Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Carrot cake with Cream cheese frosting


I ended up with a lot of carrots that needed using up. As usual, I look for a recipe to use them up. I don’t usually make carrot cake, as prefer making butternut squash cake (of which i will have to put the recipe up). I fancied a change and the challenge. I haven’t really had good carrot cake before. I usually find them underwhelming and disappointing. Either insipidly dry or horribly dense and wet.

I decided on Angela Nilson’s recipe for Carrot Cake as wanted one that used a lot of carrots and didn’t include nuts. This recipe uses almost 300g of carrots and is nut-free. I do like nuts (such as walnuts commonly used in carrot cake) but have never really enjoyed them in carrot cakes.

For this recipe, I didn’t have any wholemeal flour so used plain flour. The carrot cake turned out fine with this substitution. I also didn’t have any quark for the accompanying topping, so used this Cream cheese frosting recipe instead. The frosting is best made on the day the cake will be eaten as it doesn’t keep well at room temperature. It’s fine however kept in the fridge. You could make the cake the day before and then the frosting on the day. I’m no expert to cream cheese frosting. So am open to any recommended recipes, as I think this recipe, although decent, could be improved.

Anyways, Leigh thinks this could be (possibly) the best cake that I have made so far! I am undecided between this carrot cake and my courgette cake as to which one is top. It probably depends on my mood, like Leigh, he rates the carrot cake for its’ dark flavour. I also do love my courgette cake for its’ light flavour.
I love how moist and light this carrot cake is. For me the texture and taste is spot on. Carrot cakes should be more like this.


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Ingredients

For the cake

Zest of an orange
3 tbsp of the juice of an orange
140g raisins
125ml rapeseed oil
115g plain flour
115g self-raising flour
1 tsp plus a pinch of baking powder
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 heaped tsp ground cinnamon
140g dark muscovado sugar
280g finely grated carrots
2 eggs

For the frosting

115g (4 ounces) unsalted butter, softened
115g (4 ounces) cream cheese, softened
250g (2 cups) icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract


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Method:

1. Heat oven to 160°C/fan 140°C.Grease and line a deep 20cm square cake tin.
2. Finely grate the zest from the orange and juice the orange.
Pour the juice over the raisins in a bowl, stir in zest, then leave to soak while you make the cake.
3. Sieve and mix the flours with baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and cinnamon.
3. Separate one of the eggs.
Put the white in a small bowl and the yolk in a large one.
Break the remaining whole egg in with the yolk, then tip in the sugar.
Whisk together for 1-2 mins until thick and foamy.
Slowly pour in the oil and continue to whisk on a low speed until well mixed.
4. Tip in the flour mix, half at a time, and gently stir it into the egg mixture.
The mix will be quite stiff.
Put the extra pinch of baking powder in with the egg white and whisk to soft peaks.
5. Fold the carrot, raisins (and any liquid) into the flour mixture.
Gently fold in the whisked egg white, then pour into the tin.
Jiggle the tin to level the mixture.
6. Bake for 1 hr until risen and firm
or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.
7. Leave to cool in the tin 5 mins, turn out onto a wire rack, peel off the paper, then leave until cold.
8. To make the frosting, beat together the butter and cream cheese.
Add the icing sugar a cup at a time or half the amount at a time.
Beat until smooth and creamy.
Beat in the vanilla extract
9. Swirl the frosting over the cake and cut into 16 squares.
This cake is even better if left well wrapped for a day or two before icing and eating.
Will keep up to 5 days un-iced in an airtight tin, or in the fridge if iced.


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Thursday, 19 June 2014

Apricot cake and tea loaf


I had a bag of dried apricots that expired this month and also leftover caramel buttercream to use up. I looked up recipes that used a lot of dried apricots and came across this recipe for Apricot sticky toffee pudding by Chocolate & Zucchini.

I made a round cake and 5 mini tea loaves out of the recipe. I didn’t make the accompanying toffee sauce and opted to use my leftover caramel buttercream (from my chocolate & caramel cake recipe).


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I think this is a decent recipe. They are similar to my Date & carrot loaf but are lighter and less dark in flavour. The only thing was the apricots I used weren’t the best. They were tart and quite hard so didn’t meld in the cake as well as they could. I reckon if I used sweeter, juicier and softer dried apricots then the result would be great!

