22 Jan 2012

Devil's Food Cake (and a bit of chocolate cake history)

I always have a favourite chocolate cake recipe of the moment. Years ago it was Nigellas cloud cake, then it was her chocolate fudge cake, I have also worked my way through her wonderfully titled “chocolate cake hall of fame” from the book Feast and the chocolate chapter in How to be a domestic goddess. The quadruple chocolate loaf cake is probably one of my favourites from Feast. I made the torta alla giandua or nutella cake for my husband birthday earlier in the year as he loves the chocolate-hazelnut combo (you cannot leave him unattended with a jar of nutella, ok I admit I'm not so great left to my own devices with a jar either...). It was nice but I found it a bit too dark and rich.Here is a pic:

Nutella cake
Anyway the favourite this year has been the Devils food cake from Kitchen.  I have made it loads of times. It’s super easy to  make and I don’t have to go and buy any special ingredients like fresh cream or sour cream as I would have to for the other cakes mentioned above. It’s a super soft cake with a very gooey icing, I mean what’s not to like? The first time I made it I found it too dark so I used 200g milk chocolate and 100g milk chocolate for the icing the next time I made it-I still found that quite dark so now I use 200g milk choc and 100g dark choc for the icing. You can find the recipe here.

15 Jan 2012

Coffee and chocolate loaf

I never realised just how many chocolate things I make until I started this blog…hmmm I may have been in denial about just how much of a chocolate addiction I have. This is no-brainer kind of chocolate loaf.  You don’t have to think much-the ingredients are likely to be on hand, it’s simple to make and it’s most definitely going to taste great. It’s dense, rich and damp, one slice goes a long way and it’s perfect with a latte. It’s the kind of loaf that is very reassuring to have sitting in a cake tin on the kitchen table. It could however have been improved upon by a bag or half of chocolate chips and it definitely needs more than the stipulated 1 tbsp of coffee as you could hardly taste the coffee. Also one hour was slightly too long in my oven, I reckon it’s more like 50 minutes. It is again from the Hummingbird bakery’s cake days book.Recipe below.


Serves 8-10

190g softened unsalted butter
130g plain flour
190g soft light brown sugar
3 large eggs
60g cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
20ml whole milk
1tbsp strong coffee (brewed and cooled)
1 8.5x17.5cm (3.5x7in) loaf tin
Preheat oven to 170◦C(325◦F),grease loaf tin with butter and dust with flour
Cream butter and sugar ,add eggs one at a time, mix well after each addition scraping down sides of bowl as needed
Sift together flour, cocoa powder and baking powder , then pour the milk into a jug,add the coffee and mix together. Add the dry ingredients to the cake batter in two batches alternating with the coffee-flavoured milk. Mix well on low speed after each addition.
When finished mix on medium-high to get a smooth batter, place in oven for approx. one hour or until skewer comes out clean. Allow to cool for a while in the tin before turning it out on to a cooling rack.

11 Jan 2012

Chocolate whoopie pies

I have been meaning to make whoopie pies for years or that’s what it feels like anyway…I think I purchased this whoopee pie bookabout a year a go, its written by the the owner of the violet bakery in broadway market (I can’t believe I haven’t visited it considering I don’t live very far from it and that the lovely Spitafileds just down the road is a fairly regular jaunt. Anyhow following purchase of the book I then ordered a whoopee pie tin from Lakeland  when I was ordering other more necessary stuff ( it was cheap and I needed to get to the total that you have to get to to get  free delivery, well that’s my excuse at least and I’m sticking to it!).So finally a year later I got around to using it…turns out a sheet of parchment paper on a baking tray actually works better than the tin for making flat round discs …but hey you live and learn…..

There were loads that I wanted to try, now that my peanut butter addiction is out in the open , I can say obviously peanut butter whoopies with peanut butter cream in  the middle looked tempting as did the carrot cake whoopie with orange-mascarpone cream. However I have been wanting to make homemade marshmallow fluff for a while (the hummingbird book uses it for quite a lot of their fillings in their whoopee pies ), so I went with the chocolate whoopee pies with marshamallow fluff filling. (Also I always seem to have batches of three frozen egg whites in the freezer  left over  from the frequent bread and butter pudding making that goes on around these parts when winter hits). The first batch I made were too thick so I used less batter in the next round which worked better. It’s actually quite easy to use a tablespoon to spread a circle on the baking tray.

