Thursday, 31 July 2014

Chocolate and Strawberry Cake

Last weekend I asked J what cake he wanted for dessert as I've not baked in a long while. He said chocolate or strawberry so I decided to make a chocolate and strawberry cake. I used my all time favourite Nigella old fashioned chocolate cake recipe and sandwiched it with a honey chocolate ganache filled with fresh strawberries and topped with more ganache and ganache dipped strawberries. The result was absolutely amazing. The visual effect is stunning and the cake is deceptively simple to make. It's a mix all in one recipe - you can easily do this by hand. I chose a ganache filling and topping as it's easier to make than buttercream and I thought it would hold out better in this heat.  

The cake was moist and chocolatey and the fresh strawberries cut through the rich chocolatey layers and offered a hint of freshness. However, the honey chocolate ganache was the star. I used leatherwood honey which my aunt brought for me from Tasmania, Australia. It's a very fragrant honey and tastes absolutely amazing. I added a tablespoon of honey to the ganache and it worked beautifully. 

As strawberries are in season, I'm sending this to Simple and in Season run by Ren Behan. It's guest hosted this month by Sally from My Custard Pie.

I'm sending this to Let's Cook With Strawberries hosted by Nayna from Simply Food. 

I'm also entering this to Blogger Bakespiration Challenge hosted by stuckinthetree. 

 ready to go in the oven 

 spread ganache on the bottom layer of the cake 

 top with chopped fresh strawberries 

 add second layer of cake and another layer of chocolate ganache 

 decorate with ganache dipped strawberries 


For the chocolate cake 

200 grams plain flour
200 grams caster sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
40 grams cocoa powder
175 grams soft unsalted butter
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
150 ml sour cream

For the honey chocolate ganache

150mls double cream
200g dark chocolate chopped
1 tablespoon leatherwood honey (optional) 

  • Preheat the oven to 180C.
  • Grease and line 2 x 20cm sandwich tins.
  • Place all the ingredients for the cake in a stand mixer and mix until smooth. Alternatively mix everything by hand in a large mixing bowl.
  • Divide the cake mixture evenly between the sandwich tins and bake for approximately 35minutes or until cooked and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.
  • Allow to cool completely before decorating.
  • To make the ganache, bring the cream to a boil in a small saucepan.
  • Remove from the heat and stir in the chopped chocolate. 
  • Continue stirring until all the chocolate has melted and you have a smooth, glossy ganache.
  • Add 1 tablespoon of honey if using. 
  • Decorate the cake as shown. 

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

AlphaBakes "R" Round up

Welcome to the R roundup of AlphaBakes. It has been a lovely summery July and that is clearly reflected in the entries received for this month. All eligible entries have been entered into a prize draw and a winner has been chosen at random to win a copy of Perfecting Patisserie by Tim Kinnaird. Find out who the lucky winner is at the bottom of this post.

First up is Caroline's mum, Jacqueline with a Mary Berry recipe. She made a raspberry puree and almond traybake. 

Next is my co-host Caroline from Caroline Makes with a Giant Cupcake - Raspberry Flavour which she made for her mum's birthday. The cake contains fresh raspberries and she used candy melts to make the cupcake shell which gives it a very neat professional finish. 

Johanna from Green Gourmet Giraffe regularly bakes her own bread and after some experimentation, she came up with this Oats and Seeds Sourdough Bread. It is based on Dan Lepard's White Levain Loaf and contains rolled oats , sesame seeds, poppyseeds, linseeds and chia seeds. She made a sandwich with avocado, grated carrot, sun dried tomato, tofurky and mayonnaise as pictured here. 

On to some seasonal produce we have Rhubarb Shortbread Bars from Suelle from Mainly Baking. The rhubarb is her own and she's created a shortbread base and a coconut flapjack topping to showcase her rhubarb. The coconut worked really well with the rhubarb as it added extra flavour and texture.

Next we have two lovely entries from The Dream Baker. The first is Rainbow Flower Buns. These are coloured buns filled with Nutella arranged in the shape of a flower.

The second is Rainbow Flower Butter Cookies. These are inspired by her Colourful Checkered Butter Cookies. As she says in her blog, they are just too pretty and tasty to resist! If you want to know how to make these at home and read her detailed instructions including process photos.

Stuart from CakeyBoi drew inspiration from rhubarb and custard sweeties and came up with this Rhubarb and Custard Cookie Bars. It has a cookie base topped with rhubarb jam (which he intended to make from scratch but alas had to resort to store bought) and a thick custard topping. 

Next we have Raspberry, Strawberry and Rose Millefeuille by Vanesther from Bangers & Mash. She has a new addiction to rosewater and has added it to this wonderful dessert which really enhances the flavours. She used store bought puff pastry and says that is's deceptively easy to make and will definitely impress! 

