cake

All posts tagged cake

April baking

Published May 3, 2015 by Storm

Having failed to try a new recipe or bake any bread in March I was delighted that April turned into reasonable month of baking.

I started the month with Parsnip and Nutmeg bread, a recipe from The Cook’s Encyclopedia of Bread Machine Baking. The smell of this baking had The Railway Modeller thinking I was making some comforting pudding, I think he was disappointed to learn the truth. To be honest I wasn’t quite sure what to eat this bread with, it was tasty but didn’t lend itself easily to sandwiches or toast; eventually I found it’s perfect partner, a hearty root vegetable soup. Slicing was also a challenge, it was just too soft and springy. I’m glad I tried it but to be honest it’s not a loaf I’m likely to bake again.

My next loaf was more experimental. I read through a few different recipes for loaves using the Italian bread setting on my machine but nothing jumped out at me saying “bake me next”. So I took the ratios of basic ingredients, added some extras of my own choosing and baked a sun-dried tomato and garden herb loaf. As well as chopped sun-dried tomatoes I included two generous teaspoons of sun-dried tomato cream giving me a richly orange loaf which was as beautiful as it was tasty.

Loaf three of the month was just a quick white loaf, as I’d forgotten to buy sandwich bread for The Railway Modeller. This didn’t quite scupper my plan of making a different loaf every time I bake this year, as I hadn’t baked this since late last year, but it came close.

We’ve hit the time of year when the yoghurt I like for my breakfast becomes temporarily unavailable, so loaf four was baked with toast in mind. Half strong white flour and half wholemeal spelt, this was a three seed loaf with sesame, pumpkin and sunflower. I borrowed the seed quantities from a recipe in the bread machine’s handbook for a seeded wholemeal loaf, I should have used more. This was a loaf which started to stale quite quickly, but being destined for toast that didn’t matter too much.

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The wickedly indulgent creation in the photograph was my last bit of April baking. Perhaps not the most neatly presented Black Forest Gateaux, I discovered my spatula had a split in it so did my best to spread cream with the back of a spoon and a butter knife (I also discovered that grating chocolate makes more mess than I could have ever imagined), but lovingly made as a birthday cake for someone who once told me that their two favourite puddings are Lemon Meringue Pie and Black Forest Gateaux. This was my ‘new’ recipe for the month but I did deviate a little from the recipe as written. I only made two of the three cake layers and used half the recommended cream as I felt that it would be a lot of cake for two of us to eat quickly enough if I made it full sized, even my small version was generous for two people to eat in four days. I also used frozen cherries instead of tinned, simply because they taste fresher.

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February Baking

Published March 11, 2015 by Storm

I’ve just finished a cross-stitch project I really want to write a bit about, but I’d best not yet as it still needs to reach its destination. Instead I’m going to try and re-ignite the baking inspiration which has gone into hibernation this month. Last month I tried plenty of new loaf recipes, this month I don’t seem to be quite organised enough.

Spelt and Bulgur Wheat Bread

From The Cook’s Encyclopedia of Bread Machine Baking, which is becoming a well thumbed volume, this used a combination of white wheat and wholemeal spelt flours with the interesting addition of bulgur. This made a tasty loaf and the bulgur gave an interesting crunch to it. It was definitely best fresh though, as it dried out quite quickly; if I make it again I’ll use the dough setting on the bread machine and bake it in the oven as rolls, which should keep a little better.

Raspberry and Almond Teabread

From the same recipe book, not a bread at all but a cake for sharing. Not too sweet but beautifully moist and very easy to eat. I should feel guilty about out of season raspberries but sometimes you just need a treat, especially if you have a friend visiting who also deserves treating. Cake is good!

The Panasonic instruction and recipe booklet which came with the bread maker provided the rest of February’ bread recipes, and a good pizza base.

