Bavarian Apple Cake

You can never have too many apple cake recipes, and I needed to make something for friends coming for a cuppa and chat. My lovely German dil, whom I've mentioned several times on here, gave me this recipe. It's easy to make, but is an unusual cake.

Preheat oven to 220C/gas8 .  Line the base of a 20cm springform tin and grease the sides.

Cream 125g butter with 75g caster sugar and 1/2 tspn vanilla extract, then fold in 150g plain flour. It will be a bit of a crumbly mixture. Press this into the base of the tin and spread with3 tbspn of seedless raspberry or apricot jam.

In another bowl beat together 225g cream cheese, 45g caster sugar, 1 egg and 1/2 tspn vanilla extract and pour this over the jam.

Peel and slice 4 medium apples; I used Coxes, then toss the slices in 75g of caster sugar and 1 tspn of cinnamon till they're well coated and spread these evenly over the cheese mixture. Sprinkle with flaked almonds.

Put the cake tin on a baking sheet in case anything leaks out! Bake for 10 mins then turn the oven down to 200C/gas6 until the top is golden and the cheesecake set - about 40 mins. Cool in tin, then turn out onto serving plate.


The jam and cheesecake are very unexpected and the latter makes the cake rich and moist. We loved the layers - the cakey layer, then the jam, the soft rich cheesecake and then crunch of the almonds.
My dil told me she'd had a disaster with this once, when the butter leaked out of the bottom of the tin into the base of her oven and sent smoke into the kitchen when she opened the door! Hence the baking sheet. But happily, I had no problem.


White Chocolate Christmas Parfait

We don't like Christmas pudding, so I try and find a new Christmas dessert recipe every year.
This is the 2015 one. It's supposed to feed 8, but I think we'll just about get a decent slice each for 5 of us and maybe a bit over for seconds. I've made it in advance and frozen it.
The recipe comes from a pullout from Woman's Weekly.

100g white chocolate broken up into pieces
250ml ready made vanilla custard
3 tbspns Baileys liqueur
142ml pot double cream
2 tbspns grated dark chocolate
a few raspberries

small loaf tin lined with cling film

Melt the chocolate and stir in the custard.
Leave to cool then stir in the Baileys.
Whip the cream then add it to the mixture.
Spoon it into the lined loaf tin and freeze overnight.
When it's solid, cover and wrap and label it.
Take it out and put it in the fridge 20 mins before you want to use it.

Put onto a plate, sprinkle the top with grated dark chocolate and decorate with a few raspberries.

Will let you know after Christmas how it tasted.

 Merry Christmas and a Healthy and Happy New Year.


Christmas Holly Biscuits

This is such an easy recipe, but I like the holly decoration on the top. It's a bit fiddly to do, but I think they look Christmassy and a bit different from other Christmas biscuits. The basic biscuit recipe is one I've had for years, and I saw the holly and berries idea in a baker's shop window. I went in and bought some bread and asked about the holly biscuits and the kind lady explained how they were done. So easy, and adaptable to other designs and cutters.
The recipe makes about 12 biscuits.

75g butter
50g icing sugar
grated rind of a lemon
1 egg yolk
175g plain flour
pinch of salt

2 egg yolks
red and green food colouring

Preheat oven 190C/375F/gas5

Lightly grease 2 baking trays.

Beat the butter, sugar and zest together till fluffy; beat in the egg yolk and add the flour and salt. Mix to a smooth dough. Wrap in clingfilm and put in the fridge for about half and hour.

Roll the dough out on a floured surface to about 3mm thick, then using a 6cm cutter cut out round shapes. A good tip is to flour the cutter so it doesn't stick.

Put the biscuits onto the baking trays.
Mark the tops of the biscuits lightly with a 21/2 cm holly leaf cutter for the leaves and the tip of a 5mm plain piping nozzle for the berries. Chill again for about 10 mins till the biscuits are firm.
For the decoration - using 2 egg cups, put an egg yolk in each one and mix red colouring into one cup and green into the other. Using a small paint brush, paint the colours on the leaves and berries.

Bake for 10 - 12 mins till the biscuits start to colour round the edges.

Cool for a bit on the tray and then finish off on a wire rack.

You get a nice hint of lemon and a good crunch. I made a couple of batches for a church coffee morning today.


Chocolate Caramel Cake

It was my turn to make a cake for coffee morning, so decided to make a chocolate one. It's an American recipe from a neighbour. The caramel isn't made from a tin of Carnation Caramel, which we use nowadays, but is made using golden syrup, and the cake isn't topped with the usual sickly American-style icing, but with a simple chocolate icing, and topped with some chopped walnuts.

