Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Toffee Apple Cake Pops

I have been meaning to take part in the AlphaBakes challenge again for a while and when I saw that this months letter was 'T' I couldn't get toffee apples out of my head! I created a Toffee Apple cake last autumn but I wanted to make something a bit different this time so I cam up with a toffee apple version of the popular cake pops.

Alphabakes is a great challenge hosted by The More Than Occasional Baker and Caroline Makes it produces a wonderful variety of recipes. Ros is hosting this month so check out the entries at The More Than Occasional Baker.


6oz butter
5oz light brown sugar
1 tablespoon apple juice
2 eggs
8oz self-raising flour
2 apples, finely chopped

8oz icing sugar
2oz butter
1 tablespoon apple juice

7oz golden caster sugar
4 tablespoons of golden syrup (I used runny honey as I had no golden syrup and this worked ok)
1 teaspoon vinegar

round lolly sticks

To make the cake cream 9oz butter and the light brown sugar. Beat in the eggs and 1 tablespoon of apple juice. Fold in the sifted flour and mix in the apple. Bake in a lined and greased cake tin for about 20 mins at 160C or until cooked through. You will be breaking the cake up so don't worry about the shape of the tin and it's better to over than under bake.

Leave the cake to cool.

Cream the butter and icing sugar then beat in the apple juice to create buttercream. Once the cake has cooled completely break it into crumbs and add to the buttercream. Mix the cake and buttercream together. Leave the mixture in the fridge for about 15 minutes.

Line and grease a couple of large baking trays. Work the cake mixture ino balls as quickly as possible and place on the tray. Return the balls to the fridge.

Tip the caster sugar into a saucepan along with 100ml water. Heat for five minutes, until the sugar dissolves, then add the vinegar and golden syrup. Heat until the syrup reaches the 'hard crack' stage (if you drop a little into a bowl of cold water, it should harden instantly and you shouldn't be able to squish it)

Once the toffee is ready dip each of your lolly sticks in the caramel one at a time and stick them into a cake ball. using a teaspoon pour a tiny amount of the toffee in/round the whole thay the stick creates in the cake ball. Once you have domne this for all the cake pops, the first one will be ready to dip in the toffee. Make sure the cake ball and some of the stick are completely covered. Twist to get rid of any excess hot toffee and place back on the baking tray. - You will need to work quickly and will probably have to reheat the toffee mixture slightly.

Once all the cake pops are covered with the toffee, return the baking trays to the fridge to cool and harden.

These were definitely an experiment but worked quite well. You need to keep them in the fridge and eat them within a day or two. I was unsure about how desirable it is to snap through hard toffee for a moist cake but I actually found it enjoyable if a little unusual - I think it might be a marmite!

My main problem with the cake was that it wasn't 'apple-y' enough. Next time (I think they'll be a perfect treat for bonfire night) I will try using cooking apples as they are bigger and stronger. I'd also like to get some apple concentrate as the juice wasn't strong enough.

Thursday, 23 August 2012

'Zero Baking' Challenge

When Sarah, who blogs over at Maison Cupcake (check it out!) announced a new 'Zero-Baking Required' blogging challenge (you can find the details here) I knew it was time to make fridge cake. It's is so wonderfully simple and involves absolutely no skill or precision but it is delicious! My mum makes this a lot, especially if she is having lots of people round as it makes a cute little nibble and is a huge crowd pleaser!

When I went to make it as a Sunday evening activity however, I realised I had not copied down my mum's recipe. Confused that I could have made such a dreadful error and unable to call her as she was on holiday in France, I did a quick google search in the hope that I might find find the recipe somewhere out there on the interweb.

There were plenty of tiffin recipes but not quite what I was looking for. So in the end I 'baked' from memory and added a few of my own touches.

I crushed 300g plain biscuits (we usually use up whatever's in the biscuit tin... if there is anything!). Melt 2oz butter and 4 tbsp golden syrup in a bigger saucepan than you think you need (!) then remove from the heat and stir I the crushed biscuits. Add 2/3 tablespoons cocoa powder and stir until it covers the mixture. Add in as many sultanas and peanuts as you fancy. (My mum usually uses sultanas and cherries in her version but I love nuts and had plenty in my baking cupboard!). I lined and greased a shallow baking tin and tipped in the mixture. I then used the back of a metal spoon to squash it down, trying to keep it an even thickness. I left it in the fridge overnight but you probably don't need to leave it for that long.

Usually I would cover the cake with melted dark chocolate but I liked the idea of having a colour contrast so decided to use white chocolate. I threw some extra peanuts into a non-stick frying pan along with some brown sugar and tossed them over a medium heat for a few minutes. I then let them cool and place them on the white chocolated whilst it was still melted. Back in the fridge until the chocolate sets et voila :)

I was pretty happy with the result. It was a bit crumbly so I think I got the proportions slightly wrong and it might have needed a bit more butter or golden syrup but considering they were all guesswork I thought they turned out ok.

