Strawberry Picnic Cake

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I feel like baking’s been on the back seat for a lot of this year; I’ve been so busy the past few weeks that just getting dinner on the table (/my lap… TV’s just been too good) has been a struggle.  I just haven’t had time to batter up and whip up something sweet.  Last weekend though, I had a little window and instead of just scrolling or snoozing through it, I decided that I wanted to bake something fuss-free that would perk up my mid-morning cuppa come Monday – and this is what I came up with.

This Strawberry Picnic Cake is one of those bakes that looks super fancy but actually involves barely any effort – if you’re a dab hand with a wooden spoon and can slice a strawb, then you’ve got this.  Texture-wise, it’s a cross between a brownie and an angel slice – with a gooey layer of fresh strawberries (and some raspberries thrown in for a sour edge) sandwiched between a soft, pink sponge.  Once it’s sliced up and dusted with a little icing sugar, it makes for a cute little lunchbox pick-me-up, or would be the perfect treat to pack in your picnic basket (…along with a little tub of fresh cream, obviously!) – if the weather ever perks up…  🙂

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Strawberry Picnic Cake

Ingredients

  • 150g Ground Almonds
  • 150g Salted Butter
  • 100g Caster Sugar
  • 150g Self Raising Flour
  • 2 eggs (whisked)
  • 300g Strawberries (sliced)
  • 50g Raspberries
  • A few drops of pink food colouring
  • Icing Sugar to dust
  1. Grease and line a deep, rectangular baking tray and set your oven to 180°C.
  2. Grab a mixing bowl and pour in all the cake ingredients except the strawberries and raspberries – hold those back!  Stir everything together to make a thick, lumpy, pink batter.
  3. Pour half of the batter into your baking dish and spread it out into all the corners.  Create a sandwich layer by topping the batter with the strawberries and raspberries, then smooth over the remaining batter.  
  4. Before you pop the cake in the oven, add a neat layer of evenly spaced sliced strawberries on top – one for each slice (I cut nine slices).
  5. Bake for 30 minutes, then leave to cool before slicing.
  6. Finish with a dusting of icing sugar and serve with cream. 🙂

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Have a lovely week everyone! 💕

 

Feeling Blue-Berry Muffins

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Oh hey, would you look at that, Monday swung back around.  *eyeroll*  Although actually, I’m kind of relieved.  It’s been a busy couple of weeks in the Cwtch household; Sunny’s been travelling non-stop with his work, I’ve pretty much been chained to the computer and then last Friday, Bungle went into the vets for an “operation” – if y’know what I mean – which meant a whole weekend of staying in and keeping his head out of his crotch.  Fun times!  So, needless to say, we’ve been kind of running on empty – as have a lot of people I’ve spoken to.  It’s funny; it seems like the crossover between March and April’s been a little manic for everyone.

I had one of those blue days last week where everything just got on top of me and I needed to take ten.  Usually when that happens I like to do a little baking to de-stress, but I wasn’t in the mood to do anything too complicated.  Sometimes, it’s nice to go back to the basics and bake something easy but satisfying.  Turns out we had a whole punnet of blueberries sitting in the fridge (they were supposed to be for porridge, but it had been Frosties kinda week…) and so I thought I’d whip up some Blueberry Muffins to see me through the rest of the week!  They’re stupidly simple and adapted from a recipe I found on the Red Magazine website just before Christmas – except that my batch have a little cinnamon and some extra crunch with the added granola and demerara sugar topping.  Yum!

