Tag Archives: baking

orange and lemon cake

Having made the Christmas cake yesterday, I was all set to make some mincemeat.

I started by blitzing an orange and a lemon in the food processor, and then pulled opened the baking cupboard to get at all the other ingredients (they’re all kept in a pull out cupboard).  And there, on the top shelf, was a huge jar of mincemeat from last year. And we don’t eat much …

So, what to do with a pair of marmalised citrus fruit? Make a cake!

1 orange
1 lemon
100g butter or marge
120g granulated sugar
2 eggs
140g desiccated coconut
100g plain flour
1.5 tsp baking powder
100ml natural yoghurt

Whizz the citrus fruit first – cut it into chunks, then hurl it in, peel, pith and all.

Then add the other ingredients and whizz some more.

Decant into a 2lb loaf tin (either well greased, or use a liner), bake for about 45 minutes at 180C. I suggest you use the fan setting, rather than the grill – it works better 🙂

an instant cake mix

Wright's ginger cake mix

 

I know, I know, it’s shocking, but sometimes you just get carried away in the moment …

Regular readers will know that I’m a big fan of slow cookers, and own three of varying sizes. I belonged, briefly, to a slow cooker group on Facebook, but mostly the members used theirs to put in meat and a couple of jars of cooking sauce, and that isn’t really what I do. However, for some of them, slow cookers seemed almost a religion. They tried *everything* in them. One person – honestly – was cooking full English breakfasts overnight in theirs. It seemed somehow grounds for excommunication if you didn’t buy into this, and I left.

But I was intrigued by using a slow cooker to bake a cake. Apparently, it couldn’t be just any cake, it had to be a Wright’s cake mix. I have no idea why. Caught up in the religious zeal,  I bought a ginger cake mix from Aldi – I think it was about £0.80 – but sanity prevailed and it stayed in the cupboard.

And then, the other day, the oven was on for something, and there was no cake in the cake box, and I thought “why not?”. So I mixed it up with the mandatory oil and water, and then chopped up some dates and added them, and then I baked it.

The first slice off was quite dry, but we didn’t worry – it could easily be turned into a sticky toffee pudding. But then, on the second day, it was really not bad. And by day #4, yesterday, it was actually nice.  Not nearly as nice as I could make myself, but then a lot cheaper and easier. As I am shortly off to Aldi for some bits, I may invest in the other varieties.

But I’m not doing them in the slow cooker, because really …

the desiccated orange made a chocolate orange cake

an orange

Dear Reader, I have a confession to make. I had to throw out an orange. Oh, the shame. We’re not very good with fruit – we buy it, and then we don’t eat it, so this orange had languished in the bowl for quite a while, and had gone mouldy. It was accompanied by a companion orange which had not yet succumbed, and turned out to be really quite dry, still …  as we were out of cake, I did a quick Google, and adapted a recipe I found, thus:

2 tsp bicarbonate of soda dissolved in 180ml water
125g butter, softened (I used baking marg)
180g granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
250g plain flour
¼ tsp salt
1 orange
85g dark chocolate, chopped

(The recipe called for 200g chocolate, which would have been overpowering, I think).

Preheat the oven to 180°C / fan 160°C / gas mark 4.

Dissolve the bicarbonate of soda in the water and set to one side. Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs and vanilla and beat well, then add flour and salt.

Roughly chop the whole orange into chunks by hand and then blitz in a food processor, skin and all. Add this to the cake batter along with the water and bicarbonate of soda, and stir.

Add the chocolate and stir through gentlye. Pour the mixture into your prepared tin (I used a 2lb loaf tin with a liner, and as always, blessed whoever made these available for sale, otherwise grease and flour) )and bake about an hour  until a skewer comes out clean when inserted. The recipe I adapted said 40-45 minutes, but that wasn’t nearly long enough, but check and check.

everyday bread

IMG_3253-300x267

Inspired by A Girl Called Jack’s recipe, I make a loaf of this most weekends. It keeps well, makes lovely toast, and never goes wrong. But I have tweaked it a bit. so here’s my version.

