Vegetarian food blog featuring nourishing home cooked recipes, creative baking and luscious chocolate.

Choc Cross Buns

Bread & Buns, Easter | 30th March 2013 | By

I originally planned to make hot cross buns on the traditional day of Maundy Thursday, but what with one thing and another, action was postponed until Good Friday.

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Lemon and Apple Curd Cake Disaster

Easter, Large Cakes | 3rd May 2012 | By

With my first ever Clandestine Cake Club coming up, I wanted to have a practice run at baking the type of cake I was planning to take along. Fruit was the theme and Easter was the time (that I made this cake not the CCC one), so inspired by the cake on the cover of Issue 1 of Co-op Food magazine and with my new found passion for fruit curds, I wanted to make up my very own Easter curd cake. For this one I was going to use my apple and lemon curd. But, oh what a calamity!

This is what I did:

  • Creamed 225g unsalted butter with 225g cardamom sugar until pale and fluffy.
  • Grated in the zest of a lemon.
  • Beat in two large tbsp of apple and lemon curd.
  • Beat in 1 goose egg.
  • Folded in 225 sifted flour (1/2 wholemeal, 1/2 white) with a heaped tsp of baking powder.
  • Stirred in 2 tbsp sour milk and 1 tbsp lemon juice.
  • Spooned mixture into two 21 cm cake moulds and baked at 180C for 25 minutes.
  • Left to cool for a few minutes then turned out onto wire racks.
At this point disaster struck. It’s not happened to me since I started using silicone moulds, but one of the cakes, not only stuck to the mould when I tried to turn it out, but fell apart too. I was devastated. I had so been look forward to something that was meant to look like this:

picture taken from Co-operative Food magazine issue 1

Instead, mine looked like this (or at least what was left of it after I’d tucked in).

I can’t tell you how good the bits of broken cake were though, they tasted absolutely scrummy – especially when eaten warm. When the cake fell apart on me, I tried one piece and then another and then another – it was soooooo good. Deliciously moist it had a good dense consistency (not dense enough, obviously). It was hard to pick out a specific flavour, lemon was present, but not overly so. In any case it was delicious.

  • Whilst the cakes were in the oven, I was making the filling – which actually became the topping!
  • Melted 75g white chocolate in a bowl over hot water.
  • Spooned some of this (slightly less than half) into the little chick moulds from Baked & Delicious and placed in the fridge to set.
  • Creamed 75g unsalted butter with 125g icing sugar until very pale.
  • Beat in the remaining chocolate.
  • Beat in 2 tbsp apple and lemon curd and a couple of teaspoons of lemon juice.
  • Spread this over the cake that remained intact.
  • Decorated with lemon jelly sweets, white chocolate chicks and a few flowers from the garden.
  • I was going to make a lemon icing to go over the top of the cake, but that obviously didn’t happen.

Despite, the errr, mishap, this was a truly delicious cake and it didn’t deter me from making this with my latest curd recipe (yet to be revealed) for CCC. As the curd is made with lemons I am submitting this to the One ingredient challenge hosted by Laura of How to Cook Good Food who has chosen lemons this month. It’s alternately hosted by Working London Mummy where you can see the rules.

Simnel Cake Update

Easter this year proved to be a rather hectic affair, but also rather an enjoyable one. Not really having been able to do much down at our plot in recent months, we had plenty of catching up to do. Plus we had old friends visiting over the four days who we were also looking forward to catching up with. So, we spent the mornings down at our plot, digging, tidying, mowing, having a bonfire and planting the potatoes and the afternoons with our friends, walking, talking and visiting lovely places – oh, and did I say eating?
For Easter tea on Sunday, we went to my mother’s. She had made her usual Simnel Cake and decorated it most beautifully, so I really wanted to show her efforts here. My mother always uses Mrs Beaton’s recipe, so it is almost the very cake I grew up with, which is just as it should be!
The Simnel Cake I made went with us to friends for tea on Easter Monday. I wish I’d taken pictures of their lovely spread which included some delicious chocolate brownies topped with clotted cream and raspberries. After eating egg on home made bread, home made scones with home made jam and clotted cream and a brownie, we were all too full to really appreciate my cake. So quite a bit of it came back home with us and is, in fact, still keeping us going.

Easter Brownies

Now what do you do with 100g of delicious handmade marzipan left over from making your simnel cake? Well, brownies of course – specifically Easter brownies. I’d had a look at Paul A Young’s simnel brownies, but although I really must try that recipe at some point in my life, I didn’t feel now was it. Possibly the best ever brownies I’ve yet made are those from Pam Corbin’s most excellent of books Cake: River Cottage handbook no 8. I still haven’t managed to post about them, so I’m posting this adapted second version first.