Apricot and Almond Loaf

If you have this recipe and haven’t tried it you need to do so! A higher protein bread, thanks to the ground almonds, this was wonderfully filling as a breakfast loaf. Toasted with butter and honey it was a real indulgence and I wish I’d had some marmalade to try it with. It was also surprisingly good with a hard, mild goats’ cheese. This loaf may cause me to stray from my aim of baking a different loaf every time I bake this year, just writing about it I want a slice.

Honey, Sunflower and Spelt Loaf

Another very indulgent baked offering. This should have been 50/50 white and wholemeal wheat flours but I didn’t have wholemeal wheat so used wholemeal spelt instead. A delicious and versatile bread I’d be happy to eat every day.

Pizza Bread

Being vegetarian I skipped the pepperoni the recipe called for, I know I could have used a vegetarian version but I’m not really a fan of fake meat, otherwise I followed the recipe as written. What a treat! The olives I used were stuffed with sun-dried tomatoes but I’d like to try it again with a mix of those and garlic stuffed ones. Probably not a loaf I’d want daily but it was tasty and made fantastic fake pizza, like cheese on toast but with tomato purée spread between the bread and the cheese.

Now to decide what to try baking next.

Tidying up 2014’s goals, starting 2015’s

Published February 4, 2015 by Storm

Ending my recipe challenge with a flurry of treats

I may not have found time to write about doing so but I did find time to keep trying new recipes throughout December. My final three efforts of 2014 were Turkish Delight, French Chocolate Cake, and Beer and Mustard Bread.

I’ve been wanting to try making the Turkish Delight since being given Gifts From The Kitchen a few years ago, it just took me a while to brave my first attempt. This was a mixed success, it tasted good but I definitely didn’t have the texture right; boiling for longer at the final stage is obviously required but it had reached the point that I was struggling to stir it and was getting blisters. The recipe was reasonably easy to follow and although it is time consuming and wasn’t a great first attempt I probably will try again some time as I do love Turkish Delight. 

The French Chocolate Cake, from the simply titled Chocolate, was a greater success; just as well as I was baking this as a gift. It was more complicated than my usual ‘throw all the ingredients in the food processor then chuck the mix in a sponge tin’ approach to cakes, but the recipe was well written and easy to follow and the results were (so I’m told) good.

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Beer and Mustard Bread, from The Cook’s Encyclopedia of Bread Machine Baking, was very easy to make; using the bread machine still feels a bit like cheating but it’s a nice sort of cheating. I baked this as part of a Boxing Day buffet and I think it’s fair to say it was good as I’ve never seen a loaf disappear so rapidly. Possibly the perfect bread to eat with cheese.

Which leads into

2015 Goals

  1. Try a new recipe from one of my cookery books each month.
  2. Try a different bread recipe every time I bake.
  3. Learn something new with each knitting project I do (the two projects I’m carrying over from last year are exempt from this).

January saw me start all three of these goals!

The recipe I tried was Broccoli and Cauliflower Gratin from Vegetarian Classics. I cheated and used a bag of broccoli and cauliflower florets rather than chopping my own, this was a mistake as they weren’t well enough matched in size so I had to choose between extra firm cauliflower or soggy broccoli. I wasn’t particularly keen on the yoghurt and cheese mix used a a sauce either, I think I would have preferred simple grated cheese or a more classic cheese sauce, the yoghurt flavour dominated. Not one I’m going to be making again.

The bread was far more successful than the supper dish. Chickpea and Peppercorn Bread from the same lovely book as the Beer and Mustard Bread. This doesn’t use gram flour (which you might expect) but combines white flour with tinned chickpeas. The chickpeas blend into the dough and create a rich bread with a moist, slightly heavier crumb. It’s delicious and filling; it also seems slow to go stale, I baked it on Saturday and it hasn’t started to dry out yet (maybe that’s partly thanks to the bread bin I was given for Christmas). I will bake this again but will probably omit the peppercorns to give myself more choice what I eat with it.

The knitting was the first of a string of selfish projects, a hat for myself.

