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Tag Archives: baking

Cake Club: Apple and raisin cake

If there were an X-Factor style contest for cakes (Cake-Factor, if you will), this would be the one on stage at the end, surrounded by sparkly ticker tape singing ‘You Raise Me Up’. Incidentally, how amazing would a Cake-Factor be? Bagsy head judge.

Yep, this is my go-to cake, the one I come back to evey time I need a comforting internal hug of the cakey bakey kind. I first ate it at the christening of a friend’s baby years ago. Her Mum had baked it, eshewing the traditional stodgy fruitcake and, my what a good choice. I found the recipe online, adapted from a WI recipe from a member of an online recipe sharing forum.

You will need…

350g self-raising flour
1tsp baking powder
150g butter
150g caster sugar
350g apples (I’ve used both eating and cooking apples and it works well with each)
25g demerara sugar plus extra for sprinkling
1tsp ground cinnamon
115g raisins or sultanas
2 eggs
125ml milk

Grease and line a 20cm cake tin. Preheat the oven to gas 4/180 degrees/160 fan.

Peel and core the apples then slice finely. Mix with 25g of the demerara sugar and the cinnamon until well combined.

In a separate bowl, sift the baking powder and flour in together then rub the butter in until you have fine breadcrumbs (or make life easy for youself and pulse in a food processor until you have the same effect). Stir in the caster sugar.

Mix the apples into the flour mixture, followed by the raisins or sultananas.

Stir in the eggs and enough milk (you may not need the full amount) to form a soft, gloopy dough which dollops easily of the spoon when you lift it up.

Spoon the dough into the prepared tin, level out and sprinkle with the rest of the demerara sugar.

Bake for 1-1.5 hours until a knife inserted in the centre comes out clean. If the top starts to burn, pop a bit of tin foil over the tin.

Leave to cool in the tin for 15 mins before turning out onto a wire rack. I have never managed to cool this cake completely. It’s at it’s absolute best when served warm, in a bowl, with masses of custard. Delish. Enjoy!

Wednesday Cake Club

It’s easy to get caught up in life sometimes and not enjoy quality time with the family. Last year I made a conscious decision to do something each day just for the boys, to give them my full attention and forget the dishes, washing, and domestic humdrum which often takes over.

Like me, Max and Finn love baking. I guess what we enjoy naturally rubs off on our children as that is the thing we’re most inclined to do with them. So once a week, we don our aprons, raid the cupboards and spend an afternoon baking.

I want the boys to grow up with a healthy relationship with food and don’t believe in banning anything. I want them to enjoy chocolate, cake and biscuits but in moderation, limiting them to once or twice a week. If they are going to eat sugary food I want to make sure I know what’s in it and by making it myself I know it’ll contain less nasties and chemicals than shop-bought alternatives.

I’ve decided to start a new feature on the blog, a weekly recipe featuring the cake or bake of our afternoon session. This week we made oat and raisin biscuits, as featured in The second Great British Bake Off book.

You will need:
125g softened unsalted butter
150g light brown muscovado sugar
1 large, free range egg
1 tbsp milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
100g self-raising flour
75g raisins
150g porridge oats

Heat the oven to 180 c/350 f/gas 4. Cream the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy. In a separate bowl whisk the egg, milk and vanilla esscence until just combined then add to the butter mixture. Stir the flour, oats and raisins into the mixture, mixing well with a wooden spoon.

Dollop heaped teaspoonfuls onto a greased or parchment-lined baking tray. My mix made 28 biscuits. They need to be well spaced as they’ll rise and spread as they cook. I did them in 3 batches.

Bake for 12-15 minutes until golden. Remove from the oven and leave for a few minutes to cool in the tin before cooling completely on a wire rack. The recipe states that they last for up to 5 days in an airtight container but they are so good, I very much doubt they’ll last that long.

Bake me a cake as fast as you can

Yesterday, in honour of my husband’s birthday (like I need an excuse) I made some brownies. I’ve never made brownies before but when I saw the recipe in Lorraine Pascale’s Baking Made Easy book, I couldn’t resist.

It was all going so well. The Lion King was playing in the living room and the little ones were quiet. Then came Max. He sprang into the room, announcing his desire to ‘help’. So without further ado, here is Lydia & Max’s guide to baking Oreo brownies…

You will need…

165g Butter, plus extra for greasing
200g Dark chocolate, finely grated (after 30 seconds of trying to grate the stupid skinny slab of chocolate which kept snapping, I just chopped it into small pieces, it worked fine)
3 Eggs
2 Egg yolks
The seeds of 1 vanilla pod or 2 tsps vanilla extract (I used the latter)
165g Soft light brown sugar
2 Tbsp plain flour
1 Tbsp cocoa powder
Pinch salt
154g Pack Oreo biscuits
Icing sugar (for dusting)

Preheat the oven to 180c/350f/gas 4. Grease and line a 20cm/8in square tin.

Wash hands. Explain to 2-year-old why they need to wash their hands. Position chair by sink, place 2-year-old on chair. Tell 2-year-old to stay still whilst you wash their hands. Tell 2-year-old not to get down. Recover 2-year-old from the other side of the kitchen and place back on chair. Wash their hands. Tell 2-year-old not to splash. Dry self and 2-year-old.

Position a chair by your working area and place 2-year-old on chair. Melt the butter in a pan over a low heat. Remove from heat and intercept just before 2-year-old’s finger plops into the hot melted butter.

Extract chopped chocolate from 2-year-old’s grasp and explain it’s not for eating now. Add the chocolate to the butter, leave for a few minutes. Intercept again. When the chocolate has melted, stir together. Remove celery stalk from pan. Tell 2-year-old to stir less vigorously. Clean up splattered butter and chocolate mix from worktop/splashbacks/microwave/coffee machine.

Whisk the eggs, egg yolks and vanilla together in a large bowl until light and fluffy. Stop 2-year-old drinking vanilla extract.

Add the sugar in 2 additions, whisking between each. Pour the sugar around the egg mix so as not to knock the air out. (Read: chuck the lot in, followed by the measuring bowl). Remove the bowl and keep whisking until the mixture becomes stiff.

Once the egg mixture is ready, remove 2-year-old’s hand from chocolate mixture and pour in, again around the sides so you don’t knock the air out.

Retrieve eggy whisk from 2-year-old and set aside.

Add the flour, cocoa powder, salt and a third of the biscuits (or whatever you have left that’s not in the child’s mouth). Re-prepare the tin after finding the buttery paper on the dog’s head, stir until combined and pour into the prepared tin.

Scatter the remaining biscuits (if you have any left) over the top, pressing them in slightly, and bake on the middle shelf for 25-30 mins. The middle will be slightly gooey.

Pass chocolatey spatula to 2-year-old so you get A MOMENT’S PEACE and pour yourself a gin.

Leave the brownies to cool in the tin. The top may sink and crack slightly but this will only add to the texture and reflects perfectly on your state of mind.

If you want to see the actual recipe and how it should be done properly, find it here

I just wish I’d taken more pictures, rather than just the end result. Cooking with toddlers is actually very frustrating funny and the state of the kitchen when we’d finished was laughable.

No 2-year-olds or dogs were hurt during the making of these brownies