Banana and Cinnamon Muffins

 These are my second attempt at muffins and I decided to go with a Hummingbird recipe, as they are famously American and are meant to be amazing with muffins.  The Banana and Cinnamon muffins in the first Hummingbird Recipe book simply sounded too good not to attempt so I got all the ingredients and started baking on a Sunday night to take to work the next day.Read More »

Maple and Walnut Streusel Cake

Right. I got my brand-spanking new beautiful Hummingbird Bakery Recipe book, which meant: a lot of jumping up and down, countless hours spent pouring over the pictures trying to decide what to bake first; and five seconds of baking time to spill something on it.  I guess the sign of a good recipe book is one with numerous stains?! At least, this is what I tell myself instead of admitting that I’m just a messy cook.Read More »

Apple and Cinnamon Cake

I had planned to make this cake for Christmas day, but my Gingerbread Mansion took up a lot more time than expected so I had to make it later on.  I was making my first ever Iranian meal and decided that we would also have to have some sort of dessert as well.

I chopped up the walnuts and peeled, cored and grated the apple ready to go into the mixture.  The recipe is pretty easy: essentially you throw everything except the cinnamon and apples into a bowl and whisk it together until it is thoroughly blended.  Then you pour half the mixture into the cake tin, spread the apple and cinnamon on top of that, and then spoon the remaining cake mixture on top. That’s, literally, how easy it’s meant to be. I put the cake into the oven and carried on with the main courses while it baked.

We have a new oven in our kitchen, a beautiful double oven that I adored, until now.  During the first attempt at this cake (yes – there were two attempts!), I did what I always do: set the timer and go off to do something else until the alarm goes off.  Usually an extra few minutes is needed but generally, this method has always worked for me.

 This time, I smelt something that wasn’t that beautiful baking scent and went back to the kitchen 15minutes earlier to investigate.  The cake was burnt – not just a little burnt – a lot burnt! I had no idea what went wrong: the temperature was right, the time was right – I couldn’t explain it.

With a broken heart I took the cake out and dejectedly popped open the tin to look at the damage.  My mum, who was teaching me how to cook the Iranian main course ate some and deemed it edible, but I refused to serve it – I’m the cake queen; I was determined to try again.

Apple and Cinnamon Cake

Thankfully I was at a point in cooking the main course where I could stop; I had planned to have a cup of tea in front of the telly but I resorted to a glass of wine and a grim-faced second attempt at the cake. This time I turned the temperature down slightly and set the timer for 30 minutes.

I quickly checked the cake once the alarm went off and thankfully, it wasn’t burnt … but it wasn’t cooked either. I quickly slammed the door shut and set the timer for 15minutes at a time until it had cooked. I left it to cool while I made the rest of the food.

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The rest of the meal went really well and everyone was amazed that I managed to not only cook so much, but make it taste almost as good as my mums (lets be real – no one can cook as well as her!). When it came to serving the dessert, I was so happy that it hadn’t burnt that I completely forgot to sprinkle a little light muscovado sugar and icing sugar on top before cutting everyone a slice.

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The cake was beautiful – not too sweet, not too cinnamon-y, the layer of apple in the middle also made it beautifully moist.  I’m not the biggest fan of sultanas so would probably cut them out if I made the cake again.

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Apple Streudal Cake

Apple crumble is one of my favourite puddings and I was saving this cake for a time that I could enjoy it; preferably a time when we didn’t have too many people to have to share it with!

This week, I promised my brother a cake in return for a lift and he called the favour in with this cake.

The cake had three different layers: the sponge, the apples and the crumble.  I didn’t listen to the recipe and started off by chopping up the fruit.  I was supposed to peel, core and slice 3 Granny Smith apples; but by then end I think there were about 2 apples worth of slices left (I had taken the ‘one for me, one for you’ method of chopping fruit).

The crumble is simply made by chopping up the butter while cold, and rubbing it in with the cinnamon and flour till it looks like breadcrumbs.  Then you stir in the sugar and tra-laa.

The sponge followed what I consider to be the standard recipe.  Mix the wet ingredients together and sift in the dry ones.  I poured the batter into the pre-greased tin and started place the slices on top in concentric circles.  The cake went straight into the oven to cook.

Forty-five minutes later, the oven bell went and everyone started on at me to get it ready to eat.  The cake smelled amazing and I quickly heated some custard to accompany it.  OK, so it was ready made custard, we’re taking baby steps here!

 

The cake tasted amazing.  I am incredibly happy with this recipe, it’s my two favourite things meshed into one: cake + apple crumble = beautiful.  The cinnamon in the crumble gave it a nice kick and it went beautifully with the custard.  The apples were cooked perfectly, still a tiny bit crunch but really sweet and juicy.

I’d definitely suggest this to everyone and anyone. It’s a great treat and is something a bit different from your average cake or apple crumble.  Officially another favourite!

A 5 Minute Apple Tart Concoction

I was going to my lovely friends house yesterday (who has a brilliant food blog – check it out here) with the promise that she would make me something amazing and new. Essentially she was treating me like a test subject.   So, naturally, I thought it would only be fair that I bring her something baked.

So I looked in my cupboard/fridge and found some left over puff pastry.  Hmm… After a quick Internet search I found a great recipe that I altered to suit my needs (click here to get the original recipe).

Essentially all you do is place the pastry on a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper (I only had foil).  Also I decided to roll out the pastry a little more to make enough for three good-sized portions of tart.

