Tag: food

Christmas cake but not as you know it.

mini-jack-daniels-christmas-cake-1

Mini Jack Daniels Christmas cakes

Oooooh don’t you just love a mini Christmas cake? I made some last year as gifts and they went down really well. This time I decided to give them a touch of Jack Daniels and I have to say they are gooooood!

I made these ones for a local food bank on behalf of the charity I bake for Free Cakes For Kids. Lots of bakers have made lots of mini cakes so lots of families would have a special cake and it always feels great to be giving and baking for others at this time of year- don’t you think? If you want to join in the fun check out the FCFK website to find your local group. I’m yet to find a group of bakers who aren’t really friendly!

I made these cakes really last minute (meaning I didn’t start in October so I could ply the cake with alcohol) so I had few cheats. I soaked the fruit in the JD for a week before baking the cakes and once they were out of the oven I gave them another really good brush/soak with the good stuff. If you add the alcohol while the cake is still warm the liquid soaks right in. I think a Christmas cake still tastes great even if it hasn’t been drowned in alcohol for weeks or months before.

Once baked I decorated half the cakes with marzipan and white sugarpaste and the other half with just the sugarpaste so there were some nut free options – also so I could eat the marzipan that was left over.

How to decorate Christmas cakes the non traditional way.

www.CakesBakesAndCookies.com

I didn’t want to go for red or green decorations this year. My original plan was to have a little forrest of sugarpaste Christmas trees standing on top of the cakes but once I had decorated one I realised that they would be really difficult to transport to the food bank and for the families to take home too so I opted for a 2d version.

The Christmas tree decorations were made up a day ahead in pale blues, pink and white so that they could be layered up without drooping. The gingerbread men were also made up ahead of time. After 24 hours the faces were drawn on with a clever food dye pen in ‘liquorice’ black. The trees and gingerbread man were then stuck in place with a little royal icing.

To give the cakes a really professional finish I placed ribbon around the cake and wrapped them in cellophane. I was really happy with the end result. I hope the families will be too when they pick them up later this week.

Mini Jack Daniels Christmas cake

Makes 6 x 4" cakes or 8 x 3" cakes

Mini Jack Daniels Christmas cake

  • 1000g mixed fruit (sultanas, raisins, candied mixed peel)
  • 200g dates cut into small pieces
  • 225ml Jack Daniels + extra for brushing
  • 250g unsalted butter
  • 260g muscovado sugar
  • 5 medium eggs
  • 240g plain flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp mixed spice
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
    Prepare the fruit
  1. Place all the fruit into an airtight container and cover with the Jack Daniels.
  2. Leave the fruit to infuse for as long as possible. 48 hours is best. Give the container a shake every now and again.
    To make the cake
  1. Line your cake tin with silicon paper. I have one that has dividers but some bakers have used cleaned out tuna and sweetcorn tins to bake in.
  2. Preheat the oven to 140C (120 fan)
  3. Mix the sugar and butter together. Add the eggs slowly then the vanilla extract.
  4. In a separate bowl sieve all the dry ingredients. Add this to the butter and sugar mix until combined.
  5. Finally add the fruit and combine till covered.
  6. Spoon evenly into each cake tin and smooth down with the back of a spoon.
  7. Bake for 2-21/2 hours.
  8. Once out of the oven brush liberally with Jack Daniels and leave to cool for 20 minutes before removing the cakes from the tin and allow to cool completely ready to decorate.
http://www.cakesbakesandcookies.com/2016/12/08/have-you-ever-made-christmas-cake-with-jack-daniels-once-you-try-it-you-wont-go-back/

Something you can do to help….

I wrote this post before I delivered the cakes to the food bank. I feel now looking back that I brushed over the food bank part. For me this was supposed to be about sharing my recipe for a Jack Daniels Christmas cake. It is in fact about a lot more than that. There are so many people in need in our country and right on our door steps. You may not even be aware that there is a food bank on your high street, in your church or by your community centre. These places are amazing. They’re run mostly by volunteers and the people who need them are often in dire situations.

When I delivered these cakes I met with a band of very jovial volunteers who are loving and caring and so, so knowledgable. There was a young mum who was there as I dropped off. She was collecting a couple of blankets from the centre. She had been housed in the hostel around the corner. The week before she had left a violent relationship with nothing but the clothes on her back and her teenage daughter. She had nothing. She was housed in a hostel so they were safe. The hostel is an amazing resource with a bedroom and some furniture and a kitchen along one wall but that’s it. It’s very, very basic. No bedding, no plates, no comforts. I’m sure she was grateful for a safe and warm roof over her head but having just spent a few hundred quid on presents for my two daughters to then see this young woman with so little but still with a grateful smile on her face was incredible humbling.