This is what I did:

  • Melted 185g dark chocolate (100g with cranberries, 85g of 85%) with 185g unsalted butter in a pan over a low heat then left to cool slightly.
  • Whisked 3 duck eggs with 275g sugar (175g vanilla caster & 100g dark molasses) using an electric whisk for a good 5 minutes until thick and doubled in volume.
  • Folded the chocolate into the eggs.
  • Sifted in 85g wholemeal spelt flour, 40g cocoa powder, 1 tsp cinnamon and a good grating of nutmeg.
  • Folded it all in together.
  • Gently stirred in 100g of marzipan I’d cut into small cubes.
  • Spooned into a 9″ sq cake mould and baked for 27 minutes at 180C.
  • Left to cool overnight.
  • Cut into 16 squares and pressed a mini chocolate egg onto the top of each one.

Nothing much to say except mmmmmmm!! And I will most certainly be making these Easter brownies again. AND they are so quick to make, you still have plenty of time to whip some up for Easter tea.

I hope you all have a very Happy Easter and don’t forget to enjoy your chocolate.

Every month Kate of What Kate Baked and Karen of Lavender and Lovage take turns hosting a tea time treats event where it’s usually very hard to resist virtual overindulgence. I am submitting this to the massive Easter party hosted this month by Kate.

Simnel Cake

Simnel Cake

Easter | 5th April 2012 | By

 

It’s Easter and I haven’t made a simnel cake for a couple of years, so it just seemed the right thing to do. Last year I made these Amaretto cupcakes decorated with crystalised primroses which were delicious, but just not quite the same as a proper Easter simnel cake – I do like my traditions.

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Amaretto Easter Cupcakes and Crystallised Flowers

4 Star, Cupcakes, Easter | 28th April 2011 | By

There were so many influences here, I’ve rather lost track of them all. Kath started me off with her crystallised violets. It all came flooding back, how I used to crystallise primroses every Easter when I was young. I haven’t done it for many years, but with Easter fast approaching, some holiday, a bit of nostalgia and with enthusiasm renewed, I wanted to try these again.

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Easter Nests – Random Recipe 3

4 Star, Easter, No Bake | 26th April 2011 | By

When Dom set this month’s Random Recipe Challenge to cook something out of the first cookbook we ever owned, I was quite excited. I remembered the book well, but haven’t looked at it for more years than I care to remember. It resides at my Mother’s along with many of my old books, so I couldn’t get my hands on it immediately. Finally, I got it. My learn to cook book: a children’s book for the kitchen by Ursula Sedgwick. On the inside cover, an inscription which reminded me it was given to me for Christmas when I was eight years old by my Great Aunt Doris and Uncle Alf, both still alive in their 90s. Leafing through it, I was amazed at what a good book it was and that I had made pretty much everything in it. Having just had problems making my own marzipan with the Battenberg I made a couple of days ago, it made me laugh to see a recipe for Marzipan Dates which included making your own marzipan. And, I remember doing it. At the back of the book, it has a really useful table showing how many tablespoons of various ingredients weigh an ounce and the fact that 3 halfpennies weigh 1/2 an ounce. Half pennies? I’m not sure I can still remember them.

My slight concern that there might not be any chocolate recipes in the book was immediately banished; it did seem rather unlikely that a children’s cookbook, even from the 70s, would fail to include any chocolate recipes. It contained three: chocolate mousse, crispy crackolates and chocolate drops. Crispy Crackolates it was. They would be just perfect for Easter as little nests that I could drop some eggs into. Easter eggs for CT sorted – hee hee!

  • Melted 1oz unsalted butter in a pan with 1oz unbleached granulated sugar and 1 tbsp golden syrup.
  • Mixed in 1oz cocoa.
  • Added 1oz cornflakes and stirred until all covered with chocolate mixture.
  • Spooned into 5 piles and tried to form them into some semblance of a nest.
  • Left to set, then placed a few sugar coated chocolate eggs in the middle.
The nests worked really well, very chocolatey and not too sweet but slightly sticky. The stickiness was advantageous as it helped the eggs to stay put in the nest.

Thank you Dom for reuniting me with such an old friend and for allowing me to make such a quick and easy recipe.

Happy Easter & Eggs

Easter | 25th April 2011 | By

Rather late in the day now, but I wanted to say Happy Easter before it’s too late and hope that everyone is enjoying the holiday. We are just off to my mother’s for another Easter tea where we will be sampling some of her excellent simnel cake.

Here are two Easter platters I prepared, one for my mother and one for CT. If anyone’s interested in finding out more about what’s on them, there will be a posts appearing in the next week or so.

