Monday, 19 April 2010

Gluten Free, Vegan cupcakes

This was an experiment of mine. One of my friends is vegan, her brother is on a gluten free, dairy free diet. None of these things are condusive to good cake. So I decided to try to make a cake without any eggs or butter, and while I enjoyed the challenge, I wasn't happy with the results really. Very, very dense, and a bit savoury tasting. I wouldn't really choose to have one, and thats my test of a good cake. Might be worth a try for a vegan though, as my friend seemed pretty happy with them.


4 Tablespoons dairy free spread
2 cups Granulated Sugar
500g passata
2 teaspoons Baking Soda
3 cups rice flour
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 teaspoons Cinnamon
2 teaspoons Nutmeg
½ teaspoons Ground Cloves

150g icing sugar
Teaspoon lemon juice/lemon extract
Water to form a thick paste

  • Cream together spread and sugar. 
  • In a separate bowl, combine the passata and baking soda. Once combined, mix into the creamed sugar mixture. 
  • Add all other cake ingredients in the order listed. 
  • Spoon into cupcake cases and fill almost to the top.
  • Bake for 35-40 minutes
  • Place on a wire rack to cool
    Add the lemon juice to the licing sugar, add water until it forms a thick paste, then drizzle over the cooled cupcakes

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Pineapple cake with lime soured cream frosting

Firstly appologise for the photo! This cake was made for my Grandma's birthday on Saturday in a bit of a rush - and everyone was keen to tuck in as soon as it was finished.

I loved the sound of this cake, fresh, moist and with a tartness that suits spring. It should have had lime zest on the top, but one of the bunnies got into my carrier bag and was away with the second lime!

The recipe for this cake comes from Gizzi's Kitchen Magic This book is fast becoming my new kitchen bible. Not nessisarily for baking things, but for general cooking its fantastic. It goes right back to basics, showing you how to make simple sauces like hollandaise, gravy and mayonnaise, and then how to vary those sauces to make something a bit moe interesting. Recipes are easy to follow, well tested, and most importantly, photographed. They're also appetising and fresh, something I really rate. I'm quite experienced in the kitchen, but I still find the quality of these recipes second to none.

Anyway, back to the cake in hand. I messed up a bit by completely forgetting to put the pineapple in and had to take it out the oven after 5 mins to add it in! This is likely to have made it a bit more solid and less light and fluffy as obviously I let the air out of it. Despite this is was still a lovely, light cake, and very moist. I was dissapointed that I couldn't taste the lime in it at all, maybe the second lime zest would have made all the difference! I also found the recipe made far too much frosting, I think you could comfortably knock 1/3 off the quantities here and still have enough.



200g butter at room temperature
200g light muscavado sugar
4 large eggs
200g self raising flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon mixed spice
225g tin of crushed prineapple or finely chopped pineapple chunks
zest and juice of one lime

200ml soured cream
juice and zest of 1 lime
100g icing sugar
200ml double cream
  • Heat oven to 170C
  • Line a 20cm cake tin
  • Put the butter and sugar in a mixing bowland beat together until pale and fluffy
  • Add the eggs one at a time and mix in
  • Sift over the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and mixed spice and stir in using a metal spoon
  • Finally stir in the pineapple, vanilla and lime juice and zest
  • Pour into the tin and bake for around 30minutes, until a skewer comes out clean
  • Leave to cool in the tin (stood on a cooling rack to avoid a soggy bottom!) for 15 minutes then transfer directly onto the cooling rack
  • When completely cool make the frosting by whipping the double cream until stiff.
  • In another bowl mix together the soured cream, lime zest and juice and sieved icing sugar. 
  • Fold the cream into the soured cream mixture gently
  • Top the cake with the icing, and grate some lime zest over to decorate.

Friday, 9 April 2010

Lemon & Elderflower Cupcakes

Todays recipe is adapted from my new favourite cupcake book, Eat Me!: The Stupendous, Self-raising World of Cupcakes and Bakes According to Cookie Girl. I like this one because it has cute, vintage inspired piccies, and the recipes are really unusual.