So I’m asking you to do something and not just now – for the foreseeable future. When you’re doing your food shopping pop an extra tin of something or a bottle of shampoo in your basket and leave it in the food bank bins which are always situated just behind the checkout. All the big supermarkets have collection bins and the extra pound or two probably won’t make much of a difference to you but it will make a massive difference if we all do it for others.

Thanks

EmmaMT x

www.CakesBakesAndCookies.com

The yummiest, zestiest Lemon Victoria Sponge cake you’ll ever bake

Yummy Lemon Victoria Sponge cake

If I get asked for one recipe (other than Madeira cake) over and over again it’s lemon cake. You guys seem to really love it. I haven’t made a ton of lemon cakes so I needed to find an opportunity to make one just so I could share it with you. Now, my ever expanding hips don’t want me to just make a cake and have it sitting looking at me every time I walk into the kitchen so I needed to have an opportunity to take it out of our house. I can’t for the life of me remember where I took this Lemon Victoria Sponge cake. I know there were kids involved and I know I had to apologize for having cut a slice to take photos and I then put it back again to take it with us. I don’t think any of my friends mind that one little bit!

The opportunity to make this Lemon Victoria Sponge Cake was also well timed as I needing to find a recipe that I could use the brand spanking new baking tools from JosephJoseph on – you know the ones I was talking about last week in the lemon curd recipe? Well the two newest products are the Fin bowl scraper and the Glaze – fillable pastry brush. That is why this regular lemon Victoria Sponge cake became a whopper of a beast. Cake +lemon curd + creme fraiche + lemon syrup glaze!

Yummy Lemon Victoria Sponge cake

The Fin is very easy to hold and manoeuvre around the inside of a bowl. As you can see from the photos above it leaves next to no cake mix once it’s been scraped around. This is one of those really handy bits of baking kit and in true JosephJoseph style it’s ergonomic and has a wide base so it will stand up on it’s own and not leave smears of cake mix all over your kitchen. zeboThe Glaze is going to be a very handy piece of kit for me. I add sugar syrup to all my Madeira cakes so this will make it a much cleaner and easier job. Glaze comes with two lids – one with lots of holes which is perfect for adding glazes and the other with one central hole which will make light work of egg washing pastry. The pastry brush simply fits over whichever lid you choose. The bottle is soft silicone so you can squeeze it to allow the contents to flow out to your desired speed.  The bottle is really tactile as it’s so soft. You just want to squidge it.

As you can see from the shots above I used it to glaze the top of the cake and then not content with the amount of sugar already in this cake I proceeded to dribble even more lemon glaze over the sides! To say this was a sweet and tangy cake would be an understatement.

I’ve been using this fab tool to glaze my cakes and I simply pour the warm glaze into the bottle and then leave it to cool down before adding the lid and brush. It’s so much easier than using a pastry brush and bowl as you don’t get those sticky, sugary drips all over the place. The last point to make about the Fin is that the whole unit is dishwasher safe. No brainer really.

Lemon Victoria Sponge Cake Recipe Lemon Victoria sponge cake recipe

? Print this cake recipe here 
lemon-curd

? Print this Lemon curd recipe here 

So, I hope you enjoy this zesty, lemony, tangy cake of deliciousness. I know we did!

EmmaMT x

Disclaimer: Thanks to JosephJoseph for providing me with the fab baking products in this post. They’re great. All thoughts, opinions and ramblings in this post are entirely my own

Prohibition Bakery book review & giveaway

Prohbition bakery review and giveaway Prohibition Bakery book review and giveaway

I bet the title of this post grabbed your attention. Prohibition Bakery! Prohibition = alcohol and in cakes that can only be a good thing.

I’ve made quite a few boozy cakes here on CakesBakesAndCookies.Com, The whisky cake aimed at my dad, the Black forrest gateau aimed at the husband and don’t get me started on boozy mince pies -aimed at everyone! So when I saw this book was about to land in the UK I had to get my hands on it. It is literally bursting with amazing cupcakes all with a touch of the hard stuff. I’m not a big drinker (unless it’s Dr Pepper!) but I love an alcoholic cake. The flavour just adds that little something extra.

