Saturday, January 28, 2012

Yellow Cake - THE Basic Sponge

Finally! It's been so long since I've made a birthday cake, I was worried I'd have forgotten how! it's all go here today, I'm only able to type this up because I'm waiting for everything to cool! Kate's Bakes, my little baking business, has finally kicked off and I have two commissions due today; a raspberry pavlova for a wrap party and this yellow cake for a 22nd birthday.

This yellow cake is the most reliable recipe I've ever had, it always produces a moist, tender cake that tastes buttery and delicious; perfect filled with jam and cream and dusted with icing sugar for a simple afternoon treat or dressed up with frosting or fondant for a more statement cake.

Yellow Cake
Makes one 9" sandwich cake
  • 225g butter
  • 350g sugar
  • 360g plain flour
  • 4 eggs
  • 300mls milk
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 2 tsps vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 175 C, grease and line 2 tins
combine flour and baking powder in a bowl
In a larger bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy
Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each. Add vanilla
Alternate adding milk and flour to this mixture and mix well
Bake for 30-35 mins, turning once halfway through
Cool completely then decorate

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Chocolate Truffles and 1 Year of Blogging

I can't believe I've been blogging for a year, sharing my recipes and in turn meeting new people. It's been an interesting year, with long illness/thesis related gaps in posting and a new business venture started, but I've enjoyed it immensely and I can't wait for the second anniversary!

To celebrate this I decided to dust off a chocolate truffle recipe I have to practice for valentines day. I love dark chocolate and I find it is the easiest type of chocolate to work with when making truffles. I've made white chocolate truffles before but they ended up being a little too soft, despite a large amount of icing sugar and ground almonds I added to bind the mixture... I've heard of people adding butter but I think that makes then truffles greasy and far too heavy (really unpleasant)... I'll have to work that little problem out before I have to make them again. Actually, if anyone has any suggestions I'd love to hear them :)

I tend to use 80% cocoa chocolate for this but if you want a slightly less bitter chocolate taste you can reduce the cocoa content, although I wouldn't go below 65%. The icing sugar and cocoa powder amount is really really variable and will also be affected by whatever flavours you are adding but just wing it, testing for sweetness as you go.

Dark Chocolate Truffles
Makes around 40

  • 450g dark chocolate (at least 65% cocoa)
  • 250 ml full cream
  • 4-5 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 6-8 tbsp icing sugar
Break the chocolate into small pieces and put into a bowl.
Heat the cream in a saucepan until it is just boiling
Remove from the heat and pour over the chocolate, stirring gently
Leave to stand for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the chocolate has all melted
Alternate adding the icing sugar and cocoa powder until a thick but smooth
ganache consistency is reached; at this stage you will want to be tasting for sweetness
and adding more or less than the recommended icing sugar and cocoa powder
Chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes then roll teaspoonful sized clumps of the 
mix into balls
Coat in cocoa powder and enjoy

Almond Truffles

Use the basic mix above but BEFORE CHILLING, substitute one of the tablespoons of cocoa powder and one of the tablespoons of icing sugar for two tablespoons of ground almonds
Add 3 drops of almond essence and mix well
Chill normally and coat in ground almonds

Hazelnut Truffles

As above but substitute 1 tablespoons of cocoa powder for 2 tbsp of Nutella and 2 tbsp of ground hazelnuts
Chill and roll in ground hazelnuts

Rum Truffles

As above but add 2-3 tablespoons of spiced rum to the mix, adding more icing sugar if the mixture is too runny. 
Roll in cocoa powder after chilling

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Selection Box Cookies & A New Year 12 hour Dungeon Crawl

So it's the New Year, a time for getting together with family and friends, bidding farewell to the old and looking forward to the new. Normally celebrations consist of drinking, dancing, partying, going to the pub and counting down the final 10 seconds (with a possible kiss at the stroke of midnight). This year however we decided to do something totally different and host a marathon Pathfinder dungeon crawl.

But not just any dungeon...the most intense, difficult and terrifyingly deadly dungeon ever created by Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson; The Tomb of Horrors. So, as the clock struck 7PM two teams of intrepid explorers probably with more weapons than sense, set forth. We had our first death within 10 minutes...

In order to get us through this ordeal, I brought home made cookies. In Ireland at Christmas the Cadbury's chocolate company (who make the best chocolate in the world) brings out a selection box which contains a variety of their best loved chocolate bars. It's a pretty standard gift and we ended up with 4 in the house but since I can't really eat chocolate I decided to make cookies with mine. The different chocolate bars came together really well and they were a huge hit so I think they'll become a New Years staple from now on!

Selection Box Cookies
Makes around 18

  • 255g flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 180g butter, melted and cooled
  • 270g brown sugar
  • 1 egg & 1 egg yolk
  • 2 tsps vanilla essence
  • 1.5-2 cups mixed chocolate bars, roughly chopped
Preheat the oven to 160 C, line trays with greaseproof paper
Beat butter and sugar in a large bowl until creamy
Add egg, yolk, vanilla and mix
In another bowl combine the flour and baking powder
Add the dry ingredients to the wet, at this stage the mixture will be a bit crumbly 
but it will come together after mixing, don't fret
Add the chopped chocolate bars and fold them into the dough
Form heaped tablespoonfuls of the dough into balls then flatten them
Place them on the prepared baking tray
Bake for 14-17 minutes, until the edges are golden but the centers are still soft
Cool completely or have one fresh from the oven with vanilla ice cream!

Thanks to Sprinkled With Flour and Pam for the pics 

Happy New Year! :) x