Tag Archives: vanilla essence

Cranberry Loaf

I found this recipe over on Joy of Baking and knew it was just perfect for what I wanted.  It was very simple to prepare as it’s essentially a muffin mixture and it would keep very well for a week, in fact getting better over the week, so perfect for posting for Christmas presents.  It also looks so very Christmassy! 

I wanted to use rectangular foil ‘takeout’ containers so as to ship and transport it easily and these were smaller than the 9″x5″x3″ tin the recipe called for so I doubled the recipe thinking may be I’d get 3 out of it, nope, got 4!  Yum, one spare!  It’s a really interesting flavour too, you have the sharpness of the cranberries with hints of fruity and nuttiness.  The crust also forms this delicious sugary crunch.  A surefire winner this one.  My test subjects of my mum’s office were begging for the recipe!

 

Makes 2 8″ x4″x3″ ‘loaf tins’

460g plain flour
700g golden caster sugar
4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
zest of 1 orange
1 large egg
56g butter, melted and cooled
1 tsp vanilla essence
360ml milk
100g fresh cranberries (Dried if fresh not available)
90g mixed peel (I used whole preserved orange peels chopped up)
60g chopped mixed nuts

– Heat your oven to gas mark 4 and grease your tins. 
– In a large bowl mix together the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and orange zest. 
– In a large jug mix together the butter, vanilla and milk. 
– Mix the two together and stir well to combine.  (Doesn’t matter if there are some lumps in there.)
– Add the fruits and nuts and stir through. 
– Pour into the tins and bake at the top of the oven for 1 hour.  Cover the top with foil if it gets too brown. 
– Test with a skewer to see if it’s done then remove from the oven and cool completely. 
– Wrap in foil to store for up to a week.

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Filed under Cakes, Christmas, Easy

100th Recipe Celebration Cake

Yay!  This is my 100th recipe posted here!  To celebrate I made a cake.  Chocolate cakes and I have a tricky relationship.  I’m very demanding when it comes to chocolate cakes.  I am after perfection!  I’m not sure I’m quite there yet but this is the best chocolate cake I’ve made yet.  It’s moist and fudgey and squishy but not too rich.  It’s quite dense but stops just short of being called brownie-like.  The best thing about it is that it can be thrown together in a blender or mixer if you don’t want to do it by hand.  It was ridiculously easy.  All in all this cake was a success. 

I was going to do fantastic things icing this cake.  I made fondant icing from scratch, well, a box of fondant icing sugar.  But I had to get the Kenwood out to mix it and spent over an hour rolling it out.  Blood, sweat and tears went into this icing, literally.  Then I finally had it rolled out to the right size.  I went to pick it up to drape it over the cake and… DISASTER.  It stuck to the plastic sheets I’d been rolling it out between and then it stuck to itself and then it fell apart.  I honestly don’t know if it was too wet, sticky, or too dry, cracked into pieces.  But I cried. 

So I just stopped with the buttercream icing and decided that may be I should practice with ready rolled a bit first.  Learn to walk before I try running if you will.  As for the decorations… well, I have the artistic ability of a drunken ferret.  I love edible ball bearings and all baked goods should be blessed with them.   Strawberries or raspberries would look great on this but they’re out of season at the minute so I used raspberry jelly sweets instead.  A layer of fresh fruit inside would be nice too. 

Makes 1×8″ cake

For the cake:
225g granulated sugar
200g plain flour
100g cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 large egg
120ml milk
60ml vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla essence
120 ml boiling water

For the buttercream*:
180g plain chocolate
225g unsalted butter, softened
240g icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla essence

– Heat your oven to Gas Mark 4 and prepare two 8″ sandwich tins. 
– In a large bowl mix together the sugar, flour, cocoa**, baking powder and salt. 
– Add the egg, milk, oil and vanilla essence to the dry ingredients and mix well.  It make seem very dry but keep at it.  It will come together to form a dough.  Keep mixing until it is a smooth, even consistency. 
– Add the water and mix thoroughly. 
– Pour the batter into the two tins.  If you want completely equal layers you can weigh them but I usually do it by eye. 
– Smooth the batter out so it is even. 
– Bake for 25-30 minutes.  You will be able to see if the centre is uncooked and a skewer inserted will come out clean. 
– Make up the buttercream by melting the chocolate in a bowl over a pan of boiling water.  Allow to cool.   
– Cream together the butter and the icing sugar and then add the vanilla essence. 
– Mix well then add the melted chocolate and stir thoroughly until everything is combined. 
– Leave to cool in the tin for 15 minutes or so then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely. 
– Once completely cool fill between the two cakes and ice all over with the buttercream using a palette knife to smooth it over the cake. 
– Decorate as you wish. 

