Baking Trends

Canadian Celebration Cake

Today, this blog features a guest recipe from my lovely friend Cadence who was the winner of the Wedding cake competition (taste Category). This cake was so good, not only did she win by a mile, everyone fought over the leftovers after the day! I’m glad to say that I got it though!

Canadian Celebration Cake

When deciding what cake to bake for a friends wedding ‘bake off’ competition the choice of which category of competition I would enter came down to the time I had to bake. With only the evening available the night before the happy event I thought cracking out the fondent icing could turn into a long night and as I wished to be awake the following day my attention turned to a cake which could be worthy of wining any taste competition……..step forward Maple syrup and orange cake!
A beautifully moist cake with a delightful double cream filling and topping……white, perfect for a wedding occasion!
Recipe (based on the recipe in Mary Berry’s Baking Bible)
Ingredients:
225g Softened butter
225g of light muscovado sugar (I used a mixture of light brown sugar and caster sugar)
Grated rind of 1 large orange
4 eggs
100 ml maple syrup
350g self raising flour
2 level teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
(Can add 50g chopped pecans – I chose not to as am not a fan of nuts)
The topping
450ml double cream (I had plenty with this 400ml would probably be fine)
2 tablespoons of maple syrup (no more or is far too sweet)
Shredded rind of 1 orange
Instructions:
Preheat oven to 160*C/140*C/gas 3
Grease a 20cm (8in) deep round cake tin and line the base with baking parchment
Measure the butter and sugar into a bowl and blend together, then add the remainder of the ingredients and mix until evenly blended
Spoon the mixture into the cake tin and level the surface
Bake for 1-1.5 hours until well risen and golden
Leave to cool in the tin for a few minutes before turning out and removing the parchment and leaving to cool on a wire rack
To make the filing and topping whip the cream until it holds it’s shape and them gently fold in the maple syrup.
Split the cake horizontally into 2 and fill with the cream
Cover the the cake top and sides with the cream smoothing it as evenly as possible. Decorate with shredded orange rind.
Keep in the fridge, I would recommend covering as otherwise the cream becomes a dull colour and cracks.
Enjoy! ( is nicest eaten if cut and allowed to come to room temperature rather than directly from the fridge and cooled)
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Baking

Happy Blog-Day

Today is one year to the day since this blog began. A lot has happened in this year, and oddly enough this post finds me in a similar situation to that in which the blog started. Starting as an academic exercise (when I was too ill to get out of a chair), this challenge developed into a project to keep me sane, and one that even now keeps me calm and allows me to gain a sense of perspective when I am in need of such.

More importantly, it has produced a lot of cakes, all of which have been enthusiastically sampled by Max, myself and whichever lucky people (or unlucky, depending on your point of view) have been around at the time. As  result, to celebrate one year, this post will revisit some of the most popular cakes to have been created over this period.

Turkish Delight Cupcakes

Turkish Delight Cupcake 1

Hands down, the most request and popular recipe on this site – a complete winner!

Coconut Dream Cake

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Another favourite with everyone , and surprisingly easy to make – foolproof hopefully!

Blueberry and Espresso Cupcakes

Norway muffins 1

These beauties got me a place in the National Cupcake Championships! Sadly no prize but there is always next year!

Wheat Beer and Chocolate Cake

belguim cake final

The favourite of the men folk – beer and chocolate! Can’t go wrong as far as they’re concerned!

The S’Mores Cupcakes

Smores cupcake

After taking these into work, they didn’t even make it past morning break. Success guaranteed.

Baklava

Baklava 2 001

Made for an adorer of Baklava, despite having never really eaten it before. It went down a treat, and was requested again.

Cranachan Cupcakes

Cranachan Cupcakes

Creamy, fruity and boozy – what could be better?

I hope that these select few give you some nice ideas – there are many more that I could have put in here but otherwise the post would have been a little long… Here’s to another year of baking.

Baking · Baking Trends

The (Baking) Development of 2014

[Note: this started off life as a post about the potential trends of 2014 in the baking world, but t the end of February, it’s a little late. Therefore this should not be viewed as a prediction, but rather as a running commentary.]

