Dark Chocolate and Ginger Loaf Cake

Hello, sorry for the lack of posting but I’ve been in Holland with my family and everything just gets so hectic. I managed to make this cake and got a couple of pictures to share with you as it is really is rather yummy.

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I had left over glace ginger from last Christmas that I wanted to use up and I saw these cute little sugar gingermen which I just had to get. They are literally the cutest things, it’s a shame they had to be eaten.

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I wasn’t sure if the flavour combination of ginger and dark chocolate would go together but they complimented each other very well. I didn’t buy chocolate chips but cut up a bar of chocolate into thick pieces so you got a nice chunky mouthful when biting into it.

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I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas and I wish you a peaceful New Year, may it bring everything you desire.

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Ingredients

For the cake:
5 eggs
300g self-raising flour
300g butter
300g soft, dark sugar
3tbsp treacle
4tsp glace ginger
1 1/2tsp cinnamon
1tsp nutmeg
Zest of 1 lemon
100g dark chocolate (cut into pieces)
 
For the topping:
75g icing sugar
3-5tbsp water (enough to make a thick consistency)
Gingerbread men cake toppers OR
Dark chocolate chunks 
Recipe (The Little Elf Bakery)… makes 1 loaf cake
 

Pre-heat the oven to 190 degrees celsius and grease a loaf tin. Cream the butter and sugar together until light and creamy. Add one egg at a time, amalgamating one fully before adding in the next. Sift in the self-raising flour, nutmeg and cinnamon and fold in before adding the glace ginger, treacle, lemon zest and dark chocolate (cut up into chunks). Mix everything so all the ingredients have been evenly distributed. Pour into the loaf tin and put in the oven for 1 1/2 hours. If you stick a tester in just be aware that the chocolate will have melted so it will probably never come out clean. If the top of the cake springs back when you gently push on it, it is probably done. When it is in the oven and the top starts to burn, cover with tin foil. When cooked, leave to cool on a cooling rack.

When cooled fully, beat together the icing sugar and water (you could use lemon juice instead or add lemon zest) then drizzle over the top of the cake. Decorate with the topping of your choice.

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Serve with creme fraiche or vanilla ice cream.

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Chocolate Swiss Roll

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When you were a kid did you always have that one sweet thing which you always asked for. For me, that was anything remotely chocolately or if it had cream. Ta da, this dessert offers both things in one spirally swirled cream filled, soft chocolate wrap thing.

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I’ve always put off baking this simply because I thought it would be really difficult, especially the whole rolling up business. However, this version is stupidly easy with very few ingredients and the rolling up stage is not hard at all because even if the log cracks it adds o the rustic charm. Consider me pleasantly surprised.

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The sponge is moist and tastes very similar to a brownie (plus it smells amazing when you pull get it out of the oven). The addition of cream makes it taste like edible hot chocolate, I’m telling you, just make it; you seriously won’t regret it (plus it’s by Mary Berry, what’s not to love?).

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Ingredients

For the log
175g dark chocolate
6 large eggs
175g caster sugar
2tbsp cocoa powder
Icing sugar to dust
 
For the filling
300ml whipped cream
Recipe (Mary Berry)… makes 1 Yule Log
 

Pre-heat the oven to 170 degrees celsius and line a a tin with baking parchment. Separate the eggs, placing the egg whites in one bowl and the yolks in another. Whisk the egg whites until they form stiff peaks then set to one side. Make a bain-marie and melt the chocolate, whilst waiting for this whisk together the egg yolks and caster sugar until pale and creamy. Once the chocolate has melted, slowly whisk in with the egg yolk mixture. Add 2 tablespoons of egg whites to the egg yolk mixture to loosen it up, folding in with a metal spoon so as not to lose the air. Gently fold in the rest of the egg whites then sift in the cocoa powder and again gently fold in. Pour this mixture into the prepared baking tin and put in the oven for 20-25 minutes. Once baked, take out of the oven and leave to cool in the tin.

Once cool, whip the cream. Line out another piece of baking parchment and sprink with icing sugar. Tip the cooled log onto this and peel of the baking parchement. Spread the cream leaving a 2cm edge all around. Cut half way through the log about 5cm away from the smallest edge. Gently roll then carefully place on a serving dish. Cut 1 cm away from either side to reveal the spiral inside and enjoy.

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To make it more Christmassy decorate with baubles.

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Lebkuchen

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More seasonal baking for you today in the form of the German Christmas cookie, Lebkuchen, which is similar to gingerbread however has a stronger taste.

