Many Happy Returns Rice Pudding Cake

Autumn again, already?

The best ideas seem to come to me when I’m knitting, whether it’s inspiration for a report I’m trying to write, or as in this case, a tweak to a recipe that makes it just perfectly splendid. October means time for Jef’s birthday cake and this year I decided to do something different…

I’d spotted this recipe for a rice pudding cake a couple of weeks back – scroll down, it’s not the one pictured at the top – but on Saturday morning I was knitting away, wondering how to make it more birthday-friendly… sparkler? Candles? Chocolate icing? No!! Jam filling 🙂

All I did was split the recipe between two cake tins and then sandwich the two together with half a jar of seedless raspberry preserve. Mmm-mm. Good idea!

So, happy birthday to Jef, and thanks very much to Nigella 😉

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Nutella Brownies

Feb2020
My home office, chilly birds, lakeside trees, my office-office 🙂

Storm Ciara is raging around the house, making the cat flap rattle and the eaves moan. I’ve got a stressful week coming up. Brownie-making time.

undefined A couple of weeks ago, I revisited the Lotus Spread biscuits I made a while back, adding chocolate chips for a bit of something extra. Today, I decided to raid my breakfast cupboard again, and came up with this small variation on Felicity Cloake’s perfect brownie recipe. She really does come up with the definitive recipes for so many things – properly researched and tested, and always excellent. I’m not going to mess with perfection too much, but the addition of a good dollop of nutella and a scattering of chopped hazelnuts made these extra-special.

Nutella Brownies, original recipe here.

Ingredients

  • 250g chocolate – I used Halloween shapes left over from the graveyard cake.
  • 250g unsalted butter
  • 300g golden caster sugar
  • 3 large eggs, plus 1 extra egg yolk, lightly beaten
  • 50g nutella spread
  • 60g plain flour
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 60g good quality cocoa powder
  • 100g hazelnuts, roughly chopped

Method

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180C, and line a 23cm x 23cm baking tin with baking parchment.
  2. Set a bowl over, but not touching, a pan of simmering water, and add 200g of the chocolate, broken into pieces. Allow to melt, stirring occasionally, and then remove from the heat immediately.
  3. Meanwhile, beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, and break the rest of the chocolate into chips.
  4. With the mixer still running, gradually add the eggs, beating well between each addition to ensure it’s thoroughly incorporated before pouring in any more. Stir in the nutella. Leave mixing on a high speed for five minutes until the batter has a silky sheen, and has increased in volume.
  5. Remove the bowl from the mixer, and gently fold in the melted chocolate, chocolate chips and hazelnuts with a metal spoon, followed by the sifted flour, baking powder, salt, cocoa powder and walnuts.
  6. Spoon the mixture into the tin, and bake for 30 minutes. Test with a skewer; it should come out sticky, but not coated with raw mixture. If it does, put it back into the oven for another 3 minutes, then test again.
  7. Prepare a roasting tin of iced water.
  8. When the brownies are ready, remove the tin from the oven and place in the cold water bath. Leave to cool for an hour before cutting into squares. Store in an air-tight container; they’re even better the next day.

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Marian’s Sunshine Cake

January 2020

Winter around Walton Hall

Happy New Year, occasional readers. 2019 was a bit of a sod, here’s hoping that 2020 is going to be better all round.

This bake was an attempt to capture a bit of sunshine on a gloomy Sunday, and turn a very lovely gift into something special. Marian very kindly brought back some oranges from her holiday, and passed a couple of them on to Jef – one got eaten very quickly, but the second deserved special treatment. I wanted to make something that would work equally well served hot as a Sunday pudding or as a slice-and-slice-again cake for the week, so I hunted about online, and eventually set on a version of a drizzle cake to keep the sunny orange flavour as the star of the show but also bring in some dark chocolate and spice. Feedback so far has been pretty positive – and it filled the house with the most amazing scent while it was baking.

