Sunday 29 January 2017

Apple and Cinnamon Loaf Cake

I randomly saw this on TV (I had it on as background noise while I was doing something rather dull), and it looked rather nice...I dug the recipe up online (it's a Mary Berry one), and it turned out I pretty much had all the ingredients in the house. I was out for a bike ride the next day, so got up a bit early and baked up a couple of loaves (Mary suggests you can freeze one, however it's less than 12 hours later and both have disappeared!)

I used golden delicious, however I think you definitely want a slightly tarter, more acidic apple (I'm thinking Braeburn). Otherwise it was a nice simple recipe, and it gives a firm, robust texture which is still nice and moist. I was trying to make this quietly (it was quite early in the morning), but I reckon you could also speed this up using a food processor to rub in the butter... Finally, I think a handful of sultanas would not go amiss either...and possibly more cinnamon (which I don't think you can have too much of).

Apple and Cinnamon Loaf Cake

  • Grease and line 2 1lb loaf tins
  • Pre-heat oven to 160'C


  • 75g butter
  • 200g self-raising flour
  • 100g muscavado sugar
  • 1tsp cinnamon (or more!)
  • 3 eating apples (I used Golden Delicious, however I would recommend a tarter-flavoured one)
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 tbsp demerara sugar
  • Apricot jam (to glaze)
1) Place the flour and butter in a large bowl (or a food processor with a blade attachment)

2) Rub the butter into the flour (as you would with pastry) until you have a rough breadcrumb texture

3) Stir in the sugar and cinnamon. I find that muscavado sugar will clump, you it's worth rubbing these chunks in.

4) Peel and core the apples

5) Take 2 and a half of the apples, and chop them into large'ish chunks

6) Crack the 3 eggs into a jug, and beat them together

7) Add the chunked apple and eggs to the flour mixture, and stir to combine.

8) Split the mixture into the 2 loaf tins (it's about 400-420g per tin...or was for me)

9) Take the remaining half an apple and slice in thinly

10) Use these slices to decorate the top of each loaf

11) Sprinkle 1tbsp of demerara sugar over each loaf

12) Place in the oven for 35-40 minutes, until risen, golden, and a skewer comes out clean

13) Remove to a wire rack

14) While still hot, brush apricot jam over the top to glaze
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Thursday 19 January 2017

Jaffa Torte - New and improved!

An early birthday cake for me... When I did my first jaffa torte, there were positives and negatives, and I had a list of things I'd like to tweak and change. Whipping up a self-congratulatory birthday cake seemed the perfect opportunity.

I'm really pleased with how this came's pretty much as it looked in my head. My timings were still all over the place, and I could have made it quicker (took ~3 hours, probably could have done it in 2 had I been a bit more organised, rather than making the various components one after the other).

Things I tweaked;
  1. It's bigger (21cm sponge diameter compared to 18cm diameter of the original), so a larger sponge mixture, and more icing mixtures as well.
  2. Added an orange syrup, which was brushed onto each sponge layer
  3. More dramatic decoration, which used a lot more icing and ganache up (a good thing)
  4. More gelatine in the jelly, making it slightly firmer
  5. Made the jelly in a cake frame, making it marginally easier to handle. 
  6. Gluten-free! This was to be eaten at work, and a couple of people are coeliac. As such, I used a gluten-free flour, with baking powder added.
  7. I used a higher percentage chocolate in the buttercream, which I think it needed.
Only downside is that with the larger diameter, I could only fit one layer in the oven at a time (using 1 shelf...probably could use 2, but to be honest the sponge baking is not the time-consuming part of this, it's the prep for the meringue buttercream and the ganache).

Jaffa Torte  (v2) - Recipe

Jelly Ingredients

  • Juice from one orange (~75g)
  • 50g tap water
  • 35g caster sugar
  • 5 gelatine sheets
1) Line a swiss roll tin with foil, with a flat base

2) Place a cake frame in the tin, and then bring the foil sides up so that any overrun sits against the foil

3) Place the juice, water and sugar in a small saucepan

4) Place the gelatine sheets in a bowl of cold water to "bloom" for 4-5 minutes

5) Heat the orange juice mixture over a low heat until it is shimmering (just shy of boiling)

6) Wring out the gelatine, and add to the orange mixture

7) Remove from the heat and stir in until the gelatine is fully dissolved.

