Easy Pancakes with Sweet Potato or Banana

I love American style pancakes, I literally could eat them every day. Once of the things that has prevented me from doing so is that I have always found them a bit of a faff to make, they require the use of my mixer usually and I can’t always be bothered generating that much washing up first thing. I’m lazy!

Fortunately I have now discovered a super easy way to make them, with limited mess and washing up required as they are made in the Nutribullet smoothie maker. They could also be made with a standard mixer or another similar product to the Nutribullet.

In addition to them being, they are also pretty healthy as there is no added sugar which means I don’t have to feel guilty about making them more regularly, and they are also suitable if you are doing baby led weaning (after 6 months as they include eggs & flour, potential allergens), so they can be a breakfast/brunch treat for the whole family!

The recipe works with either banana or sweet potato, you could probably also use butter-nut squash if you were a fan!

These are the banana pancakes:

These are the sweet potato:

The recipe makes about 20 mini pancakes, enough for brunch for me, my Husband and our 6 month old.

Ingredients:

  • Either 1 medium/large sweet potato peeled, cut into chunks and steamed until soft), or 2 ripe bananas
  • 2 heaped tbsp plain flour
  • 2 eggs
  • Generous sprinkle of cinnamon (optional and to taste)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • A knob of Butter or coconut oil for frying

Instructions:

  1. Switch the oven on low & put a plate/Serving dish in to warm so you can pop the pancakes in as you cook them to keep them warm while you make further batches. Place all the ingredients into a nutribullet or mixer and whizz up until it makes a smooth batter.
  2. Heat butter or coconut oil in a frying pan until hot and then drop tablespoons of the mixture into the pan to make pancakes of the required size ( I like making small mini pancakes which are perfect cut in half for my baby to get a good grasp on).
  3. Let the pancakes cook for a few minutes, until little bubbles start to appear on the surface, then flip them over and cook for a few more minutes on the other side.
  4. As they cook, pop them in the preheated dish in the oven to keep warm while you finish making the rest of the pancakes from the batter.

These are lovely served with yoghurt and fruit and a drizzle of maple syrup (for the grown ups, best not to give the maple syrup to the little ones!). You can also add a spoonful of greek yoghurt to the mixture when you whizz it up which makes a lovely smooth creamy batter.

A tip for the sweet potato versions, you can steam the potato in advance and whizz this up to make a puree and then put it into freezer bags and freeze until you are ready to use. Then you could always take a bag out the night before you plan to have them and let the puree defrost overnight so it’s ready to whizz up in the morning!

 

Red Velvet Brownies

Well, It’s been a pretty long time since I last posted as I’ve been somewhat busy having a baby! The Boy was born in February this year, so unfortunately I have had my hands pretty full and haven’t had much chance to do any baking. Not having the opportunity to spend much time in the kitchen has made me realise just how much I enjoy getting to bake and therefore I am hoping to prioritise a little more time for myself as baking is a bit of a meditative exercise for me and I always feel happy and refreshed after I’ve baked. Also, now the Boy is weaning I am going to be able to experiment with baby appropriate bakes which is going to be fun. I’m sure I will post some recipes in the future.

This weekend it was my friend’s birthday and she was having an ‘Afternoon Tea’ party, the perfect opportunity to try out one of the recipes I’ve had my eye on for a while in the new Hummingbird Bakery book ‘Life Is Sweet’. There are some fantastic recipes in there, I particularly was pleased to see an entire chapter dedicated to pancakes. Pancakes make me very happy!

It wasn’t too hard to decide what to bake first from the book, Red Velvet is a fantastic cake in my opinion, whether in cupcake format or a 2 or 3 layered cake the chocolately, rich sponge next to the creamy cream cheese frosting is just a delightful taste combination. I think anything Red Velvet always looks pretty impressive too! So when I saw that Hummingbird had devised a Red Velvet Brownie recipe, I was sold before I’d even tried them!

