Chocolate and Christmas go together like strawberries and cream in summer. Add in traditional candy canes and you have an incredible combination. Using a fantastic Classic Brownie Kit makes baking these Peppermint Candy Cane Topped Brownies a super delicious Christmas treat. And don’t worry if you can’t get hold of the kit, there’s a link before the recipe to help you make them from scratch.
While I enjoy baking from scratch, I am not averse to keeping good quality mixes and baking kits in the kitchen. Using the Classic Brownie Kit to whip up a batch of Brownies, makes the house smell amazing. Adding extra mint chocolate chunks and a topping of crushed candy cane turns these into a festive treat. Especially handy during the busy Christmas holiday season.
As soon as you bite into these rich chocolate brownies a range of textures hits your mouth. Soft fudgey chocolate brownie, crisp mint chocolate chunks, chewy crushed candy cane all blend together to create a flavour sensation. Perfect for a quick bake when unexpected guests arrive. Welcoming them in with the aroma of baking chocolate. Is there anything better?
Everything you need to bake delicious Brownies is included in the kit. Yet, if you are unable to get hold of the Classic Brownie Kit then please use the recipe for Chocolate Fudge Brownie Bites. Either halve the recipe, or double the quantity of candy canes, chocolate drizzle and mint chocolate.
Recipe: Peppermint Candy Cane Topped Brownies makes 9
Baking should be fun and not stressful. Having some reliable mixes and baking kits in the kitchen cupboard, especially during extra busy times of the year such as Christmas, simply makes sense. Also they make great presents for those who are just learning to bake. As well as being reliable the Complete Brownie Kit is also versatile see my recipe for Chocolate Brownie Raspberry Cheesecake.
Whatever you are making, baking and creating in your kitchens, have fun preparing your feast.
If I Knew You Were Coming provided the Complete Brownie Kit for me to make this recipe. I have not been paid to write this post. All content, opinions and photography are my own. No part of this post may be reproduced or duplicated without the written permission of the owner. Please see my Disclosure Policy.
Those of you who regularly read this blog, will probably know that I am a self confessed Cookie Monster. However, it is not just cookies I enjoy. For me, biscuits, cookies and shortbread all have an equal place in my heart. Well that was until I made these Almond Cacao Nib Shortbread Bars. Crunchy, flaked almond topped bars, studded with a deep, deep, slightly bitter chocolate flavour from the cacao nibs. Everything needed to satisfy a cookie craving.
Since receiving a tub of Cacao Nibs from Food Thoughts, I was interested to see how their flavour would transfer in the shortbread. Each nib is packed with an intense flavour. Similar to very good quality, high cocoa content chocolate. In fact, Cacao nibs are chocolate in its purest form before anything has been added to it. Each nib is a fermented, then roasted part of a cocoa bean. Resulting in the purest chocolate flavour.
While I am not a fan of very dark chocolate, these tiny nibs give just the right amount of flavour in this bake. Complimented by the almonds, each nib bursts with intense flavour on the tongue, without being cloying or overwhelming. In short, these shortbread bars are incredibly delicious and a satisfying treat.
As each shortbread bar is a substantial size, smaller squares may be created by cutting each bar in half. Small shortbread squares would be perfect for serving with Afternoon Tea. While the individual bars fit happily into packed lunch boxes. Whichever way you cut and serve this shortbread, be sure to share it. Introducing new flavours into a bake is most definitely an experience not to be kept to yourself.
Recipe: Almond Cacao Nib Shortbread Bars
200g/7oz Unsalted Batter at room temperature
100g/4oz Caster Sugar – plus 1tbs extra for topping
50g/2oz Cacao Nibs – I use Food Thoughts available at Sainsburys, Waitrose and Ocado
25g/1oz Flaked Almonds
Method: Preheat oven to 170C/150C fan, gas mark 3.5
Butter and line a 28 x 20 x 5cm (12″ x 8″ x 2″) Swiss roll tin with baking parchment.
Into a large bowl add the butter, sugar and salt.
Whisk together until pale and creamy.
Add the vanilla extract and whisk to incorporate.
Sift in the plain flour and then add the ground almonds, semolina and cacao nibs.
Mix together until just combined.
Spoon the shortbread mixture into a prepared tin. Press out, using the back of a metal spoon, so that the mixture evenly fills the tin.
Dock the shortbread all over with a fork.
Sprinkle over the additional tablespoon of sugar and evenly scatter over the flaked almonds.
Place the shortbread into the centre of a preheated oven and bake for 35-45 minutes. If you find that the almonds are browning too quickly, either reduce the heat and bake for a little longer, or cover the top of the shortbread with aluminium foil.
When golden all over and semi-firm to the touch the shortbread is baked.
