Double chocolate raspberry rose ombre cake

I’ve been incredibly slow in posting this, so apologies to anyone who follows me on Twitter or Instagram and first saw this several months ago…

This cake was made for a colleague who was going on maternity leave – and as you may be able to guess from the colour and decoration, she was having a girl!

I used what’s become my go to chocolate sponge from Charlotte White, combined with a fresh cream and raspberry filling and a white chocolate icing.

This is the first time I’ve attempted rose swirl icing, and I have to say I was rather pleased with the results. The icing was a little too soft, and the day a little too warm, to pipe the swirls on the sides of the cake as well, so I gave up and just spread that normally, but keeping with the ombre effect going from light to dark pink.

I won’t write the recipe for this as I’ve written the cake before and the icing is the same as the triple ginger cake I made a little while ago, but if you want to have a go you basically need to make three times as much icing so you can pipe the swirls, and use about 100ml of whipped cream for the filling, plus half a punnet of raspberries.

To pipe the roses, you need  star shaped nozzle – I believe mine is a Wilton 2D – and just start from the centre of the cake, adding a little more food colouring to the icing for each concentric circle of roses.

It’s a technique I’m definitely going to be trying out again, and the cake went down a treat too.

The Stable, Falmouth

Earlier this year, I was very kindly invited to review a new pizza and cider restaurant in Newquay called The Stable.

The concept was simple but executed well – an extensive and unusual pizza menu featuring lots of local produce, with names related to local landmarks, and a cider menu with 80 bottled and draught ciders, included several local brands.

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If you read my review you’ll see that I was very impressed, and so when I heard that a new branch of the South West chain was going to be opening in Falmouth, I was more than happy to say yes to an invite of the launch which took place last night.

One thing all of the Stable restaurants has in common is being located in interesting and special buildings and locations. While the Stable in Newquay has stunning panoramic views of Fistral Beach, the Falmouth restaurant has taken over the old custom house overlooking the harbour, and is a building with real character. The Stable team have spent a year restoring the building to have it ready for opening, and the time and effort spent on it definitely shows.

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Along with some hungry and thirsty friends, I arrived last night and headed straight into the upstairs restaurant to try out some of the ciders.

If you’re indecisive like me, the tasting board is ideal – five 200ml glasses for £7.50, with a card explaining which is which. As I was driving, I shared the board with my friends, and their opinions were split on which were the best – one was a  fan of the Apple Slayer, while another preferred the sparking ciders, especially the Stable Drop Gold.

We were also big fans of one of the local bottled ciders on sale, Cornish Orchards Vintage – it’s a 7.2% cider, more commonly known as ‘night wrecker’…

Pizza was being handed out on boards by waitresses (and very young children) walking around the room. Between us, we tried the West Country Porker, with chorizo, mozzarella and rocket; the Lamb Roast with lamb, sweet potato and goats cheese; the Hawaiian with ham, pineapple and avocado; the Red Ruby Rustler with ground beef, chorizo, mushrooms and ham and the Smithick Scorcher, with chopped pork and Naga chillies.

Our group favourite was the Lamb Roast, but all were good with lots of toppings on thin and crispy bases – as I said before, a lot better than you’ll find in any other pizza chain around here.

The launch evening was extremely busy, with a band playing in the downstairs room which also houses the impressive cider display behind the bar – seriously, try choosing from all of these!

The Stable in Falmouth opens to the public tonight, and I’m sure it will be a great success – the one in Newquay is ALWAYS super busy, and with the same quality of pizza and cider I’m sure the Falmouth one will be the same.

Chocolate rum truffle cake

A little while ago, a friend of mine was approaching his 30th birthday.

If you asked him, he would say it was the worst thing in the world, he didn’t want to celebrate it, and no one would even remember. Yeah, right.

Instead of ignoring it, our group of friends decided to plan a surprise birthday afternoon/evening, taking him out for food, drinks, music and more drinks, and banishing the old age depression for one day at least.

Obviously, I had to make a surprise cake, and considering that near enough every time we’ve been in the same room one of us has been drinking rum, deciding the flavour was easy.

