I love chocolate brownies and as a bonus they are so simple to bake. This recipe is even simpler. It’s from Donna Hay’s Fast, fresh, simple which was showing in the UK a few weeks back. The recipe is for standby brownies and is perfect when you need to make brownies quickly and you have no chocolate in the house. The resulting brownies are moist and delicious. Perhaps not quite as good as with the delicious pockets of melting chocolate you get in most recipes but delicious none the less.
Over the bank holiday weekend I baked 6 cakes. 7 if you count the one I dropped (but we don’t talk about that cake much). I can see the funny side now but trust me I didn’t then. I’d just baked and iced my third cake, I was half way there and ahead of schedule and within second there was my cake, upside down on the kitchen floor! (just days after feeling sorry for the poor man who did that on The Great British bake off). There is no photo I’m afraid, that cake was never going to be mentioned and I refused to photograph it. It would have been a great photo to include in this post but at the time I couldn’t even contemplate talking about the accident.
So why was I making myself spend two out of three days over the bank holiday weekend baking cakes? We were having a party on bank holiday monday to celebrate our wedding with all our family and friends who weren’t at our small wedding in Tuscany. My mum wanted the traditional wedding cake (fruit cake) so that everyone could go home with a piece wrapped up in a serviette. I wanted the excuse to bake and to have a variety of cakes so that there was something everyone liked. We didn’t have the traditional wedding (and this wasn’t a big traditional wedding reception, just close friends and family at my mum & dads house on a bank holiday afternoon) so we didn’t feel we had to follow tradition with the cake either.
I spent a few hours looking through my cookbooks, magazines and recipes torn out of magazines or pinned on the internet & saved for future use. I compiled a big shopping list (mostly butter, eggs, sugar and flour), considered how far in advance recipes could be baked and which cakes could be baked in the oven together. My lovely followers on twitter were very helpful with suggestions of simple cakes, egg free recipes (for a friend who can’t eat them) and what exactly Nigella meant by instant espresso powder. Slowly a plan was formed and the task of baking enough cake for 40-50 people didn’t look quiet so daunting.
The first think I baked were brownies and egg free ginger cake after work on friday as these cakes kept well. I have a separate post coming up with the brownie recipe for you soon. The ginger cake is from Fuss Free Flavours and can be found here. The cake was simple to bake and tasted fantastic, lots of flavour and a really nice texture. I’ll definitely be baking this cake again.
Next I made a coffee and walnut cake (sorry for the blurry photo but that’s the best I have) and the I can’t believe you made that chocolate cake. The coffee and walnut cake recipe is from Nigella’s last cookbook Kitchen and you can find my post on the I can’t believe you made that cake here.
Finally I baked a very simple lemon yogurt cake from Donna Hay and a white chocolate cake. The lemon cake was the cake I was slightly disappointed with. It looked a bit of a mess as some of the cake stuck to the grooves of the bundt mould and the texture was a bit dense for my likings. The white chocolate cake was my favorite (and I suspect a lot of other people’s at it went much quicker than the rest). I have a post planned with the recipe and more details about this delicious cake coming up soon.
Thank you to Dr. Oetker who kindly sent me a collection on their baking ingredients to try out whilst baking these cakes. Of course the baking powder was invaluable but I also really like the sprinkles. The citrus sprinkles used on the lemon cake gave a little extra zing to the cake and the white chocolate cake wouldn’t have looked as good without the polka dots. The fudge chunks tasted great on the rocky road brownies.
This book was my first introduction to Leila Lindholm. She is a Swedish TV chef (I’m not sure that any of her shows have been shown in the UK but I could be wrong), author (this is her fourth book) and has be extensively featured in Delicious, Easy Living and Elle magazine.
This book follows on from her previous book, A piece of cake and includes recipes for breads, pizza’s, fresh pasta, brownies, cheesecakes, ice creams, pies, pancakes and waffle. I love the photography throughout the book. It’s a wonderful book to pick up and flick through for the photos alone. But if you did you would be missing out as the recipes are really simple, use standard, easy to get hold of ingredients and look and sound delicious. Leila’s enthusiasm for baking is evident throughout.
