Thursday, 31 January 2013

Speculoos Blondies

This particular post is a bit shoved together I’m afraid. Just after I made these blondies, I came down with the Flu, so not many pics!

But I was on a roll in the kitchen after making my Speculoos frosting – Speculoos being that delicious spread made from the cinnamony, gingery biscuits that go so well with a cup of coffee.

I looked for a brownie recipe to bake the spread into and on the way discovered this recipe for Speculoos Blondies over at Tasty Retreat, which looked delicious.

Yield: 12 (depending how big or small you cut them)

250 grams Speculoos spread (smooth), split in two halves
75 grams unsalted butter, softened
150 grams granulated sugar
100 grams light brown sugar
2 large eggs
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
100 grams plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
Pinch of salt
100 grams dark chocolate chips

Preheat your oven to 160oC. Spray and flour a 9” x13” baking pan. I used my individual square pan, which meant I had to bake for a little less time.

In a bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream together 125 grams of the Speculoos and all of the butter. 

Add the sugars and cream them altogether until smooth. Add the eggs and vanilla and beat until the mixture is smooth and thickens slightly. Add the flour mix and combine until no streaks of flour are seen. Lastly add the chocolate chips, folding them through the batter. 

Place the mixture into your pan and bake in the centre of the oven for 25 minutes (or 20 minutes if using an individual brownie pan like I did).

Remove from the oven and allow the blondies to cool completely in the pan. Then turn them out and cut into 12 bars. Using a melon baller, scoop the centre from each blondie, taking care not to go all the way through. Then fill each cavity with a dollop of the remaining Speculoos. And there you have Speculoos Blondies. These are delicious, in the chewy blondie way and the caramel overtones of the Spec’ really comes through. Enjoy!

Oh and I was asked to review an item called a Hoorag here on Cakeyboi. This is a stretchy tube of material which has many many uses apparently. I was told it is very good for keeping hair out of the eyes of chefs. But I forgot, I don’t have much hair, but I imagine the Hoorag would be good for that. It is good as a fashion accessory also, and on our trip to London, I wore mine’s around my neck as a scarf, as it was soooo cold. Check the website to see the different ways one can be worn and how to get hold of one! (They now have a snazzy one printed with kitchen untensils).

Disclosure Statement: I received the Hoorag free to review and was not committed to writing a favourable review. The views expressed are my own.

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Monday, 28 January 2013

Chocolate Orange Lasagne

As a child, ask me what my favourite food was and hands down, every time I would say my mum’s lasagne. Being brought up in an Italian family I was weaned on pasta, even before a lot of my classmates knew what the ‘weird, radical’ foreign food was. To me it was more common than a fried egg and chips for tea!

And when I saw that my friend Jac over at vegetarian website – Tinned Tomatoes – had a new challenge this month called Pasta Please, and that the theme was cheese, I knew I had to enter. But being Cakeyboi and predominately sweet, my thoughts turned to sweet lasagne!

Luckily I had also been asked to try some products for a company called Sugar And Crumbs who supply high quality baking ingredients, including flavoured cocoa powders and icing sugars. I was sent chocolate orange cocoa powder, white chocolate blossoms (little curls of chocolate) and natural orange icing sugar. (I will be using the orange icing sugar at a later date).

I adapted a recipe I found at Food Network and substituted the regular cocoa powder and orange zest, with the chocolate orange cocoa powder. I also used chopped white chocolate instead of chocolate chips, and half the amount of ricotta cheese (half the fat!).

Yield: one 8”x8” baking dish worth

5 sheets of fresh lasagne – (not dried)
500 grams ricotta cheese
110 grams icing sugar
50 grams chocolate orange cocoa powder
2 large eggs
150 grams chopped white chocolate
50 grams pistachio nuts, chopped and toasted
50 grams of white chocolate blossoms

Preheat your oven to 170oC. Line an 8”x8” pan with foil.
In a bowl whisk together the cheese, sugar, cocoa powder and eggs until smooth. Stir through the chopped chocolate. Spread one quarter of this mix on the bottom of the baking pan and sprinkle with some of the nuts. Lay a sheet and a half of lasagne on top. Then repeat with the cheese mix, nuts, more lasagne, finishing with the cheese and nuts. 

