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!).  ❤

Christmas Jaffa Cake… Cake

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Bye bye November!  Hello December – which means Christmas isn’t just around the corner anymore; it’s literally on the block.  Maybe you’re ready for it, or maybe you’d prefer to just shut the curtains and pretend you’re not at home.  I might not be anywhere near ready (I say I’m going to be more organised every year and every year I fail), but I’m definitely ready for the food. Am I ever not ready for food? 😉

I haven’t baked a cake in a while and seeing as it’s the first of December tomorrow I fancied making something a little bit festive.  So, I decided to make a giant Jaffa Cake.  It’s a plain sponge threaded with orange jelly (which makes the cake really moist) and decorated with candied oranges and chocolate.  Yum!

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Jaffa Cake Cake

Ingredients

  • 3 Large Eggs
  • 100g Caster Sugar
  • 200g Butter
  • 100g Self Raising Flour
  • 1 Tsp Baking Powder
  • 1 Pack of Orange-flavoured jelly
  • 100g Chocolate
  • 25g Hazelnuts

For the candied Oranges:

  • 2 Oranges cut into slices
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 200ml water
  1. Grease a 20cm cake tin and set your oven to 180°.
  2. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and caster sugar.  Stir in the eggs, then fold in the flour and baking powder.
  3. Pour the batter into the cake tin and bake for 30 minutes (or until an inserted skewer comes out clean).  Put to the side and allow to cool.
  4. While the cake’s cooling, get started on making your candied orange slices.  First, cut your oranges into slices that are about half a centimetre thick.  Bring a deep saucepan of water to the boil and soak the orange slices for 3 minutes until the peel is soft.  Have a bowl of cold water ready, and drop the slices in there to cool.  Heat up a saucepan with the sugar and water – don’t be tempted to stir, leave it until the sugar all dissolves and then add the blood orange slices.  Let them simmer in the sugar water for 30 minutes, making sure you soak both sides, then put them on a sheet of baking paper and leave to cool.
  5. Next, use a skewer to poke holes in the cake (make sure you leave a gap in the centre and try not to poke all the way through to the base otherwise you’ll get a soggy bottom!).  Mix up your orange jelly as per the instructions on the pack and then slowly pour the mixture over the cake, concentrating on the holes you made.  Pop the cake in the fridge for a couple of hours for the jelly to set.
  6. Decorate the surface of the cake with the candied oranges, melted chocolate and hazelnuts (add a little orange zest if you want a little more zing!). 🙂

Have a lovely weekend!

Orange and Nutella Babka

Hands up then, who’s planning on putting their tree up this weekend?  I’ve got Sunday set aside purely for de-tangling fairy lights, rummaging through our decorations (Sunny and I collect decorations from all the places we’ve travelled to) and then hoovering up pine needles.  I can’t wait!  But hey, it’s a knackering job innit?  There’s nothing better than crashing onto the sofa afterwards with a hot cup of tea and something sweet!  Well, I’ve got the perfect Christmas Decorating Fuel for you; this Orange and Nutella Babka.

I spotted a few of these on Social Media before I went off to the States on Holiday and had never heard of them before, and then I saw even more out there in supermarkets and bakeries.  They’re an Eastern European invention and are basically a sweet loaf that’s stuck somewhere between bread and cake.  The dough is filled with whatever sweet filling you fancy, rolled up, snipped down the middle and twisted to form swirls.  It’s best eaten straight out of the oven warm; perfect for baking while you’re buried up to your neck in tinsel. 😉

Orange and Nutella Babka (makes one beast of a loaf, or two smaller loaves)

Ingredients

  • 250g strong white flour
  • 250g plain flour (and a little extra for dusting)
  • 15g fresh yeast (dry active)
  • 200ml soda water (a neat little trick to give your loaf a little extra rise)
  • 100ml boiling water
  • 2 tsp of salt
  • 1/2 tsp Ground Cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp caster sugar
  • 50 ml melted butter (plus a little extra for greasing)
  • 1 egg (whisked)
  • 1 small jar of Nutella
  • Zest of one Orange
  • 50g Chopped Hazelnuts
  • 50g Chopped chunks of chocolate
  • A little milk to wash.
  1. First things first, you’re going to need to activate your yeast.  Pour the soda water and boiling water into a bowl.  Dissolve the sugar into the water and then sprinkle over the yeast.  Whisk and then leave the bowl somewhere warm for 15 minutes (I use my airing cupboard!) until the yeast begins to froth.
  2. Once the yeast is ready, pour in the melted butter and then add the salt, flour, cinnamon and orange zest.  Stir it together to create a sticky dough.  Turn it out onto a floured surface and knead for 10 minutes.
  3. Once the dough’s been kneaded, pop in a lightly oiled bowl and leave it to prove somewhere warm for one hour.
  4. After an hour, the dough should have doubled in size.  Turn it onto a floured surface and roll it out into a rough square shape that’s about 1cm thick.  Spread the Nutella – taking it as close to the edges as possible – then sprinkle the chopped hazelnuts (hold some back to decorate) and chocolate on top.  Roll it up like a swiss roll and seal each end.
  5. Now to shape the Babka.  Take a sharp knife and cut the dough right down the middle leaving a space at the top (it should look like a pair of legs once you’re done).  Take each leg and turn it so the sticky inside layers are facing upwards.  Now twist one leg over the other until you get a tight plait from one end to the other – making sure you keep those inside layers facing up.
  6. Grease and line a loaf tin and then fill it with your twisted dough. There’s a knack to this bit; you want to make sure the ends are folded under, while the middle is on top.  Cover it with a damp tea towel and leave the dough to prove for another hour.
  7. Set your oven to 200°. Give the surface of the babka a little wash with milk and sprinkle with a few extra chopped hazelnuts and orange zest, then bake it for 30 minutes – covering the top with foil after 15 minutes to protect those layers from burning.
  8. Scoff warm with some extra Nutella! 🙂

Happy Weekend (and happy decorating!)! ♡