There is something for everyone in this book. For each section there are basic recipes e.g. for pizza sauces and dough or for brownies and then Leila gives you lots of variations. If you like brownies then you might like after eight brownies or raspberry brownies or how about rocky road brownies or brownie cupcakes (to name just a few of the brownie recipes).
There are many recipes I want to try in this book but I went straight to the bread section “boulangerie” and tried out one on the nine kinds of baguette included in the book. I chose to bake birdie num-num bread, partly because I had all the ingredients in and partly as I just love the name! The recipe was simple to follow and the resulting baguettes delicious. I used my baguette tray to make two of them and had to make the other two on a flat baking sheet. The ones on the flat baking sheet didn’t work so well, they collapsed into a wide flat loaf of bread! The book talks about using a baguette tray or baking sheet I don’t know if anyone has had more sucess than me with using baking sheets but I’ll be halving the recipe next time and using the baguette tray! New Holland Publishers have kindly agreed for me to publish this recipe below. I can’t wait to bake another recipe from this book and I know this will be a well used book in my ever growing cookbook collection.
One more slice is available to buy now for £19.99. New Holland Publishers, are offering my readers a 25% discount and free post and packaging if you buy it direct from their website and enter the discount code purely. This offer is valid until 30th September 2011 to UK residents only. Discount cannot be used in conjunction with other offers!
Thank you to New Holland Publishers for my review copy of this book and for allowing me to share the recipe for birdie num num with my readers.
makes 4 baguettes
dough one ( starter)
5 g (1/4 oz) fresh yeast
300 ml (10 fl oz) cold water
325 g (11 oz) strong bread flour
1. For the starter: crumble the yeast in a mixing bowl and dissolve it in the water.
2. Add the flour and mix it until the loose dough is smooth.
3. Cover the bowl with clingfilm and let it rise for at least
4 hours at room temperature or overnight in the refrigerator.
15 g (1/2 oz) fresh yeast
300 ml (10 fl oz) cold water
1 portion dough one (starter)
1 tbsp salt
1 tbsp sugar
450–550 g (1 lb–1 lb 4 oz) strong bread
oil for the trays
1. For dough two: crumble the yeast in a mixing bowl, add the water and mix.
2. Add dough one, salt, sugar and then the flour until the dough holds together. Work the dough in a mixer at low speed for around 15 minutes.
3. Let the dough rise under a cloth for around 11/2 hours.
4. Preheat the oven to 240°C (475°F/gas 9).
5. Turn the dough out onto a well-floured surface, divide it into four pieces and carefully press each piece into a rectangle with your fingers.
6. Fold in a long side of each rectangle, roll it up and shape the ends into points.
7. Twist the baguettes once and place them on a well-oiled baguette tray (or a regular baking tray).
8. Let them rise under a cloth for about an hour.
9. Brush the baguettes with water and sprinkle with sea salt. Make a few incisions diagonally across each baguette with a sharp knife and immediately put the tray in the middle of the hot oven.
10. When the baguettes have coloured a little, lower the temperature to 200°C (400°F/gas 6).
11. Bake until the breads have been in the oven for a total of around 30 minutes, then let them cool on a rack.
birdie num-num baguette
makes 4 baguet tes
1 portion baguette dough (see basic recipe below)
