Thursday, 30 June 2011

Brooklyn Blackout Cake

Thinking "chocolate"........I know, more chocolate!! I probably need therapy for my obsession with chocolate, but hey, it keeps me happy. This cake is for the true chocolate lovers and has been requested by a few of our followers. The waiting is over.

The cake was first made by Mother of M & B and B herself for M's birthday last year. It was very successful and it was thumbs up all round. I was extremely impressed by the whole package. The presentation, followed by the smooth chocolate, wow and wow. Honestly, I thought they had bought it from a shop........sorry Mum and B!! It was just stunning. Now, here it is one year on and I've managed to produce a replica.

You will have all heard me make mention of my great "Hummingbird Bakery" cook book. You probably all realise that the Hummingbird Bakery is actually a cake shop in London and we are so lucky that they are prepared to share some of their favourite cakes and pie recipes with us in this delightful book. I have tried quite a few and they have all been yummy. Of course, this is one of those favourites from this wonderful book.

Back to the cake at's quite easy really. The chocolate custard could probably be labelled the more difficult step in the process. Although all that is required is that you keep a very close eye on proceedings and be prepared to put a bit of muscle into the mixing. The custard is actually an egg less chocolate custard. I would describe the texture as being similar to that of a "yogo", thick, creamy and morish.

The cake really looks the part once assembled. It has a fine layer of cake crumbs sprinkled all over the custard surface. Give it a go and impress your friends just like we did.

You will need: (for the cake)
100g unsalted butter at room temperature
260g caster sugar
2 eggs
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
45g cocoa powder
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
a pinch of salt
170g plain flour
160ml whole milk
Chocolate Custard
500g sugar
1 tablespoon golden syrup
125g cocoa powder
200g cornflour
85g unsalted butter, cubed
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

You will need three 20-cm cake tins, base-lined with greaseproof paper.

 Preheat the oven to 170 degrees/Gas 3
Put the butter and sugar in a freestanding electric mixer and cream until light and fluffy.

Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well and scraping any unmixed ingredients from the side of the bowl with a rubber spatula after each addition. Turn the mixer down to slow speed and beat in the vanilla extract, cocoa powder, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt until well mixed.

Add half the flour, then all the milk, and finish with the remaining flour. Mix well until everything is well combined. Pour the mixture into the prepared cake tins and smooth over with a palette knife.

Bake in the preheated oven for 25-30 minutes. Leave the cakes to cool slightly in the tins before turning out onto a wire cooling rack to cool completely.

 For the chocolate custard: Put the sugar, golden syrup, cocoa powder and 600 ml water into a large saucepan and bring to the boil over medium heat, whisking occasionally.

Mix the cornflour with 120 - 200 ml water, whisking briskly as you add the water. (You have to be very quick at this stage as it will be very thick) The mixture should be the consistency of thick glue so add more water if it's still too thick (do not exceed 250 ml though).

Whisk gradually into the cocoa mixture in the pan over medium heat. Bring back to the boil, whisking constantly. Cook, whisking constantly, for a few minutes, until quite thick. (This is where the arm power comes in.....just keep the whisking going to ensure all the lumps are gone) Remove from the heat and stir in the butter and vanilla extract. Pour into a bowl, cover with clingfilm and chill until very firm.

OK now you will need to slice a thin layer off one cake and put in a food processor and process into fine crumbs. (This crumb mix goes on the outside of the custard. I found using a serrated knife worked the best when slicing a thin layer off one of the cakes)

Put one cake on a cake stand and spread one-quarter of the custard over it.

Place a second cake on top and spread another quarter of the custard over it.

Top with the last cake and spread the remaining custard over the top and sides.

Cover with the cake crumbs and chill for 2 hours.

 WOW......that was fun!!!
(Please keep your comments coming as B and I love reading them!)

Enjoy this one! M x                  

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Strawberry Cheesecake Cupcakes

I simply adore cupcakes! The fact that most are so easy to make and that there are so many different flavours to choose from these days is absolutely amazing. You can cater for anyone really........the kids and adults that think they are kids! (I'm in this category). I love most of the flavours that I have come across so far including this one that I've made for you today.

