Chocolate Brownies

These are hands down the best brownies that will ever grace your taste buds. A Nigella Lawson recipe – she never disappoints. You can add toppings, such as caramel, chocolate chips or marshmallows, before placing them in the oven, but I might accuse you of gilding the lily. Walnuts are an exception to this – they taste great. So, if you’re a fan, chuck a handful in when you add the flour.

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The steely eyed amongst you will notice the caramel swirls…

 

Ingredients

190g butter
190g dark chocolate in pieces
3 large eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
250g caster sugar
110g plain flour
(150g walnuts)

 

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C/356F and grease and line a shallow metal tray with baking parchment or foil.
  2.  Melt the butter and chocolate in a bowl over simmering water. Once melted allow it to cool for a few minutes, so as not to cook the eggs in the next stage.
  3.  In a separate bowl beat the eggs, vanilla extract and sugar using an electric mixer, or a hand whisk, till pale and creamy.
  4. Stir the chocolate mixture into the eggs and then fold in the flour.
  5. Pour the brownie mix into the greased and lined baking tray and bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes*. It should have a shiny crust but you still want the brownie mix to be gooey.
  6. Leave the brownies to cool for a couple of hours, before attempting to slice them.

makes about 10-12 brownies

*If your tray is small and the brownie mix is quite deep, (like in the top photo) they may need a little longer than this.dsc_8179

Gluten Free Lemon Feather Cake

This is the second time I will be mentioning Juliet’s Cafe on my blog but their cakes are just TOO GOOD! They make an amazing gluten free lemon feather cake that I feel I have successfully replicated by tweaking a recipe I found online. I made this cake for Easter Sunday decorating it with daffodils. It’s incredibly soft and airy, good news after a hefty lunch, and tastes great with lots of whipped cream and lemon curd in the middle. The original recipe calls for potato starch but if you can’t find it I’ve read that cornstarch is a suitable substitute.

Ingredients
Cake:
220g caster sugar
6 large eggs
pinch of salt
zest of 1 lemon and 2.5 tbs juice
150g potato starch - found in whole foods shops and very similar to cornstarch

Filling:

lemon curd – recipe on blog under ‘icings/fillings’

300ml whipping cream

Method 
Cake:
  1.  preheat the oven to 150C/140C fan. Grease and line a deep 22cm cake tin so the baking parchment sticks out above the ridge of the tin (the cake rises a lot). Tins with removable bases are very useful for this recipe.
  2.  Separate the eggs and then whisk the yolks and sugar in a large bowl until pale yellow in colour, airy and no longer grainy – this takes a while.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites with salt until stiff peaks form.
  4. Fold half the whites carefully into the yolks. Once completely combined fold in the remaining half. Add in the lemon zest and juice and stir gently.
  5.  Sift in the potato starch – add very little at a time and stir very gently as you sift to prevent it clumping.
  6. Pour the mixture into the cake tin and place in the preheated oven.
  7. Bake for 1 hour until the cake is well-risen and golden. Remove from the oven and allow it to cool in the tin for 10 minutes or so.
  8. Remove from the tin and leave to cool

Filling:

  1. Once cool slice the cake in half horizontally using a serrated knife.
  2. Whip the cream to the desired consistency – I like it quite soft but thick enough not to run out of the cake.
  3. Spread the cream in the middle of the cake to form a thick layer.
  4. Dollop the lemon curd onto the cream and marble it in using a teaspoon or knife – The quantity you put in the filling is dependent on how lemony you want your cake to taste. The sponge itself is very subtle so I like to use quite a lot of curd and then serve the cake with a bowl of lemon curd on the side for those who want extra.
  5. Place the upper layer of the cake onto of the filling and press down a little.
  6. Dust the top of the cake with icing sugar and serve.

Banana loaf with mascarpone cream cheese icing

The Hummingbird banana loaf is one of my go to cakes. It’s got a lovely thick outer crust and it lasts a good week in an airtight container. There’s a great cafe in my local town called Juliet’s which sells a banana loaf with mascarpone cream cheese frosting and banana chips. It’s definitely my favourite version and the frosting is delicious so I’ve copied it and used Ottolenghi’s mascarpone cream cheese frosting.

