When someone asks you if you’d like to do a sponsored post the chances are you’re going to say yes. When that post involves you baking- and lets face it, demolishing a Lemon drizzle cake in almost one sitting the answer is definitely a double yes!
Flora asked me to choose a recipe from their website and I have to say I was surprised at just how many recipes there were (gazzillions!) From their selection the Lemon Drizzle cake was the one that I fancied eating most right at that very moment. But I had to wait for the weekend food shop to get my hands on a tub of the Flora Buttery (it’s available in all supermarkets). By the time I had a tub arrived I was craving chocolate so I gave the Flora buttery it’s first baking test run on the choc chip cookies from a few weeks ago. Normally a softer butter (or margarine) would make a really gooey-not-in-a-good-way cookie but these were delish. I’ve already made them again.
Lemon Drizzle cake – everyone’s favorite.
When I used to work at Woman & Home magazine and we had a cake sale it was always the Lemon Drizzle and the banana cakes that sold out first. For that reason I though that it would be a good idea to make this Lemon Drizzle for when I was visiting a friend. It was the perfect balance of sweet and zingy. I baked the cake but I always worry I’m going to drown the cake in the lemon sugar syrup so I just brushed it on liberally when the cake came out of the oven. There’s something very satisfying about watching syrup seep into a cake. As the cake is hot it literally disappears in milliseconds. There was tons of syrup left which made me think I’d made the cake wrong. In hindsight I could have added a lot more syrup at this stage but it still tasted great without it. Really light and the texture of the cake was so soft and springy.
After I had ‘taste tested’ the cake I decided that rather than waste the lemon sugar syrup I would brush most of what was left over on top of the cooled cake. Oh – my- goodness!!!! That’s when it all came together for me. So good. So zingy. So deeeelish! In fact the true test of whether a cake is good is when Tim comes into the office peers over my shoulder while I’m writing this post and says “Mmmm that looks good. Can you bake it again?” – I should note that as my official taste tester he is a bit rubbish. He has amazing will power and will eat just one slice of cake, whereas I will eat till it’s gone (that’s why Monday’s are so good. No kids, no Tim, just me and the freshly baked goods!) I only saved one slice of this for Tim before I headed off to my friends – obviously it was not enough!
My reply to Tim was ” I can make another lemon drizzle cake but I was planning on making muffins today” to which he replied “You can make those too!” Hello ever widening hips!
Right now, as I write this blog post it’s Christmas in my crazy media world. Anything and everything that’s to do with Christmas is being emailed my way. Baubles, gift guide ideas and of course things to make your Christmas dinner with. But when it comes to roasting trays turkey is furthest from my mind. For me it’s all about the brownie.
Roasting trays are perfect for brownies so when I caught sight of the hard anodised range from Stellar I knew I had to ‘have a play’. I requested the 32x22cm shallow roasting tray but there’s a whole range available including deep roasters, loose bottom tins, round cake tins, cupcake tins, loaf tins- you name it, it’s on the list.
What I like about this range is that they have a really great thermal conductivity for even heat distribution. This means that whether you have cookies on the tray in the front or back of the oven they’ll all come out the same- perfectly browned and even. I have another tray like this (who shall remain nameless but let’s just say it was really expensive!) and it warps every time it goes under the grill or when the oven gets too hot. This range is designed not to do this and so far – under my rigorous testing, it’s come out on top- and perfectly flat every time.
I make brownies in shallow roasters as they’re a stronger, more suitable tray than regular baking sheets. Apart from the fact that they usually come in a good brownie size, they’re thick and strong and give an nice even- gooey bake. These are also really non stick which is always a good thing!
Cherry Brownies recipe
275g (1 cup of chips) dark chocolate
280g unsalted butter (1 ½ sticks)
pinch of salt ( I use sea salt)
450g (2 cups) caster sugar
4 large eggs
3 tsp vanilla extract
170g (1 cup) plain flour
2-300g cherries -fresh (2 cups) is best but glacé (1 cup) works well too
Line a 22x33cm (8 x 12″) roasting tray with silicon paper. I’ve been using the foil lined paper as it stays in place and makes delivering the brownies so much easier. Pre-heat your oven to 180ºC (Fan oven160ºC)
Melt the chocolate over a bain marie then set aside to cool a little.
If using fresh cherries remove the stones and cut into halves or quarters. Glacé cherries can be cut in half.
In a separate bowl mix the sugar and butter then add the eggs slowly. Add the vanilla extract.
Sieve the flour over the mixture and stir in until completely incorporated. Pour the melted chocolate over and combine with the salt.
Add the cherries to the cake mix and stir till completely covered. Pour the mix into the roasting tray and smooth into the corners with a table spoon.
