Labels: baking, bundt, cake, citrus, fruit, grapefruit, My recipe, summer · Posted by Rebecca at 20:40
It had to be a bundt. I remain in love with my bundt tin (this cheapy from Amazon is a great starter one if you can't justify shelling out for Nordicware) and can't wait til I am free to buy myself more creative-shaped bakeware. People who followed me through the challenge will have probably noticed that my posting has gone from daily (back then) to less than sporadic now I'm over here. It's partly because I'm still pre-occupied with my small bites of elephant, and mostly because I have a few things I can't share on a blog which is poles apart from my usual confessional style of blogging.
Nevertheless, there will come a day when my life has changed to the extent that not only will I be the proud owner of a new bundt tin or two, but I may also have a real live KitchenAid Artisan in my kitchen too. Slowly slowly, catchy monkey and all that.
basic bundt recipe from DollyBakes and had intended to include grapefruit zest in the batter until I discovered that zesting properly ripe grapefruits is hard work. After lots of teeth gnashing, I had about ten strands from two grapefruits so opted to include the zest of a lime too. And with a lack of grapefruit extract in my cupboard (can you even buy it??) I went for a little Sicilian orange extract instead. So technically it's a citrus bundt, but with a gloopy pink grapefruit glaze liberally spooned over the top, the grapefruit does dominate the subtle flavours.
It was shared with my work colleagues as 'an experiment, so don't expect to much' but given the rave reviews it got including a 9/10 from my (very biased chief) cake tester, I decided it was worthwhile sharing on the blog. Personally, I would have liked a little more drizzle on the cake so the recipe recommends double the quanity
And this is how I did it.
- 225g soft, unsalted butter plus extra for greasing the tin
- 450g caster sugar
- 4 medium eggs
- 300g low fat Greek yogurt
- 350g plain flour plus extra for dusting the pan
- 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 1/2 tsp table salt
- 1 tsp orange or lemon extract
- zest and juice one pink grapefruit (you may need two depending on the size and how juicy they are)
- zest of one lime
- 25g golden granulated sugar plus extra for sprinkling
- 10" bundt tin
- Preheat the oven to 180c/160c fan. Liberally butter the bundt pan, ensuring you get into all the nooks and crannies, then dust with flour to cover all surfaces. Tip the excess into the bin.
- Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time, followed by a tablespoon of the flour from the 350g with each addition of an egg to stop the mixture from splitting.
- Mix the remaining flour, bicarbonate of soda and salt together in a bowl.
- Mix the zest, yogurt and essence in a measuring jug.
- Add one third of the flour mix to the batter and gently beat in. Add half of the yogurt mixture and beat lightly until well combined. Repeat until the flour and yogurt mixes are incorporated.
- Pour into the pre-prepared tin and bake for about 1 hour, checking from 50 minutes onwards until a skewer inserted into the deepest part of the cake comes out clean.
- Leave to cool in the tin for ten minutes until the cake has shrunk away from the sides.
- Whilst the cake is cooling, pour the grapefruit juice and granulated sugar into a small saucepan and heat gently until the sugar dissolves. Boil rapidly until the liquid is reduced to a third of its original volume and you have a thick, sticky syrup.
- Turn the cake out onto a cooling rack then carefully drizzle the grapefruit syrup over the top.
- When the syrup has cooled on the cake slightly, liberally sprinkle with the granulated sugar.
At the moment, I'm doing okay because I'm back running so burn off a fair few calories each week. I eat a pretty balanced diet (and probably a few more snacks than I should) but my weight is stable. But in the not-too-distant, I will have to hang my running shoes up for a while and go back to watching what I eat.
Perusing the Guardian website last weekend, I happened across Felicity Cloake's Reader Recipe Swap on the 5:2. All the 'diet' food sounded just great. but when I noticed that the winning recipe was submitted by Clare from Under the Blue Gum Tree, I knew I had to try it out because it would be a good one.