I used my new favourite chocolate cake recipe from Charlotte White, with each layer brushed with rum, and a chocolate rum buttercream inspired by this one from Oh Sweet Day.

It took me a while to decide how I wanted the cake to look, as a lot of my ideas were a bit too girly for this manliest of men. I settled on chocolate shards sprayed gold and placed all around the sides, and a pile of chocolate rum truffles on top (just in case this monstrosity of a cake wasn’t tall enough already).

I managed to transport the cake in secret to the place we were eating, and then bring it out after the meal. Even though we had all eaten insane amounts of food already, most people tried a bit of the cake and the feedback was good – my personal favourite comment was “I’ve never had an orgasm over a cake before, but….” – a decent if slightly weird endorsement, I think?!

Chocolate rum truffle cake (adapted from Charlotte White’s Burlesque Baking and Oh Sweet Day)

  • 220g dark chocolate
  • 220g butter
  • 160ml water
  • 125g plain flour
  • 125g self raising flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 480g caster sugar
  • 40g cocoa powder
  • 125ml buttermilk
  • 4 medium eggs
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 tbsp golden rum

For the icing:

  • 170g dark chocolate
  • 3tbsp cream
  • 225g butter
  • 85g cocoa powder
  • 200g icing sugar
  • 3-4 tbsp rum

For the ganache:

  • 50g dark chocolate
  • 50g double cream

For the truffles and decoration:

  • 100g dark chocolate
  • 50ml double cream
  • 1-2 tbsp rum
  • 100g dark chocolate
  • Edible gold shimmer spray

For the sponge, melt the chocolate, butter and water in a saucepan over a low heat then set aside. Sift the two flours, baking powder, salt, sugar and cocoa powder into a large mixing bowl. In a separate bowl or jug, whisk the eggs, buttermilk and oil. Slowly pour this into the dry ingredients, and beat it in to create a thick batter. Add the melted chocolate mixture and stir until completely combined, then divide between 3 greased and lined 7″ round tins (the original recipe is for an 8″ cake, but I wanted it to be smaller and taller). Bake at 160 degrees (140 fan) for 35-40 minutes, or until risen and a skewer comes out clean.

When the cakes are cooled, slice off the tops of the cakes to level the layers, then brush the rum all over the tops. To make the icing, melt the chocolate and cream and leave to cool. Beat the butter to soften, then gradually beat in the cocoa powder and icing sugar until completely combined. Add the chocolate and rum and beat until light and fluffy – taste as you go with the rum, I like a strong flavour but you might prefer a little less.

To make the ganache, simply melt the chocolate and cream together and stir until smooth.

To make the truffles, chop the first 100g of chocolate finely, then heat the cream and rum to almost boiling. Pour this over the chocolate, leave for a minute to melt the chocolate, and then stir until smooth. Chill in the fridge until completely firm, then roll into small round balls. With the remaining chocolate, finely grate about 15g worth and use this to roll the truffles in before spraying them with the gold shimmer spray. Melt the rest of the chocolate and then spread fairly thinly onto a large sheet of baking paper and leave to set.

Spray the chocolate with the gold shimmer spray, then break it up into small shards. Assemble the cake by spreading icing between each cake layer and all over the outside. Place the shards of chocolate all over the sides of the cake, and then spread the ganache on top (if it’s cooled down and gone too thick you may need to give it 5 or 10 seconds in the microwave). Leave for 30 minutes to set, then place the truffles in a pile in the middle of the cake.

This is one of the longest methods I think I’ve ever written, but it’s worth it, trust me! Once assembled, keep the cake in the fridge until serving – it’s so rich that I think it tastes best colder.

Chocolate peanut butter swirl brownies

Want a deliciously dense and fudgy brownie? The base recipe for these is all you need.

Want to take it to a new level with a swirl of one of the most addictive food products I’ve ever tried? Keep reading.

When I first spied a jar of chocolate peanut butter, I knew it would be love. What I didn’t realise was that it would be so good I would eat about a third of a jar in one go, spoonful by spoonful.

Yes I am a massive fatty.