Once baked remove the shortbread from the oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes in the tin.
After the cooling period slice the shortbread into 12 bars. Cut across the middle, then down the width, forming 4 squares. Follow by dividing each square into 3. To create 24 squares, simply cut across the middle at 4 even (8cm) spaces.
Leave the shortbread to fully cool in the tin.
Once cooled, use a palette knife to help lift out the shortbread. Because the shortbread has already been cut it is more flexible and therefore unlikely to crack, when removing from the tin.
Serve with a hot drink. Unsurprisingly these bars go well with coffee, tea and of course, hot chocolate.
Store in an airtight container for up to one week. Since these bars improve in flavour after a day, dare I suggest you hide the tin? It’s only for a day 😉.
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While biscuits and shortbreads are readily available in the shops, there are advantages to making your own at home. Firstly and most importantly, the flavour is far superior to their mass produced equivalents. Furthermore flavour combinations that cannot be bought, are easily made at home. Finally, unless you live close to an artisan bakery, where each product is made with love and care, baking at home is a pleasure. Since you know exactly what ingredients have gone into your bake, including the love with which they are made.
Food Thoughts sent me the cacao nibs to try. All opinions, content and photography are my own. No part of this post may be reproduced or copied without the specific, written permission of the owner. Please see my DisclosurePolicy .
As you may have noticed from recent posts, I am having a full blown love affair with strawberries this Summer. Whether it’s eating them warmed by the sun, just as they are, or, creating new recipes such as Strawberry Rose Ice Cream, I cannot seem to get enough of them. While looking for inspiring ingredients on Amazon U.K., I found some baked strawberries for sale. Imagining a more intense strawberry flavour with a chewy texture. Sourcing locally, finally resulted in the creation of Double Strawberry Almond Muffins.
Since the name ‘baked’ strawberries seems, a little misleading, they will be referred to as dried strawberries. Not freeze dried strawberries, which are an entirely different product altogether. Similar to dried apricots in texture, dried strawberries are chewy, rather like gummy bears, with a more intense, strawberry flavour. While also free from other added ingredients. Resulting in a perfect snack size strawberry, untainted by additives.
While the muffins bake the fresh strawberries become absorbed into the batter. Yet dried strawberries absorb moisture from the cake batter. During the baking process they lose their chewy texture. Resulting in gooey, jam like pools of delicious strawberry within each muffin.
A light open texture of each muffin is visible in the photo above. Having checked a few muffins, the strawberries are dispersed evenly throughout. Since previously having difficulty including fresh strawberries into a bake, I didn’t want to weigh the batter down with their water content. That said, extra chopped, dried strawberries could be added to the top, with the flaked almonds, prior to baking.
50g/2oz Dried or Baked Strawberries roughly chopped – I use Urban Fruit
50g/2oz Flaked Almonds
Method: Preheat the oven to 160C/140C fan, gas mark 3
Note: Tulip wrappers must be used in a deep muffin, or cupcake tin. When using regular cupcake cases, fill two thirds full and expect to make 18 muffins from this recipe. The length of time baking will also need to be adjusted, please see guidelines in the method.
Line a deep muffin tin with 12 tulip wrappers.
Whisk together the butter, sugar and salt in a large bowl, until pale and creamy.
Add the eggs, vanilla and almond extract and the chopped fresh strawberries to the bowl. Whisk together.
Next add the ground almonds, flour, baking powder and chopped dried strawberries. Tossing the strawberries in the flour will help stop them from sinking to the bottom of the muffin.
Mix all of the ingredients together so that they are fully combined. Over mixing will cause the muffins to become tough.
Using a large, 5cm/2″ ice cream scoop, add one scoop of batter to each tulip case. Divide any remaining batte evenly between the 12 cases.
Sprinkle some flaked almonds on top of each unbaked muffin. Again dividing the almond flakes, so each muffin has an equal amount.
Place the muffin tin into the centre of the oven and bake for 40-45 minutes.
The muffins are baked when they turn golden brown and are firm to a light touch. Over cooked muffins will be dry so start checking at 35 minutes.
Note: if baking using smaller cases, the baking time will need to be reduced.
When using tulip cases leave the muffins to cool completely in the tin. For muffin/cupcake cases, leave to cool for 10 minutes in the tin and then transfer to a cooling rack.
Double Strawberry Almond Muffins are best served slightly warm, or cold. Also a cup of tea, or fresh fruit juice served alongside is a great idea.
Muffins are great for breakfast, packed lunches and beating late afternoon hunger pangs.
Muffins containing fresh fruit are best eaten within 3 days of making. Store in an airtight container, placed in the fridge during hot weather.