50 g (2 oz) mixed seeds – poppy, sesame, sunflower and pumpkin
oil for greasing
1. Preheat the oven to 240°C (475°F/gas 9).
2. Make the baguettes according to the basic recipe and let them rise on a greased tray.
3. Brush with water, sprinkle with seeds and sea salt.
4. Immediately place the tray in the middle of the oven.
5. When the baguettes have gained a little colour, lower the temperature to 200°C (400°F/gas 6).
6. Bake until the breads have been in the oven for a total of around 30 minutes, then let them cool on a rack.
As much as I enjoy making yeasted bread, sometimes I just don’t have the time to wait three hours for a loaf. This is where I find soda bread comes in as it can be ready in under an hour. I’ve tried a few recipes but never found one I’ve loved and wanted to repeat. That was until this weekend. This recipe will be repeated in my kitchen very soon. The recipe is from this month’s Sainsbury’s magazine and is from Richard Corrigan. I had to adapted the recipe slightly as it was a last minute decision on sunday morning to bake bread for lunch and I had to use what was in the fridge/cupboards. I substituted the treacle/honey for golden syrup and as we had no buttermilk in I used half semi-skimmed milk and half low fat natural yogurt. I love the flavour of the bread and the texture from the seeds, oats and mix of half plain/half wholemeal flour. This makes quiet a big loaf so for just the two of us I will be halving the recipe next time.
Irish soda bread
250g plain flour
15g bicarbonate of soda
250g wholemeal flour
150g jumbo oat flakes
1 tbsp clear honey
1 tbsp black treacle
1 tbsp mixed seeds (optional)
- Heat the oven to 390F/200C (fan 180)/gas mark 6. Line a baking sheet with baking parchment or grease and line a large loaf tin.
- Mix all the dry ingredients together in a bowl. Make a well in the centre, then pour in the honey, treacle and buttermilk, working everything together lightly with your hands until you have a loose, wet dough.
- With floured hands, shape the dough into a round and lift it onto the lined baking sheet or into the tin. Use a knife to mark a cross in the top (there’s no need to do this if you are using a tin). Scatter with seeds if using.
- Put into the oven and bake for around 45 minutes, or until the loaf sounds hollow when tapped on the base.
- Transfer to a wire rack, drape a slightly damp cloth over the top and leave to cool.
This month’s Fresh from the oven challenge was hosted by Jo from Jo’s kitchen. She chose a recipe for a sandwich loaf from the recent BBC TV series Great British food revival. I loved the show but never quiet got round to trying the recipe. After returning from Tuscany, without wedding planning taking up all my free time, this month’s challenge was the perfect way for me to jump back in to both blogging and baking bread. I just checked my archive and was surprised to find out that the last time I participated in a Fresh from the oven challenge was last September! I’ve still been enjoying running the group (with the lovely Michelle of Utterly scrummy food for families) but I just never seemed to find the time each month to participate. I love seeing all the fantastic breads everyone makes when putting together the round ups, it is very inspiring. I was pleased to find out this month that we have been featured on the channel 4 website in an article on the best bread blogs. A big thank you to all our members who take part each month. Clearly I’m not the only one who finds all your efforts inspiring.
Back to this month’s challenge. You can find the recipe here. I found the recipe very straight forward to follow. Although I found the dough quiet wet, using my kitchenaid mixer this was not a problem. I will be reading the other members post keen to find out if it was just mine and how those who knead by hand got on. The only adaption I made was that after about 20 minutes in the oven my loaf was looking brown enough for my liking so I cover it with tin foil for the rest of the baking time (but then I’m a bit fuss like that, my husband calls my toast warm bread as I like it fairly pale golden). We both loved the loaf, it made delicious sandwiches and toast. The only downside was that perhaps the bread was a little bit too sweet. As an occasional bread though I enjoyed it but if I was making this all the time for sandwiches I think we would get fed up of the sweetness. Having said that I will definately be making this loaf again.
Back in January I saw this cake baked by Lorraine Pascale on her first tv show Baking made easy. As soon as I saw this cake I knew I would have to make it for a special occasion. I love to cook and bake but I have decorated very few cakes and to be honest I’m a bit intimidated by cake decoration. This cake though looked very impressive but simple to decorate at the same time. By the time I volunteered to bake a cake for my Aunties 80th birthday party I had forogotten all about this cake. I flicked through my recipe books looking for a suitable cake that was simple but yet looked that little bit special, nothing fit the bill. That was until I remembered this recipe for the I can’t believe you made that cake. The recipe is easy to follow and simple, you just need a little bit of time to make it (there a few stages involving waiting for the cake to cool or icing to set). I was very pleased with the final cake. Not only did it look great, it cut well and it tasted delicious. It was very moist and almost chocolate fudge cake like (I made the cake friday and served it sunday, the left overs were still moist on monday).
