The Bake-Off Effect: Gin and Tonic Cake

Like what appears to be most of the UK (and beyond) population I’m currently swept up in Great British Bake-Off mania. Wednesday evening between 8pm and 9pm is sacred time and I resent anything that gets in my way, even a stag do of sorts. Ever since we viewed the first episode and saw one of contestants make a gin and tonic drizzle cake I’ve been informed by Mum that one just had to be made, being the dutiful daughter that I am I googled away and found this Good Housekeeping recipe and got baking.
I’m no food photographer so the photos really don’t do this justice but I was really pleased with how it turned out. It wasn’t the trickiest of cakes to make but it was time consuming thanks to several elements to the decorating process but it was worth it. This vanished in record time and has already been requested again as a birthday cake. I’ve popped the link to the recipe above but for those who can’t be faffed with clicking (guilty of this) here it is:

Cake Ingredients

200 g (7oz) unsalted butter, softened, plus extra to grease
200 g (7oz) caster sugar
4 medium eggs, beaten
200 g (7oz) self-raising flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
finely grated zest 1 lime
75 ml (3 fl oz) gin

For the Syrup and Topping

25 g (4oz) caster sugar, plus extra to sprinkle
125 ml (4 fl oz) tonic water
31/2 tbsp gin
2 limes, cut in half through their length and sliced into 3mm (1/8in) half moons
100 g (3 ½oz) icing sugar, sifted

Method

Preheat oven to 180°C (160°C fan) mark 4. Grease and line base and sides of a 900g (2lb) loaf tin with baking parchment. In a large bowl beat butter and sugar with a handheld electric whisk until light and fluffy – about 5min. Gradually add eggs, beating well after each addition.

Fold in flour, baking powder and lime zest, followed by the gin. Spoon into prepared tin and bake for 55min-1hr or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.

Meanwhile, make sugar syrup: gently heat the caster sugar and tonic water in a small pan, stirring often, until the sugar dissolves. Turn up heat and boil for 1min. Spoon 2tbsp of the syrup into a small bowl and mix in 2tbsp of the gin (this mixture will be used to soak the loaf later). Set pan of remaining syrup aside.

As soon as the loaf comes out of the oven, poke holes into the top with a skewer and drizzle over the reserved syrup/gin mixture. Cool loaf in tin on a wire rack.

Meanwhile, make the candied lime slices. Reheat the remaining sugar syrup in its pan until boiling, then add the lime slices. Simmer for 10-12min until the slices are translucent. Lift out slices with a slotted spoon on to baking parchment, then sprinkle both sides of the lime slices liberally with caster sugar. Leave to dry.
Make icing by mixing together icing sugar with remaining 1½tbsp gin. Remove cooled loaf from tin, transfer to a board and peel off parchment. Pour over icing and decorate with the dried candied lime slices. Leave the cake to set before serving.

Let me know what you think if you make this…and fellow GBBO obsessives, what have you been inspired to make?

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Rolo Cookie Cups

I’ve found baking to be a great help to me of late. With time on my hands at an abundance getting lost creating in the kitchen has both kept me occupied and helped me to discover delicious new treats to add to my daily diet. Of course it’s also making me incredibly popular with family, friends and colleagues and one of my most recent hits were these Rolo Cookie Cups which really couldn’t be simpler to make but look pretty special.
You’ll need:

115g unsalted butter (softned- I find ten seconds in the microwave does the trick)

115g light brown soft sugar, although caster sugar works fine

1 large egg

225g plain flour

Half a teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda

12-16 Rolos depending on what size tin you use

What to do:

Preheat your oven to 170c (make it 160 for a fan oven) and lightly grease either a 16 hole mini muffin tin or 12 hole standard bun tin.

Put the butter and sugar in to a mixing bowl and beat until light and fluffy. Mix in the egg then add the flour and bicarbonate of soda.

Using your hands roll small handfuls of dough in to balls and place a ball in to each of the baking tin holes. If the mixture is too crumbly then a splash of milk helps, it’s too sticky then dusting your hands with a little flour will make things less messy.

Now pop the cake tin in to the oven, leaving the balls as they are. Bake for around 12 minutes until lightly golden. Use the baking time to get your Rolos unwrapped and ready.

Once cooked take the cookie cups out of the oven and straight away push a Rolo in to the top of each one (be careful as they are of course going to be very hot!) Leave the cookies to cool in the tin completely before removing and enjoying!

I’ve made these a few times now and have experimented with different chocolates as well, celebrations worked well as did squares of plain old milk chocolate.

Let me know if you make these, especially if you try out some different toppings. They are so quick and easy to do and an instant crowd pleaser!

What have you been baking lately?

