Monday, 11 June 2018

Chocolate drizzle and honeycomb cake

My youngest wanted to enter a cake in the school summer fair and she decided on this. Looks very impressive but actually is suitable for a 10 year old to make so long as you help with the honeycomb.

Begin by making the cake layers. She did two vanilla and one chocolate layer (you can do malted using ovaltine rather than golden syrup in the sponge and icing).

She made one big batch of batter and then split it into two thirds and one thirds and continued. 

Mix together 400g butter and 450g caster sugar until light and fluffy and then add in 6 eggs one at a time beating between each addition. Then add 450g plain flour and 4 tsp of baking powder. Add 100g of yoghurt (she used greek yohurt with honey). Then divide the mix - take out one third. Add to that third 25g cocoa powder and 100g dark melted chocolate (allow this to slightly cool before adding) and stir. To the remaining two thirds of the mix add 2 tsp vanilla extract and 2 tbsp golden syrup or maple syrup and stir.

Please the chocolate mix in a round 20cm spring based tin and split the vanilla one between two further tins (they need to be the same size). Bake for around 30 minutes at 180 degrees but keep checking. If they are not cooked through but getting quite brown put some foil on the top to stop it from browning further.

When cooked turn out too cool completed.

For the icing mix together 250g of butter and 325g icing sugar together with 3 tbsp golden syrup and 1 tsp vanilla extract until smooth. Then add another 325g icing sugar and 280g full fat cream cheese and whisk again. 

To make the honeycomb put 200g caster sugar and 5 tbsp golden syrup in a pan over a medium heat. Do not stir it at all and just allow the sugar and syrup to melt and combine. When melted it will start to bubble. Watch carefully since it goes from caramel to burnt toffee quickly. After a minute or so bubbling add 2 tsp of bicarbonate of soda. This will bubble and is what creates the honeycomb. Stir as soon as you put it in and then pour onto a prepared baking tray lined with grease proof paper. Allow to flatten on the tray and leave for 30 mins to cool. When cold break into shards. If a child is making the cake this should be carefully watched/assisted.

When the cakes are cool you can assemble. Put a blob of icing on a board and put one of the vanilla cakes. then spread over a layer of icing and top with the chocolate cake. Then do the same and top with the vanilla cake. Cover the whole thing with a thin layer of icing. Don't worry if you see crumbs in this since this is the crumb layer. Put in the fridge for 30 mins to harden. Then put the remaining icing over it and smooth with a spatula and put in the fridge for 30 mins.

Finally you need the ganache layer. Heat 80g of double cream gently to bubbling and then pour over 100g dark chocolate in a bowl that is in small pieces. Mix it until it becomes smooth and allow to cool and thicken. You want it to be pouring consistency. Pour  over the edge of the cake allowing it to drip down and then put the rest in the middle. Decorate with the shards and maltesers (cut some in half to show the honeycomb centre in line with the decorations).

Tuesday, 9 January 2018

Breakfast of superheros

OK not quite but this is packed full of goodness.

I make overnight oats with 1 cup of oats and 1 cup of milk and some nutmeg and cinammon. You can also add honey at this time. Mix and leave in the fridge overnight. In the morning I then heat it (we prefer it warm) and add extras to taste. I often add chia seeds before heating. I like it with plump sultanas but I have also started added matcha- this is an intense powder of green tea and claims to have a lot of health benefits including reducing inflammation and adding digestion and sleep. For this one I have added a green tea match and a turmeric matcha (this one is caffeine free).

It really does set you up for the day.


I've adapted a few recipes I've used before to come up with this one which created a lovely crisp top and soft centre. Went down well with a crowd of children.

Take 200g dark chocolate and 100g milk chocolate and 250g butter.

Melt together in a bowl in the microwave.

Meanwhile whisk together 4 large eggs, 100g self-raising flour, 50g cocoa powder (this can be reduced or removed if you want a less intense chocolate hit) and 250g caster sugar. Whisk for a few minutes so it gets frothy.

Put the mix in a lined tin. Mix in the cooled chocolate and bake at 180 degrees for about 40-45 minutes. Allow to cool slightly in the tin before taking out to cool fully.

Saturday, 6 January 2018

Baked olives and feta

This is very simple but really changes some simple olives into something really special for nibbles.

Take a mix of red and black pitted olives. Spread in an ovenproof dish and sprinkle over some chilli flakes and fennel seeds. Crumble over some feta and drizzle with olive oil.

Bake at 200 degrees for about 12 minutes and serve either with bread cocktail sticks.

Cocktail sausages

For parties you want small nibbles. I try and get small cocktail sausages but the local butchers often don't stock them all year. They passed on this great tip. Get your normal chipolata and pinch a third in from each end.

Where there is then a slack bit you can twist and you turn your sausage into three small ones. Snip and cook as normal.

Mushroom and leek tarlets

Take a pack of ready rolled shortcrust pastry and cut out 12 rings with pastry cutters that are slightly bigger than a muffin tin hole.

Roll together the left over pastry and cut out two small stars.

Meanwhile heat some butter and fry gently one large leek without colouring it. Add 1 tbsp of caster sugar to caramelise it slightly.
Add some chopped garlic and 250g of mushrooms and some chopped sun dried tomatoes.

Fry gently until cooked and most liquid removed.

Put the pastry circles in the holes of a greased muffin tin.

Divide the mushroom mix between the pastry.

Top with some grated gruyere and a pastry star and brush with egg.

Bake at 200 degrees for about 15 minutes until golden.

Lustre prosecco

You can buy a special product that gives your drinks a shimmer but also flavours them which I generally don't want (and is not really that cost effective)

Instead I experimented with some lustre powder I use in cake making and it worked just as well. The photos do not give it justice but what you need to do is put a tiny bit (tip of the end of a tsp) into a glass and add prosecco (or other drink of choice). It works best if you pour the drink over the powder rather than the other way round and then try and stir it. The photos do not really give the effect that it creates.

It gives a really nice sparkle with swirls of lustre through the drink. Very effective.

You can also put some lustre into ice cubes with some other ingredients (fruits and spices) and as it melts in the drink a lustre appears.