For the cake you need:
1 large egg
120g unsalted utter, room temperature
200g  caster sugar
1 tspn baking powder
1 tspn bicarb soda
250ml full fat milk, room temperature
1 tbspn golden syrup
1 tbspn cocoa
1 tspn cinnamon
pinch salt
few walnuts, finely chopped 
Icing sugar 
1 tspn butter, softened
1 tbspn cocoa
Preheat oven 180C/gas4
Grease and base line a 20cm round cake tin.
Cream butter and sugar together until mixture is pale and creamy, then beat in the egg. Mix the flour, baking powder, bicarb soda and salt together. Slowly add the milk and flour mix at the same time while beating constantly on low-medium speed.
Warm the golden syrup in the microwave for about 15 seconds so that it can be easily beaten into the batter. Pour 1/2 the mixture into a bowl and stir in the cinnamon and cocoa until well mixed. Pour the chocolate batter into the cake tin first, smooth the surface, then add the caramel layer. Smooth over the top with your spatula and bake for 45-55 minutes. Keep an eye on the cake in the first 10 minutes: if the edges have started to bake fast and the middle appears to sink, turn down the heat of your oven by around 10 degrees. Let the cake cool in the tin then turn onto a wire rack.
For the icing, beat all the ingredients together and spread over the top of the cake. Sprinkle the chopped walnuts over. (I didn't put the amount of icing sugar, as I didn't weigh it!)

The cake has a soft crumb; I liked the 2 layers- the chocolate one at the bottom then the different flavour of the caramel layer; the walnuts added another texture and crunch.


German Apple Cake

I love apple cakes, and this is a recipe from my lovely German dil.

It's an unusual apple cake as it has 3 layers. It's not the prettiest of cakes, but the flavour's really good. It's not a huge cake, but it's nice eaten warm as a pudd., or you could eat it cold as a cake with your afternoon cuppa.

100g butter
100g caster sugar
200g sr flour
1 large egg
pinch salt
500g cooking apples
55g sultanas
1 tspn cinnamon
55g demerara sugar

Preheat oven 190C/gas 5.
Grease and line a 20cm springform tin.

Melt butter in microwave or pan. Remove and add the sugar, flour, egg and salt. Mix to a stiff dough.
Put 2/3 of the dough in the bootom of the cake tin, pressing it to cover the base.
Mix the rest of the ingredients together and then put on top of the dough.
Put the 1/3 of the dough on top in pieces, tearing it and gently pressing it down. It won't cover the apple mixture.
Bake for about 50 mins till golden, but cover with some foil for about the last 10 mins to stop the top burning.
Cool in the tin then put on a plate and serve warm or cold.

It's not burnt! I used dark demerara sugar mixed with the cinnamon and apple.

I love the apple layer with the sultanas, sugar and cinnamon. It's a nice mixture of textures - the cake bottom, the apple layer and the almost cobbler topping. Just right for this cold, miserable weather.

I'm off to my daughter next week for a break, so won't be posting. I lost my husband recently, so have little inclination to bake. My son came to visit, so I felt I had to make an effort, and made this as a dessert. 


Chocolate and Coconut Bavarois

What is a Bavarois? Well, according to the internet it's  the French name for Bavarian cream, it is a delicate cream dessert with a crème Anglaise base made from either milk, cream or a fruit puree and then aerated with whipped cream and whipped egg whites before being set in the refrigerator with gelatine. It may be a straight vanilla or combined with additional flavourings; such as chocolate, coffee or liqueurs, served on its own as an individual dessert or as a filling for a variety of charlottes, tortes, cakes etc.  

So now you know!
I wanted a dessert for my son and family's visit this week, and I found this in an old French magazine cutting. It's unusual in that instead of having a pastry case and filling it with the Bavarois cream, you use dessicated coconut, flour, milk, egg whites and sugar to make a sort of nest.

Preheat oven 150C/gas2                         Grease and base line a 23cm cake tin.

In a largish bowl mix together 250g of dessicated coconut, 100g caster sugar, 3 egg whites and 1/2 small glass of water into a kind of pastry. Spread this mixture thickly onto the base and up the sides of the tin and bake for about 30 mins.at this temperature then increase to 180C/gas4 for another 10 mins.  Leave it to cool in the tin.
For the cream - put 2 leaves of gelatine in some cold water; beat the 3 egg yolks with 150g caster sugar till creamy, then add 20g flour and fold together. Add 300ml of milk to thin the mixture, continuously beating to avoid lumps.
Put 100ml of whipping in the fridge to get cold.
Melt 100g of dark chocolate 70% in a pan and when it's melted, pour in the egg mixture and mix over a medium heat till the it thickens. Add the melted gelatine and mix again. Leave to get cold.
Beat the cold whipping cream with a hand held electric mixer till thick then add it to the melted chocolate. Very carefully fold this into the egg mixture and spoon into the coconut nest.
Put into the fridge for at least 4 hours before serving with a little dessicated coconut sprinkled on top if liked.

