Baking made simple · cake · It's a piece of cake

Seriously is it December! It’s not too late to feed a fruit cake for Christmas!

I love this time of year. That aromatic, gorgeous smell of fruit cake baking at home, puts you in that Christmas spirit. My husband is not a fan of fruit cake, but the smell of it baking in the oven, he just loves. Those fruity, cinnamon, nutmeg aromas that it releases. And I’m sure you will agree with me, on how delicious and juicy, the Spanish lemons and oranges are!! What better way to make a fruit cake, with such fresh ingredients. I’m just in awe of the stunning trees with the biggest and brightest colours I’ve seen. My favourite place to eat is in Estepona square, or Marbella, Plaza de los Naranjos (oranges). You can sit in the square surrounded by orange trees. What better way to have lunch or coffee with fresh aromas. Mmmmmm…..

Ok let’s get back to fruit cake! As we have just mentioned the fruit here is too good to waste. So grate off the lemon and orange zest. And squeeze those juices and let’s use it to soak your fruit for your cake in.

There are a few watch outs when baking a fruit cake. Especially when we don’t always bake one throughout the year. In the past, where I have got it wrong, I ended up either with a dry fruit cake or a cake with fruit all on the bottom, or the outside being baked more than the inside. Causing a raw middle or the sides to be over baked that the raisins got burnt!

To help prevent these problems, you need to take time not to forget a few vital preparation steps. Such as:

1. To prevent the mixed fruit drying out. Heat to the boil and simmer the mixed fruit with brandy or tea (for a non-alcoholic cake), for about 10 minutes. I add the lemon and orange juices and the zest to this too. Leave over night ideally or till cooled before you mix in with the cake mixture.

2. To help the cake bake at the right temperature throughout. Tie a damp cloth around your baking tin. This helps prevent the outside getting over baked.

3. Put a heating core in the middle of your tin, before adding the mixture. This helps heat your cake mixture evenly, throughout the tin. Preventing the middle of the cake being under baked compared to the outside.

4. Take the time to cut out baking parchment to put on the bottom and sides of your tin. As you will need to cool the cake in the tin later. So makes it a lot easier to take out after.

5. To prevent the fruit sinking to the bottom of the cake. Dust the fruit with flour just before you mix it in with the mixture.

6. That beautiful spice to your cake. If you can’t find mixed spices (I had this problem at the store). So I mixed up some ginger, cardamom, nutmeg, cinnamon). And added bay leaves to the boiling fruit mixture.

7. Once your cake is cooled. Make a few holes on top with a toothpick. Wrap it in baking parchment and then foil. Feeding the cake with 2 tsp of brandy or strong tea once a week. Keep in an airtight container. Do not feed it for 24 hours before you want to cover with royal icing. This will prevent the icing from getting moist.

I am sure there are many other top tips on baking a fruit cake. Please share with me yours.

Here is the fruit cake recipe I use with apples as well!

INGREDIENTS

200g plain flour

200g butter

200g brown sugar

3 eggs

1 tsp baking powder

1tsp mixed spice

1 tsp cinnamon

2tsp vanilla extract

1tsp almond extract

1 juice of a lemon juice and grated zest

1 juice of an orange and grated zest

300g mixed fruit (sultanas, raisins)

2 apples grated

100ml tea or brandy

METHOD

1. In a pot add fruit, orange and lemon juice and zest (strain the juices through a sieve, to avoid pips going into the pot). Add the tea or brandy and a couple of bay leaves. Bring to the boil and simmer for 10 minutes. Allow to cool overnight.

2. Pre-heat the oven to 150 degrees Celsius fan. Prepare your 20cm baking tin with grease proof paper, heating core and wrap the tin in a damp dishcloth or newspaper.

3. Mix the butter and sugar. Once mixed add the eggs one at a time, mixing well in between.

4. Dust the fruit with flour. This is such an important step!!

5. Add the rest of the flour, spices, vanilla and almond extract. Mix well.

6. Spoon in the fruit mixture carefully.

7. Pour into the baking tin. Put in the oven for 50 minutes to an hour. Until the centre of the cake is baked.

8. Leave in the baking tin till cooled. Once cool take out of the tin. Wrap in baking paper and then foil. Prick a few holes on top and feed the cake with 2 tsp of brandy or tea once a week.

Ready to enjoy for Christmas 😍

Baking made simple · cake · It's a piece of cake

Cupcakes little delights or total nightmare???

