Posts Tagged ‘Spices’

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A Big Bundt-Up

November 19, 2011

For the past two years I have baked on National Bundt Day in America. Inspired by Mary, the Food Librarian I, along with many others who follow her blog have celebrated this, my favourite type of cake, on the 15th November along. My enjoyment of baking this kind of cake pales into insignificance when compared to Mary’s dedication. For three years she has baked a bundt a day for the month leading up to the 15th. That’s 90 Bundts people. This year saw the spectacular Jello Bundt, the slightly freaky Doll Bundt and also the Tomato Soup Bundt – have a look at her site on the link above to see her collection of recipes.

Last year Mary sent a badge to all those who baked along with her, even kindly posting one out to me here in the UK, I would’ve baked again this year anyway, but confess that the thought of another badge spurred me on especially as I have misplaced this one.

There are tentative plans forming that may enable me to sell my wares so test recipes are taking up much of my baking time. I recently made Blueberry & Coriander muffins which where a great success, so I decided to try this flavour combo in Bundt form. I took the Lemon, Yoghurt Anything Cake from Smitten Kitchen to use as the base recipe. This is a cake I’ve cooked numerous times before as both a loaf and doubled to Bundt size, I’ve made it a couple of times with blueberries too. I added 3 teaspoons of dried coriander and some lime zest – coriander lime being firm friends, I also planned a lime glaze.

As I said, I have made a cake very similar to this before, in this tin even. But …. well ….

I perhaps could’ve take more out of the 10 cup pan (I made a small loaf too, no photos of this as I was too preocupied with the disaster above) but it didn’t overflow, just rose above the lip of the tin. I greased and dusted the tin with flour, as always. I put some batter into the base of the tin before mixing the blueberries into the rest of the batter to help prevent the berries from sticking.

And yet ….

Even once I extricated the disaster from the tin it was obvious it wasn’t cooked properly. I toyed with the idea of using a cookie cutter to rescue parts of the cake, but it was never going to taste pleasant. I couldn’t even taste the coriander.

I feel like I’ve had too many sticking disasters recently and it’s so disheartening. On Tuesday I felt like stepping away from my Bundt tins and sticking (no pun intended) to those tins that can be easily lined.

But then I wouldn’t be in with a chance of getting my badge or feel part of the Bundt-fest.

So I made this.

The base recipe is from Heidi Swanson’s 101 Cookbooks site, a wonderful blog filled with inspiring photography and recipes. I have both of her books and  regularly look to her for inspiration when planning meals. I do love a banana cake and have been researching and testing recipes to potentially sell, this one was on my list to try as it uses olive oil, dark muscovado sugar and part wholemeal flour. I liked the look of this one as it doesn’t have much sugar in it so isn’t too sweet, especially as I decided to swap the  chopped chocolate for chopped toasted walnuts. I often put lemon in my banana cakes and also added in a mix of spices (cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg) along with the vanilla to add warmth and depth.

I stood for a while surveying my tin options and, decision made, tentatively spooned the batter into the pan. It baked evenly and was done in about 35 minutes. Fearful of the turning out process I photographed the cake still in its tin, the use of dark muscovado sugar adds a lovely darkness to the crumb. Ten minutes cooling time and I turned the tin onto the cooling rack, and felt that wonderful sensation of the cake slipping easily, neatly and in one piece out of the tin.

The glaze is a mix of dark muscovado sugar, icing sugar and lemon juice, the sharpness of the lemon combined with the richness of the muscovado sugar in both the cake and the glaze lift the flavour of the banana which is still noticeable as the cake itself really isn’t that sweet. I like the crunch and earthiness of the walnuts in there, but I’m sure the original suggestion of chocolate would be just as delicious.

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A Plum Job

August 17, 2011

This year promises to be a good one for fruit trees. The English apple season has started earlier than ever before thanks to the freezing temperatures of winter which put the trees to sleep meaning that they awoke in the unuaully warm spring with vigour ensuring lots of blossom and good pollonation. I would imagine that this reasoning extends to all fruit teres and a friend’s plum trees were certainly laden and I came away from an afternoon visit with bags of fruit, sweet eating plums that vanished quickly and a sharper, darker variety that begged to be baked.