It's very rich, and a small portion is sufficient. The recipe said it was for 4 people, and it looks small in the photo my son took, but it's on a large dinner plate. I grated some chocolate on top instead of coconut. It was more work than I  usually do for a dessert, but tasted so good and creamy, and the nest had a great coconut flavour and a very unusual texture.


Chocolate Biscotti

Ever since Paul Hollywood made some biscotti on GBBO, I've wanted to make some. I found a couple of recipes on line that I liked, so I took ideas from them and made some chocolate ones. Also had a packet of hazelnuts in the cupboard that needed using, so added those to the mix.

Preheat oven 180c/gas4          Line 2 baking trays with silicone or baking parchment

I used a food processor  - put in 320g plain flour, 30g cocoa, 1 tspn bicarbonate of soda, 160g chocolate chunks, milk or plain, 250g hazelnuts and 1 tspn salt and pulse till the chocolate and hazelnuts are pea size.

Beat 4 large eggs and 200g caster sugar till fluffy then add the flour mixture and fold in - or use a food mixer on low speed.
Turn the dough out on to a floured surface and divide into 3. Shape each into a 45cm log. Put onto the baking trays and flatten gently. Brush the tops with egg wash made from a beaten egg white and sprinkle with granulated sugar.
Bake for 20-25mins then cool on a wire rack.
When they are cool, cut on the diagonal to the size you want.
Bake again on the trays for 10-12 mins, till the biscotti are firm and dry then cool on a wire rack.
They keep well in a tin for about 2 weeks or you can freeze them.

As you can see, I decorated them with some white and dark chocolate icing. The hazelnuts added a good extra texture as did the icing and they have a lovely crunch. A nice treat, but maybe the icing's a bad idea if you want to dip them into coffee!


Peanut and Chocolate Cake

My stepson and family came for the day this week, and we have a tradition of having a nice cake for afternoon tea. I've mentioned my lovely German dil before, and she really is a superb baker [ her profession is in catering], so I try and make something new each time they come.
I decided on a chocolate cake, but with something different as filling. I found a jar of peanut butter in the cupboard – perfect - and is something I know we all like. I know it's calorific, but it's a special cake for an occasion.

200g sr flour
1 tspn baking powder
150g caster sugar
150g butter
200g dark chocolate
100ml milk

250g peanut butter [smooth, but if you wanted a different texture, crunchy]
100g butter
100g icing sugar

Preheat oven 180C Grease and baseline 2x20cm cake tins

Melt the chocolate and butter over a pan of simmering water. Whisk the eggs and sugar till light and frothy. Add the milk and gradually mix in the chocolate mixture. Fold in the flour and baking powder. Spoon into the cake tins and bake for about 20 mins. Cool on a wire rack.
For the filling – beat the 2 butters and icing sugar together for 2-3 mins to get a good icing consistency. Add a little more icing sugar if you think it needs to be a bit thicker.
Cut the 2 sponges horizontally. Put the first one on a plate and spread ¼ of the icing over, top with the next sponge and do the same, then the 3rd and finally top with the 4th sponge. Spread the last of the icing on top.

My dil took the photo, and you can tell she's used to taking more professional looking ones than I do!

It was a great success, and because the icing is spread between the 4 cakes, it wasn't too much. Cake had a good chocolate taste and a soft texture. I liked the contrast between the cake and the creamy peanut butter filling. A good cake to have for afternoon tea.


Annie's Maple Cake

My friend went on holiday recently to Canada and brought me back a can of maple syrup. This recipe was on a leaflet attached to the can, so I thought I'd try it. It's a simple cake with a lot of flavour, and I've named it after my friend. 

For the Cake:
125g butter, softened
100g white sugar
125cl maple syrup
1 tspn  vanilla extract
2 eggs
 200g plain flour
pinch of salt
2 1/2 tspn baking powder
60ml milk

100g toasted chopped walnuts

For the Maple Icing:
125g butter, softened
200g icing sugar
2 tbspn maple syrup

For the Maple drizzle topping:
125cl maple syrup
1 tbspn butter
pinch of salt
Preheat oven 180C/gas4 
Grease and line a 23cm cake tin
Beat together the butter and sugar till light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time then add the maple syrup and the vanilla. Mix the baking powder, salt and flour together and fold into the mixture with the milk.
Spoon into the tin and bake for 25-30 mins till golden. Cool on a wire rack.