Ingredients:
Cake
270g light brown sugar
2 eggs
280g ripe, peeled bananas – mashed
280g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tsp ground ginger
140g unsalted butter, melted
chopped walnuts optional
23 x 13cm loaf tin – greased and dusted with flour
Icing
150g cream cheese, room temperature
150g mascarpone cheese, room temperature
80g unsalted butter, room temperature
100g icing sugar
dried banana chips
Method:
  1. Preheat the oven to 170C/ 325F/ Gas mark 3
  2. Put the sugar and eggs in a freestanding electric mixer with a paddle attachment (or use a handheld electric whisk) and beat until well incorporated. Beat in the mashed bananas.
  3. Add the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and ginger to the sugar mixture. Mix thoroughly until all the dry ingredients have been incorporated. Pour in the melted butter and beat until all the ingredients are well mixed.
  4. Pour the mixture into the prepared loaf tin and smooth over with palette knife. Bake in a preheated oven for about 1 hour or until firm to the touch and a skewer inserted in the centre comes out dry. Leave the cake to cool slightly and then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
Icing
  1. Beat the cream cheese and mascarpone together with an electric whisk till they are smooth and light.
  2. In a separate bowl, beat the butter and icing sugar together with an electric whisk for at least five minutes. The mixture should turn almost white and become fluffy and light.
  3. Fold in the cream cheese mixture.
  4. Put the icing in the fridge to firm up before spreading on the banana bread.
  5. Only put the banana chips on the cake before serving as they go soggy over time.

Juliet’s Tunbridge Wells site: http://julietsandmore.com

Plum upside-down cake

I found this recipe in the Guardian ‘cook’ section and have tweaked it a little. It’s a great cozy winter cake with a beautiful golden brown colour. I love eating it served warm with creme fraiche.

 
Ingredients:
125g butter at room temperature
200g soft brown sugar
4 plums halved, stones removed
1 tsp vanilla essence
3 eggs, separated
125g self raising flour
100g ground almond
1 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
125ml milk
Caramel
100g caster sugar
20g unsalted butter, diced
Method
  1. Preheat the oven to 180C/250F/Gas mark 4
  2. Grease and line the base and sides of a tin with baking paper. If using a loose-based tin, make sure you cut the base circle slightly larger than needed so that it extends some way up the sides to stop the caramel from leaking.
  3.  To make the caramel place the caster sugar in a dry frying pan over a high heat. Don’t stir the sugar or it will crystallise. Let the sugar melt completely and turn to a deep golden colour. Then add the butter and stir quickly. Pour the caramel over the lined base and quickly swirl around so it coats the surface evenly before setting.
  4. Arrange the plums over the caramel – skin side down.
  5.  Cream together the butter and soft brown sugar till pale and fluffy. Add the vanilla essence and egg yolks to the butter mix beating well after each addition
  6. Mix together the dry ingredients (flour, almonds, baking powder, salt) and add to the creamed mix a third at a time, folding in with a little milk
  7. In a separate bowl whisk the egg whites till they form soft peaks. Stir in a third of the white then tip the rest into the mix and gently fold
  8. Spoon the mix over the plums and bake for 45 minutes or until a skewer inserted comes out clean
  9. Leave in the tin for about 5 minutes and then turn out onto a wire rack carefully removing the paper

Green & Black’s Sachertorte

This is my family’s go to chocolate cake. It’s very rich and delicious served with oranges and creme fraiche or Barbados cream. The key with this cake is not to overcook it. Don’t worry if the middle is a little gooey – dry almond cakes are the worst and have the consistency of sawdust. I like using my homemade blackberry jam as the glaze – it has a  slightly tart flavour.

Torte:
200g dark chocolate (min 60% cocoa solids) in pieces
6 eggs
310g granulated sugar
150g ground almonds
1 1/2 tsp freshly ground coffee
roughly 6 tbsp Jam (they use apricot)
23cm (9in) cake tin
Icing:
100g dark chocolate in pieces
40g unsalted butter cut in pieces
Method
  1. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas mark 4 – grease and flour your cake tin (I like to use a slightly smaller, taller one than suggested)
  2.  Melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl suspended over simmering water
  3. Separate 5 of the eggs – whisk egg yolks and the whole egg with the granulated sugar till thick and creamy
  4. In a separate bowl whisk the egg whites to form stiff peaks
  5. Add the ground almonds, coffee grounds and melted chocolate to the egg yolk mix, stir well
  6. Fold in the egg whites
  7. Pour the mix into the prepared cake tin and bake for 40-45 minutes. Put foil over it if the top starts to burn.
  8. I remove the cake from the oven when the centre is still a little wet or I fear the rest of the cake will dry out – remove from the tin and cool on a wire rack
  9. Melt the jam over a low heat, strain if you want (though I like a few bits) and brush over the cooled cake
For the icing:
  1. Melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl over barely simmering water
  2. Add the butter and stir until it has the consistency of thick pouring cream
  3. Pour over the cooled cake and smooth out evenly with the back of a spoon (I like it when a bit of icing falls down the sides)