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Nutella Brownie Baked Doughnuts

Wow, another baking post, I’m on fire right? I’ve had quite a bit of free time lately and have spent some of that getting busy in the kitchen fulfilling requests for baked goods. When a demand for brownies came my way I knew instantly I was going to make the 3 ingredient nutella brownies (that I’ve blogged before) as these always go down well. Seeking a way to jazz them up a bit I chose to bake them in a silicone doughnut mould, and as they didn’t look too exciting naked I melted down some dark chocolate and coated them (and the kitchen) in sprinkles.
I’m really pleased with the end result of these and they went down very well with the recipient. Honestly these are just about the easiest thing you can bake- you simply take 175g of nutella, one large egg and 5 tablespoons of flour and mix it all together. Add a splash of milk if the mixture seems on the dry side and then pop in to baking receptacle of your choice- cupcake cases, silicone moulds or a standard cake pan all work well. Bake at 180*c for 10-15 minutes depending on how you like your brownies and jobs a good ‘un!

Let me know if you make these and what you think of them. What are some of your favourite easy bakes?

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Celebrating the #QueensBirthday with Dr.Oetker

With the Queen turning the ripe old age of 90 this year there are various celebrations and special events going on left, right and centre. I was recently invited to take part in one with Dr.Oetker and having just about recovered from the Bunny Bums incident decided to hop on board.

Dr.Oetker have teamed up with baking expert Juliet Sear to create a rather magnificent NINE tier cake encompassing union jacks, the Queen’s crown, bunting and of course corgis.

Impressive, right? For those of us at home who love to bake but don’t quite feel up to the nine tier challenge the team at Dr.Oetker have come up with a regal themed cupcake recipe for us to bake instead…I was asked to have a go at baking the recipe but adding my own little hacks to put a different spin on things. Now, the recipe calls for fondant work which I am no expert at so before I pop up my attempt at the cakes and decoration here’s what they *should* look like!
Yeah, as you’ll see my skills aren’t quite as refined but I gave it my best shot! First up, here’s the recipe for the Strawberry and cream Royal Cupcakes (with my hacks in brackets).
Ingredients
For the cupcakes:

10 x cupcake cases
75g/3oz baking margarine
75g/30z caster sugar
1 large egg
1/2 tsp Dr.Oetker madagascan vanilla extract
75g/3oz self raising flour
100g/3.5oz soft set strawberry jam (I opted for lemon curd here for a citrus kick)

To decorate:

Dr.Oetker coloured ready to roll regal-ice
Dr.Oetker bright writing icing
225ml/8oz double cream (I made a simple lemon buttercream instead in keeping with my citrus theme)

Preparation:

Preheat the oven to 190˚C (170˚C fan assisted oven, 375˚F, gas mark 5). Put the Baking Cases in 10 fairy cake tins. Put the margarine in a mixing bowl with the caster sugar, egg and Vanilla. Sift the flour on top and using an electric whisk on a low speed, gently whisk the ingredients together.

Increase the speed and whisk for a few seconds until well blended and creamy. Divide the mixture equally between the cake cases and smooth over the tops. Bake for 16 -18 minutes until risen and lightly golden. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Using a teaspoon, scoop out a neat portion of sponge from the centre of each cake and fill with jam. Press the cut out sponge back on top to seal in the jam. Set aside.

To decorate, gently knead the red and blue Ready to Roll icing separately to make pliable, then cut each into 5 pieces. Form each into a ball. Cut a deep cross in the top of each and roll the base of each ball between your fingers to make it narrower than the top – they should look like tiny chefs’ hats.

Knead 50g (2oz) of the yellow Icing to soften. Lightly dust the work surface with a little icing sugar then roll out the yellow icing thinly to form a rectangle approx. 8 x 15cm (3 x 7 inch). Cut 30 thin strips, approx. 0.5cm (1/4 inch) wide – you will need 3 for each crown. Cross 2 strips across each ball and stick in place using a little water. Trim at the base if necessary, then press down on the top of each to make an indent in the top.

Secure another strip around the bottom of each, and trim as necessary. Gather up the trimmings and make small balls to decorate the top if the crowns, sticking them in place with a little water. Pipe Writing Icing dots on each to resemble jewels. Leave aside on a board lined with baking parchment until ready to serve.

Just before serving, whip the cream until firm enough to pipe and spoon into a piping bag fitted with a large closed star nozzle. Pipe a generous swirl on top of each cake and top with a crown. Your cakes are ready to serve and enjoy, and fit for The Queen!

And my cakes?
If you squint they don’t look too amateur! Let me know if you make these and we can compare!

Excitingly Dr.Oetker are also holding a competition where you can win one of FIVE four tiered versions of the Queen’s cake. To enter simply click on this link and get sharing how you’ll be celebrating. Whilst I’m at it I thought I’d share a couple of quick tips for hosting a party if that’s the route you go down…

1. Keep it Simple! No-one wants a fancy six course meal, stick to good old fashioned buffet style food (and get people to bring a dish with them). Nothing unites people more than bonding over cheese sandwiches and chocolate fingers!

