Baked

Chocolate Espresso Cake with Espresso Italian Meringue Frosting

This cake recipe has become a firm favourite in our house recently and I’ve made it into a layer cake and cupcakes with great success! It’s a delicious rich bake with a strong espresso hit from both the cake and frosting, I was inspired by this recipe but have made some tweaks and switched to Italian Meringue Buttercream (my new favourite!).

20190409_211615.jpg

20190303_174029.jpg

20190303_180025.jpg

20190303_174113.jpg

20190303_174902.jpg

Chocolate Espresso Cake

I’ve stuck pretty close to the Sugar Coated Cottage recipe here but chosen to use melted butter rather than oil, if your wanting the oil version (which I have made and was still yummy I just prefer the extra richness of butter) her recipe is linked here.

Ingredients

Makes 12 cupcakes, to make a 3 layer 8 in cake double this recipe.

  • 175g plain flour
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 40g cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp bicarb
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 85g melted butter
  • 1/2 tbsp vanilla paste
  • 1 lungo Nespresso pods or 125ml instant coffee brewed and cooled.

Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 180 degrees C (350 F) and prepare a 12 hole muffin tin with cases if your making cupcakes or lightly grease and line 3 8 in cake tins if your making a layer cake.
  2. Add all dry ingredients to a large bowl or the bowl of your mixer and stir through to mix (flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, bicard and salt).
  3. Melt your butter in the microwave (go gently and do it in 10 second blasts), once melted add the eggs, vanilla paste and cooled coffee and whisk gently till fully mixed.
  4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and with your mixer on low mix until well combined, scrap down the sides to make sure all the ingredients are mixed.
  5. For cupcakes fill each case 1/3 full (don’t be tempted to add more as these cupcakes rise really well and you’ll end up with mountains!). If your doing a layer cake pour the batter evenly into your 3 cake pans.
  6. For cupcakes bake for 25 mins, for layer cakes bake for 35 mins or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the center of the cake. As this cake is quite a dark brown care needs to be taken to not let the top burn while cooking, if need be cover the cake with foil to protect the cake from over browning on top.
  7. Allow the cupcakes or layers to cool completely before frosting. If your doing a layer cake trim the 3 layers to ensure they are flat ready for filling and layering up.

Espresso Italian Meringue Frosting

This frosting is literally the most gorgeous coffee frosting ever! I am now fully converted to Italian Meringue Buttercream and sort of think all other buttercreams and frostings pale in comparison to this light and smooth buttercream! It is a little bit more work than basic buttercream but it is totally worth it! It keeps for a week in the fridge and freezers for up to a month so if you’ve any leftover or make a big batch save it, when your ready to use your chilled/frozen buttercream let it come to room temperature overnight. This buttercream can be rescued even if it looks split, just take a little and blast for 10 seconds in the microwave then add to the split buttercream and whip either by hand or in your mixer and it should come back together beautifully. This tutorial from American Heritage Cooking gives a ton of tips for making the perfect Italian Meringue Buttercream, if your worried about making IMB for the first time its an amazing starting point with all the information you need to make silky, smooth buttercream.

Ingredients

Makes enough buttercream to frost a 3 layer cake completely or 36 cupcakes. It is possible to make less by reducing the number of egg whites and all the other ingredients proportionally.

  • 5 egg whites
  • 375g sugar
  • 150g water
  • pinch of salt (optional)
  • 450g butter cubed
  • 1 lungo Nespresso pod or 75ml of very strong instant coffee cooled

