Tuesday, 30 April 2013

AlphaBakes "A" Round up

It's time for the AlphaBakes "A" round up again. If you thought A was all about apples and almonds, think again! As usual you've all astounded me by your creative and delicious entries so thank you to everyone who participated. Sit back, relax and enjoy these mouth watering recipes! 

First up is Caroline's mum, Jacqueline with a squidgy spiced apple cake. 

Next is Lauren from A Baked Thesis with her apple and ginger pie with walnut pastry. She made this as a treat after their annual Easter Egg Hunt and what a treat it is. Served warm with custard or ice cream or both. The pie has apples, sultanas and crystallised ginger. 

Next is Louisa from Chez Foti with an anchovy, parmesan, purple sprouting broccoli tart. The broccoli comes from her own garden which she finally harvested after a year. She made her own peppered pastry and filled it with purple sprouting broccoli, anchovies and an eggy, cheesy, creme fraiche layer. 

My co-host Caroline from Caroline Makes made a Martha Stewart apricot cheesecake. It's a baked cheesecake with apricot puree and a biscuit base. 

Kat from Life of a Cupcake Baker sent in this delicious looking apple crumble cake. I love apple crumble and making it into a cake form is even better! Look at that lovely crumble layer on top. 

Next is Olivia from Liv a Little Bakery with her almond cookies. She describes them as deliciously crisp on the outside and gooey on the inside. She also gives option of adding cherry for a bakewell cookie or white chocolate for a naughty treat. 

Time for a healthy treat from Jacqueline from Tinned Tomatoes with her Cinnamon Apple Crisps. They are only 50 calories per portion and quick and easy to make at home. She also made parsnip crisps previously which are also worth checking out. 

Caroline's mum, Jacqueline is back with an apple and blueberry cake.  It has cake mix on the bottom,sliced apple and blueberries pushed into mixture, and a crumble mix on top.

Keeping it in the family, Caroline's sister, Clare is next with an Almond and Amaretto Cake.  It has ground almonds in with the cake mix and crushed almonds on top, and an amaretto buttercream in the middle. She made up this recipe herself and it was a very light and fluffy cake.

Next is my own offering with these Afghan biscuits.  An Afghan biscuit is a traditional New Zealand biscuit which contains cornflakes and chocolate, topped with chocolate icing and half a walnut. The origin of the recipe and name is unknown but apparently it's a Kiwi classic. It tastes like a cross between a brownie and a cookie and proved to be very popular.

Jean from Baking in Franglais sent in these cute cardamon friands. Friands are little cakes made with whisked egg white, icing sugar and ground almonds. These are flavoured with cardamom and lemon which sound really refreshing. 

Caroline is back again with Mom's Apple Cake. It's not a recipe from her mum but one from the Outsider Tart Baked in America. She made this as a thank you to her neighbours for feeding her cat when she was away. It looks like a lovely sponge with lots of fruit baked in it. 

Eira from Cookbooks Galore was looking for a recipe to use up her jar of local honey and decided on an almond and honey cake. It has lemon zest for added zing and a lovely honey glaze. 

Next is Anneli from delicieux with her pick and pluck artichokes with anchovy & garlic mayonnaise. This a recipe from her mum with a little tweak of her own.  She made her own mayonnaise and added in some anchovies and a clove of garlic. It was quite strong but paired well with the artichoke leaves. She has a great step by step pictorial guide on how to prepare this dish on her blog.

Next is Elizabeth from Elizabeth's Kitchen with Chocolate Cupcakes with Avocado Frosting.  Wednesday is pudding night in her household so it was a good opportunity to try out the avocado frosting which has been filed on her to try list. The cake is vegan and has lots of interesting ingredients (to me anyway) such as hemp milk, coconut oil and agave. 

Claire from Under the Blue Gum Tree wows us with her pastry skills with these Apricot and Almond Scrolls.   They are made for her brother in law who challenged her to replicate Sainsbury's pastries for her blog. I have to say they look a lot better than the shop version and I'm sure they were tastier too. 

