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Carrot, Apple and Walnut Loaf with Maple Icing

Looking at the photographs of this cake, you could be fooled into thinking it’s mid Autumn and the trees are turning. They’re not, but given the weather here in the UK (it’s pretty miserable; grey skies and that fluffy rain which get’s you far more wet than you’d think) it might as well be. With this in mind I thought I’d bake something spiced, nutty, simple and comforting to combat the bad weather blues: enter this moist carrot and apple loaf cake laced with cinnamon, ginger and walnuts topped with maple cream cheese frosting…

Ingredients:

  • 225ml vegetable oil
  • 225g soft light brown sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 125g grated carrot
  • 125g grated apple
  • 225g self raising flour
  • 1tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 2tsp ginger
  • 2tsp cinnamon
  • pinch salt
  • 100g chopped walnuts
  • zest 1 lemon

For the icing;

  • 5tbsp maple syrup
  • 2 heaped tbsp icing sugar
  • 250g cream cheese (full fat)
  • 100ml double cream

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 170c. Grease and line a large loaf tin with baking paper.
  2. Place the oil, sugar and eggs in a large bowl (or bowl of a stand mixer with paddle attachment) and, using electric beaters, beat together until voluminous and well combined. Now add the grated carrot and apple and briefly beat again to evenly distribute.
  3. Sift the flour, bicarbonate of soda, spices and salt over the wet ingredients and beat in until just combined. Lastly, fold in the walnuts and lemon zest. Pour the batter into the prepared loaf tin and bake for 40-50 minutes until a skewer comes out clean when inserted. Cool in the tin.
  4. While the cake is cooling, make the maple cream cheese icing. Simply whisk together all the ingredients until thick and spreadable.
  5. Once the cake is completely cool, top with the cream cheese icing and some walnuts, edible flowers or apple crisps, if you’re feeling fancy.

Enjoy!

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Apple Hazelnut Muffins with Orange Cream Cheese Frosting

I’ll be completely honest, a few weeks ago I thought spring had well and truly sprung and was all for leaving heady spices and warming bakes behind me in the depths of winter… That being said, Doris terrorised the UK last week, today I had to stop my car because I literally couldn’t see for hail, and yesterday I reluctantly packed away my denim jacket. You can probably see where I’m going with this- yep, warming spices and winter fruits are sticking around here for a little longer, today in the form of these deliciously moist apple and hazelnut muffins with zesty orange frosting and apple crisp toppers…

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Ingredients (12):

  • 2 apples (diced)
  • 2tsp cinnamon
  • 150g soft butter
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1tsp vanilla
  • 150g self raising flour
  • 2-3tbsp milk
  • 50g chopped hazelnuts (plus extra for decoration)

For the orange cream cheese frosting:

  • 250g cream cheese
  • 100g butter
  • 500g icing sugar
  • zest 1 orange
  • 2-3tbsp milk

For the apple decoration (optional):

  • 1 apple, thinly sliced (with a mandolin if you have one)
  • 100g caster sugar

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Method:

  1. Before you bake the cakes, you will need to make the apple crisp decorations (if required). For these, preheat the oven to 130c then dissolve the sugar into 100ml water in a saucepan, bring to the boil for 3 minutes and set aside to cool. Dip the apple slices into this syrup and allow the excess to drip off then arrange on a lined baking tray. Bake for 1-1 1/2 hours, turning occasionally. Once dried out, leave to harden on a rack.
  2. Now preheat the oven to 180c and line a muffin tray with cupcake cases.
  3. Toss the diced apple in cinnamon and set aside. In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter and sugar. Add the eggs one at a time and beat well between each addition (add a spoonful of the flour too if you’re worried about curdling).
  4. Stir in the vanilla extract and sift over the flour. Fold, then mix in the milk to loosen and add the hazelnuts and apples, briefly mixing to distribute evenly. Fill each case (2/3 full) and bake for 20 minutes.
  5. Once the muffins are ready, cool in the tin while you make the cream cheese frosting.
  6. For the frosting, simply beat together the cream cheese, zest and butter until combined, then gradually add the icing sugar until you have a light, fluffy consistency. If you’d like to loosen the texture, just add the milk and beat.
  7. Pipe the frosting onto the cooled cakes, sprinkle with some hazelnuts and top with the apple crisps.

Enjoy!

Simple and Zesty Fruit Loaf

As spring is on the horizon (though it didn’t seem like it when I walked back from university in a hailstorm this morning) I thought I’d create a fresh summery recipe you can try out over Easter or perhaps for Mothers Day. This simple loaf cake contains plums, blueberries and lime and is delicious served with a dollop of yoghurt.