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Last week National Pink Day was celebrated. I know, it does seem as though there is a national day for just about anything. I’m not even sure who thinks these things up. Yet, as I’ve grown older and our girls have passed through the ‘pink’ stage, I have grown to love the colour that I once despised. Gone are the sickly pink birthday cakes made during their toddler years, replaced by a more elegant Princess Sparkle Peach Melba Iced Cake. Tastefully decorated and delicious to eat.
While raspberry subtly flavours the cake itself, peach bellini icing creates the overall peach melba flavour. Having a light, overall fruity flavour, this cake really suits warm summer celebrations. Yet, you get to decide. If a fruity, glittering cake is needed, this cake fits the bill perfectly. Indeed, a splash of colour and a sprinkle of sparkle may be just what is needed anytime of the year!
Such is the beauty and fun of this cake, it simply deserves to be shared. Fun and perfectly pretty, anyone who loves the colour pink will be thrilled with this cake. Also, this is the perfect cake for those who prefer fruity cakes, rather than chocolate ones. Or, for those of us who enjoy both, the combination of raspberry and peach is a refreshing change.
Note: This cake is baked in a 10 cup ring mould cake tin. If using a Bundt pan, a 10 cup size will also be needed.
Prepare the tin by spraying cake release spray thoroughly to the inside of the tin, using a pastry brush to ensure the cake release fully covers the inside of the tin. I recommendWilton.
Place the softened butter, salt and sugar into a large bowl. Whisk until pale, creamy and no grittiness can be detected, by rubbing a little of the mixture between your forefinger and thumb.
Next add the vanilla, raspberry flavour and all five eggs.
Finally sieve the flour and baking powder into the bowl.
Whisk slowly, until all of the ingredients have come together to form a cake batter.
Give the cake batter a quick stir with a spatula to ensure everything is combined.
Spoon the cake batter into the prepared tin. Ensure the top of the cake is level.
Place the cake tin into the centre of the oven and bake for 55-65 minutes.
The cake is baked when it is a golden colour, starts to shrink away from the sides and an inserted skewer comes out clean.
As soon as the cake is baked remove from the oven and allow to cool for ten minutes before turning it out.
Allow the turned out cake to fully cool before decorating.
While the cake is cooling assemble everything needed to decorate the cake.
Likewise the icing can be made.
Sieve the flavoured icing sugar into a bowl.
Add a few drops of water to the bowl and then, using a cocktail stick add a little of the coloured gel.
Stir, adding drops of water to reach the desired thick, yet just dripping, consistency.
Add extra colour now, if required.
Thoroughly stir the icing to ensure even colouring.
As soon as the cake is cooled place the cooling rack across a clean, large, baking tray.
Drizzle the icing, using a spoon and starting at the top of the cake.
Work with the shape of the cake. Since the icing is there to enhance, embellish and emphasise. Also it aids the addition of sprinkles.
As soon as the icing is finished decorate with sprinkles. Press the larger balls into the surface set icing.
Finally, place the fully decorated cake on to a plate, board or cake stand and leave to fully set.
Take a moment to look at the outstanding creation that has been made. Made by you. However the cake that you’ve designed turns out, it will be unique. No other cake in the world will have the love and flair that has been imparted whilst making this.
Serve this cake as party centre piece, for your princess or at a beautiful afternoon tea.
If you have enjoyed this recipe for Princess Sparkle Peach Melba Iced Cake you may also like these:
Whether you own a ring cake tin or a Bundt pan, each will give you a unique canvas on which to decorate. While there are many ways to decorate a cake, the shape of moulded tins and Bundts create an instant beautiful shape.
Whatever you are making, baking and creating in your kitchen, have fun preparing your feast.
Bread, an everyday essential for most people. It comes in different shapes, sizes and varieties. Most popular, judging by the number of loaves sold each year, are sliced, plastic wrapped loaves. Yet what do they taste of? In my opinion very little! Rather they are a carrier of flavours. Ham and mustard, egg and cress sandwiches and so on. The bread itself brings very little flavour to the sandwich party. If you make this Seeded Cob Loaf, your world will be opened to the real flavour of good, homemade bread.
Seriously, this could be called ‘Change Your Life Seeded Cob Loaf.’ Because, once you have made it, with your own hands, baked and then tried it, you will find it hard to go back to your usual loaf. Not only does it have incredible flavour, it’s cheaper, far healthier and more rewarding than plastic wrapped loaves.
Another important benefit from making bread at home, is that you, the baker, know exactly what has gone into your bread. Flour, yeast, water, salt and a little unsalted butter. No preservatives, additives, flour improvers or any other number of E numbers found in mass produced bread. Simply a great tasting homemade loaf.
