Lemon and Poppy Seed Scones

lemon and poppy seed scones2

I’ve not had a lot of success with my scone baking in the past, in fact they could be used as hockey pucks as they are generally so solid and dry but when a friend of mine raved about lemon and poppy seed scones from a nearby tearoom I decided to have a bash at them. Jack thinks that the browner scones looked overdone, I think they were supposed to be paler but they all tasted fine. I gave some to a friend and she says they tasted even better toasted – it enhances the lemon flavour – I’d never thought of toasting scones before.

I found a recipe online, but tweaked it a wee bit by adding a few drops of lemon essence to the lemon juice as for me there’s no possibility of something tasting too lemony. I’ve baked these scones twice now and they’ve worked perfectly, but I’m in two minds about the poppy seeds. They don’t add any flavour I believe but obviously add texture. They have a tendency to get stuck in your teeth though. I happened to have a packet of poppy seeds anyway but when they are finished I don’t know if I would bother buying more, I might prefer the scones without them. The ingredients below make 20 scones so you might want to halve the quantities.

900g self-raising flour
225g margarine
85g sugar
30g poppy seeds
zest of 1 lemon
juice of 1 lemon
a few drops of lemon essence
2 eggs
333ml milk

Mix the self-raising flour, margarine, sugar, poppy seeds, lemon juice and lemon essence in a bowl and rub together until the mix resembles fine breadcrumbs. Then add the eggs and milk and mix to a dough.

Tip the dough out onto a floured surface and roll out to a thickness of 4 cm or 1.5 inches, cut into rounds using a 70 mm/ 2.75″ (ish) cutter. Put them onto a baking tray. Brush with milk ( I missed this bit out as I used my pastry brush for a DIY project a while ago!)

Put into the middle of a pre-heated oven at 160 Centigrade for 20 minutes. Gas mark 3, or Fahrenheit 325.

Delicious with butter but for a super lemon experience why not try lemon curd.

Foodie Friday – Lime and Coconut Drizzle Cake

Lime and Coconut Drizzle cake 1

125g soft margarine or butter – plus extra for greasing
250g sugar
zest of 3 limes
200g self raising flour
3 eggs
50g desiccated coconut
150 ml coconut milk

for the topping

the juice of three limes
100 g sugar

Preheat the oven to 180 C/350 F fan 160 C/320 F gas 4
Lightly grease a 2 lb loaf tin and line with greaseproof paper.

1. Put the margarine, sugar and lime zest into a bowl and beat together until light and fluffy. Add the eggs a little at a time.

2. In a separate bowl mix together the flour and desiccated coconut, add half of it to the egg mixture and fold it in thoroughly. Then fold in the other half until it’s all evenly combined. Then add the coconut milk and mix well.

3. Place the cake mix into the loaf tin and bake for around 50-55 minutes.

When the cake is out of the oven make the lime glaze.

Heat the juice of the three limes and add the sugar, heat until it has dissolved. When the cake has cooled for few minutes poke lots of holes in the top with a skewer, right to the bottom of the cake and pour the lime glaze on top. Allow the cake to cool in the tin.

The desiccated coconut blends completely into the sponge so doesn’t get stuck in your teeth the way it can do in some coconut recipes.

If you are keen on putting booze into your cakes then you could add something like Malibu coconut rum into the drizzle, but it’s a very tasty cake without that.

You will notice that my cake has ‘cracked’ on the surface, I think that that means I overdid the mixing of the sugar and margarine at the beginning. However, cracking is actually quite helpful if it’s a drizzle cake as it means the glaze soaks into the cake more easily.

Foodie Friday – Pineapple Upside down Cake

It’s Friday so I’m having a Foodie Friday post. On New Year’s Day we had our ‘boys’ and their ladies visiting us and it was yet another marathon cooking day for me. Duncan, our eldest boy is dairy intolerant so I decided to bake a pineapple upside down cake for pudding. It’s always tasty, especially when eaten hot, and I think it looks quite good too.

Pineapple Upside Down Cake

Pineapple Upside Down Cake

I used margarine instead of butter and I don’t think it makes any difference to the flavour, but I always add some vanilla extract to a plain cake mix to make sure that there will be no eggy flavour to it.