Method

  1. Ensuring you have a really clean bowl for your mixer add all the egg whites and a pinch of salt and set up with the whisk attachment on your mixer, don’t switch on yet.
  2. Place the sugar and water in your saucepan and heat on a medium heat stir gently till the sugar is dissolved (I usually do this by gently swirling the saucepan). Once the sugar is dissolved atop stirring.
  3. Start your mixer to whisk the whites and keeping heating the sugar. The aim is to get the sugar to 235 degrees at the same time as you achieve firm peaks with the whites. This usually takes approximately 5-10mins but if your sugar is heating too fast you can turn the heat down or if the mixer is almost at firm peaks you can turn the mixer down (just don’t turn off completely).
  4. While your waiting for the sugar and whites to be ready weigh out and cube your butter and leave at room temperature (this will mean it’s not hard when your ready to add it without being super soft).
  5. Once you have firm peaks and your sugar is up to temperature (I always use a sugar thermometer to do this). Turn the mixer to low (you don’t want to splash hot sugar syrup on yourself) and with a steady stream pour the sugar down the side of the bowl in one go. This can feel a bit daunting at first but trust me go steady and calmly and all will be fine!
  6. Turn the mixer up to medium once all the sugar has been added and continue mixing until the side of the bowl feel barely warm to the touch (times vary here but usually takes 10mins approx to cool).
  7. Once cooled enough add your butter one cube at a time, give each cube a little squeeze as you add it and allow it to be fully mixed in before you add the next cube. Continue until all the butter is added and keep mixing to form smooth and silky buttercream. If it starts to look split it maybe because it too cold try placing a warm tea towel or your palms on the bowl to warm it slightly.
  8. Now you have your basic buttercream you can add flavour. Add your coffee slowly, and optionally 1 tsp of vanilla paste, the mix resists the coffee initially but keep mixing and stop and scrap the bowl until the coffee combines with the buttercream. Taste and add more coffee if need be – we like it strong with coffee flavour in our house!

Now it’s time to decorate your cupcakes or layer cake! This buttercream pipes beautifully so feel free to use any tip you like to create the effect you want. For cupcakes I like to pipe a generous swirl then decorate with gold and silver sprinkles or sugar pearls. For a layer cake a pipe small swirls in a boarder around the edge of each layer then fill the middle (I don’t bother doing swirls here as you won’t see it). I then stack all the layers neatly finishing with swirls over the whole of the top of the cake (I didn’t pipe or cover the sides of my cake but you could easily do this as this buttercream smooths beautifully for a crisp smooth cake). Then sprinkling with gold and silver sprinkles, sugar pearls or chocolate sprinkles to decorate.

What treats have you been getting obsessed with recently and remaking several times? I know this cake is going to remain a family favourite for some time to come, I’d love to hear what bakes are family favourites so share some love and leave a comment!

Cx

Advertisements
Baked

Autumnal Naked Wedding Cake

November last year was an epic month for me and I was very lax in telling you all about it! First off I made a wedding cake for my lovely sister-in-law and her now husband who got married at the gorgeous Bassmead Manor in St Neots. A few day later we moved house and city and finally I got a new job (which I started in Jan). So to say it’s was a busy month is an understatement!

So the wedding cake, I can’t believe I am actual able to say “I made a wedding cake!” Wow what an honour and huge responsibility but I have to say I am ridiculously proud of what I achieved over 2 days even with whole tiers being remade and buttercream failures to contend with (damm marscapone buttercream!). I will blog soon with all the details of my recipes and my tips for DIY-ing a wedding cake, but here she is in all her glory!

I stacked and decorated the cake the morning of the wedding with the assistance of one of the other bridesmaids and the cake held up beautifully till it was time to be cut. Incredibly every last slice of cake was eaten on the night, something I still can’t believe but put it down to there being 3 flavours of cake to try; Pumpkin and Carrot Spiced Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting, Lemon and Blueberry Cake, and White Chocolate and Raspberry Cake all finished with Vanilla Italian Meringue Buttercream.

This one was a real challenge and probably the thing I am proudest of creating! What have you been making that your proud of? I’d love to hear about those challenging creations that make you feel a little crazy to be attempting so share some love and leave a comment.

Cx

Baked, Hooked

New year, new beginnings?

