Happy Friday! And Happy Birthday to my (not so little) brother, who’s turning 31 tomorrow (…and then it’s my birthday on Sunday, but I’m not going to mention how old I’ll be turning… yeesh). He’s a big fan of the chocolate brownie in all it’s glory and so naturally, I had to bake him some to celebrate. Trouble is, until recently I was yet to find my holy grail brownie recipe. You know, one that’s both basic and brilliant enough to pull out of your sleeve when you need it most (you know, “bring a cake” coffee mornings, bake sales, Wednesdays…) – one that doesn’t require any fancy ingredients, just the stuff that you’ve got stashed in your kitchen cupboard. Slightly crisp around the edges, but deliciously gooey in the middle. Perfecto.
A couple of weeks ago, Sunny came back from work with a rough print out of a chocolate brownie recipe that been pinging around the office via email which claimed to make the best ever brownies. I mean, you can trawl the internet for hours searching through millions of recipes claiming to make the best ever brownies, or sift through cook books – but, the truth is, I’m far more likely to pay attention to recipes on scraps of paper that are passed from person to person. Those kind of recipes are gold dust. And so, I gave it a go one Sunday and by ‘eck, they’re good. And adaptable – which is exactly the kind of basic and brilliant recipe I love. One that I can fiddle around with to my heart’s content; throw in any filling or flavours I fancy, and top with whatever I like – which on this occasion was plenty of extra chocolate, toasted marshmallows, honeycomb and some birthday sprinkles. 🙂
Super chocolaty, and with aaaaaall the trimmings.
200g milk dark chocolate
140g plain flour
100g caster sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 tbsp baking powder
50g chocolate chips
Honeycomb pieces (I found mine in Tesco)
First off, turn on your oven and set it to 180°C, and grease and line a deep baking tin.
Break up your chocolate and pop it into a microwavable mixing bowl, along with the butter. Melt them together in the microwave for about a minute and a half. Stir to combine, and then leave to cool for a couple of minutes.
In another bowl, whisk together the eggs and caster sugar. Slowly pour the egg mix into the melted butter and chocolate mix, stirring as you go.
Sift together the flour and baking powder, and then add to the rest of the mix – stirring until everything is smooth and mixed together.
Pour the mix into the tin, and then bake in the oven for 25 minutes. When it comes out, it should have slight cracks around the edge and might have a bit of a wobble in the middle (…am I describing myself here?) – that’s fine, it’s cooked – it just needs a couple of hours in the tin to cool and set.
Sprinkle with chocolate chips, honeycomb, marshmallow and sprinkles – using a blowtorch to singe the marshmallows.
Store it in a tin, and NOT in the fridge.
Have a great weekend everyone – and happy birthday to my baby brother! 🙂
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!
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 😉 ).
In a mixing bowl, cream together your butter and caster sugar – then beat in the eggs until the mix is nice and fluffy.
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.
Spoon the mixture into your muffin cases, then sprinkle each one with a generous helping of granola and demerara sugar. Bake for 20 minutes.
Happy Mother’s Day – for Sunday! It’s honestly one of my favourite days of the year, because not only do I get to celebrate the fabulous Mama Cwtch (more on her in a sec…), but it’s also kind of a Spring milestone, isn’t it? Once Mother’s Day swings around (in the UK at least – I know you American lot celebrate it a little bit later) there’s usually blossom on the trees and the weather is hopefully (finger’s crossed!) starting to turn towards summer. It’s been warm and sunny all week here in Cardiff, and it’s been bloody lush! LONG MAY IT REIGN.
I owe a lot of things to my lovely Mama – my massive boat feet and sensitive skin for one (thanks Mum!), as well as my impulsive nature (let’s do this right now!!!) and love of photography. But also my sweet tooth and love of baking (I’m always the first person to suggest stopping for tea and a cake – if my Mum doesn’t get in there first!). The first cake I ever made was a simple Victoria Sponge with my Mum standing on a stool in our kitchen, and boy how far I’ve come since then. 🙂
This pineapple and coconut tray bake is nothing special to look at fresh out of the oven, but is totally transformed with a layer of coconut buttercream and a scattering of flowers made from dried out pineapple rounds. I saw the idea in this month’s Tesco Food Magazine and I think the Hummingbird Bakery do something similar – and it’s such simple but genius way to finish off a cake! Sweet!
Pineapple and Coconut Tray-bake
100g Self-raising Flour
100g Caster Sugar
1 Large Egg
1 tsp Baking Powder
50g Desiccated Coconut
1 fresh Pineapple
for the buttercream:
200g icing sugar
2 tbsp coconut cream
Give yourself a little bit of time and make the pineapple flowers a day ahead. Slice the leaves and prickly outer layer of your pineapple off, and then use a teaspoon to core out those spikes. Turn the pineapple on its side and very carefully thinly slice half of the pineapple into rounds (save the other half, you’re going to use it later!). Next, set your oven to a low heat (around 100°C) and grab a muffin tray. Turn it over, and place the pineapple slices over the cups – then pop them in the oven. It’ll take them about an hour an a half to dry out fully and curl at the edges.
To make the cake – set your oven to 170°C and then grease and line a rectangular baking tray.
Cream together the caster sugar and butter in a large bowl. Then, beat in egg.
Sift together the dry ingredients (the flour, baking powder and desiccated coconut) and then fold into the buttercream and egg mix.
Gently stir in the buttermilk, then pour the mixture into the baking tray.
Remember the leftover half a pineapple? Slice it neatly into rectangles, then arrange over the surface of the cake, making sure to overlap them as the cake will rise and expand as it bakes. Bake in the oven for 60 minutes or until an inserted skewer comes out clean. Leave the cake to cool.
While the cake is cooling, whip up your buttercream by creaming together the butter, icing sugar and coconut cream. Once the cake has cooled, spoon it over the surface.
Arrange the pineapple flowers over the top, then spoon a little bit of buttercream into the centre of each. Sprinkle with poppy seeds, then serve! 🙂
You can see a video of me making this cake on IGTV. Happy Mother’s Day to all the beautiful mamas out there! 💛
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. 🙂
Blood Orange Caramel Upside Down Cake
2 Ripe Blood Oranges, thinly sliced
125g Caster Sugar
100g Plain Flour
1 tsp Baking Powder
50g Ground Almonds
For the Caramel:
150g caster sugar
pinch of salt
100ml of water
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
When you’re ready to serve, flip your cake so the caramel and orange base is on top. Serve with cream… 🙂
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! 🙂
Mini Nutella Palmiers
Ready-made Puff Pastry
Plenty of Nutella
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.
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.
Spread the palmiers out evenly on a baking tray and then bake in the oven for 10 minutes at 220°.