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!)! ♡

5 Weekday Lunches

I’m absolutely useless when it comes to eating lunch during the week.  Oh don’t get me wrong, I’m the first person to dive head first into the fridge at lunchtime, but I always seem to surface with my hands empty and end up heading off to the snack cupboard instead.  Jam Doughnut?  That’ll do.  Half a bag of Tortilla Chips?  Be rude not to.  I grab and I go and more often than not I end up swinging back in a couple of hours for round two because – you guessed it – I didn’t eat a proper lunch.

So this week I decided to shun the snack cupboard and sort myself out with some proper midday grub in under 15 minutes using whatever happened to be in the fridge.  It was really nice to take some time to cook (mostly) from scratch and treat myself to a little lunch date every day! 🙂

Monday: Egg on Toast

Yes, it’s simple and probably a little bit boring, but you can’t beat fried egg on a slab of toast.  I was going to mash up a little avocado to go with it, but since none of the ones hanging around in my fruit bowl were ripe, I had to go without.  I finished things off with some chopped chives, a little grated cheddar, chilli flakes and black pepper.  Yum!

Tuesday: Sweet Potato Hash

On Tuesday I found some leftover halloumi (…does such a thing exist?) when I was rummaging around in my fridge, so I quickly fried it up with some garlic, diced sweet potato, button mushrooms, pine nuts and cherry tomatoes.  I mixed in some salad and grated cheese (extra cheese!) and scoffed it in front of a brand new episode of Outlander (I’m so happy it’s back!).

Wednesday: Flatbread Pizza

Hump Day Treat!  Sunny was working from home and found some flatbread in the fridge and complained that it wasn’t any good – “You can’t make a sandwich with that!”.  Nope, you can’t.  But you can make pizza.  I spread some tomato puree over the top, sprinkled it with some grated mozzarella, added some chopped button mushrooms and tomatoes and then grilled it for ten minutes.  Mwah!

Thursday: Toasted Tea Cake

Change of scenery! On Thursday, I ended up popping out to the local garden centre coffee shop to catch up with my Mum and Dad.  My Mum and I love a good old toasted tea cake with plenty of butter; old habits die hard, so that’s what I had. 🙂

Friday: *Pheasant Tikka Masala by Wild and Game

A very gloomy Friday afternoon treat!  Okay, so this one didn’t take 15 minutes – but since it involved absolutely zero effort on my part other than turning the oven on and grilling a bit of naan bread, I’m counting it.  Wild and Game have a whole range of ready meals and pies made with meat from game animals like grouse, pheasant, partridge and hare.  I know what you’re thinking – you’re imagining dinner at Downton Abbey, aren’t you?  Well, while game used to be the nosh of the well to do, thanks to companies like Wild and Game you don’t need a spot on the civil list to get your hands on it.  When they got in touch and asked if I’d like to try their Pheasant Tikka Masala, I said “yes please!” and ended up trying it out this afternoon as a Friday lunchtime treat.  I’d never tried pheasant before (although I’m used to seeing them pottering around the field near where I live – Bungle loves to chase them!) and so I wasn’t sure what it was going to taste like or whether I’d even like it.  But it was delicious, with a flakey, tender texture and a taste slightly similar to turkey, and the curry was the sort of “little bit of what you fancy” Tikka Masala you’d happily pick off a gastropub menu and order with half and half (half rice, half chips for the uninitiated 😉 ). Tasty, and with a hefty portion of pheasant enough to serve two.

I’ve been a bit put off with chicken recently after cooking up a stringy, bad batch from the supermarket a few months ago.  The truth is chicken is terribly over-consumed in the UK and chickens incredibly poorly treated (over 20 million are killed every week for their meat – if you want your eyes opened on the subject then just watch this bbc documentary), and I’m personally a little fed up with being a part of that whole process.  Pheasant, to me, seems to be an ethical and affordable alternative.

What’s your favourite working lunch? 🙂

Cherry and Almond Parfait Pots

I fell head over heels for yoghurt parfait pots on my trip to Canada.  We stayed in a tiny log cabin in the middle of the woods run by a lovely English lady and her gorgeous black lab, and the homemade breakfasts they served up were seriously incredible.  As well as vanilla pancakes, maple bacon and breakfast quiche, they also served up yoghurt parfait pots – which are simple and healthy, but practically like having dessert for breakfast.

