Whenever I eat a bare banana cake, I can’t help thinking it could do with some icing.
As we had loads of bananas, slowly turning black, in the fruit bowl, it was time to inflict another banana cake on my work colleagues. Rather than leaving bare, I decided to top it with some sort of salted caramel icing; I couldn’r decide on buttercream or a plain glaze.
The other issue, was deciding on whose banana cake to make, in the end I decided to go for Signe Johansen’sBanana spice cake, from Scandilicious Baking. This was under the incorrect assumption that I hadn’t already made this one for my work colleagues.
If I’d bothered to look at my spreadsheet of previous bakes, I’d have baked Dan Lepard’sDark banana ginger cake instead. I’d baked it the weekend before, we had friends round for fika, and thought that it could handle some icing.
I decided to go with a simple salted caramel glaze. I can’t remember which recipe I used for inspiration, but it’s pretty simple; make a caramel, add some salt, pour over cake, eat. As it turns out, banana cakes are generally bare for a reason. The topping didn’t quite work, it was nice, but jarred with the cake a bit too much.
If I was going to attempt to top a banana cake again, I think a buttercream based topping would be a better choice.
I’ve made these once before, they were lovely. Not sure why its taken me so long to make them again.
These Iced London Buns are from Justin Gellatly’s excellent book, Bread, Cake, Doughnut, Pudding. You can tell they’re going to be tasty, before you mix the dough. Even the caraway seeds, which at first glance seem a bit odd, smell right when they’re in the bowl with everything else.
Both times I’ve made these I’ve not been too happy with the shape of the buns. They don’t turn out like the iced buns you buy from the shops, which are generally touching and have to be pulled apart. This is no bad thing, depending on your point of view.
I’m not sure what happened when they were in the oven, as they didn’t colour up very well. Even with an egg wash, they came out slightly anaemic and patchy, rather than the stated golden brown. Maybe if I’d just brushed them with egg yolk, rather than whole egg, they would have been less patchy, who knows.
While my icing skillz leave a lot to be desired, I was relatively happy with how the icing on these turned out. I can’t help thinking that the icing would’ve looked better if I’d used a letterbox type icing nozzle, rather than just chopping the end of the icing bag. I might have to invest in some bigger icing bags and some nozzles and try that next time.
If you fancy making some iced buns, then you could do a lot worse than these. I’d definitely recommend giving them a try.
I loved Millionaire’s Shortbread as a child. Mum used to make it occasionally and I’d sneak downstairs and nick slices out of the biscuit tin.
It’s a wonder that I’ve not attempted to make it before now. I think I’ve always been put off by making the caramel layer, and the fact that it’s a three step process with gaps between each step. You need to plan ahead, which is something I always seem to forget to do. As I had all the ingredients and I was off work (ill again), I decided I had the time to make it.
When the base was cool, I made the caramel, which as it turns out wasn’t that hard. Although I think it’s one of those things that you get better with experience, as it’s all about knowing when to stop the cooking. Once the caramel was cool, I melted the chocolate and slathered it on top.
I always remember Mum cutting her millionaire’s shortbread into fingers. This was so chunky and rich, that I’m not sure you’d have been able to finish a finger. With the office being half empty again, and the fact that you didn’t need that big a chunk, it didn’t get finished. My wife loves millionaire’s shortbread, as do the kids, so I luckily managed to avoid a tricky situation by brining some home.
If I was to make it again, I would make the shortbread and caramel layers slightly thiner, they were both just a bit too thick. This might require a bit more chocolate on top, which is hardly a problem.
Fridge cake isn’t just for summer. I made this back in early February, I’ve just been slack with blogging about it.
I’d originally planned on making fridge cake and millionaire’s shortbread together. A bout of illness had me off work on my usual cake day, and the following week lots of colleagues were out of the office, so I settled on just making the fridge cake.
It wasn’t exactly hard to make, the only issue was getting home to find I’d mistakenly though there was mixed peel in the house. I substituted glacé cherries, no-one complained. The kids complained even less when I came home with a few slices left over.
If you’re after a quick and easy bake for work, you can’t really go wrong with this kind of thing.
Cookies are an easy way to feed a load of work colleagues. As they’re generally a hungry lot, I decided to give them the option and made two different types.
