Friday, 25 March 2011

Blondies with peanut butter

This was the second of my peanut butter recipes from last week and is also the second yummy recipe I have tried from Eric Lanlard's Home Bake book.

I think I left it in slightly too long - gave it an extra ten mins as it seemed a bit too wibbly when it came out of the oven and I am a bit obsessed with things being undercooked. I only really got to have a little taste of these - had already OD'd on Snickers muffins so the rest got given away as extra housewarming goodies for my best friend, Mike's family, and Nic's Notebook. But what I did try I liked - they were a lot lighter and sweeter than normal brownies - so they are definitely going on the 'make again' list and I think I will hog them all for myself next time!

Here is the recipe, and this time I actually remembered to take pictures as I went!

You will need:
100g unsalted butter, softened
150g crunchy peanut butter

1tsp vanilla extract

175g caster sugar

1 egg

75g white chocolate
75g walnut halves

125g plain flour

1tsp baking powder

melted dark and white chocolate, to decorate

1. Preheat oven to 170c/gas 3. Grease and line a 20cm square tin with butter.
2. Beat the butter and peanut butter together until creamy, then add the vanilla, sugar, and egg and beat again until light and creamy.

3. Chop up the white chocolate and walnuts, and stir in to the mixture.

4. Sift the flour and baking powder and fold in to the mixture.
5. Spoon into the tin and smooth the top.

6. Bake for 40mins until there is a golden crust but it is still fudgy in the middle.
7. Leave to cool and then decorate by drizzling melted white and dark chocolate across the top.

OK so my drizzling skills leave a lot to be desired! I've been using a spoon and it either comes off the spoon in blobs or lines that are far too thin, grr! If you have any good drizzling tips, please leave a comment and let me know :)

ETA: this is now my entry for Sweets for a Saturday! Head on over to Lisa's blog to see all the other entries.

Sunday, 20 March 2011

Snickers and Peanut Butter Muffins

I have gone a bit peanut butter crazy this week - it's not something I would ever buy so I needed to use the whole jar up! As a result the very thought of it is now making me a bit queasy.

I saw this Nigella recipe for Snickers and Peanut Butter muffins on Nic's Notebook and have had it bookmarked for ages, and when my best friend moved into a new place last week I thought they would be perfect for a housewarming present, as she is a bit of a Reese's cups fiend I thought she would appreciate them.

The tulip muffin cases I picked up from the cake supplies shop at Lady Heyes - I've never used them before but will definitely be using them again. I love the effect - but I need to work a bit harder on not dolloping the batter all over the sides too as there were quite a few stray bits of muffin burnt onto the tips of them!

I will definitely be making these again (although not for a very long time due to serious peanut butter overload) - I loved the gooey chewy bits of Snickers inside. Head over to Nic's Notebook if you want to try out the recipe!

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Toffee and Apple Sauce Muffins

I'd been itching to try out some of the recipes in my new Eric Lanlard - Home Bake book since I bought it from the book club in work for the bargain price of £6! Everything looked so yummy that I had a hard time choosing, but these toffee and apple sauce muffins had got me drooling so I went with them.

They turned out fine but my recipe and measurements were a bit of a disaster. I didn't have any Calvados - apparently this is an apple liqueur but since I knew I'd probably never used it again I didn't want to buy a whole bottle for 2 teaspoons, so I just added 2 extra teaspoons of water. In hindsight I perhaps should have got some apple juice instead. So I wasn't sure on my apple sauce - in the recipe it says that the sauce should be the same consistency as the muffin batter but my sauce was very thin and batter very thick, so I don't know if that was the lack of liqueur or whether I just didn't cook it properly! Also I didn't have any full fat milk, I didn't have enough fudge chunks and I had to use 2 and a bit medium eggs - so I was pleasantly surprised when these were actually quite nice!

They were definitely best straight from the oven and I loved the crunchy cinnamon tops. I was disappointed that I never noticed any of the fudge (probably cause I didn't have enough) and the sauce again was a bit thin so kind of just disappeared when they were cooked. I think we preferred them the next day turned upside down and doused in custard, they made a very nice Sunday dessert!

For the apple sauce:
300g Bramley apples
100g soft light brown sugar
1tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp Calvados

For the muffins:
275g plain flour
100g caster sugar
1 tbsp baking powder
75g unsalted butter, softened
2 large eggs
125ml full fat milk
100g fudge (in small chunks)
2 tbsp cinnamon sugar (which is 2 tbsp soft light brown sugar mixed with 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon)

1. Peel and core the apples and cut into small cubes. Place in saucepan with the other sauce ingredients and 1 tsp water. Cook over a low heat until the apples are tender but not mushy. Leave to cool.

