Sunday, 25 May 2014

Creating a Chocolate Masterpiece - with a Cake book giveaway! **CLOSED**

When it comes to family and friends birthdays, I have made over the years a fair few cakes ranging from simple Victoria sponges to Big Top Circus Tents but admittedly the more professional end of ones, all beautifully decorated scare me a little. I am a little impatient with cake, you see I like to bake it then eat it so icing nicely doesn't happen very often. However this year saw my dad's 65th Birthday and I decided to try and overcome my fears and with the help from the Cake recipe collection book from Sainsburys, I somehow managed to produce this triple chocolate birthday cake, complete with home made chocolate truffles:

One of the main things I had to ensure was the cakes stability - we were taking it to a restaurant about 45 minutes away as a surprise for my dad (including family traveling up as an extra surprise!) and so I couldn't do anything with loose layers or special features but I still wanted to produce something both tasting and looking great! I think this cake definitely fitted the bill! The truffles and cake were all secured to the board with extra chocolate buttercream and it fortunately arrived in perfect condition even with the help of local potholes and speed bumps!

Its a rich chocolate sponge cake, filled and coated with chocolate buttercream, then chocolate fondant all over and strips of green fondant, the original cake was pink strips for Mother's Day but I couldn't quite go with pink for dad! My dad is quite into geology so thought green was more apt and earthly! The truffles were also handmade and I decided for stability to fill the top circle with a little more buttercream, then topped with chocolate crispies. Oh and the green fondant stars are topped with chocolate coffee beans, just incase there wasn't enough chocolate in it! 

Here is one of the fab truffles close up - I used Sainsbury's 'Taste the Difference' Swiss 72% Dark Chocolate to make them and it worked a treat. They were not too bitter considering the cocoa percentage and even the milk chocolate lovers enjoyed these! I bought the petit four cases years back one Christmas so it was good to finally do them justice!

And finally its all adorned with candles for Dad to make a wish!

So do you fancy making a chocolate masterpiece too? Or maybe a giant green dragon cake? How about some Fondant Fancies for afternoon tea? The book is great from beginners to confident bakers and its easy to follow step by step instructions helps to restore the frazzled nerves after your naughty rented oven decides to sink whatever you bake! Long live buttercream! 

Thanks to Sainsbury's I have a spare copy of the book to giveaway to one lucky reader! It covers all the basic icings, cakes, how to prepare baking tins and even how to make simple but effective decorative figures and flowers! 

To enter simply complete the rafflecopter form below:

Good luck! 

T&C's - prize is one copy of Cake recipe collection by Sainsbury's. No alternative is available. Prize will be sent out directly by Sainsbury's to the winner. Winner will be contacted within 24 hours of closing date, failure to respond within 5 working days will result in prize draw being re-drawn.

Sunday, 11 May 2014

Banana and Chocolate Cookies

For months now I've had a packet of home made cranberry and orange butter in the freezer. Initially I think I made it to go with Christmas meats or pastry even but for some reason it got forgotten... it was in the frosty depths for quite a while.. but when you only have two freezer draws you have to be fairly efficient at rotating things though somehow this kept off the radar...until yesterday... as in the fruit bowl was also this:

Fruit ripens very quickly at home, its a warm flat at the best of times and I am sure the bananas were a fairly recent buy but had already gone er, black nearly and it was high time it got used.. I have a repertoire of banana recipes but most use two or more, and I only had this sad one... fortunately I remembered a recipe I had picked out a few months back for a Random Recipe challenge but never got entered as life typically interfered.. the butter called for was the regular kind, however I was determined to use the flavoured butter up and after a quick lick to check it wasn't too far gone I decided to give it life in the form of these cookies:

It was also my birthday this week, and I finally got a 2nd decent baking tray so managed to cook them all in one go, rather than improvising with a roasting tin and swapping trays around, so much easier! Unfortunately I am still off sick from work but without speaking too soon I am finally feeling a bit more human and hoping to return in the near I can just about get the ingredients out of the bottom cupboard I definitely feel happier at least!

I have borrowed this cookie recipe from a book simply called 'Cookies' by Love Food. Its a great book packed with 200 cookie recipes! The original recipe called for raisins so I have listed as optional but I decided to omit them with using the cranberry studded butter, I also used cinnamon instead of mixed spice, mainly as I don't have any! For the chocolate chunks I used 3/4 of a bar of Fine Cook's milk chocolate from Dr Oetker hacked up with a knife, which worked perfectly and kept its shape well and tasted good too!