I am a bit late to the party seeing as we are already in March but I am to feeling settled into 2019 and what it has in store for us! 2019 feels like it holds a lot of promise and “newness” for me and my family and after a tough 2018 it’s nice to feel like the slate is wiped clean.

Remembering and reflecting on 2018 has been emotional for me, it was a year of real highs and lows and so much change it left me exhausted at times. I started the year in a very dark place and had to make one of the toughest decisions of my life to leave my job as a teacher as the stress and pressure was making me both physically and mental unwell. Deciding to walk away for my own health and wellbeing was so incredible hard and in the moment I felt great guilt and grief that I had to admit defeat. With the passing of time I have gained perspective on both what I was going through and my decision to leave and I can say hand on heart it was the best decision I have made (bar marrying my OH) and I have no regrets. In the aftermath of leaving that job I re-found my creativity, something that had got lost among planning, paperwork, stress, pressure and never-ending to do lists! Reconnecting with this part of me was so incredibly healing and rewarding, over the weeks and months I felt the darkness lift and the stress that had engulfed me evaporate. Each cake I baked, each crochet stitch I hooked brought me back to life.

Newness began to appear in our lives, OH got a new job in Nottingham and I prepared to sell our house and move us there. We had the pleasure of special birthdays, weddings and christenings to attend with family and friends. I challenged myself to make my Sister-in-law’s wedding cake (I will be dedicating a post to this very soon!). We said goodbye to Sheffield and our lovely home to move to Nottingham. I decided that teaching in a school full time wasn’t what I wanted and got a job working as an Early Years Practitioner in a private nursery.

2019 has already bought more newness to us in the form of another new job for OH as a Haematology Consultant and with that comes the hope that this move to Nottingham will become for permanent. I am getting stuck into my new job and already love being part time! Here’s hoping there will be many more bakes and makes to share with you as this year progresses. A few projects that are brewing include my geometric shawl inspired by the quilts of Libs Elliot, 2 ABC blankets for expectant friends, cookie recipe development and so many plans for cakes!

I hope you started 2019 full of hope and newness just like we did! I’d love to hear what plans/creations/projects you have got brewing this year, so share some love and leave a comment!

Cx

Baked

Apple Pie

We are very lucky to have some super neighbours and I will be sad to say goodbye when we relocate. They recently bought us a selection of their home grown fruit and veg from the allotment they have. Included was a huge haul of apples so I’ve been busy making a every apple based dessert I could think of! This weekend it was apple pie – my husband favourite! I’m not a big fan of pastry (apart from filo) so I don’t often make pies or other pastry based recipes and I hate making pastry so for this recipe I cheated and bought ready rolled shortcrust pastry which save so much time!

Ingredients

  • Ready-rolled shortcrust pastry
  • 4/5 large apples
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 100g light brown sugar
  • 2 tsp cinnamon

Method

  1. Prepare your apples first by peeling, coring and chopping into chunks. I like my chunks to be bite size or slightly bigger so that it doesn’t get mushy once cooked. You want to generously fill your pie dish as the apple chunks will cook down a little in the oven.
  2. Once your apple is prepared put it in a bowl with the lemon juice, sugar and cinnamon and leave to sit for at least 30 minutes. This is my top tip (and really my husband discovered it) letting the apples sit with the lemon and sugar allows some of the liquid to come out of the apples so that they don’t become too mushy when you cook the pie. I discard the liquid by draining the apples before I fill my pie case.
  3. While the apples are draining get the pastry out to come to room temp. You can make your own pastry or use the ready-rolled type like I did. Once the pastry has had 10 minutes to warm up carefully unroll it, I like to then roll it out a little thinner and repair any tears from unrolling. Place your pie dish upside down on the pastry (do this to one side to give you as much pastry for the lattice as possible) and using a sharp knife cut around the dish making your circle a little larger than the dish. I prefer this method over placing the pastry into the dish and trimming excess as it is easier to ensure you’ve pastry for the lattice.
  4. Flip your dish back over and take the circle and gently place it into the pie dish. Try to ease it into the sides of the dish so it sits snuggly but make sure the pastry comes up slightly onto the lip of the dish.
  5. Add the apple mixture and spread out evenly. With the leftover pastry cut strips approx 4cm wide. Starting from the middle place stripe on in a lattice, this is achieved by weaving the strips under then over one another, see picture below. Trim any excess length off and use these trimmed bit to roll out more pastry for strips. Once all the strips are in place and your happy with the lattice work you can pinch the ends if the strips onto the base pastry all the way around the pie rim.
  6. Wash the pastry carefully with a little milk or egg wash and bake for 40 minutes at 200°C or until golden brown and you can see the apples starting to soften. Leave to cool for 10 minutes before serving with vanilla ice cream or cream.