Personally, this is one of the very best loaves I have made. The recipe was made twice, on two different days, to check its consistency. Since tasting the first slice, lightly buttered, I have been eager to share this with you. Such is the depth of flavour and ease of shaping. Credit goes to Jack at Bake With Jack . Watching his vlogs will improve both your knowledge and technique, when making bread at home.
Recipe: Makes 1 Seeded Cob Loaf
400g Wholemeal Seeded Bread Flour I use 3 Malts Sunflower from Shipton Mill – alternatively use Wholemeal Bread Flour
100g White Bread Flour
7g Fast Action Dried Yeast
340mls Room Temperature Water
50g Mixed Seeds – plus a small handful for sprinkling on the loaf
Method: I use a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, alternately this bread can be made by hand.
Note: For complete accuracy the use of digital scales is advised. Even for weighing water, 1ml is equivalent 1g.
Into the bowl of the stand mixer weigh the water and yeast.
Next, add both flours and the additional 50g of seeds, even if you are using seeded flour.
On top of the flour add the salt and cubed butter.
Lower the dough hook and mix on slow for 5 minutes, then increase the speed and mix for a further 5-10 minutes on medium. The dough is ready when it can be stretched without tearing and light can be seen through the stretched dough. This is known as the windowpane test.
Use clean hands to scrape any dough stuck to the dough hook back into the bowl.
Cover the bowl with a clean tea towel and place on a surface that is draught free.
Leave the dough to prove until doubled in size. This may take between 1-2 hours, depending on the room temperature.
While the bread is proving, grease a large baking tray with a little butter.
Once proved, scatter a very small amount of flour on to the work top.
Turn out the dough ensuring the domed top becomes the bottom and the sticky underneath is uppermost.
Following the pictures above, shape the dough. Firstly pull the edge of the dough and press it down into the sticky centre. Continue, working around the edge of the dough. While doing this, tension is being built across the top of the loaf, (the underneath of the dough), this helps ensure a tight ball shape that doesn’t collapse whilst proving or baking.
Keep working around the edge of the dough until you achieve a tight ball, as seen in the left of the photo below.
Cover the dough ball with the tea towel and leave until doubled in size. See photo above on the right.
While the dough is undergoing its second prove Preheat the oven to its hottest setting. Add a tray of water to the bottom of the oven. The water provides steam which helps the dough to rise (oven spring) before forming a crust.
When the dough has doubled in size, it is ready to bake. Remove the tea towel and brush the top of the dough with water. Then sprinkle over the remaining seeds.
Place the seed covered loaf into the middle of the oven.
Immediately reduce the temperature of the oven to 220C/200C fan, gas mark 7. Note – the reduction in heat stops the seeds from burning.
Bake for 45 minutes, remove from the oven. Take the loaf off of the baking tray and place back in the oven, directly on to the oven shelf. Continue baking for 10-20 minutes, depending on how crusty you want your bread.
Once baked, remove from the oven and place on a cooling rack. Enjoy the aroma of freshly baked bread!
Ensure the loaf is completely cooled before slicing.
Perfect for slicing, packing up with an assortment of fillings and taking on a picnic. Or simply torn into chunks and dunked in warming bowls of soup.
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Baking at home can be an immensely fulfilling experience. Enticing aromas escape the oven with a beautiful, delicious loaf, or other bake tempting your eyes and tastebuds, whilst cooling. Even if your first loaf isn’t perfect, its taste will more than make up for its appearance. Finally, your own bake is guaranteed to taste better than anything bought from a shop.
Have fun, making, creating and baking in your kitchens.
Please see my Disclosure Policy regarding copyright and intellectual property laws, before reproducing any copy from this blog.
Extra Fruity Hot Cross Buns packed full of plump vine fruit and spices.
These Extra Fruity Hot Cross Buns really do take the humble, yet delicious Easter Bun to another level. As their spiced aroma escapes the kitchen, it fills the whole house with warmth. Turning a house into a welcoming home. While neighbours, out in their gardens, stop, wondering whose house the aromatic aroma originates from.
Easy to make and bake, these Extra Fruity Hot Cross Buns are so worth the little effort required. These are not the small, pappy, squidged into a ball, cheap supermarket versions. Instead they are filled with fruit, in a good sized bun, that also contains a small amount of wholemeal flour. Indeed, one bun is a substantial breakfast.
Since these buns are homemade, we know every ingredient they contain. Yet, what they don’t have is any artificial ingredients. Also they work out much cheaper to make, than bought ones. Plus, the extra smell when you split and toast them, is priceless!
The absolute thrill for me, when developing a new recipe, is my family’s reaction. Good or bad, I know it can be trusted. Words like “yummy”, “can I have another one please?” and “have you taken the photographs yet?” all feed into my sense of recipe security. As I’m going to be sharing the recipe with my readers, it needs to be robust and reliable. Hence only tried and tested recipes make their way on to this blog.