The Prohibition Bakery

The Prohibition bakery isn’t just a book. It’s an actual bakery in New York City run by the very talented Leslie Feinberg and Brook Siem. The duo set up the bakery in 2011 transforming your favourite cocktails into tasty cupcakes. Flavour is the name of the game and every conceivable flavour is included in this book. Fifty five recipes to be exact.

So, what’s the book all about?

You’re gonna love this. Here’s a run down of the contents titles and just one example of what you can bake !!!!

  • Vodka – White Russian anyone? Super cute looking cupcake.
  • Rum -This is a nice big chapter.  Mojito cupcake- probably one of my all time favourite cocktails. Definitely going to make this one!
  • Whisky – The Sherlock and Watson cake sounds like it has a powerful punch, with an Earl grey and Highland scotch filling. There are eight Whisky cakes to try. Eeek!
  • Gin – It’s not everyday you come across a cupcake named ‘Suffering bastard’ It’s a ‘hair of the dog’ cupcake with gin and bourbon!
  • Tequila -Margarita. What more can I say?
  • Wine – Port in the storm. I love port and these cute little chocolate cupcakes look too good to miss.
  • Beer/Cider – The ‘apples to apples’ cupcake sounds amazing – pumpkin, cinnamon and applejack brandy. Niiiice!
  • Liqueur – For me it has to be Amaretto sour. Amaretto is basically alcoholic Dr Pepper to me. ?
  • Cocktails  – Not the cake variety. Actual cocktail recipes. A great end to a great book.

Prohbition bakery review and giveawayI love it that the introduction of this book includes everything you need to know to make a great cupcake – from building a baking kitchen, equipment and the basics right through to creating new flavours, frosting tips and everything you need to know about infusions and fillings. Once you have these down you can make all sorts of flavours using their guidelines. Tips like making an infused jelly will bring out the flavour more than just adding that ingredient to your cake mix.

The photography is dark and moody with loads of old photos from during the prohibition age. I love the shot of the ‘ladies against prohibition’ with their old time fashions and serious faces. The pages have sticky tape marks on them like the book’s a scrap book – nice touch. The photos of the cakes are really close and make you want to learn how to get those pretty star topping effects so big on the top of a cupcake – they’re perfect! The recipes are easy to follow and look sooooo delish! I want to eat every single one – especially in the liqueurs section.

I should mention that these are little cupcakes. Eat too many and you know what effect they’ll have.

I really like this book. It’s got a great vibe to it, lots of Leslie and Brook’s personality coming through in the writing which makes it feel really friendly. As much as I think this would make a fantastic gift for a friend I think my mates would prefer a box of cakes made from the book more!

The Prohibition Bakery by Leslie Feinberg and Brooke Siem, Sterling Epicure publishing, is available on Amazon through my affiliate link here

Prohbition bakery review and giveaway

And what about the giveaway?

The lovely publishers of  The Prohibition Bakery by Leslie Feinberg and Brooke Siem, Sterling Epicure publishing, have given me not one, not two but THREE copies of this great book to giveaway to my lovely readers. Wanna win one?

To enter all you need to do is share at least one image from this post on Pinterest AND leave a comment below telling me what your ideal alcoholic flavour cake would be and why. Winners will be drawn at midday Thursday 2nd June 2016.

If you hover over the images on this post a little ‘pin it’ sign will appear to make sharing super easy. Don’t forget to leave a comment too!

 

Good luck!

EmmaMT x

 

CakesBakesAndCookies.com Terms & Conditions

This giveaway will close at 12:00 midday on 2nd June 2016. Sharing an image from this post on Pinterest and leaving a blog post comment is a mandatory entry option. This prize is offered by Sterling Epicure. I am hosting it on behalf of Sterling Epicure. Please note, I am not responsible for posting the prizes out or providing it. Sterling Epicure or their representative will send out the prizes, the winners must provide their name and address once contacted. The winner will be selected at random from all correct entries received. The winner will be notified within 3 days of the closing date. The prize is one copy of the ‘Prohibition Bakery’ book, no cash alternatives are available. This giveaway is open only to residents in mainland UK (excluding Northern Ireland and Scottish Highlands and Islands) and entrants must be over 18.

Lemon Drizzle cake with Flora Buttery

Lemon Drizzle cake with Flora ButteryLemon Drizzle cake recipe

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 recipe

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.