Pop into the oven for 30 minutes. The lasagne will puff up slightly. Remove from the oven and sprinkle the chocolate blossoms on top.

Allow this to cool for at least half and hour and then divide into squares ready to be devoured. As pasta is neither sweet nor savoury, this works so well with the chocolate orange flavour. The nuts give great texture and the chopped white chocolate gives a nice contrast to the cheesey chocolate filling.

As said, I am entering this into the Pasta Please challenge, hosted this month by Tinned Tomatoes. And the Sugar and Crumbs ingredients were brilliant – the blossoms were handy to use straight from the bag and the flavoured cocoa, really was a new one for me! They are to be introducing lots of new products and if I am sent any to try out, I will be sure to share them with you. Enjoy!

Disclosure Statement: I received the Sugar and Crumbs items free to review and was not committed to writing a favourable review. The views expressed are my own.

Saturday, 26 January 2013

The Cakeyboi Alphabet - D

D is for Dough (not Doh!)

Dough is a thick, malleable paste made out of any cereals (grains) or leguminous crops by mixing flour with a small amount of water and/or other liquid. This process is a precursor to making a wide variety of foodstuffs, particularly breads and bread-based items (e.g.,crustsdumplings), flatbreadsnoodlespastrypizzabread rollsbiscuitscookies and similar items. This includes all kinds of breads or similar recipes made from maizericesorghumwheat, and other cereals or related crops used around the world. (thanks Wikipedia!)

Thursday, 24 January 2013

I love Speculoos! (frosting)

On our trip to London, I finally bought a product I had been dying to try for ages – Speculoos. Now, you may not have heard of it before – it has several different names, such as Biscoff spread, Cookie Butter – here in the UK it is marketed as the punchy ‘Lotus – the original caramelised biscuit spread’ (!). I, however, love the name Speculoos and I'm sticking to it.

If you are new to it, it is basically a spread, the consistency of peanut butter that tastes like those little Lotus biscuits – they are cinnamony and gingery and delicious. It has been tricky to track down, but a couple of Twitter friends told me where to go to buy some. I tried it direct from the jar (with my finger - tut tut!) and it is very moreish, perfect for spreading on toast.

But I wanted to try something different with it and thought a frosting for cupcakes would be perfect to highlight it’s unique taste. I found a recipe and set to making it.

I knew that I didn’t want fancy cupcakes to put it on, which would take away from the flavour so was going to make vanilla cupcakes, when I saw a piece on a Food Network TV show – ‘Hungry Girl’ which said that if using a boxed cake mix – you don’t need to add the eggs, oil etc. that it tells you to. Just a can of diet soda in any flavour you choose works just fine. This intrigued me (and I had a box of vanilla cake mix in the cupboard) so bought some diet cream soda to try this out with. The cream soda is vanilla flavoured, so would match the cake, but ‘Hungry Girl’ suggested cola in chocolate cake, orange soda in vanilla etc. And it really worked! I mixed the soda and the cake mix popped in to some cake cases and baked for the time recommended. Kitchen alchemy at it’s best (and slightly healthier according to Hungry Girl as boxed cake mix is low in fat!).

Speculoos Buttercream Frosting (from Maison Cupcake)

Yield – Frosts 12 Cupcakes approx

250 grams icing sugar
50 grams unsalted butter, softened
30 grams Crunchy Speculoos spread
50 ml milk
1 tsp vanilla extract

In a bowl of an electric mixer, cream together the butter and speculoos, add the icing sugar and mix until blended. Add the vanilla and dribble in the milk until you get a consistency you are happy with (you won’t need all the milk). Pipe this onto cooled cupcakes and allow the butter to firm up a bit.