When I needed to bake something to take to a party, that would be relatively quick and simple, didn’t need a long time to cool down or be iced, and that could be served in bite-sized portions, brownies were the obvious choice.

Inspired by these Nutella swirl brownies, I decided to buy another jar of the chocolate peanut butter and swap that in instead – a brilliant decision, if I can say so without sounding too boastful!

I used my favourite brownie recipe as the base, then just swirled the slightly warmed chocolate peanut butter on top.

Because I was in a rush, I cut the brownies while they were still slightly warm, which meant the chocolate peanut swirls were gooey and the process was rather messy, but the end result was totally worth it.

If you like the chocolate-peanut combination, you must try these, seriously. Writing about them and looking at the photos has made me realise how much I miss them, and another batch may have to happen soon.

Just as long as the chocolate peanut butter doesn’t mysteriously disappear from the jar first…

Chocolate peanut butter swirl brownies (adapted from Apple and Spice)

  • 140g butter
  • 200g dark chocolate
  • 180g caster sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 2 eggs
  • 85g plain flour
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 100g milk chocolate, chopped
  • 150g chocolate peanut butter

Heat the dark chocolate and butter over  a pan of simmering water until melted and stir to combine. Remove from the heat, then stir in the sugar. Beat in the vanilla and eggs, one at a time, until well mixed and glossy. Sift in the flour and baking powder, mix until fully combined, then stir in the chopped chocolate.

Spread the brownie mixture into a greased and lined 8×8″ square tin. Heat the chocolate peanut butter in the microwave for 20 seconds or so, just to soften it up a little. Spoon in dollops over the top of the brownie batter, then gently swirl in with a knife or skewer, making sure not to over-mix.

Bake at 170 degrees (150 fan) for 25-30 minutes, until the brownies are crisping on top but a skewer still comes out with some crumbs. Leave to cool for as long as you can, then cut into squares and serve.

Blueberry Bluebird Cake

While I haven’t been doing a lot of general baking recently (brownies, cupcakes, cookies etc) I have done quite a few cakes for special occasions, which I’ve really enjoyed as not only does it mean they’re out of my kitchen and I can’t eat them all myself, but it’s also given me a chance to try out some different types of decorating.

Back in June, the Cornwall Clandestine Cake Club held a meeting in Truro, the town where I live, at a small cafe/cake shop called The Baking Bird.

The theme, naturally, was ‘free as a bird’, which could either be interpreted as being free to make whatever you want, or as I took it something with a avian link.

It took me quite a while to decide what to make, but in the end I decided to go for a bluebird theme, with a blueberry flavour to match.

I didn’t write down the exact recipe, but I based it on several ‘blue velvet’ cake recipes I found online, with fresh blueberries added in to the batter, a lime sugar syrup brushed over the sponges, and a layer of cheesecake in the middle (that came from this recipe).

To finish it off, I made a white chocolate buttercream and decorated it with fondant icing cut out birds, in three different shades of blue using templates I drew and cut out myself.

The blue velvet sponge didn’t turn out quite as I’d hoped – I think I had the wrong shade of blue food colouring and it was more green than blue – I really loved the flavours and the addition of the cheesecake layer, and I thought the decoration worked well too – people could at least tell it was meant to be birds!

I have quite a few more fancy cakes to post, which I’ll try to do interspersed with actual recipes, but hopefully the photos will help if you need some decorating inspiration!

Triple ginger cake

If you don’t like ginger, you really need read no further – this has a triple hit of spicy, warming ginger, which there’s absolutely no hiding from!

If you like ginger, then you’ll love these cake slices – I certainly did, and couldn’t get enough of them.

The sponge is made with both fresh and ground ginger, and there’s crystallised ginger spindled on top just for an extra kick with each mouthful.

To balance all the fiery ginger, I chose a sweet white chocolate icing which pairs perfectly. It was totally made up on the spot, but works in taste and consistency so I would definitely make it again.

Sometimes simple is what you need, and this cake comes together in no time. Plus, being a sheet cake makes it much easier to enjoy in bite size slices than a big layer cake so it’s great for taking in to work to feed colleagues or sharing with friends!