Recipe: Extra Fruity Hot Cross Buns makes 12
150ml Tap Water
150ml Whole Milk – slightly warmed to body temperature
2 Large Free Range Eggs
10g Fast Action Dried Yeast – I use Allinson in the green pot or sachets
50g/2oz Plain White Flour and 50mls Tap Water for the crosses.
For the glaze:
3tbsp Runny Honey plus 1tsp water
First of all, grease a large baking tray with butter.
Into the bowl of a stand mixer add the water, milk, eggs, honey and yeast.
Next, on top of the liquids add the strong white and wholemeal flour.
Then add the salt and butter.
Fit the stand mixer with a dough hook and then lock the bowl into place.
Lower the dough hook and start mixing on a slow speed. Continue mixing at this speed for 5 minutes.
After 5 minutes has elapsed gradually increase the mixer speed to moderately high. Again mix for a further 5 minutes, then stop the mixer and lift the dough hook.
Remove a small piece of dough and stretch it until you can see light through it. This is known as the windowpane test. If the dough tears continue mixing, checking every couple of minutes until it passes the windowpane test.
Once it has finished kneading, turn the speed on the mixer to low and add the spices and fruit. Mix for a further 2 minutes to incorporate the fruit and spices.
Following this, stop the mixer, raise the dough hook and scrape any dough into the bowl using your fingers.
Unlock the bowl, cover with a clean tea towel and place somewhere draught free.
Tip the dough out on to a lightly floured surface, it will be quite sticky. Knead the dough lightly to form a ball and then weigh it. I place baking parchment on flat, digital scales. Note the weight and then divide it by 12, leaving the parchment on the scales.
Now cut the dough in half. As each bun is weighed this doesn’t have to be exact.
Follow by forming each dough half into a log shape. Cut each dough log into six.
Weigh the first piece of dough and adjust as necessary to obtain the correct weight.
Hold the dough in one hand while using the other to turn and tuck the underneath in, creating a tight ball shape. Place the ball on to the baking tray. Continue until all 12 balls have been made.
Cover the tray with a clean tea towel and place in a draught free place until doubled in size.
While the buns have their second prove, make the paste for the crosses. Place the flour and water into a bowl, mix until lump free. Spoon the white flour paste into a small piping bag, secure the top with a peg/rubber band and stand the bag in a glass until needed.
Preheat the oven to 220C/200C fan, gas mark 7.
Once doubled in size, snip off the very end of the piping bag.
Pipe straight lines of paste. First of all piping across the tray and then down the tray.
Bake in the preheated oven for 25-35 minutes. When baked they will be golden brown and sound hollow when rapped on the base with a knuckle.
Once baked remove from the oven. Remove the buns from the tray on to a cooling rack, with a clean baking tray underneath.
Measure the honey and water into a small microwaveable bowl. Heat in the microwave until bubbling. Remove carefully as it will be hot.
Stir the honey and water to mix.
Use a pastry brush to cover each hot bun in honey.
Wait for the buns to cool before eating. Then serve as is or toasted and buttered with a big smile.
The buns will keep for 3 days if toasted. Also they freeze extremely well for up to one month.
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Baked Whole Epoisses De Bourgogne bubbling, gooey, pungent cheese.
Do you like cheese? Then you will love this rich, melted Baked Whole Epoisses De Bourgogne, perfect for dipping, dunking and feasting on.
When asked by Pong Cheese to bake this heady Epoisses De Bourgogne, I knew that I would need my hubby’s help. First, I needed a hand model and also I absolutely knew he would relish the taste of this incredible cheese. A semi-soft to soft, pasteurised cow’s cheese, washed in Marc De Bourgogne, creating a spicy, pungent cheese. Most importantly, this incredible cheese is only made in the Burgundy region of France and therefore has an AOC – authentication of origin certificate.
Homemade breadsticks break through the crust to reveal the warm, bubbling, unctuous cheese below. The full taste is revealed when eaten with bread. Salty, spicy and pungent, any cheese lovers dream.
Chicory, with it’s crunch and slightly bitter flavour is a perfect accompaniment to the melted cheese. While sweet, red apple provides contrast to the saltiness of the cheese. This for me was my favourite flavour pairing, my husband preferring the full flavour of the cheese, unhindered by the breadsticks.
While, this is hardly a recipe, the method and increased flavour of the cheese, means it is extremely worthwhile taking the extra step to bake it.
Recipe: Baked Whole Epoisses De Bourgogne
250g Whole Epoisses De Bourgogne available from Pong Cheese
Sprig of rosemary – Optional
Breadsticks, chicory, apple, pear, crackers for dunking
Method: Preheat the oven to 180C/160C fan, gas mark 4
You will need an ovenproof dish that is about the same size as the Epoisses. A Camembert dish will be fine, any bigger and the cheese will spread as it bakes.