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Experiments with Shortbread

A while ago someone brought some rosemary shortbread into work. I tried it (of course), loved it and was inspired. I'm not a huge biscuit fan but I do love shortbread so I decided to make a few variations. I chose to make rosemary, earl grey and nut/seed.

Basic shortbread recipe:

300g plain flour
200g butter
100 caster sugar

Preheat the oven to 150 C.

Rub the plain flour and butter together with your fingers until they resemble breadcrumbs. Mix in the caster sugar using your hands.

I then separated the mixture into three bowls. To one I added the contents of two earl grey teabags and to another about 3 tablespoons of finely chopped rosemary. To the last tird add about 2 tablespoons of mixed seeds and 50g of unsalted, chopped peanuts.

Mix the ingredients into the biscuit mixture and work together until they make a dough. Roll out to about 1cm thick and cut out circles (or other shapes if you wish!) for your biscuits.

These make great presents and I'm definitely going to experiment with more flavours, time to make some lavender sugar I think.....

Monday, 13 August 2012

A morning post - fruit and seed granola

My housemate has been working ridiculously long hours this last week and as soon as she has a bit of a break I will be heading off on holiday for a few days so I thought I'd leave her something tasty :)

We are both very much breakfast people and much as we enjoy our weekend eggs and mushrooms, I thought that preparing this granola would provide a quick and tasty weekday breakfast. I would usually use nuts in this put this time I decided to stick with seeds and used a packet of pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds and golden linseeds.

5oz oats
1.5 oz ground almonds
5.5oz mixed seeds/nuts
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
4 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon crab apple jelly
3 teaspoons light brown sugar
3.5/4oz sultanas

Heat the oven to about 160 C.
Mix together the oats, ground almonds, seeds and sugar in a bowl. Heat the honey, jelly and oil over a low heat and stir together. Allow to cool slightly and then add to the dry ingredients along with the oil. Mix together with with your fingers and to spread it in a large, greased and lined baking tray.

Bake until all the mixture is golden brown. Remove from the oven every 5-10 mins and give the mixture a shake.

Once the granola is cooked, remove it from the oven and let it cool before adding in the sultanas and it is ready to eat!

I must admit that I could (make that do!) nibble at this all day but it also goes very well with some fresh fruit and yoghurt and you can even make up a jar of it if you're on the move.

Monday, 6 August 2012


As I'm sure you can tell by now, I have a bit of a sweet tooth! However contrary to the story this blog tells, I also love baking bread and it's something I don't do nearly enough. The problem is that it can be a long process and I usually bake in the evenings. It's also not as easy to get rid off - much more socially acceptable to bring cupcakes into the office than a loaf! And as my housemate and I are permenantly on failed diets, fresh bread in the house is far too dangerous!

Being very inexperienced, I have Mr Hollywood to guide me on my way (in book form - unfortunately!). As it's something I really want to do more of, I thought I'd blog about a few recent bakes.

Herb Bread

This was made for my birthday weekend away in West Wales with my family. Knowing there would be plenty of picnics (and a general high food consumption rate!) I decided to bake some bread to take.
I went straight to my Paul Hollywood book and proceeded to spend a good few hours (and even more cups of tea) reading every recipe and making a shortlist of what to bake. Finally my boyfriend persuaded me that the brie filled brioche was not practical and I should keep it simple with the herb bread.

Curried Naan Bread
We have become fans of goat curry and this was made to accompany a late night curry and film session. I used Paul Hollywood's recipe but added a lot more sultanas as I love the sweetness they bring. I will always skip the rice and a good piece of this to soak up a wonderfully slow-cooked curry.

Cheese and Onion Soda Bread
Another Hollywood recipe and a very simple one that went down very well with some salami and coleslaw on a rainy picnic in Hyde Park. I'll definitely be making soda bread again as it doesn't need to rest so is very quick to make. The onions and cheese give it a great flavour, making it a great snack even on it's own.

Foodie Pen Pals - July

Another, month, another wonderful parcel to brighten my day and fill my belly! This month I was paired with Laura who sent me a wonderful parcel of treats:

Honey and Jam:
This was perfect as I had just run out of both of these things. As I recieved the package at work it took me a while to photograph these and as you can see they have been well loved! I love that Laura sourced local produce as a) I love buying locally and b) I think Foodie Pen Pals is a greta way to try other people's local food

Tea Pigs Chocolate Flake Tea
I first discovered Tea Pigs tea when I was given it in my first Foodie Pen Pal parcel. It's such a treat and lives in my desk drawer for those long afternoons!

Chocolate Fudge
This is delicious. That's pretty much all I can say. I tried it immediately and haven't been able to stay away!

Vanilla Pods
Laura knew I was a baker and this was a perfect gift. Although I know I should use vanilla pods but I consider it a luxury I can't always afford so often make do with vanilla essence. I used them to make these vanilla Olympic biscuits for a (rather rainy) picnic in Hyde Park.

I huge thank you to Laura for all these wonderful things and I'm looking forward to another month of foodie pen pals!