2. Preheat oven to 200c/gas 6. Line a 12 hole muffin tin with paper cases.

3. Sift the flour, sugar and baking powder into a large mixing bowl.

4. Beat the butter and eggs together then add the milk. Stir this into the flour mixture along with the fudge, until just incorporated (it's OK if the mixture is a bit lumpy).

5. Spoon half the mixture into the cases then spoon over 2/3 of the apple sauce. Cover with the remaining muffin batter. Make a swirl of apple sauce in the top of the batter and dust with the cinnamon sugar.

6. Bake for 20-25 mins then cool on a wire rack.

Sunday, 13 March 2011

Now for something completely different...

I've never done a meme before and I'm not even sure I've ever made a post that was completely about me! However I actually do love this type of thing - back in the days of My Space I could always be counted on to fill in whatever chain questionnaire was going around and I am a bit of a form geek - I was highly excited about the arrival of the census this week! - so I was quite happy to be tagged in this meme by Nic's Notebook and obviously it's the law that I should now complete this, so here it is!

I am: when I was wondering what to put here, Mike started singing "I am what I am..." (He also suggested "a yam" though so I'm not sure how much notice I should be taking...) but actually, that is quite a good answer, if a little bit cheesy. I always used to care so much about fitting in and whether I liked the right things or wore the right clothes or whether everyone thought I was a bit of a sad case, but now I feel a lot more confident in being able to say if I don't want to do something, and in my opinions of what I like and what I don't, instead of just feeling like I've got to agree with everyone else all the time.

The bravest thing I have ever done: I wouldn't really say I was a brave person, but others have told me they thought I was brave for the following: I first went to uni in London and I absolutely hated it and struggled to make friends on my course. About a week in to second year, and not long after signing a contract on a house, I quit. I didn't really feel like it was brave at the time but looking back I think it was a harder decision than I gave myself credit for. I always hoped I'd go back to studying some day, and in 2007 I quit my job and went to the University of Manchester. It was the hardest but also the best thing I ever did and I graduated last summer.

I feel prettiest when: hmm, I wouldn't say I have a surefire outfit or situation that makes me feel pretty and it mostly depends on my mood! However, I always feel a bit better about myself if I've painted my nails and I'm wearing some dangly earrings. I at least wear studs every day and I hate it if I leave the house and then later realise I forgot to put them in, I always feel a bit weird without them. Probably because I'm always fiddling with them.

Something that keeps me up at night: Pretty much every night I will worry about small things like if the house is locked, if everything is switched off, if the house will suddenly burst into flames, if I heard a noise downstairs, what will happen in work the next day. In general I am terrible for worrying about anything and everything, but I'm lucky in that it doesn't really keep me up at night, it just tends to torment me during the waking hours!

My favourite meal is: SO difficult to choose as I have a habit of saying lots of things are my favourite depending on what I am eating at the time! But I think steak, chips, peas, onion rings and peppercorn sauce probably wins. Or a KFC boneless banquet. It's a tough call!

The way to my heart is: Just to talk to me! Although I'm loads better than I used to be, I am hideously shy, especially when with any more than 1 or 2 people at a time. Often I think this can come across like I'm just miserable or in a mood, and so I'm always eternally grateful for anybody who can see through this and make the effort to talk to me, because then I will open up and once I know you I will prattle on quite happily!

I would like to be: a lot more laid-back. I can get wound up over the tiniest thing and will over-analyse most conversations I have, I'll play things back in my head and wonder if I said and did the right things even though I'll have already worried beforehand over what to say and do! I'll pitch a fit if things don't run to plan and I'll get stressed over really stupid little things. Having said all that, I do think I cope quite well with the bigger things, so I'm not sure which way round is the best really.

So there we go! It's been fun to share stuff about myself for a change - that's why I signed up to Twitter so I can more easily chat with everyone about non-baking things. I'm not going to tag anyone else (mainly because Nicola tagged the only other blogs that I read regularly that aren't solely about baking!) but if you would like to fill it in please let me know and leave me a comment!

Thursday, 10 March 2011


I'm sure by the time I'm posting this everybody will be sick of reading about and thinking about pancakes (I know I am!) but since I'd never made them before I had to wait until after the event to share my pancake recipe.

Yes that's right - I'd never made them before! I only remember having them for a couple of years when I was younger as my Mum doesn't really like them, and to tell the truth I'm not really a huge fan either... I always like the idea and the look of them but since I'm not big on eggs it always puts me off a bit (eggs in cakes are OK obviously, they are a lot less egg-like!)

