Cranberry and Orange Cake

This is a moist sponge made with oranges, filled with cranberry and orange curd and covered with cranberry and orange curd buttercream. Its a fruity alternative to Christmas cake and packed with vitamin C!

Cranberry and Orange Curd

Ingredients:-

225g Cranberries

2 Oranges

225g Caster Sugar

50g Butter

2 Eggs, beaten

Method:-

Remove the skin and pips from the oranges and place the fruit and juice into a saucepan. Add the cranberries and cook the fruits gently until very soft. Blend or mash well so that the mixture is completely smooth. Pour the mixture into a double pan with water in the bottom pan, or a bowl over a pan of simmering water. Add the sugar butter and heat, stirring well until everything is well dissolved. Add the beaten eggs slowly, stirring constantly until the mixture thickens. Leave to cool completely before using. It will need to be stored in the fridge if not using straight away.

Spicy Orange Cake

Ingredients:-

50g Orange Juice

100g Golden Syrup

250g Caster sugar

250g Butter

4 Medium Eggs

250ml Milk

400g Plain Flour

2 Teaspoons Bicarbonate of Soda

2 Teaspoons Mixed Spice

Zest of 2 Oranges

Method:-                                           

Preheat the oven to 170c and grease and line 2 x 8” (20cm) cake tins.

Place the orange juice, golden syrup, sugar and butter in a saucepan over a medium heat. Stir well till everything is melted and dissolved. Leave to cool.

Whisk the eggs and milk together.

Stir the flour, bicarbonate of soda, orange zest and mixed spice together, then add to the eggs and milk and beat well. Add the orange, juice, syrup, sugar and butter mixture and combine everything but don’t overbeat.

Divide the mixture between the two cake tins and bake for about 25 minutes until cooked.

I made orange syrup to drizzle over the cakes as they came out of the oven by heating 50g orange juice and 50g caster sugar in a small pan. Stir well and bring to the boil until it becomes thick and syrupy.

Cranberry and Orange Curd Buttercream

I made buttercream by beating 250g softened butter and 250 icing sugar together well for a few minutes. Add about 4 tablespoons of the cranberry and orange buttercream curd. More can be added if needed.

Fill the cake centre with a layer of the cranberry and orange curd and a layer of the buttercream. Then thinly spread some of the buttercream around the top and sides of the cake, leaving some of the cake showing through giving a ‘naked’ effect.

I decorated the top of the cake with some fresh cranberries which had been covered for several hours in a layer of caster sugar to sweeten them a little.

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Chocolate Orange Cupcakes

 

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Chocolate Orange Cupcake

 

There’s still time for some last minute Christmas baking! Along with the last of the mince pies I baked today, I’ve made some chocolate orange cupcakes. Chocolate is always popular at Christmas and these have a rich chocolate, almost truffle flavour. These can be frozen, fully decorated so are perfect to pop in the freezer for any unexpected guests over the festive season.

Ingredients for Chocolate Orange Cupcakes

100g Butter (softened)
110g Caster Sugar
3 Medium eggs
2 Tablespoons Milk
120g Self Raising Flour
2 Tablespoons Cocoa Powder
1 Teaspoon Baking Powder
Zest of 1 large Orange
25g Dark Chocolate (chopped into small pieces)

Ingredients for Rich Chocolate Orange Frosting

150g Dark Chocolate
2 Tablespoons Cocoa Powder
250g Icing Sugar
200g Butter (softened)
50g Vegetable Shortening (Trex)
1 Tablespoon Orange Juice
Plus 25g Dark Chocolate zested and sprinkled over the top of the completed cupcakes.

To make the cupcakes

Preheat the oven to 160c and place cupcake cases in a 12 hole cupcake or muffin pan.
Beat the softened butter and caster sugar together well.
Whisk the eggs together lightly with the milk.
Whisk the flour, cocoa and baking powder together.
Mix all these ingredients together with the orange zest and beat for one minute, making sure everything is combined.
Divide the mixture between the 12 cupcake cases and add a tiny piece of chopped chocolate to each one.
Bake for about 20 minutes until ready. Leave to cool.

To make the frosting

Melt the chocolate in a bowl set over a pan of boiling water. Leave to cool a little.
Beat the other ingredients together well; then add the cooled, melted chocolate. If the frosting is a little thick, more orange juice can be added.
Pipe or spread the frosting onto the top of the cupcakes.
Finish by sprinkling zested dark chocolate over the top.

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Chocolate Orange Cupcakes

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Christmas Apple, Orange and Cinnamon Jelly

 

Apple, Orange, Cinnamon Jelly.png

This is one of my favourite Christmas recipes. It has a light but warming flavour – perfect for the festive season!