Marian’s Sunshine Cake (original recipe here)

Ingredients

For the cake

  • 140g butter, softened
  • 200g self-raising flour
  • 1½ tsp baking powder
  • 100g soft brown sugar
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp instant coffee
  • 3 large eggs
  • Zest and pulp from 1 large orange
  • 100g dark chocolate, broken into small chunks

To drizzle

  • Juice from one large orange
  • 2 tbsp Cointreau
  • 50g soft brown sugar
  • 50g caster sugar

Method

  1. Heat oven to 180C/fan 160C/gas 4.
  2. Butter and line the base of a 1.2-litre loaf tin.
  3. Put all the cake ingredients into a bowl and beat with a hand whisk or wooden spoon for 3-5 mins, until light and fluffy. Spoon the mix into the tin and level the top.
  4. Bake for 40-50 mins, until golden brown and firm to the touch.
  5. Meanwhile, heat the orange juice, Cointreau and sugar gently in a small pan, stirring until dissolved.
  6. When the cake is cooked, remove it from the oven, pierce with a knife/skewer and spoon over the orange mix. Leave to cool in the tin, then remove and cool completely on a wire rack.
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Chocolate Graveyard Cake

Autumn 2019.jpg

Hello, autumn. And hello again procrastination recipes, it’s been a while. I won’t go over everything that’s happened since I last posted, but the headline is that we’re now in a new team at work, and I find myself surrounded by some excellent bakers. With Halloween coming up, we decided it was time for an office competition – and so, the Data and Student Analytics (Survey Office) Great Halloween Bake Off was born.

My original idea, of a spooky ghost cake made from a hemispherical cake draped in white fondant icing was unceremoniously stolen by the goth baker from this year’s Bake Off, so I had to think again. I’ve wanted to make my own pumpkin pie spice for a couple of years, so I came up with this idea for a rich chocolate cake, filled with orange and pumpkin spice buttercream, covered in orange chocolate ganache and decorated to look like a graveyard… Then I remembered the great roasted cocoa cookies from Dan Lepard, and decided the cake needed roasted cocoa to make it really dark and spooky.

Here’s the final result…

Cake

Spooky graveyard cake – fully approved by Jade!

And here’s the recipe.

Chocolate Graveyard Cake. (Vaguely based on Prue Leith’s all in one chocolate cake recipe… but heavily modified!)

For the pumpkin pie spice:

Ingredients

  • 4 tbsp cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp ginger
  • 1 tbsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • ½ tbs allspice

Method

  1. Mix all 4 spices in a jar. Shake well.

For the cake

Ingredients

  • 60g cocoa
  • 170g plain flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 110g soft brown sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 200g soft butter
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tbsp vanilla essence
  • 1 tube black food colouring (yes, I know it sounds like a lot!)
  • 4 tbsp espresso or very strong instant coffee

Method

  1. Toast the cocoa – pre-heat oven to 150 C, line a baking tin with greaseproof paper and spread the cocoa out in a thin layer. Toast for 25 minutes until a good couple of shades darker. Allow to cool.
  2. Pre-heat oven to 180 C
  3. Line a 20cm cake tin with greaseproof paper.
  4. Sift together the flour, baking powder and all but 1 tsp of the toasted cocoa into a large bowl. Add the sugars, eggs, butter, vegetable oil and vanilla essence. Beat with an electric hand mixer until fluffy and well-mixed.
  5. Add in the black food colouring and espresso and mix again.
  6. Spoon into the prepared cake tin, level the top.
  7. Bake for 50 minutes, or until it’s firm to the touch.
  8. Cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then turn out and cool completely.

For the spiced orange buttercream:

Ingredients

Method

  1. Soften the butter, sift the icing sugar into a very large bowl
  2. Add the zest, spice and orange food colouring
  3. Mix with an electric hand whisk until light, fluffy and very orange.

For the ganache:

Ingredients

  • 180g very dark chocolate
  • 160ml double cream
  • 2 tbsp dark soft brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp cointreau

Method

  1. Melt all ingredients together in a saucepan over a low heat.
  2. Stir constantly until they melt together and become smooth and glossy.
  3. Allow to cool and thicken.

Putting it all together

  1. Slice the cold cake horizontally in half.
  2. Spread the buttercream over the bottom half, sandwich the top half on top.
  3. Spread the ganache evenly over the top and sides.
  4. Sprinkle over the remaining toasted cocoa to look like soil.
  5. Decorate with spooky gravestones and a menacing cat. I used these shapes from Hotel Chocolat. 