Another entry from me with an apple and toffee cake.  It's a really moist cake with a crispy edge from the melted fudge. It's yoghurt based cake which makes it healthier and a very easy mix all in one recipe. 

 Suelle from Mainly Baking sent in an Apricot, Marzipan and Cranberry cake. It's a quick and easy recipe packed full of dried fruits and marzipan. She also added a honey glaze and flaked almonds on top. 

Next is Choclette from Chocolate Log Blog with a delicious pudding with a very long name but aptly describes the pudding. She made an apple and orange pudding with a ginger chocolate crunchy oat topping. I love this recipe as it can be easily adapted with lots of variations. 

Eira from Cookbooks Galore is back with some Almond Praline Creams.  The recipe comes from a book from a charity shop called 'The Encyclopedia of Baking'. It tasted like a cross between a cake and a biscuit and looks a little like whoopie pies. 

Next is Christian from Cooking Around the World with an Arabian-styled Chocolate, Fig and Pistachio Cake. The A is a bit of a leap but we've had a few tenuous recipes on AlphaBakes so it only seems fair to include this. Plus the cake looks absolutely heavenly filled with spelt flour, lime, chocolate, honey, rosewater, figs and pistachios. 

From Arabia to Australia, Johanna from the Green Gourmet Girraffe sends us an apple cider cake. The apple slices are cooked in cider and spices before being added to the cake. She also arranged the apple slices to look like a rose on top of the cake. This recipe provided a few challenges and she almost didn't blog about it but I'm so glad she did as it's one worth bookmarking to try. 

Elizabeth from The Law Student's Cookbook made some roasted artichokes which are in season currently. It's a really simple recipe and looks stunning. 

Anne from The Gingerbread Mum made some Sugar Free Anzac biscuits for us this month. ANZAC day was on the 25th April and you can read more about the origins of Anzac biscuits on her blog. She wanted to make a sugar free version and used honey and applesauce which worked well. 

Natalie from Hungryhinny uses a very unusual ingredient in her cake and hopes that the title does not put people off. It's an Aubergine Chocolate Cake which is wheat, gluten and dairy free. She has a few other vegetable cake recipes on her blog if you are interested and would be keen to hear about weird and wonderful recipes.

Next is Katharine from Leeks and Limoni with Honey, Almond and White Chocolate Cupcakes. She had some honey given to her by a friend in Anglesey which has a floral scent and delicate taste.  These cupcakes perfectly showcase the honey and almond flavour. 

Fiona from Let them Eat Cake sent us two delicious entries. First up is Apricot Frangipane tart which is a double A entry for Apricots and Almonds. She baked them for Easter weekend and I'm sure everyone enjoyed it. 

Her second entry is apple sauce brownies which is an attempt at making brownies healthier. The brownies were still fudgy and chewy and you can't really taste the apples. 

Next is Laura from Laura Loves Cakes with these really cute Apple and Almond Bear Claw Pastries.  The recipe is from the Hummingbird Bakery 'Home Sweet Home'. It's a yeasted pastry which needs to be proved and is filled with apples, sultana and cinnamon. I particularly like the bear claw effect. 

Continuing with the apple theme, we have Apple and Banana Muscovado Cakes from Caroline from Cake, Crumbs and Cooking. This is a lovely recipe that she made up based on ingredients she wanted to use. It was well received at work and looks great with the butterscotch bits on top. 

My mum made 2 entries for us this month. Firstly, almond cookies which are crumbly and buttery. Secondly, an apricot log which has chopped dried apricots, coloured marshmallows, toasted almonds, digestive biscuits, condensed milk mixed with some evaporated milk and rolled in desiccated coconut.  It's a quick and easy no bake recipe which is great for parties.