First, remove all of the packaging from the Epoisses.
Next place the whole cheese into the ovenproof dish, laying a sprig of rosemary on the top.
Now place the ovenproof dish on to a baking tray and place in the middle of the preheated oven.
Bake the cheese for 15 minutes, or until you can see it bubbling around the side of the dish.
Once baked remove the baking tray, with the bubbling cheese in its dish, from the oven.
Allow the cheese to sit for a couple of minutes as it will be extremely hot.
Serve the cheese in its dish with a selection of fresh fruit, vegetables and bread or crackers. Most of all share with good company and an excellent glass of wine!
Sharing this baked cheese, either with a group of friends, or with the one that you love, infinitely improves the whole experience of eating it. Since memories are created and observations exchanged, whilst feasting together.
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Cheese is such a versatile ingredient. Whether baked and eaten as is, piled on top of chilli pickle in a crunchy filo tart, or simply eaten cold with crackers, it remains one of my favourite ingredients. As with most things that have a relatively high fat content, their flavour truly comes alive when heated. Baking the Epoisses De Bourgogne certainly brought all of its delicious and interesting flavours to the fore.
Do you enjoy using cheese as an ingredient?
Have fun baking, making and creating in your kitchens, preparing a feast.
Pong Cheese supplied me with the Epoisses De Bourgogne for this recipe. All opinions, views, photographs and content are my own. Please see my Disclosure Policy.
Orange Lemon Ombre Piped Rose Cake, three layers of orange and lemon cake, sandwiched with lemon curd, crumb coated and piped with lemon buttercream.
Birthday season is upon us in the Feasting family. Cakes, bakes, canapés and celebration continue from now, right through to the New Year. Therefore, making this Orange Lemon Ombre Piped Rose Cake with family in mind, resulted in a beautifully decorated, delicious cake, perfect for guys and girls of all ages.
So the cake itself is made using Wright’s Baking Orange Cake Mix, to which lemon zest is added. Baked as a single cake, it is then sliced into three layers which are sandwiched back together using tart lemon curd. The result, a balanced citrus flavoured cake, that wakes up your tastebuds ready to party!
In addition, the decision to decorate the cake with piped buttercream roses, shows an increase in confidence with regard to piping. Creating an ombré effect, from pale lemon swirls to deeper tangerine lends a modern finish to this cake.
Since piping this Heart Engagement BundtCake, crumb coating, covering the whole cake in a thin layer of buttercream, was not an option, it was a must. The finished cake looks much cleaner, more professional and any gaps between the roses are already covered.
While not absolutely necessary, the added edible violas give the finished cake an elegant, yet natural touch. Their presence hints at the floral, citrus flavoured cake hidden by the piped roses.
Recipe: Orange Lemon Ombre Piped Rose Cake serves 12-14
Method: Preheat the oven to 170C/150C fan, gas mark 3.5
You will need a 20cm/8″ diameter 8.5cm/3.5″ deep tin to bake this cake.
Starting with the cake tin, grease the entire tin and also line the base with parchment paper.
Into a large bowl add the water, egg, oil and one packet of the orange cake mix. Weigh the other packet of cake mix and divide in half. Add half of the packet contents to the bowl – it was approximately 260g. Please check the weight for yourself.
Whisk the ingredients together according to the instructions on the packet.
Finally add the finely grated zest of 1 lemon, approximately 1tsp, to the bowl. Whisk to distribute and combine.
Pour the citrus cake batter into the prepared tin.
Place the cake tin in the centre of the oven and bake for 1 hour 30 minutes. Test the cake at 1 hour 20 minutes with a skewer. The cake is baked when an inserted skewer comes out clean.
Once baked remove the cake from the oven, place on a rack and allow the cake to cool completely in the tin.
Breath in the rich, citrus, homebaked aroma.
When the cake has cooled turn it out of the tin. Also if necessary, run around the outer rim of the cake with a palette knife. Doing this will loosen any slight sticking, that said Wright’s cake mixes are excellent and always turn out of the tin easily.
Preparing the cake for decoration:
The cake whilst baking rose slightly more in the centre. The cause may have been the addition of an egg to the cake mixture, or, baking at a slightly higher temperature.
First cut off any dome on the top of the cake. Having a small rise in the centre is an advantage with the finished cake.
Slice the cake evenly into 3 layers. A serrated knife cuts cleanly through the cake, minimising crumbs.
Place the bottom layer, cut side up, on a board or cake stand.
Spread the bottom layer with an even, thin layer of lemon curd, so that it almost reaches the edges.
Next, place the middle layer on top of the bottom layer, matching up the sides.