As in all disciplines, baking [(as well as food in general!) goes through trends. We all remember the Great Cupcake Extravaganza of 2011, the rise of homemade bread (pun completely intended) and the Surprise Cronut Frenzy of 2013, which sent downtown Manhattan almost to standstill, as hundreds queued around the block in order to taste this delicacy.

The question is then, what will be the next trends to hit us?

As you may expect, predictions vary. I read one article that claimed both that big cakes would be in, tapping in to the family-style, and them almost immediately afterwards claiming that the trend for big cakes was over. Logically that argument seems a little flawed to me. However, there are many others which deserve a mention, and some that I’ll be developing my thoughts on, not to mention giving you my own suggestions.

Naked Cakes

Image here

The natural trend has been developing in the culinary world for some years now, particularly focusing on the twin issues of sustainability and organic produce. Taking this trend to an aesthetic level, the end of last year saw a development of stripping cakes back to their most basic elements (and not in my lazy method of just not decorating it!). This rustic trend has reached substantial popularity in wedding cakes – thankfully taking over from the cakes of cheese – and the focus on fruit and spices (such as lavender and rose) creates a lighter, less sugar-filled cake.

Choux Pastry

Image here

Apparently this is going to be the next development in French Patisserie, and the displays in many noted Parisian shops seem to confirm this. The previous macaroon trend was beautiful – however, many of the macaroons I tried were almost sickeningly sweet – one shop almost left me in a (albeit delicious) sugar coma! Now whilst I cannot comment on the development of choux pastry in British Bakeries across the country,I can comment that I have eaten more choux pastry this year than in all of last year, and that this trend is one that I hope will continue to wind its delicious way through 2014.

Baking Mash-ups

Cronut – Image here

The Townie – Britain’s contribution to the baking mash up! Image here

A continuation from last year, suggestions have been mooted regarding the combinations of two desserts, or adding a new spin onto an old classic. Suggestions from Good Food Magazine include the ‘Sticky Toffee Pie’ and ‘Party Dodgers’ – what I can only assume is a cross between a party ring and a jammy dodger.

My personal opinion – Britain isn’t going far enough. At the moment, as with many of the trends, the USA is the pioneer, from the ubiquitous cronut to the townie (brownie-tart) and the duffin (doughnut-muffin). Compared to these delicious treats, turning a lemon drizzle cake into a roulade is simply playing it safe.

Increased Complexity in Baking

Charlotte Royale – the infamous brain cake! Image here

When the Great British Bake-Off began, the level of technicality in the baking challenges was far simpler than in the previous series. I dread to think what dastardly challenges have been thought up for this years competitors, but one result of this is that the previous mystery that surrounded patisserie has dissipated somewhat. No longer seen as overly complex, amateurs are now far more likely to use techniques such as tempering. I would expect that this will develop through this year, though due to a probable plateauing of abilities and equipment availability I would suggest that this would not extend past this.

Biscuits

Image from Bubble and Sweet -Pinterest again delivers some beautiful biscuits!

Sweet Ambs Cookies - Ideal Wedding Favours 7

These from Into the Wildwood are also rather stunning.

I’ve not seen this one written down anywhere, but this is a trend which I feel should come back soon. Biscuits are a ridiculously undervalued baked good – capable of endless variation, easily portable and completely beautiful when decorated appropriately (See the examples below!) All of the other baking trends seem to have found some form of resurgence during the past few years except the biscuit, and I think it is about time the humble biscuit got its due!

How about the rest of you then? Any comments or omissions?

(This post references the Good Food article as a predominant source. There are several other articles which suggest baking trends, though many are similar to those mentioned in this article).

Baking · Desserts · Europe · Nation Cake Challenge · Pastry

England (Derbyshire): Bakewell Tart

Derbyshire flag

The Bakewell tart can be viewed as the epitome of traditional regional English baking, and as such can ignite a lot of controversy over the correct recipe. A very interesting article by Felicity Cloake from the Guardian’s Word of Mouth blog (from which the basic recipe for this tart is taken from) expounds on the different variations of this recipe throughout its written history, and is well worth a read.