I found that the recipe was quite involved, but that’s to be expected with something which has 2 different layers, but the result was lovely. The brownie was moist and rich and the cream cheese layer complemented it perfectly.They sliced really cleanly and held their shape very well, sometimes I can find brownies to be quite gloopy and messy but these were perfect little brownie bars. The swirl effect on the top also looked pretty impressive. Using the 23x32cm tin means that this makes LOADS of brownies! They are quite rich so I cut them into sensible standard brownie squares and this made 25 brownies!

Recipe: Makes one 23x32cm (9x13in) tray, to slice as desired. Requires one 23 x 32cm (9x13in) tin.

Ingredients:

For the Brownie Layer:

  • 200g unsalted butter
  • 390g caster sugar
  • 2tsp vanilla extract
  • 55g cocoa powder
  • 1tsp red gel paste colouring, mixed with water to make 1 1/2 tbsp liquid
  • 2tsp white vinegar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 175g plain flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt

For the cream cheese layer:

  • 390g full-fat cream cheese (eg Philadelphia), softened
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 175 degrees C (350F/Gas mark 4). Line the tin with non-stick baking parchment.
  2. To make the brownie layer, melt the butter in a medium sized heatproof glass bowl set over, but not touching, a pan of simmering water, then stir in the caster sugar and vanilla. Beat by hand until the mix is slightly thickened, then remove from the heat.
  3. Using a freestanding electric mixer with the paddle attachment or a hand-held electric whisk, mix the cocoa powder, red food colouring and vinegar with the sugar and butter mixture and beat until incorporated. Add the eggs and beat until nice and smooth, then fold in the flour & salt.
  4. Pour the red velvet batter into the prepared tin, saving about 60ml of the batter for the top and setting this aside.
  5. To make the cream cheese layer, beat together the cream cheese, sugar, eggs and vanilla until smooth.
  6. Spread/pour the cream cheese over the RAW red velvet layer, carefully smoothing it evenly. Dollop bits of the reserved red velvet batter onto the cream cheese layer and, using a skewer, swirl to make patterns.
  7. Bake for about 30-35 mins, or until the top is firm to the touch and just starting to go golden at the edges. Remove from the own and allow to cool before cutting.

 

 

 

Chocolate Orange Chess Cake!

Everyone loves a birthday party! It’s the perfect occasion for a big ol’ celebration cake. So for the Bolton Clandestine Cake Club’s Second birthday event I wanted to make something a little special. I love a cake with a secret hidden pattern, and having made a chocolate & vanilla chess cake once before, it seemed the perfect opportunity to do one again. This time, I wanted to try something different with the flavour combination, chocolate orange is a match made in heaven, so I figured, why not? I free styled slightly with the recipe, using the base sponge recipe and chocolate ganache to coat the cake from the GBBO Showstoppers Recipe book for their Chess cake, however I adapted the recipe slightly by adding orange zest & extract to the plain cake mix, and using an orange butter cream to sandwich the sponges. I was very pleased with the results, there was a lovely balance of the chocolate and orange flavour which is what I was hoping for.

The recipe may seem really involved and long winded, but it’s actually much simpler than it seems (I promise!). Definitely worth having a full read through and get yourself familiar with the steps before you begin though.

Equipment required:

  • 3 x 20cm sandwich tins, greased and base lined with baking paper
  • 2 piping bags each fitted with a 1 or 1.5cm plain nozzle (they must be the same size!)

Ingredients:

For the sponges:

  • 350g unsalted butter, softened
  • 350g caster sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 6 large eggs at room temperature, beaten
  • 350g self-raising flour
  • good pinch of salt
  • 50g cocoa powder (for the chocolate mixture)
  • 1 teaspoon orange extract (for the orange mixture)
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
  • 4 tablespoons of milk

For the Orange butter cream

  • 250g icing sugar, sifted
  • 80g unsalted butter, slightly softened
  • 2 teaspoons finely grated orange zest
  • 25ml whole milk

For the dark chocolate ganache/decoration

  • 300g dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids), finely chopped
  • 300ml whipping cream
  • 1 Terry’s Chocolate Orange (Or any other chocolates you want to use to decorate the top of the cake)

Instructions:

1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C/350 degrees F/Gas mark 4. Put the butter into a large mixing bowl or free-standing mixer. Beat until very creamy. Gradually beat in the sugar, then the vanilla extract. Keep beating and scraping down the sides of the bowl, until the mixture is much lighter in colour and very fluffy in texture.