For the icing - beat the butter, icing sugar and maple syrup together till light and fluffy.

For the drizzle - put the maple syrup in a pan over a medium heat and cook without stirring till it gets to 98C on a sugar thermometer. Let it cool a bit then add the butter and salt and beat together. Cool in the fridge.

Ice the cooled cake with the maple icing , drizzle over the syrup and top with the walnuts.

The cake has a great flavour, thought it is rather sweet. I thought it might be quite dense, but it has a soft texture and the icing, drizzle and walnuts each add another dimension to it. I found the drizzle a bit of a pain to make, so another time I think I'd just ice the cake and top it with the walnuts, though pecans would be good too.


Fig and Almond Tart

There are a lot of fresh figs around in the shops, so I decided to make a tart. Recently I bought a large bag of grounds almonds from a cash and carry, so decided to use them with the figs -  another gluten free recipe.

I love fresh figs; they're so versatile. You can use them with savoury things like ham as a starter, or just sprinkle them with brown sugar and bake for a tasty dessert. My friend adds them to salads.

The tart uses shortcrust pastry, baked blind. You can use your favourite recipe or buy it ready made. You need enough for a rectangular tart tin [with a loose base if possible] - 250g flour and 125g fat.

Preheat oven 180C/gas4

Grease the tart tin and line it with the shortcrust pastry. Either prick the pastry or use baking beans, and bake blind for about 15 mins.
 For the almond cream  - beat 60g soft butter with 60g caster sugar and 60g ground almonds; add 1 egg and beat into the mixture. Add 10cl of whipping cream and mix together well. if you want an even stronger almond flavour add a drop or 2 of almond extract, but no more as it's quite strong.
Pour the mixture into the pastry case.
Cut up 350g of figs into halves, quarters or slices and spread over the top of the almond mixture.
Sprinkle over about 50g of chopped skinned whole almonds or flaked almonds.
Bake for about 35mins. Cool on a wire rack.

 This is a frangipane filling and I love anything with an almond flavour, and this tart ticks all my boxes. The lovely soft textured almost gooey almond filling contrasting with the crispness of the pastry, then the soft figs and their seeds adding another texture with the almonds giving it a bit of crunch. We ate it with some vanilla ice cream, but cream or crème fraîche would be good too.


Reine de Saba Cake

A Reine de Saba [or Queen of Sheba] cake was one of Julia Child's favourites. There are lots of recipes of her version on blogs and websites, but this version is my French neighbour's family recipe. It always appears for birthdays and special occasions, which is how I got to try it. Persuading them to give me their recipe involved some making of English cakes on my part!

I don't know why it's named after the Queen of Sheba; one suggestion I found online said  ' it shares many of the Bible Queen's qualities - exotic, rich, irresistible and the stuff legends are made of'. Hmmm!

If you want to try JC's version here's a link to her Reine de Saba Cake. There's also a clip on You Tube of JC making this cake on her French Chef programme - here's the You Tube Clip. What an annoying voice she has!

It's a chocolate and almond cake, but a lot of the recipes online don't have any almonds!

Preheat oven 180C/gas4                Grease and line and 23cm springform tin

  350g dark chocolate [ my neighbour uses the lovely dark patisserie chocolate you can buy so easily in France] 6 eggs, 200g caster sugar, 3 tbspn potato flour or cornflour, 80g ground almonds, 100g salted butter, 80ml single cream and a pinch of salt

Separate the eggs and whisk the yolks and caster sugar together till white and fluffy. Add the potato flour or cornflour then the ground almonds, mixing well after each addition.
Melt 200g of the chocolate and the 100g of butter over simmering water. Pour this into a bowl, then
beat the egg whites into stiff peaks with a pinch of salt and add therm carefully to the chocolate mixture.
Spoon the batter into the tin and bake for about 30 mins. Don't over bake it. Leave to cool in the tin then put on a wire rack.
Grate the rest of the chocolate; put the cream in a pan and bring to the boil then pour it over the chocolate and mix together. JC's recipe added 2 tbspn of rum to the sauce.
Spread the chocolate icing over the cake.

I added my own twist to the recipe and put toasted almond flakes round the sides of the cake. They stick well to the icing!

The cake is a bit like a brownie, in that it's a bit fudgy in the middle. It's very rich, but it has a lovely delicate crumb which melts in your mouth. I liked the flaked almonds, as they gave another texture and some crunch to the cake. You have the moist almond cake, the smooth chocolate topping and the crunchy flaked almonds.

I'm not sure what Julia would make of my version, but I hope she'd like it!