The icing on this cake was a very thin icing sugar, water and elderflower mixture. I decided to try a more fluffy frosting. This wasn't very successful to be honest - it was very runny, and had no taste of elderflower at all, despite trebling the quantities of elderflower stated in the original recipe. I have included the original icing recipe for the icing as I can't really see any way to make a thick frosting have an elderflower taste as either the butter or cream cheese completely overpowers it.

The lemon cake however was brilliant, the texture was really light and fluffy. The lemon taste was very mild however, so I have upped this a bit in the recipe below.


200g plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
225g granulated sugar
45g ground almonds
grated zest of 2 lemons
2 eggs
90ml sunflower oil
250ml low fat yoghurt
1/2 tbsp lemon essence
225g icing sugar
1 tsp elderflower cordial
4 tsp water
  • Heat oven to 180C and line a muffin tray with 12 cases
  • Sift flour and baking powder into a large bowl. Add the sugar, almonds and grated lemon zest and mix.
  • In a seperate bowl beat the eggs with the oil and yoghurt. Add the lemon essence. 
  • Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and stir  until everything is smooth and combined. 
  • Spoon evenly into the paper cases no more than 2/3 full (it rises a lot!) and bake for 20 minutes until a skewer placed in the centre comes out clean. 
  • Place cupcakes on a wire rack to cool.
  • Sift the icing sugar into a bowl and add the elderflower cordial. Add the water a little at a time to make a thick icing. 
  • When the cupcakes are cool spoon a tablespoon of icing onto each one and spread evenly.

Sunday, 28 March 2010

Cookie Dough Truffles

I think the picture says it all.

I'm beginning to think my blog ought to have had a less obscure, upmarket title and been a bit more hoenst - chocoholic housewife in training sounds more me! 

I made these last weekend, before starting my new diet (cookies and cupcakes are bad for you, who knew?!) roughly following an American recipe I found online. I can't measure in cups, and I ended up just making it up completely! So the recipe below is adusted from what I made.

Please note the recipe makes around 60 truffles - great for parties or gifts. They also freeze if not coated in the outer chocolate shell, so you could make the full batch and dip into them as required.

I was expecting these to be amazing, but because of my slight knackering of the recipe they were only good. Let me know how you get on with them, any help in refining this recipe is much appreciated.


Cookie Dough Truffles

150g butter
300g light brown sugar
300g sieved plain flour
1 tin of condensed milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
150g chocolate chips/milk chocolate chopped up very small!
300g dark chocolate

  • Cover two baking trays with greaseproof paper
  • In a pan beat the sugar and butter over a low heat until smooth and combined. Do not get it hot enough that it bubbles, this should only take a few minutes, the heat just makes the sugar melt a bit into the butter without the butter melting.
  • Add the flour, vanilla and condensed milk. Mix well 
  • Stir in the chocolate chips
  • With your hands shape into small balls (around 1.5cm in diameter) and set on the baking trays. 
  • Freeze for two hours until firm
  • Before removing for the freezer melt the dark chocolate over a bain marie and remove from the heat
  • Remove one tray from the freezer, and coat each truffle in dark chocolate, quickly so the truffles do not start to melt. Repeat with the second tray. If they become hard to handle pop them back in the freezer for 15mins. 
  • Place in the fridge for half an hour to set fully, and enjoy.

Friday, 26 March 2010

Best Ever Brownies

I've made a lot of brownies in my time, but without a doubt these were the best ever.Everyone has their own brownie recipe, but this one is definately worth a try. Absolutely melt in the mouth, thick and goey inside, crusty and delicate on the top amazing. I made some as individual brownies in the bottom of cupcake tins, and one giant brownie I cut into wedges, I think the cupcake ones were a little better, but it's a close call!


Chocolate Truffle Brownies

240g dark chocolate (70% cocoa or higher)
100g unsalted butter
3 eggs
135g golden caster sugar
55g plain flour
  • Preheat oven to 150C/Gas mark 2. 
  • Put the chocolate and butter in a bowl over a pan of boiling water (making sure the bowl does not touch the water)
  • Stir until melted then set aside to cool
  • Put the eggs and sugar in a mixing bowl and whisk until pale and creamy. 
  • Stir in the flour and finally fold in the melted chocolate mixture. 
  • Pour the batter into a tin lined with greaseproof
  • Check the brownie's with a knife after 15minutes, if it comes out take them out the oven, I found they took 35 minutes but this will depend on how thick they are.

