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Back to Basics

I hear it’s National Sponge Cake Day, I mean there’s a national day for everything now. I’m not complaining, my love for cake is unwavering.  And this is the perfect opportunity for me to slip back into the baking world, like I never left (almost).

I would often get a handful of readers telling me that baking is hard and too time consuming, so I thought I should take it back to basics and remind you of this simple and tasty sponge cake recipe. Nothing compares to a cake made from fresh ingredients, and the joy of knowing that you created it yourself. If you have followed my blog for long enough you will know that I am anti-store cakes. Think about it, what kind of cake has a shelf life of four weeks? Four. Weeks. Being a lover of cake doesn’t mean you can’t be health conscious too.

I hope you guys will give this recipe a try, and let me know how it goes if you do.

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Don’t Go Baking My Heart

Valentines and Pancake day are fast approaching. Whether you plan to indulge alone or treat your special someone to breakfast in bed, I have a recipe that will have you salivating from the batter to the plate!

I’ve never been one for boring pancakes (yes, I class English pancakes as boring), so when I stumbled across the Red Velvet pancake on the iHop menu I knew it would become one of my favourite recipes. I admit, this recipe requires a little more patience than most pancakes but believe me when I say it is worth it.

Ingredients

Plain flour 120g
Baking powder 3 tsp

Pinch of salt
Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
Caster Sugar 3-4 tbsp (or to taste)
Egg x1 (beaten)
Red food colouring x4 tsp
Vanilla Extract x2 tsp
Buttermilk 6fl oz.
Unsalted Butter (melted) x2 tbsp
Bicarbonate of Soda x1 tsp (Optional)
White distilled vinegar x1 tsp (Optional)
Extra butter or Olive oil for greasing the frying pan.

N.B. The brand of cocoa powder and red food colouring are two of the most important ingredients as they will determine the richness of the red colour. If you opt for a cheap cocoa powder and food colouring the pancakes will come out brown. My favourite tried and tested products are Green & Black’s cocoa powder and Dr. Oetker food colouring, for any red velvet bakes. If using the Dr. Oetker food colouring purchase two tubes which measures out at 4 tsp.

Begin by sifting the flour and dry ingredients into a bowl one by one and set aside (i.e. Flour, baking powder, salt, cocoa powder).

In a separate bowl, whisk together the sugar and egg for a few seconds until well mixed.

Melt the butter in a saucepan over the lowest heat, ensuring that it does not burn. When melted, add to the egg and butter mixture, along with the vanilla extract and whisk together.

Pour the buttermilk into a measuring jug and add the red food colouring to the jug itself. Mix together with a spoon until the buttermilk is red in colour. Next, add the bicarbonate of soda and vinegar to the buttermilk and stir in well. (N.B. Although all good red velvet recipes call for this step, I once forgot to add this part to the recipe and I didn’t taste a dramatic difference, so it can be optional)

Add half of the buttermilk to the wet mixture and use the whisk to mix well. Then sift half of the dry ingredients into the bowl and whisk; repeat this process until all ingredients are combined.

The trickiest part of the recipe is ensuring that the pancakes don’t burn. This will require your full attention:
Heat a frying pan on low-medium heat and drop in a small amount of butter or olive oil; tilt the frying pan so that the full surface is covered, and using a ladle pour a small amount of the batter into the centre of the pan.

Once you begin to see bubbles forming on the top of the pancake, flip it over using a spatula. Warning, if the pancakes are looking too dark they may be burning! Don’t panic, turn down the temperature and cook them on a lower heat. (That’s the most tedious part).

Serve with a drizzle (or dollop) of cream cheese frosting, sprinkle with icing sugar, drown in maple syrup or marry with a sweet berry compote.

IMG_0292

 

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It’s Beginning to Taste a Lot Like Christmas

‘Tis the season of Starbucks Red Cups, Christmas Carollers and new baking recipes. If you have been panicking about the extra mouths to feed over the Christmas period, and not boring your family with the same Trifle dessert, the panic is over! If you are feeling brave enough to experiment and bring a different taste to Christmas, look no further.

In this beautiful season, many of us are fortunate to experience winter festivals, fairs and markets. I had my first German Market experience a few years ago: carousels, ferris wheel, juicy bratwurst, home made hot chocolate, mulled wine and pretzels were just a handful of things that grasped my attention. One tasty treat that my taste buds will never forget were the delectable treats known as Schmalzkuchen. These little doughnuts, other wise known as Lard Cakes, are traditional treats eaten at German winter festivals. Served hot and smothered in melted chocolate, these are the perfect little treats to keep your guests happy.


Schmalzkuchen

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National Cookie Day

December is here. The skies are littered with Christmas lights and the scent of freshly chopped trees fill the market areas. While there are many beautiful and significant things about this season, there is no doubt that indulgence has become one of them!

I admit, I took some time in deciding which recipe would kick start the Christmas season, then I stumbled across three very profound words: National Cookie Day.  What better way to begin the Christmas season of cupcakingly delicious recipes!