To Make Apple, Orange and Cinnamon Jelly

1 kg cooking apples
4 oranges
1kg caster sugar
1   1/2 litres water
4 cinnamon sticks
Chop the fruit roughly without peeling and add the cinnamon sticks and water. Simmer for 1 1/2 hours. Strain through a muslin bag. Add the sugar to the remaining liquid and take back to the heat. Heat gently until the sugar is melted, stirring all the time. Then bring to the boil and boil rapidly without touching until it reaches setting point. The jelly can be sieved again to remove any scum and poured into sterilised jars. This amount filled 6 small jars.

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How to make a perfect sponge

How to

A sponge is one of the most basic cakes you can make, with few ingredients and yet it’s something which can be incredibly difficult to get right! I’ve tried and tested many recipes and tips and here are my favourite tips for a perfect bake…

  • Make sure all your ingredients are at room temperature, preferably slightly warm.
  • Weigh your ingredients accurately, baking is a science and slight changes can affect the result.
  • Heat your oven in advance and check that the temperature is correct with an oven thermometer. Many ovens are not accurate and too hot or too cool an oven can affect the end result dramatically. Sponges are usually baked at 160c.
  • Use the freshest, free range eggs for a light sponge and good quality butter will give a great flavour.
  • Line the tin/s with non-stick baking paper.

BS Edge

When following a recipe use the ingredients weight as a guide. Start by weighing the eggs in the recipe (weigh in their shells) and match the other ingredients to this. The eggs, sugar, butter and flour should all weigh equivalent amounts.

For a 20cm (8”) sponge you will need 5 eggs (weighing 50g each) , 250g Butter, 250g Caster Sugar, 250g Self-Raising Flour. Therefore, when you weigh the eggs, you will match the amounts to this. The amount of 250g has been given as a guide for the amount of mixture you will need. If the eggs weigh 265g the flour, butter and sugar should be 265g too and the cake will be very slightly larger. If the eggs weigh slightly less, for example 235g, you could add milk if you want to make up the amount to 250g.

Beat the sugar and butter together well until they are pale and creamy;

Beat the eggs in a separate bowl;

Whisk the flour with a hand whisk to loosen and add air. I never sieve my flour as I feel it compacts when it falls;

I never add baking powder as I’ve found it can make the cake dry;

There are two methods for mixing all the ingredients together and I’ve found that both work well –

  1. Add the beaten eggs very slowly to the beaten sugar and butter mix. Mix well, a little at a time. If the eggs are slightly warm they won’t curdle and a tip to help this is to put the eggs, in their shells in a bowl of warm water before starting the recipe. Then carefully fold in the flour.
  2. Add the beaten eggs and the flour to the beaten sugar and butter and beat everything together well for only one minute.
  • Be careful not to overbeat with either method.

BS Edge

Pour the mixture into the prepared tin/s. The sponge can be baked in one tin or divided between two tins. One 20cm (8”) sponge should take approximately 50 minutes to bake, if the mixture is divided the cakes will take about twenty minutes.

  • Never open the oven until at least ¾ of the way through baking a sponge. Opening the door too early can cause the cake to collapse. The sponge will be baked when it is golden brown and starting to shrink away from the sides of the tin. A clean skewer stuck into the cake will come out clean – no sticky mixture attached. Keep an eye on the cake near to the end of the baking time and take it out of the oven immediately it is ready.

Leave the cake for two to three minutes in the tin, then turn out onto a cooling rack to finish cooling.  If you want to slice the cake in half horizontally to fill, you will need to leave it for at least two hours for the crumb to set otherwise it will just crumble.

Some more tips for sponges

Sponge 2

Beetroot and Orange Chutney

This recipe is an adaptation from a Beetroot and Orange Relish recipe by Thane Prince in her book ‘Jams & Chutneys’. I’ve called it Chutney as it is much thicker and chunkier than her original recipe which calls for the beetroot to be grated. It makes a delicious accompaniment to any cold dish, particularly over Christmas – a change from the usual pickled beetroot.The orange brings a lovely fruity flavour to the mix to enhance the beetroot and the spices add a slight kick, although you could omit these if you prefer.

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Beetroot and Orange Chutney

 

Ingredients:-

1 kg Beetroot

4 Large Oranges

2 Large Onions

500g Granulated Sugar

250ml Red Wine Vinegar

1 teaspoon Ground Ginger

1 teaspoon Ground Cinnamon

1 Teaspoon Ground Chilli

Method:-

Peel beetroot and chop into small pieces,

Grate the orange zest (use the grater – not zester as you need larger pieces). Cut away all the white pith and cut the oranges into small chunks, discarding any pips.

Chop the onions finely.

Add everything to a large, heavy bottomed pan. Bring gradually to a boil, stirring well to dissolve all the sugar. Boil for a few minutes then reduce to a low simmer. The mixture will take about 1 ½ hours to thicken and it will need occasional stirring to ensure that it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan. Depending on the amount of juice that was in the oranges, the mixture may need a little more liquid added and some more red wine vinegar or orange juice can be added if it looks too thick as its cooking.