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For the sponge mix you will need:

220g caster sugar, 220g butter (softened), 300g self raising flour, 1tsp vanilla essence, 3 eggs, 1tsp baking powder, 3tbsp milk and 125g chopped plums and blueberries.

Grease and line a medium sized loaf tin with baking paper and preheat the oven to 180c (fan).

With an electric whisk (or wooden spoon) mix together the sugar, butter, flour, vanilla, eggs, milk and baking powder until smooth.

Put a third of the cake mix into the loaf tin and spread until even. Sprinkle half of the fruit over this then add another third of the cake mix.

Now add the remaining fruit and top with the last of the spongey mixture.

Place in the oven and cook for 50 minutes- 1 hour.

For the topping you will need:

100g granulated sugar, 75g chopped plums blueberries, juice and zest 2 limes and 2tbsp icing sugar mixed with a little water.

Towards the end of the sponge’s cooking time, make your topping.

Place the sugar, fruit and lime juice in a saucepan and heat for 2 minutes, crushing the fruit as you go. Remove from the heat.

Once your cake is cooked, poke little holes all over its surface when still hot and pour the fruity drizzle all over.

Leave the cake in the tin until the glaze has hardened then remove it and serve with lime zest, white icing and flaked almonds.

Enjoy!

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A Festive Twist…

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Everyone loves a Bakewell Tart, so why not make my seasonal variation of the classic British dessert this Christmas instead of a batch of mince pies? Sliced up hot or cold, this bake is a real crowd pleaser and gives your jar of mincemeat a much needed make over.

(I know this post might seem a little premature, but this is a bake you can whip up, freeze and serve whenever you need it- ideal for anyone with their hands full this year!)
So, for the pastry you will need: 230g plain flour, 125g unsalted butter (cubed), 3tbsp caster sugar, pinch salt, 2 egg yolks and 3 tbsp whole milk (OR one block readymade short crust pastry)

Rub the flour and butter together between your fingers until they resemble breadcrumbs. Add the caster sugar and salt then mix.

Tip your egg yolks and milk into the bowl and stir with a knife. Bring the ingredients together with your hands to form a ball, handling as little as possible (the less you handle the pastry the more crumbly and delicious it will be!). If the pastry seems too dry add another teaspoon of milk.

Wrap the ball of pastry in cling film and leave it to rest in the fridge for half an hour. In the meantime, grease a 22cm loose bottom tart tin and preheat the oven to 200c (fan).

After 30 minutes, remove your pastry from the fridge (or reach for the pack of readymade!) and flour a work surface. Roll the pastry out to about 4mm thick then line your tart tin, patching up any gaps with excess pastry and pushing it right into the corners.

Blind bake your pastry case for 15 minutes (10 minutes lined with greaseproof paper and baking beans then 5 minutes without) then remove from the oven.

Now, to make your filling and topping you will need:
¾ jar mincemeat, 1 apple (finely chopped), 1tsp cinnamon, zest 1 lemon, 150g caster sugar, 150g butter, 150g ground almonds, 1 large egg and a handful flaked almonds.

Mix the mincemeat, apple, cinnamon and zest then spread generously across the base of your pastry case.

Next, whisk together the sugar, butter, ground almonds and egg until smooth, then dollop all over the mincemeat. Use a palette knife to level out the mix to the edges of the tart case. Finally, sprinkle with the flaked almonds.

Turn the oven down to 180c (fan) and pop your tart in to bake for 30 minutes, or until golden brown.

Leave the tart to cool in the tin then remove and dust with icing sugar. Serve with a dollop of brandy butter or creme fraiche!

Enjoy!

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Indulgent Apple and Ginger cake…

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Last week I was lucky enough to receive a gorgeous bundt tin from Cooks Collection in Bedfordshire. Since its arrival I have been devising recipes which would work well in the ring mould, and this apple and ginger concoction fits the bill perfectly. Bundt tins are really popular at the moment and this particular model is heavy duty, well priced and high in quality, so I’d recommend purchasing one from Cooks Collection ( https://www.facebook.com/pages/Cooks-Collection/169508156414879?ref=ts&fref=ts ) whilst the trend is still in full swing.Having tested the bundt with my own recipe, I can see why they’re so well liked; the narrow flumes of the tin allow cake mix to rise evenly and quickly without losing moisture, and as long as you grease and generously flour the mould, turning out a cake with an attractive pattern is guaranteed.