That's the end of the emailed entries but luckily I decided to check my twitter account and spotted 2 other entries. Michelle from Utterly Scrummy Food for Families made some Apricot Anzac Muffins to conquer the afternoon energy slump after a trip to the local park. They contain apricots and cinnamon and proved to be a huge success. 

Janice from Farmersgirl Kitchen delights us with an Apricot Tea Bread. She soaked the dried fruits in White Tea with Pomegranate for 2 hours (or overnight) and then baked them into this fruity, chewy moist tea bread. There wasn't a strong taste from the tea, just an overall fruity flavour. 

And that's the end of the Amazing and Awesome "A" AlphaBakes round up. Remember to head on over to Caroline's blog on 1st May to find out what letter we are using next month. 

And here's another one -

The lovely Dom from Belleau Kitchen had a tricky time trying to bake something simple with apples. After 3 failed attempts he came up with these double apple cinnamon scones which contain apple butter. Perseverance seems to be have paid off in the end as these look heavenly. 

Quick reminder to please, please email your entries to us at alphabakes@gmail.com. Thanks :)

Monday, 29 April 2013

Secret Recipe Club: Quick Chocolate Cake

Today is Secret Recipe Club Group D reveal day. I love being a part of the secret recipe club where you are assigned a blog each month to browse and stalk at your leisure. You then have to make one recipe (or more if you like) from that blog but you have to keep it a secret until reveal day hence the name. It's a great way to meet other bloggers and get lots of ideas from their blogs.  

This month I was assigned Chocolate & Chillies which is run by Asiya who is a stay at home mum with 2 boys and lives in Toronto. She loves baking and trying new recipes and her blog has quite a lot of Indian influence thrown in as her family is from India. As usual I headed straight to the dessert section and  bookmarked low fat fudge brownies, apple cake, orange streusel coffee cake and sugar donut cupcakes. In the end I went for this Quick Chocolate Cake as I decided with a blog name like chocolate & chillies, I had to choose a chocolate recipe and who doesn't like a good chocolate cake? It's a really simple mix all in one recipe which was moist and delicious. I used my own frosting as I had some honey chocolate frosting leftover from making these cupcakes

 ready to go in the oven 

 sunk in the middle as my oven was too hot - I'm still having issues with my new oven! 

 Luckily frosting hides all and a sprinkling of colour detracts from the sunken middle


Recipe adapted slightly from Chocolate & Chillies 
I've converted the measurements, reduced the sugar amount and used yoghurt instead of buttermilk

250g flour
280 sugar
65g cocoa powder
2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs
500mls low fat plain yoghurt
2 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • Preheat the oven to 170C.
  • Mix all the ingredients in an electric mixer with a paddle attachment until smooth. 
  • Pour into a cake tin and bake for 30-40 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. 

Friday, 26 April 2013

Hazelnut, chocolate and coffee spelt cookies

It's Random Recipe time again. This exciting challenge is hosted by Dom from Belleau Kitchen. He likes to keep us on our toes - you never know what to expect! Fortunately the challenge this month was not too difficult - count up all your books and use a random number generator to select the book to use. Open up that book to a random page and cook that recipe. I often use a random number generator particularly for random recipes to select my book and often to select the page as well. This time, the trusty number generator thingamidoodah (yes it's a real word) churned out no 34 which was.....

 This is a lovely little book full of cookie recipes. 

I opened it up to a random page and got Chocolate & coffee wholemeal cookies. I felt like I'd won the random recipe lottery. I did change up the recipe a little bit as I didn't have all the ingredients to hand. The resulting cookie was crispy, nutty and chocolatey. I didn't get much of the coffee flavour - will definitely add a bit more next time. On the plus side, the spelt and oats made it seem healthy which eased the guilt of eating four two cookies in a row. Definitely one for the cookie jar!

 camp coffee essence, spelt flour, roasted hazelnuts, chocolate chips, oats. 