I had bought a Pancake recipe book from Asda as it was only a quid, but I ended up using this recipe from Ruth at The Pink Whisk for the 'main course' pancakes which seemed a lot more straightforward and I liked her instructions! Sadly I didn't manage to flip any of them, I had a go but ended up giving up and using the spatula, boo! We had ours with sugar and lemon, of course.

Now for the dessert! This recipe I did use from the cheapo Asda book and I was a bit more excited because there were no eggs involved.

These were chocolate chip pancakes with chocolate sauce and strawberries. They were more American style pancakes and were lovely, but very rich and sickly! I should have done what I did with the normal pancakes recipe and halved it - 12 of these bad boys was way too much for 2 people! Although I have to confess I did like the idea of having a massive stack of them on the plate. Plus the strawberries made it one of our 5 a day...

Makes 12

For the pancakes:
125g plain flour, sifted
1 tbsp cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
2 tsp sugar
pinch of salt
250ml milk
75g dark chocolate, grated
veg oil, for frying

For the sauce:
75g dark chocolate, chopped
125ml double cream

1. Put the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, sugar, salt and milk into a bowl and beat to make a smooth batter. Set aside to rest for 20 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, melt the chopped chocolate in a bowl over a pan of simmering water. Once melted, remove from the heat, beat in the cream, and keep warm while you make the pancakes.
3. Stir the grated chocolate into the pancake batter. Heat 2 teaspoons of oil in a frying pan and drop in the mixture - about a tablespoon will be enough for each pancake (allow space for them to spread a little). Cook them for 2 minutes or until bubbles start to appear on the top, and then turn them over with a palette knife and cook for another 2 minutes.
4. Stack them up on a plate, surround with strawberries and pour over the chocolate sauce.

Now try and eat them all! We couldn't quite manage it....

Thursday, 3 March 2011

Marbled mocha cake

I previously blogged about my failsafe Cappuccino cake, which had always been wolfed down at the speed of light when I baked it in the past, but I struggled to get rid of the last time I made it. I mentioned that I'd found a similar recipe that would probably replace it as my 'go to' recipe for a quick and easy cake for any occasion.... and here it is!

The Marbled Mocha cake.

I ripped this recipe out of the BBC Good Food 2011 calendar and had immediately decided to make it for my best friend's birthday this year. She loves coffee cake and I thought the addition of chocolate could only add to the enjoyment! It's very similar to the other cake in both ingredients and appearance, but with just the added faff of making two mixtures to combine (a small price to pay though for the yummy coffee-chocolate combo though!)

There wasn't as much of a marbled effect as I'd hoped, but it was lovely and moist and you could really taste both of the flavours.

There it is among the slightly retro buffet I made. I've gone a bit buffet mad recently, every time somebody comes over I immediately think, 'Oooh, I can do a bit of a buffet!' I'm a bit annoyed that I didn't really think through sticking the candles in, so they aren't very even, and I think it looks slightly like the Millennium Dome!

You will need:
225g/8oz soft butter
2tbsp cocoa
2-3 tbsp instant coffee
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
225g/8oz golden caster sugar
225g/8oz self-raising flour
2tsp baking powder
4 eggs

For the coffee frosting:
2 x 250g tubs mascarpone
86g/3oz golden caster sugar
4tsp instant coffee dissolved in 4tsp boiling water

1. Preheat oven 180c/gas 4, and line bases of 2 buttered 20cm sandwich tins.
2. Mix the cocoa with 2 tbsp boiling water in a medium bowl until smooth. In a cup, mix the coffee with 1 tbsp boiling water, and then add the vanilla extract and stir to dissolve.
3. Put the butter, sugar, flour, baking powder and eggs in a large bowl and beat until smooth.
4. Spoon half the mixture onto the cocoa and beat well. Flavour the remaining mix with the coffee.
5. Spoon alternate dollops of mix into the tins and tap sharply to level. Run a skewer through the mixes to marble them together. Bake for 25 mins or until set and springy when touched.
6. Cool for 10mins in the tin, then complete cooling on a wire rack.
7. For the frosting, beat the mascarpone with the sugar and coffee until well mixed. Sandwich the cakes together with some of the frosting, then spread the rest on top. Decorate with chocolate coffee beans or other chocolately topping.

So this is my new favourite cake recipe (apart from Victoria Sponge, obviously!) which I will call upon when I need something yummy and reliable!

Do you have a failsafe cake recipe?
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