When you have a light, fluffy cupcake it’s a joy to eat and admire, with a delicious buttercream topping!! But not sure if you have suffered from cupcake baking. Argh 😀 the amount of things that can go wrong!! Sunken…. over spillage…..over risen….unequal sizes…… square 😫

I thought I had cracked a good cupcake. But having recently moved to Spain. Everything seemed to go wrong. From not being used to the temperature of my new oven, to not understanding Spanish when buying my cake mixture. After wadding through the Spanish supermarket, with my Google translate at hand. I finally managed to crack a cupcake in Spain 😝.

I have pulled together some top tips to help:

1. Test one out in the oven first. This will help you decide on, how much mixture to put in the cupcake and how long to bake them for.

2. Do it on a low temperature. Around 150 degrees celsius for big cupcakes and mini cupcakes I do it on 140 degrees celsius fan oven. This avoids the cupcakes baking on too high a temperature. Preventing the cake from forming a dome or cracking.

3. It’s so easy when you have all your ingredients on the table to mix up baking powder and bicarbonate of soda, especially if reading it in Spanish. This is super important not to mix up. Too much bicarbonate of soda, can give you a funny taste in your cake. As well as the cake rising too quick.

4. If you don’t have a cupcake baking tray, I tend to double up the cupcake cases. Or you can buy cupcake cases that are lined with grease proofing. They prevent the bottom of the cupcakes having an oily bottom and prevent the cupcake falling over in the oven. Plus it helps keep the shape round. No to square!

5. I use baking parchment on the tray the cupcakes cases sit on. Again this helps remove any of that greasiness you can get when baking cupcakes.

6. To ensure all your cupcakes are the same size. Precision is created with a digital weighing scale to weigh out the mix. In a medium size cupcake holder I tend to weight out 42g and in a mini one I weigh out about 30g. Remember your mixture will rise and you don’t want it to over spill.

7. When placing the cupcakes on the baking tray. Do not put them too close to each other. They need space to do their thing.

8. The most difficult thing to avoid, is not opening the oven door. Just sit and relax with a cup of tea. Avoid opening before 10mins of being in the oven. Otherwise you will have sunken cupcakes.

When you get this right it’s such a joy!! And then you get creative and add other things to your cupcakes. Like yummy ferrero rocher.

Baking made simple · cake · It's a piece of cake

Just a slice of Chocolate Cake? “The hidden vegetable – courgette”

At first sight, this chocolatey cake looks so naughty. Simmer down πŸ˜ƒ you can enjoy, without worrying so much. Oh no…. too much sugar….. too much butter…… With the increase in children parties. It has become more important to find recipes that have less butter, sugar and substitutes for nuts. And yet to find a cake that is still tasty and moist. My sister-in-law said she had tried baking healthy cakes for my nieces. But each time they tried it they were not convinced, it was tasty enough to substitute for a “cake” 😜. Then my mum mentioned, she had gone to a party, and couldn’t believe how good a courgette and walnut cake tasted. So here goes, I put it to the test, slightly dubious to start with. But OMG I will never doubt the courgette again!

This recipe is mummies dreams come true. Instead of butter it has olive oil. Instead of nuts for extra flavour, you can use orange zest. It reminds me of Terry’s orange chocolate. And the ingredient that brings it all together, is a courgette. After trying this recipe, you may feel like I do. Why are courgettes underused in cakes???? It gives the cake a beautiful moistness and what’s more your friends will never know you used it, if disguised in chocolate πŸ˜‹

INGREDIENTS

500g Courgette (2 medium)

175ml Olive oil

3 Eggs

2 tsp Vanilla essence

50g Cocoa powder

350g Caster sugar

350g self raising flour

1tsp salt

1tsp Orange zest

METHOD

1. Pre-heat the oven to 160 degrees Celsius fan and grease a baking tray.

2. Take off the skin of the courgette and grate.

3. Mix olive oil, sugar, egg, vanilla essence, courgette and orange zest together

4. Mix the flour and cocoa powder together.

5. Combine the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Mix well.

6. Put into the baking tray and bake for 40-50 minutes or until baked.

Baking made simple · cake · It's a piece of cake

It’s like Play-doh; Modelling Fondant

I just love using modelling fondant. It takes me back to my childhood…… playing with play-doh 😍. Remember those days, being creative and mixing up colours? Well you can still be a kid😁. I get my son involved too. When I’m making leaves, we spend time in the garden picking leaves together. It’s so simple, no tools needed! Just press (so the veins of the leaf appear) the leaf against rolled out green fondant. Cut around it, fold it down the middle and let it dry upside down. Use a folded paper for it to rest against.