2. Gradually add the eggs, a tablespoon at a time, beating well after each addition. Add 1 tablespoon of the weighed flour with each of the last 2 portions of egg to prevent the mixture from curdling.

3. Sift the remaining flour and the salt into the bowl and gently fold in using a large metal spoon until you can no longer see any streaks or specks of flour.

4. At this point you need to split the mixture. I do this by weighing the full quantity and transferring half to another bowl. Sift the cocoa into one of the bowls and add 2 tablespoons of the milk. Fold in until completely blended. Spoon the mixture into one of the piping bags. Add the orange extract and orange zest and 2 tablespoons of milk into the mixture in the second bowl, mix thoroughly, then spoon into the other piping bag.

5. Pipe a ring of chocolate mixture around the inside edge of one tin. Then pipe a ring of the light mixture inside the chocolate ring. Repeat with alternate chocolate & light rings until the tin is filled. Repeat with a second tin. Then for the third tin, start with an outer ring of the light mixture, so this tin is the reverse of the other 2 tins.

6. Bake for 22-25 minutes until well risen and springy when lightly pressed in the centre. Run a knife around the inside of each tin to loosen the sponge, then turn out onto a wire rack and leave to cool completely.

7. Whilst the sponges are in the oven/cooling you should make the butter cream filling and the chocolate ganache. To make the orange butter cream beat together the icing sugar, butter and orange zest with an electric mixer (free-standing or handheld), on a medium-slow speed until the mixture comes together and is well mixed. Turn the mixer down to a slower speed. Slowly add the milk a little at a time (you may not need all the milk to get the consistency you’re after so don’t worry if you don’t add it all). Continue beating until the frosting is light and fluffy, at least 5 minutes.

8. To make the ganache, put the finely chopped chocolate into a heatproof bowl. Heat the cream in a pan until hot but not boiling, then pour in a slow, steady stream over the chopped chocolate. Leave it to stand for a few minutes without touching it, then stir gently until the chocolate is all melted and smooth and glossy. Leave to cool and thicken slightly, then stir gently, but don’t over beat or the mixture could separate. It’s best to leave the mixture to cool somewhere for a while before trying to cover the cake, otherwise the consistency will be too runny to hold over the cake. I usually leave for at least 20 minutes.

9. Once the sponges are fully cooled it’s time to assemble the layers. Place one of the sponges with the chocolate outer ring upside down on a cake board or your serving platter. Spread the top with half of the orange butter cream then set the the sponge with the white outer ring on top. Spread the rest of the butter cream on top and then top with the third remaining sponge with the browned top uppermost. Cover the top and the sides of the cake with the chocolate ganache. I use a palette knife to smooth out the ganache on the sides of the cake. I find it best to do one layer first to get the coverage over the cake and then when that has set slightly to go over with a second layer over the top. The ganache should have a lovely shiny finish. Before the ganache has had chance to set on the top, use the Terry’s Chocolate Orange segments (or whatever you have chosen to decorate the cake with) to decorate the top. Leave the cake in a cool spot (not the fridge though) to set. I tend to make the cake the evening before I want it so the ganache has overnight to set.

Et voila! It’s a very impressive looking cake on the outside with the beautiful glossy ganache finish. It becomes even more impressive when you slice into it. It can be a little nerve wracking as to whether the chess board pattern will have worked, and you won’t know until you cut into it, however I can guarantee you that it will draw some ‘oooh’s’ and ‘aaaaah’s’ when the cake is sliced! Hidden patterns within a cake always get a great reaction, and the method for creating such an impact is actually pretty simple, so why not give it a go?!