Again, spread a thin, even layer of lemon curd on to the cake, keeping just inside the edges.
Finally place the top of the cake on to the middle layer.
Preparing the cake:
Place the softened butter into a large bowl.
Sift the icing sugar into the same bowl.
Next add the very hot water and lemon extract.
Finally whisk the ingredients together, starting on a slow speed and increasing the speed, until you have a pale, fluffy, lump free, buttercream.
Remove 3 heaped tablespoons of the buttercream and set aside to crumb coat the cake. First place the buttercream on the top of the cake. Use an offset spatula to spread the icing across the top of the cake, gently pushing it over the sides. Rotating the stand, or board, gradually cover the sides of the cake with a thin layer of buttercream. Finish by dipping a palette knife into hot water, drying and running the hot knife over the cake, this will produce a smooth finish. Place the cake in the fridge for 30 minutes to allow the crumb coat to set slightly.
Colouring the buttercream:
Divide the remaining buttercream equally, between 3 bowls.
Use cocktail sticks, gel food colouring and a teaspoon to stir, start colouring the icing. It is easier to achieve the lightest colour, which is piped on to the top of the cake, first. Doing so sets the shade and tint of the icing.
Following on, add more colouring to the next bowl, until the shade is correct. Finishing with the last bowl and deepest colour, add extra red and yellow gel until the desired deeper colour is obtained.
To pipe the buutercream, fit 3 large, disposable piping bags with large star piping nozzles – Wilton #1M. Fill each bag with a separate shade of buttercream. Label the piping bags light, medium, dark, so they are distinguishable.
Decorating the Cake:
Starting right in the centre, on top of the cake, using the lightest shade, pipe the first rose. Begin in the centre of the rose, keeping pressure steady on the bag pipe a star, continuing into an e shape, then continuing round to form a rose swirl.
Continue working evenly around the centrally piped rose, piping more rose swirls. Carry on until the top of the cake is covered, or almost covered, in evenly piped rose swirls.
Following on, use the next shade darker, pipe rose swirls around and inbetween the lighter shade, then pipe evenly around the side of the cake.
Complete the cake by piping the darkest shade around the base of the cake. The full ombré effect is then complete.
For the very best results place the piped cake into the fridge, or somewhere cold, for 30 minutes.
Just prior to serving add the edible violas.
Beautifully baked, evenly distributed fruit, decorated with rose swirls, this Orange Lemon Ombre Piped Rose Cake demonstrates how easy it is to create a sensational cake using a mix.
Because of my health limitations, creating this cake from scratch would be too much for me. Of most importance, my aim, to show how the ombré piping effect is achievable, at home, with a little practice. Secure in the knowledge that the cake underneath is reliably good. A couple of badly piped roses were removed, using a butter knife and re-piped. Practice and making mistakes is how we learn to improve our skills.
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Beautiful cakes do not have to be difficult to create. Since I am most definitely not an accomplished cake decorator, I have learned a few decorating techniques that enable me to finish a cake to a good standard.
Most of all I hope you have been inspired to try out a new technique? Homemade cakes taste infinitely better than their supermarket counterparts. While they are convenient, no amount of love, has, at any stage been added to the cake. Baking at home creates a unique, delicious cake that will prompt huge smiles from the recipient and those who share in the celebration and cake!
Homemade Cauliflower Cheese has to be right up there, on the list of all time comfort foods – right?
Fresh, creamy white florets of seasonal cauliflower, lightly steamed and smothered in a thick, nutmeg scented, cheese sauce. Like a fluffy duvet, or wood burning fire, it wraps you in its warm embrace and brings you home.
Many friends and family have said that HomemadeCauliflower Cheese reminds them of their childhood. I can understand why. It isn’t something I make, or eat that often, yet when the gooey cheese sauce intermingles with meaty gravy on my plate (yes I have both 😉) I am in food heaven.
With the current ongoing use of cauliflower as a carbohydrate replacement. Transforming those creamy florets into rice, pizza base, potato salad??? I kid you not, take a look on Pinterest. My Homemade Cauliflower Cheese could not be further from these carbohydrate substitute recipes.
Tender, baked cauliflower, covered in a homemade cheese sauce, is, for me one of the best ways to eat this delicious vegetable. Part of the brassica family, where cabbages, broccoli and brussel sprouts are its cousins, cauliflower has a slightly sweet flavour, not dissimilar to the thick leaves of white cabbage. Cooked properly its texture is dense and meaty, making it a filling vegetarian dish when served on its own.
My favourite way to eat and enjoy HomemadeCauliflower Cheese is with a roast dinner, or sausages and mash. I like the way the cheese sauce goes so well with proper gravy dinners, oh and it is unbelievably good with Yorkshire puddings.