8) Pour the jelly mixture into the cake frame, and place in the fridge to set

Sponge Ingredients

  • 5 large eggs
  • 200g caster sugar
  • ½tsp cream of tartar
  • 200g gluten-free flour (I used Doves Farm stuff)
  • 1 heaped teaspoon baking powder
  • Zest of 2 oranges
1) Pre-heat the oven to 200'C

2) On a sheet of baking parchment, draw a circle 21cm in diameter using a dark, black pen. This will be your template which you place under blank sheets of baking parchment (then pull out before baking). Cut 6 other sheets of baking parchment to the same size as your preferred baking trays.

3) Place the eggs and caster sugar in a stand mixer with the whisk attachment

4) Whisk until starting to foam, and add the cream of tartar

5) Continue to whisk hard until the mixture reaches the ribbon stage...this can take 7-8 minutes.

6) Sieve the flour and baking powder together into a bowl, and use a dry whisk to mix it together (you want the baking powder evenly distributed throughout the flour)

7) Sieve the flour into the whisked egg mixture half at a time, along with the orange zest, folding it in  each time until there are no dry pockets left. You should have a smooth, light pale mixture.

8) On a baking sheet, place your template, and a sheet of plain baking parchment on top (you should be able to see the circle through it)

9) Spoon ~100g of the cake mixture onto the baking parchment, and using the back of the spoon carefully smooth it out to just overlap the template circle on all sides. once done, pull out the template

10) Bake for 6 minutes

11) Remove to a wire rack to cool, then peel off the baking parchment

12) Repeat 8-11 for 5 more sponge discs (I had 2 baking sheets on the go at once, and prepared one while the next was baking).

13) Once cool, trim the sponge discs to the same size as each other (the best way to do this is use whatever you drew round to make your template, and trim the edges with a sharp knife).

Chocolate Meringue Buttercream Icing - Ingredients

  • 150g dark (70% chocolate), chopped up
  • 3 egg whites
  • 150g icing sugar
  • 330g butter (room temperature)
1) Prepare a bain-marie steamer (or, as I call it, a colander over a saucepan of simmering water)

2) Place the chopped-up chocolate in a small heatproof bowl

3) place the bowl on the bain-marie, and stir until the chocolate is 3/4's melted

4) Remove from the heat and continue to stir until the chocolate is fully melted

5) Place to one side to cool

6) Place the icing sugar and egg whites in a large heatproof bowl

7) Place the bowl on a bain-marie, and use an electric hand-whisk to whip the eggs gently until the sugar has fully dissolved, then increase to whisk harder.

8) Continue to whisk until the mixture reaches a firm peaks stage. Place to one side to cool (you're going to mix it with butter, and you don't want it melting it)

9) Place the butter in a stand mixer bowl with the paddle attachment

10) Beat until the butter is very light, pale and soft. You'll need to scrape the sides down a few times.

11) Add in the cooled meringue, and mix on a medium speed until combined.

12) Add the melted, cooled chocolate, and beat on a medium speed until smooth

Orange Syrup Ingredients

  • Juice from 1 orange
  • 50g caster sugar
1) Place the juice and sugar in a small saucepan

2) Stir over a low heat until the sugar has dissolved

3) Turn up to a medium heat, and stir until just before it starts to boil

4) Remove from the heat and allow to cool


I strongly recommend using a display board (23cm) and a decorating turntable with something non-slip. it makes the decorating way, way easier!

1) Space a sponge disc in the middle of your display board

2)  Brush approximately 1/6th of the orange syrup over the sponge layer using a pastry brush

3) Spoon approximately 1/7th of the meringue buttercream on top, and using a small palette knife spread evenly to the edges (don't worry if you go over the edge, but make it even)

4) Place a second sponge disc on top, and repeat 2-3 for this.

5) Repeat for the remaining sponge discs. You do want to coat the top of the cake as well with the meringue buttercream.