This was a lovely Sunday night treat and went down well with my husband! What apple based creations have you been making recently? I’d love to hear what you’ve been baking so share some love and leave a comment.

Cx

Baked

Low Fat Chocolate Cherry Brownies

This recipe is something I have been playing with for years and originally it was a Weight Watchers recipe (sorry no link here as I can’t find the original) that I have changed, modified and generally stripped and rebuilt to my taste.

Now I love a gooey brownie but having made brownies for years and tried multiple recipes I know getting just the right gooey consistence is practically black baking magic! So my timings and temperatures for this recipe are a guide based on what works for my oven, so I suggest you have a play with your own oven to get them just how you like them gooey or cakey!

Ingredients
50 ml sunflower oil
4 medium egg(s)
150 g caster sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla essence (optional)
75 g plain flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
75 g cocoa powder
125 g dark chocolate
60 g Dried Cherries

Instructions
1. Preheat the oven to 200 Celsius (180 for fan oven)/ gas mark 6. Grease a 20.5cm (8 inch) square tin and line with grease proof paper. I recommend the grease proof paper overhang the sides a bit as this makes getting the brownies out of the tin much easier.
2. Melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of barely simmering water, stirring occasionally. Take the bowl off the pan and put to one side to cool slightly.
3. Put the eggs into a clean bowl, add the oil, sugar and vanilla essence and whisk together until pale and thick.
4. Sift the flour, baking powder and cocoa powder into the bowl, then carefully pour in the chocolate.
5. Using a metal spoon, gently fold all the ingredients together – if you fold too roughly the chocolate will seize up and become unusable.
6. Carefully pour the brownie mixture into the prepared tin and bake for 20 mins – when cooked, the brownies should still be fudgy inside and the top should be cracked and crispy. I recommend you check them at approx 15 mins and then adjust your baking time as required (you might need less than 20 mins or more depending on your oven and how you like your brownies).
7. Remove from the oven and cut into squares immediately, then leave them to cool in the tin. Transfer to a serving plate or wrap in the brownies in cling film and put in an airtight container. They will keep for up to 3 days.Feel free to adjust the chocolate to cocoa powder ratio this is my healthy version but you could add more chocolate and less cocoa if you prefer. I love this one with the dried cherries (glacé cherries also work they just don’t have as intense a cherry flavour) but you could add nuts or chocolate chips instead (like I did with mine). I have also tried this with mint chocolate (which was damm delicious especially as a love mint choc things!), I just replaced the dark chocolate with a peppermint infused dark chocolate and omitted the vanilla extract. You could also try other flavoured dark chocolates like orange or chilli.
I would love to hear what you think of these brownies and other flavour combo’s to try, so share some love and leave a comment!

Cx

Baked

A Haematology themed Red Velvet Cake!

It’s not everyday that you challenge yourself to design and create a cake with the theme of Haematology! Firstly I should explain why these day has arrived in the first place …. my lovely OH is a haematologist and he has just completed his registrar training and he and one of his colleagues where both leaving there current reg jobs for new jobs so they had a leaving do and the idea of a haem cake was born!