Cooking time 1 hour
Oven temperature 350 F/ Gas Mark 4/ 180 C
Cake tin – 9 inches diameter and two inches deep

Ingredients:
Base of cake:
1 – 435g tin of pineapple rings –
glace cherries
2 oz butter of margarine
2 oz brown sugar
1 tablespoon of honey or golden syrup (I think that’s corn syrup in the US)

For the cake:

5 oz butter of margarine
5 oz sugar
3 eggs
drop of vanilla extract (optional)
6 oz self raising flour

Melt the 2 oz of margarine for the base and pour it into the cake tin. Top with the brown sugar and golden syrup/honey. Arrange the drained pineapple rings onto this mixture. Add the cherries to make a nice pattern.

For the cake:
Cream the margarine and sugar, gradually beat in the eggs and the vanilla extract. then fold in the flour. Spread this mixture over the fruit and level it. You might get some of the syrup coming up to the edge but don’t worry about that.

Bake in the oven for one hour and test to see if it’s done. It might take a bit longer as every oven is different.

Put a large plate over the cake and turn it upside down, the cake should come out with no problem. This is delicious hot, I love hot fruit and it is even better with cream or ice cream, if you aren’t dairy intolerant!

This recipe is based on one from Marguerite Patten’s Every Day Cook Book, first published in 1968. I like her recipes as she didn’t use loads of different ingredients and they were all store cupboard staples, so no need to do any special shopping for fancy stuff, which you often have to do with more modern recipes.

I had one pineapple ring left over from the tin, which I couldn’t manage to fit into the cake base. I haven’t tried any other types of fruit but obviously you could try tinned apricots, peaches or whatever you fancy.

Chocolate Up and Over Pudding

chocolate up and over pudding

chocolate up and over pudding

I blogged about this pudding/dessert years ago but I made it again recently and mentioned it to a friend who wanted the recipe, so here it is again. It doesn’t look fantastic in this photo but taste-wise it’s a winner.

This is a great recipe for those times when the whole family is asking – What’s for pudding? and you haven’t had time to think about it. All of the ingredients are what I would call ‘store cupboard essentials’, nothing fancy, but everybody loves it.

Chocolate Pudding

75g/3oz self-raising flour
1 rounded tablespoon of cocoa powder
125g/4oz soft margarine
125g/4oz granulated sugar
2 eggs

Topping and sauce

1 rounded tablespoon cocoa powder
125g/4oz demerara sugar
300 ml/ 1/2 pint hot, strong black coffee. Instant is fine – use 3 teaspoons added to the water.

Grease an oven proof dish of 2 pint capacity.

Put all of the pudding ingredients into a mixing bowl at the same time and with a wooden spoon or electric mixer, beat until smooth.

Tip the mixture into your greased dish and smooth flat.

Sprinkle 50g/2oz demerara sugar over the top.

Add the remaining 50g/2oz demerara sugar to the hot coffee and stir well. Carefully pour the coffee over the pudding mixture.

Bake at gas mark 4, 350 F, 180 C for about 50 minutes or an hour.

As if by magic the sponge rises over the coffee mixture during the cooking and a sauce is formed underneath.

It’s lovely served hot with ice-cream or cream.
It should serve 4 people.

Chocolate and Almond Cake

cake 1

This is the most recent birthday cake which I baked for our October Birthday Boy. It’s a chocolate and almond cake, the topping is just melted plain chocolate mixed with white chocolate. I hoped the effect would be sort of marbled but it didn’t quite work out like that, never mind, it tasted good.

sliced cake

Above is a very messy looking photo of the cake sliced, it has a chocolate buttercream filling. The cake is supposed to look like this, light in colour with the flecks of melted grated chocolate in it.

This is Gordon, the birthday boy just after blowing out his one candle, his beard is a new feature.

cake + Birthday boy

I can hardly believe it but there are a few people in my family who aren’t big cake fans, given the choice they would opt for something savoury instead, but this cake went down well with them because it isn’t too sweet. It’s a Delia Smith recipe.