I 'met' Clare via Twitter through our shared love of Dan Lepard's books when I was doing the 366 Recipe Challenge. Clare has challenged herself to do 5:2 this year and loves how it fits into her lifestyle. Personally, I'd find the idea of skipping breakfast really hard to do some days but if it would help me drop the last half stone I want to shift once I can't run any more then I'm game for a go at this.
So tonight, having run seven miles, I rewarded myself with the whole of Clare's pancake as it's only 502 calories (the run burned nearly 900). And quite frankly I'm stuffed to the gills. I was actually teetering on fullness after the first half, but valiantly soldiered on as there was nobody around to finish the rest*. I could definitely see this working as something for me to take to work for lunch if I ever do 5:2.
Because I was a numpty and used up my peppers in veggie chilli earlier this week, I used half a diced courgette instead. Eating so much green stuff made me feel even more healthy and much less guilty about the caramel egg I scoffed when my run was done.
You can find the recipe here.
*Quite a big bite of the elephant tonight
Labels: baking, biscuits, cake, chocolate, cookies, cream, cupcakes, oreos, penguins · Posted by Rebecca at 20:36
|Don't eat us, we're too cute!|
The cakes in question are a belated birthday cake gift to the questioner 'M' who I work with. Despite FaceAche telling me it was his birthday, I still forgot so promised he could choose what cake I would make to take into work this week. He emailed me a link to a page about cupcake decorating from Bored Panda* and requested a waddle of penguins. Well one, but you can't make just one penguin as he'd be lonely.
Given that it still feels like the middle of winter in the UK, despite it being April 7th, I duly accepted the challenge and spent today intermittently working on my little army.
The original recipe comes from the My Feelings Taste Like Cupcakes blog by Anna. Her post about the trials and tribulations of working with oreos is entertaining and certainly made my attempt a whole world easier.
I'm guessing that pretty much all Americans have a knack for twisting the tops off of oreos successfully. I'm so weedy that I couldn't even manage to do one - but a sharp knife worked wonders. I also rather prudently (well mostly because oreos are flipping expensive) separated the ones for the faces and made the wings before making the crushed oreos for the base and filling so that I could use the broken bits rather than ending up with a pile of wasted wings. A sharp knife definitely helps and I found using my fingers as a cutting guide meant mostly clean even breaks.
|I'm ready for my close up|
Anyhoo onto the techie bit. As Anna doesn't detail how to make the cupcakes because she wasn't happy with the recipe she used for the cake bit, I chose to use my favourite vanilla cupcake recipe from the 366 Recipe Challenge - a Dan Lepard one. Partly because it is pretty much the same as the one I used to use pre-challenge and partly because it has to be my favourite post from the challenge. (Vanilla cupcakes are quite popular on the blog as the post about Mary Berry's cupcakes has had a whopping 20,000+ views since I posted it in March 2012.)
Because the Lepard recipe makes a smaller quantity of cakes, I got 10 for my troubles so I'll detail the steps here. Anna's post has a great set of pictures on how to make and assemble the cakes. For me, it took enough patience to decorate the things without remembering to photograph every step!
Makes 10 cupcakes
- 2 packets oreos (the double stuffed ones are easiest to work with)
- 1 orange Starburst (the recipe gets expensive if you can only find family sized packs!)
- 20 eyes - googly, made from sugar paste or bought edible ones
- Muffin tin lined with ten paper cases
- 10 oreo halves minus the cream (equivalent of - use the odds and ends from making the wings)
- 50g butter
- 125g very soft, unsalted butter
- 125g caster sugar
- 2 eggs
- 2 tsp vanilla essence
- 150g plain flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- pinch of table salt
- 125g butter
- 60g cream cheese
- 225g icing sugar
- 2tsp vanilla essence
- 30ml double cream
- 6 oreo halves minus the cream (equivalent of - use the odds and ends from making the wings)
- 225g icing sugar
- 125g marshmallow fluff
2, To make the base, split five oreos in half and remove the cream. Place in a plastic bag and bash with a rolling pin until fine crumbs. Melt the butter and stir in the oreos. Put a tablespoonful of mixture into the base of each cupcake case and flatten down. Bake at 160c/140c fan for five minutes. Remove and increase the oven temperature to 180c/160c fan.
|A veritable waddle of ping-wings|
4, Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden and firm to the touch. To stop the cakes peaking, put a baking sheet on the shelf above the muffin tin. Remove and leave to cool.