As you know I love a challenge and often I turn to the inspiration of Pinterest to help when I’m taking on something a bit weird and wonderful! So off I click searching for Haematology cakes but only really finding doctor themed or cakes with a ton of fondant (not my forte). So I decided to think outside the box a little and started searching for ways to make blood and blood slides to decorate my cake. And Pinterest did not fail me!

My first challenge was the blood slides (we made ours bone marrow slides as that’s what haematologists make and look at in the lab). So many of the recipes I saw cut there slides out of a large sheet of hard sugar but I knew I wanted mine to all me uniform in size and cutting ran the risk of slides shattering and snapping! To overcome this challenge I ordered a new silicon mold which gave the perfect shape and size for blood slides. To make life easy I bought some clear peppermint glace sweets and melted 2 per rectangle mold in the oven. It was tricky getting them to not have lots of air bubbles but I found letting them get hot enough that the sweet was boiling in the mold then letting them cool slowly by turning the oven off and opening the door resulted in most bubbles coming the surface and popping. I’d like to perfect this more but time and running out of sweets prevented this! Once the slides cooled completely and became hard I simple popped them out of the molds and neatened any rough edges with a sharp knife (simple gently running it down the edge to scrap any rough bits of sugar off). To finish the slides my OH suggested raspberry jam looked like bone marrow so he spread a little on each slide. If you wanted to make them look like blood slides dab a little red food colouring on to look like a drop of blood. If you don’t want to buy a rectangle mold this recipe shows you how to make it as a large sheet and then cut slides out.

20180821_133423.jpg

To complete the blood theme I used red fondant to make little red blood cells. It’s super easy just take a small ball (slightly bigger than bean) and using a ball tool gently push down into the ball to make a sort of donut shape. To make the blood cells look more realistic I used a little red good colouring gel to coat the fondant cells so they looked like they were covered in blood.

20180805_175154.jpg

Of course the cake had to be red velvet! And I chose to go for a naked cake look using an amazing cream cheese frosting that uses whipped cream to make it more stable (which considering the weather was crazy humid the day I made this it was so necessary!) you can find the link for the recipe here! To make it a little extra special I added raspberry jam and a layer of fresh raspberries in the filling which really lifted the flavour of the cake. The cake was a resounding hit with all the Haematologists at the leaving do and the addition of raspberries in the filling worked so well.

What crazy ideas have you been translating into cakes recently? I’d love the hear about what your baking so share the love and leave a comment.

Cx

Hooked

ABC baby blanket/play mat – the finished article.

I shared some of the squares I was making for the applique ABC blanket for a family members soon to be born son previously, you can check out the post here. Well the baby has arrived and this weekend I furiously completed the joining and boarder and the finished blanket was gifted to lovely baby Leo and his Mum and Dad.

This has truly been such a joy to make and I am already hatching plans to make a second and write patterns for each applique I made which I will hopefully offer as a downloadable pattern so that you can make your own ABC blanket. I chose to use Rico Creative Cotton Aran as there colour selection was amazing and they are a really affordable option considering you need to buy quite a wide selection of colours for all your appliques. It works up beautiful and as its cotton gives great stitch definition without too much splitting.

For the joining I decided to try a new method and popped over to the amazing Cypress Textiles (seriously her blog is brilliant so many patterns and tips for crochet – go check it out) to try her tutorial on the PLT join (that’s pull loop through join). This joining method is brilliant, it took a few attempts to master but once I had it worked up super fast and looks so good on the finished product. I will definitely be using it again for future blankets! I then added a fleece back to hide all the threads from sewing the applique on and did a simple picot edge to finish it all off.

Come back soon for the first few patterns to make the apple, bees and cupcake appliques. What have you been hooking up that your loving? I’d love to see what your making so share some love and leave a comment.

Cx