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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!

A round-up

I regulary read ’round up’ posts on other blogs (I particularly like Abigail’s) and until now thought my life was too boring uneventful to fill an entire post with our goings-on Chez Sherlock.

Well, after having a quick flick through my photos (turns out I’m pretty snap-happy since getting my new iPhone) it looks like our actually-quite-busy-after-all life is enough to fill a post. So, according to my phone, here was our week…

Got me some new specs (I can seeee!)

I met with a very lovely friend last week for her birthday and we shared an amazing (and very posh) afternoon tea at Harvey Nichols. It’s rare that I get the chance to go out without the kids and be, you know, me again so as her birthday coincided with a work day I decided it’d be rude not to accompany her whilst the kids were in nursery. We had a selection of mini-rolls, fresh (and warm) scones with clotted cream and jam and various treat-sized cakes. If I was rich, I’d do this every week.

Friday was a snow-day. So, the amount of the white stuff was pretty pathetic here but we used it as an excuse to have a duvet day. For the first time EVER, we stayed in our jammies til lunchtime and crawled back into bed after breakfast armed with blankets and DVDs. The kiddos were both feverish so we snoozed and lazed the morning away. So cosy.

Saturday night was a homemade-pizza-and-wine kinda evening. Since attempting a homemade pizza a few years back I can never enjoy a shop-bought one again. It’s so easy to make and I literally just chuck whatever I have to hand on top of it. This night it was chorizo, mushrooms, olives and peppers. Amaze.

Sunday, I got my running Mojo back. Since running the Bath Half Marathon last year I’ve completely lost all enthusiasm for running and have been trying (and failing) to get back into it since the summer. I hit the treadmill, just to test the waters, expecting to do 15-20 minutes but found myself carrying on for 4 miles. 4 MILES! It took 41 minutes and I was chuffed to bits since I’d not run for 3 months or so. I could barely walk for 2 days afterwards but that’s besides the point, right?

The lovey Kimberlee invited us to celebrate her gorgeous son Henry’s first birthday over the weekend. It was at a soft play centre and was manic to say the least with crazed kids, eyes glazed over shooting around the place but the boys loved it. Little Henry seemed to enjoy himself too with a huge pile of prezzies to work his way through at the end.

There are a few people I regularly talk to on Twitter and Kimberlee is one of them. Abigail and Jo were there too and it’s lovely to put faces to Tweeters. I’m still quite new to Twitter but love how it’s bringing me together with such great people and starting you give me (and the boys) a busier social life. Oh, and I can’t mention the party without giving credit to the cake. Kimberlee runs a baking business and that lady has serious talent. Henry celebrated with an amazing chocolatey triple-decker creation and thanks to the run I enjoyed it guilt-free. The best way.



Cake Club: Ginger cake


The recipe calls it ‘Gingerbread’ which, I guess technically it is but gingerbread just makes me think of gingerbread men and other biscuity little guys so it shall henceforth be known as ginger cake. A much more accurate description for it’s lovely, spongy, gooey yumminess.

For the first time in years I actually baked alone. ALONE. No sticky fingers poking into the butter, curious hands scooping out the sugar or small people fighting over who gets to lick the spoon. No, apparently playing farms was much more appealing today so I grabbed the opportunity to have the kitchen all to myself for 20 minutes. Until there was a dispute between the farmers requiring urgent intervention.

I have adapted the recipe from The Great British Book of Baking (I am obsessed with these books, I bow down to the God and Goddess of baking, Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry).

You will need:

225g self-raising flour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tbsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground mixed spice
115g butter, chilled and cubed
115g treacle
115g golden syrup
115g dark brown sugar
275ml milk (not skimmed)
1 egg, beaten

Grease and line a 900g loaf tin. Or if, like me, you can’t be doing with the faff, just buy some loaf tin liners and bung one in. Heat the oven to 180 c/350 f/gas 4.

Spoon the treacle and golden syrup into a pan and heat until runny. Put the milk and sugar in another pan and heat until the sugar has dissolved. Leave both to cool until lukewarm.

Meanwhile, sift the flour, bicarb, ginger, cinnamon and mixed spice into a large bowl and rub in the butter with your fingertips until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. Alternatively, do what I did and chuck it all in a food processor and whizz until you have the same texture (seriously, Mary Berry, how much time do you think I have?)

Whisk the milk into the flour mix, quickly followed by the treacle mixture and egg. Continue whisking until you have a thick consistency like double cream. I whisked by hand and stopped when my arm hurt so not for long. My mixture was quite lumpy but I figured it’d still be fine.

Pour into the prepared tin and bake for 45 mins or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.

Place the tin on a wire rack and leave to cool completely before turning out then wrap in foil and leave for at least a day before cutting*

* Like I’m capable of waiting 24 whole hours to cut into this baby. Enjoy!