Lemon Drizzle cake recipe

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!

The Lemon Drizzle Cake recipe

Lemon Drizzle cake recipe

You can ? off this recipe here

Lemon Drizzle cake recipe

enjoy!

EmmaMT x

Disclaimer: Thank you to Flora for sponsoring this post. All thoughts and opinions and ramblings are my own 

Delicious Date and Walnut loaf recipe

Date and walnut loaf recipe

Delicious Date and Walnut loaf recipe

Sometimes you need a little afternoon pick me up and for me this is it. A slice of date and walnut loaf tastes great on its own but with a little butter spread across it – deeeelishhh!. Oooooh butter! One of life’s little luxuries! The reason I like this loaf so much is because it has a really firm texture. One slice is often enough – who am I kidding one slice is never enough! I wish I could pack it into packed lunches but the whole nut allergy at school thing prevents me so we’ll just have to stick to eating it here at home. (smiles as she types!)Date and walnut loaf recipe

I am a massive date fan. I have them with a cup of tea at the end of the day (instead of another slice of cake or cookie) and the really soft, gooey medjol ones are my favorites. But when you get a regular pack and they’re all a bit hard I bake with them. By soaking the dates in boiling water they get really soft. You can leave them to cool for half an hour and they’re perfectly ready but to make them really moist for your cake leave them over night in an air tight container and give them a shake every now and then.

I didn’t used to like walnuts but over the years they’ve been growing on me. I don’t like it when you can’t taste them in a cake so I often just quarter them so the pieces are big and chunky but you can chop them smaller if you prefer. Toasting them (or baking them in the oven) makes all the difference. It’s like you’re sealing the flavour in. Definitely worth the effort.

Date and walnut loaf recipeYou can ? this recipe off here

Date and walnut loaf recipe

EmmaMT x

 

FAQ: What size eggs should I use for baking?

FAQ: What size eggs to use for baking

What size eggs should I use for baking?

….is a question that I’ve been asked quite a few times – and have since made sure I remember to include that detail in my recipes. I’ve used both medium and large eggs in my cakes. I used to think that larger eggs would make lighter cakes – which it can do for an 8″ cake, but as the cake sizes get bigger and the quantity of egg increases there’s a point when the cake will be ruined. You see the difference in egg sizes will produce different weights. And that’s where the problems start. So, substituting one large egg for a medium won’t make much of a difference but if your recipe calls for 8 medium eggs and you only have large it will be the equivalent of 10 medium eggs! Check out the sizes below.

Small eggs weigh Medium eggs weighLarge eggs weigh

Storing eggs

All eggs are at risk of carrying salmonella bacteria inside their shells and that risk is dramatically reduced if shop bought eggs are stored in the fridge at 4ºC or below. For that reason never use damaged or cracked eggs. Discard them immediately. Eggs should be stored in the fridge until needed then they should be allowed to come to room temperature for an hour before baking. The reason for this is that eggs won’t whisk up if they’re cold – it’s due to the temperature of the air inside they egg whites. They need to be warm enough to easily expand. The whites of an egg is what gives a cake structure and with less air bubbles due to cold eggs you’ll have a less stable cake. Maybe that’s why cakes sink in the middle!?!

NB: How to tell if your eggs are stale

The easiest way to check the freshness of an egg is to place it in a glass of water. If it sinks it’s fresh. If it floats it’s not and bye bye egg.

FAQ: What size eggs to use for baking

A word about egg yolks

If egg whites are full of protein and add lightness to a cake it’s the yolk that keeps it moist. The yolk is the fat part of an egg and will prevent the protein whites from whisking – hence it’s essential to have absolutely no yolk in your whites when making meringues. It’s also why I add an extra egg yolk to gluten free cakes when they need extra moisture.

So, to answer to the original question “What size eggs do I use to bake with?”

The answer is always medium. A lot of the time a cake will need equal quantities of egg, sugar and flour as a base to start from. For a perfectly balanced cake weigh your eggs (once out of the shell) and then use exactly the same amount of the dry ingredients and see how your Victoria sponge improves!

FAQ: What size eggs to use for baking

I really hope that has been helpful. I have to say that when I was looking for facts about eggs I discovered this post on Chasing Delicious which is totally fantastic – as well as gorgeous to look at. Check it out if you want real depth and knowledge about eggs and baking.

Happy baking

EmmaMT x

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