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The pattern is Sandra Dee’s Nymandus Draculea and the yarn is King Cole Galaxy. King Cole seems quite a fine DK so I used 4mm needles, not the 6mm called for in the pattern, and put in an extra pattern repeat. The new, to me, technique was cabling; little, baby cables where just one stitch crosses another, but there were quite a lot of them. The cables don’t show as well as they might in a slightly heavier and plainer yarn, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing! I know that I was a bit clumsy with my cables at first, though they got neater as I became more used to doing them, so having a yarn that distracts from the slight unevenness of my cabling isn’t such a bad thing. It took me about ten evenings to knit, I might have finished a little faster but I decided not to work on it when I was tired as I didn’t want to risk too many mistakes (feline assistance led three or four dropped stitches I needed to rescue without adding sleepiness into the equation). I’m happy with my hat, I might even knit it again in slightly chunkier yarn, and, having bought more yarn than I needed, I have the next project queued to start using galaxy; the Railway Modeller will just have to get used to me in stripes!

First shell your pecans

Published October 3, 2014 by Storm

This week was one of those weeks where I was trying as much as possible to cook from the larder and freezer and avoid shopping, it was also a week when the Railway Modeller needed packed lunches every day. Given the choice between flapjack and cake, cake was requested so my challenge was to find a cake recipe I hadn’t used before that I had all the ingredients for. The only one I could find which answered the challenge and which I could eat, I wasn’t going to miss out on cake if I was baking, was the Coffee and Pecan Nut Cake in the recipe booklet which came with my breadmaker. 

The only catch was that the pecans, left over from last Christmas, were still in their shells. It took about an hour but I eventually had my three ounces of pecans, it’s just as well the recipe wanted them chopped though as they were nowhere near whole. Using a loaf tin liner to line the breadmaker, no more messing about and making a mess with greaseproof paper, and the food processor to do the mixing all other aspects of baking were a doddle.

I found the pecans a little oily but do like their flavour, maybe pre-shelled ones would be better. In this cake’s favour ground coffee brewed in the percolator gave a much nicer flavour than instant coffee as used in the American Coffee Bread I wrote about in this-bread-is-a-cake. The Railway Modeller said he found the cake slightly dry, I think the texture of the Coffee Bread would probably be more to his taste. Neither of us disliked it but I don’t think either of us would say this was the best cake I’d ever baked. I have ideas though; Turkish Coffee and Hazelnut Cake might be the first recipe of my own devising I try in the breadmaker.

Coffee and pecan cake gets 5 out of 5 for clear instructions and ease of making (most people wouldn’t be idiotic enough to start with pecans in the shell).

It gets 4 out of 5 for flavour but it was let down by the texture.

This bread is a cake

Published July 28, 2014 by Storm

A new favourite gadget

A few weeks ago I was given a bread maker, a very generous and gratefully received early birthday present. Since then we’ve been happily testing the different bread recipes from the leaflet accompanying the bread maker. The Railway Modeller likes the white sandwich loaf because it’s soft, though I find that hard to slice evenly, the tastiest loaf I think I’ve baked was 2/3 wholemeal spelt to 1/3 wholemeal wheat flour, but our joint favourite (so far) is the white French style loaf. There are plenty more recipes still to try and I’ve a few ideas of my own to experiment with, so it’s safe to say my bread maker is going to stay a busy machine. I was interested to see that I can also bake cakes in the bread maker so last week I gave that a try.

American Coffee Bread

I’ve been given The Cook’s Encyclopedia of Bread Machine Baking, to encourage me to make the most of my wonderful new gadget, so many tasty breads and cakes to try. I wanted to bake a birthday cake for someone who likes their coffee almost as much as I do so this looked a perfect recipe. As I didn’t have pecans in the cupboard and was using almond milk as the milk, I substituted chopped almonds for the chopped pecans called for in the recipe which worked perfectly well. I think I need to practice lining the bread pan with greaseproof paper, I ended up with a few creases which the cake tried to stick to, or track down some bread pan liners; but that’s a minor niggle and didn’t impair the flavour of the cake in anyway. The cake went down well and I’m looking forward to baking the next one.