Bake for 35-40 minutes until the top looks like it’s about to crack. Brownies taste best when they are soft so be careful not to over bake them. If in doubt- take them out. A knife will come out almost completely clean, you want a bit of moisture/ cake mix on the end when they are done.
Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tin.
To cut- dip a sharp knife into hot water then wipe with a piece of kitchen paper then clean after each slice. The knife will become very caked in chocolate as these are super moist brownies
Top tips with these cherry brownies
You can make these dairy free by choosing a Dairy free chocolate (Bournville was the only one I could find locally) and using a dairy free spread. I did substitute the butter weight for sunflower oil in one of my tests and they tasted great but we really a touch too gloopy and only lasted a day. The day after baking the edges were really hard so you’d need to eat them on the day of baking- which let’s face it isn’t normally a problem!
Fresh cherries taste WAAAYYYY better than glacé ones. I de-stonned mine then dried them with some kitchen paper before dusting them all over with flour to stop them sinking to the bottom. You can also add more ( I had 300g in mine).
If using glace cherries opt for Morello glacé cherries. They were divine and I did have to keep noshing on them to do a taste test!
The key is to not over bake brownies. The top should look almost like a sheet of sugar paper when they’re done. They will continue to bake once you take them out of the oven so err on the side of caution and if they look nearly done take them out.
You can leave out the salt but I was once told by the lovely Bex Smith that salt and chocolate are opposite combinations (like sugar and lemons) and brownies without salt just don’t taste right anymore!enjoy!
Disclaimer: The 33 x 22cm Hard Anodised roasting tray in this post was sent to me by Stellar . (Thanks you guys – it give the perfect bake) All thoughts and opinions are entirely my own.
Madeleine cakes Yep, that’s right Mr MT did the baking this weekend and it was goooood!
A few weeks ago he announced that he wanted to make some Madeleine cakes but we didn’t have the right tin and let’s face it Madeleine cakes don’t taste right if they’re not the right shape do they now? So, I got in touch with Eddingtons. You may not know Eddington’s by name but as a keen baker you have definitely seen their baking goodies on the shelves. They’re sold all over the place and now I’ve mentioned them to you you’ll be spotting their cake tins, Cookie cutters and kitchen gadgets all over the place.
I have always found their bake-wares to be really top notch quality which is why I approached them. The Madeleine cake tin is really tough, thick and completely non-stick which if you’ve ever looked at my shortbread fiasco I mean post, you’ll know why this is essential! It’s also dishwasher safe – another bonus. Tim hunted around my baking book shelf for a recipe but once the tin arrived he decided to follow the recipe on the packaging. Orange Madeleines. Who wouldn’t?
So armed with his tin and a recipe he embarked on making as much mess as possible in our little kitchen which he did with much success!!!
Orange Madeleine cake recipe
Makes 24 cakes
110g (2/3 cup) flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
113g (1/2 cup) melted butter – cooled
1/2 tsp orange extract
1/2 tsp orange zest
130g (1 cup) icing sugar
Heat the oven to 170ºC). Spray the pan with a non stick spray or brush a little melted butter into each well like Tim did. Then dust a little flour over the top. This is the trick to the Madeleines literally falling out of the tin once they’re baked.
Sift together the flour and baking powder in a small bowl.
In another bowl use an electric whisk to beat the eggs, orange zest and extract on a high speed for five minutes. Gradually beat in the icing sugar. Whisk until it becomes thicker – another five minutes.
Gently fold in the flour mixture then the melted butter until smooth.
Spoon the mixture into the tins filling to 3/4 full.
Bake for 8 minutes or until the edges start to brown. Cool in the pan for 1-2 minutes. Loosen the cakes with a knife then invert the pan on a rack and watch them pop out.
Once completely cool sprinkle with icing sugar
I couldn’t leave them alone. The whole house smelt amazing. The Madeleine’s were so light in texture and the hint of orange flavour was really just perfect. Tim made them in two batches and we’d eaten half the first lot before they had even cooled down! I had to be really strong willed not to eat more before I had taken the photos to share with you guys.
Fingers crossed he makes some more this weekend. I could get used to him baking!
I’m always surprised when people ask me if I ever run out of ideas on what to write about here on CakesBakesAndCookies.com. I mean I think of my little cake blog as a bit of a cake decorators/baker’s/cook book enthusiast’s magazine type blog. I write about what interests me (as I think you’re all like me) and what I’ve been up to, so how could I ever run out of ideas? I’m always crazy busy andthere’s always so much to see, do and bake!