***

I WON!!!

Here’s our Director awarding me my medal…

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Some glorious cakes, me and Begoña 😀

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Bakewell Turnovers

Walton Pond under inclement skies, perfect crocus, Ouzel Valley floodplain doing what a flood plain should.

Walton Pond under inclement skies, perfect crocus, Ouzel Valley floodplain doing what a flood plain should.

I’ve found something really interesting – well, interesting to me at least! Re-reading Neuromancer for the writing course, I came across the idea of ‘sanpaku’, or the idea that if you can see white underneath or below someone’s iris, it’s a bad sign. (Whether the person is doomed or dangerous depends on whether it’s above or below, according to this idea.) I went back over the eeriest faces from my last study and guess what? They’re the ones with smiling faces and wide, fearful eyes – sanpaku faces, in other words. Look:

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The (left-hand) happy face with fearful eyes was found to be the eeriest…

As far as I can establish, there isn’t much in the way of face perception literature about any correlation between this superstition (or folk belief? I’m not really sure what to describe it) and our perceptions of personality from facial appearance but that may be because I don’t read many Japanese psychology journals. I do wonder if I’m onto something there though…
So, what do I do when I have something on my mind? I bake! Like a lot of people, I’ve been watching the SU2C Great British Bake-off and there’s always one of the bakes that I’d like to try – or, in this case, adapt. The Male Judge’s fruit turnovers looked good, but it’s the time of year for Bakewell Tarts, so I decided to combine two things, and make bakewell turnovers. I have to say at the outset, this was an exceptionally lazy way of doing things, with only seven ingredients and not even making my own pastry… Paul Hollywood would be appalled… Still, they came out pretty well – and I need to have a think about whether I do some more reading around sanpaku faces – and, come to think about it, get back to the paper I’m actually supposed to be writing!

Bakewell Turnovers (makes 10: 4 normal-sized turnovers plus 6 mini bitesize ones)

IMG_4262

One turnover.

Ingredients
  • 1 320g pack puff pastry (I used Jus Rol All Butter Puff Sheet)
  • 1 425g tin cherries in syrup (I used Epicure Black Cherries in Syrup)
  • 1 200g roll of marzipan (I used Odense Mandelmassa Almond Paste)
  • Milk, for brushing
  • 200g icing sugar
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  • ½ tsp almond essence

Method

  1. Pre-heat oven to 200 °C / 400 °F / Gas mark 6.
  2. Drain the cherries, saving the lovely syrupy juice to make into cocktails. (Equal parts cherry brandy, amaretto and cherry juice with a squeeze of lemon would be very good indeed.)
  3. Unroll the pastry, and score into squares, see pic.
  4. Slice the marzipan up into triangles, and press into the corner of each slice.
  5. Distribute the cherries on top of the marzipan.
  6. Brush the edges of the squares with milk to help them stick.
  7. Fold the empty corners of each square over the filled corners and press the edges down well.
  8. Seal the edges with a fork and brush with remaining milk.
  9. Bake for 20 minutes, or until golden brown and puffed up.
  10. Leave to cool until completely cold.
  11. Mix together the icing sugar, lemon juice and almond essence and drizzle over the cold pastries.
  12. Leave the icing to set.

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Beetroot and Chocolate Brownies

Winter 2018

The Concrete Cows, Floodplain at the Ouzel valley, Winter berries, Frozen bouquet @ Crownhill Cemetery, Heron at Lodge Lake.

Hello, occasional reader 🙂 It has been a while, hadn’t it?! It’s not that I’ve not been procrastinating, I have, but it’s not been the sort that sends me into the kitchen. However, I am a creature of habit and like night follows day, when I step back into a bit of academic writing, the urge to bake comes back full force*. It’s probably a good thing I’ll never make professor, I’d need a new kitchen!

There’s a paper I’ve not been writing since I graduated, and it feels like unfinished business. I had some really unusual and interesting findings in my last study but every time I’ve tried to turn my thesis chapters into something publishable, all I’ve managed have been false starts or distracting segues into reading other people’s studies that seem much more interesting at the time! (Or finding new discoveries in the world of the uncanny – yesterday I came across this terrific cat-robot. Tell me that wouldn’t distract you from the niceties of face perception literature for half an hour or so?!)

