Walnut Bread

So what if I told about a recipe for walnut bread — yummy, beautiful, moist walnut bread, dotted with chocolate chips even — that uses no butter, and no processed/ refined sugars? Hmm? Well. Prepare to be amazed. This is just the thing for winter afternoons. Make yourself a steaming hot cup of cocoa. Cut yourself a generous slice of this beautiful walnut bread, smother it with full fat butter, sit back and tuck in. I promise you, whatever it is that you are struggling with right now, this will make it better :).

Lets get started!

Ingredients:

75g of unrefined brown sugar.

175g of honey, or agave nectar (I went half and half).

200ml of whole milk (you could use almond milk and turn this into a lacto-free recipe).

50g of chocolate chips – optional (but lets face it, chocolate chips make everything better).

50g of roughly chopped walnuts.

225g of self-raising flour.

1 teaspoon of baking powder.

1 egg, beaten.

Method:

The first thing you want to do is preheat your oven to 180C, which is 160C with fan. And grease and line a standard loaf tin with baking paper.

Next up, get yourself a pan and pour in the milk, sugar, honey/agave nectar, and heat gently till all the sugar has dissolved. You will need to let it cool quite a bit before getting on to the next step.

Now get a large mixing bowl and put your flour, baking powder, walnuts and chocolate chips in. To this add the cooled syrup. And then the egg. Mix everything together really well, till you have a smooth mixture.

Pour this into your tin, sprinkle some more walnuts on top, and in it goes, in to your preheated oven for about an hour, or until a skewer comes out clean. Once done, let it cool in the tin for about 10 mins, and then turn out on to a cooling rack.

Or in any event *try* and let it cool before you do that thing we talked about earlier, you know with the cocoa and butter etc.

 

Advertisements

Best Ever Gingerbread Cake

What’s winter without a bit of ginger eh? And gingerbread. And gingerbread cake. Ahem. You see where I’m going with this. Ahem. So. Yes. Gingerbread cake. Fair to say I’ve tried quite a few recipes, adapted quite a few, but let’s just say I hadn’t stopped looking. Well. Until now. This recipe is absolutely fantastic. Dark, treacly,  very gingery, intense. And yet soft, with an incredibly light crumb, and almost too easy. If you like ginger in your baked good, then prepare to be delirious. And if all of this wasn’t enough this also keeps amazingly well for up to 4 days. In fact if anything, the taste actually improves. So bake on a Sunday and your teatime is pretty sorted for the week. You can even have friends over. This recipe is going to single handedly kick start your social life in the new year. What? Fine. I’m assuming too much. It’s only a cake. And your self control is clearly not as legendary as mine. Ahem.

Must say here that I found this recipe on the bbcgoodfood website (surprise surprise!).

Here we go then:

Ingredients:

250g of butter (softened)

250g of dark muscovado sugar

2 (generous) tablespoons of black treacle

375g of plain flour

5 teaspoons of ground ginger

2 teaspoons of ground cinnamon

2 eggs, beaten

3 pieces of stem ginger (crystallised/ from a jar – optional)

300ml of whole milk

2 tsp bicarbonate of soda

Method:

First thing you want to do is grease and line two standard 7inch victoria sponge tins with baking paper and preheat your oven to 160C, which is about 140C with fan.

While your oven is getting ready gently heat your butter sugar and treacle in a pan, stirring until smooth. Let it cool a bit.

In a large mixing bowl mix together your flour, bicarbonate of soda and ground spices. To this add the treacly-sugar mixture, and mix thoroughly till well combined. To this add the stem ginger and eggs and mix some more.

Warm the milk, just a tiny bit, and add that to your mix and stir till everything is well blended. Your mixture will look a bit runny at this stage, but that’s nothing to worry about.

Pour into the prepared tins. In they go, into the oven, for about 30-35 mins or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.

Once done, let them cool in the tins for about 10 mins, and then on a cooling rack till completely cool.

Awesome stuff, no?