Sticky Toffee Traybake

Sticky toffee pudding is one of my favourite desserts; I've made it as a cake so thought I'd have a try and make it as a traybake with a toffee sauce on top.
My son was coming for a meal so he was the guinea pig; he loved it and took a large slice home. I miss baking for my children – they were always great critics, good and bad!

Preheat oven 180C/gas4 Grease and line a 20cm square tin.

Put 175g dates with 175ml boiling water and ½ tspn bicarbonate of soda in a pan and heat gently for 5 mins till the dates are soft.

In a bowl cream together 85g butter and 140g caster sugar then add a lightly beaten large egg, ½ tspn vanilla extract and the date mixture. Add 175g sr flour and gently mix together.

Spoon the batter into the tin and bake for about 40 mins. 

Meanwhile make some toffee sauce – put 85g soft brown sugar, 40g butter and 2 tbspn milk or cream into a pan and heat over a low heat till the butter has melted and the sugar has dissolved. Simmer gently for a few mins stirring all the time.

Prick the cake all over using a cocktail stick then pour the toffee sauce over and spread using a spatula. Leave to cool completely, then cut into squares .

A good texture - firm but moist. The flavour is just what you'd expect for a sticky toffee pudding , and the toffee topping works well. A nice cake with a cuppa, or as a dessert with some ice cream or crème fraiche.


Bakewell Flapjacks

Two of my favourite bakes are Bakewell Tart and Flapjacks of any kind, so I decided to combine the two and try and make some Bakewell flapjacks. I was very pleased with the result, as were my children who ate some then took the rest back with them! I just managed to get a photo before they all disappeared!

 I didn't make any pastry as you would with a tart, but used the flavours of a Bakewell and the ingredients of a flapjack.

Preheat oven 190C/gas5       Grease and line a 20cm square cake tin.

Melt 150g butter, 50g caster sugar and 4 tbspn golden syrup in a pan. Then add 200g oats, 50g ground almonds and 1 tspn almond extract. Mix together.
Spoon half of this mixture into the tin and flatten till smooth. Spread 3 tbspn jam [ I use blueberry, but you could use, strawberry or raspberry] over the mixture leaving a frame round the edge.
Spoon rest of mixture on top and spread so it covers the jam. Sprinkle over a handful of flaked almonds.
Bake for 15-20 mins till the edges start to go golden.
Leave to cool in the tin, then cut into squares - the flapjacks will still be moist, so cut them carefully.

I found it a bit difficult to spread the jam over the bottom layer; maybe leaving that to harden a bit would make it easier? It's also quick sticky even after leaving it for several hours and again I think it's  because of the jam layer.
But, you get a good almond flavour as you would in a Bakewell, then the sweetness of the jam, the lovely oat mixture and then the crunch of the almonds. Something I'd make again.


Caramel Pear Teabread

I love baking with Autumn fruits, and I bought some pears before we went on holiday to try out this recipe, another one from my friend's American mil. I think the US has a much better range of ideas for baking with fruit than we do in the UK. 
 I love tea breads of any kind, so one with pears, especially salted caramel pears, was a 'must bake'. 
It's a typical teabread mixture with added pears, and then a streusel topping.

For the pears:

In a large saucepan melt 30g butter and add 450g diced pears and mix together. Add 2 tbspn muscovado sugar, 1/2 tspn salt and 2 tbspn double cream. Stir together gently, then cook on a low heat till lightly golden. Watch the pan as the pears will be bitter if they burn. Take off the heat and cool.

For the cake:

Preheat oven 180C/gas4

Grease a 900g loaf tin well.

In a bowl put 200g plain flour, 1 tspn bicarbonate of soda, 1 tspn baking powder, pinch salt, 1/2 tspn cinnamon, 1/4 tspn allspice, 1/4 tspn ground ginger, and a pinch of nutmeg and mix together.
In another bowl put 2 tbspn [30g] melted butter, 170 ml milk, 1 beaten egg and  65g muscovado sugar. Add the flour mixture to this and mix together gently, but don't overmix. Gently fold in the pears.

For the streusel:

Put 30g oats, 2 tbspn plain flour, 3 tbspn light muscovado sugar, 1/4 tspn cinnamon and pinch salt. Cut 60g butter into pieces and rub in - don't make the crumbs too fine, leave it a bit clumpy.
Sprinkle the streusel over the cake mixture and bake for 45-50 mins.

                                                       Leave to cool on a wire rack.

As you can see, I didn't dice the pears too small as I wanted them in chunks. The tea bread has a lovely moist, spicy flavour with a touch of salted caramel and the soft pears. Then you have the texture of the streusel. A good recipe for using pears, which is slightly different from the norm.