The discs of sponge were light and moist and melt in your mouth and the marshmallow filling was very soft  and gooey and sticky and sweet. You need quite a big dollop of it in the middle-I think I didn’t put enough in in mine. I think also next time I will try the marshammallow filing in the hummingbird book which mixes the fluff with other ingrediants  There is a tutorial on you tube that I just found as I was searching to see if the recipe is online. It isn’t so here it is below:

Recipe from The Whoopie pie book text copyright © Claire Patak
Chocolate whoopee pies
Makes 9 large or 24 mini
175g Plain flour
100g cocoa powder
1.5 tsp bicarbonate of soda
0.5 tsp baking powder
o.5 tsp salt
125g unsalted butter
200g sugar
1 large egg
225mlbuttermilk (or half yoghurt, half milk)
1tsp vanilla extract
Prehat oven to 180◦C.
Line a couple of trays with baking parchment
In a bowl sift together flour, cocoa powder,bicarb,baking powder.
In another bowl cream together sugar and butter until light and fluffy
Add egg and mix well
Add buttermilk and vanilla  and then dry ingredients in two batches, mixing until just incorporated (don’t overmix)
Drop onto trays with a tablespoon about 5 cm apart. Bake for 8-10 mins for small pies or 10-12 for large (don’t overbake). Remove from oven and cool completely.
Fluffy marshmallow filling
3 egg whites
150g sugar
2 tbspn golden syrup
Pinch of salt
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
Weigh all the ingredients into a heat proof bowl (I use the steel bowl of my kitchen aid) and place over a saucepan of simmering water. Whisk for about 10-15 minutes until all sugar has dissolved and the mixture is frothy. Remove from the heat and whip the mixture at high speed until it is white and thick and holds its shape (this doesn’t take long at all-a couple of minutes at the most)
Sandwich the discs together with a generous tablespoon

7 Jan 2012

Cookies and cream (Oreo) cheesecakes

These little beauties are from a great little cupcake book Martha Stewarts cupcakes. I have been working my way through it since my son was born, the tiramisu cupcakes and brown sugar pound cupcakes with brown butter icing cupcakes were lovely (made in early post-baby days thus no energy to take pictures). Checkout out her website for some great recipes. I love American baking recipes.

Anyhoo I really really loved these little cheesecakes, they were great straight out of the oven and fridge-cold-ony thing I would say is when fridge cold the Oreo biscuit was a bit hard to break through so next time I will break the biscuit up into four or soak in milk before placing in the case. The cheesecake part tastes deceptively light, it’s smooth creamy and sweet but not too sweet and it goes perfectly with the Oreo…  

It’s not often these days that I make the same thing twice (well apart from cupcakes and tiramisu which I can kind of make in my sleep now) but I will definitely make these again. They are super easy to make too, none of the usual crushing of biscuit and lining and refrigerating of the base as with usual cheesecakes. Having said that I am dying to try mini raspberry marble cheesecakes from the book….

Thanks also to my friend N who helped me to make them late in the evening after baby had gone to bed-it really is fun doing late night baking with a friend…and thanks to her for some of the lovely pictures too.


       Oreos, 30 left whole & and 12 coarsely chopped  
     2 pounds (approx 900g) cream cheese, softened
&   1 cup sugar
& - 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
&   4 large eggs, lightly beaten
&   1 cup sour cream (240mls)
&    pinch of salt
Preheat oven to 275°. Line standard muffin pans with liners. Place 1 whole cookie in the bottom of each liner.

Beat cream cheese at medium speed using an electric mixer (dont overbeat). Gradually sugar, beating until combined. Beat in vanilla.
Drizzle in eggs, a bit at a time. Beat in sour cream and salt. Stir in chopped cookies.
Divide batter among pans. Bake for about 22 minutes or until filling is set.
Cool completely on wire racks. Refrigerate (in tins)4 hours or overnight. Remove from pans just before serving.
Makes 30 cheesecakes.

1 Jan 2012

First birthday baking attempts

So for my sons first birthday I attempted some large moulded cakes. I figured that if I start now I might get it right by the time he is old enough to actually understand what’s going on. I really was getting carried away when I was looking at all the possibilities for children’s cakes, such fun! I’d like to say I showed some restraint and settled on one cake but I just couldn’t. So I decided on a number one - relatively straightforward was my thinking and then took a gamble on a train cake. 

The tins were Wilton ones as was the food colourings, all ordered online.  The sponge I settled on was Nigellas buttermilk birthday cake (from How to be a Domestic Goddess) which she said works for moulded tins. I have made it before in a standard 23cm ring and it was fine but for some reason it didn’t come out right in the moulded tins-I followed the baking time but I think I underbaked it, so it was far too firm and stodgy, although that may also have been due to being stored in the fridge too long….so next year with the train cake I shall have to experiment with a standard Victoria sponge cake or an American pound cake which is what the instructions that come with the tin stipulate….here's some mid-process pics:

grease tins well with some
vegetable shortening or the Wilton cake
 release-they unmould beautifully 

I went with fresh cream for the icing  with the number 1 and buttercream with the train.

The train cake instructions said to pipe on the icing which I thought looked like too much faff so I decided to spread the icing on. It wasn’t the right thing to do at all. I guess there was a reason why they said to pipe it on….the cake is quite shaped and moulded and it was really hard to spread the icing on at those angles and near impossible to get smooth on the sides…so this is what my first go looked like I hope to improve upon it….I figure the boy will get into Thomas the tank engine at some stage so I have that in mind for the future, that is if I don’t move on to dinosaurs and cars and what not….

the mini cookies and cream cheesecakes I made were more successful so I’ll tell you about them in the next post. Here's some pictures of the rest of the party food.....