Bakewell Tart

In the interests of honesty and transparency I should say now that this tart is not technically a Bakewell tart as it does not include frangipane. The reason for this arose due to the fact that I was making this in Scottsdale, Arizona, where ground almonds are non-existent. This lack of ingredients was something that had not even occurred to me, so you can imagine my consternation having agreed to make a bakewell tart, yet now wandering around Walmart summarily failing to find the key ingredient. I also managed to completely confuse a helpful supermarket assistant who obviously had no idea what I was talking about. Finally I decided that I would replace the frangipane layer with an almond-flavoured sponge cake, which whilst not traditional, served the purpose very well.

Decoration for this tart is a subject of much debate – whether to leave it plain or to top with the customary white glace icing and cherry, a la Mr. Kipling. My tart represents a compromise, due to the request for the latter style, however feel free to leave this off if you prefer.

Bakewell Tart

Ingredients:

The Pastry:

  • 140g plain flour, plus extra to sprinkle
  • 85g cold butter, plus extra to grease
  • Pinch of salt
  • Ice cold water

The Sponge Topping

  • 4oz caster sugar
  • 4oz unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 eggs
  • 4oz plain flour
  • 1.5 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tbsp almond essence
  • 100g raspberry jam
  • 25g flaked almonds

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 190ºC/Gas Mark 5 and grease and flour a 23in flan tin.

First make the pastry by mixing the flour and salt in a bowl, before grating in the cold butter. Stir just enough cold water into the mixture to bring it together into a ball and wrap in cling film before chilling or an hour.

Roll out the chilled pastry until about 5mm thick and use this to line the tin. Place a piece of baking parchment on top and weigh down with either baking beans or rice. Bake the pastry shell for 15 minutes until golden brown.

Whilst the pastry shell is baking, make the sponge topping by creaming together the butter and sugar before mixing in the eggs, flour, baking powder and almond essence until well combined. Remove the blind-baked pastry shell from the oven and remove the beans/rice and baking parchment. Spread the base of the shell with 100g raspberry jam before topping with the sponge mixture, ensuring a smooth top. Return to the oven and bake for 25 minutes until golden brown and well risen. 5 minutes before the end of the baking time sprinkle the flaked almonds over the top and return to the oven for the last five minutes. Remove from the oven and leave to cool.

If wished, the tart may be decorated with white glace icing and maraschino or glace cherries, however these are not traditional and may be omitted.

Baking · Cake · History of Cake · Uncategorized

Positively Medieval – Development in the Middle Ages

The Middle Ages (specifically in England) was a milestone in the development of cake as a specific baked good, as this was the first time that cake and bread became two distinct forms. As discussed previously, the two terms used to be used pretty much indiscriminately, the only differentiation being size. This all changed during this period – now the term cake was used specifically to denote a baked good sweetened with sugar.

A crucial factor in baking of this time was preservation – without the methods of food preservation that we are used to today, foods needed to be able to be stored for a significant period of time. With this in mind, the two cakes that came to the fore were gingerbread and fruitcake. The Roman influence was evident in the importance of fruitcake, which had its roots in the sweetened, fruited bread mentioned last week. These cakes served two purposes – not only were they made to last for several months, they also included ingredients which would mark out the eaters of being wealthy people able to afford such ingredients.

During this period, the function of cake also developed, and it became the main celebratory dish of the period. Cakes became very ornate and elaborate, Chaucer remarking that one cake included 13 kilograms of flour, not to mention copious amounts of of fruit, cream, nuts, sugar and butter – all very expensive ingredients that really marked the owner out as a well-off member of society.

The recipe that follows in an authentic recipe for gingerbread, taken from here.

image

Gyngerbrede

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup clear honey
  • 1 small loaf of brown bread, ground into breadcrumbs
  • 3/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper, ground
  • 1/4 tsp ginger
  • ground cinnamon, to finish

Instructions:

In a small pan, bring the honey to the boil before reducing the heat and allowing to simmer for 5 minutes, ensuring that you skim off any scum that may float to the top. Remove from the heat and add the spices, before mixing in the breadcrumbs a cup at a time.Knead the mixture until thoroughly combined and roll out  to a depth of 1cm. Cut into 1in squares or circles and dust with the remaining cinnamon.