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Feeling Blue-Berry Muffins (makes 12)

Ingredients

  • 100g caster sugar
  • 150g butter (room temperature)
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 eggs
  • pinch of salt
  • 250g self raising flour
  • 100ml milk
  • 200g blueberries
  • 50g granola (click here for my recipe)
  • 50g demerara sugar
  1. Set your oven to 180°C and line a muffin tray with lightly greased cases (I like to use the 1 calorie spray because it makes things easier 😉 ).
  2. In a mixing bowl, cream together your butter and caster sugar – then beat in the eggs until the mix is nice and fluffy.
  3. Next, gently fold in the flour little by little – alternating with the milk.  Finally, stir in the blueberries (I like my muffins gooey and full of fruit, so I used a loooooot of blueberries, but feel free to dial it back a little if that’s not your jam), cinnamon and salt.
  4. Spoon the mixture into your muffin cases, then sprinkle each one with a generous helping of granola and demerara sugar.  Bake for 20 minutes.

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Have a great week! 🙂

 

Welsh Cake Batter Fudge

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Fudge is one of those things that I’ve always wanted to try making but, ugh, TOO MUCH EFFORT!  I mean, the traditional way of doing things involves heating up butter and sugar to an exact temperature and using a sugar thermometer and a lot of faffing around, and – like I said – EFFORT.  I felt like for my first time I didn’t want to take on more than I could handle – so I cheated and used condensed milk.  It’s still definitely one of those recipes that needs 100% focus and attention (no scrolling instagram or twitter while you’re stirring!), but it’s much easier and – providing you let the sugar dissolve completely – makes a really creamy fudge.

I usually bake Welshcakes on St David’s Day, but honestly, the ladies at Bakestones in Cardiff Market knock mine right off the board.  They’re so good!  So this year I decided to make this Welshcake Batter Fudge.  It’s not the prettiest looking fudge around (just like Welshcakes aren’t exactly the prettiest cakes), but tastes just like the real deal thanks to the sultanas and a hint of mixed spice. 🙂

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Welsh Cake Batter Fudge

Ingredients

  • one 397g can of condensed milk
  • 150g sultanas
  • 2 tsp of mixed spice
  • 120g butter
  • 450g demerara sugar
  • pinch of sea salt
  1. Pour the condensed milk, mixed spice, butter and sugar into a deep, non-stick saucepan and stir slowly on a low heat until all the ingredients have combined and the sugar has completely dissolved.  If you move too quickly to step two, then you’ll get a grainy fudge.
  2. Get a bowl, fill it with ice cold water and keep it nearby for the next step.  Crank the heat a little and bring the mixture to the boil – stirring constantly and simmering for around ten minutes.  You want the fudge to reach its “soft ball” stage, which is when you’re going to stop boiling it and bring it off the heat.  The time it takes to reach this stage is going to vary, so either test it with a sugar thermometer (you want the fudge to hit 118°C), or get a spoon and drop a little into your bowl of cold water.  If the fudge is ready, it should ball and set, but remain a little squidgy when you squeeze it between your fingertips.
  3. When it’s ready, take the fudge off the heat and pour in the sultanas.  Stir them into the fudge and keep beating until it starts to thicken up and set.  Pour it into a square, lined baking tin and sprinkle with sea salt.  Leave it to cool before cutting it into squares. 🙂

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Dydd Gŵyl Dewi Hapus, pawb! (Happy St David’s Day, everyone!) 💛

 

Blood Orange Caramel Upside Down Cake

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Firmly on the Blood Orange bandwagon and no sign of jumping off.  Sorry not sorry.  How was your Valentine’s Day?  Did you celebrate?  Do you celebrate?  I didn’t even get a card, you guys.  Sunny was really busy working in London all day, and to be honest we don’t really celebrate it.  Doesn’t mean I wasn’t just a teeny bit jealous when I watched one of my lovely neighbours squealing over the massive bouquet that turned up on her doorstep… but whatever!  Although, to be fair, Sunny did take me to the opera over the weekend, and since he was willing to sit next to me and endure three hours of Mozart being screamed at him, I think we can call it even… Also, he never gets a chance to buy me flowers because I’m always buying them for myself! 😉