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Oreo Cupcakes!

As you may have seen from my earlier Oreo Cookie Brownie post, I heart Oreos. A while ago it was one of my work colleague’s birthdays, who is also an Oreo lover so I was eager to bake something appropriate for her. The brownie has become a staple ‘go-to’ bake for me, so I fancied trying something different, ideally cupcake based. I had a browse online and came across a lovely post for Oreo Cupcakes on Sweetharts Cakes & Bakes. It seemed a pretty simple recipe and the photos of the finished articles looked really lovely so I gave them a go.

You can see the recipe on Sweethearts page linked above, but I’ve detailed
below as well:

Ingredients:

For the Cupcakes:

  • 200g Plain Flour
  • 40g cocoa powder
  • 240g caster sugar
  • 3tsp baking powder
  • 80g unsalted butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 200ml milk
  • 2tsp vanilla extract
  • 16 whole Oreo’s

For the Frosting:

  • 175g softened unsalted butter
  • 350g sifted icing sugar
  • 1tsp vanilla extract
  • 1-2tbs milk
  • 3 or 4 crushed Oreo’s – Crushed in a food processor or in a sandwich bag with a rolling pin
Instructions:
1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C or gas mark 4. Line a cupcake baking tray with cupcake cases. Place a whole Oreo cookie into each case.
2. Sift the flour,cocoa powder,baking powder and salt into a bowl give it all a mix
3. In a separate bowl cream the butter and sugar together either with a handheld electric whisk or a free standing electric mixer until it is light and fluffy then add the vanilla extract and the eggs 1 at a time whisking them in slowly.
4. Alternate between adding the milk and flour mixing between additions to bring the batter together,adding any remaining flour at the end.
5. Spoon the mixture into the cupcake cases (I use an ice-cream scoop),covering the Oreo’s and filling the cases about 3/4 full. Bake in the oven for 18-20 minutes. The cakes are ready when a cocktail stick or skewer comes out of the centre clean.
6. Set on a cooling rack to cool completely.
7. To make the frosting, beat the butter and icing sugar together for a few minutes until it becomes smooth & fluffy. Add the milk a little at a time if the consistency is a bit thick.
8. Mix in a spoonful at a time of the crushed Oreo’s just until you get a speckled frosting. I like to hold a little back to be able to sprinkle the crumbs over the top of the finished cupcakes.
9. You can then top the sponges with the buttercream, either with a palette knife or using a piping bag and star nozzle. I finish by sprinkling Oreo crumbs over the top of the buttercream.
When I did them for my friend’s birthday I didn’t use a piping bag to frost as I was doing them on a ‘school night’ so used a palette knife to top them, which was pretty quick and easy. I have made them a second time and piped the frosting. What I would say, is that if you are going to pipe, ensure that you have quite a large open star nozzle. Because of the oreo crumbs in the buttercream they can get stuck in the nozzle which results in a wobbly uneven swirls.

Both times I made these cupcakes they went down an absolute storm! The sponge is really moist but surprisingly not too chocolatey or sickly. So if you are a fan of Oreos, I would absolutely recommend them! Thanks very much to Sweetharts, Cakes & Bakes for the fab recipe! The whole Oreo in the bottom of the cake is a real cheeky treat!

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My Favourite Carrot Cake

When I was growing up, I couldn’t get my head around carrot cake. Vegetables in cake? What’s that about?  I’ve also never been a fan of cake with fruit in it, and very often carrot cake would have sultanas in which I just couldn’t get on board with (still can’t!). Carrot cake was a particular favourite of my Nana’s, and if we’d go out on family trips anywhere and we stopped for a tea break she would always be after “A lovely bit of carrot cake” (said in her Irish accent!). Me, I’d be the typical kid and always steer towards the richest chocolate option on offer, a vegetable based cake was never going to get a look in. When my Husband (then boyfriend) told me carrot cake was one of his favourite cakes, I figured I should find a good recipe to make one for him, I thought maybe my tastes would have changed so I should give it a go myself! Being a big fan of Hummingbird I guessed their carrot cake recipe would be a good place to start. Turns out I was right, and not a sultana in sight, thank goodness!