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When thinking what to get friends for Christmas I sometimes struggle with getting personal gifts which aren’t your generic soap and slippers. Something with the a homemade touch which said friend will find special.

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Presents which I have remembered and cherished is a CD with all the songs from a film which I loved, a scrapbook of memories and pictures and homemade bunting because alot of thought, time and effort went into them.

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So, to cut a long story short, I’ve made these cookies for a couple of close friends instead of chocolate in the hope it will make up for my kinda crappy present buying skills!

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Ingredients

For the cookies
250g butter
85g ground almonds
2tsp ground ginger
1tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp bicarb of soda
1tsp baking powder
200ml clear honey
1 lemon (zest)
85g butter
pinch each of ground cloves, grated nutmeg and black pepper
 
For the icing 
100g icing sugar
Juice of 1 lemon
Edible glitter for decoration
 

Pre-heat the oven to 160 degrees celsius and line a baking tray with baking parchment. Boil the kettle and make a bain-marie. Melt the butter and honey together and set to one side. Combine all the dry ingredients then pour in the honey/butter mixture and stir. Leave to cool then shape the dough into balls, place on the baking tray then bake for 15 minutes or golden brown. Leave to cool on a baking tray.

For the icing, juice the lemon and add to the icing sugar. Beat until a smooth paste then drizzle over the cookies and sprinkle with either edible glitter or grated lemon zest.

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Bag up and give as presents!

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Raspberry and Cinnamon Sour Cream Loaf Cake

One aspect of which makes Christmas for me is the chance to see and spend time with family and friends who you don’t see very often. It just wouldn’t be Christmas without the people who make your life that little bit sparklier (not sure if that’s a word…).

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However, one thing I do not like is the puddings at Christmas which all seem to be heavily laden with ingredients which I am not a fan of…

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Marzipan, mixed peel, dried fruits of every variety and lots of heavy alcohol, they are things which I don’t necessarily enjoy eating at any time of the year, especially after the Christmas meal.

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So, every year I look for an alternative cake to bake. Last year I made Ginger Bundt Cake which went down a storm and I think I’ve found ‘the one’ for this year now in the form of this moistly scrumptious cinnamon and raspberry cake.

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I know raspberries are quite hard to find this time of year but if you have any in your freezer which you froze in summer, they’d be perfect and you can also get frozen raspberries in the supermarkets.

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I feel I can justify this cake as the cinnamon makes it Christmassy but it is also quite a dry flavour so the raspberries and the sour cream give the crumb a denseness.

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I was skeptical at first about using sour cream (the name is not appealing, just me?) but it really does give a lovely texture to the cake. And yes, I have now got my Christmas tree up!

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Ingredients

200g butter
250g caster sugar
2 large eggs
200g sour cream
300g plain flour
3 tsp baking powder
90ml milk
2tsp cinnamon (plus extra for sprinkling)
150g raspberries (plus extra for serving)
Recipe (The Little Elf Bakery)… makes 1 loaf cake
 

Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees celsius and butter your loaf tin. Cream together the sugar and butter then stir in the sour cream. Add the eggs one at a time then sift in the flour, baking powder and cinnamon. Fold in gently then pour in half to the baking tin. Add the raspberries to the remaining mixture in the bowl then pour into the loaf tin aswell (his is so the raspberries don’t sink to the bottom of the dish). Sprinkle a bit of cinnamon on the top. Bake for 1 1/2 hours or until a skewer comes out clean. The top will start to brown so just stick some tin foil over the top. When cooked through, turn out onto a cooling rack and then serve.

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Serve with vanilla ice cream and extra raspberries, or, you could blitz the raspberries in a blender, adding a little icing sugar to taste, and pour this over the top of the cake.

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Mince Pie Parcels

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A Christmas miracle has occurred… I can eat a mince pie and actually, it’s not too awful. Mincemeat is still, in my opinion, a very acquired taste yet one which I think I’m coming round to, slowly.

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Now I just need to conquer ‘Christmas Pudding’ and I’ll be a real Christmas foodie (minus the turkey!).

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As of yet, I have not put up my tree as I am being very lazy. I thought I had put it on top of my wardrobe with all the mismatched baubles, but apparently it got shut in the back of the deep, dark cupboard along with the rest of the decorations.

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So, even though I would love to have my tree up I can’t be bothered, at the moment, to go rooting around in a cupboard with no light which quite possibly could contain mice.