I guess it’s those little gestures all year round that really count, right?  Like, Sunny always walks Bungle on a Saturday morning so I can have a lie in.  He always lets me have the extra cream egg when we buy three (not that he’d really have much choice on that one…).  He de-ices my car and fills up the screen-wash when it’s running low, and he knows how to pull me out of a rut.  My little gestures tend to be food-related; I’m a total feeder.  Last week I made this really easy upside down cake and topped it with blood oranges.  It’s sticky and sweet, and if you choose the juiciest blood oranges then you’ll get the prettiest topping.  The hardest part is making the caramel – but really, as long as you’re not tempted to stir, it’s a doddle. 🙂

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Blood Orange Caramel Upside Down Cake

Ingredients

  • 2 Ripe Blood Oranges, thinly sliced
  • 125g Butter
  • 125g Caster Sugar
  • 1 Egg
  • 100g Plain Flour
  • 1 tsp Baking Powder
  • 50g Ground Almonds
  • 100ml Buttermilk

For the Caramel:

  • 150g caster sugar
  • 75g butter
  • pinch of salt
  • 100ml of water
  1. Set your oven to 170° and grease a silicon baking tin (I used a heart shaped one because, Valentines Day!) – it’ll make things easier when it comes to flipping the cake.  Sprinkle with a little flour and then set aside.
  2. Make the caramel by putting your caster sugar in a saucepan with water.  Bring it to the boil on a medium heat without stirring (don’t be tempted!).  Once the sugar has all dissolved and the mixture has started to turn a lovely tawny, amber colour – stir in your butter.  As soon as the butter has melted in, pour the caramel into the bottom of your cake tin.  Now, evenly layer your orange segments on top.
  3. Hard part’s over!  Now to make the cake, you’re going to cream together the butter and the sugar in a mixing bowl.  Stir in the egg.
  4. Now, in a separate bowl sift together most of your dry ingredients; that’s the flour, baking powder and ground almonds.  Combine with the wet ingredients.
  5. Stir in the buttermilk to make a light batter, and then pour it into the tin over the orange and caramel base.  Smooth over the top, then bake for 30 minutes (or until a skewer comes out clean).  Leave to cool.
  6. When you’re ready to serve, flip your cake so the caramel and orange base is on top.  Serve with cream… 🙂

Have a great week!

Mini Nutella Palmiers

Nutella Palmiers

Happy Saint Dwynwen’s Day!  Or, for the uninitiated, Welsh Valentines Day!  I went into a little bit more detail on why exactly we celebrate Valentines Day a little earlier than the rest of the world here in Wales in this post (along with a little recipe for Blood Orange Doughnuts 🙂 ) – but it’s basically a Game of Thrones-esque story about a time when Kings had 24 daughters and princesses routinely ran off into the woods and turned their lovers into blocks of ice.  As you do.  😉

For me, I celebrate it in much the same way I’d celebrate Valentines Day; I hunt down a non-soppy card and hand it to him first thing in the morning along with something sweet that I’ve baked.  This year we’re heading off on a little road trip for the weekend so I wanted to make something bite-sized that we can scoff in the car – so I made these sweet little Palmiers filled with Nutella.  They’re as easy to make as rolling some puff pastry and cracking open a jar of Nutella (something I’m very, very good at…) and almost look like hearts… well, I tried! 🙂

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Mini Nutella Palmiers

Ingredients

  • Ready-made Puff Pastry
  • Plenty of Nutella
  • Icing Sugar
  1. Roll out your puff pastry until it’s about half a centimeter thick and then cut off the rough edges so your sheet is shaped like a rectangle.  Thinly spread (and rarely do I use the word “thinly spread” when Nutella is concerned…) your Nutella over the sheet, making sure you go right up to the edges.
  2. To roll your palmiers, think scroll; carefully roll each end into the middle until you’ve got what looks like a rolled up scroll.  Pop it in the fridge to chill for an hour, and then cut it into rounds about a centimeter thick with a sharp knife.  
  3. Spread the palmiers out evenly on a baking tray and then bake in the oven for 10 minutes at 220°.
  4. Leave to cool, then dust with icing sugar.

Nutella Palmiers

Happy St Dwynwen’s Day!