This recipe offers a perfectly moist, slightly spiced carrot cake which is offset by the yummy cream cheese frosting. I made a tiny tweak to the recipe for the frosting to add the zest of one orange which gives it a fresh zing which stops it being a little to rich or sickly. This recipe has become a particular favourite in our household, it’s pretty versatile and can be decorated simply without the sides covered with some walnuts on top, or you can go a little fancier, coat the sides to fully cover the cake and put aside some of the frosting, colour it orange and green and pipe little carrots on top. Below are a few different versions I have done using this recipe.

So here’s my favourite, ever reliable carrot cake recipe:

Equipment – 3 x 20 cm cake tine, base lined with greaseproof paper

Ingredients:

  • 300g soft light brown sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 300ml sunflower oil
  • 300g plain flour
  • 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 300g carrots, grated
  • 100g shelled walnuts, chopped, plus extra, to decorate

For the Frosting:

  • 600g icing sugar, sifted
  • 100g unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 250g cream cheese, cold
  • Zest of 1 orange

Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 170 degrees C (325 degrees F/Gas mark 3)
  2. Put the sugar, eggs and oil in a freestanding electric mixer with a paddle attachment (or use a handheld electric whisk) and beat until all the ingredients are well incorporated (don’t worry if the mixture looks slightly split.
  3. Slowly add the flour, bicarbonate of soda, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, salt and vanilla extract and continue to beat until well mixed. I find at this stage the mixture looks like gloopy peanut butter!

 

4. Stir in the grated carrots and walnuts by hand until they are all evenly dispersed.

 

 

5. Pour the mixture into the prepared cake tins and smooth over with a palette knife.

6. Bake in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes, or until golden brown and the sponge bounces back when touched. Leave the cakes to cool slightly in the tins before turning out onto a wire cooling rack to cool completely.

7. To make the frosting, beat the icing sugar and butter together in a freestanding electric mixer with a paddle attachment (or use a handheld electric whisk) on a medium-slow speed until the mixture comes together and is well mixed. Add the cream cheese in one go, as well as the orange zest and beat until it is completely incorporated. Turn the mixer up to a medium-high speed. Continue beating until the frosting is light and fluffy, at least 5 minutes. Don’t over-beat as it can quickly become runny.

8. When the cakes are cold, put one on a cake stand/plate and spread about one-quarter of the frosting over with a palette knife. Place the second on top and spread another quarter of the frosting over it. Top with the last cake and spread the remaining frosting over the top and sides. If you don’t want to cover the sides, then you should use a little more of the frosting when doing the layering. You can finish off by decorating the top with walnuts and a sprinkling of cinnamon.

 

If you want to do little carrots, put some of the frosting aside before you cover the cake, colour some orange and some green with colouring gel, I use sugarflair,I’d recommend this over liquid colouring which will make the frosting too runny. Use a small circular piping nozzle used for writing and put the orange frosting in, then pipe a line for the top of the carrot triangle, then come back under the line in the opposite direction doing a slightly shorter line and repeat reducing the width of the lines down to a point to create the triangle shape of the carrot. Then using the same nozzle and the green frosting pipe little lines fanning out from the top of the carrot to create the green sprouts of the carrot top! I found it was best to do a couple of practice tries on a plate before piping onto the cake just to get the technique how I wanted it.

I find this cake so versatile, if you didn’t want a 3 tier cake and just wanted a traditional sandwich cake then just reduce the quantities down by a third.

 

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Slimming World Pancakes!