I always forget just how lovely plums can be, the hard, tasteless fruits found in supermarkets are nothing in comparrison to those picked ripe from a tree. My tiny garden enables me to play with pots of compost and seeds resulting in harvests of salad leaves, slug ravished radishes and of course the essential courgettes. But what I would love, more than anything, would be a fruit tree. A tasty variety of pear or even apple would be a thing of joy, the blossoms, the fruits, the weeks of pies and chutneys, baked goods and compotes.

But a plum tree would be just perfect.

Eager to get started with the bags of fruit I came home with I looked for something quick and easy, this Oat Slice recipe from Delia.

I added some ground cardamom (from about 8 pods) as it pairs well with plums and is one of my favourite spices, I reduced the cinnamon slightly to a level teaspoon rather than the suggested heaped one to make it a bit more balanced. This really took no time at all to bring together, the nutty oats contrasted beautifully with the sharpness of the plums and the earthiness of the spices. You could adapt this to use a wide variety of fruits and I bet the addition of some chopped nuts in the oat layer would be divine.

There were still plenty left and a weekend poker evening meant hungry guests to share with. I didn’t want the stress of pastry and a pie, and a crumble, whilst one of my favorite puddings wasn’t right either. Nigel Slater’s Tender Volume II provided the recipe for a pudding like cake. There was homemade ice cream brought by one of my guests and  I popped some of the remaining plums in a pan with the juice of an orange, a table spoon of sugar, a cinnamon stick and some crushed cardamom pods and reduced them to make a sharp yet deep and spicy compote to cut through the richness of the cake. I upped the spices from the original recipe by once again adding cardamom and also half a teaspoon of ginger and  teaspoon of vanilla. I also used butternilk rather than milk.

Honey, Spice and Plum Cake

(slighty adapted from Nigel Slater’s recipe in Tender Volume II)

250g plain flour

Tsp baking powder

Tsp bicarb

Tsp cinamon

1/2 Tsp ground ginger

Ground cardamom from about 10 pods

Tsp vanilla extract

200g golden syrup

2 tbsp honey (NS specifies ‘thick’ but I used standard runny honey which was all I had to hand)

125g butter

125g light muscavado sugar

250g plums, halved (or quatered if large) with stones removed

2 large eggs

240ml buttermilk (or milk)

Preheat your oven to 180C, grease and line a 24cm square tin

Sift together the flour, baking powder, bicarb and spices

Gently heat the golden syrup, honey and butter until the butter is melted then add the sugar

Whisk together the eggs buttermilk and vanilla extract

Stir the syrup mixture into the flour mixture using a metal spoon then the egg and milk mixture, stirring until no traces of flour remain

Pour the mixture into the tin then drop in the plums (vague)

Bake for 25 minutes then cover loosly with foil and bake for a further 10 – 15 minutes. Switch off the oven but leave for a further 15 minutes then remove from oven and allow to cool in the tin.

I can’t help but wonder how Nigel comes up with these recipes – is it based on one tried and tested perhaps handed down or has he (or a minion) experimented with different baking times and options? I’ve not come accross a recipe before that states you should leave a cake in a cooling oven as part of the baking process.

I’m not sure whether a little longer was needed in the oven – you can see the dense moist crumb, and that the plums have sunk to the bottom, but it didn’t taste under done in any way. Not that there was any way to test this theory but I suspect well wrapped it would keep well being so moist. This one disappeared swiftly.

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Great British Bake Off

October 7, 2010

Did you watch The Great British Bake Off? I did, and true to form bought the tie-in cook book straight after the first episode. I loved the series but the book is a little odd. A fairly random selection of recipes seem to have been chosen, including some that didn’t work on the show or were criticised by he judges but with no notes to show amendments or updates. Other recipes are not from the series at all and it’s not clear who authored them. However I have Mary Berry’s Baking Bible and find it reliable, although having head her declare in the final that she’d never baked using fresh ginger (and worse seemed sceptical at the thought of it) I feel a little less confident in her.