The beetroot should be well cooked and softened but still remain in chunks and the whole mixture should be nice and thick (or to your own taste). Pour into sterilised jars, seal and label.

Another of my favourite things to make at Christmas is Cranberry Relish and oranges work really well with cranberries too. Here is a recipe for Cranberry, Orange and Port Relish.

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Apple and Cinnamon Cake

Apple and Cinnamon Cake

Apple and Cinnamon Cake

I love to use fresh, home grown produce and recently I’ve had lots of apples to use. Some of my other baking plans have had to be put on hold while I make everything appley. This week I used up lots of mixed apples to make an apple sauce, a lovely apple syrup and a moist and sticky apple and cinnamon cake.
I started with a bag of apples and peeled, cored and chopped them roughly and then added them to a pan with enough water to cover them. I cooked them till they were soft and then strained off the liquid. The remaining pulp just needed a little sugar added to it to make apple sauce to store in the fridge. I measured the remaining liquid and added 1/2 the equivalent in sugar – my liquid was 400ml so I added 200g sugar. I brought this mixture to a boil in a pan, stirring well to dissolve the sugar, then let it boil rapidly until it started to thicken. This makes a really gorgeous apple syrup which can be used to drizzle over cakes, desserts or ice cream or added to a drink. If you let it thicken a little more it will become a jelly once set.
I drizzled my apple syrup over a warm apple and cinnamon cake as it came out of the oven:)

Ingredients:-

140g Butter, softened

140g Soft Brown Sugar

2 medium Eggs, beaten

2 teaspoons Cinnamon (plus, 2 more teaspoons for the topping)

250g Self Raising Flour

3 small eating apples (or 2 medium), grated

(2 tablespoons Demerara sugar for the topping)

Method:-

Pre heat the oven to 170c and prepare a loaf tin.

Beat the soft brown sugar and butter together and add the beaten egg slowly. Fold in the flour and cinnamon and finally, the apple. Pour into the prepared tin. Mix the 2 teaspoons of cinnamon for the topping together well with the Demerara sugar and spread this over the top of the cake. Bake for between 40 – 50 minutes approximately. (Check with a skewer to see if it comes out clean.)

The cake will be golden brown with a crunchy topping and moist inside. It keeps well with the flavour improving if its left a day or two. However, I couldn’t resist serving it straight from the oven, drizzled with apple syrup and a large dollop of creamy vanilla ice cream. Heaven.

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Egg Free Lemon Curd

 

Egg Free Lemon Curd

Egg Free Lemon Curd

I love home made lemon curd. Its been a recent revelation for me as I’d never realised quite how good it is, having only ever tried shop bought varieties. I love lemon cakes and home made lemon curd is the perfect filling along with lashings of lemon buttercream. However, I’ve had a dilemma with making this type of cake for a celebration as lemon curd can only stay safely out of the fridge for a short time due to the eggs in it. Creating a celebration cake takes time due to the decoration and it may be sitting around at an event all day so using freshly made lemon curd is not an option. This is my recipe for egg free lemon curd which is completely safe to use to fill a celebration cake. It tastes delicious and has the same consistency as traditional lemon curd so works perfectly as a filling. I like to make two sponges (or cut one in half to create two layers) with lemon zest in, then drizzle a lemon syrup over them when they come out of the oven (made with lemon juice and sugar). I then fill with my lemon curd and lemon buttercream. This makes the most scrummy, moist lemon cake and will keep well if used as a celebration cake and decorated.

Egg Free Lemon Curd Recipe

Ingredients
50g Lemon juice
50g Caster sugar
50g Butter
50g Golden syrup
1 tablespoon Cornflour

Method
Heat the lemon juice and caster sugar in a pan, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Add the butter and syrup and continue to stir over the heat, so that everything is melted and combined. Bring to the boil for a minute or two and then remove from the heat and allow to cool a little. Whisk in the cornflour. Return to a gentle heat and allow the cornflour to cook, stirring continuously. The mixture will thicken in a few minutes and change to a clearer colour. Leave to cool before using on a cake or slathering on toast.

Lemon Celebration Cake

Lemon Celebration Cake

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Gluten Free Creme Brulee Cupcakes

I’ve lost my way a little in my plan to bake along with The Great British Bake Off after attempting Crème Brulees which turned out to be a complete disaster. I read the recipe really carefully and all started off well as I thought ‘how difficult can this be?’ My little ramekins went into the oven with beautiful creamy custard with just the perfect wobble. I was confident. What I took out of the oven were ramekins of curdled scrambled egg. I have no idea what went wrong and it was all very disappointing but I haven’t attempted to try again since. Unfortunately, I don’t have the time or ingredients to hand usually to keep trying the bakes until they are perfect so in order to catch up a bit and maybe bake something edible I decided to try some Crème Brulee Cupcakes. I’ve made them gluten free as last week the bakers attempted pitta’s without gluten, cakes without sugar and ice cream without dairy. I’m not too sure about cakes without sugar but gluten free cakes are delicious so here is my recipe for Crème Brulee Cupcakes. (Much easier than Crème Brulees!)