6) Using a palette knife and the remaining meringue buttercream, smooth off the sides, filling in any gaps and getting as clean an edge as you can. You're going to ice it, so don't spend forever, but the cleaner you can make it, the easier the decorating will be

7) Place in the fridge to chill while you prepare the icing.

Ganache Ingredients

  • 150g dark (50%) chocolate, finely chopped 
  • 85g full-fat milk
  • 25g butter
1) Place the chocolate in a small heatproof bowl

2) Put the milk in a small saucepan over a low heat

3) Heat the milk until it's shimmering (not quite boiling), and remove from the heat

4) Pour the milk onto the chocolate. DO NOT STIR. Leave it for 3-4 minutes to melt all the chocolate (I put the bowl on top of the saucepan to give it a bit more warmth without overdoing it)

5) Stir the mixture to form a smooth, lump-free liquid.

6) Add in the butter and stir until melted in.

7) Leave to cool until in a pipeable consistency. Stir it occasionally to keep it smooth.

8) Transfer to a piping bag with a small star nozzle

Orange Buttercream Ingredients

  • 100g butter (room temperature)
  • 200g icing sugar
  • Zest of 1 orange
  • Juice of 1 orange

1) Put the sugar, butter and zest in a stand mixer with the paddle attachment

2) Beat slowly until a smooth mixture is formed, then increase the speed to slacken it. You might need to scrape the sides down a couple of times.

3) Add the orange juice sparingly while continuing to mix until a smooth, pipeable consistency is reached. You may not need all the orange juice.

4) Transfer to a piping bag with a small nozzle attachment


1) Take the jelly sheet, remove from the cake frame, and turn upside down onto a sheet of baking parchment

2) carefully peel the foil off the back

3) Flip back upright (yeah, it's fiddly, try not to tear it...I haven't quite got the knack of this yet)

4) Cut the largest circle you can...this will probably be just within the diameter of your cake, which is perfect

5) Place the jelly slice centrally on top of the cake

6) place a suitable circular object in the middle of the cake to act as a piping template. I used a 13cm cake tin.

7) Take the ganache piping bag, and pipe small rosettes equidistant around the template, leaving a gap roughly the size of the rosettes in between each

8) Pipe a second circle outside this, piping level with the gaps to form a chequer-board pattern.

9) Continue this down the side of the cake, resulting in a chequerboard of ganache rosettes all over the cake (expect the bit under the  template object at the top)

10) Take the orange buttercream piping bag, and repeat the process, but filling in all the gaps you left. This should result in a brown/orange chequerboard of rosettes over the entire cake.

11) Remove the template from the top to reveal a large circle of jelly on top

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Tuesday 17 January 2017

Maneesh Flatbreads with Baba Ganoush

It's my turn in the bake-club rota, and with it being January, when everyone is trying to be healthy, I thought I'd try a savoury. I've not done flat-breads before (and I'd question if this is really a flat-bread, as it's got yeast in it, and it's definitely leavened!), so I dug this recipe out of Paul Hollywoods Bread book, and gave it a go. It's actually a fairly plain bread recipe with a sesame and herb topping (which obviously doesn't stick ,and goes everywhere!), so I also made up the recommended dip of baba ganoush, which is made of aubergine and sesame paste, as well as a few other things.

Main thing to note was that the bread cooked very quickly at the recommended temperature. Once again the dough needed far less water than the recipe suggested (I put in about 80ml less to form a soft dough), and I was wondering if this may cause the bread to cook slightly quicker? It's more lightly the oven running hot, and also having a hot side.

This recipe makes 3 loaves, and enough dip to be greedy!

