there were no leftovers!

Other recipes that I have also bookmarked for future use are brown butter banana muffins with streusel topping, low fat chocolate zucchini muffins, outrageous oreo crunch brownies (how could I resist?) and peanut butter pie.

 flour, sugar, cream cheese, butter, eggs and lemon

 ready to go in the oven  

 I sprinkled lots of icing sugar and served it with fresh strawberries 


Recipe from Lynsey Lou's - the only change I made was to reduce the amount of sugar

375g flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
340g butter
225g cream cheese
400g sugar
6 eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
zest of 1 lemon
  • Preheat oven to 180C.
  • Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt together in a large bowl and set aside.
  • Cream the butter and cream cheese until smooth and creamy.
  • Add the sugar, a little at a time and continue mixing until light and fluffy. 
  • Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition.
  • Add the vanilla and lemon zest.
  • Finally, add the flour mixture and mix until just mixed. Be sure not to over mix the batter.
  • Pour into a large bundt tin and bake for 1 hour to 1 hour and 20 minutes until the cake is golden brown and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. 
  • Place the cake on a cooling rack and allow to cool for 20 minutes in the pan before inverting onto a cooling rack and allow to cool completely. 
  • Sprinkle liberally with icing sugar and serve with slices of strawberries.

Thursday, 22 August 2013

Grasshopper Pie and a review

Have you ever wondered what's in a grasshopper pie? I first saw them in America and was intrigued by them. Its essentially a mint and chocolate no bake pie which is popular in America. If you do a google search, the 2 main recipes that appear are from Nigella and the Hummingbird Bakery. I used the recipe from the Hummingbird Bakery Cake Days as I was looking through my cookbooks for inspiration for this month's AlphaBakes which is the letter G. 

This was the perfect end to a meal with the family. It was easy to put together as it required no baking but hours of chilling time. It's a very rich dessert with marshmallows, milk and lots of fresh cream so only a small slice is required. 

As mentioned, I'm entering this to AlphaBakes which I am hosting this month with my co-host Caroline from Caroline Makes. The letter this month is G for Grasshopper Pie.  

I'm also entering this to Tea Time Treats hosted by Kate from What Kate Baked and Karen from Lavender and Lovage. The theme this month is Ice creams, Jellies and Chilled Desserts. 

I was looking for my pie tin to make this dessert but couldn't find it anywhere so I decided to use this really cute I heart cake mould that I was sent by findmeagift to review. This silicone mould allows you to cut 6 large heart shape slices. It's oven safe to 220C and freezer safe to -40C. To be honest, I wasn't sure if I could make this pie in the mould as I was worried that it would not retain its heart shape but it worked! I was really pleased that the dessert set firmly in the fridge and I was able to get a decent heart shaped slice from it. It is a really large slice and I can imagine that it would look really good as a baked slice of cake which will be my next project.

My verdict - A solid silicone mould that does what it says on the tin. My pie came out of the mould easily and it was easy to wash. I've not tried baking with it yet so I can't comment if the cake sticks to the pan or not. There is a helpful diagram on the back of the mould with a picture guide to help you get the perfect heart shaped slice from your bake.  A perfect treat for yourself or a gift for a friend.

 double cream, oreo cookies, butter, milk, marshmallows and peppermint extract 

 crush the oreos and add melted butter to form a crust 

 chill the crust for at least 30 minutes until firm. 

 make the filling by melting marshmallow and milk  

 then stir in some cream, peppermiint extract and green food colouring  

 top with freshly whipped cream and chocolate shavings 

 it's a heart! 

 side view 

Recipe is from Hummingbird Bakery Cake Days which I won't reproduce here but if you do a google search you'll find it. The only changes I would make is to reduce the amount of butter for the crust or add more biscuits and to add more peppermint extract for a stronger mint flavour.

Disclaimer: I was sent the I heart cake mould from findmeagift free of charge for review purposes. I was not required to write a positive review and all opinions expressed are my own.