Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Paradise Loaf Cake

I was prompted to check a recipe on the Marks and Spencer app, which I have on my tablet, for a Paradise cake.  Made with banana, pineapple, sultanas and pecans, with added flavour from cinnamon and ground ginger and topped with some frosting it seemed an ideal recipe. The recipe calls for a 2lb/900g loaf tin, but I think an 8 inch round would work quite well too.

For mine I decide the loaf tin would suffice.  I also adapted the recipe very slightly, using some butter instead of the full amount of oil suggested.  I also calculated the amount of pinepple, without juice, from the suggested 216 gram tin on pineapple chunks.

The recipe is simple to make by mixing the dry ingredients in one bowl the wet in another and then mixing the two before adding the fruit and nuts.  All very easy.  

Then it just needs to be baked and cooled before adding some frosting.  I decided on buttercream, rather than butter and cream cheese, and I don't think that detracts from the end result in any way.
Paradise Loaf Cake
                                       Paradise Loaf Cake - Video Ingredients:
For the cake:
  • 100ml vegetable oil
  • 90ml of unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 2 bananas
  • 2 large eggs(XL in USA)
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 200g self raising flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 200g soft light brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 50g pecans, roughly chopped
  • 140g pineapple chunks(weight after draining juice from tin) each chopped into 4 pieces
For the buttercream:
  • 200g softened unsalted butter (you can use 100g butter and 100g cream cheese)
  • 200g icing sugar
  1. Preheat the oven to 180C/160C Fan/ 350F/ Gas Mark 4
  2. Grease and line a 2lb/900g loaf tin
  3. In a large bowl mash the bananas.
  4. Add the oil, butter, eggs and, vanilla extract and mix together( I used a hand mixer).
  5. In another bowl place the flour, sugar, cinnamon, ginger, baking soda and salt and whisk to mix together.
  6. Pour the wet ingredients into the flour mixture and beat on a slow speed until all is combined.
  7. Add the pineapples, sultanas and pecans and mix with a spatula until they are all combined.
  8. Pour the mixture into the loaf tin.
  9. Bake in the oven for an hour, until the cake has risen and a skewer in the centre comes out clean(if it doesn't return the cake to the oven and bake for a further 5 to 10 minutes and test again.
  10. Allow the cake to cool in the tin for 15 minutes, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.
  11. Place the 200g butter into a bowl and sieve in the icing sugar.  
  12. Beat until combined into a nice, smooth buttercream.
  13. Place the buttercream into a piping bag, with a nozzle attached,  and pipe over the cake.


Sunday, 25 June 2017

Moist Coconut Pound Loaf Cake

My sister in Canada simply loves coconut.  She asked about a coconut cake, that may I could make when I visit later in the summer.  So I looked around and found several loaf cakes that looked quite good.  But I actually opted to, very slightly, amend a recipe on Lovefoodies.  The adjustments were really more to do with converting to metric from cup measurements.

The cake itself is moist, due to the use of a thick coconut milk as part of the flavouring, rather than simply to use desiccated coconut.  I actually checked various coconut milk options and found that you really have to look at what you are buying.  There seems to be 'thin' and 'thick' versions the first with much less saturated fat in it.  I used the thick version as I thought it would have more flavour.

With a simple recipe this is easy to make and the resultant cake is delicious and moist.  Once cooled it can be sliced and enjoyed with afternoon tea, or maybe for elevenses if you are in the UK.

I am sure I will be making this when I visit Canada and my sister will enjoy it immensely.
Moist Coconut Pound Loaf Cake

                          Moist Coconut Pound Loaf Cake - Video
For the cake:
  • 170g softened, unsalted, butter
  • 170g coconut milk
  • 250g caster sugar
  • 3 medium eggs(large in USA)
  • 40g desiccated coconut
  • 225g plain flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
For the topping: (optional)
  • 2 tbsp coconut milk 
  • 15g desiccated coconut
  • 2 tbsp warmed rapsberry jam
  • 15g desiccated coconut
  • Preheat the oven to 180C/160C Fan/350F
  • Grease and line a 2lb/900G loaf tin
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer(can be done with a hand mixer, or by hand), place the butter and sugar and beat until light and fluffy.
  • Add the eggs one at a time and beat until combined.
  • Mix the flour, salt and baking powder together.
  • Add half the flour mixture to the butter mixture, and add half thecoconut milk as well.
  • Beat on slow until combined.
  • Add the remaining flour and coconut milk and beat on slow until combined. 
  • Pour the batter into the loaf tin and level it off.
  • Bake in the oven for 60 minutes, until the cake has risen and a skewer in the centre comes out clean.  If the top seems to be browing too quickly cover it with some aluminum foil to complete the baking.
  • Remove from the oven and leave for a couple of minutes.
  • If doing a topping either poke as series of holes into the cake and brush the coconut milk over the top and then cover with desiccated coconut. If doing with raspberry jam let the cake cook completely then spread the jam thinly over the top and sprinkle coconut over it.