Maneesh Flat-bread - Recipe

Dough Ingredients

  • 500g strong white flour
  • 10g salt
  • 25g caster sugar
  • 10g fast-action yeast
  • 20g olive oil
  • 300ml warm water (may need more, up to 360ml)
1) Place all the ingredients (apart from the water) in a stand mixer bowl with the dough hook attachment

2) Add about 250ml of the water, and begin to mix. Add more water until a dough forms

3) Mix for about 10 minutes, until you have a smooth, soft dough

4) Transfer to a large oiled container, cover, and prove until at least doubled in size. While this is happening, you can make the topping

Topping ingredients

  • 20g sesame seeds
  • 1tsp dried thyme
  • 2tsp dried marjoram
  • 40ml olive oil
1) Place all the ingredients in a small bowl, and mix together to form a paste (of sorts)


1) Take the proved dough, and fold on itself a few times to knock out the air

2) Split into 3 equal parts (I weigh it, then chop it into even-sized chunks, in this case275g each)

3) Roll each chunk into a disc roughly 23cm in diameter. Rolling dough is always tricky, as it stretches and springs back. I tend to find a hard initial roll will get it out to size...being too gentle just results in it bouncing back

4) Place the discs on non-stick baking trays

5) Split the topping over all 3, and spread out with your fingers

6) Leave to rest for 20 minutes. Put the oven onto 220'C

7) Bake the loaves for 12-15 minutes. Keep an eye on them, as they can catch on the edges and burn quite quickly.

8) Remove to a wire rack to cool once baked

Baba Ganoush dip - Recipe


  • 3 aubergines
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1tsp salt
  • 20ml lemon juice
  • 2tbsp tahini
  • 3tbsp olive oil
  • 1tbsp dried parsley
  • Black pepper (to taste)
1) Using a garlic press, crush the garlic cloves into a medium-sized bowl

2) Add the salt, and using the back of a teaspoon press with the garlic into a smooth paste

3) Add the lemon juice, tahini, oil, pepper and parsley, and stir to a smooth paste

4) Turn the grill onto a high heat

5) Stab the aubergines with a fork all over, and place (whole) on a baking tray

6) Grill the aubergines, turning occasionally, until the skin has turned black(er), and is slightly shrivelled. They should feel soft to the touch. This took about 20 minutes for me.

7) Allow the aubergines to cool until you can just handle them.

8) Cut the aubergines in half, and scoop out the flesh with a spoon

9) Chop it finely, and add to a large mixing bowl

10) Add the tahini paste, and stir in well.

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Friday 13 January 2017

Genoise Sponge

This is my favourite sponge to make, though it's probably the fiddliest as well. At a basic level, it's a fatless sponge with melted butter folded into it...this makes the final cake much softer and moister. I'd say genoise and macarons are the biggest tests of folding technique, which is probably the single hardest thing I've had to learn. I chea slightly by using self-raising flour...a true purist would use plain flour, and the beating of the eggs would be the only air you capture.

I did this batch of genoise with 3 eggs, though it expands up pretty well, and tends to cook quite quickly, as it's so light. The batch size will make 12 muffin-size cupcakes, a swiss roll tin, or a 23cm sandwich tin (though I normally use 4 for a sandwich sponge, as a like a bit more depth to a large cake). I also added lemon zest...genoise works really well with fruit flavours (I finished the cupcakes off by simply dunking them in a lemon water-icing).

For a foam-based cake, don't use vanilla pod seeds...if you add them to the egg mixture the small seeds really retard the foaming (I assume they puncture the air bubbles as they form). I would definitely recommend using a stand mixer or hand whisk, working the egg mixture takes a good 5-8 minutes, even with the assistance given by the cream of tartar.

Genoise Sponge - Recipe

Pre-heat oven to 200'C


  • 3 large eggs
  • 50g caster sugar
  • ½tsp crean of tartar
  • 75g self-raising flour
  • 60g butter
  • (optional) Zest from 2 lemons
  • (optional)  1tsp vanilla essence
1) Place the butter in a small heat-proof, microwaveable bowl

2) Place the butterin the microwave for ~30 seconds, until it is about half melted...stire it until it is fully melted, then put it to one side.

3) Place the sugar and eggs in a stand mixer bowl with the whisk attachment

4) Start to whisk the eggs and sugar. Once it has begun to foam, add the cream of tartar

5) Continue to whisk the mixture until it reaches the ribbon stage. This is when, as you bring the whisk out, a trail of the mixture is pulled out, and when it falls it leaves an impression on the surface. If it's too slack, the air will come out when you fold in the dry ingredients...if it's too stiff, the final cake will be dry.