With strawberry season about to hit our shops in this part of the world and for those who simply have not been able to resist that special aroma and have already indulged in the odd punnet or two, this cupcake is for you.

Looking at these pictures, you will all say that it doesn't resemble a cheesecake and I agree. So if you want to sample this amazing flavour in a cupcake you will have to get into the baking mood and head on into your kitchen. This is definitely the strawberry cheesecake you have when you don't have a cheesecake. Such a light and fluffy cake texture with a cream cheese frosting and the sprinkle of the biscuits on top makes it a standout.

I had some taste testers (parents of M & B) over and they were more than happy to sample the wares.........they even wanted a doggy bag for the trip home. These cakes are quite easy to make. The recipe is from my beautiful book "the hummingbird bakery". It does state that it makes 12 cupcakes, however, I'm really not sure on the size of the cupcake wrappers that were used but one batch definitely wouldn't make 12 standard size cupcakes in my house. That's why I made 2 batches. One batch of  the cream cheese frosting was more than enough to cover the 12 cupcakes.

You will need: (this is for one batch..... I doubled this)
120g plain flour
140g caster sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
a pinch of salt
40g unsalted butter, at room temperature
120mls milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg
12 large strawberries, chopped into small pieces
200g digestive biscuits

Preheat oven to 170 degrees/Gas mark 3

Put the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and butter in a bowl with an electric mixer and beat on a low speed until you get a sandy consistency and everything is combined.

Pour the milk and vanilla extract and beat on medium speed until all the ingredients are well mixed. Add the egg and beat well for a few minutes to ensure the ingredients are well incorporated.

Divide the chopped strawberries between the paper cases.

Spoon the cupcake mixture on top until two-thirds full and bake in the preheated oven for 20-25minutes, or until light golden and the sponge bounces back when touched. A skewer inserted in the centre should come out clean.

Leave the cupcakes to cool slightly in the tray before turning out onto a wire cooling rack to cool completely.

Cream Cheese Frosting (I only used one quantity even though I doubled the cake mix)
300g icing sugar, sifted
50g unsalted butter, at room temperature
125g cream cheese, cold

Beat the icing sugar and butter together with an electric mixer on medium-slow speed until the mixture comes together and is well mixed. Add the cream cheese in one go and beat until it is completely incorporated. Turn the mixer up to medium-high speed. Continue beating until the frosting is light and fluffy, at least 5 minutes. Do not over beat, as it can quickly become runny.

These were very YUMMY!!
Enjoy! M x

Monday, 20 June 2011

Chocolate Chiffon Cake

Happy Birthday to me!! Yes, it's my Birthday today and I wanted to share this special occasion cake with you.

I've jumped the gun and gone ahead and baked one that I came across in a new book I have.

It's all right family, another one for the celebration day will be quite in order. I am okay with the delayed get together as long as I can have my cake and another on the day.

This cake is a chocolate chiffon cake and is quite easy to make. It's just like any other chocolate cake except it's probably a little more daring and has that WOW factor if you were making it for that someone special in your life. I simply love making "Occasion" cakes, as I've shown you previously with the pig cup cakes I made for my son Master M.

It's always nice when someone makes you something out of the ordinary for that special day....speaking of which, for my last birthday, Mum and B made me an amazing chocolate cake (you have probably worked out I'm a chocolate kind of girl). They baked a cake called "Brooklyn Blackout Cake" from a book called "the Hummingbird Bakery" (a definite must have book). It also has 3 layers and in between each was a beautiful chocolate custard.............devine. Maybe I can persuade Queen Mother of M and B to maybe make it again just for my lovely followers.

Back to the cake on hand......this cake just grew and grew and grew in the oven!!! I was worried it was going to end up on the ceiling of the oven it was so big. There is no butter at all in the recipe however, it does have seven eggs, (yes seven!). I think it really looks the part with the walnut praline that decorates the edge of the cake and tastes even better! Well worth the effort.