I love pancakes! It’s ridiculous to me that they should be confined to being eaten one day a year. When looking at this recipe which I found online I figured they wouldn’t taste like pancakes, but just like a sweet omelette. However, I was wrong! These pancakes are really tasty and genuinely taste like pancakes. It may have helped that I served them up real pancake style with bananas, blueberries and a drizzle of maple syrup (for a few syns!), but these really felt like a treat breakfast. They used to be classes as syn -free but the recent changes to the syn value of sweetener would make these 3 syns in total.

If you’re not a fan of sweetener or are looking for something with a lower syn value then check out my half syn pancake recipe:

Ingredients (makes 2 pancakes)

  • 6 tbsp sweetener
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 egg
  • Fry Light

 Instructions

  1. Separate the egg yolk and egg white into separate bowls
  2. Add 3 tbsp of sweetener to the egg white. Using an electric mixer, whisk up the egg white until it makes stiff peaks
  3. Add the vanilla extract and the rest of the sweetener to the egg yolk and mix well.
  4. Fold the egg yolk into the egg white mixture
  5. Spray a pan with Fry Light and pour half the mixture into the pan. After a few minutes flip the pancake over,
  6. Take the pancake out a few minutes later, and repeat the cooking process with the rest of the mixture.
  7. Serve them up with your favourite pancake topping and enjoy!

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Christmas Chocolate Snowball Cake!

In December Bolton’s Clandestine Cake Club had the theme of ‘Jingle all the Way’. I knew straight away what Christmas themed cake I wanted to do. My Chocolate Snowball cake has become my ‘go to’ Christmas dessert recipe as I’m not a fan of Christmas pudding so this is what I usually bake.

It’s a very dense chocolate sponge with a simple vanilla buttercream. I love the contrast of the dark chocolate colour against the white topping, it’s quite impressive when you cut into it, and even though it’s a bit of a beast of a cake, it’s not too rich or sickly. I think the vanilla goes well with the chocolate sponge and stops it being too rich.

Ingredients:

For the Sponge:

  • 230g good quality dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa solids)
  • 170g unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 350g light soft brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs, separated
  • 370g plain flour, sifted
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 500ml semi-skimmed milk, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

For the frosting:

  • 500g icing sugar
  • 160g unsalted butter, softened
  • 50ml whole milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Uses two 20cm sandwich tins

Instructions:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 170 degrees C/375 degrees F/gas mark 5. Grease and line two 20cm cake tins with greaseproof paper.
  2. Break the chocolate into pieces and place in a microwave safe-safe bowl. Melt on a medium setting in 30-second bursts until completely melted. Stir well between each session. Alternatively, place the chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of barely simmering water. Stir occasionally until completely melted. Set the bowl aside to cool.
  3. In a large mixing bowl cream the butter and sugar until the mixture is pale and smooth, which should take 3-5 minutes using an electric hand mixer. Put the egg yolks in a separate bowl and beat them for several minutes. Slowly add the egg yolks to the creamed butter and sugar and beat well. Add the cooled chocolate to this mixture and again beat well.
  4. Combine the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt in a separate bowl. Combine the milk and vanilla extract in a jug. Add one third of the flour to the creamed mixture and beat well. Pour in one third of the milk and beat again. Repeat these steps until tall the flour and milk have been added.
  5. In a clean bowl whisk the egg whites, with clean beaters, until soft peaks start to foam. Carefully fold the egg whites into the main batter using a metal spoon (do not beat or you will take all the air out of the mixture.) I find at this point that the batter is almost mousse like, it’s not a usual cake mixture consistency. Divide the mixture evenly between the tins and bake for about 30 minutes. Insert a skewer in the centre of the cakes – it should come out clean when it’s cooked.
  6. Remove from the oven and leave the cakes in their tins for 10 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool. Peel the greaseproof paper from the bases of the cakes.
  7. Whilst the sponges are cooling make the buttercream frosting. Sift the icing sugar into a bowl, add the butter and whisk on a low speed using an electric whisk or a freestanding electric mixer with the paddle attachment, until fully combined and a sandy consistency. Add the vanilla essence to the milk and pour into the butter and icing sugar while still mixing on a low speed, then increase the speed to high and whisk the frosting until light and fluffy.
  8. When the sponges are completely cooled sandwich the two layers together with the vanilla frosting and cover the top and sides generously. Use a fork to create texture on the outside of the cake.