 

 

 

Ridiculously Good Chocolate Cake

There’s chocolate cake, and there’s chocolate cake. And this one is only just the best chocolate cake in the world. I’m sure I’ve sung praises of BBCGoodFood before, oh but it is a most fantastic treasure trove. Ahem. What I’m trying to say is that, as you can imagine, I’ve only tried five hundred thousand different recipes to find a cake that’s awesome, easy and foolproof. And of course I found it. And of course it was in the bbcgoodfood magazine. (Every few months I’ll pick up a copy to cheer myself up. Another thing that’s foolproof.) Now this recipe is intended to be for some kind of a freaky-finger-Halloween cake, which, shall we say, didn’t speak to me at all. Ahem. But the basic cake recipe is such a winner. My go to chocolate cake recipe. And it turns out perfect, better than perfect — rises beautifully, has the most amazing crumb, is incredibly soft and moist — every single time.

So, here we go. Thank me later.

Ingredients — 

175 gms of unsalted butter, softened. Oh and a bit more for greasing etc.

225 gms of sugar. Caster sugar is better but hey I’ve put all sorts in there and it’s always worked.

3 eggs. Organic. Best. A bit on the large side.

1 teaspoon vanilla essence.

1 tablespoon of red food colour (optional. So you can turn this very easily into a red velvet. But be aware that you’ll have to use one of those gel/paste/industrial strength colours to get the deep red effect. If like me you decide to stick with natural colours, you’ll just get a deep reddish brown cake. So much the better if you ask me).

200 gms of plain flour.

50 gms of cocoa powder. (I *heart* Green&Black’s).

1 and 1/2 teaspoons of baking soda.

1/2 teaspoon of baking powder.

1/4 teaspoon of salt.

150 gms of low fat natural yoghurt, loosened up with 2 tablespoons of milk.

 

For the Icing:

125 gms of unsalted butter, softened.

200 gms of icing sugar. (To be perfectly honest I don’t usually stick with hard and fast measurements for this. Keep tasting your icing as you add the sugar and stop when it tastes right. Yes? Good.)

2-4 tablespoons of cocoa powder.

Method —

Before you do anything else, turn your oven on and preheat it to 180C, which is 160C with the fan. Grease and line two cake tins (20 cm) with baking parchment.

That done, put your butter and sugar in a mixing bowl and get to work with a wooden spoon. Cream them together till nice and soft and fluffy. Of course you could go in with an electric mixer and make life easy for yourself. But I’m not allowed to do that — mama it’s too loud, and it’s better with a spoon anyway — Apparently.

Anyway. Beat in the vanilla. Next add the eggs, one at a time, mixing really well after each addition. And then the food colour, if you’re using it.

In another bowl mix all your dry ingredients — flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cocoa powder.

Now, sift half of this on to your butter-sugar-egg mixture and gently fold it in. Then add half the thinned yoghurt and fold that in. Repeat with the rest of the flour. And yoghurt. That’s your cake batter all ready!

At this stage all you have to do is divide your batter equally between the two tins you’d prepared earlier. Use a rubber spatula (very recent convert to rubber spatulas but boy, they’re awesome) to scrape your mixing bowl and level the tops of your cakes.

Into the oven they go next, for about 25 mins. But you know how ovens are unpredictable. I suggest you let these bake for about 25 mins and then do a little skewer  test to see if they’re done. If not leave them in for another 5-7 mins and check again.

Once your cakes are done, take them out of the oven and leave them to cool in their tins for about 10 mins. Then turn them out on a cooling rack, and I know you’ll be tempted to either eat a bite or start on the icing, but don’t. Seriously. Wait till *completely* cool.

For the icing all you need to do is cream the butter, and add the sugar, a little at at time and beat together till smooth. Oh and the cocoa powder! Beat that in as well. Oh and  drop or two of vanilla essence if you want. Some people will ask you to sift the sugar and cocoa powder into the butter. I never do and the icing comes out perfectly smooth anyway.

So well done for waiting till the cakes are completely cool. Now take one of your cakes and put it on your serving plate, top down though. Take a big dollop of the icing and smooth it over the cake. Place the other cake on top. More icing on top and all around the cake as well. You can of course decorate your cake any which way you want. But, basically you done. Best chocolate cake ever.

 

Your’re welcome.