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Peach Purée Cupcakes

Who doesn't enjoy a cupcake from time to time?  Certainly I do!.  So today I decided to make some.  I had bought some White Peach purée, which was supposedly to be used for making cocktails but which I thought would be ideal for baking too.  

So I looked around for a recipe that might work and I found a few, but the one I liked best was from a blog Cathlincooks which looked ideal.  However I adjusted the recipe slightly, with more purée, no water and I added an egg to help with the rising.I also swapped out the oil for butter as I prefer the taste.  The recipe also uses vinegar to activate the baking soda to help with rising too.  The vinegar is added right at the end and it makes the batter froth a little so that it expands somewhat, so you know it will do its' job well.

Of course you don't need to use ready made purée, if you have some ripe peaches, white or not, you can easily blend them to make a puree and pass it through a sieve, adding some water if it is too thick.

So, whether you make your own puree or buy some in this recipe is very simple.  The resultant cakes are very good just as they are, but even nicer with a peach buttercream on top.

The recipe makes about 18 cupcakes, which is more than I needed, so I froze 6 of them, without buttercream, to use at a later date.  I will be able to thaw them and add the buttercream whenever I wish.

I must say I am mighty pleased with how the cupcakes turned out they are light and moist with a subtle peach flavour.  With the buttercream added they taste fantastic.
Peach Purée Cupcakes

                                Peach Purée Cupcakes - Video
for the cakes:
  • 300g plain flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 360ml peach purée(I used bought in white peach puree, but you could make your own)
  • 125g melted and cooled butter
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract 
  • 2 tbsp white vinegar
  • 1 medium egg(large in USA)
For the buttercream:
  • 190g softened butter
  • 190g icing sugar
  • 60g peach purée
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  1. Preheat the oven to 190C/170C Fan/375 F.
  2. Line a muffin tin(I used a 12 hole and a 6 hole tin) with paper cases.
  3. In a large bowl place the flour, sugar, baking soda and baking powder and mix them together until nicely combined.
  4. In a separate bowl mix the peach purée, melted butter, egg and vanilla extract.
  5. Add the wet ingredients into the flour mixture and beat until fully combined.
  6. Then add the vinegar and quickly beat until it is well incorporated and the mixture has started to froth up(it sort of expands).
  7. Divide the mixture into the 18 paper cases, to just below the top.
  8. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes until the cupcakes are springy to the touch and a skewer poked into the centre comes out clean.
  9. Allow the cakes to cool for a few minutes in the tins and then transfer a wire rack to cook completely.
  10. Place the softened butter, icing sugar, 60g peach purée and teaspoon of vanilla extract into a bowl and whisk until all is fully combined.  Add more icing sugar if necessary to get the consistency you need for piping.
  11. Place the buttercream into a piping bag with a large star nozzle and pipe onto the cakes.

Friday, 16 June 2017

Coconut Biscotti

I just love biscotti the had, twice baked, biscuit/cookie that originated in Italy.  I also love coconut and had some coconut flour that needed using.  So I decided to make biscotti with it, using flaked coconut too.

Usually I just use eggs, or egg whites, as the liquid element of biscotti but today I inluded some butter too.  That provided a more cake-like texture to the biscotti when first baked.  But the second bake worked fine in drying out the end result just perfectly.

I only used coconut, and some vanilla extract, as the flavour but adding some hazelnuts or dry fruit might be a nice addition too.

The recipe is simple to make, but it takes a while, due to baking twice.  The end result is certainly worth waiting for.  The arome of coconut that emanates from the oven during baking is wonderful, whetting the appetite for the later tasting.