250g wholemeal flour
400g plain flour – or strong white flour, or even a mix of the two
7g packet dried fast action yeast
1 tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
400ml warm water (*not too hot*)

You can jazz this up with, e.g., fennel or pumpkin seeds if you like.

Put the flours into a large mixing bowl (or you can use a mixer with a dough hook, but it’s not as much fun), and add the yeast, sugar and salt. And the optional seeds.

Make a well in the centre and pour in the water. Too hot will kill the yeast. And if you want to prove the bread overnight, you can use cold water. Stir it all in gently, then tip it on to a clean, floured worktop and start kneading. Plenty of tutorials on YouTube if you don’t know how. It’ll knead^H^H need about five minutes or so of working.  Take a tiny piece of dough, stretch it and hold it up to the window – if you can see through it, it’s ready!

Pop into a clean bowl (you can grease it if you like, but I often forget), cover with clingfilm, and leave to rise for a couple of hours, or even overnight. When it’s about doubled in size, tip it out, knock it back, and form it into something loaf-shaped – I generally do a sort of sausage because it’s easier to slice, but it can be round if you prefer. Put it on a baking sheet, floured if you’re very confident of its non-stickness, or greased if not, make a couple of deep slashes in the top, and sprinkle some flour over the top.

I usually leave it another 40 minutes or so before baking for about 50 minutes at Gas4/180C – preheat the oven, of course! It it’ll be done if it sounds hollow when you tap it on the bottom.

Then wait for it to cool before eating – that’s the difficult part.

winter is coming

plums

Well, rather, autumn is here, and we’re back to more suitable cooking for the season.

I spent a lot of time in the kitchen this weekend; I made bread, pizza dough, and peanut butter and choc chip cookies on Saturday (recipes to come, I promise, but I’m still tweaking a bit), and on Sunday I did lamb and veg soup (or at least the components thereof), plum, apple and five spice crumble.

The soup involved roasting off £1.20’s worth of lamb bones from Morrisons, then boiling them down for stock, then picking the meat off them. There was actually enough meat for two big pots of soup, so some has gone in the freezer. Then I very finely chopped ¼ swede, 1 leek, 2 carrots and 1 courgette (takes bloody ages, but I never feel the food processor does it as well), and put them in the medium slow cooker with a glug of olive oil, and about ½” of water. Then this morning I married up stock, lamb and veg, together with 1 litre of veg soup left over from *last* week. That will do us for lunches for this week, with some crispbread or whatever.

The market stall in Hull was selling 2lbs of plums for a quid – rude not to, really. So I bought them, a *huuuuge* green cabbage, a cauliflower, and two Bramleys, for £3. Most of the plums went into a crumble – I say “most”, because I couldn’t fit them all into the pan. How I wish I had room for another freezer.

I halved them, and laid them flat in a heavy based frying pan, sprinkled with five space, and added about 1″ of water. Simmered until they were soft, then decanted them into a dish, and cooked the syrup right down. Added a peeled and chopped Bramley, topped with a oaty crumble mix and … nectar.

Pete constructed a pizza on Saturday – I use 500g of flour for dough, and it makes three pizzas for us, and freezes well. He used some smoked salami that we discovered in Aldi (along with various other stuff), and very nice it was too.

Sunday we dined on venison steak and braised red cabbage (both out of the freezer), and potatoes roasted with olive oil and rosemary. And the aforementioned crumble. It’s amazing how little meat we want these days – a 300g venison steak was plenty between us, and we used to eat 400g steaks each in the day.

This week, we will be mostly eating cabbage, I suspect. And soup. 🙂

butternut squash, red pepper and feta quichelings

squash, pepper and onion quichelets

I had a party to go to last night, and wanted to make a contribution to the festive board. Looking at the ingredients in the fridge and freezer,  I settled on squash and red pepper filo parcels. There was no feta in the fridge, but no matter – I hurtled up to Jacksons to buy a block, to find that the normal budget one had been replaced with an oak-aged one, at over twice the price. Still, time beggars can’t be choosers, so I paid me money.