* I only made 2/3 this amount and it needed more so expect better coverage than seen in the photo. 
**Sift this in or you will get lumps.

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Filed under Cakes, Easy

Black Forest Cupcakes

Guilty secret time.  I have been known to buy one of those 99p frozen supermarket Black Forest Gateaux and eat the entire thing in about 20 minutes.  I LOVE Black Forest Gateaux!  In times of stress I reach for one of those and a fork.  Today has been very stressful.  Suffice to say it involved calling 6 different helpline numbers who all told me I had to speak to a different number before eventually putting me through to the first number.  Joy.  I needed cake in a serious way. 

I’ve been thinking about making these for a while now.  Traditionally a Black Forest Gateaux would need to be made with whipped cream but we didn’t have space in the fridge to store them so I opted for buttercream instead.  If you were making these for a party though I would suggest topping them with whipped cream as the flavours all go together so well.  Also if making these for kids you don’t have to put the Kirsch in.  For those of you trying to be good in the run up to Christmas the I have it on good authority from my mother that they taste great topped with creme fraiche as a low-fat alternative and they look pretty good too!*

Makes 12

For the cakes:
200g unsalted butter, softened
200g golden caster sugar
4 eggs, beaten
1 tbsp Kirsch
200g self-raising flour
25g cocoa powder

For the toppings:
1 ~425g tin cherries
2 tbsp Kirsch
5 tbsp sugar
1 tsp arrowroot powder
80g unsalted butter, softened
180g icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla essence
1-2 tbsp milk
chocolate sprinkles
12 natural coloured glace cherries

– Heat the oven to gas mark 5 and line a 12 hole muffin tin with paper cases. 
– Cream together the butter and the sugar until light and fluffy. 
– Gradually add the eggs, beating well between additions.  Aim to do this in about 6 stages for best results. 
– Stir in the Kirsch. 
– Sift in the flour and cocoa powder and fold in. 
– Divide equally between the 12 cases. 
– Bake for 20-25 minutes, testing with a skewer or tooth pick to see if they’re done. 
– Place on a wire rack to cool completely. 

– Meanwhile separate the cherries from the juice they came in and place the juice and 5 tbsp sugar in a small pan.  Pour 1 tbsp of Kirsch over the cherries. 
– Gently heat the juice until the sugar has dissolved then boil rapidly for at least 5 minutes. 
– Remove from the heat.  In a small dish mix together the arrowroot powder and last tbsp of Kirsch.  Add this to the pan. 
– Return the pan to the heat, stirring constantly until the white colour has gone and bring to boiling point. 
– Remove the pan from the heat and keep stirring until the sauce has thickened.
– Add the cherries to the sauce and allow to cool a little. 

– Trim any domes from the cupcakes, leaving a flat surface. 
– In the centre of each cupcake use a paring knife to cut a circle and remove a core from the cake leaving a hole. 
– Add a spoonful of cherries and sauce to fill each hole.  My tin had enough for exactly 3 cherries per cake.  Allow to stand for a minute or two then add more of the sauce. 

– In a small bowl mix together the butter and 80g of icing sugar until smooth. 
– Add the rest of the icing sugar, the vanilla and 1 tbsp of milk. 
– Mix together until totally smooth adding more milk if necessary. 

– Pipe the buttercream on top of the cupcake, sprinkle with chocolate and add a glace cherry. 

*Here is the low-fat(ish) version:

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Filed under Cupcakes and Muffins, Moderately easy

Madeleines

Tonight I finally made madeleines!  I have been desperate to make madeleines for weeks now but my main problem was that I didn’t own a madeleine tin.  I did a lot of research and visited every cookware store in the area but couldn’t find what I was after. Madeleine tins are elusive!  The one tin I could find had poorly defined edges and I thought that at that price it should be perfect.  Eventually I managed to find one on ebay for £8.50, only a 9 hole silicon one but it had nice crisp looking edges so I bought it.  Even better, when it arrived it was not evil orange as in the picture but a lovely red colour.  It arrived earlier this week and I would have made them before this evening but I was dead of cold, hence my lack of posts recently.  I had taken to my bed and stayed there!  Tonight, after over 12 hours sleep, I finally felt relatively well again and I couldn’t wait to get in the kitchen.  The time for madeleines had come! 