 

I like to add a little translucent glitter over the top of the cake too as it adds a nice Christmassy shimmer!

 

Oreo Cookie Brownie!

This is a really simple recipe that has become a firm favourite in our household. It’s such a yummy moist brownie, and the Oreos are an extra little sneaky treat. Whenever I’ve made these for friends and family they’ve been well received, and I made these for the Horwich Christmas Fair cake stall, and they sold pretty well. It’s a Lorraine Pascale recipe, and I’ve found it’s consistently reliable whenever I make it.

Here’s the recipe:

Requires one 20cm square baking tin

Ingredients:

  • 165g butter, plus extra for greasing
  • 200g dark chocolate, grated or finely chopped
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 egg yolks
  • Seeds of 1 vanilla pod or 2 tsp vanilla extract (I tend to use the extract)
  • 165g soft light brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp plain flour
  • 1 tbsp cocoa powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 154g pack of Oreo biscuits, broken into quarters

Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C, Gas mark 5 with the middle shelf ready. Grease the baking tin, then line with baking paper with the paper overlapping the sides a little
  2. Melt the butter in a pan over a medium heat. When the butter has melted, remove the pan from the heat and add the grated chocolate. Leave to stand for a few minutes until the chocolate goes soft then stir together.
  3. Whisk the eggs, egg yolks and vanilla together in a large bowl until they begin to get light and fluffy. Add the sugar in two additions, whisking between each. Pour it around the side of the egg mix so as not to knock out the air that has been whisked into it. Keep whisking until the mixture becomes stiffer. Once the egg mixture is ready pour the chocolate into it, again around the sides so as not to knock the air out.
  4. Add the flour, cocoa powder, salt and a third of the oreos and stir until fully combined, then pour the mixture into the prepared tin. Scatter the remaining oreos over the top, pressing them in slightly. Bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes. The middles should be very so slightly gooey.
  5. Leave the brownies in the tin to cool. The top will sink and crack a little. Pull the brownies out using the overlapping paper and cut the brownies into squares.

If you’re not a fan of oreos, you can substitute them for toasted walnuts, pecans or sprinkle the brownies with honeycomb. I may mix it up and try some other variations in the future, but I’m still not bored with the oreos yet as they’re so yummy!

I couldn’t resist posting the below pic which was taken at the Horwich Christmas Fair of my brownie on the cake stall! I’m pleased with how awesome it looks! Puts my food photography to shame!

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Horwich Christmas fair & Christmas Candy Cane Cupcakes!

Earlier this year I got involved in a Summer Fair which had been Co-organised by my friend and Clandestine Cake Club organiser (@dollybakes www.dollybakes.co.uk) to raise money for the Bolton Neo Natal unit. So when there was talk of a Christmas Fair, I was tripping over myself to volunteer to help out again!  The Horwich Christmas fair took place yesterday, and It was a fantastic event to be involved in. I think the final figure is still to be released, but I believe we raised over £1000 for such a fantastic cause!