5, Make the filling by beating the butter, cheese, cream and vanilla essence together. Beat in the icing sugar until well combined. Remove three tablespoonfuls into a small bowl. Crush the oreos and then stir through the filling in the small bowl. Core the cupcakes and pipe filling into each, replacing the core on the top.
6, Add the marshmallow fluff to the remaining filling from step five (the stuff without the crushed oreos in) and beat until well combined then whisk in the icing sugar until it forms a stiff, pipeable mixture.
7, Put the Starburst on a microwaveable plate and heat for fifteen seconds. Move it quickly to a clean work surface then roll flat with a rolling pin and cut small triangles to make the beaks.
8, Finally assemble the cakes by piping a plain swirl of topping onto the cake then adding the wings, faces and beaks. Because it's tough to get a clean split on the faces, I took Anna's advice and spread a little of the topping on each face - it helped stick the eyes and the beak too.
Et voila. Cupcakes that are too cute to eat!
* I had seen this post before - check out my version of the Cookie Monster Cupcakes
For every detractor of social media, you'll find a hundred people who love it. I'm definitely in the "Love It" camp. Sure it's taken me a while to find my spiritual home, but now I've taken up residence in the Twittersphere, I think I'm there to stay.
|Elegantly sliced by my work colleagues|
But Twitter is home to the very hippest of my circle of friends and family and also home to my adopted Twitter family. I quite can't remember how my Twitter family came about but through a chain of Tweets, I was "adopted" by Paul, Kate, Maria and Dicky. Like any family we may not "get together" for ages but whenever we do it's either a riot of belly laughs or an outpouring of love and support that sometimes I don't even get from my real-world family.
Despite having never met in real-life, they all generously sponsored me running the Bath Half last year. And getting to the point of this post I recently received an ace parcel from Dicky. He had a spare copy of The Boy Who Bakes and asked if anyone wanted it. I offered to give it a good home and to pay the postage. A little while later, the book arrived accompanied by two packs of Percy Pig sweets for Miss A. Dicky wouldn't take any payment for the postage and didn't put a return address on the package so I couldn't send him any cake (Bunders, I would have if I could have ;-)) so I made a cake for the charity bake sale at work instead.
|Ready for the oven|
This time the bake was successful although my attempt to get ahead with the icing went awry. I made the sugar and butter part the day before and after a late night out at Book Club, I decided to hand beat in the cream cheese and ice the cake at gone midnight. The icing went lumpy - I probably should've beat the butter cream with the mixer again before adding the cream cheese - which detracted from the decoration but it still tasted good - and got rave reviews from my normal cake testers as well as adding to my growing army of admirers.
Thank you again Dicky. You've made lots of people very happy x
|Slightly lumpy icing|
|I love post like this|
|Decorated by my beautiful, two-year-old assistant|
When she returned to 'proper work', we stopped having a family Christmas cake so a few years ago, I decided to resurrect the tradition. And what a minefield it's been. First off, there's my grandfather who hates marzipan and icing. He'd really like a Dundee cake. Suggesting he remove the icing and marzipan from the cake and just eat the middle is tantamount to suggesting he eat cranberry sauce with his turkey. For the record, he doesn't like Christmas pudding either.