Mine turned out, a lovely golden brown, and light, very crisp and crunchy with a great taste.
Coconut Biscotti

                                     Coconut Biscotti - Video
  • 190g plain flour
  • 1 1/2tsp baking powder
  • 60g coconut flour
  • 50g flaked coconut, chopped into smaller pieces if the flakes are very large
  • 85g softened butter
  • 135g caster sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 medium eggs
  1. Preheat the oven to 180C/160C Fan/350F.
  2. Line a baking tray, or two, with parchment paper.
  3. In a bowl mix the flour and coconut flour together.
  4. In a large bowl cream the butter and sugar(I used a hand mixer) until fluffy.
  5. Add the eggs, salt and vanilla extract and beat until fully combined(dont worry if the mixture splits, it will come back together when the flour is added.
  6. Add the flour mixture and the flaked coconut and mix until just combined.
  7. Divide the mixture in two and shape into logs about 9.5 inches by 2 inches.  The mixture will be very sticky so wet hands will help.  Make sure, if using just one tray, that there is enough room for the mixture to spread during baking.
  8. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes.
  9. Remove from the oven and, if you wish, spray lightly with water to soften the top a little to stop crumbling when cutting.
  10. Reduce the heat of the oven to 165C/ 145-150C Fan/325F.
  11. Leave for 5 - 10 minutes and then cut into about 3/4 inch thick slices using a sharp knife or a serrated one.

  12. Lay the slices on the baking tray, one of the cut sides down.
  13. Bake in the oven for 25 - 30 minutes, turning once during that time, until they are a nice golden brown.
  14. Remove from the oven and place the biscotti on a wire rack to cool completely and harden.
  15. Store in an airtight container.  They should keep for weeks, if they last that long.

Monday, 12 June 2017

Apple Shortbread Cake

I saw a few videos for something known as Gateau Breton.  That is a French shortbread cake.  I then saw one recipe from Eric Lanlard that put apple inside the cake.  I thought that looked very interesting but I decided to do a slight variation on that, with caramelised apple.

I love caramelised apples, particularly with cooking apples such as Bramley.  They are very tart and the caramelisation works so well with them.

The recipe itself is simple and easy to do, it is just a case of making the shortbread batter and then caramelising the apples and putting the two together in a cake tin.

I am happy to say that I am very pleased with the result of mine, the taste is fantastic and the texture is just perfect.
Caramelised Apple Shortbread Cake

                      Caramelised Apple Shortbread Cake - Video
for the shortbread mix:
  • 350g plain flour
  • 250g golden caster sugar
  • 250g softened unsalted butter
  • 5 medium egg yolks(large in USA)
  • 1 medium egg yolk to wash the top of the cake
  • 2 tbsp dark rum
for the apples:
  • 25g butter
  • 100g soft light brown sugar
  • 1 cooking apple(you could use a dessert apple such as Braeburn if you prefer).
  1. Preheat the oven to 180C/160C Fan/350F
  2. Line the base of an 8 inch springform cake tin with parchment paper.
  3. Core and peel the apple and cut in half and then into slices.
  4. Place the 25g butter and the light brown sugar into a large frying pan and heat until the butter as melted and the sugar begins to dissolve.
  5. Place the slices of apple into the pan and stir around, turning the apple over.  The juice will come out of the apple and help to dissolve the sugar and create the caramel.
  6. Pour onto a large plate and allow to cool.
  7. In a large bowl place the butter and sugar and beat to a soft, fluffy consistency.
  8. Add the eggs and beat to combine.
  9. Add the rum and a little flour and beat to mix in.
  10. Add the remaining flour and beat slowly until just combined.
  11. Place half the batter into the cake tin and spread all over the base.
  12. Place slices of apple over that batter, leaving a gap all around the edge.
  13. Place the remaining batter on the top and spread evenly until all the apple is covered.
  14. Brush all over with the remaining egg yolk and use a fork to created a criss-cross pattern on the top.
  15. Bake in the oven for 50 to 60 minutes, until the top has gone quite a dark brown colour (I let mine bake for 60 minutes which was just about right). Bake for longer rather than shorter to ensure the batter is cooked through.
  16. Allow to cool in the tin for about ten minutes and then turn out onto a rack to cool completely.

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Individual Berry Pies

Having used frozen berries for my muffins I decided to use fresh berries for some free form pies.  I wanted individual ones with a nice shortcrust pastry.

Of course it would be ok to use shop bought pastry but I like to make my own, using a mixture of butter and lard as the shortening agents.

For berries I chose strawberries, raspberries, blackberries and blueberries.  That seemed a nice mixture of sweet and quite tart, and all with great flavours.

Although I made mine as free form pies, open at the top, it is maybe easier to use small pie dishes if they are available.

The recipe is very simple and doesn't take much work.  Simply make the pastry, chill it, roll it out and then put the berries in, mixed with cornflour and a little sugar, and then pull up the sides to enclose the fruit.  That is all there is to it. I made my pastry without any sugar, but you can add a little if you prefer it to be sweet.

I am very pleased with how mine turned out, I was worried that the base of the pastry might not bake but it worked fine, as the cornflour helped soak up the juice coming from the berries.

They taste fantastic, and especially when served with some whipped cream.