Did you know that there is a Raspberry Cake Day? Jasmine from Self Sufficient Cafe made this gorgeous Raspberry Cake using fresh raspberries from her allotment. It is a vegan recipe containing soy yoghurt and tofu.  

For a cooling summer treat, try one (or more) of these Raspberry Ripple - White Chocolate Coconut Milk Ice-Cream Bars & Bites made by Kate from the Gluten Free Alchemist.  This is inspired by childhood memories of eating ice cream on holiday. It has a fresh honey raspberry syrup, white chocolate coconut ice cream all coated in magic dark chocolate coating. Check out her blog post to find out the magic ingredient!

Continuing with the raspberry theme we have a Fresh Raspberry Swirl Loaf Cake by Laura from I'd Much Rather Bake Than ... It is a wonderfully moist cake with a pretty pink swirl inside topped with white chocolate.

Next is my own entry which is a quick and simple no bake recipe. It's a Rhubarb and Redcurrant Cheesecake made with a digestive biscuit base and a mascarpone and cream cheese filling topped with rhubarb and redcurrant compote served in a trifle dish. 

Alexandra from The Lass in the Apron made Raspberry-Cointreau Tarts with chocolate crust. The crust contains Cointreau and is filled with a lovely custard filling which also contains Cointreau. This is topped with fresh raspberries and look ever so tempting!

Next we have an interesting flavour combination of beetroot and raspberry. Shaheen from A Seasonal Veg Table made use of raspberries and beetroot from her garden to create this Beetroot and Raspberry Bakewell Oat Bars. The ground almonds remind her of Bakewell tarts hence the name. 

Fiona from Let Them Eat Cake! has had a stressful time lately writing a thesis for her PhD, moving house and then being told to avoid dairy or gluten! She's come up with these gorgeous Rose Lemonade Marshmallows which are dairy and gluten free. They'd also make great gifts in little gift bags tied with a ribbon.

Last but not least we have a refreshing Raspberry Mojito from Dom from Belleau Kitchen. He has a few handy tips on cocktail making in his blog post so make sure you check them out. A version of this recipe will appear in the August edition of Lincolnshire Life Magazine. 

That's the end of the AlphaBakes "R" round up. Thank you to everyone who participated this month. As mentioned earlier, a lucky winner has been selected at random and that lucky winner is ... Kate from the Gluten Free Alchemist. Congratulations! 

Make sure you check out Caroline's blog on 1st Aug to find out what letter we are using in August. 

Monday, 28 July 2014

SRC: Butterscotch Brownies

Welcome to July's Secret Recipe Club Group D Reveal day! I love the Secret Recipe Club and look forward to reveal day every month. The concept is simple - each blog is assigned another blog in secret and the idea is that you choose a recipe to make from your secret blog and reveal it on the same day. It's a great way to discover new blogs and exciting recipes. 

This month, my assignment is Bewitching Kitchen written by Sally. She was born and raised in Brazil but now resides in Manhattan working as a biochemist. Her approach to cooking reflects the timeless advice of Julia Child, using a famous quote by Harvey Steiman: “Everything in moderation, including moderation…”

She writes a beautiful blog full of lovely recipes and tales from her life. I strongly encourage you to visit her blog and to see for yourself. There's certainly never a dull moment in the Bewitching Kitchen!

As always, it was difficult to pick just one recipe to make but my eyes were immediately drawn to these Butterscotch Brownies. I love brownies and the simplicity of this recipe appealed to me. I've never made a brownie recipe with only 1 egg or less than a block of butter! As Sally mentions on her blog, the recipe only makes a very small batch so I ended up using my loaf tin instead of my square tin. The brownies were deliciously fudgey and gooey as a brownie should be. You can clearly taste the walnuts and chocolate especially since I put more than the suggested amount in! 

Other recipes that I've bookmarked to try are Chocolate Bread, Lemon Shortbread Bars, Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies, and Tuxedo Cake

 butterscotch base - melted butter and brown sugar 

 adding the nuts and chocolate chunks

 ready to go in the oven 

 packed full of walnuts and chocolate chunks! 

Recipe adapted slightly from Bewitching Kitchen

75g flour
1 tsp baking powder
65g unsalted butter
180g brown sugar
1 large egg
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
100g chopped walnuts (OR omit the walnuts, and double the choc chips amount)
100g chocolate chips
(I would recommend 50g walnuts + 50g chocolate chips)
  • Preheat the oven to 175C.
  • Grease and line a small loaf tin.
  • Melt the butter and then stir in the brown sugar. 
  • Add the egg and vanilla extract and mix well.
  • Stir in the flour followed by the walnuts and chocolate chunks. 
  • Pour the batter into the loaf tin and bake for about 20-25 minutes or until the top is set and the middle is still slightly wobbly.
  • Allow to cool completely before slicing. 