The squash went in the medium slow cooker for about 5 hours, with a heaped teaspoon of Ras el Hanout, and about half a glass of white wine. A brace of slightly wizened peppers (one red, one yellow), were sliced thinly, together with an onion similarly sliced, and placed in the baby slow cooker for about three hours. I added some olive oil and cumin seeds to these. The filo pastry was removed from the freezer.

At about 5.30, I descended to the frozen wastes of the kitchen to make the things; I mixed the ingredients together, with about half the block of the fairy dust feta cheese, diced into small cubes. I oiled a baking tray, opened the filo, and started. And darlings – a disaster. The pastry had been in the freezer a fair while (understatement), and had completely dried out. Pete hurtled back to Jacksons, but filo had they none. Indeed, ready made shortcrust had they none. By now it was 5.50 – scream.

So into the food processor went 8 oz plain white flour, a good pinch of salt, 2.5oz of baking marg and 1.5oz of Trex (I really do recommend Trex for pastry, it makes a lovely short crumb). Added a tiny dribble of cold water, then summoned Pete to roll it out. as he is much better than I at such things. In the meantime, I beat a couple of eggs and stirred them into the squash mixture, along with some black pepper.

Into the oven (preheated to 180C fan) went about 20 baby quiche, and we watched them with some trepidation. They had about 20 minutes, so I even got time to cool them a bit before our lift arrived. And readers – they were gorgeousI shall make them, or something similar, again.

Although they weren’t the filo parcels I was hoping for …

 

christmas cakes 2013

christmas cakes and chocolate dinosaurs

 

Please excuse the chocolate dinosaur cakes. They were an experiment which clearly needs more work. No wonder the bloody creatures are extinct.

fruit for the Christmas cakesI actually got round to doing my Christmas cakes reasonably early (for me) this year. And inspired by my friend Jane’s most excellent, if sporadic, food blog, I have done them slightly differently. I always use this recipe from Nigel Slater, but I’m really quite cavalier about what dried fruits I bung in – it just depends on what’s in the cupboard.

The recipe calls for 1kg of fruit, so I did a quick inventory; I had a 500g bag of Waitrose luxury dried fruit mix, about  100g of dried cranberries, and a few rather elderly figs. So I wandered over to Aldi to see what they had, and came back with this 300g of dried fruit for £1.69. And it was all cut into little pieces, so I only had to chop the figs. Hurray.

I put all the fruit into a mixing bowl, added about 3 tablespoons of cooking brandy, stirred it around, and left it overnight with a plate over it, issuing dire warnings to Pete not to lift the lid unless he needed his sinuses cleared.

Now, I make a Christmas cake because I feel I should, but we don’t actually like it all that much (I know, I know). And I never ice or marzipan it, because it would just be too sweet for us (which is why the photograph on the recipe is just dusted with icing sugar). And then we have this enormous hunk of cake that we struggle to eat. But Jane’s recipe gave me an idea. I thought I’d make a ring cake in a savarin mould, and some individual ones in my spiffy mini sandwich tin from Lakeland.

Untitled

 

On Sunday morning, I found the fruit looking deliciously plumptious, and the brandy all absorbed, so I dug out the tins ready for greasing before making the recipe. And – how utterly bizarre – I didn’t have a plain savarin ring. Fluted, yes. Plain, no. And I didn’t think fluted was going to work. I phoned Lakeland in Beverley, yes they had one in stock, yes they’d put it aside for me (they really are a great company to deal with). And off we bimbled, taking in an Americano at Café Nero on the way.  And some Cake Release as well, for the bloody dinosaur moulds.

I digress.

Cakes were made – one savarin ring, ten individual ones. They’re now wrapped in foil, awaiting drip feeding with brandy (except the one we ate, because you have to *try* them, don’t you), I’m seriously considering making some candied orange slices to decorate them with – could work, don’t you think?