Makes apparently up to 20, I got er 12. They are nicely sized though...


125g caster sugar
125g soft butter
175g self raising flour
1 large beaten egg
1 mashed ripe banana
2 tbsp milk
100g chocolate, cut into chunks
1 tsp cinnamon (or the mixed spice)

55g raisins
1 tsp mixed spice

Oven 190o/ 375f/ gas 5

Line two large baking trays/ cookie sheets

Cream the butter and sugar until fluffy, beat in the egg. Add the mashed banana and mix until smooth.

Sift the flour and cinnamon together, add to the mix followed by them milk to make a smooth consistency. (I used my k chef on low speed) Fold in the chocolate, and raisins if using.

Drop dessertspoons onto a baking sheet, allowing them space! They will spread out!

Bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden and still soft in the middle. Leave to cool slightly on the trays and transfer to a wire rack to fully cool down.

This is what one looks upside down - so you can see the lovely chocolatey chunks - they are really rather too edible, soft and cake like but just about keep together. I love the fragrant orange scented butter and will now have to make some more I think for the next batch, providing of course I can fully remember what went in it...

As I managed to not only use the sad lonely banana and the frosty orange butter I am entering these cookies into the No Waste Food challenge, set up by Elizabeth's Kitchen Diary and this month hosted by Farmers Girl. Don't forget I am July's host so save your leftovers ;-)!

Thanks also to Dr Oetker for providing the chocolate!

Monday, 5 May 2014

Curried Roast Cauliflower with Yoghurt

For a long time I will admit to being a magpie for tearing recipes from magazines, in fact some of my favourite recipes have been discovered this way, and this particular one makes no exception. I have ring-binders stuffed to bursting with them, though organised quite neatly in sections and a running list on my pc... yeah I probably should get out more...!! Even with the internet nowadays and a wealth of bookmarked recipes I am still very fond of the old tear out's! I suppose its the same reason I have a few cookery books, there is magic to be found within them.

This recipe was everything it promised and more. I recently finally after two attempts received my new myWaitrose card (post here is a nightmare as our lease address differs from royal mail!), and in turn you get their free Kitchen magazine when in store.. of course I had to pick it up and quickly discovered I wanted to make most of the recipes in it but as I was planning a curry night with a girlfriend and after some deliberating over this recipe or the Cauliflower and cashew biryani in last months Sainsbury's mag, it was a close call though this won! The other one remains on the to make list for next time!

As part of our little feast we had my Aubergine Bhajis, a variation of my Spinach and coconut Dal, pilau rice, chapattis and my favourite carrot and sultana salad too! The most joyous parts is that it created plenty of snacks in the fridge with all the lovely leftovers for a few days!

Serves 2 as a main / 4- 6 as a side dish

1 x 800g cauliflower (roughly a medium to a large size)
3 tbsp vegetable oil
2 crushed garlic cloves
1 sliced small red onion
1 tbsp curry powder (I used madras)
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp salt (at the most!)
1/4 lemon, juice (I used squirty lemon!)
100ml greek Yoghurt (mine was Turkish)
small handful coriander leaves, roughly chopped

1) Pre-heat oven to 180o / gas 4. Slice up the cauliflower inner core and the florets into 3cm pieces.

2) Place the cauliflower, all the spices, garlic, salt, oil and onion in a bowl. Tip into a roasting tray and cook for 25 minutes (unless your oven is as useless as mine - apx 45 mins!) until the onion has softened and the cauliflower is starting to brown slightly.

3) Remove from the oven and squeeze (squirt!) over the lemon juice and dollop the yoghurt. Scatter over the coriander.

This will keep a few days in the fridge and is also rather delightful smooshed into a leftover chapatti and eaten when alone. Hot or cold its soooo tasty, I hope you enjoy it as much as we did! The fragrant spicing with the cooling yoghurt is quite divine for a humble cauliflower! Though it was a rather pretty cauliflower as cauli's go, a real creamy big beast from the farm shop!

Being honest with you I have my dear friend C to thank really as she did pretty much all the dish, whilst I cooked the dal and other things and just handed over the relevant spices! C had never eaten roasted cauliflower before nor the leaves which I convinced her to include, and it was a joyful discovery for all of us!

**I hope my wildfood friends enjoy this too, sorry for the delay in posting!**
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