Continue reading

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Trekkers Toffee Apple Pie

2017

*blush* This week, I went for a walk at lunchtime and came home with a collection of apples from the local orchard. I wanted to make this pie for Jef, and was sure that I’d posted the recipe to the blog last year… no, it was sitting here as a draft from almost exactly one year ago. I know I’ve been bad at keeping up with things, but this is really ridiculous!

So, here’s a recipe and a story about an old pub that I meant to post last year. I made the pie again this weekend, but the photos are all from last year. Enjoy 🙂

 


Once upon a time, there used to be a pub in Milton Keynes called ‘Trekkers‘. It was a science fiction theme pub, and as you can imagine, this household was rather excited when it first arrived in (I think) 2002. It was a proper theme pub, with jokey menus, themed cocktails and a life-size Dalek that lurked in one of the back rooms. I managed to track down a copy of the menu from the wonderful Wayback archive so here you go, have a good read!

They went to town with the decor as well, lots of lava lamps and star scenes. Back in those days me and Jef were involved with a local goth group which met once a week and went around the pubs of Buckinghamshire, taking it in turns to go out in Milton Keynes, Aylesbury and High Wycombe. Rather a lot of those meetings took place in Trekkers – there’s a pleasing overlap between goths and science fiction, I find!

Anyway, this week I was looking for a way to use up the large haul of apples I’d scrumped from the Woughton Community Orchard on my lunch break, and Jef reminded me of the Trekker’s apple pie, a multi-layered thing of beauty. Pie crust, topped with spiced apples, topped with caramel, topped with crumble. Wow! That was going to be a challenge, but I was up for it. The recipe below makes 2 individual sized pies – I was willing to experiment, but didn’t want us to have to eat a sad failed pie for the next few days if it didn’t all go to plan. These mini pies were perfect…

Trekkers eventually closed down in 2004, and I think the owners went on to open up another version in Ireland. The pub is still there and has been through a few different guises over the years, and most recently has had a remake into an Italian restaurant. It’s actually the pub I went to to celebrate my viva, just over a year ago now – to be fair, it was mainly because it was the nearest one to the OU! But I’ve never had a meal there. Trekkers was a long long time ago now, but I do still miss it. Still, we have a version of their pie, and that’s something.

Trekkers Toffee Apple Pie

Ingredients

For the pie

  • Butter for greasing
  • 250g ready made shortcrust pastry (or half a standard supermarket block)
  • Icing sugar to roll out
  • 2 tbs custard powder
  • 250g eating apples, peeled and cored
  • 1 rounded tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tin dulche du leche (or Carnation caramel)

For the crumble topping

  • 60g plain white flour
  • 60g brown sugar
  • 30g cold butter, cut into small pieces

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 220C/190C Fan/Gas 6.
  2. Grease two mini pie tins with butter.
  3. Grate two third of the apples. Chop the rest into small chunks.  Mix the cinnamon evenly through the grated apple.
  4. Make the crumble topping by stirring together the sugar and flour then rubbing the butter through until it looks like coarse breadcrumbs.
  5. Roll the pastry into a ball and roll into a circle about a third larger than the pie tins.
  6. Drape the pastry into the tin and press gently into the flutes.
  7. Sprinkle the custard powder into the bottom of the cases.
  8. Fill the cases with the apple and cinnamon mix.
  9. Cover the fruit filling evenly with the dulche du leche and then top with the crumble.
  10. Bake for 20 minutes until the pastry is golden and the crumble is well browned.
  11. Serve with cream, custard or ice cream – or if you’re my husband, all three 😉
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Simnel Cake

 

Spring

Hello, folks! Happy Easter – it’s not a festival that I tend to mark much, apart from generic delight at having a few days off work and a hope that the sun will shine, but this year I decided to mark it with cake. Much as Easter is a little similar to Christmas in many ways, but without the pressure and/or fun of presents, this is basically a Christmas cake but without the long time spend waiting for the booze to settle in during the long dark days of winter. This is a lighter, cheerier, springy-er version all round. I do like the fact that it has marzipan in the middle!