Madeleine

I chose this madeleine recipe from the dozens and dozens I’ve looked at because it didn’t use baking powder.  I was always told that if you use baking powder in a recipe you should cook it as soon as possible as it activates as soon as it is mixed with liquid.  Since madeleine recipes generally call for a period of rest before cooking I couldn’t quite see the logic in adding it.  I also liked it because it didn’t make dozens and dozens as most recipes seem to.  The end result is a beautiful light little cake, a perfect addition to afternoon tea I would say, although they were equally good as dessert.  I made them with orange flower water this time but next time may try for a lemon or vanilla flavour.  In an interesting discovery my mother can’t seem to taste orange flower water when I cook with it.  It’s more of an aroma than a solid taste but I love the delicate nature of it, to my mother it just doesn’t seem to register. 

Vanilla Madeleines

Makes 12 (Doubles easily to make ~21)

50g unsalted butter
1 large egg
40g caster sugar
pinch of salt
45g plain flour
1 tbsp orange flower water/1 tsp vanilla essence/zest of half a lemon
icing sugar for dusting

– First melt the butter and allow to cool.  (I usually microwave for 1 minute if straight from  the fridge but even so it sometimes explodes so cover it!)
– Beat together the sugar, egg and salt for 5 minutes using an electric mixer on high.  It should become thick and pale, or as the recipe said “as thick as mayonnaise”. 
– Sift in the flour (don’t just put it in you want to keep as much air as possible in the mixture). 
– Lightly fold in the flour then add the butter and orange flower water/vanilla/lemon.  Mix well but not too much as you are trying to keep it light and airy. 
– Leave to rest in the fridge for 1 hour. 
– Remove from the fridge and allow to stand at room temperature for 30 minutes. 
– Heat the oven to gas mark 7 and grease the moulds with a little melted butter. 
– Put one spoonful of mixture in each scallop, don’t fill the scallop, it will spread out when it goes in the oven. 
– Bake for 12 minutes.  (If you only have a 9 hole tin like I do then do it in two batches.)
– Turn out onto a rack to cool* and then dust with icing sugar before serving warm or cold. 

*I’ve never cooked with silicone before, except for the odd bun case, I was very impressed with how easy it was and how well they came out of the mould, I just tipped it upside down et voila, out they came!  I did stand it on a baking tray to cook though as I was worried that the wire racks in the oven wouldn’t keep it straight.

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Filed under Easy, Teatime Treats

Blueberry Muffins Recipe

Today I made blueberry muffins.  I found I had a box of blueberries in the freezer and the recipe my mum gave me for muffins only makes six so a perfect quantity as I am home alone this week and so I will be the only one enjoying them.  My mum makes stupendous chocolate muffins, she was famous for them in my halls in first year!  As such it’s very firmly her department to provide muffins and so I’ve never tried this recipe before.  I have to say that this recipe is really quick and simple.  Less than 30 minutes I’d say.  Just throw everything together and you’re done, no elbow grease required!  I actually made 8 muffins as I didn’t know how much they would rise.  I ended up with quite flat muffins so do take heed, you will only need six cases.  Next time I will know better!

Blueberry muffins

Makes 6

50g dark muscoavdo sugar
125ml milk
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla essence
40g butter, melted and cooled
150g self raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
150g blueberries*

– Heat the oven to gas mark 6 and prepare 6 holes of a muffin tin. 
– Beat together the sugar, milk, egg and vanilla essence then add the butter and beat again. 
– Sift the flour, baking podwer and salt into the mixture.
– Fold in gently. 
– Add the blueberries and stir in. 
– Divide the mixture evenly between the cases. 
– Bake for 20-25 minutes. (Mine took 25)
– Remove from the oven and leave to cool a little in the tin then place on a wire rack to cool completely or serve warm. 

*This was just the size of the box I had, I think that 100g would be fine if that was what you had but more than 150g would be far too many.