Baking · Cake

Baking Brave: Chocolate Brownie Meringue Torte

imagesDo you have a competitive streak? Most of us will have a tendency towards a form of competition, whether it be in academic or social terms. Mine is generally dormant – usually I’m quite good at thinking positively and non-competitively towards my actions and those of others. However, there is an exception to this, and for me that exception is baking.

When it comes to the culinary arts, I have a real ‘can-do’ attitude. Paul Hollywood tells us how difficult macaroons are to make, I obsess over them for the next few months until I can make them right. Puff pastry is seem as too difficult to make for amateurs – I’ll prove them wrong! As the for the dreaded croquembouche, I’ve got you in my sights… Therefore when World Baking Day announced their bake brave challenge, with 100 cakes of different levels of difficulty, I imediately clicked on no. 100 – the hardest.

Raspberry Torte Final

Yes, my competitive spirit kicked in big time, but then reality struck. Whilst a choux pastry tower would be impressive, it was not going to be a suitable choice. Not because I couldn’t do it, but rather because we couldn’t eat it. So reluctantly I scaled down my ambition and settled on option 91 – the chocolate brownie raspberry torte. My sense of pride only slightly dented, I made this cake, constructed it and promptly had to hide the leftovers – what more needs to be said!

raspberry torte 4

This recipe also forms my entry for the Calendar Cakes Challenge, being hosted by Laura Loves Cakes and Dolly Bakes, which
challenged you to make one of the cakes from the Bake Brave 100 list

calendar-cakes

Chocolate Brownie Meringue Torte

Ingredients:

Brownie base:

  • 200g good-quality dark chocolate
  • 200g margarine
  • 250g icing sugar
  • 3 medium free-range eggs
  • 110g plain flour

Meringue topping

  • 4 medium free-range egg whites
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 100g chopped roasted hazelnuts

To fill:

  • 300ml whipping cream
  • 100g icing sugar
  • 300g fresh raspberries

To finish (optional):

  • 200g fresh raspberries
  • 100g toasted hazelnuts, roughly chopped.

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 190°C/375°F/gas mark 5. Roughly chop the chocolate, set 20g aside for later, and put the remaining 180g into a heatproof bowl. Set the bowl over a pan of steaming water and leave to melt gently, stirring frequently. (Do use a bain-marie, rather than try and melt it in a saucepan like I did – first lot of chocolate had a nice burnt taste to it…)

Meanwhile, beat the soft margarine with the icing sugar until very light, creamy and fluffy before adding the eggs, beating well after each addition. Gradually beat in the flour and the cooled, melted chocolate. When thoroughly combined, stir in the reserved chopped chocolate. Divide the mixture between the prepared tins and spread it out evenly. Bake for 8 minutes – the mixture will not be cooked but will have started to form a crust.

While the mixture is baking, whisk the egg whites with the cream of tartar in a bowl until stiff peaks form. Whisk in the sugar in four batches, to make a smooth and glossy, thick meringue. Fold in the chopped hazelnuts (I have also used almonds which also work well)

Remove the cake tins from the oven and reduce the temperature to 170°C/325°F/gas mark 3. Divide the meringue equally between the two brownie-filled tins, and gently spread it over the still soft mixture to cover evenly. Bake for another 35-40 minutes until the meringue is golden and the brownie cooked! If the meringue looks like it is burning, cover with foil.

To make the filling, whisk the cream until soft peaks form, then add the icing sugar and 200g of the raspberries. Whisk briefly, to make a thick, pink cream. Fold in the remaining 100g of raspberries.

Run a round-bladed knife around the inside of each tin to loosen the cakes. Turn out the flat-topped meringue cake on to a serving plate, meringue-side down. Spread with the raspberry cream and top with the second cake. Decorate with the remaining raspberries and hazelnuts if wished.