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Rhubarb and Redcurrant Cheesecake

Hi everyone. Apologies for the long silence on my blog. I've been away on holidays and had family visiting. It's been a hectic few weeks and I've not had a chance to bake at all. Plus the weather has been so hot, it's really hard to motivate myself to get in the kitchen. Turning the oven on makes the kitchen feel like an oven! However, I couldn't miss making an AlphaBake entry particularly as I am hosting this month.

This is a really quick no bake recipe and perfect for the hot summer weather. The inspiration is from the Opies website which I adapted slightly to suit my requirements. Opies sent me a lovely selection of goodies to review which includes this Rhubarb & Redcurrant compote. It has a tart taste of rhubarb and is a gorgeous deep red colour. It worked really well in a cheesecake as it complemented the sweet, soft cheese and crunchy biscuit base. 

As mentioned, I am entering this to AlphaBakes which I am hosting this month. My co host is Caroline from Caroline Makes. The letter this month is R for Rhubarb and Redcurrant. 

As rhubarb is currently in season, I'm also sending it to Simple and in Season guest hosted by Sally from My Custard Pie this month for Ren.

Four Seasons Food goes Al Fresco this month and this cheesecake is perfect for an outdoor party or picnic. It's really quick and easy to throw together and will definitely be a cooling and refreshing dessert for everyone. This lovely challenge is hosted by Louisa fromEat Your Veg and Anneli from Delicieux

Finally to a new challenge this month called The Vegetable Palette hosted by Shaheen from A2K - A Seasonal Veg Table. This month's challenge is Summer Reds which is perfect for rhubarb and redcurrants.


Recipe adapted from Opies website

16 digestive biscuits, crushed
50g butter, melted
250g mascarpone cheese
200g cream cheese
50g icing sugar
1 x 400g jar of Rhubarb and redcurrant compote

  • Blitz the digestive biscuits in a food processor or place in a seal bag and bash it with a rolling pin.
  • Melt the butter in a small pan or in the microwave.
  • Pour melted butter into the biscuit mixture and mix. 
  • Place a layer of the biscuit on serving dish and place in the fridge to set.
  • Place the mascarpone cheese and cream cheese in a large bowl.
  • Sift over the icing sugar and mix well.
  • Spoon the sweetened cheese mixture on top of the biscuit base.
  • Pour over a jar of rhubarb & redcurrant compote.
  • Chill before serving. 
Disclaimer: I was sent a jar of Rhubarb & Redcurrant compote from Opies for review purposes. A positive review was not required and all opinions expressed are my own. This is not a paid post. 

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

AlphaBakes July 2014

Welcome to another round of AlphaBakes. We are well into the summer months now which is perfect for the letter that was randomly chosen for this month. I do hope that you will be able to join in as it's quite an easy letter and there are some seasonal ingredients that fit the bill. Before I tell you what letter it is, do make sure you check out Caroline's blog for last month's 'D' round up. 

There is a special prize for 1 lucky entrant chosen at random from all eligible entries this month. You have to have a valid UK address to be eligible for the prize - please let me know in your email if it's not clear where you are based on your blog. The prize is kindly sponsored by Quarto Publishing. It's a copy of Perfecting Pattiserie by Tim Kinnaird. Tim is a pastry chef and owner of Macarons & More, which in July 2012 was awarded a Guild of Fine Food Great Taste Award. Tim launched the company after reaching the finals of BBC 1’s MasterChef 2010.

So without further ado, the letter for this month is 'R'.
Please remember to email your entries to by 25th July 2014. A quick reminder of the rules...

1. Post your recipe on your blog and link it to The More than Occasional Baker and Caroline Makes, stating the relevant month's host. If you do not have a blog, email us a picture and a brief description of your entry which we will include in the round-up at the end of the month.

2. You can use your own recipe or someone else's recipe. The recipe can be sweet, savoury or a mixture! Anything goes as long as the random letter is predominantly featured in the recipe as one of the main ingredients or flavours or in the name of the bake itself (i .e . not as a garnish , or using 'flour' for the letter F!) You can also republish old posts/recipes but you must include the information for this challenge as stated in these rules.

3. Add the logo to your post and add 'alphabakes' as a label to your post.

4. Email your entries to by midnight (GMT) 25th of each month. Please include:
  • Your name (that you want included in the round up or we will use the name of your blog)
  • Your blog post URL
  • Recipe title
  • Photo of recipe (to be included in the round up)5. You can submit as many entries as you like.
5. You can submit as many entries as you like.

6. You do not have to participate every month to join in.

7. You may submit your entry to other challenges as long as it complies with their rules.

8. If you use twitter, please use the tag #alphabakes and mention @bakingaddict and @Caroline_Makes. We will retweet all those that we see.

9. Have fun! :)