Note to self: for this mix, at 160 fan, this recipe needed about 45 minutes for the ring, and about 35 for the individuals.

p.s. That’s the first time I’ve actually used that mini sandwich tin, but now I’ve tried it, I can see all sorts of uses for it.

oat and molasses bread

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Left with the rest of the jar of molasses that Real Foods kindly sent me to try, I decided to give this recipe a go. It meant I had to dig my American cup measures out for the first time in ages, and if I want to make it again, I’l translate the recipe into metric measures.

I used all the 350g of flour – about 2 parts strong white, 1 part wholemeal and 1 part rye. And I wrestled a bit with the molasses as it is, by its very nature, extremely sticky. So it stuck to the spoons I used to get it out of the jar, and it stuck to the cup measure, and it stuck to the spoons again. And the dough was, as you might have anticipated, exceeding sticky too.

molasses and oat bread in progress

When I put it to do its first rise, I thought that it wasn’t going to do anything much, but I put the bowl on a sunny windowsill, and it looked as though it was ready to invade Poland after a couple of hours (comparatively speaking). And knocking it back made me all sticky again (I did the first mix in the KitchenAid with the dough hook).

But it rose and made a lovely loaf. Bit like a soft pumpernickel. Very sweet, though.

Note to self (and you, should you give it a try); flouring the baking tray wasn’t enough; next time I’ll use baking parchment.

This was one of the things I made on a busy baking Sunday (no point in wasting a hot oven!); more to follow.

banana and *chocolate* cakes

Neither Pete nor I are especially fond of bananas in their raw form, but I bought some for the GrandToad’s visit a few days ago. He didn’t really want them either, so there were five bananas going brown in the fruit bowl. Not a problem – banana cake!

I use a basic recipe refined over the years:

200g plain flour
100g baking marg
some brown bananas, peeled (quantity is not that relevant, really 2-3 should do it)
60g sugar – anything will do; caster, granulated, brown
1.5 tsp baking powder
a slosh of vanilla extract
2 eggs

Put the lot in a food processor and blitz. Pour into a 2lb loaf tin, bake at 180C for 40 minutes, then 160C for 30. I always use a parchment loaf liner, as it makes it easier to turn out.

This is a remarkably tolerant recipe, and can take other things. Add some walnuts, or sultanas, or a splash of bourbon whisky if you’re feeding it to grownups. One of the nicest thing to add is chocolate chips – I use Bouchard, which I buy from Amazon. And last night, choc chips were deemed to be what we fancied.

So I got the tub out of the baking cupboard, and tipped some into the food processor. Except some turned out to be almost all of the 50% or so left in the tub, as they had presumably melted together into a large ball during the hot summer. Those that didn’t go into the food processor went on the floor.

I shrieked, and Pete came hurtling downstairs. He swept up the floor, while I rescued as many bits of chocolate as I could from the Magimix bowl, which was quite a few, but not really enough for the batter (which was looking severely over chocolated). Still, what could we do? I baked the cakes (I almost always make two at a time, because they freeze beautifully), and we ate a piece while it was still warm. And it was really rather nice.

And as the oven was on, we had sausages and cauliflower cheese, so as not to waste the heat.

a chicken pie and a raspberry cake

I’ve written before about everlasting chicken. We don’t throw any of it away, except the bones, and then only when they’ve been boiled up for soup. I sometimes put the last bits of the meat into a pie filling, and bung that in the freezer, and when we had a friend coming for supper the other night, I though a chickie! pie would be nice.

This one turned out to have leeks and mushrooms in it, and a mustardy sauce, and I used up a slab of frozen puff pastry too, so that was a result. There might, possibly, be some room in the freezer soon …

I made a variation on the blackberry cake that I did last week; cut the sugar down, replaced the vanilla with lemon juice, and the milk with plain yogurt (as it needed using up). It came out less light, but actually I think we liked it better. So here it is.

Raspberry cake

1 punnet raspberries

230g caster sugar
200g plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
4 eggs
2 teaspoons lemon juice*
200g marg or butter
about 2 tbsp plain yogurt

Grease and line a 22cm springform pan, put the raspberries in the bottom. Whizz all the other ingredients in a food processor, and pour on top of the fruit. Bake at 180c for 40-45 minutes.