Monday, 26 August 2013

Saying 'I love you' with my Chocolate and Rum cake

Sometimes you want to bake for a loved one, some times you want to bake for friends. So do you do make one big cake? Lots of smaller cakes? Something inbetween perhaps? Find me a gift have solved your puzzle with their gorgeous I Heart Cake silicon mould! I have previous hit and misses baking with silicon but was very impressed with this one, mainly as it cleaned up a doddle and my cake came out intact! You basically bake one big cake, and with a quick slicing et voila - you have six cake hearts!

I was a little unsure as to how much cake mixture I would need, it measures 25cm at its widest point but obviously is a little curvy so opted for a 23cm madiera based mixture from one of my cake decorating books, once filled it seemed a little too filled and I quickly scooped some out into a smaller pan and it seemed about right. However I have no idea how much so the ingredients are for the original amount. Which once baked actually was a little shallow but I didn't trust my oven to cook it evenly so was probably wise. Perhaps. Who knows!

The cake tasted perfect, a nice hint of rum comes through and enough cocoa to bring out the flavour. I might of added more another time but that was all what was left in the pot!

Makes 6 heart cakes


450g plain flour
350g caster sugar
350g butter
2.5 tsp baking powder
2 tbsp cocoa powder
6 eggs
5tsp strong coffee, dissolved in 75ml boiling water
3 tbsp dark rum 
1 tsp vanilla extract
100g white chocolate chunks

Optional - I made simple glace icing, adding a little cocoa and coffee
Decorations I.e. chocolate hearts, sprinkles, chocolate coated coffee beans are very nice too!

N.b. Start with your ingredients at room temperature, and ideally use a food mixer as its a big mixture! I was over the moon that my 'baby' aka vintage Kenwood Chef is out of storage at long last!

1) Pre heat oven to 180o electric (or as near as yours will get - mine took about 30 minutes with the oven thermometer...) Cream the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy. Beat the eggs in one at a time, it might look a little curdled but have faith, as I said to my niece Alice who looked doubtful! Stir through the coffee and vanilla, over a gentle speed if using a mixer.

2) Add the flour, cocoa and baking powder until all combined, it should now look more 'together'! Scatter in the chocolate chunks until nicely combined.

3) The beauty of the silicon mould is not having to grease or line it! Simply transfer cake mix to the pan, smooth over and place in the middle of the oven. I used a cookie slice to get it into the right position but removed before baking. Bake for about 1hr 30, checking at one hour to see where its at. When cooked it should bounce back to touch and a skewer comes away clean.

4) Unfortunately due to a lopsided oven shelf, my cake was slightly too but it was cooked, and with my oven its a miracle. (Note to self email landlord!)

5) Allow to fully cool, then with a bread knife or similar, cut into hearts. Being a perfectionist I did trim the slides minimally and the darker bits got removed! Oh and the top of one due to the lopsidedness! But overall very happy with its turnout!

6) Once your hearts are ready, cut in half and fill with your choice of jam, or buttercream etc. I like jam in cakes, but B prefers buttercream, however time was getting on so sorry, no buttercream this time!

7) Now the fun part - decorating time! We opted for glace icing, as Alice was due to be dropped home and was the quickest to set and be stable in the car for travelling!  I also had some great little chocolate hearts De Oetker sent me a while back which looked great on the slices!

Being iced!

Choc hearts! Perfect for cakes!

8) Once happy with your icing, serve to your loved one:

Slice one:

Slice two - Alice to keep:

Slice three - for my neigbour Ces! 

The remaining three slices were erm, eaten. Delicious!

Many thanks to my niece Alice for her photographing, wiping up and chief testing of cake mixture and to Emma at Find me a Gift for my cake mould!

Saturday, 17 August 2013

Survivor Scones

You may wonder about the title of these. I call them my survivor scones, as shortly prior to making these I had a hideous time trying to dig out the scone cutter. A few months ago I moved home, and our storage cupboard is very awkward and narrow, and the unit I was using was a nightmare. Nothing got in there easily, nothing came out without a fight. After getting stuck in the cupboard between boxes, and then having one of the bars holding the unit together coming unattached and promptly showering me in an assortment of kitchenalia and also in the process breaking the chef's ring I had found and thought would suffice, making the scones was moving down the list of things I wanted to do that day... getting out of the cupboard alive was fun, digging my way out, holding up the unit with a mezzaluna and trying to calm my racing heart! A glass of wine was very needed afterwards!

Fortunately I escaped with only my nerves dented. We have since invested in a sturdier unit and the cupboard is no longer a prison of my cake tins and cutters! Admittedly a few bits have found new homes in friends kitchen's and the local hospice shop in order to have more space but the majority is now well organised!

I am not sure what made me feel compelled to make scones that day, having just finished work and being slightly knackered and knowing I had invited guests over that night for dinner but I just thought they must happen that day! Even after the cupboard burial! I never even found the scone cutter but I did find one more intact chefs ring and it did the job adequately!

So I suppose what had inspired me to make the scones was a few weeks ago Rodda's the clotted cream people had sent me earlier that week a little parcel of goodies:

Including a very handy tea towel with a scone recipe on, that got pinned with a magnet and the fridge door to hold in place:

 ..I dug out all the ingredients needed, and then started making a nice mess of a very small kitchen:

..Then mixing the lovely Cornish butter with flour, and with the very essential glass of chilled rose to calm my nerves! It was quite therapeutic and stopped my hands shaking at least!

A little more mixing...and after a long time in my oven - finally had scones!

But then a dilemma - do you go Devon or Cornish with your scones - for equality I have topped one the Devon way cream first, and one the Cornish way with cream on top of the jam!

