Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Carrot Cake

This has got to be the best carrot cake I have ever tasted. The recipe belongs to my colleague's mum, Rhona Amber and I generally tweak it as I go along - and I have to say that she is partially responsible for me taking up baking again - eating a cake this good can do that to you! Be warned!!

Carrot Cake

150g butter
200g soft brown sugar
250g carrot
200g self raising flour
2 eggs
2 level tsp baking powder
1 level tsp cinnamon
½ level tsp nutmeg
½ level tsp salt

225g cream cheese – Philadelphia or mascarpone
4 tsp lemon juice
40 g icing sugar
¼ tsp vanilla essence

  1. Preheat the oven to 150 degrees Celsius.

  1. Sift flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking powder and salt together.

  1. Cream butter and soft brown sugar until light. Add one egg at a time beating nicely. Gradually fold in the flour mixture (do not beat – lightly fold). You can fold in the carrot alternately with the flour.

  1. Bake in a preheated oven in a lined cake tin for about 50 mins until done or until a skewer inserted into centre comes out clean.

You can add some chopped walnuts in to the cake for texture if you like.

For the frosting, cream together all the ingredients and spread over cake. A variation for the frosting is to include orange juice and rind instead of lemon juice.

Sunday, 20 March 2011

Chocolate Brownie

These gorgeously intense and dark brownies are the best. An amazingly easy recipe - this one will give you foolproof brownies. Enjoy.

Chocolate Brownie

200g dark chocolate
175 g unsalted butter
275 g caster sugar
130 g plain flour
3 eggs
Icing sugar to decorate
A 33x23x5 cm baking tracy, lined with greaseproof paper


1. Preheat oven to 170 degrees Celsius.
2. Put the chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water (do not let the base of the bowl touch the water). Stir together until melted completely.
3. Remove from the heat. Add the sugar and stir well until mixed. Add flour and stir until well incorporated.
4. Finally stir in the eggs and mix together until smooth.
5. Spoon the mixture into the prepared baking tray and bake in the preheated oven for about 30 – 35 minutes or until flaky on the top but still soft in the centre. Be careful not to overcook otherwise the edges will become hard and crunchy.
6. Leave to cool completely before cutting into squares and dusting with icing sugar to decorate.

Note: The trick to a good brownie is cooking it just enough so you get the gooey centre.

Dark Chocolate and Orange Cake

A heavenly marriage of dark chocolate and orange - a combination you can't really go wrong with - I stumbled upon this recipe by pure chance on the internet. I have made my own modifications to it and this is the final recipe. A real stunner if you enjoy these two flavours.

Dark Chocolate and orange cake
1 Orange
½ orange – juiced (optional – use if you like your cake more orangey!)
A little melted butter , for greasing
100g plain chocolate , broken into pieces
3 eggs
280g caster sugar
120 ml sunflower oil
120 ml olive oil
25g cocoa powder
250g plain flour
1½ tsp baking powder
For the chocolate ganache
180 ml double cream
200 g plain chocolate
25 g butter
  1. Pierce the orange with a skewer (right through). Cook in boiling water for 30 minutes until soft. Whizz the whole orange in a food processor until smooth and let cool.
  2. Preheat the oven to 180C/gas 4/fan 160C.Grease and line the base of a 23cm round cake tin.
  3. Melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water or in the microwave for 2 minutes on High, stirring after 1 minute. Let cool.
  4. In a large bowl, beat together the eggs, sugar and oil. When well mixed, gradually add in the orange (ensure you discard any pips).
  5. Stir in the cooled melted chocolate. Add the juice of ½ orange if using.
  6. Sift together the cocoa, flour and baking powder. Fold this into the mixture lightly. Pour the mixture into the lined tin and bake in the preheated oven for 55 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean except for a little melted chocolate. Check after 45 mins and if you feel the top is browning, cover the cake with a foil and bake until done.
  7. Allow the cake to cool for 10 – 15 mins in the tin before turning on to a wire rack to cool completely.
  8. For the chocolate ganache, heat the cream and butter together. Pour this hot mixture over the chopped dark chocolate.
  9. Stir or blend the mixture until smooth. If desired, you can add a little cointreau to the mixture for a more orangey touch!
  10. Spread the mixture onto the cake or create a lattice pattern using a piping bag. Decorate with edible golden baubles and flowers created from sugar paste for a more lovely looking cake or eat just topped with ganache (just as delicious)!

Note: If you are only piping the ganache on to the cake and not spreading it on as a frosting – you can halve the quantity given above.
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