5 out of 5 for a well written recipe and ease of making

4 out of 5 for flavour (I’d up the coffee content a little if I bake it again)

The Cake That Almost Wasn’t

Published April 23, 2014 by Storm

I missed 2 weeks of my recipe challenge, back to it this week though with…

Somerset apple, honey and pecan cake

I needed to bake a birthday cake, I should have baked a birthday cake a week earlier but we were still eating simnel cake. I happened to have a glut of apples in the kitchen so this tasty sounding treat looked perfect on paper. The recipe is from Vegetarian Recipes From The West Country, which was a gift from a family member in Cornwall.

It was slightly more interesting to make than the chocolate cake I originally planned to bake; a topping had to be made first and set aside, but didn’t seem difficult. At least, it didn’t seem difficult until the very end of baking! I had foolhardily trusted the recipe for cooking times, and after cooling in the tin for the recommended time the cake did seem done, this proved not to be my smartest move. When I came to turn the cake out it looked more like a soggy sandcastle disaster than a cake! The outer inch and a half was cooked all round but the middle was like quicksand, the whole cake started gently sinking through the cooling rack.

After a moment of dismay I decided to mount a rescue operation. I transferred the cake, topping and all, to a casserole dish, broke up the bigger chunks of cooked cake and mixed everything up before putting it back in the oven. Surprisingly, it turned out not just edible but tasty. I was disappointed to lose the beauty of the original cake but at least it wasn’t going to waste.

3 out of 5 for ease of baking: there are places the cooking instructions could be more clearly laid out (the oven temperature is hiding in the last paragraph) and the cooking time was woefully under stated.

4 out of 5 for flavour: if it tasted good with some over done bits after my rescue operation it should be delicious if I get it right next time.

Spaghetti Squash and a Sample of Simnel

Published April 1, 2014 by Storm

Baked Squash with Parmesan Goats’ Cheese

This is the closest to cheating at my own challenge I’ve come since I started in January. I have been baking squashes since a friend introduced me to cheese topped baked butternut squash when I was eighteen. This week’s recipe just about counted as a new dish as, on the rare occasion I’ve been able to buy them, I’ve always baked my spaghetti squashes with a stuffing; for this recipe you bake the squash on it’s own then season with a herb butter and top with grated cheese. 

I wanted to try something new with spaghetti squash, really I did. The problem was I worked in reverse this week. Up until now I’ve chosen a recipe then raided my store cupboards and shopped for the ingredients. This week I got excited about squash and bought one, confident that I would find spaghetti squash recipes in abundance in my library, and then discovered that of all my books only Vegetarian Classics Simple Dishes for Every Occasion had even one recipe for me to try.

I was slightly surprised by the seemingly short cooking time given but I assumed that it was because the squash wasn’t bursting with stuffing. Towards the end of the cooking time recommended I concluded that my doubts were in fact well founded and I gave my squash an extra twenty minutes. It was edible but still a little crisper than I would prefer. I still like spaghetti squash but I’ll go back to cooking them my way.

4 out of 5 for ease of cooking.

3 out of 5 for flavour (I made a poor choice of cheese though).

Simnel Cake

A couple of weeks ago I baked a Simnel Cake to a recipe from Vegetarian Cooking Through The Year. On Sunday I added the marzipan ready for us to enjoy a sweet treat. Adding the marzipan did provide some mild stress! I obviously made my marzipan eggs a little on the small side as, when I tried to brown them under the grill as instructed, two of them softened too much and dropped through the rack and into the base of the grill pan. The errant eggs were retrieved and all eleven made it onto the top of the cake.

We like this cake. I really like this cake. It reminds me of my Gran’s cakes, though I can’t put my finger on exactly what makes it like one of hers. I think we’ll be having a Simnel Cake for Laetare Sunday every year from now on.

This also gets 4 out of 5 for ease of cooking.

4.5 out of 5 for flavour.

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