So, what’s been going on since I last blogged? Well, I handed in the posh bound copies of my thesis, as pictured above, and I had confirmation through that the OU were happy to confer upon me the title of Dr back in December! I will do the full graduation ceremony thing but not until quite late this year, just because of when the dates for my local ceremony have been set. (October 28th, I must think of a suitable cake to bake!)

So, now what? After ten years of PhD, I managed less than a month before signing up for another OU course, but this one is much more fun – photography! It’s only a short, 10 week introduction but I’m loving it so far. Some of the photos above are ones I’ve used in my assignments. I’m never going to be an expert but I enjoy the process of hunting down images that make me smile.

And, of course, getting back to baking after a long, long pause. Because this cake reminded me of Christmas, I put my December 2015 playlist on while I was baking (all hail Spotify and my obsessive habit of making a playlist for every month!) and, well, I’ve not listened to that playlist since December rolled away and I had other songs to listen to. So, while I was stirring the batter, it was a bit of a shock to be reminded that in amongst my festive tracks, I’d added one of the songs that was due to appear on David Bowie’s ‘new’ album, and when it started playing it stopped me in my tracks. ‘Lazarus’. A song about someone rising from the dead, listened to at Easter, sung by someone who died just a few days after I added that track to my playlist. For a moment, all the colour went out of the day and I went very, very cold. I thought I’d shaken off the shock and upset from that death, but music can be amazing at making things come back and bite. What a loss.

It’s been a long, cold winter and I’ve not been very good at being happy. Wish I knew how to do better at that, but I don’t. Still, here’s a cake for a day where we’re forecast thunder but at the moment it’s sunny and bright. Eventually the sun comes out.

Simnel Cake (based on St. Mary’s recipe here)IMG_5458

Ingredients

  • 100g/4oz glacé cherries
  • 225g/8oz butter, softened
  • 225g/8oz light muscovado sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 225g/8oz self-raising flour
  • 225g/8oz sultanas
  • 100g/4oz currants
  • 50g/2oz chopped crystallised ginger
  • 2 lemons, grated zest only
  • 2 tsp ground mixed spice

For the filling and topping

  • 1-2 tbsp apricot jam, warmed
  • 1 wodge of marzipan, courtesy of Grandma Lay’s recipe

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 150C/280F/Gas 2. Grease and line a 20cm/ 8in cake tin.

  2. Prepare the marzipan according to the recipe above.
  3. Cut the ginger into large chunks.

  4. Place the ginger in a bowl with the butter, sugar, eggs, self-raising flour, sultanas, currants, candied peel, lemon zest and mixed spice and beat well until thoroughly mixed. Pour half the mixture into the prepared tin.

  5. Take one-third of the marzipan and roll it out to a circle the size of the tin and then place on top of the cake mixture. Spoon the remaining cake mixture on top and level the surface.

  6. Bake in the pre-heated oven for about 2½ hours, or until well risen, evenly brown and firm to the touch. Cover with aluminium foil after one hour if the top is browning too quickly. Leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes then turn out, peel off the parchment and finish cooling on a wire rack.

  7. When the cake is cool, brush the top with a little warmed apricot jam and roll out half the remaining marzipan to fit the top. Press firmly on the top and crimp the edges to decorate. Mark a criss-cross pattern on the marzipan with a sharp knife. Form the remaining marzipan into 11 balls.

  8. Brush the marzipan with beaten egg and arrange the marzipan balls around the edge of the cake. Brush the tops of the balls with beaten egg and then carefully place the cake under a hot grill until the top is lightly toasted.

 

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Mince Pie Flapjack

Winter 15

My favourite three little words at the moment are ‘Academic requirements met’.

I saw that in the subject line of an email that came in on Thursday and it’s one of the best emails I’ve ever been sent! It means, finally, that I’ve done all the work that I need to do, and the OU have decided that my research meets the standards set for a PhD. I can’t quite believe it! At every stage, particularly this year, I’ve been sure that someone official was going to pop up and say ‘You know what, no. Daft idea, rubbish execution, written like a five-year old – we’re pulling the plug.’