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For now I will make do with homemade paper snowflakes and a string of golden fairy lights.

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Ingredients

325g plain flour (Plus extra for dusting)
200g butter
100g caster sugar
Jar of mincemeat
Recipe (The Little Elf Bakery)… makes 11 mince pies
 

Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees celsius and line a baking tray with baking parchment. Rub together the flour, butter and caster sugar in a bowl until it comes together, then knead until smooth. Flour a surface and roll out the pastry. Cut 11 circles and place on the baking tray, then, put one and a half teaspoons of mincemeat into the centre of each. Roll out the pastry again and cut another 11 circles. Gently place the circular pastry on top of the mincemeat and push around the sides , being careful not to break the pastry. Cut a little star and place atop the mince pie parcels. Using a fork, go around the edges of the mince pies then brush with milk and sprinkle sugar over the top. Place in the oven for 20 minutes or until golden brown. When baked, sprinkle a little more sugar over the top then leave to cool on a cooling rack. (I used a 78mm circular cutter)

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Make them fresh on Christmas Eve and leave out for Santa (and a couple of carrots for Rudolph)

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Crisp Gingerbread Snaps

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This is my first Christmas bake this year and the smells coming from the oven has just put me in the festive mood.

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Last year I wasn’t really feeling the whole Christmas thing but this December, lights, songs, food, clothes, presents, cards, the whole package, I am well and truly excited.

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With this being said, I bring you gingerbread. One of the things I most associate with this time of year. When I was younger I never really like the stuff but my tastebuds have changed and I can’t get enough.

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This isn’t soft, it’s a very crispy biscuit but once it’s hit your mouth it melts and the spices explode in your mouth which is rather yummy, I’m sure Father Christmas wouldn’t mind having this left by the chimney.

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They would also make really cute Christmas present wrapped in beautiful paper or in a cellophane bag tied with string and a homemade gift tag.

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Ingredients

100g butter
100g soft, dark brown sugar
1 egg
100g treacle
100g golden syrup
450g plain flour
1 1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground mixed spice
a pinch of salt
Recipe (The Little Elf Bakery)… makes 30 biscuits
 
Cream the butter and sugar together then add the egg, golden syrup and treacle. Stir well together then add the flour, spices and salt. Mix until the dough comes into a bowl then stick in the fridge for 30 minutes. 
 
Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees celsius and line a baking tray with baking parchment when you take out of the dough from the fridge and flour a surface. Roll out until 5mm in thickness and using a cookie cutter shape and put on the baking parchment. Bake for 10 minutes or slightly golden on top. Watch the biscuits vigilantly as they can burn very quickly.
 
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Use as a base for cheesecakes for a festive twist.
 
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Happy 1st Birthday!!! Triple Layer Apple Upside Down Cake with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting

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A year ago today I decided to start this blog. I din’t really have a plan, I just dived in head first and hoped I’d be able to stay afloat! I’m still blogging so that’s a good sign. I just wanted to say a gigantic thank you to everyone who has subscribed, liked, commented or just had a peak, it means alot!

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I made this cake to celebrate (and as a cheeky treat for me) and it combines two of my favourite flavours at the moment. Apple and Cinnamon. There’s nothing more to say…

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I just though I’d share some of the things I have learnt over the past year with you in case you wanted to start up your own baking blog…

1. Have a cupboard of base ingredients (flours, sugars, essences, butter and syrups) as it just makes spontaneous baking alot easier

2. Plan ahead and BE ORGANISED. I was not (I’m still not!) but it does help if you print off monthly calenders so you can see important dates and when you are free to bake and post.

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3. Don’t expect everything to be perfect first time. There are some things I really wanted to post but they just weren’t up to scratch so I had to go back to the drawing board. That’s fine!

4. Photograph in natural light and avoid using flash. This is something I’ve really noticed over the past few months, the flash is just too harsh and makes the food look super shiny.

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5. Buy a couple of baking books or search around online for recipes. This way you get a feel for measurements and flavour combinations.

6. Look to other baking blogs for inspiration. There are so many beautiful ones out there!

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I hope those tips were helpful and I hope that in the forthcoming year I will discover more amazing baking bloggers, experiment more with my photography and maybe start using props and do the Cookie Swap, I just missed the deadline this year!