I can’t believe you made that
vegetable oil or oil spray
200g/7oz butter, softened
200g/7oz caster sugar
4 free-range eggs
140g/5oz plain flour
60g/2½oz cocoa powder
2 tsp baking powder
For the buttercream
250g/9oz butter, softened
500g/1lb 2oz icing sugar100g/3½oz good dark chocolate (at least 70 per cent cocoa solids), melted and slightly cooled
For the decoration
3 packs of chocolate fingers
Fresh Strawberries and blueberries
- Preheat the oven to 180/C/350F/Gas 4 and line a 20cm/8in round deep cake tin with baking paper and brush or spray with oil.
- Cream together the butter and sugar in a large bowl until they begin to go pale.
- Add half of the eggs and half of the flour and mix well.
- Add the rest of the eggs, flour, cocoa powder, salt and baking powder and beat for a minute or two until the mixture is uniform.
- Dollop into the prepared tin and bake in the oven for about 30–40 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean. Leave to cool in the tin.
- Meanwhile, make the buttercream: put the butter and icing sugar in a bowl and whisk together until the mixture goes fluffy.
- Add the cooled, melted chocolate and whisk for a further two minutes.
- Once the cake is completely cool (I left mine a couple of hours), remove it from the tin.
- Carefully cut the top flat with a large serrated knife.
- Turn the cake upside down on a 20cm/8in cake board so that the bottom now becomes a nice flat top.
- Split the cake horizontally and sandwich the top and bottom together with a 1cm/½in layer of buttercream.
- Spread half of the remaining buttercream all over the top and sides of the cake, making it as smooth as possible.
- Put it in the fridge to set before doing another layer – this makes it much easier to get neat squared-off edges.
- Gently push the chocolate fingers vertically onto the sides of the cake, positioning them as straight as possible and making sure they touch the bottom. Cover the top with fresh fruit (or your choice of topping).
This is my first Daring Baker’s challenge since the gingerbread house of December 2009! I can’t believe it’s been so long. I never planned to leave it so long before getting back in to taking part in these challenges as I really enjoyed the gingerbread house challenge as well as the Bakewell tart and who the Dobos torte (which still gets talked about). All challenges that I really enjoyed baking and sharing with family and friends and that I would not have baked if it wasn’t for the Daring Bakers (well perhaps I would have baked the Bakewell tart at some point). This months challenge was a perfect example of what I had been missing, I enjoyed baking it, we all enjoyed eating it and it’s certainly not a recipe I would have found myself.
As someone who regularly bakes bread with yeast this didn’t feel like the big baking challenge that it might have done to the none bread bakers in the group. I made this challenge quiet early in the month and took it with us when we went to stay with my fiance’s family for the weekend. I only made half the recipe which was plenty. Everyone commented on how as soon as the lid was opened it smelt like a French bakery. As well as smelling fantastic, it tasted truly delicious and the texture was perfect (almost brioche like but with a lot less butter). The meringue layer might sound strange but it disappears during baking into the bread adding to the sweetness and moistness. The filling was our chance to experiment and use what we liked or use the suggestions from Jamie or Ria. I used Jamie’s suggestion as it sounded and looked delicious. It was chocolate chips, cinnamon, sugar and chopped up pecan nuts.