Friday, 19 March 2010

A Paddy's Day Treat, Chocolate Guiness Cupcakes

I've made these before as one big cake, but this was the first time I tried this recipe as cupcakes. Most of my adaptations to the recipe worked fine, however there wasn't enough frosting to get a decent 'head' on your pint of cupcake. The recipe below has been adapted to provide enough for all the cupcakes.

These have a very unique, earthy taste. The chocolate brings a much needed sweetness. All I can say is try them, everyone will love them, they're quick to make and a great all round 9/10 from everyone.

Makes 16 cupcakes.


250ml Guinness
250g unsalted butter
75g cocoa
400g caster sugar
1 x 142ml pot sour cream
2 eggs
1 tablespoon real vanilla extract
275g plain flour
2 1/2teaspoons bicarbonate of soda
300g Philadelphia cream cheese
150g icing sugar
125ml double or whipping cream

  • Preheat the oven to gas mark 4/180°C.
  • Pour the Guinness into a large saucepan, add the butter and heat until the butter is melted.
  • Whisk in the cocoa and sugar. 
  • In a seperate bowl beat the sour cream with the eggs and vanilla and then pour into the brown pan mixture.
  • Whisk in the flour and bicarb.
  • Spoon the mixture into the cupcake cases, around 3/4 of the way up.
  • Bake for 20 minutes until a skewer comes out clean. 
  • Leave to cool for a few minutes before transfering the cases to the cooling rack.
  • To make the icing sive the icing sugar into a bowl with the cream cheese and whisk till smooth and light.
  • Add the cream and beat again until it makes a spreadable consistency.

Thursday, 18 March 2010

Gluten Free Chocolate Truffle Cake with Chocolate Cream Frosting

Not my usual photo but by the time I found my camera this was all that was left! However I think this is a good testiment to how great this cake was. Gluten free cakes are usually a lot denser than their floury counterparts, and this one was no exception. It was a lovely, thick cake with a rich but creamy frosting which balanced it out nicely. The one downside was the frosting did not blend 100% and there were a few lumps, which did not impact on taste but did look a little unprofessional. Despite this it was really easy to make, and everyone loved it, definate 8 or 9/10.


275g dark chocolate
100g unsalted butter
2 eggs
130g golden caster sugar
50g rice flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
65ml whole milk

Chocolate Icing

140g unsalted butter (at room temperature)
170g icing sugar
290g cream cheese
1 tablespoon cocoa powder

20cm tin, lined with greaseproof.

  • Preheat oven to 160C/Gas 3.
  • Put the chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl over a pan of boiling water. Stir until melted then set aside to cool. 
  • Put the eggs and sugar in a mixing bowl and whisk until they form a thick foam. 
  • Add the rice flour and baking powder, mix, then stir in the butter and chocolate mixture. 
  • Finally stir in the milk and pour into the prepared tin.
  • Bake for 40 minutes until a skewer comes out clean. 
  • Leave to cool completely before turning out of the tin. 
  • To make the icing put the butter, icing sugar, cream cheese and cocoa powder in a bowl or food processor and whisk until smooth. 
  • Spread the icing over the cake.

Saturday, 13 March 2010

Lemon Cake with White Chocolate Icing

Yesterday morning I returned from the doctors (who still didn't have my results!) and decided to make a cake. Lemon cakes have always been a bit of a bane of mine, mainly because my mum is so good at them. 

The recipe calls for a loaf tin, however I used a shallow half sandwich cake tin instead. It is worth noting this is a small recipe, and only makes a cake with 6-8 small slices, making it perfect for Sunday tea but terrible for feeding a group.

White chocolate has long been another fear of mine, it just doesn't react like milk and dark chocolate. Melting in a bain marie causes it to become a congealed, gooey mess. However the recipe uses a neat trick as you will see, although I did find I needed to use at least another 50ml of cream to get even close to covering the chocolate, and even then it cooled too quickly so I had to give the whole mixture 20 seconds in the microwave to finish it off.

The finished cake was very flat, but still light and fluffy, and had a very sharp lemon taste which contrasted really well with the rich white icing. I'm not sure if the recipe makes a mistake and should call for self raising flour rather than plain, might be worth a try sometime. I was dissapointed that my icing looked like normal fondant icing rather than rich frosting style icing, I'm not sure if this is because of the type of chocolate used (Went all out with Tesco Finest Madagascan Vanilla white chocolate), or that I had to use more cream than the recipe stated.