 

Then you core, half and thinly slice any apples of your choice – I used some royal gala apples – and put them in a bowl with a cup of sugar.  Err… a cup of sugar? This is a quick treat, not a heart attack!

So this is where I changed it up. I used a small measuring cup (200ml size) and filled it up to the 100ml line with dark brown sugar.  I also put in a pinch of salt and a pinch or two of cinnamon.

 

These go in the bowl with the apples and are stirred together till all the slices are covered.  I then placed these down the middle of the tart and into the oven for 10-15 minutes.

They tarts came out smelling delicious.  But I had a tiny problem when trying to get them off the baking tray.  Because I rolled the pastry out, it had become ridiculously thin and very hard to get off.  Basically they broke in half. Damn. And I’ve promised them a tart now.

 

What did I do? I gave these three to my dad to taste test and went to the supermarket and bought more pastry of course!  This time I didn’t do anything silly and managed to get all the proportions and measurements right.

I somehow managed to wrap it up and get it to my friend’s house without eating it on the way.  After a beautiful dinner of chicken and chorizo paella, I warmed up the tart served it hot.  It was delicious and definitely not something you could believe took 5 minutes to prepare.  If ever you have some puff pastry going spare, this is definitely a recipe I would suggest, and it’s something that can be adapted for any fruit you feel like using.

So here it is. My adapted recipe for a quick apple tart:

Ingredients:

1 pre rolled sheet of pastry

1 egg

4  medium sized apples

1 cup of dark brown sugar (I used a 200ml sized measuring cup)

½ teaspoon cinnamon

¼ teaspoon salt

Icing sugar for dusting

 Method:

1.) Preheat oven to 170C.

2.) Dust both sides of your sheet of pastry with icing sugar and place it on greaseproof paper on your baking tray.

3.) Separate the egg white and brush the pastry with it.  Then fold each side to create a small border.

4.) Core, half and slice your apples.

5.) Mix your sugar, cinnamon and salt in a bowl and put in the sliced apples.  Stir this together till all the apples slices are covered.

6.) Place the apples in whatever pattern takes your fancy, I did it in a straight line.

7.) Place in the oven for 10-15minutes or until the pastry rises and is golden brown.

8.) Once out of the oven, dust with icing sugar and serve hot.

A Christmas Marble Loaf

So, it was Christmas (as if you didn’t already know) and there were a few recipes that I had saved up specially. Firstly, I wanted to remake the Cinnamon and Raisin Loaf, as I was naughty and didn’t blog on it the last time I made it.

I started by whisking together the butter and sugar; and adding the eggs one at a time.  My £3 electric whisk was starting to make some really strange noises and I said a tiny little prayer to get it through the day, as I had so much to bake!

I carried on whisking the mixture and added the flour, baking powder, salt and soured cream to the mixture.  The recipe then said to take out some of the mixture and stir in the cinnamon.  This made a really lovely smelling brown batter. The raisins were then stirred into the remaining batter.

I then put the original batter in the greased and dusted tin and spooned in the cinnamon batter on top.  Now the first time I tried this recipe I was too scared to mix it in too much in case it all turned one colour.  This time I tried to stir it in more but was still a bit worried about over mixing.

The loaf went into the oven for around an hour; about halfway through the smell started to waft from the kitchen.  Boy do I love the smell cinnamon makes in a cake! I was so tempted to take it out there and then but I prevailed and didn’t open the oven door till the timer went.

The cake came out and was essentially demolished.  I absolutely love this cake; it’s the perfect mixture of sweetness and cinnamon. It goes great with tea or coffee and was the perfect pre-Christmas treat.  I even could deal with the raisins, although I’d love to try it with dark chocolate chips next time.

The Not-So-Spicy Spiced Pound Cake

This week, I decided to make the Spiced Pound cake as a gift to a friend (i.e. I needed another reason to bake and had to keep it simple because I’m chair/bed bound).  My funny ass ‘friend’ (we shall not name or identify them in any way due to the, ahem, horrendus joke about to be written) said: is it called a spiced pound cake because its spicy? Ha Ha…. Ha… Errr… No!

I generally love these types of cakes (ones with spices, not with holes in them… I will never understand why you’d do that) because the recipe has lots of different spices in it, including cloves, cinammon and ginger.  My friend has an allergy to cinnamon so I ended up swapping the quantity with more ginger.

A tip for baking this type of cake: grease the cake tin with butter and dust some plain flour over it.  This should stop the cake sticking and making a mess of taking it out.

The batter came out quite thick and almost filled the cake tin.  The 60min cooking time for this cake was a lot longer than other recipes and  I was a bit worried that the cake hadn’t cooked enough so left it in for a couple minutes longer.

While the cake was cooling, I then realised that I did leave it in the oven for a bit too long, as the outside was a bit harder than it should be. Oops.  But it did look very tasty and the smell almost made me cut a slice right then and there.

The final part was sieving icing sugar on the top.  For once, I managed not to go too crazy with the icing sugar; mainly because I had time to waste and did it REALLY slowly.

The family gathered like a pack of wolves when the smells started wafting through the kitchen, so I resorted to threats and hiding the cake.  The holes you see in the pictures were somehow created the next day; I’ve never found the person who did it but if I ever do I’ll exact my revenge. Be warned.

The cake went down a treat and the crustiness of the outside actually went really well with the texture of cake.  It probably wouldn’t be a favourite for the crazy sweet-toothed people out there, but it had a really nice texture and went great with a nice cup of tea.