Then there are members of the family who only like the marzipan and icing bit. I figured a bit of Jack and Mrs Sprat logic might work here with my grandfather eating the cake, the others eating his discarded marzipan - but no, that's not good enough because the cake taints the marzipan with dried fruit flavour.
|That blue-iced cake|
That year I also decided to make a yule log as a sop to the non-fruit cake lovers. This went down really well until the following year when I was trying to decide between fruit cake and chocolate and my mother announced she'd also be making a Stollen. I asked why. There are never more than five adults present on Christmas day in my family any more (sad times). With the requisite mince pies and Christmas pudding, this seemed a little excessive. So I ended up baking neither and my mother's Stollen was so cement-like, you could have used it as a door stop.
This year, with my girl and her love of cooking, I decided to make a proper cake again, and chose Dan Lepard's Caramel Christmas cake. It was a behemoth of a cake, smelt amazing and took forever to cook. But the finished cake felt really dry. Rather than feeding it for weeks on end, I decided to let people try it with a view of making a second for Christmas. Apparently, it was the best fruit cake the testers had ever tasted. Great!
|The un-iced version of the Cinnamon Honey Cake|
To save on the calories and flying in the face of arguments over how much icing and marzipan should be on a cake, I went for a simple top-iced cake and opted to use Dan's Brandy Butter Frosting which was great for Miss A to swirl across the top and then decorate all by herself.
As always, Dan's recipes are real winners. Yes, I've left this post too late for you to make them for Christmas, but the Cinnamon Honey Fruit Cake is a great cake for any time of the year.
Labels: baking, biscuits, cheese, Christmas, Dan Lepard, FBCookieSwap, nuts · Posted by Rebecca at 21:10
I must refocus myself for the New Year and include this as part of my action plan for 2013. Assuming that The World doesn't end on 21st December. And if it does, I would quite like it if The World would be so kind as to wait to implode until I've been out and had my birthday lunch.
Anyhow, onto the biscuits. This is a partner post for a post that's due to appear over on the 366 Recipe Challenge. I know that technically finished back in September, but I really wanted to take part in the Food Blogger Cookie Swap this year. And to take part, you had to have a blog that had been in operation since before 15th August 2012. Small Bites was a little too new to allow me to participate so I used my old blog for qualification and will do lots of linkying between these two posts on Dec 12th - the official 'recipe reveal' date.
Because I am particularly indecisive, I opted to bake three kinds of cookies and ask my work colleagues to vote which were their favourites. True to form, they picked the chocolate ones, but my favourites were these delicious little savouries, courtesy of Dan Lepard's Short and Sweet.
|Ready for the off|
With copious amounts of cheese and nuts, how could these be anything other than amazeballs? I ended up sending a few to each of my Cookie Swap buddies as a bonus. And they appeared to go down well even though they're not the most robust of biscuits for surviving transport by Royal Mail. Feedback from work colleagues included 'can I have the recipe for your rather excellent chilli biscuits?' and 'mmmm...hot stuff' I trust that particular person was referring to the food!
With Christmas coming up, they would also be great with a glass of wine if you have non-fussy visitors. And you can make the dough in advance and chill it for a few days before you bake it, allowing you to show off for unexpected guests. The only thing I found was that the chilli flavour was far more intense in the 'mature' ones.
Luckily, this is one of those recipes that was first published via the Guardian so if you don't own a copy of Short and Sweet, you can find it here.
Labels: bagels, baking, bread, buns, Calendar Cakes, cherry, chocolate, My recipe · Posted by Rebecca at 20:52
|Decadent bagels for breakfast|
So whilst I had a little navel-gazing time last night, I thought about why I might be perceived that way. And the only thing I can put it down to is that I am quite good at getting things done. I'm in no way perfect. I often leave things hanging open-ended. Like the pile of filing that is on the floor next to my chair as I type. I should be sorting it into a folder rather than blogging. But in about twenty minutes when I've finished typing, I'm most likely to step over it and go and do something else like prepping my stuff for work in the morning. I will come back to it. But because filing doesn't light my fire, I will put it off until I'm really bored.
