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.
Cranberry and Dark chocolate cookies

Cranberry and Dark chocolate cookies

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Welcome to Day 2 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 cookies are really quick to make, perfect for baking when unexpected visitors pop in! They’re best eaten straight from the oven, while the chocolate is still melted. They work really well with cranberries and dark chocolate, but you can use whatever chocolate you have in the cupboard. Orange zest also works really well in place of the cinnamon.

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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/.

Toffee Apple Puddings

Toffee Apple Puddings

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So there was drama on the Bake Off this week! ‘Bin gate’, and especially the reaction to it on the internet really shocked me. When I first watched it, I thought Diana was completely to blame for Iain’s baked Alaska melting, and I was really sad to see him leave, as it wasn’t his fault! However, some of the comments on Twitter  I saw, and especially the ‘#dirtydiana hashtag were ridiculous. Sometimes I think people need to remember that it’s just a cake competition!

The bakers had to make self-saucing puddings this week, and I knew I had to make these, as they have such a lovely caramel sauce. My self-saucing puddings are made with apples, as apples and blackberries in particular remind me of Autumn. These apples were given to my sister and me when we were picking blackberries. A lovely man saw us and offered us some apples from his garden to go with them! I’ve also used muscavado sugar in the base and sponge, as it gives a lovely toffee flavour! 

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Toffee Apple Puddings

For the base:

  • 50g soft butter
  • 50g light muscavado sugar
  • 1 large eating apple, sliced

For the sponge:

  • 100g soft butter
  • 100g light muscavado sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 100g self raising flour
  • 20g soft dates, chopped

For the sauce:

  • 150ml boiling water
  • 50g light muscavado sugar

4 glass ramekins

Heat your oven to 180°C

  1. For the base, mix the butter and sugar in a bowl, then spread some on the bottom of the ramekins.
  2. Arrange the sliced apple on top, then put the ramekins on a baking tray.
  3. Next make the sponge by beating the butter and sugar until smooth and fluffy. Next add the eggs and dates and beat again.
  4. Sift over the flour and stir until you have a smooth batter.
  5. Spoon the mixture over the apples and smooth, then mix the boiling water and sugar together and pour a little over each ramekin, to just cover the sponge.
  6. Cook in the oven for 20-30 minutes until the sponge is risen and springs back when you touch it.
  7. Enjoy with a scoop of vanilla ice-cream!

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This post is entered in week 4 of the Great Bloggers Bake Off, run by the lovely Jenny Paulin over at http://www.mummymishaps.co.uk/.

Lemon and white chocolate biscuits

Lemon and white chocolate biscuits

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The return of the Great British Bake Off last Wednesday made me so happy – Bake Off seems to unite the country in a way little else does. My favourite baker so far is definitely Norman – who could forget his hand made skateboard swiss roll plate, or his assertion that his swiss roll was ‘for men’!

This year I am taking part in the Great Bloggers Bake Off (link is at the bottom!), which means I have to bake something along the same theme as the Bake Off contestants every week. This week, however, I’m on holiday in Jersey, so having to bake this week’s theme – biscuits, in our holiday apartment kitchen! It was all going fine, until I realised that not only did I not have scales, but I was also lacking a rolling pin, baking paper, or a baking tray…!

Nevertheless, I have not spent a year baking in a student kitchen without learning anything, so I managed, using a beer bottle as a rolling pin, and roughly guessing the quantities. Despite this, they haven’t turned out badly!

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Lemon and white chocolate biscuits

For the biscuits:

  • 125g softened butter
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 200g plain flour
  • Zest 1 lemon
  • 100g white chocolate, melted

Heat your oven to 180°C

  1. Beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, then add the egg and lemon zest and beat well again.
  2. Stir in the flour until you have a dough, then chill in the fridge for 2 hours.
  3. When chilled, roll out and cut into shapes (I used a knife to cut them into rectangles because our holiday apartment was unfortunately lacking biscuit cutters..!)
  4. Place on a greased baking tray and bake for 9-10 minutes until lightly golden.
  5. When the biscuits are cool, dip half into the white chocolate, then leave to set on a sheet of baking paper.

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This post is entered in week 2 of the Great Bloggers Bake Off, run by the lovely Jenny Paulin over at http://www.thecrazykitchen.co.uk/.

Link to the first week’s round up post: http://www.mummymishaps.co.uk/2014/08/great-bloggers-bake-off-2014-week-1-cakes-round-up.html

Chocolate and hazelnut cupcakes

Chocolate and hazelnut cupcakes

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Baking is one of those things which is great at bringing back memories. I can bake something, and it instantly reminds me of when I first baked it, or when I thought of the idea for the recipe.

These cupcakes are an example of just that. I first made some nutella cupcakes about two years ago, in the summer of 2012, on a sunny day just like the ones we’ve been having, and they were very good. This ones though, are better, baked with ground hazelnuts, prettier cupcake cases, and the help of a sister!

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I then forgot about nutella for a while (how on earth I could have done this I have no idea!), until we stayed in a hotel during a weekend in London recently, and I rediscovered it! So these cupcakes are a little reminiscence, both to nutella and to my 17 year old self.

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Rhubarb and almond cake

Rhubarb and almond cake

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Summer is here! I don’t know how that happened, this year is going scarily quickly, but I am now home from uni for the summer and ready to do some serious baking! One thing I really miss when I’m away is having a garden, not just because I love sitting outside, but also because it’s so lovely to be able to go into the garden and pick produce to use in my baking.

This cake is made with rhubarb from the garden, which makes it perfect for summer – not too heavy, with a lovely fruity filling. You don’t want to put too much of the rhubarb in the cake, otherwise it will spill over the sides, and not look so pretty (although it will still taste just as good!)

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Rhubarb and almond cake with orange marscapone filling

For the cake:

  • 250g softened butter
  • 250g caster sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp almond essence
  • 250g self raising flour
  • 40g ground almonds

For the rhubarb filling:

  • 8 sticks of rhubarb, half roughly chopped and half cut into short lengths, then cut in half again lengthways
  • 50g brown sugar
  • Juice of 1 orange
  • 1 tbsp cornflour mixed with enough water to make a thick paste
  • red food colouring

For the orange marscapone filling:

  • 150g light marscapone
  • 150ml double cream
  • 1 tbsp icing sugar
  • Zest of 1 orange

2 x 20cm circle cake tins, greased well and dusted completely with flour
Pre-heat your oven to 180°C

  1. Beat the butter and sugar together in a bowl until light and creamy, then stir in the vanilla and almonds extracts.
  2. Add the eggs and beat well again.
  3. Sift the flour and ground almonds into the bowl, and fold in.
  4. Spoon the mixture into your cake tins and level the tops, then bake in the oven for 25 to 30 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, make the rhubarb filling by putting the roughly chopped rhubarb in a saucepan with the sugar and orange juice. Simmer for 5-10 minutes until the rhubarb is soft, but not mushy.
  6. Add the sliced rhubarb and simmer again until soft. Add the cornflour mixture and stir until the rhubarb is slightly thickened, then add enough food colouring until the rhubarb is a nice pink colour.
  7. When the cakes are cooked, take them out of the tin and leave to cool on a wire rack.
  8. While they’re cooling make the filling by beating the cream with a whisk until thick, then beating in the marscapone, icing sugar and orange zest until smooth and thick.
  9. When the cakes are cool, arrange on a plate, then top with the orange filling. Spoon over some of the rhubarb – you may not need it all, and you don’t want it to spill over the sides – and top with the other cake.
  10. Serve with some of the extra rhubarb and enjoy!

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