Not only is it fun to work with, but you get to use it, to decorate your cakes. I tend to make mine a week before I actually need it. This gives me time to play around with the colours, shapes and sizes. Without stressing about baking and icing the cake. It is also a great way, to help make a cake look complete and alive.

To help you use fondant. I have pulled together a few tips:

1. Make sure it is modelling fondant you are using, and not fondant you use to roll out on a cake. The latter fondant, will not harden and may collapse in the heat. It can also feel sticky and difficult to keep its shape.

2. You can buy different colours of modelling fondant. But a lot of the time, you will need to mix colours to make the desired figures. You can mix two different coloured fondants together, to give the colour you want. Or add a little gel paste food colouring. To ensure you get an equal colour throughout, roll the fondant in a ball in your hands and keep stretching it and rolling it into a ball until you have an equal colour throughout.

3. Once I have opened a packet, if I don’t use all the fondant. I wrap it really well in cling film. This keeps it airtight and reusable. If you don’t do this you will have fondant that is gritty, and unusable.

4. It’s fine if it feels hard to start with. Don’t worry as you work it with your warm hands it will become softer. If it feels too soft to work with, just pop it in the fridge for 10-15 minutes.

5. If you do not like your model. You can just take it apart or bits off, and start again. That’s the beauty of modelling fondant πŸ˜…

Look at my Pudsey bear the first time I did it. He came out so fat, so I managed to slim him down.

6. Once you are happy with your model; to harden it, let it air dry. Sometimes that is not enough. So pop it in the oven with the light on for about 10-15mins. Make sure you don’t put the heat on.

7. Store them in an airtight container. They should stay hard and easy to put on your cake.

Check out my video on how to make rosesΒ fondant roses. Have fun!! You can do this with the kids… as long as they are not eating it at the same time.

Baking made simple

Monday morning feeling…..go healthy, organic…. But first Coffee

Ever had that problem on a Monday morning!!!! “I need to get back into healthy mode after the weekend!!!” Last night I decided to bake homemade granola. My husband asked me….. “Why?? When we can buy it?” I don’t know about you, but I am constantly having that problem of finding a granola, that’s healthy and not too sweet and not too much oil. I have tried so many brands and still not found the right one for me.

So I finally tried to bake my own….. and OMG it’s amazing!! I just grabbed all the things I love, from my kitchen cabinets. To me granola is like making your own cocktail πŸ˜‹ minus the alcohol. In this recipe I don’t use any sugar. has less sugar. Instead I use honey or maple syrup, and raisins or cranberries to naturally sweeten it. Depending on how crumbly or chunky you want your granola; will determine the quantity of olive oil. I don’t use too much just enough to give my granola a golden colour and help bind it a little.

Kid friendly! You can add whatever your little one can eat. Mine is less than 1 Years so no honey, salt or nuts for him! So I just add raisins and a touch of maple syrup to his. I love it, we can enjoy the same breakfast together 😍

This recipe is your chance to throw in your favourite organic ingredients….. mix it!…… Bake it!…. sprinkle it on Greek yoghurt! And throw in a few fresh berries! Monday morning gone from “oh noooo” to “yes to Monday’s”.

INGREDIENTS

2 cups rolled organic oats

1 cup Desiccated coconut

1/4 cup Pecans & or Pistachios

2-3 tbsp Honey or maple syrup

2-3 tbsp Olive oil

1/4 cup Raisins or cranberries

1/4 cup pumpkin & or sunflower seeds

Pinch of salt

1/2 tsp of vanilla essence

METHOD

1. Oven on to 160 degrees celsius.

2. Combine all your ingredients and mix very well. squeeze the oats together so you get clumps.

3. Layout on a baking tray.

4. Bake for 10 minutes, until golden brown.

Baking made simple

Norwegian creamy, lemony, fruity cheesecake 😍😍😍

This summer we spent a few weeks at the Fjord in Norway. Where my in-laws have a summer cabin. Once a year all the people who stay at the Fjord have a summer feast. It’s so beautiful, as my mother-in-law says like a big community family 😍.

 

It was great everyone brought a dish each. There must have been 100 people and we all ate loads, drank loads, laughed and danced our hearts out πŸ˜ƒ.

At this festival my husband was eating the dessert and just fell in love πŸ˜† with this amazing cheesecake. The lady who made it; asked him what he thought of it!! He was just in a daze at how good it tasted. And he kept going on and on about it that night. That was it; the next day, I said to my mother-in- law we needed to get this recipe. So she would sit outside her cabin and every time any ladies walked by, she would call us to see if it was the same lady, that made the cheesecake. This went on for two weeks. Finally the cheesecake lady walked past……… only for us to realise it was their next door neighbour πŸ˜…. She was so happy to tell us the recipe. With the help of my husband translating it for me. I gave it ago….. shared it with my family in London and they could not stop digging in. It was like watching that episode of “Friends”, when Chandler and Rachel fought over the cheesecake that fell on the floor πŸ˜†. At the end of our dinner my sister and husband were fighting over the last slice. Seeing who could get to it first πŸ˜‚.