Recipe: Homemade Cauliflower Cheese serves 4-6 as a side dish
1 large head of Cauliflower or 2 smaller ones
75g/3oz Unsalted Butter
75g/3oz Plain White Flour
150g/5.5oz Mature Cheddar Cheese – grated – hold back 2 tablespoons from adding to the sauce, for sprinkling over the assembled dish.
500ml Milk Whole or Semi Skimmed
1/4tsp Freshly Grated Nutmeg – I buyBarts whole nutmegs and grate them myself on the coarse side of a box grater. The fresh flavour is incomparable with it’s pre-grated counterpart.
1/2tsp Freshly Ground Black Pepper
Place the butter into a heavy bottomed saucepan and melt over a medium heat.
Add in all the flour, stir for a couple of minutes so that the flour and butter become a bubbling paste (roux).
Pour in roughly 100ml of the milk and stir vigorously. The flour, butter and milk will come together to form a thick clump.
Add another 100mls of milk and keep stirring until all the milk is incorporated.
Continue as before, adding the milk in 100ml quantities, stirring thoroughly. If you are worried that some lumps will not disappear simple switch to a balloon whisk.
After adding all the milk, you will have a smooth, thick-ish white sauce.
Add the pepper and nutmeg to the bechemel (white sauce) and stir thoroughly. I generally don’t add salt as the cheese tends to lend its saltiness to the final flavour, however, a quick taste check once the cheese has melted will allow you to adjust the seasonings.
Take the saucepan off the heat and tip in the grated cheese. Stir until it is melted and you have a smooth cheese sauce.
Prepare the cauliflower by cutting off most of the green leaves, breaking into florets, rinsing under a tap a and then steaming for no longer than 5 minutes.
Place the steamed cauliflower florets into an oven proof dish and pour over the cheese sauce.
Sprinkle over the reserved cheese, this gives the topping extra colour and gooey cheese!
If this is made ahead, allow to cool, cover in tented foil, so that the topping doesn’t stick to it. The dish can be left on the side for a couple of hours, any longer simply pop it in the fridge, it will keep for up to 2 days.
Bake the Homemade Cauliflower Cheese in an oven, preheated to 200C/180C fan, gas mark 6 for 30-40 minutes. It is baked when the top is golden and bubbling and a fork can pierce the base of a cauliflower floret.
Once baked remove from the oven and serve.
Utterly delicious, tender cauliflower florets in a thick, cheesy sauce, ooh I love the colder months 😉.
Homemade Cauliflower Cheese also goes well with fish dishes, such as smoked haddock, or any firm, white fish, especially when served with mashed potatoes!
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As the nights draw in, I find comfort in warming, hearty food. That isn’t to say I don’t believe in balance, I absolutely do. On a day when we indulge in Homemade Cauliflower Cheese, we wouldn’t have dessert. That said we rarely do eat pudding, except perhaps on a Sunday, something I am working on!
When it’s hot in the summer, salad and cool food it what my body craves. As soon as the annual September chill hits the air I long for warming meals like SteakLeek and Ale Pie or Chunky Chilli.
Do you find that your appetite and desire for different foods changes with the seasons?
Whatever you are making, baking and creating in the kitchen, I love seeing photos on Twitter and Instagram, so please keep them coming. I also really enjoy reading your comments, thank you for taking the time to leave them, they are very much appreciated.
As many of you may have realised by now, I love baking bread. The smell and taste, unless you live near a really good bakery, is far superior to any supermarket loaf. I’ve been asked numerous times for the recipe to make my Large 3 Malts Sunflower Loaf and so here it is!
I have been asked a few times if I’m sponsored by Shipton Mill. I am not. Their’s is simply THE best bread flour I have ever used. I love that their 3 Malts with Sunflower blend gives the loaf a chewy, nutty, malt flavour, without the heaviness of 100% wholemeal Flour.
That said my triple provedWholemeal Cob Loaf is delicious and the lightest wholemeal loaf I have come across.
Having made this Large 3 Malts Sunflower Loaf a good number of times now, it is consistently good. A perfect everyday loaf for toast, sandwiches and buttered with soup.
I really love the process of making bread. If you look at the ingredient list on any standard, plastic wrapped loaf and compare it to mine, prepare yourself for a shock!
Once you get into the habit of making your own bread and on occaision make 2 loaves, so that you have one for the freezer, it is really hard to go back to supermarket bread. Even most supermarket bakery’s use flour stabilisers and improvers, as they use lower quality flour. Any loaf of bread I make always works out cheaper than it’s bought supermarket counterpart. The difference being that I know exactly what goes into my loaves.
Bread making isn’t as scary as it seems. Take a look through the bread recipes on this site? I hope you will be inspired to bake your own loaf.