 I love the melty chocolate bits inside

Recipe from Cookie Jar - I've given my adaptations below

175g butter
180g soft brown sugar
1 egg
70g plain flour
70g spelt flour
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
225g chocolate chips (i used a mixture of dark and milk)
185g rolled oats
1 tablespoon coffee essence (recommend 2 tablespoons for a stronger coffee flavour)
100g hazelnuts, toasted and roughly chopped

  • Preheat the oven to 190C.
  • Grease and line 2 baking trays.
  • Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
  • Add in the egg.
  • Sift the flour, spelt flour and bicabonate of soda and mix into the butter mixture.
  • Stir in the chocolate chips, coffee, hazelnuts and oats and mix well.
  • Use a small ice cream scoop to scoop out small scoops of cookie dough spaced well apart. 
  • Bake in the oven for 12-15 minutes or until golden brown.
  • Allow to cool for 5 minutes on the tray before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. 

Monday, 22 April 2013

Peanut butter, honey and chocolate cupcakes

Back to American inspired baking with my favourite peanut butter and chocolate combo but with the addition of honey.  These cupcakes are based on  my previously successful peanut butter cupcakes with a hidden surprise. It might seem like a honey overload but it worked really well.  I used honey peanut butter instead of normal peanut butter; substituted the sugar for honey and added a tablespoon of honey to the frosting as well.  I used leatherwood honey which I brought back from Australia. It's incredibly fragrant and tastes like real honey! I visited a local honey farm over there and had the best honey ice cream in the world.  This pot of honey has a lot of air miles and carbon footprints so I'll be looking at local sources once my supply runs out. If anyone has any recommendations, do let me know as honey is one of my favourite ingredients. 

I'm entering this to We Should Cocoa, a monthly blogging challenge created by Choclette from Chocolate Log Blog and Chele from Chocolate Teapot. Choclette is our lovely host this month and she has chosen honey as the special ingredient.  

I'm also entering these cupcakes to Tea Time Treats hosted by Kate from What Kate Baked and co-hosted by Karen from Lavender and Lovage. The theme for this month is fairy cakes, cupcakes and muffins. 

I bought these from America - mini Reese's peanut butter cups and a jar of peanut butter blended with honey. 

 adding melted chocolate to the frosting

 how cute are the mini peanut butter cups? 

 hidden (normal sized) peanut butter cup) inside 

Peanut butter cupcakes
Makes 12 cupcakes

75g butter
130g honey peanut butter (you can use smooth peanut butter)
130g honey (+ 50g brown sugar if your honey is not too sweet)
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
120g plain flour, sifted
1 teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt
60ml semi-skimmed milk
12 Reese's peanut butter cups

Chocolate Buttercream frosting
175g dark chocolate
225g butter
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
250g icing sugar, sifted

  • Preheat the oven to 160C.
  • Line a 12-hole muffin tray with cupcake cases. 
  • Cream the butter, peanut butter and honey (and sugar if using) until well blended. 
  • Add the eggs, one at a time and then stir in the vanilla extract. 
  • Combine the flour, salt and baking powder in a separate bowl.
  • Add 1/3 of the flour to the creamed mixture and beat well.
  • Pour 1/3 of the milk and beat again.
  • Repeat until all the flour and milk have been added. 
  • Spoon the mixture into the cupcake cases - I used a large ice cream scoop. 
  • Bake for approximately 10 minutes and remove from the oven. 
  • Prepare your Reese's cups by removing the wrappers and case. 
  • After 10 minutes, the tops of the cake will be cooked but the middle is still soft.
  • Insert a peanut butter cup into each cupcake, pressing gently.
  • Return to the oven and bake for a further 10-12 minutes until cooked.
  • Remove from the oven and allow to cool on a wire rack.
  • To make the frosting, melt the chocolate in a bowl over a pan of simmering water. 
  • Beat the butter, milk, vanilla extract, honey and icing sugar until smooth.
  • Add the melted chocolate and continue beating until thick and creamy.
  • Pipe the chocolate frosting on top of the cupcakes and decorate as desired.