But they didn’t! To be honest, I should have known  this since August, as I only had some minor corrections to make after my viva but there’s still that nagging bit of doubt. So now they done, and they’ve been checked and I’m good. All I need to do now is get several copies printed and handed in for the library to put on their shelves (!!!) and I’m done.

This is fantastic news for me, of course, but also for my long-suffering husband, because it means I get more time to bake. These are for Jef, with love.

Yesterday, Jef was wondering why, in a world of Lotus biscuit spread, Malteser’s crunchy chocolate spread and nutella, don’t we have a spreadable version of mincemeat that could be used in sandwiches. A fair question – I’ve heard of people spreading leftover mincemeat on hot toast, perhaps with a bit of marzipan grated over the top, for an indulgent Boxing Day breakfast, but the sandwich spread issue seems to be the presence of those lumps of suet. Mincemeat needs heat. So I decided to try a filled flapjack approach to see how that would work.

Mince Pie Flapjack with orange and cinnamon icing (Based on this recipe here)

IMG_5061

The icing came out slightly more pink than I expected

(Makes 12-16, depending on how large you slice them)

Ingredients

For the flapjack and filling

  • Your chosen mincemeat. I made a batch of pies last weekend using half a jar of Waitrose’s spiced mincemeat so allow 200g or so for this flapjack
  • 100g mixed dried fruit (I used currants and sultanas)
  • 3 tbsp whisky
  • 250g butter
  • 3 tbs golden syrup
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup (I used this cinnamon spiced one)
  • 100g light brown sugar
  • 500g oats

For the icing:

  • 200g icing sugar
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • 3 tsp orange juice

Method

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 190ºC/170ºC fan.
  2. Charlotte recommends lining a baking tin with greaseproof paper but I had a silicon baking tin so used that instead.
  3. Put the dried fruit and whisky in a small bowl and microwave for 30-60 seconds, until it steams nicely. (If you were organised, you could just leave it to soak the night before – I wasn’t!)
  4. In a large saucepan, melt the butter, sugar and syrups together, stirring occasionally.
  5. When melted and well-combined, remove from the heat and stir in the oats.
  6. Make a base layer of the buttery oat mixture in the bottom of your tray, pressing down very firmly.
  7. Spread the mincemeat in an even layer across the base.
  8. Drain the boozy soaked fruit and sprinkle over the mincemeat.
  9. Add the remaining oat mixture and again, press down firmly.
  10. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes, until golden brown.
  11. Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then place on a wire rack to cool thoroughly.
  12. While the flapjack is cooling, sieve the icing sugar and cinnamon into a large bowl. Add the orange juice and stir to give a thin icing.
  13. Drizzle the icing over the flapjacks when they are completely cool and leave to set.
  14. Slice into 12 or 16 pieces, and enjoy with a mug of tea. Or pose with a twinkly Christmas tree!

IMG_5056

 

 

 

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Chocolate Whiskey Layer Cake

I love that 10 minutes from my desk, I can be walking in the countryside.

I love that 10 minutes from my desk, I can be walking in the countryside.

This feels like the first autumn in years that I’ve actually been able to enjoy. For ages now, feeling stressed and overwhelmed has meant that a change of season has meant time is running out and I’ve not done enough. It feels very very strange not to have that massive invisible clock ticking away at the back of my mind – strange, but nice! It’s meant I’ve had time to start baking and cooking properly again, to use my lunch breaks for walks in the countryside around the OU, and to really notice all the little changes in the trees, the light, and the quality of the air that indicate we’re moving to a colder season. I’ve said before that Milton Keynes becomes breathtakingly beautiful in the autumn as the city of trees turns red and golden, and this year looks like it’s going to be particularly stunning. Or maybe I’m just noticing it more this year, because I have time.

Autumn also means – Mum’s birthday, and Jef’s birthday! Mum’s isn’t until early October but last weekend was our closest visiting opportunity to the big day so I made a cake. Oh, what a cake. I’ve been a fan of the Little Loaf blog for a while now, and have had this recipe for a show-stopping chocolate layer cake bookmarked for just this event 😀

Kate uses Jack Daniels in her recipe and while I know that would go down well, some of my party aren’t that partial to its smoky edge, so I went for the smoother, gentler burr of Glenmorangie. It worked beautifully in the buttercream, syrup and chocolate truffles. Oh, that buttercream! The addition of the condensed milk – or it might have been the whisky – did something magical in turning it mousse-like and glorious.

