Friday, 30 September 2011

Italian Blackberry Cake

After making one giant chocolate cake for my birthday, I didn't have the time to make another for my birthday soiree. We spent the majority of Saturday laying flooring in the kitchen which involved squeezing around appliances in the middle of our galley kitchen with hot pans, cleaning and making a copious amount of Italian food for some lovely friends.

I needed a cake recipe that was reliable, tasty and didn't require fancy piped icing or a multilayered monstrosity that had a questionable internal structure...

This recipe always comes up trumps for me. I made it with more seasonal blackberries and dusted it with icing sugar. (I normally make it with raspberries and glaze with glacé icing). It can be baked as cupcakes, round tins, square tins, what ever you have to hand. I baked mine this time in a shallow bunt tin

100gr soft butter
200gr golden caster sugar
2 eggs
1tsp vanilla extract
250ml sour cream
250gr self raising flour
150gr blackberries (fresh or frozen)

Preheat the oven to 180o/c and grease a shallow bundt tin.
1, Cream together the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy.
2, Beat in the eggs and vanilla extract until well combined.
3, Beat in the sour cream until smooth.
4, Fold in the self raising flour and cocoa powder gently until just combined and then fold in the blackberries.
5, Pour into your cake tin and bake for 30-40 minutes or until golden brown, springy to the touch and an inserted knife comes out clean.
6, Dust heavily with icing sugar when cool.

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Happy Birthday We Should Cocoa!

Happy birthday We Should Cocoa! The brainchild of Chele and Choclette has turned one!

Luckily for me, We Should Cocoa's birthday has also coincided with mine.  I hit the big 2-5 on Monday.  I went up an age bracket on questionnaires.  This makes me feel old.

So to stuff my sorrows, I made one of my favourite cakes.  It's called the Jackie Oh! Cake from Sugar Baby by Gesine Bullock-Prado.  It's beautifully moist and chocolaty and has become a firm favourite for big cakes.  

Unfortunately, I didnt get a photo of the cake this time I made it.  So here, sneakily, is a picture of the cake I made a couple of months ago using the same recipe.  I baked mine in four 7inch pans, sandwiched together with buttercream.  I smoothed a thin crumb coating of icing around the edge and rolled it in one packet of blitzed Oreos.  Then I piped rosettes around the edge of the cake and carefully sprinkled the leftover blitzed Oreos into the centre.  

Apologies for dodgy photo. (iPhone + late night icing = fail) 

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Six Plait Bread

The humble loaf.  Often I squeeze some dough into a loaf pan, stick it in the oven and forget about it for 30 minutes or so.  Not today though.  I’m giving my usual failsafe recipes a holiday and trying something new.  Plus I have a few more days off before I start my new job so want to get some quality baking in.

I wanted a bread with a slightly sweeter, buttery taste and from plenty of research (hello, Google), the general consensus was the addition of butter, obviously, and egg to give it a richer flavour.  With the addition of egg, it reminded me of challah, so I decided to braid it like one.   

500g strong bread flour
50gr unsalted butter, chopped into little chunks
1 x 7gr sachet of easy blend (fast action yeast)
2tbsp caster sugar
1tsp salt
1 egg (medium/large)
Around 250ml tepid water

1, Sift the flour into a large bowl and add in the butter, yeast, sugar and salt. Rub the butter between your finger tips until it is fully incorporated and there are no visible large lumps.
2, Make a well in the centre of the flour mixture and add in the egg with 200ml of the tepid water.  Start to bring this together with a fork, adding more water if necessary, until you are left with a lump of dough that isn’t sticky to the touch. 
3, Turn the dough out onto a work surface that has been lightly dredged in flour and knead for between 5-10minutes until the dough is soft and elastic.  Pop in an oiled bowl and cover with oiled clingfilm.  Leave this somewhere warm for an hour or until it has doubled in size.
4, Knock back the dough with your fist and give it another quick knead so that it is smooth  Divide the dough into six equal pieces and stretch and roll into sausages about 3cm thick.  I couldn’t video myself doing the plaiting but I followed this video.  It’s really easy when you get into the swing of it.
5, When you have finished tucking in the ends of the completed dough plait, brush it lightly with melted butter or olive oil, put on a lined baking sheet and very loosely cover with oiled clingfilm to prevent sticking.  Return to the warm place for about 20-30minutes
6, Preheat your oven to 220o/c and bake the bread for around 20 minutes.  I covered my loosely with foil after about 10 minutes to prevent it darkening too much.
7, Remove from the oven when the loaf is cooked.  To test this, tap the bottom of the loaf, if it sounds hollow then you’re on to a winner. 
8, Leave to cool, slightly, before tearing apart.