Monday, 16 June 2014

Week of baking fun, family & friends! (9-15/6/14)


Last week has been a busy week for baking!!!

It's what I really enjoy doing and I see it as a way to practice my baking. I love to share what I bake with others :-)


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Family visited from India at the start of the week. I'd found out beforehand that the kids like chocolate cake, so I baked my chocolate & caramel cake for them. We enjoyed this at a family meal at Sky Chinese restaurant in Newcastle.


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Recipe: http://chowathome.blogspot.co.uk/2014/03/triple-layer-chocolate-caramel-cake.html


 We visited Alnmouth and Alnwick during the week and was very fortunate to hit a beautiful sunny and warm day. Perfect for the beach!


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I received some lovely gifts from India! A pretty kaftan, Tulsi Masala Chai tea, Butter chicken spice mix, Saffron, a CD, make up bag and purse.


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It was my friend Laura's birthday on Saturday and I found out she liked lemon cakes. I decided to make something a little bit different with a lemon twist. I made my courgette cake with lemon curd and lemon cream cheese frosting. This cake was my favourite bake of the week. The texture of the cake was spot on and the icing was delicious!

Weather turned out really well again for this occasion. We spent most of the afternoon and evening sat outside in the sunshine at the Ouseburn, Newcastle.


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Recipe: http://chowathome.blogspot.co.uk/2014/04/courgette-cake.html


The week ended with my friend Amy's daughter christening on Sunday, where I baked a variety of cupcakes and cookies. I made two types of cupcakes: chocolate with caramel icing and caramelised biscuit cupcake with vanilla buttercream. I also made two types of cookie: peanut butter & chocolate chip cookies and oat & raisin cookies.


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Recipes:


All went down very quickly at the Christening which was really lovely to see. And Amy got me these gorgeous flowers as a ‘thank you’.


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Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Blueberry muffins


I have used this recipe for blueberry muffins a few times and they always turn out well. Light, soft, fluffy and moist with delicious bursts of blueberry flavour. The recipe states it makes 12 muffins. But I managed to make 12 normal sized muffins and 24 mini muffins from the recipe. So you will get a generous amount of muffins!


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 Ingredients

 110g butter
250g plain flour
250g caster sugar
2 eggs
125ml milk
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
225g fresh blueberries

Method 
1. Preheat oven to 180°C.
Line a muffin tin with paper cases.
2. Sieve flour, baking powder and salt together in a bowl.
3. In another bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
4. Add eggs and beat well.
5. Add milk and flour mixture.
Beat until combined.
6. Stir in blueberries.
7. Fill paper cases 2/3 full.
8. Bake for 25 - 30 minutes.
A skewer inserted in a muffin should come out clean when the muffins are cooked.


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Sunday, 1 June 2014

Caramelised biscuit cupcakes


I’ve always enjoyed the Lotus caramelised biscuits you get with a cuppa. You know the ones I mean – the posh continental biscuits in the red packets that are mildly gingerbready with a caramel flavour. They go under different names depending on where you are – Biscoff / Speculoos.


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I have heard about the spread made from these crushed up biscuits. What the Americans call ‘cookie butter’. But had never seen it on sale until the other day at Morrisons. I snapped it up and was really excited to try it.


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And it did not disappoint. It is every bit as delicious as I imagined it would be! Gorgeously caramely and creamy. Oh so dreamy.

First thing I did when I go home was look up a recipe I could use the spread in. I decided on this recipe from Dash and a Pinch. I made up half the recipe as didn’t want to waste too much of the spread should the recipe fail. So I ended up with 6 cupcakes, of which they were so scrummy, that I can’t wait to make some more!

This has to be, if not my favourite, then one of my favourite cupcakes to make now. If you like the Lotus caramelised biscuits or the spread, then you will love this!


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Ingredients

For the cupcakes

1 cup plain flour
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup Lotus caramelised biscuit spread
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
6 Lotus caramelised biscuits (optional)

For the buttercream 

225g unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup Lotus caramelised biscuit spread
4-5 cups icing sugar
2 tablespoons milk


Method

1. Preheat an oven to 175°C, and line a muffin tin with 12 cupcake cases.
2. Place flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt into a bowl.
Mix and set aside.
3. In another bowl, mix oil, sour cream, Lotus caramelised biscuit spread, eggs, and vanilla.
When combined, slowly add dry ingredients.
Fill cupcake cases about 3/4 full and bake for 18-22 minutes.
Cool on a cooling rack, and make the frosting:
4. Put the softened butter and Lotus caramelised biscuit spread into a bowl,
and beat on medium speed until smooth and creamy.
Slowly add the icing sugar until it thickens.
Add milk until you reach you desired consistency.
Frost using a piping bag or spoon the icing onto the cupcakes.
Top each cupcake with half a Lotus caramelised biscuit (if using).