Moist Chocolate and Almond Cake

Preheat your oven to gas mark 7 (425F) (220C) before turning it down to gas mark 3 when you put the cake in the oven.

4 oz (110g) butter
4oz (110g) unsweetened (or plain) chocolate, grated
6 oz (175g) caster/superfine sugar
6 tablespoons milk
4 size 1 egg yolks
4 size 1 egg whites
4 oz (110g) ground almonds
6 oz (175g) self-raising flour

Method:

Grease and line an 8 inch cake tin.

Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Beat the egg yolks together and add a bit at a time to the butter and sugar mixture, beating well after each addition. Next lightly fold in the ground almonds, grated chocolate and milk, using a large metal spoon.

Now whisk the egg whites together in a large bowl until they reach the soft peak stage. Carefully fold them into the rest of the mixture. Lastly add the flour, again folding it in carefully.

Spoon the mixture into the prepared cake tin, level it off and place it into the centre of the oven at gas mark 3 (325 F) (170 C) and bake for about 1 hour or until the centre of the cake is springy when lightly touched.

Allow the cake to stand in the tin for 5 minutes before turning it out onto a wire rack to cool.

Decorate to your own taste. I split the cake in half and filled it with chocolate buttercream, covered the sides with buttercream too, then covered the top with melted chocolate.

Victoria Sponge Sandwich

This is the most popular cake which is sold in the National Trust tearooms, which was a bit of a surprise to me but then I thought about it and it’s probably because it is a classic from childhood and let’s face it people in the National Trust tend to be the older generation who might think that Lemon Drizzle cake is something outrageously new and different so not worth the risk. They sell an amazing 171,000 slices per year.

Victoria Sandwich 2

I must get myself a sugar dredger or whatever you call them, because I just shook the sugar off a spoon and it didn’t work very well. I halved the quantity of the ingredients in the recipe, which meant that I used just three eggs when seven were used in the original. I think that half egg should have been substituted with a sploosh of milk or even some apple juice works well in a sponge if you think the mixture is a bit stiff. It is a wee bit dry for my taste and I’m sure that was why.

However, it is tasty and it’s also a very big cake, even just half the size it should be. The sandwich tins I used are 8 inches in diameter internally. I also added a few drops of vanilla extract to the cake mixture because I hate that eggy flavour you sometimes get in homemade sponges and the vanilla stops that happening. I used strawberry jam to sandwich the layers together.

avic sponge 3

Victoria Sandwich

Ingredients

350g/12oz self-raising flour

350g/12oz butter

350g/12oz caster sugar

350g/12oz (7) eggs

a few drops of vanilla extract (optional)

250g/9oz raspberry jam

Caster sugar to dust

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 170oC (gas mark 3).

2. Grease and line two 9-inch sandwich tins.

3. Place the butter and sugar in a large bowl and use a whisk to beat until light and fluffy.

4. Add half the eggs and whisk to combine, add remaining eggs and whisk well until light.

5. Sprinkle over the flour and with a spatula fold into the eggs, using a figure-of-eight motion. Be gentle, you need to keep as much air as you can in the batter.

6. Divide between the tins and bake for 35-40 minutes. Test using a skewer inserted into the middle of the cakes; if it comes out clean, they’re ready.

7. Once cool, use the jam to sandwich both halves together. Finish with a dusting of caster sugar.

This post is linked to Beth Fish Reads Weekend Cooking

Coffee and walnut cake

whole cake side

Coffee and walnut cake

Serves: 8
Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 20 minutes

Ingredients

Sponge:

250g (8oz) self raising flour

250g (8oz) margarine.