 

Triple ginger cake

  • 115g butter
  • 175g light brown sugar
  • 1″ ginger root, peeled and grated
  • 2 medium eggs
  • 60g natural yoghurt
  • 175g plain flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp ground ginger (but adjust to taste)
  • 1/2 tsp salt

For the icing:

  • 25g butter
  • 100g white chocolate
  • 100g icing sugar
  • 30g cream cheese
  • Crystallised ginger to decorate

Start by beating the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, then add the grated ginger and beat again. Add the eggs one at a time, followed by the yoghurt, then sift together all of the remaining ingredients and fold into the batter. Test a little of the mix – you can always add more ginger if you think it needs it. Spread into a greased and lined 8″ square tin and bake at 170 degrees (150 fan) for approximately 25 minutes, or until risen and springy to the touch.

For the icing, melt the chocolate and set aside to cool. Beat the butter to soften, then add the cooled white chocolate and icing sugar and beat until it al comes together nicely. Finally, add the cream cheese and beat until light and fluffy (but don’t over mix or it will go too soft.) Spread over the cooled cake, then sprinkle the crystallised ginger on top – add as much or as little as you want, I say the more the better!

Cadbury’s Fruit & Nut cupcakes

A little while back now, I had a tiiiiiny accident, that caused just a minor bit of damage to my house.

Trying to take the curtains in the living room down while balanced precariously on the armchair didn’t go so well – I slipped, grabbed the curtain rail, and yanked it right out of the wall. Oops!

Luckily my housemate Becky’s dad is a DIY lifesaver, and within the hour was round clearing up my mess, and now you’d never know what a clumsy idiot I am.

I wanted to say thank you with cake, and after Becky mentioned that her dad’s favourite chocolate bar was Cadbury’s Fruit & Nut, these cupcakes were born.

Based on a basic chocolate cupcake recipe from the Hummingbird Bakery, I added chocolate covered raisins into the sponge, and chopped nuts and more chopped raisins into the icing. Topped with a chunk of the actual chocolate bar, they were a Fruit & Nut lover’s delight!

Cadbury’s Fruit & Nut cupcakes (adapted from the Hummingbird Bakery)

  • 40g butter
  • 120g plain flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking power
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 140g caster sugar
  • 20g cocoa powder
  • 1 medium egg
  • 120ml milk
  • 150g chocolate covered raisins

For the icing:

  • 100g butter
  • 250g icing sugar
  • 60g cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2-3 tbsp milk
  • 50g chocolate covered raisins, chopped
  • 25g chopped mixed nuts
  • 2 regular sized Fruit & Nut bars

To make the sponge, beat the butter, flour, baking powder, salt, sugar and cocoa powder until it turns into a sandy consistency. Add the egg and milk and beat again until well combined, then stir in the chocolate covered raisins. Divide between 12 large cupcake cases and bake at 170 degrees (150 fan) for 20-25 minutes, or until risen and a skewer comes out clean.

For the icing, sift together the icing sugar, cocoa powder and salt beat the butter to soften. Add the sugar mix little by little, beating until the mixture comes together. Add 2 tbsp milk and beat until light and fluffy, adding a little more milk if it seems too stiff. Stir in the chopped raisins and nuts, then spread on top of the cooled cupcakes. Finish with a square of the chocolate bars on top of each.

Gingham Chicken fudge – review

Sometimes, people surprise you with their loveliness.

Hazel Parsons is someone who I don’t really know, but have met though my housemate as they both work in the wedding industry in Cornwall.

A little while ago, she posted some photos on Twitter of some Gingham Chicken fudge which was being used for wedding favours. I commented saying that I’d heard their stuff was good but had never tried it, then the next thing I knew I had a tasty parcel waiting for me at the delivery office!

There was absolutely no reason for Hazel to send me the fudge – she doesn’t work for the company, wasn’t trying to promote it – she just did it to be nice. How lovely is that?!

I figured the best way of justifying the eating of an entire box of fudge was if I then reviewed it for the blog – so here goes.

Gingham Chicken is a Cornish fudge company, based in Liskeard. I first heard about them through Choclette from Chocolate Log Blog, but hadn’t seen the fudge on sale anywhere so never got around to trying any.

