Coffee, Maple and Walnut Cake

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It was my Dad’s birthday a couple of weeks ago and so – of course – I baked him a cake.  He’s a big fan of coffee and walnut cake, and so I decided to bake him one of those – but fancied levelling up the flavours a little.  I have a candle in my kitchen called “Coffee Break” (a TK Maxx bargain!) that I like to burn in the morning while I’m making breakfast or cleaning; I’m one of those weirdos who doesn’t drink coffee but absolutely LOVES the smell of it.  Anyway, this candle smells like an American Coffee Shop in the best kind of way; it gives off a kind of nutty, syrupy, dark roast smell and I love it!  I kind of gave myself the challenge of making the cake taste like that candle smells – which is a very weird thing to do, I know – but I think I kind of pulled it off!  I added in a good glug of maple syrup and some brown sugar and that seemed to do the trick! Nutty, syrupy, coffee(-y) – it’s the perfect bake for Father’s Day! 🙂

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Coffee, Maple and Walnut Cake

Ingredients

  • 2 eggs, whisked
  • 2 egg whites
  • 150g butter
  • 150g ground walnuts (just blitz them in a blender until they look like wet sand)
  • 50g dark brown sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 tbsp maple syrup
  • 100g self raising flour
  • 75ml milk
  • 2 tbsp coffee granules

To decorate:

  • 50g ground walnuts
  • 200g salted butter
  • 400g icing sugar
  1. Set your oven to 170°C and grease and line a small, round, spring-form cake tin (less than 20cm).
  2. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and brown sugar, then pour in the eggs and egg whites.  Mix until well-combined and fluffy.
  3. Next, warm the milk in the microwave and mix in the coffee granules.  Leave the coffee mixture to cool before stirring it into the batter (you don’t want to scramble the eggs!).  Stir in the maple syrup.
  4. Next, sift all the dry ingredients together in a separate bowl (that’s the flour, salt, baking powder and ground walnuts), then gradually add the mixture to the batter – stirring until well-combined.
  5. Pour the batter into the cake tin and bake for 50 minutes – or until an inserted skewer comes out clean.  Leave to cool.
  6. Once the cake has cooled, carefully slice into two or three layers (depending on how dab-handed with a knife you are!).  Sandwich the layers together with buttercream, then ice the cake with whatever you’ve got left.  Sprinkle with ground walnuts and decorate with whole nuts and fresh flowers. 🙂

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Happy Father’s Day to all the Dads out there, but mostly to my awesome Dad.

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! 💕

 

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!

Christmas Biscuits Three Ways

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We made it!  Just 4 more sleeps until Christmas – can you believe it?  I’m already nackered from running around doing that final food shop (…I still managed to forget a couple of things.  Do you think my in-laws will mind going without milk in their tea for a couple of days…?) and wrapping those last couple of presents.  I’m feeling pretty organised and chill about it all, how ’bout you?  Are you sorted… or stressed?  Have you still got a couple of people to buy for?  Well, I got your back.  If you’re looking for a couple of easy handmade gifts then you can’t go wrong with a jar of Chilli and Red Pepper Jam, these fuss-free Chocolate Truffles or, why not bake a box of some Christmas Biscuits?

I make a big batch every year for family and friends to scoff with a cuppa when they stop by over Christmas – but I get bored of making the same sugar cookies, so this year, I decided to fiddle around with the base recipe and come up with a few alternative flavours including Cinnamon, Maple and Pecan and – my personal favourite – Pistachio.  Yum! 🙂

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Christmas Biscuits – Three Ways

Cinnamon

  • 200g Plain Flour (including a little extra for dusting)
  • 75g Caster Sugar
  • 50g Butter
  • 1 Egg, whisked
  • 2 tsp Ground Cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1/2 tsp Salt

Maple and Pecan

  • 150g Plain Flour (including a little extra for dusting)
  • 50g Pecans, finely ground
  • 50g Caster Sugar
  • 50g Butter
  • 1 Egg, whisked
  • 1 tbsp Maple Syrup
  • 1/2 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1/2 tsp Salt

Pistachio

  • 100g Plain Flour (including a little extra for dusting)
  • 100g Pistachios, finely ground
  • 75g Caster Sugar
  • 50g Butter
  • 1 Egg, whisked
  • 1/2 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  1. In a bowl, cream together your butter and caster sugar, then beat in the egg (and any other wet ingredients, e.g. Maple Syrup).  Stir in the dry ingredients (flour, nut flours, baking powder and salt) until they pull together into a dough. 
  2. Wrap the dough in clingfilm and leave it in the fridge for a couple of hours (this will make the dough easier to roll and hold its shape when it bakes).
  3. When you’re ready to start baking, set your oven to 170 and line a couple of baking trays with grease proof baking paper.  I like to set up a bit of a production line and work in batches, cutting the dough in half, working with one half and leaving the other in the fridge to cool until I’m ready to use it.
  4. Roll out your dough with a little flour (you might need more for the Maple and Pecan dough – which tends to be stickier – and less for the Pistachio dough – which tends to be drier).  Roll out the dough until it’s about a cm thick, then cut into shapes.
  5. Bake the biscuits for about 10 minutes, then leave to cool.
  6. Decorate with chocolate icing, then scoff!

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Well, that’s me done until 2019!  Nadolig Llawen (Merry Christmas)!  Hope you have the best time ever with your favourite people (and pets!).  ❤