Sunday, September 27, 2015

Courgettes in a cake for Dundee Baking Club

I have baked cakes with vegetables in them before, most notably carrot cake, and a beetroot chocolate cake, and they have been delicious.  I even bought a book a few years ago, all about cakes with vegetables and less sugar (I was going to name and give a link to that book, but for the life of me can't think what it's called.  If I remember, I'll be sure to include it here), but don't think I've even cracked the spine on that one - perhaps don't tell Mr Becca.
This recipe was for the first meeting of the newly re-branded Dundee Baking Club and the theme was Autumnal Bakes.  As you may recall, about 4 years ago I founded the Dundee branch of the Clandestine Cake Club with Jac from Tinned Tomatoes.  We were very happy with our meetings and members and rolled happily along for quite some time.  Stuart of Cakeyboi joined us and together we ran it all enjoyably.  Then we felt we wanted to bake other than just large cakes, so respectfully broke away and this cake was for our inaugural meeting.  I like to bake big cakes, as our family has little appetite for them so baking for others means I get to taste a little but have the fun of  the bake.
Above we see the grated courgette (or zucchini if you prefer), eggs, brown sugar, flour and spices.
And above here we see the disappointingly thin slivers of cake  :(  I don't know how you would feel with these layers, but I was seriously unimpressed at how little they rose in the baking process.  I had double-checked the recipe quantities and method, in case I had done something wrong, but no.  And my raising agent wasn't out of date or anything like that either...
So I made sure I had plenty of cinnamon flavoured buttercream icing and got to work.  I dusted it all lightly with cinnamon and gold edible glitter spray, plus a dose of delicious walnuts and took it to the meeting.
Where I am pleased to report that it was gobbled up and no-one noticed that the layers were a little on the thin side.  

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Getting healthy with homemade granola bars

We are still trying to get to grips with the busier, or rather shorter, weekday mornings (and by we, I don't mean me).  In an attempt to help The Team eat as well as they can in the short time available, I have been researching nutritious and delicious breakfast options, that aren't too time-consuming for me.  And when I came across the Lisa of 100 Days of Real Food, I was pleased. Although the premise is wonderful, I didn't feel like it was something I could easily slot into our lives.  But this granola recipe?  For sure.
As it happens, we pretty much always have all those ingredients in the house at any given time, so it was really easy to get started.
A large bowl full of oats, coconut, seeds, raw cashews, raw brazil nuts, pine nuts, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg - mmm...
Here we can see the seeds were a mix of pumpkin and sunflower, and somewhere in there are the pine nuts, because I didn't have enough cashews and walnuts as per the recipe.
 The melted butter and honey soaked in really quickly, so I had to get mixing fast!
There was so much mixture (the Americans seem to like making huge amounts of desserts at once) that I had to use my usual brownie tray (approx 20 x 30cm) plus an additional 20cm square tin. Although to be fair, the square tray had a thinner layer of mixture than the rectangular one.
And for future bakings, I would lower the recommended temperature and the time involved, as this seems a little dry and overdone to us.  The honey seems to have made it an extra specially golden colour.
However, despite the slight dryness to taste, it's deliciously cripsy, smells wonderfully of honey and tastes great with all the different seeds and nuts in each mouthful!  And it's lasting well in an airtight container, just perfect for afternoon tea or a quick bite in the mornings.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Double chocolate chip brownies, just because she wanted to

Now that school is in full-swing, and my hours at work have moved forward so that I start earlier, we are finding weekday mornings kinda tough.  We all still wake at the same time as before, but now there's no leeway or spare time whatsoever, and we've had to learn to love the clock, not.  If you aren't at the kitchen table and done with breakfast by 7.25am you miss out.  Seriously.  I've had to get creative with what can nourish the kids on the hop...
And the afternoons aren't much better - between homework, chill time, swimming lessons, Brownies, Girl Guides, dancing class and gymnastics, there's little leeway there either.  And we want to add ski lessons in to the mix, crazy!
So when one of the kids expressed a desire to bake brownies, well, we had to look at the schedule!  I felt bad about that, that we couldn't be a bit spontaneous, but I suppose that teaching them about commitments and responsibility will always be valuable.  So when today dawned wet, and resolutely stayed that way all day - we knew it was time to indulge.
As with any good teaching opportunity, we got out the recipe and all our ingredients.  Then started to prepare everything, so we would be ready to just toss them into the mixture at the appropriate time. White chocolate was chopped, eggs were cracked and mixed with vanilla extract, flour was sifted and so on.
As she is young and less experienced than myself, a lot of the white chocolate chunks melted when added to the brownie batter, so we quickly chopped some milk chocolate and sprinkled it over the top.  Time was of the essence, so the next photo is of the tray in the oven (hence the darkness - also it's quite rich and chocolatey).
It was quite wobbly when the timer went off, so I left it another couple of minutes before I removed it to cool.  We had started making it just before afternoon tea-time, so The Team were itching to try it! I cut it up straight away, and we all sampled it warm.  We were impressed, but also confused because it seemed more cake-like than our fudgy brownie usually is.  
But after we'd had our warm fill, it got more brownie-like as it cooled, and by the time the photos were taken, it was perfect!  Yummy, and the perfect rainy day activity treat.

Cinnamon raisin bread, part-baked heaven

Today dawned dark and wet.  Autumn only officially started recently, and our summer was kinda non-existent - though we did have lots of lovely sunny dry days, just not high temperatures - but really?  The sky was overcast and cloudy, and it was pouring with rain right from the get-go.
Lucky we had bought this part-baked, frozen loaf of cinnamon raisin bread a week or so ago!  I have yet to try making bread (no, actually I probably have made some in the past, but not regularly), but we all love the part-baked options.  Then you get the delicious smell of baking bread, the joy of warm crusty bread, and none of the waiting around.
We found this in a freezer shop called Farmfoods, and it's not widely known for its high-quality goods...  So we were excited, but reservedly.  
The loaf certainly looked good, and the instructions were simple and clear, just the way I like them. However, in future I shall turn the oven down slightly, and definitely leave the loaf in an extra 10 minutes.  That's how much longer I had to cook it for it all to cook through.  At the stated end-time, I cut a slice or two to check and the main body was still partly frozen!  So in the end, it was over-done (read burnt) but the interior was cooked.
Doesn't that look delicous??  Crusty exterior, soft warm interior, juicy raisins and slices of almond, with a hint of cinnamon throughout.  Mmm, weekend treat extraodinaire!!

P.S. This post is not sponsored or endorsed by anyone, it's simply our familys take on a purchased bakery item :)

Sunday, September 06, 2015

Medical cupcakes for a new nurse

A repeat customer, who likes to challenge me, wanted a treat for a friend who had been accepted to study nursing at University.  
I was stumped initially, and she sent over some images for inspiration.  They were great, and I agreed to the order as I had a two-week lead time.  So plenty of time to practice and re-do anything necessary, ha ha.
I made all the decorations in advance, so they would have time to harden.  It would also give me time to re-do them if they didn't work out as I had imagined, or if they cracked while drying.
Then the day before collection I baked up the Classic Vanilla cupcakes as required, so that they were as fresh as possible for the customer's friend.
Once sufficiently cooled they were iced in our signature Classic Vanilla buttercream icing, and the decorations carefully placed on top.  Et voila, gorgeous cupcakes fit for a trainee nurse! Congratulations and enjoy!!
 The last few were a simpler design, but still along the medical theme.
 And a collage view, that I posted to my Facebook page.