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Filed under Cupcakes and Muffins, Easy

Banoffee Tiramisu Charlotte Recipe

This came about because I’d seen a picture of a Strawberry Charlotte and thought it looked cool.  I was also thinking of trying out a tiramisu recipe and I had bananas and dulche de leche that needed to be used up before I go on holiday.  So I combined them all!  I thought that it might be like the Summer Pudding, looks easy, really not, but it turned out to be very simple.  A little fiddly in places but other than that it was much better than I had hoped.  Then it came to whether or not it would actually have worked or not.  Would mixeing the three things be too much of a good thing or a delicious dessert invention?  I am very happy to announce that it is definitely the latter.  It looks impressive and tasted great too!

Banoffee Tiramisu Charlotte

Serves 8

1 pack of sponge fingers
250ml whipping cream
250g marscapone
1/2 tsp vanilla essence
3 tbsp icing sugar
2 tbsp Kahlua
1 can Carnation Caramel or Dulce de Leche
3 bananas
6 squares plain chocolate. 

For the syrup:
1 tbsp instant coffee
1 tbsp sugar
1/2 cup boiling water
1 tbsp Kahlua

– Line a 7″ loose bottomed cake tin with baking paper. 
– Mix all of the syrup ingredients in a small bowl and set aside to cool.
– Whip the cream in a bowl. 
– Mix together the marscapone, vanilla, icing sugar and Kahlua in a large bowl. 
– Gradually add the whipped cream to this mix. 
– Carefully cut the very end off enough sponge fingers to line the cake tin so you have a straight edge. 
– Carefully place the sponge fingers around the circumference of the tin. 
– With the rest of your sponge fingers dip them in the syrup for 1 second and then line the bottom of the tin with them. 
– Spoon over half of your dulche de leche. 
– Place a layer of banana slices on top of that. 
– Spoon the cream over the bananas then smooth down with the back of a spoon. 
– Grate chocolate over the cream.
– Again dip and place the sponge fingers on top of the cream. 
– Add the rest of the dulche de leche. 
– More banana slices. 
– The rest of the cream. 
– Smooth down the cream with the back of the spoon and then grate chocolate over the top. 
– Place in the fridge overnight.   
– To remove from the tin find a small bowl or large glass that is taller than the cake tin.  Place the tin on top of this and gently push down on the ring being careful not to knock the fingers. 
– Pick up the base plate and use a pallate knife to gently slide the dessert on to the serving plate.  I say just leave the baking paper on the bottom and don’t tempt fate but if you’re feeling brave you can try to separate the paper and pudding in the same manoeuver.   
– Enjoy!

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Filed under Desserts, Moderately easy

Tollhouse Cookies Recipe

Or just Chocolate Chip Cookies if you like!  I have been cooking these for years.  They were probably the first cookie recipe I tried and I have never needed to look elsewhere.  I’ve tweaked the recipe here and there and made several variations over the years but simple is best I think.  These are best enjoyed warm with a cold glass of milk.  They may be good on their own but just wait til you try them with milk!  They have the perfect texture somehow managing to be crunchy yet slightly chewy too and if you can restrain yourself they keep quite well too. 

Tollhouse Cookies

Makes 24

115g butter softened*
50g granulated sugar
75g dark brown sugar
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla essence
125g plain flour
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
a pinch of salt
180g chocolate chips (or whatever weight your bag is. I used Cadburys Chunks which weigh 180g If using a small bag, say 100g, use 2 bags.)

– Heat the oven to gas mark 4 and grease 3 baking trays. 
– Cream together the butter and both sugars until it is light, fluffy and there are absolutely no lumps. 
– Beat together the egg and vanilla and then gradually add this to the butter and sugar mix, mixing thoroughly between additions.  If it curdles (goes a bit weird and lumpy looking) just add a tbsp of the flour and continue to mix. 
– Sift in the flour, bicarbonate of soda and salt and mix well.  It may look as if it will never cream together if you’re doing it by hand rather than in a mixer as I do but keep mixing and it will come together nicely. 
– Add the chocolate chips  and stir through until evenly distributed. 
– Place heaped teaspoonfuls of the mixture on the prepared trays leaving 2 inches between each mound.  These cookies will spread out so do leave the space. 
– Bake for 15 minutes until lightly browned. 
– Remove from the oven and leave on the tray for a minute before removing with a flat knife and transfering to a wire rack to cook to eating temperature. 

* When baking always use room temperature ingredients, if they’re coming from the fridge then take them out at least 30 minutes in advance.  If your butter still isn’t soft enough to cream I find that 10 seconds in the microwave does the trick but no longer!

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Filed under Cookies and Biscuits, Easy