Slutty Brownies

This is a recipe my sister brought home from the US after spending a year in Miami. They are the naughtiest, most ridiculously yummy brownies you will ever eat (almost 3 puds in one) consisting of a cookie dough base, a tight layer of oreos and finally a good slathering of brownie to top them off.  Most people use ready-mix cookie dough and brownie mix but I think the real deal is much more delicious. I use the Nigella Lawson brownie recipe as it’s the family favourite (which comes as no surprise when you see how much sugar and butter is used). I like decorating these with edible glitter from the Rainbow Dust company and you can also add whatever other sweets you like to the brownie mix e.g chopped up mars bar or marshmallows.
Cookie Dough:
90g butter
175g soft brown sugar
1 egg beaten
175g self-raising flour
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
however many chocolate chips you want! 2 packets of oreos
Brownies:
190g butter
190g dark chocolate in pieces
3 large eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
250g caster sugar
110g plain flour
other chocolate/marshmallows you want
To make the cookie dough:
  1. Preheat the oven to 180C/356F and line a baking pan with parchment paper (base and up the sides)
  2. Cream the butter and sugar together until soft. Add the vanilla extract and beat in the egg until it’s fully combined. Add the flour and chocolate and mix well to combine.
  3. Line the base of your pan with a layer of the cookie dough – this is a bit tricky so lay cling film on top of the cookie dough and roll it out to create an even layer.
  4. Next layer on oreos lying them next to each other in tight rows.
To make the brownie mix
  1. Melt the butter and chocolate in a bowl over simmering water. Once melted allow it to cool (so it doesn’t cook the eggs)
  2.  In a separate bowl beat the eggs, vanilla extract and sugar together using an electric mixer. Combine with the chocolate mixture and then fold in the flour.
  3. Pour the brownie mix on top of the oreos and smooth the top so it gets into the oreo gaps and completely covers them as well as reaching the corners of the pan
  4. If you want to use marshmallows place these onto the surface before baking.
  5. Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes. It should have a shiny crust but you still want the brownie mix to be gooey as dry brownies aren’t half as tasty!

Hummingbird Vanilla Cupcakes

These cupcakes are light, airy and, unlike some I’ve made, don’t go stale quickly. The key is not to overcook them so keep an eye on the time! I use foil cases as they keep the cupcakes fresher for longer and come in great colours e.g gold, silver, pink. However, I find the vanilla frosting recipe provided too sweet so I’ve altered it a little and use natural yoghurt rather than milk. Decorating these with edible pink and gold glitter from the Rainbow Dust company makes them look really special.

Ingredients:
120g plain flour
140g caster sugar
1 ½ tsp baking powder
a pinch of salt
40g unsalted butter, at room temperature
120ml whole milk
1 egg
¼tsp vanilla extract
(12-hole cupcake tray lined with paper/foil cupcake cases)
vanilla frosting:
250g icing sugar
90g of unsalted butter, room temperature
1\4 tsp vanilla extract
natural yogurt
Method:
  1. Preheat the oven to 170°C (325°F) Gas 3.
  2. Put the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and butter in a freestanding electric mixer with a paddle attachment (or use a handheld electric whisk) and beat on slow speed until you get a sandy consistency and everything is combined. Gradually pour in half the milk and beat until the milk is just incorporated.
  3. Whisk the egg, vanilla extract and remaining milk together in a separate bowl for a few seconds, then pour into the flour mixture and continue beating until just incorporated (scrape any unmixed ingredients from the side of the bowl with a rubber spatula). Continue mixing for a couple more minutes until the mixture is smooth. Do not overmix.
  4. Spoon the mixture into the paper cases until two-thirds full and bake in the preheated oven for 15-20 minutes, or until light golden and the sponge bounces back when touched.
  5. A skewer inserted in the centre should come out clean. Leave the cupcakes to cool slightly in the tray before turning out onto a wire cooling rack to cool completely.
 Frosting:
  1. Beat the icing sugar and butter together in a freestanding electric mixer with a paddle attachment (or use a handheld electric whisk) on medium-slow speed until the mixture comes together and is well mixed –  (if you have a lid for your mixer use it! The icing sugar goes everywhere)
  2. Turn the mixer down to slow speed. Add the vanilla then about 2 teaspoons of yoghurt (it depends on its consistency but make sure you don’t add too much!)
  3. turn the mixer up to high and beat for at least 5 minutes – this makes the frosting light and fluffy.
  4. Spread the frosting on the cupcakes only once they have cooled completely.
this recipe makes about 12 cupcakes
here’s a helpful link from hummingbird for how to frost cupcakes: https://hummingbirdbakery.com/blog/2012/03/how-to-frost-cupcakes-hummingbird-bakery-style/
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