I hope you enjoy it as much as we all did!!!

INGREDIENTS

280g digestive biscuit

110g unsalted butter

300ml double cream

300ml sour cream

250g cream cheese

1 tsp vanilla extract

110g icing sugar

Zest of one lemon

2 sachets of jelly

Blueberries and rasberries

METHOD

1. Crush the biscuits in a Robochef or I find a bag and rolling pin does the trick

2. Melt the butter and mix well the crushed digestive biscuit with a spoon. Press the mix in a tin to form a layer about half an inch. Put in the fridge for 20 minutes.

3. Mix the sour cream, cream cheese, lemon zest, vanilla extract together.

4. Separately whip the double cream till thick. Whip it on a medium speed. Do not over whisk it will turn into curd. Which will prevent that fluffy creamy layer in the middle. Fold the cream into the mixture.

5. Pour the mixture onto the biscuit layer in the tin. Place in the fridge for 45 minutes.

6. Make up the jelly with half the amount of water recommendations on the packet. And let it cool.

7. Place the berries onto the creamed mixture and pour the jelly on top. Just to cover the fruit. As some fruit may float to the top. Put the tin in the fridge till the jelly has set.

8. Take the tin out of the fridge and pour more jelly on top to ensure all fruit is covered. Put back in the fridge to set and chill till you serve.

I highly recommend you cut a big enough slice for yourself first!

Baking made simple · cake

Autumn basket of carrot cake

 

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“Autumn is in the air, with a moist carrot cake”

What better way to get your spirits up, with the end of Summer. Than to have that warm smell of toasted nuts and cinnamon spices. And of course an autumn vegetable, like carrots. To give you a delicious moist carrot cake. πŸ˜‹

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To get the aromas in the kitchen. Toast the walnuts before you add it to the cake. Just make them golden, so watch them closely to avoid them burning. Another option of nuts to use are pecans πŸ˜‹ or try out your favourite nut and share!

The only thing that takes long to prepare, is grating the carrots. Other than that mix everything together. If you don’t have an electric mixer it’s easy to mix by hand too.

I’ve added buttermilk to my recipe, as an extra touch to give that added moistness.

I’ve also reduced the sugar quantity in this recipe. I found having both caster sugar and light brown sugar, can make the cake too sweet if too much is added.

For the frosting I recommend a soft frosting in between the layers. But if you are going to do piping decorations. Use a frosting with more butter and icing sugar. As it holds better, making piping patterns on the cake later easier to hold its shape. While I was piping the basket onto the cake. I had to put the cake and frosting in the fridge half way during piping to cool the mixture down. I think my kitchen was too hot on that day too. So definitely keep space in your fridge.

Ingredients for cake
400g plain flour
200g caster sugar
200g light brown sugar
450ml sunflower oil
2& 1/2 tsp cinnamon powder
1/2 tsp salt
5 eggs
500g carrots
2 tbsp buttermilk
1/2 tsp Bicarbonate soda
1& 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp Vanilla extract
150g walnuts

Cream cheese frosting inside layers
250g cream cheese
50g butter
25g icing sugar
Few drops of vanilla extract

Cream cheese frosting for piping
250g cream cheese
120g butter
4 cups icing sugar
Few drops of vanilla extract
Gel paste food colouring to give the colour on the basket

 

1. Set your oven to 160 degrees Celsius and grease 2 round tins
2. Grate the carrots
3. Chop the walnuts and roast on a frying pan. (Make sure they don’t burn).
4. Mix together the flour, brown sugar, caster sugar, cinnamon, salt, baking powder, soda bicarbonate.
5. Mix in the oil and vanilla extract.
6. Whisk separately the eggs and add to the mixture. Along with the buttermilk.
7. Once the mixture is mixed well. Stir in with a spoon the carrots and walnuts.
8. Pour the mixture in your greased trays making sure equal quantities in both.

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9. Put in the oven for an hour to 1hour and 10 mins. Check with a knife that’s it’s baked before you take it out.
10. Once cooled level the cakes with a knife.

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Cream cheese frosting
1. Mix the cream cheese, icing sugar, butter and vanilla extract. Put the non piping one in between the layers.

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Look out for my blog in the week on how to decorate this moist cakeπŸ€—