So, when I got back to Cardiff I had to whip up my own little parfait kit so I could scoff them at home.  A little prep involved, but once you’ve made up the “kit” these sweet pots with cherry jam and almond granola make a speedy and satisfying breakfast in the week when you’re in a rush. 🙂


Cherry and Almond Parfait

Ingredients

For the Almond Granola:

  • 200g porridge oats
  • 100g shaved almonds
  • 100g dried cherries
  • 1 tbsp almond extract
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • a pinch of salt
  • 150ml maple syrup
  • 100ml coconut oil

For the Cherry Jam:

  • 100g of fresh pitted cherries
  • 100g jam sugar
  • 100ml lemon juice

To Serve:

  • Natural Yoghurt
  • Fresh Cherries
  • A glass jar
  1. To make the granola, mix together all the ingredients in a large bowl and then spread evenly on a lined baking tray.  Bake the granola in the oven at 160 for about 45 minutes – making sure you pop in and rearrange it so that the mix bakes evenly.
  2. Once it’s cooked, leave it out to cool and dry out to ensure a good crunch, then transfer into an air tight container.
  3. To make the jam, blitz your pitted cherries (for a smoother jam) and then pour them into a saucepan with the jam sugar and lemon juice.  Turn up the heat, allowing the sugar to dissolve and then allow it to hit a roaring boil for around 10 minutes.  You can check whether the jam has set by putting a plate in the freezer and then using it to test a blob.  If it runs when it hits the plate then it’s not ready, if it sticks, then it’s done!  Transfer into a sterilized jar, allowing the jam to cool before you seal it up.
  4. How you make up your parfait pots is entirely up to you – I like to mix a little of the cherry jam into some natural yoghurt and then layer it with some more, plain natural yoghurt.  I top that off with another generous blob of jam and plenty of granola and then garnish with some fresh cherries. 🙂

You can catch a video of me whipping up this parfait pots over on Instagram TV.  If you’re not following, you can find me right here; just click the IGTV link in my profile to see this recipe and more.  Cheers to the weekend! 🙂

Honey Cake

Aha!  Honey, honey!  It was my Dad’s birthday over the weekend and so, in celebration of him and the fact that the weather’s still behaving (I actually can’t remember the last time it rained, is this even Wales?) we had a bit of a barbecue and I decided to make a cake.  If you saw Friday’s post then you’ll remember me mentioning that Sunny and I completely fell in love with the honey cake we tried at Bistrot Pierre last week, so, with the taste of that fresh in my mind I decided to try and make something similar.

I did a bit of research and found a couple of very old and dusty recipes for Burgundian Honey Cake – which is kind of like a French version of Christmas Pudding (heavy, spiced, sticky).  Anyway, the recipe I ended up playing with must have come straight out of a medieval castle kitchen though, because IT, WAS, MASSIVE.  It also took way, way too long to cook (I’ve only got a little oven, not a castle furnace after all) and was also far too dense and far too sticky.  So anyway, I’ve fiddled around with the quantities and balanced everything out to make an actual cake… y’know, rather than something you’d throw off the battlements to ward off an invading army. 🙂

Honey Cake

Ingredients

  • 200g Runny Honey
  • 170g Butter
  • 1tsp Ground Cinnamon
  • 2 Eggs
  • 100g Dark Muscovado Sugar
  • 250g Self Raising Flour
  • 1 tbsp Milk
  1. Set the oven to 180° and grease a cake tin.
  2. In a saucepan, gently heat the honey, butter, cinnamon, milk and sugar together until smooth and melted.  Leave to cool.
  3. Sift the flour into a mixing bowl and create a well in middle.  Gradually pour in the honey mixture and whisked eggs, and stir into a smooth batter.
  4. Bake for around 45 minutes – or until you can poke the cake with a skewer and have it come out clean.  Either eat warm with ice cream, or leave the cake to cool and serve with buttercream frosting (I mixed in a little honey and lavender flavouring to mine 🙂 then decorated it with flowers).

Have a lovely week everyone! 🙂