My task for the day was to run the cake stall, where we asked local baking enthusiasts to  donate some of their produce for us to sell. Of course as a keen baker myself I felt it important to donate a variety of tasty treats myself and it being Christmas, it was only appropriate to do something festive themed. To my trusty Hummingbird Cake Days book I turned, knowing there would be something which would fit the bill. I selected the Candy Cane cupcakes as they seemed a good Christmassy choice of cupcake flavour, and I’m a fan of duo colour frosting swirl designs. I had been given a recommendation on how to do two colours in one piping bag which is different to how I would usually do it so I was keen to give that a try as well. I’m pleased with how the cupcakes turned out, they looked fantastic and tasted lovely, very festive. Here’s the recipe:

Makes 12-16 Cupcakes

Ingredients:

For the sponge:

  • 80g unsalted butter, softened
  • 280g caster sugar 240g plain flour
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 240ml whole milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 2 large eggs

For the Frosting:

  • 500g Icing Sugar
  • 160g unsalted butter, softened
  • 4 tsp Peppermint Essence
  • 50ml whole milk
  • 1 tsp christmas red food colouring
  • Transparent sugar/glitter for sprinkling

One or 2 12 hole deep muffin tins & piping bag with a medium-sized nozzle.

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 190 degrees C, gas mark 5, and line a muffin tin with muffin cases
  2. Using a hand-held electric whisk or a freestanding electric mixer with a paddle attachment, slowly whisk together the butter, sugar, flour, baking powder and salt until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.
  3. Place the milk in a jug with the vanilla essence, add the eggs and whisk together by hand. Pour three quarters of the whisked milk and eggs into the dry ingredients and mix on a low speed to combine. Increase the speed to medium and continue to mix until smooth and thick. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, add the remaining milk mixture and keep mixing on a medium speed until all the ingredients are incorporated and the batter is smooth once again.
  4. Spoon the batter into the muffin cases, filling each one up to two-thirds. If any batter is left, use it to fill up more cases in the other tin. Bake in the oven for 18-20 minutes or until well risen and springy to the touch. Leave to cool in the tray for a few minutes, then place on a wire rack to cool completely before you add the frosting.
  5. Using the electric whisk or the freestanding mixer with the paddle attachment, beat the icing sugar with the butter and peppermint essence on a low speed until the mixture is sandy in consistency, with no large lumps of butter left in the bowl.
  6. Gradually add the milk and slowly mix until incorporated, then increase the speed to high and whisk until light and fluffy. Divide the frosting into two, leaving one as it is and mixing the food colouring into the second batch.
  7. Lay a large segment of cling film on a flat surface and spoon one of the batches of frosting onto it creating a long log of frosting. Roll it up with the cling film, then do the same with the other batch of frosting so you have two logs of the same thickness and length. Wrap both the logs side by side with another sheet of cling film and snip off one end of the cling film and drop the log into your piping bag. When you pipe, from the edge of the cupcake into the centre the two colours should come out side by side creating the candy cane effect. Then sprinkle with the glitter/transparent sugar.

 

 

‘To bake’ list!

I have been such a massive fan of GBBO this year, it’s been the first series that i’ve watched and it’s safe to say that I’ve been absolutely hooked. It’s given me a bit of a nudge to try and push myself to expand my baking experience and try some new things. I treated myself to the book which accompanied the series, and I would absolutely recommend it to anyone who enjoyed the show, or even if you didn’t see it, there are some fantastic recipes in there, so give it a go!

I have found that over the past few years as my interest in baking has increased, the selection of baking books on my shelf has also expanded somewhat. If I’m honest, to the point where I’d buy a new book, flick through and pick out recipes that I wanted to try, then the book would return to the shelf, and I’d totally forget the many delicious treats that had caught my eye!

I decided that I needed to be more proactive. I am quite an organised person, and love nothing more than a list to work through to give me a bit of direction so with this in mind, I sat down, (cup of tea and slice of cake to hand of course), took out a stack of my recipe books and worked my way through, creating a ‘To Bake list’. I hadn’t realised how behind I had got, by the time I finished, I had a full A4 page list of treats to bake!

So, over the next few months, I am aiming to tick off at least one item from the list each week. I have to admit I’m a little out of order with my blog posts, as I created the list prior to baking the Zebra cake (last post) and that was one of the top items on the list! I’ll be tracking my progress through the list on here, so you can see how I get on. In fact, if you’re like me and want to get a bit more organised with your baking, why not sit down and create your own ‘to bake’ list!?