I made 8 pies, though I broke one when lifting the cooling rack to check the undersides.  One slipped off and made a dreadful mess all over the counter and floor.  There is a lesson to be learned there, I think.
                                           Individual Berry Pie

                                 Individual Berry Pies - Video
For the pastry:
  • 350g plain flour
  • 80g unsalted butter, cubed and chilled
  • 80g lard, cubed and chilled
  • 2 medium egg yolks(large in USA)
  • ice-cold water
  • egg whites for brushing over the pastry.
For the filling:
  • 1kg mixed fresh berries or your choice(you could try frozen as well)
  • 3 tbsp cornflour
  • 50g caster sugar(less if your berries are very sweet)
  1. Place the flour and drop in the lard and butter, gently stirring to coat the cubes.
  2. Use a pastry cutter to cut the butter and lard into the flour, until your have a breadcrumb like texture(or rub between your fingers to the same result).
  3. Add the egg yolks and 2 tablespoons for water and use a knife to stir into the flour mixture until it starts to clump together.
  4. Add more water, a little at a time until you get slightly larger clumps.
  5. Use a hand to pull everything into a dough.
  6. Shape into a ball and flatten to a disc then cover with plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes. (I cut my dough into two discs, so I could use one while the other stayed in the fridge).
  7. Preheat the oven to 180C/160C Fan/350F.
  8. Line a couple of baking trays with parchment paper or silicone mats.
  9. Place the berries(cut into smaller size if strawberries are large) into a large bowl and tip in the caster sugar and cornflour.
  10. Mix together until the berries are all coated with cornflour.
  11. Cut the dough into eight equal pieces.
  12. Roll each one out into a circle, to a thickness of about 1/4 inch.
  13. Place some berries into the middle of the disc leaving a good sized border.
  14. Brush the border with a little water and then pull it up to the berries, folding the pastry and pressing it together until you have circled and enclosed the berries, with the top of the pastry open.
  15. Place on the baking sheets.
  16. Brush the pastry with beaten egg white and sprinkle over a little granulated sugar.
  17. Bake in the oven for 30-35 minutes, until the pastry has cooked to a nice golden colour.
  18. The fruit may bubble over and down the sides of the pie a little but that is fine.
  19. Remove from the oven and allow to sit on the baking trays for 10 minutes. 
  20. After ten minutes gently transfer the pies to a wire rack and allow to cool completely.
  21. Serve at room temperature, with a little whipped cream, or ice cream.

Sunday, 4 June 2017

Summer Berry Muffins

As the warmer weather is now with us my thoughts turned to summer and I decided to make some muffins with a variety of summer fruits.  So for my Summer Berry Muffins I used frozen fruits, though fresh would be ideal as well.  The mixture that I used had raspberries, blackberries, blackcurrant and redcurrants.  I don't think blackcurrants and redcurrants are readily available in North America, but they are a delicious soft berry, so full of juice.  They are also very easy to grow, so are a firm favourite of gardeners in the UK too.

As always, muffins are very easy to make.  It is simply a process of mixing dry ingredients in one bowl and the wet ones in another.  Then they are combined, without being mixed too much.  With the fruit to be added I mixed mine in part-way through mixing the dry and wet together.

I also sprinkled some demerara sugar over the top to provide a little crunch on the top.  

They turned out very well indeed, and taste so good, with the lovely texture of the muffin and the different fruit flavours.

These muffins can also be frozen after baking and then just thawed whenever you want one, if they last long enough that some reach the freezer.
Summer Berry Muffins

                            Summer Berry Muffins - Video
  • 280g plain flour
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 150ml buttermilk
  • 130g butter, melted
  • 2 medium eggs(large in USA)
  • zest and juice of one lemon
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 250g summer fruits, fresh or frozen(mine had raspberries, blackberries, redcurrants and blackcurrants)
  • 25g demerara sugar, for sprinkling
  1. Preheat the oven to 180C/160C Fan/350F
  2. Line a muffin tin with paper cases.
  3. Place the flour, caster sugar, baking powder and salt into a large bowl and mix to combine.
  4. Mix the lemon zest in as well.
  5. In a separate bowl put the buttermilk. eggs, lemon juice and melted butter and whisk to combine.
  6. Add the wet mixture to dry ingredients and mix to combine, stirring in the summer fruits towards the end.  Don't overmix.
  7. Sprinkle demerara sugar over the top of each one.
  8. Distribute the muffin batter between the 12 paper cases and bake in the oven for 30 minutes, until they have risen and are springy to the touch.
  9. Remove from the oven and leave for a few minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack to let them cool completely.