Whereas something like baking, I will make time for whenever I absolutely can. Which is why on Friday, I was multi-tasking by speaking to a journo about the 366 Recipe Challenge whilst kneading the dough for my bagels. She asked that same question everyone asks about the challenge. "How did you find time to do it?" I responded "By multi-tasking, actually, I'm kneading bagels while we talk because the only free time I have today is while Miss A is napping". I had my Crackberry nearby too because although we finish at 12pm on Fridays, I have a big project going live tomorrow and I wanted to monitor any unforeseen disasters in the final hours of testing.
I'd made my own bagels using a Dan Lepard recipe for the 366 Recipe Challenge and really enjoyed the process. Because I am genuinely tight for time, I've not made them from scratch again since, but Miss A and I ritually eat bagels on Saturday and Sunday mornings for our breakfast. We split one (proper ones, not the plasticky New York Bagel ones). She has hers with chocolate Philly and banana and strawberries. I have mine with peanut butter and banana. But this weekend, I decided to do something a little different and the chocolate and cherry bagels were born.
The dough I made on my last attempt was really hard to work with so after a little research, I decided to use my own dough recipe and use a little oil in the hope of smoothing the dough and making it more elasticky. Plus I eschewed Dan's 10-second knead method and went for a full ten-minute work out seeing as I was on the phone.
For decadence, I added Waitrose chocolate chunks (other brands are available) and dried sour cherries. But then I got cold feet when it got to poaching. I was worried that the chocolate would melt in the boiling water and so I used half of the dough to make buns and the rest for the bagels. Luckily, both worked and both went down well with my chief taste-tester. Two days later, they're also great lightly toasted and slathered with unsalted butter. Perfect winter fodder. I also intend to bake these again in a few weeks using blueberries, white chocolate and a touch of mixed spice. I love that one dough recipe gives the two options. And you could pop it into a loaf tin and have a great slicing loaf too.
|Bagels - pre glaze|
Recipe - makes either eight bagels or eight buns
- 450g strong white flour, plus extra for dusting
- 7g sachet of easy bake yeast
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 tbsp caster sugar
- 275ml water (two parts iced to one part boiling, mixed)
- 2 tsp vegetable oil
- 75g dark chocolate chunks (I use Waitrose as they tend to stand up better to hot temperatures)
- 75g dried sour cherries
- 2tbsp malt extract or dark brown sugar for poaching if making bagels (I used sugar this time but think malt extract works better and is less streaky)
- 25g caster sugar for the glaze
- Sift the flour into a large mixing bowl. Mix in the yeast, sugar and salt. Mix the water and oil together and then pour into the flour mixture. Stir until it starts to form a dough then use your hands to bring it together into a ball. Place onto a clean, flour dusted worktop and knead for ten minutes until smooth and elastic.
- Place into a clean, lightly oiled bowl. Cover and leave for thirty minutes. Turn out onto the floured work surface, knead briefly for a minute or two then return to the bowl for another thirty minutes.
- Work the chocolate and cherries through the dough then cut into eight even pieces. Mould into balls, taking care to poke the cherries and chocolate slightly under the surface of the dough - this stops them burning when they cook. Place on a lightly floured tray and leave to rise for another thirty minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 350F/180c/160 fan/Gas 4 whilst the dough is proving.
- For bagels: Put the malt extract or brown sugar into a large saucepan filled with water. Bring to the boil.
- Using the handle of a clean wooden spoon, poke a hole through the middle of each dough ball and stretch until roughly the size of an old fifty pence piece. Drop the bagels carefully into the water, two at a time and poach for thirty seconds each side. Remove and place on the baking tray.
- For buns: I usually bake my buns in a smallish roasting tin with a two-inch side or in my springform cake tin. I pack them quite close together so they smoosh together when baking and pull apart nicely.
- To Finish: Bake the bagels or buns for 20-25 minutes until golden brown.
- Just before the end of the cooking time, mix the sugar for the glaze with 2tbsp water in a small saucepan and then heat until the sugar is dissolved. When you remove the buns or bagels from the oven, quickly brush the tops with the glaze before leaving to cool.