I’ve only tried one recipe so far, although several tags flutter from the page edges and I think it was a success.  A recent early morning coupled with a return of the much missed baking mojo led to a recipe for a Sticky Marmalade Tea Loaf. Perfect for two reasons; one I could finally use the jar of marmalade that was bought for guests and has since been languishing in the fridge. I know it will keep – but unused jars pain me – I feel sorry for them, as if they’re aware of their wasted potential and berate me with every opening of the fridge door. Reason two is that the recipe needed really soft butter, as in – blast in the microwave for a bit – so the fact that I was unprepared and the butter was still sat in said fridge was not a problem. The reason for the soft butter is that all the ingredients are combined in one bowl with a trusty wooden spoon (I have a wooden spoon that I trust – do you? In fact I have two trusty wooden spoons, one for curries and one for cakes, plus many other wooden spoons that have yet to be elevated to trustworthy status). Having baked so much with the Kitchen Aid and beating together butter and sugar for many minutes until light and fluffy, I was wary of combining in this way, but needn’t have worried.

If you didn’t watch the series this was one that didn’t work, it sank in the middle and led to the contestant, Mark, being eliminated in the first week, it did also earn him a hug from Sue Perkins. I doubled the recipe and made one regular loaf and two smaller ones in part because of my compulsion to double any batter recipe but also because I wanted to make one nut free version.

Mine did not sink in the middle, however the full-sized loaf was over baked at the recommended 60 minutes so I would check earlier – and I did need to cover with foil. I can’t be certain of the baking time for the smaller loaves as I managed to leave the oven door ajar! I’d suggest checking after 30 minutes to see if they need any foil and check after 40 with the trusty toothpick to see if they’re done. The result was a tasty, moist cake that might benefit from a dash of whisky perhaps to add a little zing to accompany the spices? The amount of marmalade in the cake and sticky glaze mean there are ample opportunities to play with taste depending on the type of marmalade used and you can play around with your choice of nuts I used a mixture of walnuts, brazil nuts, pecans and hazelnuts, all roughly chopped in a processor.  There are spices in the cake, but I think a little stem ginger either in a marmalade or separately. Definitely one to make again.

 

Mark’s Sticky Marmalade Tea Loaf

  • 225g self-raising flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp mixed spice
  • 175 light brown muscovado sugar
  • 100g chopped mixed nuts (*optional as the cake works wonderfully without should you need a nut free version)
  • 175g unsalted butter, very soft
  • 3 medium free range eggs
  • 140g marmalade (preferably home-made)
  • 900g Loaf tine, grease and the base lined.

Preheat oven to 180C/350F/gm 4
Sift together flour, baking powder and spices, stir in sugar and nuts (if using).
Add the softened butter and eggs and then all but 1 tablespoon of the marmalade that you will need later for the glaze
Mix all the ingredients well using a wooden spoon until thoroughly combined and then spoon into the prepared tin and smooth the top.
Bake for 60 – 75 minutes (I would check earlier) until a skewer comes out clean. You may need to cover the top of the cake after 40 minutes to prevent over browning.
Carefully remove from the tin and leave to cool for 5 minutes while you make the glaze by heating the reserved marmalade with a couple of teaspoons of water in a small pan over a low heat.
Brush the glaze over the still warm loaves – allow to cool before slicing

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Early O’Clock

February 9, 2010

The other week I took a couple of days off work, and with nothing much planned other than rest, relaxation and a lie in, I made sure that the eggs and butter were out of the fridge before I went to bed in order for them to be at that all important ‘room temperature’ so I could bake the next morning. I didn’t really anticipate the morning starting at 3am, but when I realised sleep was not going to return, and the lie in was definitely not going to happen, I got up, put apron on, and got started.

