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!
200g plain flour
200g brown sugar
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
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 😍
“The Big Conversion”
For the past four years, my husband has been telling me we should move to Spain. Every time I would groan, “but I don’t know anyone” or “my family are all in London”. But he would keep trying to convince me. Finally a year ago while I was pregnant, with my son. I was walking in the horrid, cold, windy, dark morning to work. And thought this is crazy, once I have my son I will be stuck indoors. So finally, I said we could move to Spain. The first thing I did was research places to meet other mums and dads. That’s when I came across “Baby Cakes Marbella”. Ashley, had just started up Baby Cakes Marbella (follow on Facebook) for mums to meet other mums. It’s so relaxed and fun. Ashley is fantastic she sings, reads to the kids and even has a bubble machine 😍. The kids love it dancing and laughing and having a great time. And us mums love it, we get to plan our mums night out. (while the dads look after the little ones). Plus it’s helped our husbands connect. Ashley is phenomenal she does these events along the Costa del Sol. She knows every kids name and has created this amazing family community.
Making new friends here has just been so amazing. And has helped us see, how different our lifestyle will be in Spain. It has also given me more time to tap into my love of baking and designing wedding cakes. I just love finding new recipes. Especially those that are great for children. So I started this blog page, www.bakewitht.com to show how simple it can be to bake at home.
When I first came here, I found it so hard to find the ingredients I know how to bake with. But having found Morrisons in Gibraltar and Iceland in Marbella. Has helped so much. My son and I, recently were in Iceland in Marbella. I cannot describe how amazing all the staff were. The guy at the till (I wish I took his name) was incredible. I know this sounds strange, but I got overexcited to see things I knew, and ended up buying more than I originally thought. To the point, I must have looked like a helpless mum trying to push my son round in his pram. The guy at the till, just took my fears away. Jumped off the till and helped me take all my shopping bags to the car. Phew 😅 a life-saver! No need to look clumsy walking out the store. He just made my day! World class customer service! This is why I just love it here, everyone is just so welcoming and it’s a wonderful community.
I would love to invite you all, to follow me on bakewitht.com. I have some delicious recipes for everyone. My favourite is my husband’s, Bestemor (grandma) from Norway. Has a wonderful bread recipe she’s been using for over 70 years. The advantage of making it here, is the Spanish supermarkets, have fresh yeast 😋 Test it! Try it! Ping back your review!
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 😅
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 roses fondant roses. Have fun!! You can do this with the kids… as long as they are not eating it at the same time.
Meringues used to always be one of my fears to make. Just because, I’m terrible with being extra careful in splitting the egg whites from the yolk. But my husband loves a good Eton mess. So I had no choice but to give it a go. Between my friend, from University and I, we tested out all the tricks on the internet. And shared the learns on What’sApp. And guess what?? It turned out, it’s not actually hard! You just need to use the little tricks. See the troubleshooting guide below. It should give you a crunchy meringue, soft and chewy in the centre. With beautiful shapes that hold. At the end, you will spend most of your time deciding how you want to eat them. My friend loves hers with cream and a berry sauce. I love a mini bite of Eton mess or a great way to top a cupcake!!
3 egg whites
115g caster sugar
1 tsp Vanilla essence (orange zest/ drop of colouring)
1 tsp Cornflour
Troubleshooting guide to good meringues
1. Preheat the oven to 120 degrees Celsius.
2. Use half a lemon to wipe clean your mixing bowl. The acid breaks down any fat deposits on the bowl. This step is so important to help the meringue whisk to form peaks.
3. Using fresh eggs, will help the meringues to keep shape. Crack each egg putting the egg white into a separate bowl. This is to ensure no yolk is mixed in. When you are happy with it, pour into your clean mixing bowl.
4. Whisk the egg whites on a slow speed till they form peaks.
5. Take your time with this step. With half the sugar, add a spoon at a time to the egg white. Increasing the speed. Adding too much sugar, too quick will loose your beautiful peaks. Whisk in the rest of the sugar. Then add a little more lemon juice to help stabilise the mixture.
6. Add the cornflour. This helps give that chewy centre. 😋
7. Add a little vanilla essence and of orange zest or a little colouring.
8. On a baking tray put a dab of meringue mix in the corners. Putting baking parchment on top. This prevents the parchment moving when you pipe shapes.
9. Put the mixture into a piping bag with your favourite nozzle. Pipe away all your friends favourite shapes and sizes.
10. Put in the oven for an hour at 120 degrees Celsius and then lower to 90 degrees Celsius for another 30 minutes.
11. Essential step.
Pour a cup of tea and relax.
12. They will be ready when they lift off the baking parchment and you can tap the bottom.
Merigues now less stressful to make!