This is probably the best cake I’ve ever made. I’m so proud of it! Thank you to Kate for the recipe! Happy birthday, Mum.

Chocolate Whiskey Layer Cake

Baking before breakfast again

Baking before breakfast again

Original recipe here, and followed to the letter, with the exception of swapping Glenmorangie in, instead of the Jack Daniels.

Ingredients:

For the cake

  • 340g plain flour
  • 525g golden caster sugar
  • 128g cocoa powder
  • 2 ¼ tsp baking powder
  • 2 ¼ tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 3 large free range eggs
  • 375ml full fat milk
  • 188ml groundnut oil
  • 3 tsp vanilla extract
  • 375ml boiling water

For the whiskey syrup

  • 100ml water
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 50ml whiskey

For the buttercream

  • 150g unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 350g icing sugar
  • 4 tbsp condensed milk
  • 2 tbsp whiskey, or to taste

For the ganache

  • 250g dark chocolate, chopped
  • 250ml double cream
  • 100g light brown muscovado sugar

Method:

For the cake

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C. Grease and line three 20cm cake tins.
  2. Sift the flour, caster sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda into the bowl of a stand mixer and whisk for one minute to combine. You could also do this using an electric whisk.
  3. In a separate bowl, beat the eggs then add the milk and groundnut oil. Pour into the dry mixture and whisk for two to three minutes until well combined.
  4. With the whisk running, add the boiling water to your mixture a little at a time until combined. The batter will be extremely liquid.
  5. Pour into your prepared cake tins and bake in the centre of the oven for 25 – 35 minutes, or until the tops are firm and a skewer or toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean. Remove from the oven.

For the whiskey syrup

Parsley, Mum's 3rd child ;)

Parsley, Mum’s 3rd child 😉


  1. Combine the water and sugar in a small saucepan and bring to the boil. Simmer for a couple of minutes until the sugar has dissolved. Add the whiskey and simmer for one minute more then remove from the heat.
  2. Trickle the syrup over the top of each cake while still warm then set aside to cool completely.

For the buttercream
Make sure your butter is nice and soft. In a stand mixer or using an electric whisk, beat the butter until pale and fluffy. Sift in the icing sugar and whisk to combine, then add the condensed milk. Continue to beat until light and fluffy, slowly incorporating the whiskey until fully combined.

For the ganache

  1. Place the chopped chocolate in a medium heatproof bowl.
  2. Heat the cream and sugar until the sugar has dissolved. Bring to the boil and simmer for one minute.
  3. Remove the cream from the heat and allow to stand for one minute – pouring it directly over the chocolate will cause it to split. Once it has rested, pour over the chocolate and stir until smooth and glossy, using a rubber spatula or whisk.
  4. Set aside for thirty minutes or until it has cooled to a spreadable consistency

To assemble the cake

  1. Smear a small amount of whiskey buttercream on a serving plate or cake stand. Place one round of cake on top. Slather over half the quantity of whiskey buttercream, top with a second round of cake and repeat. Top with the final round of cake and smooth any buttercream that has squidged out the sides.
  2. Dollop your ganache on top of the cake then use a spatula or palette knife to spread it down and round the edges. Use a slightly heated palette knife for a smooth finish.
  3. (Steph) Despite applying the ganache like I was plastering a small cottage, I had rather a lot left over. I added another generous splash of whisky, stirred it in and put the bowlful of now-very-alcoholic chocolate in the fridge to chill. I then rolled tea-spoons full of the mix into balls, rolled them in cocoa powder and lo – chocolate truffles for the top of the cake. Well – one or two might have ended up in the cook rather than on the cake! *hic*  

Alight and glowing

Alight and glowing

Look at those layers!

Look at those layers!

Happy birthday to Mum!

Happy birthday to Mum!

The Cake.  In all its truffled glory.

The Cake.
In all its truffled glory.

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