I had oranges and buttermilk to use which provided a guide for the recipe search and I’d spent a little time at the weekend looking through my books and converting recipes from cups and sticks to grams (the most important part of my prep recently as it’s always a little too much for my mathematically challenged brain first thing in the morning – or even the middle of the night). The Orange Ricotta Pound Cake from Cake Keeper Cakes caught my eye as a good showcase for the rose bundt tin. I swapped the ricotta for buttermilk, but increased the butter from 168g to 220g in order to compensate for the reduced fat. I used wholemeal flour and once again reduced the sugar content. I also added a bag of dried cranberries as I’d had my eye on a couple of orange and cranberry loaf cakes recently an they seem to be paired frequently. I think all of that messing around might have been a little too much. It needed more … flavour. By using wholemeal flour and in reducing both the sugar and fat content there was too much taken away, wholemeal flour can also be quite bitter and a bit of additional sweetness might have balanced this. The texture was also affected it was a dense cake, again I’m not sure whether the culprit is the flour or fat – possibly both. I think using plain flour would’ve made a big difference, perhaps half and half? I would also add a touch more citrus, as I said previously the oranges I’ve been using recently haven’t had much of a zing to them. The cranberries were a nice touch, they hold their form so well and the little zing of sharpness when you bite into on is lovely.

Orange Buttermilk Pound Cake

Based very loosely on a recipe from Cake Keeper Cakes

Cake

450g flour (I used wholemeal)

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp bicarb

1 tsp salt

220g butter

270g sugar

1 1/2 cups buttermilk

3 large eggs

1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

zest of two oranges

Glaze

1/2 cup orange marmalade

2 tsp water

Preheat oven 165C, grease bundt tin and dust with flour.

Beat butter and sugar for 5 minutes until light and fluffy, scraping side of bowl periodically

Add eggs one at a time, scrape bowl again

Add zest, juice and vanilla

Combine dry ingredients in separate bowl

Add one third of flour mixture to mixing bowl with mixer on low speed, followed by half the buttermilk, another third of the flour, buttermilk and last of flour mixing well after each addition and not forgetting to scrape the bowl

Fold in cranberries

Place batter into tin, bake until golden brown approx 1 hour 10 minutes

Cool in the pan for 15 minutes then turn out onto a rack to cool completely

Once cool make the glaze by stirring water and marmalade in a saucepan over a low heat until the marmalade melts then brush the glaze over the cake

Second on the list was a whole-wheat honey nut cake again from Cake Keeper Cakes (I really can’t recommend this book enough). I wanted to make another cake that has a layer of filling running through it, in a more suitable tin than the rose bundt that I used for the Cardamom Cake. I reduced the sugar again but the layer of honey running through with the nuts and the caramel glaze added plenty of additional sweetness. It was a favourite of a few of the tasters.

Whole-wheat and Honey Nut Bundt Cake

Cake Keeper Cakes

Filling

75g flour

28g softened butter

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1 1/4 cups walnuts or pecans coarsely chopped (I used walnuts)

1/2 cup honey

Cake

1 cup buttermilk

2 large eggs

300g whole-wheat flour (original recipe 200g plain flour, 100g whole-wheat)

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp bicarb

1/2 tsp salt

112g butter

150g light brown sugar (reduced from 175g)

Glaze

56g granulated sugar

1/2 cup honey

1/4 cup buttermilk

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Grease bundt tin and dust with flour

Preheat oven to 180C

Make the filling by combining the flour, butter and cinnamon in a bowl until crumbly then add the nuts and honey.

Whist together buttermilk, vanilla, and eggs

Combine cake dry ingredients

Beat together butter and sugar in mixer or with electric whisk on medium high speed for 5 minutes

Lower the speed on the mixer, add one third of flour mixture to mixing bowl with mixer on low speed, followed by half the buttermilk mixture, another third of the flour, buttermilk and last of flour mixing well after each addition and not forgetting to scrape the bowl

Beat on high for one minute

Scrape half the batter into the prepared pan, spoon the filling as evenly as possibly over the base layer then add the rest of the batter, smoothing the top with a spatula.

Bake for 50 – 45 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Cool in the pan for 5 minutes then turn out onto a rack to cool completely

Make the Glaze by bringing the sugar, honey and buttermilk to boil in a small pan, reduce the heat and cook for 7 – 9 minutes until caramel coloured, stirring occasionally

Remove from the heat, stir in vanilla and allow to cool for 10 minutes before pouring over the cake letting the glaze drip down the sides

Allow to cool for about half an hour before serving

Lest the sunflower tin feel left out I also made the Pumpkin Spice Cake that I’ve made previously, I wanted to play around a bit with the spices – basically by being more generous with them all which I think worked, it can take it – and it also took care of the last of the buttermilk.