I settled on chocolate chip and peanut butter, both from the Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook. I’ve made both of these before, multiple times. My daughter especially loves the peanut butter ones.
I used my ice cream scoop to measure out the dough, so for a change, they were all roughly the same size. Both were tasty, although I think the peanut butter ones went down slightly better than the chocolate chip ones.
I didn’t fancy making two of them, so decided to find a complimentary cake. As oranges and lemons are made for each other, I plumped for Rose Elliot’sLemon cake from her book Fast, Fresh and Fabulous (which has since been renamed the Low-GI Vegetarian Cookbook). The two cake recipes are pretty much identical, except for the citrus fruit used.
There is only one downside to these recipes, which is the boiling of the fruit, it takes ages. Other than that, they’re pretty easy to make. A quick dusting with icing sugar when they’ve cooled and they’re ready to go, accompanied by a pot crème fraîche.
You’ll notice, however, that they didn’t look the same. Claudia Roden’s Orange and Almond Cake had way more volume to it before it went into the oven. It promptly collapsed when it came out and cooled, and stuck itself to the side of the buttered and floured tin. Rose Elliot’s went into the tin and came out of the oven at exactly the same level, no rise but no sinkage either. It had come away from the sides of the tin though, so turned out without any issues.
The appeared to go down quite well, with the lemon cake looking like the favourite out of the two. I’m not sure if this was because I’d used Seville oranges, rather than a sweeter variety, or that the texture on the lemon cake was maybe slightly better. Either way, it meant that I had a few slices to have for breakfast on the Saturday and Sunday.
I’ve baked something for my work colleagues, pretty much every week, for the last couple of years. You’d think that I’d have blogged about it, I’ve been missing a trick.
Cakes, cookies, bars, brownies, muffins and pies, they’ve had the whole lot. I’ve used 7UP, mayonnaise and cannellini beans as ingredients, along with the usual staples. Not all of them have been very good, a few have stuck in their tins, or haven’t quite come out the the oven quickly enough, or just been a bit, well, meh.
A few have been stupendous though. The Honey & Co.Chocolate, hazelnut & cinnamon krantz loaf was sublime; so good I made it again the following weekend for a family gathering. Justin Gellatly’sginger cake was probably everyone’s favourite though, it was absolutely delicious and didn’t last long.
After watching the final episode of Paul Hollywood’s Bread, I really wanted to make his Savoury Brioche Couronne, but as it’s not vegetarian, I wanted to use a different filling. Step forward Yotam Ottolenghi and his Taleggio and Spinach Roulade from his new book Plenty More.
Making the brioche dough was pretty straight forward and it went into the colder of our two fridges to spend the night. Unlike the brioche that I’d made a couple of weeks before, I put this dough into a large enough container. Even so, it still ballooned enough to touch to the clingfilm that I’d placed over the top of the bowl.
The following morning the dough came out of the fridge a few hours before I knew that I was going to need to bake it. If I’m being honest, I could probably have got it out a little earlier, as the couronne didn’t see to rise that much once it was made. The dough was still quite soft, even though it had been in the fridge all night. The top had formed a little bit of a skin, so I might need to oil it a bit more next time, although it didn’t seem to affect the dough once it had been rolled out.
I had to use quite a bit of flour to stop the dough from sticking to the work surface and the rolling pin. It wasn’t as easy to handle as Paul made it look on the telly either, every time I tried to pick it up to turn it round I nearly put my fingers through it, as it was quite floppy. For some reason I didn’t get my measuring tape out, so I definitely rolled the dough out too large. It was supposed to be a 40cm x 50cm rectangle, but I went over on both dimensions, especially the width. This made the dough a bit on the thin side, which became a problem when it came to rolling up.
I was a bit worried about Yotam’s filling, as you have to slather some crème fraîche over the dough before adding the rest of the fillings. I was a bit worried that this would stop the dough from cooking properly, but given Paul’s recipe calls for four mozzarella balls, which are renown for outputting large amounts of liquid when melted, I figured that a little crème fraîche would be probably be fine. It was.
