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 »

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The Easiest Cheesecake … Ever

 That’s right people – this is officially the easiest one I’ve made yet. I made this for yet another dinner party and we had lots to do.  Luckily there’s literally no baking involved in this recipe, which makes a welcome change … especially when both ovens were already packed with food being roasted.Read More »

A Carrot Cake … With Lots of Banana?

I’m an office feeder. Yes, I know it’s shameful.  I make lots of treats and I take them to work for everyone to eat; it’s gotten worse since my family decided to become healthy and reject my baking. However, I eat as much baked goods as everyone else so I could say I’m not as bad?!

Anyway, my colleague requested a carrot cake for his birthday and I just couldn’t say no. I’ve already tried my hand at the carrot cake from the Hummingbird Bakery recipe books, so I thought I’d give Mary Berry’s Baking Bible a go, as it’s on a great running streak.

So I prepared my cake tin the Mary Berry way, (lining it with greaseproof paper) and turned my oven on. To save time I bought chopped walnuts from the supermarket, I admit it’s ridiculously lazy but it was definitely worth it.

What confused me most in this recipe was the amount of banana used, there was actually more banana than carrot! I used the tiniest two carrots I could find and I still had to eat half of one; but I used 2 large bananas. I was starting to question Mary Berry’s methods but I kept going – I figured at worst it would be a nice twist on a carrot cake.

Once all the ingredients were grated, mashed and whisked I poured the batter into the prepared dish and cooked it for the recommended time.  The cake had risen beautifully when I took it out too cool. The smell managed to send my entire family into the kitchen, scavenging for a slither of cake.  I had to hit hands with the spatula and bribed them with berries and cream cheese icing to keep them away!

It was pretty late the time I had finished baking and preparing the icing and I was still waiting for the cake to cool completely.  My need for sleep increased drastically and I resorted to spreading the icing on a semi-warm cake and quickly put it in the fridge to stop the icing melting/dripping etc.  Now I know this is blasphemous in terms of baking but sleep comes first for me!

I woke in the morning to find that it didn’t run as much as I thought it would. I wacked on a few walnuts, and whisked it off to work, where it was demolished before I could take any proper photos – damn.

  The cake tasted great – which was insinuated by the speed at which it disappeared. I’m generally not the biggest fan of using oil in cakes as I can always taste it but version of the carrot cake managed to hide it well and the banana added a lovely moistness to the sponge.

All in all a great recipe, Mary Berry hits the nail on the head again. I promise I will not doubt her ever again!

Nuts Anyone?

I’ve been on holiday to Iran and have developed a taste for everything nutty.  Iran has a plethora of beautifully tasty treats, many of which incorporate nuts. So what did I spend my time doing? Eating them all, naturally.

I came back and the first question everyone asked me is “What did you learn to bake?” Erm … I didn’t learn to bake anything, I was too busy eating it all!

So, to make up for my lack of Iranian baking knowledge, I made the Mixed Nut Slices, as it’s a dessert that could definitely be Iranian if it wanted to.

I started off by preparing the dough for the base – my first ever dough! The experience wasn’t as terrifying as I imagined.  Although I did realise that my baking tray is quite a bit bigger than the recipe’s and had to add another half portion of everything to make it work.

The dough was pressed into the pre-greased baking tray and put in the oven for 20minutes. Now I know all about baking beads and still haven’t purchased any. The recipe didn’t indicate the need for any baking beads so I put my trust in the recipe.

The dough came out quite puffy (damn it, should have used baking beads!) but went back down again to its original shape after I squished it down a bit.  I also was a bit stingy on the making a ‘lip’ on the sides but figured it would be fine.

While the base was cooling I set about chopping up and preparing all the nuts.  The pistachios and almonds were roasted (and very slightly burnt) in a non-stick saucepan by tossing them over a medium heat.  The nuts were then placed on top of the pastry, ready for the topping.

The topping was made by melting the butter, sugar and golden syrup in a pan and adding the eggs once it had cooled slightly.  This was poured over the nuts and put in the oven for 20 minutes.

Because I didn’t make a proper lip around the sides of the tin, some of the topping spilled over and made the pastry look a bit burnt, when in fact, it was just cooked well – I promise! Otherwise it turned out really well.  I left the pastry to cool before cutting into slices and shipping it off with my parents to take to a dinner party with the promise that they’d take photos and save me a slice.

They didn’t. Grrrr. But they did bring back lots of thanks and requests for more so I can imagine that it tasted good?!  I was later told that it was really crunchy and rich and something that goes amazingly with tea after dinner.

So, although I can’t give you a better description of taste, I can say that it was an easy recipe to make, will very likely last a while if stored correctly and is a great side to have with tea.