My sister paid an impromptu visit later that day, so I knew that between her, my dad and various neighbours and colleagues I could easily offload todays output – so I carried on.

Finally I made a Pumpkin and Ginger Spice Cake from Katrina of She’s in the Kitchen. Now this is just lovely, I’ve had several requests for the recipe and will definitely make it again – the original is for ‘Texas’ muffins which I had to google and discovered that they’re just very large muffin tins, some of which I happened to have (probably the result of yet another compulsive Lakeland shopping trip). Katrina suggests that this recipe will make two 8” cakes or one 8” and six muffins. I used a bundt tin and also got six muffins.

Pumpkin and Ginger Cake/Muffins

Adapted from Katrina’s recipe – She’s in the Kitchen

1 tin of pumpkin puree

275g soft brown sugar (reduced from 2 cups/350g)

225g melted butter

4 eggs

1/2 cup of freshly squeezed orange juice (Katrina suggests cider or apple juice)

525g flour (wholemeal)

2 tsp baking powder

2 tsp bicarb

1 tsp salt

4 1/2 tsp cinnamon

4 1/2 tsp ground ginger

1 tsp nutmeg

1 tsp cloves

1 1/2 cups crystalised ginger, chopped

1 cup currants (optional, but I still have loads left from Christmas and so added them)

Mix together the melted butter, pumpkin and sugar

Add eggs and mix well

Add fruit juice

Sift together the dry ingredients and then and to wet mix

Fold in the ginger and currants

Fill the pans/muffin cases half full and bake the cake for 40 minutes for the cake and 25 for the muffins at 180C.

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It Must Be Sunday

November 15, 2009
I know I named this blog Spatulas at Dawn because of my early starts and love of filling the small hours with the smell of baking, but I really think that a 4 am start in November is taking things a little too far. Dawn was still several hours away when sat with coffee and recipe books I tried to decide which cake to bake in honour of National Bundt Day which is celebrated on the 15th November in the US.

I love my Bundt cake tin (and I’m hoping that Father Christmas might be able to fit another in my stocking this year – are you reading this Ces?) and rarely need an excuse to use it. As I mentioned the other day Mary, The Food Librarian, set herself the challenge of baking a bundt cake every day for the month leading up to National Bundt Day and I had a tin of pumpkin puree (thank you Waitrose) set aside for the day itself. After all, what could be a more fitting ingredient for this most American of bakeware than pumpkin? I already had my eye on a recipe for a Pumpkin and Chocolate bundt from the list on The Food Librarian’s site and my newest of books Cake Keeper Cakes (as recommended by Nicole at Baking Bites) had an almost identical one for a loaf cake. The average 9″ by 5″ loaf tin recipe can be doubled to fill a bundt so that’s what I did – see below. The original recipe called for milk but I used buttermilk and I also reduced the sugar slightly. Apologies for the mixture of measurments in US cups and metric, with some ingredients it’s easier to measure out in the original cups so I didn’t bother weighing to get the equivalent measure, sorry if that’s irritating, but it was early!

The resulting cake is so moist from the pumpkin and moorish with the differing textures I’m not sure how to do it justice here and hope that you give it a try soon.


Pumpkin-Chocolate Chip Bundt Cake
adapted from Cake Keeper Cakes by Lauren Chatman

  • 300g plain flour
  • 2 tsp bicarb
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • generous pinch of nutmeg
  • 225g unsalted butter
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 6 large eggs
  • one 15oz can of unsweetened pumpkin puree
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2/3 cup buttermilk
  • 2 cups chocolate chips (I used a mixture of milk chocolate chips and chopped 70% Green and Blacks)
  • 2 cups of chopped walnuts