FILLED MERINGUE COFFEE CAKE
Makes 2 round coffee cakes, each approximately 10 inches in diameter
The recipe can easily be halved to make one round coffee cake
For the yeast coffee cake dough:
4 cups (600 g / 1.5 lbs.) flour (I wasn’t sure of the type, so used plain with good results)
¼ cup (55 g / 2 oz.) sugar
¾ teaspoon (5 g / ¼ oz.) salt
1 package (2 ¼ teaspoons / 7 g / less than an ounce) active dried yeast
¾ cup (180 ml / 6 fl. oz.) whole milk
¼ cup (60 ml / 2 fl. oz. water (doesn’t matter what temperature)
½ cup (135 g / 4.75 oz.) unsalted butter at room temperature
2 large eggs at room temperature
For the meringue:
3 large egg whites at room temperature
¼ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon vanilla
½ cup (110 g / 4 oz.) sugar
For the filling:
1 cup (110 g / 4 oz.) chopped pecans or walnuts
2 Tablespoons (30 g / 1 oz.) granulated sugar
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup (170 g / 6 oz.) semisweet chocolate chips or coarsely chopped chocolate
Egg wash: 1 beaten egg
Cocoa powder (optional) and confectioner’s sugar (powdered/icing sugar) for dusting cakes
Prepare the dough:
In a large mixing bowl, combine 1 ½ cups (230 g) of the flour, the sugar, salt and yeast.
In a saucepan, combine the milk, water and butter and heat over medium heat until warm and the butter is just melted.
With an electric mixer on low speed, gradually add the warm liquid to the flour/yeast mixture, beating until well blended. Increase mixer speed to medium and beat 2 minutes. Add the eggs and 1 cup (150 g) flour and beat for 2 more minutes.
Using a wooden spoon, stir in enough of the remaining flour to make a dough that holds together. Turn out onto a floured surface (use any of the 1 ½ cups of flour remaining) and knead the dough for 8 to 10 minutes until the dough is soft, smooth, sexy and elastic, keeping the work surface floured and adding extra flour as needed.
Place the dough in a lightly greased (I use vegetable oil) bowl, turning to coat all sides. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and a kitchen towel and let rise until double in bulk, 45 – 60 minutes. The rising time will depend on the type of yeast you use.
Prepare your filling:In a small bowl, combine the cinnamon and sugar for the filling if using. You can add the chopped nuts to this if you like, but I find it easier to sprinkle on both the nuts and the chocolate separately.
Once the dough has doubled, make the meringue:
In a clean mixing bowl – ideally a plastic or metal bowl so the egg whites adhere to the side (they slip on glass) and you don’t end up with liquid remaining in the bottom – beat the egg whites with the salt, first on low speed for 30 seconds, then increase to high and continue beating until foamy and opaque. Add the vanilla then start adding the ½ cup sugar, a tablespoon at a time as you beat, until very stiff, glossy peaks form.
Assemble the Coffee Cakes:
Line 2 baking/cookie sheets with parchment paper.
Punch down the dough and divide in half. On a lightly floured surface, working one piece of the dough at a time (keep the other half of the dough wrapped in plastic), roll out the dough into a 20 x 10-inch (about 51 x 25 ½ cm) rectangle. Spread half of the meringue evenly over the rectangle up to about 1/2-inch (3/4 cm) from the edges. Sprinkle half of your filling of choice evenly over the meringue (ex: half of the cinnamon-sugar followed by half the chopped nuts and half of the chocolate chips/chopped chocolate).
Now, roll up the dough jellyroll style, from the long side. Pinch the seam closed to seal. Very carefully transfer the filled log to one of the lined cookie sheets, seam side down. Bring the ends of the log around and seal the ends together, forming a ring, tucking one end into the other and pinching to seal.
Using kitchen scissors or a sharp knife (although scissors are easier), make cuts along the outside edge at 1-inch (2 ½ cm) intervals. Make them as shallow or as deep as desired but don’t be afraid to cut deep into the ring.
Repeat with the remaining dough, meringue and fillings.
Cover the 2 coffee cakes with plastic wrap and allow them to rise again for 45 to 60 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C).
Brush the tops of the coffee cakes with the egg wash. Bake in the preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes until risen and golden brown. The dough should sound hollow when tapped.
Remove from the oven and slide the parchment paper off the cookie sheets onto the table. Very gently loosen the coffee cakes from the paper with a large spatula and carefully slide the cakes off onto cooling racks. Allow to cool.
Just before serving, dust the tops of the coffee cakes with confectioner’s sugar as well as cocoa powder if using chocolate in the filling. These are best eaten fresh, the same day or the next day.