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Ingredients

For the cake: 
150g soft, light brown sugar
100g soft, dark brown sugar
4 eggs
250g self raising flour
2 medium apples
250g butter or margarine
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp cinnamon
 
For the apple turnover:
1 apple (cored and quartered)
1tsp cinnamon
1 tbsp water
2 tbsp golden syrup
100g caster sugar
 
For the cinnamon cream cheese frosting:
250g cream/soft cheese
80g butter
300g icing sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
Recipe (The Little Elf Bakery)… makes 1 cake
 
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees celsius and butter a baking tin. Core and thinly slice the apple then place in water so they don’t brown. In a saucepan put the sugar, water and golden syrup and leave to melt, intermittently swirling (but never stirring). When the ingredients have all melted together pour into the baking tin and gently arrange the apples on top and roughly sprinkle 1 tsp of cinnamon over the top. In a bowl cream together the sugars and butter then add the eggs one at a time, don’t worry if the mixture splits. Next sift in the flour, bicarbonate of soda, cinnamon and nutmeg then gently fold in in a figure of 8. Peel, core and chunkily cut the apples then stir them in aswell. Spoon a third of this mixture into the prepared baking tin and put in the oven for 1/2 hour. When finished, take out oft he oven and leave to cool on a cooling rack.
 
Bake the other thirds of the cake and leave them all too cool. For the frosting cream the icing sugar and butter together. Using an electric whisk add a little cream cheese at a time to this mixture, thoroughly whisking to a smooth consistency before finally adding the cinnamon. Place 1/3 of the cake at the bottom, layer with the frosting then place the other 1/3 on top, repeating the process. Finally put the apple turnover top and proudly admire your handiwork!
 
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The cake has a slightly sticky texture and is very moist so serve with vanilla ice cream!

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Apple and Anise Cake

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Hands up if you believe in coincidences? Well how about this… every weekend my Mum buys the Guardian which comes with the magazine. I always flick straight to the cooking section and hope for a delicious baking recipe by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall.

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So this weekend I made my weekly dash for the magazine, eagerly hoping for a recipe and I was not disappointed. An apple and anise cake, coincidentally the Thursday before my aunt had made a carrot soup using star of anise.

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This soup was seriously the best soup I have ever tasted. Ever.

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Which got me thinking I would like to try and bake with it some time and… Voila! A happy coincidence occurred.

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A lovely moist cake bursting with contrasting textures and flavours, I think I may have found a new favourite. I love the fact the apples are soft and little pops of lemon and anise comes through every once in a while. In using brown sugar you get a deep, rich flavour and I actually might have licked the mixing bowl clean (no shame).

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The recipe calls for anise seeds, however I couldn’t find any so I emptied two pod petals and crushed them in a mortar and pestle and it seemed to work just fine.

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Ingredients:

2 star anise pods
100g sultanas
juice of 1 lemon
100g ground almonds
175g self-raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
Pinch of salt
200g butter
200g soft dark brown sugar
3 large eggs
500g eating apples, peeled, cored, quartered and thickly sliced
25g demerara sugar
Recipe (Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall for The Guardian)… makes 1 cake
 

Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees celsius and butter a baking tin. Get the anise seeds out of the ‘petals’ and crush in the mortar and pestle then set put in a saucepan with the lemon juice and sultanas. Heat through until steaming then set to one side to plump up.

Mix together the flour, almonds and salt. In a bowl beat together the sugar and butter until light and fluffy then add one egg at a time, switching up each time between the flour mixture. Peel, core and cut the apple into chunky slices then add them to the batter along with the saucepan of lemon, sultanas and anise. Stir then pour into the baking tin. Bake for about 1 1/2 hours or until a skewer comes out clean. If it starts to burn put tin foil over the top. Before letting it cool on a rack, let it sit in the tin for 15 minutes then turn it out.

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For an extra zing whisk cream then add some lemon juice.

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Cinnamon and Apple Mufffins

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Around Christmas there is always the familiar scent of spice hanging in the air. Whenever I smell it I know winter has arrived and this year it has made me really want to and eminante it in the form of baking.

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The classic flavour combinations of cinnamon and apple is really rather delicious and the flavour of cinnamon sated my need for spice. It really is rather nostalgic.

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The apples I have used in this recipe were taken from a house I pass whilst cycling to school. They left a bucket of apples (I presume from a tree in their garden) so I took a couple in order to make this recipe then delivered a box the next morning in repayment.

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Not only have they left apples, before I have gotten a courgette which was equally as yummy (oh, the delights of living in the countryside!)