There you have Speculoos frosting. Did I mention that it comes in crunchy or smooth? I used crunchy in my frosting, but smooth is fine too. I think it going to be popping up in supermarkets all over the place (not just Waitrose where I got it) soon, so - Enjoy – and I will have another Speculoos recipe coming your way soon!

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Cartoon Time - Pancake

No, It's not Mr Tumnus but Pan the Greek God...

Monday, 21 January 2013

Outsider Tart Revisited

A few months back, when Cakeyboi was in his infancy, I ventured to a bakery I was desperate to try out in London. Outsider Tart in Chiswick was the place and on our last trip to London, I popped along solo, whilst Disneyboi was busy. It was a fleeting visit, but I enjoyed it – and the cakes especially! Check out my review here.

As you may know, we are just back from our latest trip to the Capital and Disneyboi was desperate to try it for himself this time. Being a fan on Facebook and checking out their website, I knew that Outsider Tart had extended their store and I wanted to see what it was like. We took the tube out to Turnham Green (the closest station) and ventured up Chiswick High Road. When we got there, firstly we had a quick look at the cakes and all the American goodies on sale.

It was lunchtime and we were hungry, so were delighted to see that savoury was on the menu too. We both plumped for a bowl of chilli, which came with a huge slab of cornbread. 

The cornbread was the best I had ever had, and the chilli that also came with sour cream and some salsa verde was warming and delicious. Perfect for the bitterly cold day outside. The café area was spacious and comfortable and very relaxing.

After the savoury, we had a hot cup of coffee and chose a couple of cakes. The guy who served us took ages to go through what each of the cakes were, there was so many. I chose a blondie and brownie combo, with raisins and oatmeal ( I think that’s what it was, I honestly forgot after eating it!!) and Disneyboi chose an orange and lemon cake with frosting. No pic of that, as it was eaten pdq!

I bought a couple of things on the way out and settled our bill, With full stomachs we had a quick wander around Chiswick High Road, a lovely area, to burn off some our of our grub. Disneyboi was very impressed and I think this may just be a regular haunt for us on our trips to London.

Saturday, 19 January 2013

The Cakeyboi Alphabet - C

C is for Chopped - Nuts

I now buy my nuts pre-chopped. I can't tell you the length of time I have stood in the kitchen chopping almonds, hazelnuts and so on for a recipe! It's saves sooo much time. Because nuts contain a lot of oil, they can go rancid very quickly. But did you know your nuts can be kept nice and fresh stored in a freezer for up to 2 years.

Thursday, 17 January 2013

Cheddarberry Scones

strawberry and cheese scones

Back from London and a few snippets to bring you from this trip at a later point, but in the meantime, another bake I had up my sleeve...

Many years ago, my good friend Claire, whom I have known since I was 8, asked me to try an unusual combo on toast – Strawberry Jam and Cheddar Cheese. The cheese was melted on top of the jam, and I have to say it was flippin’ delicious. This is possibly where my love of unusual flavour combinations comes from.

Surprisingly, I have never made scones before and really wanted to give them a try (new year, new things remember!), and I thought the flavours of cheddar and strawberries might just give my scones the Cakeyboi twist I wanted.

I found a recipe on BBC Food for cheese scones and also saw that Ina Garten used dried strawberries in her Strawberry Scones, so took elements from both and came up with my Cheddarberry Scones. I wanted to call them ‘cheeseberry’, but I googled that word and that means something altogether different!!

I used strawberries, but raspberries or even blueberries would work well here too.

Yield: Approx 8 Scones

225 grams self raising flour
pinch of salt
55 grams unsalted butter
55 grams mature cheddar grated
150 ml milk
70 grams of dried strawberries, diced
1 egg and 1 teaspoon water, mixed

Pre-heat your oven to 220oC and line a baking tray with greaseproof paper.
Place the flour and salt in a bowl and add the butter. Rub the butter into the flour until it looks like breadcrumbs. Stir in the cheese. Add the milk and mix until it forms dough.