  • Preheat oven to 180C, grease your bundt tin and dust with flour
  • Mix flour, spices, bicarb, baking powder and salt
  • Beat sugar and butter until fluffy then add eggs one at a time, scraping the side of the bowl as needed
  • Stir in pumpkin and vanilla then the buttermilk
  • Add the flour in three batches, scraping the side of the bowl and then finally stir in the chocolate and walnuts
  • Pour batter into the bundt tin of your choice and bake for 55 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean, cool in tin for 5 minutes before turning out onto a wore rack. Allow to cool completely before attempting to cut

Should your bundt be reluctant to release itself from the tin (as mine was today as I forgot the all important ‘dust with flour’ step) pop the tin back into the oven for a few minutes to help release it (you may also require the help of several implements to aid the process, I used a knife, a rolling pin, a plastic spatula and a bit of brute force)

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Gingerbread for an Autumnal Afternoon

November 2, 2009
I have just spent a lovely weekend with my brother, his family and their amazing new kitchen. I am still suffering from severe kitchen envy, the whole space was a thing of beauty, from the fridge that I’m sure I could fit inside to the cutlery drawer that would placate the most obsessive compulsive urges. Luckily he has yet to purchase a Kitchen Aid mixer or I may not have coped at all. After a long walk in the beech woods around Box he prepared a the most divine beef bourguignon and I, with help from my niece, nephew (and a perfect G&T or several) made the Apple and Date Cake from a few months ago this time with a handful of chopped pecans – a good addition should you wish to add a little crunch.

Anyway, an early shift at work today meant a few hours free this afternoon and I need to spread a little love and reconnect with my small, yet (almost) perfectly formed kitchen. I know Parkin is the order of the week, it being Bonfire Night on Thursday, but once again a tub of buttermilk dictated the recipe somewhat and I had bookmarked this Gingerbread recipe from Shauna at Bay Area Bites. I don’t remember how or when I came across it, but the range of spices she uses appeals and led to it being put to one side for autumn and here we are. As I type it’s cooling in the pan, I followed the recipe below with a few very minor changes which are in italics. Other than the grinding of the cardamon seeds (anyone know where to get ground cardamon? I can’t seem to find it anywhere) this came together in no time and was baked in 40 minutes.


SHUNA’S FAMOUS GINGERBREAD


18 ounces All Purpose Flour (I used half wholemeal)
6 ounces Sugar (
golden granulated but I wonder what a soft brown would be like)
1 1/2 teaspoons Kosher Salt
1 Tablespoon Baking Soda
3 Tablespoons + Ground Ginger
1/2 teaspoon Ground Cloves
1 1/2 teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
1 Tablespoon Ground Cardamon (
I only had pods of which I ground a generous teaspoons worth of the seeds as I wasn’t sure if the ground seeds would be stronger than the pre-ground stuff)
1 teaspoon + Freshly Ground Black Pepper
1 teaspoon *optional: Ground Coriander* (
I didn’t use)

8 ounces Unsalted Butter
3 1/2 ounces Blackstrap Molasses
6 ounces Simple Syrup **recipe in instructions** you may substitute Lyle’s golden syrup or light corn syrup (
I used golden syrup)

3 each Large Egg Yolks
2 each Large Eggs
8 ounces buttermilk you may substitute sour cream or use a mixture of them both to create the eight ounces


**To make simple syrup place equal parts sugar and cold water in saucepan and bring to a boil until mixture is clear. For a thicker syrup boil for at least 10 minutes or increase the amount of sugar. For this recipe 1/2 cup sugar to 1/2 cup water will be sufficient.**


1. Preheat oven to 350F (180C)
2. Butter desired baking vessels. {Sometimes I coat with raw or white sugar inside as you would flour for a cake.}
3. Sift all dry ingredients except salt and pepper into a large bowl
4. Whisk in salt and pepper until mixture is uniform and create a “well” in center
5. In a medium non-reactive saucepan bring butter, molasses and simple syrup to a boil slowly {this mixture is feisty and will boil over if the heat is on too high or your saucepan is crowding it}
6. In another bowl whisk together egg yolks, eggs and dairy
7. When mixture on stove comes to a boil, shut off heat and let rest for a moment
8. Pour this hot mixture all at once into the center of your bowl of dry ingredients
9. Using a whisk, mix dry ingredients into liquid, from center out, carefully
10. When batter begins to seize, pour in second bowl of wet ingredients
11. Whisk batter until smooth and uniform. Batter is loose
12. Pour batter a little over halfway into buttered baking tins
13. I set my first timer for about 15 minutes, {unless you are making muffin-size or smaller}, so that I can turn the pan around for a more even bake (
I used a Bundt tin and it was done at 40 mins)
14. Gingerbread is done when sides pull away from the pan, middle bounces back to the touch and/or a cake-tester inserted in the center comes out clean
15. Cool at least until warm before slicing.