Chocolate Simnel Cake

Easter, Large Cakes | 17th April 2010 | By


I love marzipan, so I got very excited when I started to see Simnel cake posts appearing on the blogosphere around Mother’s Day this year. This is traditionally served at Easter, although it is also associated with Mothering Sunday where servant girls were given the day off and allowed to take a cake home for their mothers. Not only do you get all that lovely marzipan on top, but you get the most delightful surprise layer of squidgy marzipan in the middle which half melts into the cake mixture as it cooks. The whole is topped off with 11 balls of this delicious almond confection. These balls are there to represent the 12 apostles, minus Judas, for reasons any Christian can explain.

Giles’s post for Simple Simnel Cake was the inspiration I used to create my own chocolate version. I particularly liked this one because of the inclusion of apricots. Unfortunately, when I went to make the cake, there were no apricots to be found. Improvising madly, I ended up using dried papaya and pineapple instead. This is what I did:
  • Creamed 6oz brown sugar with 6oz unsalted butter until pale and well incorporated.
  • Beat in 3 large eggs alternately with 6oz sieved flour (4oz wholemeal spelt and 2oz coconut flour) and 1 tsp baking powder.
  • Stirred in 1 oz ground almonds, 1/2 tsp mixed spice, 2 tsp ground ginger.
  • Added 2oz dried papaya, 2oz dried pineapple, 3oz cherries (halved), 2oz raisins and 100g 70% dark chocolate (broken into small pieces).
  • Mixed in 2 large tbsp Greek yogurt (TOTAL 0% fat)
  • Spooned 1/2 of the mixture into a 22cm cake thingie, then covered this with 5oz marzipan rolled out into a round slightly smaller than the cake. Covered with remaining cake mixture.
  • Baked at 160C for 1 hour until firm and a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean (ish).
  • Allowed to cool, wrapped well in greaseproof paper and placed in a tin for a couple of weeks.
  • On the day of reckoning, rolled out 6oz marzipan into a 22cm round to cover the cake.
  • Melted 1 tbsp plum jam (didn’t have any apricot) and brushed over the top of the cake. Placed the marzipan round on top of this and gently pressed into position.
  • Divided another 4oz marzipan into 11 equal lumps and rolled into balls. Placed these around the edge of the cake.
  • Brushed the whole with a beaten egg and put under the grill for mins to brown slightly. Unfortunately, like King Alfred, I managed to burn the marzipan at this point.
  • Decorated with chocolate eggs.
Foolishly I made this three weeks ahead of the event – trying to be organised and thinking that, like a Christmas cake, it would improve on keeping. Nearer the time, I realised this was only a light fruit cake with a relatively short shelf life and I started to panic. Luckily when it came to the grand unveiling at my Easter Tea, all was well. The cake was still moist and made a good impression on all that partook of it. The seemingly burnt marzipan added a lovely caramel flavour – phew! I was somewhat dubious as to how the chocolate would affect the cake, but it actually worked really well. The chocolate bits were by no means overwhelming, but they did enhance the flavour and combined particularly well with the marzipan. Now I know it works, I’m keen to try chocolate with fruit cake again.
I’ve kindly just been given permission to enter this for Julia’s Easter Cake Bake over at A Slice of Cherry Pie, even though I’m a little on the late side – oops and thank you Julia!

Guinness Cake

5 Star, Cake, Easter, Layer cakes | 13th April 2009 | By


About a year ago, I tasted a chocolate cake made with Guinness.  It was delicious and I’ve been wanting to have a go at making one ever since.  I found a recipe for Chocolate Stout Cake in Green & Black’s, and had a go at making it for Easter Tea.  It didn’t go quite according to plan, as there was too much mixture to fit into my biggest cake pan, so I made it into a sandwich cake instead.  I then had to think of some sort of filling and topping to use at rather short notice and with no shops open!

  • Creamed 8oz unsalted butter with 12oz soft brown sugar for ages.
  • Weighed 10oz flour (6oz wholemeal spelt and 4oz white spelt), 2oz cocoa, 1/2 tsp baking powder and 2 tsp bicarb of soda.
  • Beat in 4 duck eggs alternately with some of the sieved flour mixture
  • Stirred in 4oz melted dark chocolate (85%)
  • Stirred in 12fl oz Guinness alternately with the remainder of the sieved flour.
  • Baked this in 2 23cm round cake pans at 180C in a preheated oven for about 50 mins.
  • Whilst cakes cooling, melted 4oz dark chocolate (70%)
  • Stirred in 4oz butter
  • Added a good sloosh of Guinness and stirred fast.
  • When thick enough used this to sandwich the two cakes together and to ice the cake.
  • Decorated with little gold wrapped Easter eggs

It was a great cake – light in texture, dark in colour, moist and rich tasting.  The icing worked well too, although a bit more would have been better.  
Next time, I shall make a smaller quantity so I can bake it as one cake and use a white chocolate topping to imitate the frothy Guinness top.