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To achieve an even more cinnamony taste. the night before weight out the sugar for the recipe (200g brown, 50g caster) and pour into a bowl. Push a cinnamon stick into the middle of each sugars and leave until you make the muffins, you can cut the cinnamon stick in half. Re-use this stick for when you stew the apples.

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I enjoyed them so much that I went and got a couple more apples so expect quite a few apple related recipes in the forthcoming weeks!

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Ingredients:

For the muffins
2 eggs
200g cinnamon infused soft, light brown sugar
250ml milk
125ml vegetable oil
400g self-raising flour
1tsp salt
1-2 tsp cinnamon
1 cinnamon stick
2 medium sized apples
 
For the topping:
1-3 apples (depending on how many muffins you want to top with apple)
50g cinnnamon infused caster sugar
Recipe (The Little Elf Bakery)… makes 14 muffins

Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees celsius and line a muffin tray with cases. Peel, core and cut the apple into chunks and put into a saucepan with a cinnamon stick, Simmer on a low heat, covering the saucepan with a lid stirring every couple of minutes, until the apples are soft and mushy. Set to one side. In a bowl whisk the eggs, milk, oil, salt, cinnamon and sugar until smooth. Fold in the flour then tip in the stewed apples until all the ingredients have combined. Pour the mixture into the cases. To top the muffins cut the remaining apples into thin slices and arrange on top of the muffins. Sprinkle the cinnamon infused caster sugar over the top then put in the oven for 25 minutes or until they are golden brown. Take out of the oven and place on a cooling rack. Leave to cool.

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Enjoy with creme fraiche.

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Chocolate Praline Pancake Cake

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Yes, you heard that right, chocolate, nuts, pancakes and caramel all in one, I cannot tell you how decadent this cake is. It took me about 2 hours to make but it’s completely worth it for the end result. For an even more spectacular result, double (or triple) the recipe for even more layers.

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This cake was for my brother’s birthday, he asked for a triple chocolate fudge cake but personally, I think this is more impressive.

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The praline is the perfect topping as not only does it contrast in colour, but also texture. Crispy, crunchy against the smooth, silky chocolate and slight chewiness of the pancakes.

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To get the milk chocolate curls for the top I got a potato peeler and just ‘peeled’ the bar. The good thing about this is the chocolate melts on your hands, I’m certainly not complaining!

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For younger tastebuds you could try using Nutella spread which would complement the hazelnuts on the top. In other news, man is it getting cold! It’s proper scarf, glove, coat, hat wearing weather here in England now. It’s certainly a shock to the system.

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Ingredients:

For the Pancakes:
280g plain flour
400ml milk
4 eggs
butter for frying
 
For the Chocolate Sauce:
250g dark chocolate
50g butter
175ml whole milk
125ml double cream
50g light muscovado sugar
 
For the Praline:
100g caster sugar
100g hazelnuts (blanched or unblanched)
2-3 tbspn water
1/2 tspn salt flakes
sunflower oil
 
For the Milk Chocolate Curls:
30g milk chocolate
potato peeler
 
To serve:
whipped cream OR
vanilla ice-cream
Recipe (Adapted from BBC Good Food)… makes 1 cake
 

Whisk all the ingredients for the pancakes together in a bowl then set to one side. Make a bain-marie and put all the ingredients for the chocolate sauce into it. Stir continuously until everything has melted then place in the fridge for about 45-60 minutes until the mixture has gently set. Next, make the praline, for which place the hazelnuts into a sandwich bag, wrap in a tea towel and hit with a rolling pin to break into small pieces, then, oil a baking tray. Place the sugar and water in a saucepan on a low heat until all the sugar has dissolved. Bring to the boil until it turns into a dark, umber colour then quickly add the salt and hazelnuts. Quickly stir until everything is equally distributed then tip onto a baking tray and leave until it sets. Back to the pancake mixture…

Place a 5p amount of butter (each time) into a frying pan and leave to melt. Take one ladel full of mixture and pour into the frying pan and then tip the frying pan around so that the mixture is evenly spread. Brown the pancake on one side then flip to get the same consistent colour on the other side. When cooked, put on a plate. Once all the mixture is used up and you have a stack of pancakes you are ready to assemble the cake. Place a pancake on a plate and spread the chocolate mixture like butter, place another pancake on top and repeat this process until all the pancakes have been used up. For the top, spread the chocolate mixture on top then sprinkle the praline (break up with your hands first) and chocolate curls over the top. Serve with cream or vanilla ice cream

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For an extra treat heat up in the microwave or oven for a couple of minutes.

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