250g (8oz) sugar

4 eggs

1 tablespoon instant coffee mixed in a little hot water

1 tablespoon crushed walnuts (I added quite a lot more than this, just because I had walnuts which needed to be used up)

Icing:

125g (4oz) butter

250g (8oz) icing sugar

1 teaspoon instant coffee mixed in a little hot water

Method

Sponge

Preheat the oven to 200C or gas mark 6

1. Cream together margarine and sugar in a mixing bowl.

2. Add the beaten eggs to the mixture.

3. Add the crushed walnuts.

4. Add the coffee mixed with water and stir well.

5. Fold in the flour gently.

Put equal amounts into 2 x 8″ greased round sandwich tins, bake for 20 mins at 200C/360F/gas 6

Filling

Cream together butter and icing sugar in a bowl
Add mixed coffee

Sandwich cakes together with filling leaving a little to spread on top, then sprinkle with whole walnuts. You might be able to see from my photo that I grated some white chocolate over the cake, in an attempt to get Jack to eat it, but of course it just made it even sweeter.

This is a good cake, although it is quite dense, but not heavy – if that makes sense. I was not keen on the buttercream aspect of it though, it was too sweet.

The next time I bake this one I’m going to bake it in a loaf tin and make up a coffee syrup, skewer it all over and drizzle the syrup into it. I’m also going to use pecans instead of walnuts as Jack doesn’t like walnuts. I can’t taste much difference between them, but there you go, our taste buds are all different I suppose.

This is one of the cakes which is served in National Trust tearooms. It’s the third most popular one, they sell 102,000 slices of it per year! I think I’m going to bake their biggest seller next week – can you believe that it’s Victoria sponge? They sell 171,000 slices of that in a year.

a slice of cake

This post is linked with Beth Fish Reads Weekend Cooking.

Lemon Drizzle Cake

Lemon drizzle cake

When we found ourselves in a National Trust property in York in October we ended up having afternoon coffee there and that means cake too. I plumped for the lemon drizzle cake as I just love the flavour of lemons. Jack didn’t have any, he was being good!

The cake was lovely and I offered to share it with Jack – but he refused as he was still being good. When I cleared up the last crumb of cake and said how tasty it had been, he said – well I’ll never know as you didn’t leave any for me. Did he think I would feel guilty? I didn’t! Tough – I said.

Anyway, when the National Trust’s Spring magazine came through the letter-box I was really pleased to see it has an article about the cakes which are a staple feature of all their coffee/tearooms, including the recipes. The five cakes are, in order of popularity, Victoria sandwich, chocolate sponge, coffee and walnut cake, carrot cake and last but definitely not so in my opinion is the lemon drizzle cake. So that is what I baked one afternoon last week, I wish I could have shared it with you – really, because I’ve put on weight. That’s what happens when you aren’t feeding hungry young men any more, and you have that empty nest.

sliced lemon drizzle cake

The recipe below makes two cakes, so I halved the quantities as I only wanted one. The cake is best sliced quite thickly I think. It’s quite a big cake, in the first photo the cake is on a large serving dish, the sliced cake is on a dinner plate.

Lemon drizzle cakes.

300g/10½ oz self-raising flour
300g/10½ oz butter
300g/10½ oz caster sugar
50g/1¾ oz cornflour
6 eggs
3 large lemons

For the drizzle
300g/ 10½ oz caster sugar
150 ml/¼ pint lemon juice

Method

1. Preheat your oven to 180 C/360 F (gas mark 4) line two 1 lb loaf tins with baking parchment. (I used greaseproof paper and it was fine.)

2. Place the butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl and mix with the electric whisk until fluffy and light in colour.

3. Add the eggs in two batches, whisking well between each batch.

4. Add 100 ml/3½ fluid ounces of lemon juice and the cornflour and whisk again.

5. Add the flour and fold in with a wooden spoon or spatula.

6. Divide between the tins and bake for about 40 minutes, testing with a skewer to see if cooked, it will come out clean if it is ready.

To make the drizzle

1. Place the lemon juice and sugar in a large bowl or jug and stir until the sugar has dissolved.

2. Allow the cakes to cool for a couple of minutes and then prick them all over with a skewer. Pour the drizzle over the cakes.

3. Allow to cool completely. Eat. Do more exercise!

As usual I’m going to tweak the recipe a bit. I didn’t add as much sugar to the lemon juice for the drizzle as I thought it would be too sweet, but it was still too sweet for me. So next time I’ll use less than half of what the recipe calls for and I’m going to try using icing sugar instead of the caster sugar, so that it should dissolve better. I wondered if I should have heated the lemon and sugar to make sure it dissolved properly and I had a look at different recipes, some heat and some don’t, but I think that you aren’t meant to in this recipe. BTW if you don’t know what caster sugar is – it’s just a finer version of normal white granulated sugar.

