Novice Baker – Going Forward

You may or may not have realised that my novice baker posts have slowed down of late, this is somewhat due to lack of baking audience (otherwise known as guinea pigs..sorry I mean eaters) but also because I started Weight Watchers on the 6th February.  This year I’m really committed to losing a considerable amount of weight (at the point of posting I’ve lost 11lbs in 4 weeks), obviously this means cutting out the rubbish, being more aware of what I’m eating and portion size and so cake has (mostly) had to go.

However, I’ve invested a lot of time in my Novice Baker posts to date and also money on some new equipment and I still have a cupboard full of baking necessities which need to be used up and honestly I don’t want to give up on a hobby I’ve come to enjoy this past couple of years.  So…how do I move forward?

I suppose the main thing is to cut back on the sugar and the fat so I’m going to need to find some recipes that are basically lower in these ingredients and and ultimately test if the substitutes can taste as good as the real thing.

Can the low calorie option (right) ever taste as good as the classic (left)?

So that’s gonna be my new challenge for this year, find some new recipes and see how they work out.  Unfortunately Weight Watchers don’t have a dedicated baking recipe book so I’ll need to find them from other sources.  They do though, have a handy app if you’re on the plan, so I’ll probably start there.  Hopefully, you’ll still find these baking posts interesting and entertaining.

If you have any recommendations or have tried making low fat or low sugar cakes, do let me know 🙂

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Old school sponge, icing and hundreds and thousands

A simple, yet delicious recipe that I ‘borrowed’ from my book and cake partner in crime, Claire at Art & Soul.  Yes, it’s a very easy recipe but the small problem I had was getting the consistency of the water icing just right. I’ve now made this recipe twice; the first time I had insufficient icing and the second it was too runny.  Sometimes the simplest things are the hardest to get right!

I took some cake into work and some of my older colleagues remarked that it reminded them of school dinners…in the best possible way of course 🙂

What you need:

For the sponge cakeIMG_0096
200g butter
200g self raising flour
175g caster sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla essence

For the water icing (courtesy of BBC food)
300g icing sugar
2-3 tbsp water
2-3 drops food colouring if desired

What you do:

  • Grease and line a baking tray, ideally rectangular
  • Preheat your oven to 170°c  (Claire went for 160, I needed 170)
  • Using a freestanding mixer, beat all the ingredients together into a smooth mixture; my estimate was 2-3 minutes
  • Pour into your prepared tin and bake for 25 – 35 minutes until golden brown
  • Allow to cool in the tin

vanilla sponge

  • Make the icing by sifting the icing sugar into a bowl, stir in the water gradually to create a smooth mixture.
  • Pour over the cake and sprinkle over your hundreds and thousands or whatever decoration you have chosen.  When the icing has set, you can remove from the tray and slice.

vanilla sponge

I had to do this quite quickly as the first time I made it, the icing started to set really quickly and the sprinkles just rolled to the side of the cake!

vanilla sponge

Until next time…Happy Baking!

Dorset Apple Cake

British BakingHere’s a tried and tested recipe from my new recipe book; Paul Hollywood’s British Baking.  It’s a mixture of favourite recipes from all over Great Britain from Cornwall pasties to Bakewell tarts, Staffordshire Oatcakes to Eccles cakes.

The chunky apples cook down to create a light moist bake!

 

What you need:

200g plain flourIMG_2127
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
100g unsalted butter, diced
100g caster sugar
2 eating apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced
1 small cooking apple, peeled, cored and thinly sliced
2 large eggs
60ml milk
1 tbsp demerara sugar

What you do:

  • Heat your oven to 180ºc and grease and line a deep 20cm square cake tin
  • Mix the flour, baking powder and cinnamon in a large bowl
  • Add the butter, rub in with fingertips until resembles breadcrumbs
  • Stir in the sugar, then the apples

Dorset Apple Cake

  • Lightly beat the eggs with the milk and add to the breadcrumb mixture
  • Transfer to the prepared tin, it’s meant to be a chunky mixture
  • Sprinkle over the demerara sugar (top tip…break it up, don’t chuck it on in lumps like mine as they don’t break down!)
  • Bake for approx 40-50 minutes, the cake will have a golden crust

Dorset Apple Cake

  • Leave to cool before cutting into squares

Top tip – serve warm with clotted cream, it’s delicious!

Dorset Apple Cake

Until next time…Happy Baking!

Chocolate Brownie Cupcakes

I saw this cupcake recipe over at Claire’s blog Art & Soul; I know she won’t mind me sharing it here with you also.  This is a similar type recipe to the Chocolate Fudge Cake recipe I’ve discovered recently.

What you need:

Brownie base
3 eggsIMG_0265
200g butter
250g caster sugar
110g plain flour
200g dark chocolate
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp baking powder

Buttercream icing if required
140g softened butter
280g icing sugar
Few drops of milk if needed

What you do:

  • Preheat your oven to 180ºc and put 12 paper cases into a baking mould
  • Beat together the eggs, caster sugar and vanilla
  • Melt the butter with the chocolate, I find this easiest done in a heatproof bowl over a simmering pan of water.  Leave to cool slightly
  • Pour the combined chocolate into the egg mixture
  • Fold in the flour and baking powder

chocolate brownie cupcakes

  • Share the mixture between the paper cases
  • Baking for 20 minutes will leave them with a gooey middle.

chocolate brownie cupcakesI’m not quite sure what happened to my brownie cupcakes but they sunk in the middle, they were definitely gooey even if not pretty!

  • Cool on a wire tray while you make the buttercream icing (mix together ingredients in a freestanding mixer until combined)
  • Decorate as required

It was a bit of a mistake for me to use my new muffin paper cases as the sides were too high; just use regular cupcake cases.

So overall these brownie cupcakes weren’t my finest moment.  They tasted nice, even if they were a little heavy (in density and weight!!).

chocolate brownie cupcakes

Until next time…Happy Baking!

Chocolate Fudge Cake

Since I started my ‘novice baker’ posts on my blog my daughter is always moaning at me that I don’t bake anything she likes. She’s quite fussy and doesn’t like most typical cake ingredients but she does like a good chocolate cake. So this week, I’ve baked a delicious chocolate fudge cake; just for her!

What you need:

For the cakeIMG_1863

200g plain chocolate
200g light brown sugar
200g butter
2 eggs, beaten
100ml soured cream
200g self-raising flour
5 tbsp cocoa powder
Hundreds and thousands to decorate

For the icing

100g plain chocolate
170g condensed milk
100g butter

What you do:

Heat your oven to 160c. Grease and line a 22cm x 22cm square tin.

Put the chocolate, butter, sugar and 100ml of hot water into a saucepan and gently heat to melt. Stir well.

Leave for 2 mins to slightly cool, then stir in the cream, then the eggs.

Chocolate Fudge Cake

Stir in the flour and cocoa powder until lump free. I used my hand held electric whisk for approx 2-3 mins adding the flour a spoon at a time.

Pour into your prepared tin and bake for 50-55 minutes. Allow to cool.

Chocolate Fudge Cake

To make the icing, put the chocolate, butter and milk into a heatproof dish over a pan of simmering water and melt together. Let it cool for a short time and then spread over the cake and decorate with the hundreds and thousands. At this point, I’d left the cake in the tin to make it easier for the chocolate icing to set.

Chocolate Fudge Cake

Once the icing is set, remove from the tin and slice into squares or triangles.

Sometimes I do surprise myself, if I do say so myself, because this was a gorgeous, light, moist bit of cake. Thoroughly recommend the recipe.

Chocolate Fudge Cake

Until next time…Happy Baking