Every now and again I’ll start writing a blog post and I get distracted before it get’s published – usually it’s because there’s a cake to decorate or a Bake off to watch or a new decorating book out. I’ve got a list of cakes I’ve decorated on a post-it note here on my Mac just waiting to be written about. When I check my ‘drafts’ folder at the mo there are 19 posts. Some I wrote back at the very beginning (very cringe worthy) and some not so long ago. Which is where todays post comes in.
Back at the beginning of the year Mum and I went to the Squires Cake show. How on earth did this one slip through the net? Anyway, have you ever been? It’s really good. Of all the cake shows it’s one of the most intimate and friendly. I always come away inspired not only by the many cakes on display and by the entrants to the cake competition but also by the products available to buy – there’s always something new to discover.
There are always great free workshops – we saw Mark Tilling doing a chocolate demonstration. He was really great- funny, friendly and has a wealth of clever tips from tempering chocolate properly to making chocolate nests in under a minute! I so want to get onto one of his courses.
There are also loads of suppliers demonstrating how their products work on their stands. For me this is where you pick up the most valuable lessons. How to use this and how to apply that. They’re always happy to answer any questions.
In the main hall they have the Squires products and loads of the cakes that are in the new Squires book along with many of the decorators who appear in the book and teach at the Squires school.
In all we spent a little and learnt a lot. Inspiration all around. So here’s some of the fantastic cakes on show.
Have you heard of ‘Free Cakes For Kids’? It’s this great charity that was set up to give underprivalidged kids birthday cakes when they ordinarily wouldn’t get one.
I was approached by my local group after one of the volunteers saw my post about the time when I bought macaroons on Bromley High Street. She thought I must have lived nearby so she contacted me and asked if I would like to be a volunteer too? Of course I said “yes”.
It’s really sad that in this day and age people are in situations where they find it difficult to provide something as simple as a birthday cake for their kids. One lady didn’t think she was going to be able to give her son a cake but after Free Cakes For Kids stepped in she was able to invite a few of his school friends around to share his cake and make him feel special, and let’s face it everyone should feel special on their birthday.
“Each Free Cakes for Kids group makes individual birthday cakes. The local group matches up the two parties: families in need and passionate home bakers. The cakes are made by local volunteers, who pay for the ingredients themselves. While most Free Cakes for Kids volunteers are amateurs, they enjoy baking and decorating impressive cakes that often even accommodate the child’s favourite theme or style. Recent examples include a Princess cake, a Bob-the-Builder cake, rocket-shaped cakes or the ever-popular football cakes.
Families can call themselves or are referred to local groups by partner organisations. Most local groups have built strong networks in their communities and work closely with organisations like the Young Carers, foodbanks or social services.”
So the main reason for this post is twofold.
1) To spread the word that we are out there. (There are local charities set up all over the country and if not you could set up your own one.) If you know of anyone who would benefit from a Free Cakes For Kids birthday cake then get in touch here. Visit the website to find your local group and the best person to contact.
And 2) To see if you want to be a volunteer. I know you guys out there are AMAZING bakers and cake decorators. You all email me with your questions and queries and say how you have no experience and then you put your finished cake on The CakesBakeAndCookies.com Facebook page and they’re FANTASTIC!!!
Come and see us
This bank holiday weekend we have a stand at the May Fayre in Pettswood on Monday 5th May, from 10am – 4pm. There’s tons to see and do from watching the May Queen parade to having a go on the fairground rides. There are also loads of stalls from local charities with all sorts of goodies on offer. So if you’re not too far away why don’t you pop down and say hello. Us volunteers have been busy baking for the event so no one will leave hungry!
Is CakesBakesAndCookies.com really two years old today?
But it feels like 5 minutes….. actually it feels like I’ve been writing it and baking it all my life. I love it. I get excited when I find new things to share with you all. New books. New recipes. New cakes I’ve decorated. I have albums bursting full of photos ready for posts that I haven’t got round to writing yet as I get so busy with my grown up work and they get over taken by something newer and fresher. But right now I just want to say
Thank you for following, the comments (which I looooovvvveeee!) and for all the support – especially from family and friends who have become accustomed to my baking obsession and my going on and on about ‘the blog’- even if you secretly like it when you come round and there’s something fresh out of the oven (Yes you know who you are!)
I was excited about CakesBakesAndCookies.com before I even started it. I read every blog about blogging I could find and they all said the same thing. Write about something you are passionate about so you don’t get bored or worse- run out of things to say. Well I haven’t and after 18 months of writing at least one, usually two posts a week I’ve still got plenty more to say/bake.
So here’s to the next two years of baking fun. I hope you’ll stick around for the ride.
Here’s just a few of the cakes that have featured in the last two years.