Crème Brulee Cupcakes

Ingredients for the cakes:-

120g Soft Brown Sugar

120g Softened Butter

120g Gluten Free Flour (I use Doves Farm)

1 Teaspoon Gluten Free Baking Powder

2 Medium Eggs, beaten well

1 – 2 Tablespoons Milk (Ideally the milk and eggs together should weigh 120ml)

1 Tablespoon Vanilla Extract

Method:-

Melt the butter and sugar together in a pan over heat, stir well and make sure the sugar is dissolved but don’t overcook. Add this mixture to all the other ingredients and beat for about one minute. Pour into 12 cupcake cases set in a cupcake tin and bake at 160c for about 20 minutes.

Topping:-

The cupcakes are topped with a vanilla cream swirl and sprinkled with ‘burnt’ brown sugar.

When the cakes are cooked and removed from the oven to cool, turn the oven up to 180c. Place two tablespoons of Demerara sugar, spread onto a baking sheet, into the oven and cook until brown – this will only take a few minutes so needs to be watched. The sugar will go very crunchy when removed from the oven to cool.

Whisk 250ml of double cream until thick and add 1 tablespoon vanilla extract and 1 tablespoon caster sugar. This is now ready to swirl onto the top of the cooled cupcakes.

Sprinkle the cooked Demerara sugar liberally over the top and eat! The cakes won’t keep out of the fridge long with fresh cream on top but that is unlikely to be much of a problem. They may not be too much like actual Crème Brulees but they are the lightest, scrummiest cupcakes and very moreish (oh, dear).

If you want to try real Crème Brulees here is a recipe.

If you’ve missed The Great British Bake Off, here are some of the faces which tell you everything about how painful and how exciting baking can be!

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Great British Bake Off – Baguettes

Last week’s ‘Great British Bake Off’ challenged the bakers in the tent to bake a variety of breads. Now bread has not been something I often try at home so I’m always very impressed by the skills shown in the tent. Last year I tried Paul’s ciabatta recipe and surprised myself by how yummy they were so I was keen to try something new this year. I was very happy to see baguettes on the agenda as I really love a proper French baguette and I knew a friend of mine had brought back some French bread flour from a holiday. After scrounging some of the bread flour I set about following the baguette recipe in the new ‘The Great British Bake Off – Celebrations’ book. The recipe is not easy to follow for a bread beginner and I soon began to feel the pressure, even without the television cameras and Paul and Mary looking over my shoulder. Paul has a way of asking specific questions about what the bakers are doing and then looks very scathing as though they’re making a horrible mistake. Goodness only knows what he would have made of my dough and the mess in my kitchen. I have to say I was totally ecstatic to find that something fairly edible came out of the oven at the end. No, it wasn’t four evenly sized baguettes with the perfect golden, crispy crunchy outside and open, airy crumb inside. However, they tasted delicious and I’m so glad I had a go as I certainly learnt a lot more about how to handle dough!

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Baguettes

Here are some of the things we’ve learnt so far on The Great British Bake Off
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Rose Iced Cookies

Last week was ‘biscuit week’ on The Great British Bake Off and we saw some of the bakers ‘crumble’ under the pressure in the tent (sorry!!!) Here’s a recap of the baking fun.

I had great intentions of trying to create an amazing showstopper biscuit ‘box’ filled with biscuits but sadly didn’t have enough time – I’m really not sure that I could have created anything half as amazing as the bakers though. So my bake this week involved creating a very simple but delicious rose icing to decorate some quick cookies.

I’ve been lucky enough to have some lovely roses in my garden and have collected rose petals…

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Rose Petals

I rinsed off the petals very carefully and then lay them out on a tray covered with kitchen roll to dry…

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Rinse the rose petals very carefully

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Drying rose petals

I then added my dried rose petals to a jar topped up with granulated sugar. This makes rose petal sugar but when trying to use this in the past I’ve struggled to know how to use it as dried rose petals are horribly chewy so need to be removed from the sugar. I came up with a great solution which is to put the petals along with the sugar into a food processor and blitz them together. This gives a rose petal icing sugar which can be used in baking or to decorate. I found mine was quite strong so I added just a teaspoon full at a time to ordinary icing sugar to get the perfect flavour.

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Rose Petal Sugar

This icing was so pretty and delicious and perfect to ice simple vanilla cookies…

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Rose Iced Cookie

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