Thanks to my new friend Pinterest  I learnt some interesting facts about the history of the cookie:

  1. The name cookie derives from the Dutch word koekje, which means little cake.
  2. Cookies are typically made of eggs, flour, sugar, butter or cooking oil. Common ingredients are raisins, chocolate chips or oats.
  3. Popular American cookies were traditionally Macaroons or Gingerbread Cookies.

With Christmas just on our doorsteps, what better recipe to share other than the Gingerbread Cookie.

Gingerbread Men

Gingerbread Men

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Strawberry Sweetheart

Today the UK celebrates Mothering Sunday, and like I always say, there’s no better way to celebrate an occasion than with cake! Although I do have a confession to make, this is the first time in all my years of Adulthood that I  have eaten so much cake that I can’t see straight! Yup that’s me right now, (somehow typing this out while cross-eyed).

Earlier today I indulged in a plethora of sweet delicacies – from pistachio to carrot to lemon cake. Well, at least I slotted in my 5 a day *shrugs* The sweet treat that I created today was inspired by the incredible Hummingbird Bakery, one of my favourite UK high street bakeries.

As I nurse my headache and throbbing teeth, I leave you to admire these bite-size, mouth watering delights… Strawberry Cheesecake Cupcakes. A crunchy biscuit base, topped with a light vanilla sponge and fresh strawberries embedded in between each crumb. Top this off with a fresh buttercream frosting and a sprinkling of biscuits for a finishing touch.

Happy Mother’s Day! 

Tracey xo

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Sweet ‘n’ Zesty

Happy Mother’s Day ladies! 

What a beautiful thing to celebrate the Superwomen in our lives – and what better way to do it than with a spot of tea and cake!

My Mother requested a plain Vanilla Sponge cake, but I also surprised her with a new recipe, a Classic Cherry Cake

Classic Cherry Cake

 

A loaf of sponge cake embedded with sticky Glacé cherries, with a blend of flaked almonds and a light hint of lemon. My taste buds were tantilised with the sweetness of the fruit, the wholeness of the nuts and the crumbly-softness of the cake. I can see that this could fast become my new favourite! I’ve quickly learnt that the flavours of berry-based cakes and bakes can be enhanced by the zest and juice of lemon; so if you’re a lover of the sweet ‘n’ zesty then this is a cake for you. 

 

 

‘Strong women. May we know them. May we be them. May we raise them’ ~ Anon.

 

Have a wonderful day Superwomen!

Tracey xo

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Flippin’ Frenzy!

Happy Pancake day!

It’s my third favourite day of the year, after Christmas and my birthday! Now, you must understand that the depth of love I have for pancakes is the type of love that most people have for pizza. (As you may have seen throughout my blog, pancakes are a regular part of my diet.) 

For the past couple of years I’ve promised myself that I would venture away from the traditional pancakes and attempt something a bit more adventurous. This year I’ve been willing to deny my sweet tooth its sickly pleasures and I attempted my first savoury pancake. I admit, the idea wasn’t wholly my own; on my first trip to NYC in 2008 the idea of a savoury pancake was thrust upon me when the waitress delivered my maple syrup pancakes, topped with sausages, bacon and eggs! Eggs! On my pancakes! I was mortified! It took me the entire trip to warm to the idea of mixing sweet & savoury, but once I caved in I became a slave to idea! Today’s pancake isn’t my own recipe, but adapted from a menu at one of my favourite London eateries, My Old Dutch. The recipe I adapted is also called My Old Dutch, but I’ve re-named this version, Firecracker!

Firecracker Pancakes!

Pancake dinner

My Firecracker pancake began with the classic Crêpe recipe, and stuffed with sweet peppers, onion, sweetcorn, bacon and Jerk chicken. I fried the vegetables for a few mins and added a little All Purpose Seasoning and White pepper before adding the bacon. (The chicken was pre-cooked in the oven beforehand). The Crêpes took little over 10mins to prepare and the chopping and cooking of the vegetables took around the same amount of time, the lengthiest part was cooking the chicken. When all was cooked, I tucked and wrapped that baby up like a hot Fajita and made a fresh fruit smoothie to wash it down… After two of these hearty pancakes I was only seconds away from a food coma, which is always a good sign that my gut is content. 

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I couldn’t keep my sweet tooth at bay for long enough, by law a dessert must follow the mains! A friend of mine recently introduced me to the sweet marriage of peanut butter and Nutella pancakes and my oh my did I fall in love! This is definitely in my top 10 favourite pancake combos. 

Sweet n Savoury pancakes

Who would have thought that a few basic ingredients could create something so tantalising? A basic recipe, yet with a few creative toppings and fillings, you can create a masterpiece. I hope you’ve all had a tasty Fat Tuesday / Shrove Tuesday and eaten yourselves silly!

Love & Peanut butter,

Tracey xoxo