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Have Courgettes – Will Bake (and make breakfast)

October 22, 2009
I’m not a fan of courgettes, they were a staple of my student years, added to every stir fry, pasta sauce or bake that a limited student budget could conceive. There was also a scrumptuous courgette cake, sweet and moist from sultanas, filled with tart lemon curd and topped with cream cheese this was oft requested for special occaisions, but I’d stopped making it years ago.
A trip to the monthly Moseley Farmer’s Market in late summer coincided with lots of inspiration from other blogs and I bought lots. Unfortunately having them in my fridge exerted some kind of pressure on my psyche and I couldn’t bring myself to bake that weekend. However, I did discover a recipe for Zucchini Bread Oatmeal from Diet Dessert and Dogs and gave that a try the next morning – what a revelation! I have porridge every morning, I make up my own mix using Rude Health fruity date porridge as a base and adding my own mix of seeds, a bit of extra oat bran and germ , a little more cinnamon with a mixture of water and semi-skimmed milk. I didn’t think some grated courgettes would add much to the flavour, but it really is delicious – go on, try it.

The addition of a bit of grated courgette in my breakfast wasn’t going to make much of a dent in the enormous specimens occupying the drawer at the bottom of my fridge so I went through the recipes I’d flagged and came up with two that I thought would put them to good use.
The Chocolate Zucchini cake from Simply Recipes is one Elise adapted from the appropriately named Chocolate and Zucchini and I toggled between the two recipes and mine is an amalgam of the two. It’s not the prettiest and is predominately a chocolate cake but with a lovely moistness that comes from all that veg. No one at work believed that there were courgettes in there, but all enjoyed it.
Chocolate Zucchini Cake
Adapted from Simply Recipes and Chocolate and Zucchini
Ingredients
  • 1 1/2 cups of plain flour
  • 1 cup wholemeal flour
  • 1/2 cup cocoa
  • 2 1/2 Tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2 Tsp bicarbinate of soda
  • 1 Tsp salt
  • 1 Tsp cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup soft butter
  • 1/2 cup caster sugar
  • 1 cup soft brown sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 Tsp vanilla extract
  • Grated zest of one orange
  • 2 cups coarsely grated courgettes
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 100g chocolate chips (I used dark chocolate)

I didn’t bother with a glaze but there’s one should you wish to add it.

Method
  • Heat Oven to 350F
  • Mix the flours, cocoa, baking powder, bicarb, salt and cinnamon
  • Beat the butter and sugars until smooth
  • Add eggs to butter and sugar beating well
  • Stir in vanilla, orange zest and courgettes
  • Add the flour mixture and the buttermilk in three batches
  • Spoon into a greased and flour coated bundt pan and bake for 45 minutes until a skewer comes out clean – if you don’t have a bundt tin, firstly get one because they are great, secondly this mixture should make two loaf tins, check after 30 mins.
  • Cool for about 15 mins in the tin before turning out to cool completely on a rack
To contrast the safe, hidden (but delicious) use of the courgettes in chocolate cake recipe enough I also made Special Zucchini Bread from 101 Cookbooks. I adored this, the combination of spices, citrus, nuts and ginger was just delicious, the texture too was so moreish, a little something different in each mouthful. I used soft brown sugar I left out the poppy seeds as I didn’t have any but I did have a jar of Raz el Hanout so used that, as suggested, in place of the curry powder. The smells from the oven while this was baking were amazing, and whilst it was cooling I spent a fair amount of time picking off bits of toasted walnut to eat – just to check you inderstand. Pop over to the site for the recipe – you won’t regret it.