Considering I had not made scones since school, and my oven is awful at baking anything evenly I was rather impressed with my first batch! The rich butter was delicious, they were moist and I will definitely make them again! Whilst strawberry jam would have been lovely, I had forgotten to get any in so we made do with what was in the fridge - black butter jam from Jersey, Peach melba jam from the local farm shop and a jar of blackcurrant and blueberry jam that was lurking in the depths!

Growing up with family living in Devon, and spending a lot of time there we had many a cream tea in dainty little tearooms, so it was in the end a rather lovely reminder of happy days of youth!

Many thanks to Rodda's!

P.s. your fudge too is quite lovely!

Saturday, 10 August 2013

Spring Onion Pancakes

Historically Pancakes and I, were not close friends. Growing up when Pancake Day came around I was always eating something else, not being quite able to bear eating them. This is despite quite happily making their thicker cousins the drop scone and enjoying them too. This saga carried on till at least around aged 25. Then I got a bit older, learned to cook, felt brave one evening in early 2010 and then nearly abandoned it all after my first disastrous attempt!

Time passed..

And passed..

Then I plucked up courage in the summer of 2011, and with friend L's help we successfully made Tuna and Olive filled pancakes. I have since made them several times, though replacing the tuna with ham makes a wonderful substitution! However this is a once in a blue moon dish, not sure why but it just doesn't make a regular appearance. Though I did buy some tuna earlier so perhaps this week...

Nowadays I am feeling more confident with batter, and a couple of weeks back made a delicious king prawn stir-fry, and the marinade needs only egg white, leaving an egg yolk going spare...

By chance a few nights prior to Friday, my dad was over and we were discussing something he had seen about about how people tend to think the Chinese don't eat potatoes, which made me rummage through the cookery books until according to one called 'World Food - China' and yes in fact they do. Maybe not a huge amount but there are indeed recipes! Apparently the humble potato we English worship was introduced to China by the French. And according to wiki China is the worlds largest Potato producing coutnry. Blimey. That was unexpected!

Anyway, back to the recipe. Whilst going through said book, I spotted these spring onion pancakes, and by sheer luck the recipe uses 1 egg yolk! And so they were made, very succesfully. They produce a softish pancake, I added black pepper as thought needed a little boost. The recipe suggests them as a snack or to fill with crispy meats. We just dipped ours in sweet chilli sauce.

N.b. I have adjusted the original recipe quantities to suit us.

Makes 8


2 tbsp sunflower oil
2 heaped tbsp finely sliced spring onion
1 whole egg
1 egg yolk
100g plain flour
1/2 tsp salt
8 twists black pepper
200ml milk
100ml water

1) Soften the spring onion in 1/2 tbsp of from oil total until lightly cooked - it will only take 2-3 minutes, using a flat non-stick frying pan

2) Clean the pan using kitchen paper. Make the batter by sifting the flour and salt together and gently combine in the eggs. Slowly stir in the milk and water, and remaining oil to form a creamy smooth batter.

3) Heat the pan to a moderate heat, add enough batter working fast to tilt the mixture to form a thin pancake. When the batter has set, and its lightly browned underneath, gently using a fork and serving spatula (or similar!) gently fold up and place on kitchen paper. Repeat with remaining mixture. If you are using as wrappers - don't fold them, use greaseproof paper or similar to seperate.

Monday, 5 August 2013

Meal Planning Monday

This week's plan is a little subject to change, mainly as waiting to hear if friends are available to go out to a favourite Chinese of ours, is old fashioned a little but we love it. Its always clean, friendly and the food is good and piping hot. Cross fingers!

Monday - 
Chicken quarters, baked with tomatoes, garlic and onion. Might throw some olives in too..
Inspired from last weeks post over at Farmersgirl Kitchen

Tuesday - 
This is the potential Chinese night. If not it will be either cheese and pancetta baked butternut squash or pancetta omelette with salad

Wednesday - 
going out for Pizza with work girlies. I've bought a frozen garlic chicken pizza for B to eat at home!

Thursday -
 B is to cook spaghetti bolognese

Friday - 
Gammon from the freezer, fried egg and chippy chips

Weekend not decided on yet - did the weekly shop today so lots to choose from! Have chicken breast in freezer so might involve fajitas at some point...

Sunday, 4 August 2013

Sunday Round-up

Following on from last week's Meal Plan, we actually stuck fairly well to it, surprisingly! Since moving in together, and settling into a meal routine around working patterns meal planning is a way of creating a little calmness in our week, whilst still staying flexible enough to move things around without too much upheaval! What didn't help though was me ending up with a tummy bug that wiped me out, but B managed to survive quite well, when I had managed to stand for more than five minutes in the kitchen without getting the shakes and chucked stuff together and hoped for the best!

Tomorrow is new shopping day, the fridge is running low, I've emptied things from the freezer for tomorrow's dinner and lunch, making room for as many thrifty finds I can get tomorrow!

Last week in pictures:

Wednesday - Heggies of Hereford Topside beef, sort of Chinese style -
I ate approximately 1 slice due to poor appetite but B and Dad gobbled the lot nearly!

Thursday's planned omelette became Nigella's trusty Crustless Pizza, served with balsamic and lemon oil marinated courgettes, rocket salad and some weirdly addictive pomegranate laced olives Dad brought over..

Friday - home made rice pudding, using some overcooked basmati from the depths of freezer -
a tiny portion as soooooo full and appetite a bit off!

Amaretto laced cherries, to go on Friday's rice pudding

Friday - awesome Garlic King prawn stirfry, was delicious! We had a friend's homegrown courgette in it, a white cabbage that was supposed to be a savoy cabbage and some rather lovely kindprawn's. Oh and crap loads of garlic and ginger paste!

Spring onion pancakes, to go with the above stir-fry
Dusting off this week's forthcoming meal plan...stay tuned!

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