Anyway, on to the bake; this cake is pudding-like in its moist consistency and contains chunks of apple and fresh root ginger, making the flavour strong and distinctly autumnal. The top of the cake is doused in a hot toffee sauce shortly after baking which locks in moisture and spices as well as adding a sweet crunch to the light sponge. My housemates and I have been enjoying this cake warm with a cup of tea on this windy autumn evening and I suggest you do the same as soon as possible!

To make this simple yet delicious cake, you will need:

300g butter, 150g soft dark brown sugar, 150g soft light brown sugar. 200g golden syrup,300 ml milk, 300g plain flour, 100g self raising flour, 5tsp baking powder, 1tsp cinnamon, 2tsp ground ginger, pinch salt, 4 eggs, 2 thumbs grated root ginger, 2 apples (peeled and chopped into little chunks.

First off, preheat the oven to 180c (fan) then grease and flour the tin.

Chop your butter into chunks and place in a saucepan along with the syrup and sugars. Put this over a high heat and stir until melted. Once melted and combined, remove from heat and cool slightly, then add the milk and stir. Set aside.

Now sift your flours, baking powder, salt and spices into a large mixing bowl, then add the slightly cooled syrupy liquid and mix thoroughly.

Whisk your eggs in a jug and add to the large mixing bowl in 3 additions, mixing well between each one.

Finally, fold in your grated ginger and chopped apples and pour evenly into your bundt tin.

Bake in the preheated oven on the middle shelf for 30-40 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.

In the last minutes of baking, melt together 100g dark sugar, 20g butter and 3tbsp golden syrup in a saucepan (this is your toffee glaze).

Remove the cake from the oven and leave for 5 minutes in the tin.

Although you shouldn’t usually take the cake out of the tin when it’s warm, you have to with this recipe as the sauce will give the cake added moisture if its still steaming. To do this simply place a wire rack over the bottom of the cake and flip it over, then tap the tin on the top and the cake should be released.

Now pour over the warm toffee sauce, decorate with a bit of grated ginger and some white icing and tuck in while its hot from the oven!

TIP: This cake is still delicious and moist when cooled, but if you like just whizz it in the microwave for 30 seconds to heat it through and recreate that just-baked feel.

I hope you enjoy this recipe, I absolutely love it and it’s perfect now the weather is getting colder. If you’d like a similar tin (or a whole range of brilliant bakeware) visit http://www.cookscollection.co.uk/ and like their facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Cooks-Collection/169508156414879?ref=ts&fref=ts to see their new stuff!

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Blackberry and Almond Mini-Cakes

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Great British Bake Off viewers; cast your minds back to week one, challenge one and you might recall the miniature cakes the contestants were asked to produce. Well, today I sought inspiration from that very task and baked blackberry and almond sponges on a small scale. I do not have a sophisticated method when devising recipes, but I hope that isn’t reflected in the end result (my ideas today stemmed from the blackberries I’d just picked and I made the rest up as I went along)! If you’d like to try it, you will need:

110g self raising flour, 110g caster sugar, 110g butter (soft), 2 eggs, 2tsp almond extract, 1 cup blackberries, juice 1 lemon, 200g mascarpone, 100g icing sugar, 5tbsp apple sauce and extra blackberries for decoration (makes 10)

First of all, sift the flour and sugar together, add the butter, eggs and almond extract then mix until combined. Once mixed, fold in 2/3 of the blackberries whole. Let the mix settle whilst you carry out the next step.

Place the remaining blackberries in a pan over heat with a sprinkling of caster sugar and the juice of a lemon. Stir until boiling then sieve away the liquid (the jam-like blackberries you have left should be very soft and will cover the tops of the little cakes).

Take a silicone mould (or any small mould you have) and grease with butter. Place a teaspoon of the soft blackberries in the bottom of each hole then fill 2/3 full with the sponge mix. Bake for 15 minutes at 190 then leave to cool.

Meanwhile, make your mascarpone filling. For this, simply whisk the icing sugar with the cream and it’s done ( I added a little of the reserved blackberry liquid to give the pinkish hue but this is not necessary).

Once cooled, turn out each cake and cut in half. Spread a little apple sauce over the bottom layer, followed by a squirt of the mascarpone cream. Sandwich the two pieces together and decorate as you please.

Enjoy!

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Apple and Cinnamon Cupcakes

My penchant for cupcakes continues with this fresh and fruity recipe. Spiced sponge with apple chunks piped with a cream cheese frosting make these moist and flavoursome. I may have just made these, but they are flying from the box already, so look out for another cupcake post in the near future!

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