6) Once the ribbon stage is reached, sieve in the flour onto the surface of the mixture. If you are using the lemon zest, add this in now as well.

7) Very carefully fold the flour into the egg mixture, trying to remove as little air as possible. I think everyone has their own specific technique...I tend to do a big, slow scoop round the outside, lifting the mixture over the top, and then cut through with the sharp of a thin plastic spatula. Things you'll often hear advised are to use a metal spoon, however what you are looking for is a thin edge, so you cut the mixture, rather than breaking the air bubbles. You need to delicately hunt for dry pockets of flour in the mixture, foten hiding down near the bottom.

8) Once you have folded in the flour, take the melted, cooled butter (it should still be liquid), and pour it round the outside of the mixture.

9) Carefully fold this in as well. You'll need to hunt down towards the bottom, and again lift and fold it into the top of the mixture.

10) Once all this is done you should have a smooth, light and slightly glossy mixture. You can now pour or spoon it into your cake tins (be careful not to bang the tin, or crush the air out've just spent ages keeping it all in). Lightly grease the tins with a little butter, spreading it with your fingers to get a thin layer, especially round the base of the tin.

11) Genoise bakes very quickly. For a swiss roll sheet, it will take about 6 minutes...maybe 6-7 for muffin tins. Large cakes will take slightly longer to cool the middle, so maybe drop the temperature down a little to make sure you do not burn the middle.

12) Once they are removed from the oven, take care with them until they are cool, as they are delicate cakes...far more delicate than a butter-based sponge. Cool them on a wire rack, and then decorate (whipped cream and fruit is a great match)

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Wednesday 11 January 2017

Bacon, Brocoli and Goats Cheese Quiche

I mainly did this recipe to document the process for making shortcrust as part of my plan to add a load of "Basics" to this blog...however not wanting to waste an opportunity to try new ideas, I decided to vary my normal quiche recipe, and use goats cheese as the base, and also broccoli, to enhance the "healthiness" (this isn't healthy, it's got a load of cream in it!)

The broccoli came about as part of my reading up on the effects of caffeine...apparently it helps you metabolise it. I somehow doubt this quiche will help you sleep, but it inspired me, and that's what counts!

I use a super-deep 23cm tart tin that I found in John's about twice the depth of a normal tart tin, so you get loads of filling (as you can see from the photos, there is a good ½ litre of cream and egg mixture). If you're using a more traditionally proportioned tart tin, you'll need less filling.

Bacon, Broccoli and Goats Cheese Quiche - Recipe

Shortcrust Pastry - Recipe

I have fully documented the process for making the pastry in this "Basics" blog post. For this recipe, I did a 300g flour batch (as per the other post), and lined and blind-baked the pastry. While the pastry is blind-baking, you can prepare the ingredients.

Filling Ingredients

  • 125g goats cheese
  • 150g smoked bacon
  • 2 large mushrooms
  • Half a large floret of broccoli
  • 1tbsp dried chives
  • 5 large eggs
  • 100ml milk
  • 200ml double-cream
1) Thinly slice the bacon into strips

2) Fry the bacon until it has browned, and any excess moisture has boiled off. Place to one side to cool

3) Thinly slice the mushrooms

4) Chop the broccoli down into small florettes, removing all the large stem sections

5) chop the goats cheese into small chunks (I'd say slice, however this tends to be pretty hard to do).

6) Place the eggs, milk and cream in a large jug

7) Beat the egg mixture until smooth and consistent


1) Pre-heat the oven to 160'C

2) Take the blind-baked and trimmed pastry case, and scatter the goats cheese over the base

3) Scatter the mushroom and bacon over the cheese (I actually completely forgot the bacon, and had to add it in later!)

4) Evenly spread the broccoli florettes over the rest of the filling

5) Sprinkle the chives over the rest of the fillings

6) Carefully fill the case with the egg mixture. Depending on the depth of the tart tin you are using, you may not need all of it.

7) Place in the oven for ~30 minutes. The quiche is done when the middle is slightly risen, and the egg mixture is slightly golden

8) Remove to a wire rack to cool. Remove from the tin.

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