Midnight Baking

17 Jun

Having finally made it home around 10pm after what has been a somewhat eclectic day, rather than getting my very tired self into bed, I baked. It’s not exactly conventional but I love baking at night. It’s quiet, calm and I have the kitchen to myself.

From an awe-inducing speech by Martin Bell (war correspondant extrodanaire) to house viewings, bargain hunting and trekking what seems to be the whole breadth of London to see friends, there was certainly a lot going on. This theme extended itself to tonight’s cake.

Wait for it…

A chocolate, coffee, raspberry and blueberry cake.

 

Sounds dubious, I know. I started off aiming for a simple choclate-coffee cake but it lacked sweetness and a depth of flavour. In my attempts to rectify this I ended up adding a  very rich chocolate and espresso butter cream (bordering on ganache in texture); an improvised jam made of crushed raspberries and icing sugar (heaven!); and a decorative  scattering of blueberries and raspberry seeds.

 

 

I prepared myself for taste overload. The coffee however, was far mellower than expected and only added a very subtle undertone to the chocolate which hadn’t left the sponge dense, but actually rather light. By crushing the fresh raspberries with icing sugar, I made a fresher, less synthetic version of jam which I spread on the base layer whilst still warm. I then added the buttercream to the top layer and sandwiched the two together. A little of the juice from the raspberries was absorbed into the bottom layer of the cake, lending a hint of cloying richness to the cake. I then topped the cake with more of the buttercream, a jewel-like sprinkling of raspberry seeds and a few blueberries.

The result was a cake with a dense, berry-infused chocolate base with a sweet ganache-like middle and a lighter yet very moist top layer. The hint of coffee may not be to everyone’s taste but I think it saves the cake from being too sweet. The crushed raspberries have the appearance of pommegranate seeds and turn the cake into something special.

Comments and suggestions please!

Sarah x

Chocolate and Raspberry Cakes

15 Jun

 

 

 

 

 

I had a lovely weekend back home in the North which gave me a chance to do quite a bit of baking. The wonders of mums’ kitchens and all the free ingredients and superfluous gadgets they have to offer! Steering clear of novelty egg separators and lemon squeezers (really, a good squish does the trick!), I decided to start off simple with some chocolate and raspberry cakes.

Delightfully rich and moist with a slight tang from the raspberries, I think they’re best after a day or two when the raspberries mellow and add a gooey, rich texture to the sponge and any kick from the fuit has turned sweet.

Working off the basics of a standard sponge recipe, I made a few changes such as replacing one quarter caster sugar with soft brown sugar to make something a little richer and less “fairy cake fluffy” and more indulgent and dense. I’m quite an ad-hoc cook but the following step-by-step guide should yield similar results:

Cakes:
75g white caster sugar
25g soft brown sugar
100g butter
75g self-raising flour
25g chocolate powder
2 medium eggs
Pinch of salt
Dash of vanilla essence
Handful of raspberries (fresh or frozen then thawed)

Frosting:
Icing sugar
Butter
Milk

  1. Cream the butter, vanilla essence and sugar together until pale and smooth.
  2. Leave the butter and sugar to one side whilst you break and whisk the two eggs.
  3. Sieve the flour and chocolate powder. I always sieve flour/chocolate powder twice to make sure there’s enough air in the cake mix so that it rises well and gives a good consistency when baked. (The easiest way to do this is to sieve it as you measure it out and then sieve again as you mix it in with the eggs and creamed butter and sugar, see below). Add a tiny pinch of salt to the flour.
  4. Take a metal spoon and fold the egg into the butter mix a little at a time, gradually adding the flour and chocolate powder as you go. Fold gently in a figure of eight so as not to knock the air out; it’s okay to take your time!
  5. Spoon the mixture into the muffin cases, filling each a third of the way up. Place one or two raspberries on the top of the mixture then add another spoonful to each muffin case, taking the mixture to two thirds of the way up. Add a raspberry to the top of each.
  6. Place on the top shelf of a pre-heated oven at gas mark 5 (190 degrees) and bake for approx. 12 minutes. When done, place on a wire rack to cool.
  7. In the meantime, make the frosting. Weighing scales are just an unnecessary hassle here! Beat butter, a table spoon of milk (no more!) and sieved icing sugar together until it forms a stiff, white mixture which will stand in peaks. It always seems like so much icing sugar but just keep going! Add as much or as little of the frosting as you like to the cakes and top with a raspberry.

 

Chocolate and Raspberry Cakes

 

Tips:

  • Presentation: Take a look at the photo above or simply get creative! Pomegranate and strawberries also look very pretty with white frosting on a chocolate cake.
  • Make sure you don’t press the raspberries down in the mixture. They naturally sink a little when cooking, hence part-filling the cases first.

 

Alternatives:

  • For a more grown-up take, make the cake mixture as above but place in a cake tin no more than two inches thick, again placing the raspberries on the mixture. Bake for around 20 minutes to make a rich cake which is almost tort-like in consistency thanks to the raspberries. Serve with pouring cream or a dollop of crème fraiche and even more raspberries!

 

 Happy baking! x

 

Hello!

15 Jun

Having only just managed to battle my way through an ash cloud of icing sugar, my first post may be as chaotic as my kitchen is right now but I’m sure it will improve! I’m Sarah, supposedly a law student, but secretly a baking fiend and I need an outlet for it. I feel my flatmates’ cholesterol levels are now admitting defeat and it’s time I asked other people for opinions and advice!

I started baking as a child and it’s grown from there. I can’t say I’m a huge fan of recipes. I love reading them and getting inspiration but always find myself using them as a general guide rather than a set of rigid instructions. I’m more of a ‘dash of this and a sprinkle of that’ kind of girl and like to experiment when I bake. I’m going to try however, to give recipes for my posts on here and then if anyone likes they can follow/amend and improve them when they try them out!

If you could leave a comment on my posts with suggestions and ideas or point me in the way of your own blog, that would be great! For now my skills are rather amateur, but hopefully I’ll see them improve in the coming months and you can see the fruits, or rather the cakes, of my labour right here.

Raspberry sponge with jam and buttercream

 

 

 

Happy baking

x

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