The flavour I was sent was sea salt and pecan nuts – a flavour combination I haven’t seen in fudge before but sounded like it could work well.

Regular fudge can be too sweet, but the salt balances it nicely, and Gingham Chicken have got the balance just right. Add pecan nuts, which I love and snack on all the time, and it becomes delicious fudge heaven!

Texture wise, it was perfect for me. I think fudge lovers can be divided into two camps – crumbly or soft and buttery. I’m in the crumbly camp, and that’s exactly what this was – although the one downside to this is that it didn’t fare brilliantly in the post and there wee quite a lot of crumbs left at the bottom of the box.

I would 100% recommend this fudge, and I can’t wait to try more Gingham Chicken flavours soon. And should anyone be in a generous mood, leave a comment and I’ll send you my address…

 

Strawberry Fudge Cake

So, things have been pretty quiet around here lately – I’m sorry!

There are two main reasons – firstly  life has just been crazy and I’ve barely had time to read any blogs, let alone write them; but I’ve also put a temporary stop to baking for the good of my health…

To summarise the situation, at the start of the year I moved into a new house, with new friends, in a new town. I’ve gone from living in the middle of nowhere and rarely going out, to having easy access to all manor of restaurants, bars and fabulous social occasions.

The upshot of this is that even though I’ve been exercising more, the weight has been creeping on – I’m now a stone heavier than I was in December, and although people are very kind to me and say it doesn’t show, I can see it and feel it, and I don’t like it.

Now I’m not going to pretend that this is all down to cake – copious amounts of rum and coke are definitely to blame too – but I’ve decided that having cakes sat around in the kitchen is one temptation I can do without.

My current health kick definitely isn’t forever, just until I get back down to a size I’m more happy with (and I am going to cut back on the alcohol to help this too… a bit…)

I’ll still be baking for special occasions because as far as I’m concerned nothing says love like baked goods, and I will continue to blog as often as I can. I also have a bit of a blog revamp in the pipeline, and I’m sure that will motivate me to get baking and writing more again!

This strawberry fudge cake was a cake of love, for my dear friend Charlotte’s birthday.

I was inspired by a box of strawberries and cream fudge, and came up with a vanilla sponge studded with fresh strawberries, filled and iced with a strawberry cream cheese frosting, with chinks of fudge between the layers and on top, finished with a few more fresh strawberries and pink sugar sprinkles.

It was everything I wanted it to be – pretty, summery, light and tasty. The birthday girl liked it and I think it was 100% worth the calories consumed taste testing the icing and eating leftover fudge…

Strawberry fudge cake

  • 225g butter
  • 225g caster sugar
  • 4 medium eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste
  • 225g self raising flour
  • 150g strawberry, chopped

For the icing:

  • 50g butter
  • 300g icing sugar
  • 50g cream cheese
  • 200g strawberries, chopped, plus extra to decorate
  • 100g strawberry (or plain) fudge, finely chopped
  • pink sugar sprinkles

For the sponge, follow the usual Victoria sponge method – beat together the butter and sugar, add the eggs one at a time followed by the vanilla, then sift in the flour and fold in until just combined. Stir in the strawberries, then divide between three 6″ round cake tins and bake at 170 degrees (150 fan) for about 25 minutes, or until risen, golden and a skewer comes out clean.

To make the icing, start by heating the strawberries in a small saucepan, and cook them until they have completely broken down and turn into a thick puree. Beat the butter and gradually add the icing sugar, adding a little of the cream cheese if it’s not coming together. Finally, add the cream cheese and cooled strawberries and beat until light and fluffy.

Chill the icing in the fridge for an hour before assembling the cake. Spread a layer of icing on the bottom layer of cake, then sprinkle a third of the fudge pieces on top. Add the second layer of sponge, more icing and more fudge, then the final layer of sponge. Cover in a thin coat of icing and refrigerate for half an hour.

Spread the remaining icing all over the cake. Finish by adding a few more strawberries and the remaining chopped fudge to decorate, and scatter some sugar sprinkles on top as well if you like. Store in the fridge until an hour before you’re ready to serve.