Please tell me it’s not just me! My little one is just too fast for me. I just took my eye off him for a few seconds and the next thing I know, he’s managed to grab the salty Ritz box…. crackers all over the the floor and he’s happily munching away 😫. I felt so bad seeing, those little eyes so sad, when I took them out of his hands. He started trying to grab the crumbs off the floor. When I grabbed his hands he tried to push his face against the floor, to try and lick any crumbs. So I was on a mission, to find him a healthy biscuit. Having just come to Spain. I have struggled to find in the shops, handheld food like rice cakes or biscuits for him. In London and Norway, it was so easy to find great baby snacks. Everyone said go to Morrisons in Gibraltar, but I haven’t had the chance to go. I tried Iceland in Marbella. They had so many amazing British food, including a massive aisle for tea 😃. But the baby section, was literally a sad little one module.
So I decided to look into biscuits to bake for him. I managed to find loads made of just plain flour, butter and cheese. But I still wanted to find something more healthy. And then finally, after two days of googling. I found this amazing recipe. It’s so simple, quick and full off oats, apples and bananas. I have even made it with pear instead of apples. Not only that, you can go organic.
My little one can get the sweetness from the apple and bananas, flavours from the vanilla and cinnamon and crunch from the oats! Giving him an energy boost.
Such a win win… happy baby… happy mummy 😍
1 and 1/2 cups thin rolled oats
2 ripe bananas
1/4 cup of puréed apples
A sprinkle of cinnamon powder
1/4 teaspoon of vanilla extract
1. Turn the oven onto 175 degrees Celsius. And line a tray with baking parchment.
2. In a food processor grind the oats to form a powder. Mix in the cinnamon. And then mix in the mashed banana, pureed apple and vanilla extract.
3. Make handheld biscuits, I make them into oblong shaped ones. You know how your little one prefers to hold onto food. Use the shape easiest for them to eat.
4. Pop them onto the tray and bake for 10 minutes. Turn them over and then bake for another 5-10 minutes till golden brown.
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 😃.
At this festival my husband was eating the dessert and just fell in love 😆 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 😅. 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 😆. At the end of our dinner my sister and husband were fighting over the last slice. Seeing who could get to it first 😂.
I hope you enjoy it as much as we all did!!!
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
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!
#notools, #fondant #roses
Music from iMovie
My husband’s Bestemor (Grandma) from Norway. Has never bought bread from a store. She only knew what’s best for her…..to make homemade bread. This recipe had never been written down. It had just always been in her head. The bread is just delicious. Nothing like what you buy in a store. It’s like that warm nostalgic bread, you get at the start of dinner, in an amazing restaurant.
A few years ago, I asked her to show me how she makes it. With the help of my mother-in-law, we wrote it down in Norwegian.
Unfortunately she was in hospital, for a period of time. So Besterfa (her husband) was at home on his own. His version of cooking is putting a frozen pizza on a frying pan 😫. So my mother-in-law and I, attempted to bake the bread for him. The feedback we got, was it didn’t taste the same, as it didn’t have enough salt 😅.
The other day my sister-in-law and I were trying to work out, what bread we could give our 8 month old babies. I remembered I had this recipe in the cupboard. We found it, luckily still readable. And tested the recipe out. With half the mixture, we didn’t add any salt and used unsalted butter (for the boys). I recommend if you do this, make a different decoration on top, so you know which one is which. My sister-in-law came up with, an extra sprinkle of sesame seeds on ours!! What a great idea 💡
So while my parents entertained the boys. We made the bread. We couldn’t believe how quick it was to mix up. Its perfect, because we didn’t have to wait for it to prove. You just put it straight into a cold oven and turn the heat up 😃. One hour later, that glorious smell of baking. Had the boys drooling over the bread. All of us stood round the bread in the kitchen, testing it out 😋.
This bread also tastes great once stored in the freezer. Just pack it in a clear food bag, and put that in a carrier bag. Take it out the night before you need it, to let it defrost…… delicious for breakfast or lunch.
1kg of plain flour
2 cups (256g) of wholemeal bread flour
1 cup (128g) of oats
4 teaspoons of sesame seeds (remove from kids bread if allergic)
2 teaspoons of salt
100g yeast live (Norwegian) or if dry yeast use quantity required for 1.4kg of flour on the packet
1. Mix together all the dry ingredients.
2. Heat 400ml milk with 500ml water to about 37 degrees.
3. In 300ml warm milk add the yeast and mix well.
4. Mix the milk and yeast into the dry ingredients. Then pour in the rest of the wet ingredients.
5. Mix till you get a dough that’s not too dry and not too sticky. If too sticky add a little more plain flour. If too dry add a little more warm water.
6. Divide the mixture into 3, and make them into bread like loaves. Place onto baking parchment on a tray. Sprinkle more sesame seeds on top. And make a few dents on the top.
7. Use salted butter to put blobs on tops and on the sides. To give them a nice golden look.
8. Place the tray in a cold oven. Turn the oven up to 180 degrees for 30 minutes. After this time turn the oven up to 200 degrees for 25 minutes.
9. Take out of the oven once you can tap it. It should give a hollow sound.
Be creative, by adding extra seeds or dried cranberries!! Enjoy!! 🤗 for breakfast, lunch or dinner!!