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Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Vanilla crumb bar tray bake


I had leftover sour cream after cooking Mexican and wanted to find a new way to use it up. I didn’t want to make a savoury dish but fancied something sweet instead. I came across this recipe for Sour cream crumb bars from Crunchy Creamy Sweet which looked simple enough. And I had all the ingredients on hand to make half the recipe.

The result reminded me of the Vanilla slices you can get from Greggs. Creamy vanilla set custard in between thin layers of pastry, except here there is a shortbread type base and crumbly topping. Lovely. This is best eaten on the day or (kept in the fridge) the day after.


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Ingredients
     
    for the crust and topping:
    1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled to room temperature
    1/2 cup light brown sugar
    1 and 1/2 cup plain flour
    1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
    1/2 tsp baking powder
    1/4 tsp salt
     
    for the filling:
    1 cup sour cream
    3/4 cup granulated sugar
    2 tbsp plain flour
    1 egg
    1 tsp vanilla extract

    Method
1. Preheat oven to 190°C.
Grease and line a 8" square dish .  
2. Mix together flour, brown sugar, bicarbonate of soda, baking powder and salt.
Add melted butter and mix until dough forms.
Reserve about 3/4 cup of the dough mixture for the topping.
Press the remaining dough into prepared dish to form the crust. 
3. Place all filling ingredients in a bowl and mix until all combined.
Pour filling over the crust.
4. Sprinkle with the topping mixture.
5. Bake for 25 to 28 minutes, or until the topping is golden brown.
6. Cool completely in pan.
Cut into squares.

Friday, 23 May 2014

Lemon meringue cupcakes


This Lemon meringue cupcake recipe is taken from the Primrose Bakery Book. These cupcakes proved such a hit when I first made them, that I made them again a second time in the same week! They’re something a little bit different - the meringue topping paired with the lemon curd is just a bit special.


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Ingredients

For the cupcakes
110g unsalted butter, at room temperature
225g caster sugar
2 large eggs
90ml semi-skimmed milk
30ml juice of a lemon
1 tbsp sour cream
150g self-raising flour
125g plain flour
1 tsp grated lemon zest (roughly 2 lemons)
Approx. 12 tsp lemon curd

For the meringue topping
4 large egg whites
225g golden caster sugar

Method

To make the cupcakes
1. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
Line a muffin tray with muffin cases.
2. Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.
Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat well after each addition.
2. Measure the milk into a jug, add the lemon juice and sour cream. Combine well.
3. Sift the flours into a bowl and stir together.
4. Add alternate amounts of the flour and the milk mixture to the creamed butter and sugar.
Add one-third of the flour and mix.
Add half the milk mixture and mix.
Add one-third of the flour and mix.
Add the remaining half of milk mixture and mix.
Add the remaining last third of flour and mix.
5. Spoon the mixture evenly into the muffin cases,
filling them to about two-thirds full.
6. Bake for about 25 minutes.
To test if the cupcakes are cooked, insert a skewer into the centre and it should come out clean.
The cupcakes will appear quite a light colour even when cooked.
7. Leave the cupcakes in their tin for 10 minutes then turn out onto a cooling rack.
Cool cupcakes completely.
8. Cut out a hole in the centre of each cupcake.
Place a teaspoon of lemon curd in the centre of each cupcake.

To make the meringue topping
9. Preheat the oven to 160°C.
10. In a clean bowl, beat the egg whites with an electric mixer until stiff peaks form.
Add 1 tablespoon of the caster sugar and beat well until incorporated.
Add the remaining sugar and beat well again until the mixture takes on a glossy sheen.
Use immediately.
11. Pipe or spoon on the meringue icing over the surface of each cupcake.
12. Put the cupcakes on a lined baking tray
and return them to the oven for about 15 minutes,
until the meringue has set slightly and has a slight golden tinge.
13. Let the cupcakes cool again before serving.


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