2. Get Crafty! Decorating for a party needn’t be expensive, turn scraps of fabric in to bunting or dig out some old wool and make pom poms to hang everywhere. Cheap, cheerful and fun to do.

3. Save on Washing up by using paper plates and plastic cups/cutlery. Everyone’s exhausted after a good knees up and facing mountains of washing up will be a drag. Use disposable everything where possible and save precious time and energy for the celebrations.

What are your plans and tips?

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Baking Bunny Bums with Dr. Oetker

Easter is rapidly approaching and to celebrate the occasion Dr. Oetker is celebrating with bums, bunny bums to be more precise. If you’re in London or Manchester you might have noticed the arrival of a 7ft giant bunny bum constructed of over 3,000 bars of Fine Cooks’ chocolate- something I’m pretty upset I missed to be honest. Still, when given the opportunity to create my own mini bunny bum structures I didn’t feel too upset and hopped to it sharpish.
Armed with the Bunny Bum recipe, an envelope full of the key ingredients and instructions to come up with a hack for the recipe it was great to have an excuse to get in to the kitchen and become knee deep in flour once more (and trust me, things did get messy!)
I’ve popped the recipe below, including my little hack so do make sure you let me know if you have a go at making these cheeky cupcakes and if you decided to change things up a bit.
Ingredients:

For the cupcakes:
Dr. Oetker Muffin Cases (x12 cases)
125 g Margarine (4 1/2 oz of baking margarine, softened)
125 g Caster Sugar (4 1/2 oz)
Large Eggs (x2)
125 g Plain Flour (4 1/2 oz)
Dr. Oetker Fine Dark Cocoa Powder (x1 sachet or 25g/1oz)
Dr. Oetker Baking Powder Sachets (x2 sachets/10g or 1oz)
1tsp liquorice powder*


To decorate:

200 g Dr. Oetker Fine Cooks’ Milk Chocolate (7oz)
15 g Dr. Oetker White Chocolate Chips (1/2 oz)
130 g Dr. Oetker Liquid Glucose
125 g Unsalted Butter (4 1/2 oz, softened)
225 g Icing Sugar (8oz)
2 ½ ml Dr. Oetker Madagascan Vanilla Extract (1/2 tsp)
Dr. Oetker Lime Green Gel Food Colour (x1 tube)

To make:

Preheat the oven to 180˚C (160˚C fan assisted oven, 350˚F, gas mark 4). Put the Muffin Cases in 12 muffin tins. Put the margarine in a mixing bowl, add the caster sugar and eggs. Sift the flour, Cocoa and Baking Powder on top and using an electric whisk on a low speed, gently blend the ingredients together. Increase the mixer speed and whisk for a few more seconds until well mixed.

Divide the mixture equally between the cases and smooth over the tops. Bake for about 25 minutes until risen and just firm to the touch. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

To decorate, break up the Milk Chocolate into pieces and place in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of barely simmering water, and leave to melt. Remove from the water and stir in 125g (4 ½ oz) Liquid Glucose to form a thick paste. Scrape on to a piece of baking parchment and leave to cool – the mixture will become firm and pliable when cold. Avoid prolonged chilling as the paste will become too hard to mould.

Set aside 12 White Chocolate Chips. Put the rest of the Chips in a small heatproof bowl and melt as above. Mix in 5 g (1 tsp) Liquid Glucose. Leave to cool as above.

Meanwhile, put the butter in a bowl and beat until smooth and glossy. Gradually sift and beat in all the icing sugar until creamy and soft and add Vanilla Extract. Mix in the whole tube of Green Gel Food Colour. Thickly spread the icing on top of each cup cake, right to the edge.

Divide the Milk Chocolate paste into 13 equal pieces, and form 12 portions into balls. Place a ball on top of each iced cake. Use the remaining portion of paste to make 12 pairs of bunny feet and leave aside on baking parchment.

Divide the White Chocolate paste into 12 equal portions. Use to make 12 pairs of foot pads and press gently onto the feet. Score bunny toes with a small knife, then gently press onto the sides of the bunny bodies. Top each bunny body with one of the reserved White Chocolate Chips as a tail. Your cupcakes are now ready to serve and enjoy!

Note: if the moulding paste becomes too hard to work with, you can pop it in the microwave for 5-10 seconds to soften it up again.

Now my hack might not sound like much but the addition of liquorice powder to a chocolate sponge is something of a revelation. It doesn’t matter if you’re not a huge fan of liquorice, it doesn’t add a really strong flavour, more of a subtle kick that enhances the flavour and stops the super sweet icing being too overpowering. You’ll just have to trust me on this one (and do ask about the blackcurrant and liquorice cake I made recently!).

As for the end result, well, I’m no artist and I did find the chocolate paste a little hard to work with- I think because my kitchen gets really hot it didn’t set as well as it should and I kind of ended up with puddle like bunny bums, but I salvaged the best three to show you the general idea…

Ah well, looks aren’t everything right?

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