Spiced cherry tea loaf

Spiced cherry tea loaf

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Do you ever get the feeling that you really want to bake something, but you don’t really have any time to spare? For me baking is the perfect distraction (some might say procrastination…) from my dissertation, but it does mean I have to have some quick recipes to make during a break from work. Enter this amazing tea loaf.

This cake is literally the easiest cake you’ll ever make. Normally making a tea loaf would require you to be organised the night before, and remember to leave your dried fruits to soak in tea overnight, but with my microwave method you can have this ready for the oven in 10 minutes. You can also swap the dried fruits if you don’t fancy glace cherries, dried sour cherries would also be really good, or even some mixed peel for a citrus twist.

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Spiced cherry tea loaf:

  • 200g raisins
  • 100g glace cherries
  • 225ml boiling water
  • 1 tea bag of your choice – I used Pukka Star anise and cinnamon tea
  • 50g butter
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla powder
  • 225g plain flour
  • 1 egg

A large loaf tin, greased and lined with baking paper

  • Heat your oven to 180°C
  1.  Put the raisins into a bowl with the tea bag and the boiling water, then microwave for 3 minutes. Cover with a tea towel and leave to stand for 10 minutes before adding the cherries to the mixture.
  2. Make the cake by creaming the butter, sugar and vanilla together and then adding the egg.
  3. Add half the flour, and beat in well, before adding all the fruit mixture, and any liquid left in the bowl. Stir well, then add the rest of the flour and mix until you have a smooth batter.
  4. Pour the batter into the prepared tin, then bake in the oven for about 1 hour, checking with a skewer to see if it’s cooked.
  5. Enjoy with a cup of tea.
Chocolate orange cupcakes

Chocolate orange cupcakes

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I think oranges are THE most Christmassy fruit – whether it’s the smell of them drying in the oven, tangerines in the bottom of your stocking or eating a Terry’s chocolate orange on Christmas morning, something about them just screams Christmas. These cupcakes are amazingly fudgey, but because they don’t use the creaming method, but instead rely on baking powder for their rise, they are really light at the same time.

If you have any chocolate orange left over after the festive season (although let’s be real, when does that ever happen?!) you could decorate these cupcakes with segments, or go all out for Christmas and sprinkle on a bit of edible glitter!

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Carrot cake (vegan, sugar free and gluten free)s

Carrot cake (vegan, sugar free and gluten free)s

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I was a bit disappointed by the free-from episode of the Bake Off this week – it rather felt like the bakers were trying to overcome a problem by not using sugar in their cakes, or dairy in their ice-cream, rather than embracing the challenge and a different style of baking to make something interesting! Only Ugne and Nadiya really got into the spirit of the week I thought, although unfortunately Ugne’s sugar (and gluten) free cake didn’t go quite to plan – I felt so sorry for her when it was collapsing in the fridge. Nadiya’s jam made with basil seeds sounded really interesting, rather like a chia jam, and I’m definitely going to have to try it!

This carrot cake is sugar free, gluten free and dairy free, incorporating all three of this week’s tasks! The sweetness comes from maple syrup, as well as from the carrots themselves. Instead of wheat flour I have used a combination of ground almonds and buckwheat flour, and coconut oil instead of butter to make it dairy free. It is still lovely and moist like a non ‘free-from’ cake, and the spices make it a perfect autumnal treat.

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Christmas Cupcakes

Christmas Cupcakes

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Welcome to Day 7 of the 12 days of Christmas on Ellie Bakes, where I will be sharing a festive recipe every day until Christmas Eve. I think Christmas is the best time of the year for baking, and I have lots of great recipes to share!

These Christmas cupcakes are really cute, and a great alternative to a rich fruit cake.  They are great fun and really easy to decorate, perfect for making with children now the schools have broken up for Christmas!

We made some reindeer ones, using a red jellybean for the nose, mini marshmallows and writing icing for the eyes and pretzel sticks with flaked almonds attached on with icing for the antlers. We also made some adorable snowmen with marshmallow hats and pretzel arms.

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DIY Christmas presents

DIY Christmas presents

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Welcome to Day 7 of the 12 days of Christmas on Ellie Bakes, where I will be sharing a festive recipe every day until Christmas Eve. I think Christmas is the best time of the year for baking, and I have lots of great recipes to share!

These cupcake jars are perfect as last minute Christmas presents, as they can be assembled with ingredients you’re bound to have in your cupboard. They look really pretty when layered up, and would be great as a gift with some cupcake cases or even a mini wooden spoon.

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Pear and ginger frangipane tarts

Pear and ginger frangipane tarts

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Welcome to Day 1 of the 12 days of Christmas on Ellie Bakes, where I will be sharing a festive recipe every day until Christmas Eve. I think Christmas is the best time of the year for baking, and I have lots of great recipes to share!

These pear and ginger tarts are the perfect Christmassy bake, and are a great alternative to some of the richer cakes at this time of year, especially for anyone who doesn’t like mince pies.

They are perfect served cold with a cup of tea, but are just as good heated up with ice-cream as a dessert. Try and use a firm pear, as it will soften as it cooks, and you want it to retain some flavour and texture.

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Chocolate pecan Gugelhupf

Chocolate pecan Gugelhupf

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So it was European cake week on the Great British Bake off this week! I thought the Princess cake, which was the technical challenge was quite odd – I wasn’t surprised that none of the contestants had ever heard of one before! I thought all of the yeasted European cakes looked really good, especially Martha’s!

I decided to make a Gugelhupf, which originates from Austria, and is traditionally a yeasted cake made with raisins and spice. More recently, however, Gugelhupfs have been made with baking powder, which is the route I went down. While researching, I found lots of recipes for a chocolate and vanilla marble Gugelhupf, so I decided to take this and give it a bit or a twist, using dark muscavado sugar to create a caramel flavour, and adding toasted pecans.

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Chocolate pecan Gugelhupf

For the caramel pecan mixture:

  • 150g softened butter
  • 150g dark muscavado sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste
  • 3 eggs
  • 180g self-raising flour
  • 50g natural yogurt
  • 50ml milk
  • 50g toasted pecans, roughly chopped

For the chocolate mixture:

  • 150g softened butter
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 130g self-raising flour
  • 50g cocoa powder
  • 50g natural yogurt
  • 50ml milk
  • 50g milk chocolate, chopped

To decorate:

  • 50g milk chocolate, melted
  • 100g dark chocolate, melted
  • 50g toasted pecans, roughly chopped

25cm bundt tin, greased and dusted with flour

  • Heat your oven to 180°C
  1. For the caramel mixture, beat together the butter, sugar and vanilla until light and fluffy, then mix in the eggs.
  2. Add the flour, yogurt and milk, then beat until you have a smooth batter, then stir in the pecans and set aside.
  3.  For the chocolate mixture, beat all the ingredients together until smooth.
  4. Dollop alternate spoonfuls of each mixture into the tin, until you have used all of both up. Take a butter knife and swirl both mixtures together, but not too much, or you’ll lose the marbled effect.
  5. www3Bake for 40-45 minutes until the sponge springs back when you touch it, and is golden brown.
  6. Turn out of the tin onto a cooling rack and leave to cool while you melt the milk and dark chocolate separately.
  7. When the cake is cool, drizzle the melted chocolate over and sprinkle over the pecans.

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This post is entered in week 5 of the Great Bloggers Bake Off, run by the lovely Jenny Paulin over at http://www.mummymishaps.co.uk/.