Overall the result was a success, and everyone made those reassuring 'mmm' noises, although it didn't completely bowl me over. Probably a 7/10. 
Lemon cake with white chocolate icing

65g unsalted butter
135g golden caster sugar
2 eggs
135g plain flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
zest & juice of 2 lemons

150g white chocolate broken up (plus extra to decorate)
75ml (quite probably a bit more) double cream

17 x 9cm loaf tin, or a small cake tin
  • Preheat oven to 170C/Gas 3
  • Put the butter and sugar in a bowl and beat well with an electric whisk. 
  • Add the eggs and whisk for a few minutes until pale and fluffy. 
  • Fold in the flower and baking powder with a metal spoon. 
  • Stir in the lemon juice and zest and stir until well mixed.
  • Pour the mixture into the greased or lined tin and bake for 25 minutes until golden. 
  • Remove from the oven and place on a cooling rack to cool. 
  • Put the broken chocolate in a mixing bowl. 
  • Put the cream in a saucepan and heat gently, stirring frequently until boiling. 
  • Pour into the mixing bowl over the chocolate and beat with a whisk until evenly blended. 
  • Put in the fridge for 15 minutes to stiffen. 
  • Spread the icing evenly over the cake and decorate with grated chocolate.

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Cheddar and Apple Straws

I felt like baking this morning but the cupboards were seriously bare. So I improvised with what I had and decided on a twist on cheese straws. 

I didn't even have normal plain or self raising flour, so ended up using 00 flour, an extremely fine type usually used in making pasta. The result was suprisingly good, creating a very delicate, melt in the mouth straw, although a bit difficult to work with. I tried making both thick and thin straws, the thin ones again were harder to work with, especially when the dough warmed up a little, but the finished result had a lovely crispy outside with a softer inside, whereas the thick ones could be a bit chewier in places, but it's really down to personal preference.

The result was much lighter and less greasy than shop bought cheese straws, although I was dissapointed not to be able to taste the apple. I think this was down to the type of apple I used, as I used royal gala. A stronger apple such as braeburn or bramley would make for a much better flavour and I'll try that next time. The type of cheese used again could alter the taste, I love my cheese strong and used Cathetral City white vintage cheddar, which I actually find mild, and hence the straws had quite a light taste.  I think the lesson here is to use a cheese you like the taste of and is the strength you like, it would work well with cheshire as well as cheddar. 

The recipe does not call for it, but brush the straws with milk before cooking to create a glossy finish. 


220g plain flour
80g unsalted butter, chilled and cubed
90g cheese, grated
1 tsp salt
40g peeled, cored and grated apple (roughly one apple)

  • Preheat oven to 170C/Gas mark 3. Line 1-2 baking trays with greaseproof paper.
  • Put the flour, butter, cheese and salt in a food processor and blitz until the mixture resembles crumbs. 
  • Tip into a bowl, stir in the apple, then work by hand to form a dough. Add a little water if too dry. 
  • Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface to form a log, wrap in cling film and refridgerate for around 15 minutes. 
  • Remove from the fridge and unwrap. Roll with a rolling pin to create a dough around half a centimetre thick.
  • Using a knife cut into straws between 0.5cm and 1.5cm depending on how thick or thin you want your straws
  • Twist then place on the baking tray making sure they do not touch.
  • Bake for around 18-20minutes until golden, remove from the oven and cool. 
These store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks, and freeze well once cooked. 

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

A fresh start

One of my ambitions is to work for myself, and one of my favourite things to do is cook and bake. An extension of this is that I would love to work with food by setting up my own business, either doing catering, or making cakes and cupcakes for weddings.

I love creating unusual flavours or working with less conventional ingredients. I also have a minor cookbook addiction, and read them like most people read fiction, devouring the pictures and savouring the tastes without ever having to set foot in the kitchen. 

At the moment I'm a bit at a loss as to how to start setting up a business to do this, I can't even get the environmental health people to call me back. This blog is going to follow my experiments with baking and cooking, learning what works, and learning how to set up a home based business.

Wish me luck,