Hazelnut Squares with Chocolate Sauce

It's nearly the end of my using up odds and ends from my baking cupboard - not much left to use up now. I found a bag of ground hazelnuts bought for some recipe or other and only half a bag used, so what to make?
I fancied a cake of some kind, something plain, so had a browse through my cuttings folder and found a recipe from 'Family Circle' magazine, one I used to buy regularly till they stopped printing it.
One ingredient I found intriguing was skimmed milk powder. Why did the recipe use this? I did a bit of research and found that it's often used in bread and cakes to give a softer and more even crumb.

Preheat oven 160C/gas3                     Grease and line a 20cm square tin [or a 28 x 18cm tin if you prefer]

Put 75g ground hazelnuts [or grind them yourself ]. 175 skimmed milk powder, 1 tbspn cocoa powder and 190g light brown sugar into a bowl and mix together.
Melt 100g butter in a pan over a low heat, then pour over the hazelnut mixture in the bowl. Mix together well. Add 3 beaten eggs.
Spoon the mixture into the tin, level the top and scatter over 35g chopped hazelnuts.
Bake for 1 - 11/4 hours then cool on a wire rack.

For the sauce - put 125ml double cream into a pan over a very low heat and bring to the boil, stirring all the time. Take it off the heat and add 115g dark chocolate broken up into small pieces. Stir together till melted.
Serve the sauce with the cake, either poured over or separately.

This made a great dessert. The cake texture was lovely and soft, but with a good hazelnut flavour. The crunchy hazelnuts on top added another texture, and the sauce made it so rich and decadent. The cake on its own would be great with a cuppa.


Apple Dapple Cake

It's always good to have a new apple recipe to try, and this one was given to me recently by a friend. It was given to her by her American mil and has been changed from cups.
It's a nice easy cake which doesn't need a mixer. You mix the dry ingredients in one bowl and the wet in another, add the fruit and nuts and mix.
It's made in a tube pan, one of the reasons I decided to make it, as I've just bought one.
The cake has a lovely brown-sugar glaze, the same idea as the topping on a lemon drizzle.

Preheat oven 160C/gas3
Grease a 25cm tube tin.

Put 420g plain flour, 1 tspn  bicarbonate of soda and 1 tspn salt in a bowl and mix together.
In another bowl put 350g granulated sugar and 320ml vegetable oil and beat together. Then add 3 large eggs and 2 tspns vanilla extract and beat together till well mixed. Add the flour mixture and mix together carefully until just combined, as you do with muffins.Stir in 250g chopped pecan nuts and 3 medium apples which have been peeled cored and chopped into medium sized dice. Mix in.
Pour rhe batter into the tin and smooth the top.
Bake until the top is golden brown - about an hour. Put tin onto a wire rack.

For the glazed topping:
 Put 180g dark brown sugar, 125g butter and 85ml of double cream in a saucepan over a medium heat. Bring to the boil stirring until the sugar has melted. Carry on boiling and stirring till the mixture has thickened - about 3 more mins.
While the cake is warm and in its tin pour the glaze over and leave to cool completely.
To get the cake easily out of the tin, run a knife round the inside.

It's a big cake and I froze some of it - not sure if this was the right thing to do, but we'll see what happens. It's a nice moist cake, and the apple gives it a soft texture, then you get the crunch of the nuts. The topping is sweet and adds another element to the cake. One to add to my apple recipe collection.

Off on holiday on Saturday, so no post next week.


Coffee Walnut Layer Cake

My daughter recently changed her job, so when she came to stay last weekend, I made her favourite cake to celebrate. This version of a coffee and walnut cake is slightly different in that the filling isn't the usual sickly buttercream, but is fresh cream and espresso with a little bit of added sugar. The cake is iced with the usual coffee icing and decorated with walnuts. I decided to  make life more difficult for myself and bake it in a 900g loaf tin, then cut the cake into 3 layers.

To make the cake :

Preheat oven 190C/gas5               Grease and line a 900g loaf tin.

Sift 225g sr flour into a bowl with 1/2 tspn salt; add 225g light muscovado sugar, 225ml vegetable oil, 4 egg yolks, 50ml cooled espresso coffee and 50ml milk and beat it all together till smooth.
Whisk the 4 egg whites till stiff and fold into the batter. Stir in 75g chopped walnuts.
Spoon into the cake tin and bake for about 50 mins.
Leave cake to cool in the tin for 5 mins then turn onto a wire rack and cool completely.

The espresso filling:

300ml double cream, 1 tspn espresso coffee and 1 tbspn caster sugar

Put the 3 ingredients into a bowl and whip together till stiff.

Cut the loaf into 3 layers; spread the filling over the 2 bottom layers and sandwich together.