You will need:
1/2 cup (50g) cocoa powder
3/4 cup (180ml) boiling water
2 cups (300g) self-raising flour
1 1/2 cups (330g) caster sugar
7 eggs, separated
1/2 cup (125ml) vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
walnut praline
1 cup (220g) caster sugar
1/2 cup (50g) walnuts
60g dark eating chocolate
brandied butter cream
190g (6 ounces) butter, softened
3 cups (480g) icing sugar
1/4 cup (25g) cocoa powder
1/4 cup (60ml) brandy

1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees. Grease deep 22cm (9 inch) round cake pan, line base and side with baking paper.
2. Blend cocoa with the water in a small bowl, cool. Sift flour and sugar into large bowl, add cocoa mixture, egg yolks, oil and extract. Beat with electric mixer until smooth and mixture has changed to a paler colour.
3. Beat egg whites in a large bowl with electric mixer until soft peaks form, fold in cocoa mixture, in four batches.

4. Pour mixture into pan, bake about 1 hour. Stand cake 5 min before turning, top-side up onto a wire rack to cool.
5. Meanwhile, make walnut praline.
For the praline, place the sugar in a heavy-based frying pan, cook over heat, without stirring, until sugar is melted and golden brown.
Add nuts, pour onto a lined oven tray. Cool. Blend or process praline with chocolate until finely chopped.
Brandied butter cream: Beat the butter in a small bowl with electric mixer until as white as possible. Beat in sifted icing sugar and cocoa, then brandy. If you don't want to use the brandy just add 1/4 cup of milk instead.
6. Split cold cake into three layers, sandwich layers with some of the butter cream. Spread cake evenly with remaining butter cream and then decorate with walnut praline.
Yum......can hardly wait to see what they have made me! (hint, hint) M x

Friday, 17 June 2011

Hot and Spicy Chicken Curry

I know B may say otherwise, but I do make curries other than butter chicken!! Much to my families initial shock that their most FAVOURITE chicken dish wasn't being served for dinner, I was pleasantly surprised to see their plates licked clean. Miss 4 even asked for more chicken!

The heading does say" Hot and Spicy" but that's really up to the individual as to wheather or not they put the whole teaspoon of chilli into the dish or not. I opted for half a teaspoon but probably could have done the whole teaspoon as my kids seem to have developed some daring taste buds lately. The flavours were lovely and even though alot of the spices that were used were very similar to the butter chicken it had an entirely different taste which was a nice change. I found every ingredient I needed in the supermarket, so there are no excuses about not being able to find anything.

The only thing I added that wasn't on the list was a tablespoon of cornflour, as it states in the recipe that the curry will thicken, well this didn't exactly happen to I decided to help it along. It turned out perfectly and everyone was very happy with the end result.

With these cold nights now upon us this curry was a nice warm tasty dish! Hope you like it.

You will need:
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1.8kg chicken thigh fillets, halved
1 large brown onion, sliced thinly
4 cloves garlic, crushed
3cm piece fresh ginger, grated
10 curry leaves
400g can diced tomatoes
1 cup chicken stock
10cm stick fresh lemon grass, bruised
1/2 cup coconut milk
1 cup loosely packed fresh coriander leaves

Spice Blend
1 tablespoon ground coriander
2 teaspoons ground cumin
11/2 teaspoons ground turmeric
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon hot chilli powder
1/2 teaspoon ground fennel
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamon
1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
Salt and Pepper

1. Spice Blend - Combine Spices in a small bowl

2. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in large saucepan, cook chicken, in batches, until browned.

3. Heat remaining oil in same pan, cook onion, stirring, until soft. Add garlic, ginger and curry leaves, cook, stirring, until fragrant. Add spice blend, cook, stirring about 2 minutes or until fragrant.

4. Stir in chicken, undrained tomatoes, stock and lemon grass, bring to the boil. Reduce the heat, simmer covered, stirring occasionally, 20 minutes. Uncover and simmer about 10 minutes or until sauce thickens slightly. Discard lemon grass.

5. Add coconut milk, stir until heated through. Sprinkle with coriander.

Enjoy! M x