Monday, 25 January 2010

Chocolate Cloud Cake - it's cointreau-versial!

I made this amazing Nigella Lawson cake for Emily's birthday on Friday. It's a really intense chocolate cake containing no flour (so good for celiacs), with delicious Cointreau-flavoured cream on top. Really special and not difficult to make. You do need a springform cake tin and the skill for separating egg whites! Em has a picture of the result on her blog.

Coming soon...

Chocolate version of all-in-one sponge
Two ginger cookie recipes
Documentation of whatever I decide to make for Dee's birthday this week...!

Sunday, 24 January 2010

Victoria Sponge (All-In-One)

Right, I'm going to kick things off with a recipe for Victoria Sponge. It's an absolute classic that pleases pretty much everyone and it's also one of the easiest recipes I know, so it seems the perfect start.

This recipe is my slightly adapted version of Delia Smith's All-In-One Sponge from her Complete Illustrated Cookery Course. Incidentally, this is my cooking bible; a fantastic book which gives you lots of general tips and know-how, not just recipes.

3 eggs
self-raising flour
caster sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

double cream, whipped
icing sugar

*You could use butter, at room temperature, but I find cheap margarine is perfect. Avoid low-fat ones, though, as they can have too much water content.

Pre-heat the oven to 170˚C/gas mark 3.
Grease the inside of two 7-inch circular cake tins with a little bit of margarine and cut a circle of greaseproof paper/silicon paper/baking parchment for the base of each.

First of all weigh the eggs (just in their shells). This is the exact weight you want of flour, sugar and margarine. (If you're using large eggs it will probably be between 6 and 7 ounces.)

Sieve the flour into a big bowl, holding the sieve quite high so you get lots of air into it. Then simply add all the other ingredients and mix them together using an electric hand mixer. (See previous post on equipment. If you don't have one of these then I think you'll need to use the traditional method of adding ingredients gradually, like this) The mixture should be nice and smooth and will drop off a wooden spoon easily if you tap it on the side of the bowl.

Divide the mixture between the two tins and push it to the sides of the tin so you've got a fairly level surface. Then put them on the centre shelf of the oven for about 30 minutes, though it will depend on your oven. The secret to a lovely moist sponge is not to overcook it; it's ready when the top springs back when you lightly press it. Having said that, it's not good to keep opening the oven door - you'll let cold air in! So resist the temptation to check it until at least 20-25 minutes have passed.

Take the tins out of the oven and, after a few seconds, run a knife around the edge to check the cake isn't stuck and give the tin a sharp tap on the side. The cakes should then turn out easily onto a cooling rack and you can carefully peel off the paper. It's really important to cool the cakes on a rack or they will go soggy. Don't try to put any topping on them, or move them to a plate or tin, until they are completely cold.

Finish with a good spread of whipped cream and jam between the two cakes and, finally, sieve some icing sugar on the top. See picture of one I made earlier (a year ago, in fact).

Photo by Laura Bevan


Before I start proper, I wanted to make a few points about equipment. Of course specific recipes are going to need specific tins, cutters etc., but this is just a brief list of the things those who bake really can't do without!
  • Wooden spoon
  • Sieve
  • Large mixing bowl - bigger is generally better, less chance of the mixture ending up outside the bowl!
  • Kitchen scales - baking is a science and precision can be crucial!
  • Cooling rack - it's important to cool things properly or they can end up soggy. You can always improvise with a grill rack though.
  • Electric hand mixer - this might seem like a big expense but it is SO worth it. Saves a lot of time whisking things like cream and egg whites, and you can do 'all in one' cakes which are much easier than combining everything by hand. I have this Kenwood one and it's great.

It's Punderful

A lot of effort went into thinking of a suitable name for this blog. As I live with two of the keenest punners ever, the brain storming became quite obsessive for a few hours last night.
It seems only right to list some of the others we came up with, including some late-night ones which were really starting to stretch things...

With many thanks to Fi and Em.

I Sing for Icing
One in the Oven
Notes on a Spoon Handle
One Night Cake Stand
Happiness is a Warm Bun
The C-Word
All By My Self-Raising
The Bake Escape
Life is Butter Cream
All the World's a Cake
Rock Cake and Jam Roll
Like A Rolling Pin
Bake Your Mind Up

Bake Me, I'm Yours

Bake Me Out

Bake Me Up Before You Go-Go

Bake On Me

Boom Shake Shake Shake the Spoon

Don't Bake That, Bake This!

How to Bake Friends and Influence People

Bake My Advice

Here goes...

There are two main reasons why I am starting this blog (other than it being yet another excuse for procrastination!). One is that it’s an easy way to share recipes with friends who already bake; I’m forever promising to email them to people and never get round to it. The other reason is to pursue my obsession with convincing non-bakers that it is a lot easier than they think and they should give it a try. After all, Good Things Come to Those Who Bake!