 Next stir through the chopped berries and then place on to a lightly floured surface and give this a quick knead. Pat the dough down till it is about 1 ½ inch thick and cut out with whatever cutter you are using. I used oblong shapes. Just reform the leftover dough and keep cutting out until it is all used up. Place each scone on the baking tray. Brush the top of each scone with the egg wash and sprinkle on some more cheese.

Place these into the oven for 12 to 15 minutes, until they have risen and darkened on top. The cheese will smell amazing at this stage! Leave them to cool completely on a wire rack and when ready to serve, slice in half and spread generously with butter.

These are deliciously moist scones and have that sharpness from the cheddar cut with the sweet pops from the strawberries. I urge you to try this next time you make scones – you won’t regret it. Enjoy!

Monday, 14 January 2013

Normal Service Will Be Resumed Shortly...

We are on a wee break to London - so no bake today...

...back soon!

Saturday, 12 January 2013

The Cakeyboi Alphabet - B

In the Cakeyboi alphabet - B stands for Blind (baking)

Baking blind (sometimes called pre-baking) is the process of baking pastry without the filling. Blind baking a pie crust is necessary when it will be filled with an unbaked filling (such as with pudding or cream pies) or when the filling has a shorter bake time than the crust. Blind baking a pie crust also helps prevent the pie crust from becoming soggy from its filling.
Generally, the pie crust is lined with tin foil or baking paper, then filled with pie-weights to keep the crust's shape while baking . These weights are usually ceramic or metal , but dried pulses can be used as  as well as rice. The crust is docked with the tines of a fork to produce small holes—this helps steam escape and prevents the crust from bubbling up. 
Blind-baking also helps to form a nice pastry case for the filling as it has already been partially formed from blind-baking. (thanks Wikipedia!)

Thursday, 10 January 2013

Pear and Nutella Galette

pear nutella pastry

What with it being a new year, I am trying things that I haven’t been too confident of in the past. Such as pastry – my nemesis. I usually have a motto – life is too short to make your own, especially when supermarkets do a good enough job in selling it.

But, I was determined to try making it again , especially after watching my new favourite show on Food Network – Bake with Anna Olson. I have recorded them all, and am making my way through the shows.

Anna made her recipe for short crust pastry look uber easy, and when she made little apple galettes at the end, a free form sort of apple pie, I wanted to make something along those lines. And I had seen a few recipes incorporating Nutella recently. I really love Nutella, the chocolaty hazelnut spread, it takes me back to the tuck shop at school when you could buy a little pack, which came with a spoon and eat it on it’s own.

Anyhoo, I digress, I thought pears would be a perfect accompaniment to the Nutella – so set about making my Pear and Nutella Galettes. 

Yield: 3 oblong galettes

Dough Ingredients (adapted from Anna Olson):
115 grams plain flour
1 tablespoon sugar
½ teaspoon salt
110 grams cold unsalted butter, diced
3 tablespoons ice cold water
½ tablespoon white vingegar

1 large pear (I used a Sweet Sensation variety)
100 grams Nutella spread
chopped hazelnuts to sprinkle
sugar for sprinkling
1 egg

In a food processor, pulse the flour, sugar, salt and butter until the butter becomes broken down into pea sizes. You don’t want to over mix, so the butter blends in totally. 

Mix together the water and vinegar and then drizzle through the feed tube. Keep processing, just until the dough becomes a ball. Place the dough into some Clingfilm and wrap it up into a flat shape (mines was sort of square). Pop into the fridge for 20 minutes. 

In the meantime, slice your pear thinly.

After the 20 minutes, remove the dough from the fridge and divide into three pieces. Roll each piece out to about an 1/8 inch thick. My pieces were oblong shaped, but any shape works fine, as long as you can place the filling in and pull the sides up.