The Icing:

100g icing sugar mixed with 1 tbspn espresso coffee.

Spread this over the top of the cake and decorate with some walnut halves. Leave to set.

A nice moist cake with a good coffee flavour. I liked the filling which was creamy but not too sweet.


Chocolate and Orange Cheesecake

As we had family coming for lunch yesterday, I decided to follow this week's GBBO theme and make a cheesecake. I'm not a great fan of the usual biscuit bases, so decided to make mine like a chocolate crumble mixture. I also wanted a thicker base layer, so would make a decent amount of the crumble. I love the flavours of chocolate and orange together, so the topping would be orange flavoured.

I used a 23cm springform tin, so it made about 12 good sized slices.

Preheat oven 180C/gas4 and line the 23 cm springform tin with some baking parchment.

For the base:

Cut 175g of chilled butter into cubes, then melt another 50g of butter and put aside. Put the butter cubes into a processor with 150g light muscovado sugar, 3 tbspn cocoa powder and 250g plain flour. Blitz till it becomes breadcrumbs. Pour in the melted butter and pulse till it's mixed.
Spoon into the bottom of the tin and smooth the top using the back of a spoon.
Bake for about 35 mins till risen a bit, but don't overbake. Take it out of the oven and leave to cool.

Reduce the temperature to 150C/gas2

For the topping:

Grate the zest of 2 large oranges then squeeze out the juice - you need 150ml.
Put 800g cream cheese, 250g mascarpone cheese, 4 eggs, 225 caster sugar, orange zest, 2 tbspn cornflour and 1/2 tspn vanilla extract into a big bowl and beat together with an electric hand beater till mixed together. Add the seeds from a vanilla pod and the orange juice and keep beating till the mixture is nice and smooth.

Pour filling over the cooled base then bake for about 1hr 30 mins or until the cheesecake is light golden, just set round the edge, but is still wobbly in the middle. Turn the oven off and leave the cheesecake inside with the door ajar to cool for about an hour, . Take it out and cool completely then put in fridge to chill in the tin.

Remove from tin and decorate the top with some dark chocolate curls - I used some Green and Black 80% chocolate.

I was really happy with the result. A good third of the cheesecake had a nice crunchy chocolate texture, then the smooth orange flavoured creamy filling, very rich, but not sickly. The dark chocolate curls gave it another texture and the bitter chocolate was a good contrast to the filling.
It was a great success with the family, and there was some left over for them to take home.


Chocolate and Pecan Loaf

In keeping with last week's GBBO 'Bread' theme, I decided to make a loaf ; I didn't want a traditional bread loaf, so decided to make this chocolate and pecan one, which I'd made ages ago on a bread-making course.

It's not difficult to make - after the dough has risen its rolled out into a square, sprinkled with chocolate, nuts and sugar then rolled up like a Swiss roll. You need a big loaf tin, 1.8l  twice the size of a normal one [or you could divide the dough, chocolate and nuts in two before you roll it into the square and then use 2 x 900g tins.]

Preheat oven 200C/gas6        Grease a 1.8l loaf tin or 2 x 900g tins

In a big bowl put 500g of strong white bread flour and 3 tbspn butter and rub in till it looks like breadcrumbs. Stir in 1/2 tspn salt, 50g caster sugar and 11/2 tspns fast action yeast.
Add 2 beaten eggs and gradually add 175ml of warm milk to make a soft dough ball.

Lightly flour a surface or board and knead the dough well  till it's smooth and elastic. Put it back in the bowl, cover loosely with some oiled clingfilm and leave in a warm place to rise till doubled in size.

*Tip dough out onto lightly floured surface, knead well again then roll out into a 27cm square.
Sprinkle this with 80g of finely chopped plain dark chocolate [you need 120g of chocolate, but keep the rest till later], 80g roughly chopped pecans [you also need 120g of nuts, but keep the rest for later] and 2 tbspn caster sugar.

Roll the dough up like a swiss roll and put into a greased tin. Cover loosely with oiled clingfilm and again leave in a warm place for 30 mins or till the dough is just above the top of the tin.

Take off the film and brush the top with 1 egg yolk mixed with 1 tbspn water and sprinkle with the rest of the chocolate [40g] and nuts [40g].

Bake for 35-40 mins till the bread is well risen and sounds hollow when the bottom is tapped. Cover the top with foil after 10 mins to stop it burning.

Turn the bread out onto a wire rack to cool.

You could use a breadmaker to make it - add the milk, eggs and butter to the tin. Spoon in the flour then add the salt and sugar. Make a little dip in the flour and sprinkle in the yeast. Set the breadmaker to sweet dough and start. At the end of the programme, take out the tin and tip the dough onto a lightly floured surface and carry on as above from *.