Chocolate and vanilla mud cake

This post sort of carries on the Malteser theme of my last one – I’m a bit of a fan!

Although with the Malt-Easter cookies maltesers were the driving force behind the recipe, in this case they were just a decoration for one of the best chocolate cakes I’ve made in quite a while.

Regular readers of this blog will have heard me gush about Charlotte White of Restoration Cake before – not only does she bake stunning and tasty takes, she is the epitome of vintage glamour, and I can only dream of looking as fabulous as she does while baking in high heels and stunning 50′s dresses. Swoon!

Earlier this year, her first book was published – Burlesque Baking. It starts with basic cake and icing recipes, then goes on to the fabulous decorated cakes, cupcakes and cookies, all inspired by burlesque dancers.

The cake she demonstrated at the Cake and Bake show, the Miss Polly Rae Cake, is in there (you can see my attempt here) along with some other truly stunning designs that I can’t wait to try out.

My lovely housemate Becky bought me the book for my birthday, and when I emailed Charlotte to tell her how excited I was to try the recipes she said that I absolutely MUST try the chocolate mud cake.

Well, when the author herself tells you to do something you can’t really say no, and so when I had an event to go to which required a celebration cake, I knew exactly which it would be.

Unfortunately as the event was mid-week and I have a pesky job that gets in the way of baking, I knew I wouldn’t have time to attempt any of Charlotte’s amazing designs, so I had to improvise. I filled and iced the cake with a vanilla bean cream cheese icing, poured chocolate ganache on top and then scattered crushed Maltesers on top to decorate.

Although not exactly refined or elegant, I think the overall effect worked quite well. What this cake was really about though was the taste – the chocolate cake was so dark and rich, and almost bordering on brownie-like in texture, that it may become my new go-to chocolate sponge recipe.

The vanilla icing offered a good contrast to the rich chocolate, and you can’t really go wrong with added ganache and crunchy Maltesers – I liked it and it went down rather well at the event too, along with a lemon drizzle cake with cream cheese icing which I made, and a towering monster of a birthday cake made by someone else.

I strongly recommend you buy Burlesque Baking, it’s a gorgeous book and I will hopefully have a chance to try out some of the decorating and blog about it very soon!

Chocolate and vanilla mud cake (adapted from Burlesque Baking)

For the cake:

  • 165g dark chocolare
  • 165g butter
  • 2 tbsp instant coffee granules
  • 120ml water
  • 90g plain flour
  • 90g self raising flour
  • 30g cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • pinch salt
  • 320g caster sugar
  • 3 medium eggs
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 80ml buttermilk

For the vanilla icing:

  • 50g butter
  • 300g icing sugar
  • 125g cream cheese
  • 1 tbsp vanilla bean paste

For the ganache and decoration:

  • 100g dark chocolate
  • 60ml double cream
  • 100g(ish) maltesers, crushed

Melt the chocolate and butter in a heatproof saucepan with the water and coffee granules on a low heat, stirring until no lumps remain. Sift both flours, baking powder, salt, cocoa powder and sugar into a large bowl, and whisk together the eggs, oil and buttermilk in another bowl. Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients then pour in the egg mixture and stir until well combined.

Add the melted chocolate mixture and fold in until you have a smooth, glossy cake batter. Divide between two greased and lined 7″ round tins, then bake at 160 degrees (140 fan) for about 35-40 minutes, or until risen and a skewer comes out clean. Leave to cool in the tins – the cakes are quite fragile while warm.

While the cake is cooling, make the icing. Beat the butter to soften, then gradually add in the icing sugar beating until well combined. Add the cream cheese and vanilla and beat for a couple of minutes, until light and fluffy. Once the cake has completely cooled, level the tops of the sponges then use the vanilla icing to fill and cover the cake.

To make the ganache, heat the cream until nearly boiling then pour over the chopped chocolate. Leave for a minute and then stir until all the chocolate bits have melted. Leave to cool until thick but still pourable, then pour over the cake and let it just start to fall down the sides. Finish by piling the crushed Maltesers onto the ganache, then cut into slices and serve.