I spread a third of the Nutella onto each piece of dough and then layered the slices of pear. I then turned up the edges to hold in the filling. Lastly I sprinkled over some chopped hazelnuts. 

Place your galettes onto a lined baking tray and pop back into the fridge. Pre-heat your oven to 180oC, and when the oven has come up to temp, take the galettes from the fridge and with a little egg wash (which the egg with a teaspoon of water), brush this onto the exposed pastry. 

Sprinkle over some sugar and place into the middle shelf of your oven. Bake for 20 to 25. Your pastry will turn golden brown and the pears will break down slightly when ready. I sprinkled over a little icing sugar before eating.

These are one of those bakes, when you surprise yourself. I took one mouthful and was astonished by how good it was. They are best eaten warm from the oven, so the Nutella is lovely and runny and the pears just go so well with this. And the pastry – oh my! It really was good – light, flaky and crisp. I think I am conquering one of my baking fears….enjoy!

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Cartoon Time - Brownie

Thanks to Cakeyboi fan Katie T for this idea, who herself, is a Brownie.

Monday, 7 January 2013

Jaffa Cake Popcorn Clusters

jaffa cake, popcorn

I have no idea what inspired me to try this recipe, other than the cute little popcorn boxes I bought from TK Maxx a while back. I didn’t want to chuck in plain old popping corn, so wondered how I could pimp it up. I also was having a much on Jaffa Cakes at the time, so thought why not try and combine the two?

Jaffa Cakes are that perennial British favourite biscuit – or is it a cake? It’s an old question, probably dating back many a year, but the taxmen got their knickers into a fankle over it due to variances in VAT between cakes and biscuits. Apparently they decided it was a cake. But I will always think of it as a biccy. I used to be a member of the McVities Jaffa Cake Club back in the day ( I was a large child) but all I can really remember about that was getting some free stickers and an enamel badge, (which I just found in my old badge collection!).

For those not familiar with them, the Jaffa Cake combines sponge cake on the base (always slightly stale tasting), ‘a smashing orangey bit’ in the middle (trademark) and a topping of dark chocolate. Mix this with popcorn and it would be a delicious little snack I thought…

Yield: I generous serving

1 sachet of sugar-free orange jelly
1 tablespoon of marmalade
6 store bought – vanilla mini muffins
100 grams plain chocolate chips
50 grams popcorn kernels, popped

Begin by making your ‘smashing orangey bit’. Make your orange jelly as directed on the pack, but use a quarter less water. The instructions on my pack said to make up to a pint, I did mine to three quarters of a pint. Stir in the tablespoon of marmalade until it melts in the hot water and set aside to let the jelly set. You won’t need all the jelly, but the remainders you could always snack on.

Take the vanilla muffins and chop these into half-inch cubes also. Leave them on the cutting board whilst the jelly sets, so they go a little bit hard – just like the sponge cake bottom. I could have gone to the bother of making muffins, but for this recipe, store bought was fine.

Pop your corn if you haven’t done so already. I use a popcorn maker, as this involves no fat and is a wee bit healthier. Leave this to cool slightly.

After the jelly is set, scoop a few spoonfuls of the jelly onto a chopping board and cut with a knife into little half-inch chunks. It should be pretty firm from adding less water, but still jelly like.

Combine the sponge cubes, jelly cubes and popcorn in a large bowl giving it a good stir. Next melt the chocolate chips, either in a bowl over a pan of simmering water, or in the microwave. 

Give this a good stir and then drizzle over the popcorn. Mix this through thoroughly. Now you can eat this with the chocolate slightly molten, so you get nice and messy, or you could wait a while until the chocolate sets – up to you. Don’t let it set in the fridge however as this will make the popcorn stale up.

So there you have Jaffa Cake Popcorn Clusters – they do taste very Jaffa Cakey-ish what with all the elements of the cake, the marmalade in the jelly really does add another element to the orange. Enjoy…!