The bread has a good crumb, not too dense, with the lovely chocolate and nut filling running through it which gives it more texture.Then you have the extra hit of chocolate and nuts on top. A nice treat.


Blackberry and Almond Cake

There's a good crop of blackberries around this year, so I've managed to pick a few kilos. This is a bit of a red herring as I didn't actually use any of them in my cake! I wanted to make a cake using some kind of blackberries, and found this one ages ago on an American baking blog which seems to have disappeared. Luckily I'd printed off the recipe - so thank you anyway to 'CakeyJo'. You don't use the blackberries whole, you make them into jam. In the original recipe you had to make this first, but I had a couple of jars of homemade blackberry jam I bought in a local fete, so I used those . It's a cake with a difference in that it has a cakey -pastry base, a layer of jam, and finally another cakey-pastry layer.

You need a 23cm springform cake tin lined with baking parchment

Preheat oven 180C/gas4

In the bowl of a stand mixer beat together 180g butter and 225g caster sugar till white and fluffy. Using 2 large eggs, keep one white to egg wash at the end and add the other egg and the yolk to the bowl and beat again. Add zest of 1 lemon, seeds from a vanilla pod [or tspn vanilla extract] and 1/4 tspn almond extract and beat together on medium speed.

Fold in 320g plain flour which has been mixed with 1 tspn baking powder and 1/2 tspn salt. beat mixture slowly till well blended. Take bowl off stand and make the pastry into a ball. Divide in 2 and wrap one piece in clingfilm and put in fridge to chill.
Press the other piece into the base of the cake tin and about 2cm up the sides.
You need 2 x 340g of blackberry jam [2 jars] which you put into a bowl and mix with 2 tspn lemon juice.
Spoon this mixture into the pastry shell in the tin and spread with a spatula.
Get the other pastry from the fridge and roll out on a sheet of parchment paper or a silicone sheet into a 26cm round. Carefully put it into a freezer for about 10 mins till it's almost hard.
Put the pastry on the top of the cake tin and leave to soften. When it has, press it down carefully till it touches the layer of jam. Pinch the edges together.
Beat the leftover egg white lightly and brush over the top of the pastry. Sprinkle with about 30g of flaked almonds and some demerara sugar.
Bake till golden - about 40-50 mins.
Leave cake in tin for 10 mins then turn out onto a wire rack.

It's quite a large cake, so I froze half of it - it freezes really well. As I said earlier, the shortbread pastry is very short and melts in your mouth, a great contrast to the jam, then another layer of the lovely pastry. It really is delicious, and a cake with a difference. My daughter brought me this pretty cake stand back from her holidays, so am showing it off!


A Biscuit Duo

Following on from the Madeira cake from week 1 of the GBBO, I decided to make some biscuits from week 2.

I'm not a fan of biscotti, or making fancy biscuit  holders, so decided to have a go at Paul's Artlettes. I cheated  and used ready made butter puff pastry and was pleased with the results. You'll find Paul's recipe here. The whirls aren't as good as his, but you could taste the cinnamon, and they were nice and crisp, and they had a good snap!!

After making these I decided that I hadn't put enough cinnamon and sugar in them so made them again with bought butter puff pastry. My second attempt was much better; they're not as oval, but the spiral filling is better.

Honey Biscuits

I also made some honey biscuits as I was given a local jar of honey to try. These are orange and walnut flavoured biscuits which are dipped in honey to glaze.

Preheat oven 180C/gas4

Line 2 baking trays with parchment paper.

In a bowl put 125g butter, finely grated rind of 1 orange and 80g caster sugar. Beat well then slowly beat in 80ml sunflower oil till batter is fluffy.
Stir in 300g plain flour, 150g sr flour, 25g finely chopped walnuts and 160ml orange juice. Mix it together to make a soft dough.
Use 2 tablespoons to make the dough into ovals [like quenelles] and put onto the trays.
Bake for 15-20mins till light brown in colour.
Heat 250ml honey in a saucepan till warm. Dip the biscuits into the honey to coat, using a tongs. Put on a wire rack to cool then sprinkle some chopped nuts [about 2 tbspn altogether].

These aren't the prettiest biscuits, but they are delicious. Nice soft biscuit with a slight crunch from the walnuts and a lovely orange flavour, not too much, then the crunch on top from the nuts.
Make sure that the honey glaze has dried before you put them in a tin. The recipe makes about 30 biscuits, and I think it was originally a WI recipe, but my late mil gave it to me, so am not sure.

Gratin de choux-fleur

 I was given a medium sized cauliflower and as it's not my favourite vegetable, struggled to know what to do with it. Have kept a few Fr...