You can vary the recipe by substituting oranges for the lemons.

This post is linked to Beth Fish Reads Weekend Cooking.

Chocolate beetroot cakes

chocolate beetroot cakes

I’ve been searching for the perfect chocolate cake recipe forever, so it seems anyway, and I may just have found it at last. Beetroot seems to be the ingredient of the moment and I think I first heard of it being used in chocolate cake in a recipe in The Great British Bake Off last year. I didn’t fancy the idea much but I felt the same about carrot cake when it first became popular in Britain.

Then Nigel Slater did a beetroot cake which looked good but unfortunately it includes dried fruit and of course Jack hates sultanas, raisins, anything like that – he calls them ‘blisters’. I toyed with the idea of substituting chopped dates as he doesn’t mind those, but then I found this recipe on the BBC Food website and these cakes are just about perfect. They feel quite heavy but they aren’t heavy in the stomach, the weight is all due to the lovely moist texture of the sponge.

I didn’t have corn oil so I used sunflower oil. Cooked beetroot can be bought in vacuum packs at the veggie section of all supermarkets.

Ingredients

75g/2½oz cocoa powder or powdered drinking chocolate

180g/6½oz plain flour

2 tsp baking powder

250g/8½oz caster sugar

250g/8½oz cooked beetroot

3 large eggs

200ml/7fl oz corn oil

1 tsp vanilla extract

icing sugar for dusting

Preparation method

Preheat the oven to 180C/355F/Gas 4. Arrange paper muffin cases in a 12-mould muffin tin.

Sift the cocoa powder, flour and baking powder into a bowl. Mix in the sugar, and set aside.

Purée the beetroot in a food processor. Add the eggs, one at a time, then add the vanilla and oil and blend until smooth.

Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients, add the beetroot mixture and lightly mix. Pour into the muffin cases.

Bake for 30 minutes or until the top is firm when pressed with a finger.

Cool on a wire rack and dust with icing sugar to serve.

I used a non stick muffin tin for mine but if you only have fairy cake cases that will be fine, it just means you’ll get more of them as they’re smaller. In the future I think I’ll split the muffins and fill them with cherry jam and cream, and maybe even have a cherry on top!

The Great British Bake Off

I was having a look at You Tube – as you do – I was hoping that there was a clip from STVs The Hour programme of the Scottish author Gordon Ferris, but no such luck. It was Judith (Reader in the Wilderness) who alerted me to his existence, he’s a crime writer and his books are set in Glasgow. I’m going to try them out in the hope that he manages to capture the great character of my birthplace. I read just one book by Denise Mina and I was disappointed with it because she failed completely on the Glasgow front, but maybe that’s only noticeable if you know the city.

Anyway, back to You Tube, I noticed that there are some videos of The Great British Bake Off on it. I never watch any of these reality/competition things, Big Brother and ‘Strictly’ type things just don’t appeal to me. But I must admit that I started watching the Bake Off, well the first one was on in the background when I was on my Netbook and I kind of got dragged in.

At first I was amazed that some of the contestants had been daft enough to bring in shop bought things to add to their celebration cakes. It’s the sort of thing we all do for kids cakes but surely not in a competition! Then I was less than impressed that they all seemed to make their pastry in machines and some of them had never made pastry before. Machine made pastry was not a success. My boys got cookery lessons at school, including hand-made pastry and there was still time for all the academic stuff.

Mind you when they got to the bread making bit I was full of admiration because the couple of times that I’ve tried to bake bread have been disastrous. I couldn’t even have put the results out for the birds because the RSPB would have done me for cruelty! My bread was so heavy the only possible uses for it would have been as doorstops or even anchors.

Anyway if you’re interested in baking, or just looking at food you might like to have a wee keek! They’re starting off with cup/fairy cakes. Kids stuff!

On the Gordon Ferris front – all of his books are out in my local library so he’s obviously popular, I might have to put in some requests.