As I’d made the dough a little on the thin side, rolling it all up meant that the tomatoes and lumps of taleggio wanted to burst through the dough. In retrospect, I could have squished both flat with my hand, before scattering them across the dough. Eventually though, it was all rolled up and rolled out into long thin sausage. As I don’t own a Scottish Scraper, I just used one of my big Global knives to shop down the middle of the dough and split it in two.
When you see Paul twisting the two sausages of dough together on the telly, it looks relatively easy. In reality it wasn’t quite that simple, as the two sausages of dough just weren’t robust enough to be picked up and thrown about like that. You picked up and end and the dough just started to stretch, there was no way it was going to wrap itself into a nice looking twist with just a few flicks of the wrist.
Not to be deterred, I somehow managed to twist the two strands together and form the whole thing into a kind of ring shape. I did struggle trying to join the two ends, as can clearly be seen in the photos. Once it was successfully on a baking sheet, it was put into a polybag and left to rise for about an hour. I think it would have benefitted from a slightly longer prove, as it didn’t seem to have risen that much at all. After a bit of an egg wash, it was into the oven.
While it was cooking, I knocked up a couple of salads to go with it. One was just a simple rocket, olive, tomato and feta affair with a simple white wine vinegar and olive oil vinaigrette. The second, was a chicory, mulled pear and taleggio salad, with a honey mustard dressing.
I was a bit unsure about the chicory salad, as it’s not something we really use. As we don’t have a griddle pan we can use on our induction hob, I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to char it enough to soften it. I needn’t have worried though, a stinking hot frying pan did the job and the salad was really nice. A perfect use for one of the Kilner jars of mulled pears that didn’t seal.
So what was it like? It was really nice, if maybe a touch on the doughy side, in my opinion. I’m not sure if I thought it was doughy because that’s just what’s like, or if it would have benefited from a longer final prove, or slightly longer in the oven. Never having made one before, it’s hard to know what the outcome is actually supposed to be like.
It appeared to go down well with everyone though and the leftovers I had for the lunch the following day were pretty tasty too. It’s definitely something I would do again, maybe with a slightly longer final prove though.
I was under the impression that a Gugelhupf was made from an enriched bread dough, with the addition of booze soaked dried mixed fruit. Some of the recipes I stumbled across though, had you separating the eggs and whisking up the whites, before folding in all the other ingredients. Sorry, but that’s a cake, not an enriched bread. One of the problems with something like a Gugelhupf, is that everyone has their own recipe and they’re all subtly different. What I was after was a reference recipe, one based on some tradition, that would give a known good result. I’m still looking.
Getting a bit frustrated with the internet, I asked my wife if she could pick me up a bread book from the local library while she was there one day. I was hoping that she’d come back with one that happened to have a Gugelhupf recipe in it, lo and behold, the only one in the local library, just happened to have one. I’ve no idea how authentic the recipe in The Bread Book by Sara Lewis is, but as I didn’t really have another one, I decided to give it ago. I was a bit disconcerted by it taking about the dough as a batter, as that’s more of a cake thing as far as I’m concerned.
I wanted to go with a mix of dried fruit, but only had some old mixed peel and sultanas. I remembered that I’d bought some barberries as Yotam uses them in his new book. I was a bit worried about them being too sharp and clashing with the other fruit, but as I didn’t have anything else, into some brandy they went. The dough, sorry batter, was pretty easy to make, bung everything into the KitchenAid and mix, then prove, knock back, shape into the bundt pan and leave to rise.
After baking, I left it too cool and the following morning, liberally doused the top with some icing. As you can see from the photo at the top of the page, I maybe should have made the icing a bit thicker, but I quite like that effect. The colour on the outside was quite strong, which I think might be down to me buttering the inside of the tin before adding the dough, it’s what the recipe said to do.
I’ve also cooked Mary Berry’s cherry cake in this bundt pan and it too had significant colour on the outside, even though it was only just cooked. Again the pan was buttered before the batter was added. Both the cherry cake and the Gugelhupf fell out of the pan when it was inverted, so I may not butter it next time, just to see what happens. The pan does has a rather heavy non-stick coating on it, so I’m assuming that buttering it as well is maybe a bit too much.
The only problem with the bundt pan, is that it’s not really a Gugelhupf pan, it’s too wide and not deep enough, so you don’t get that classic Gugelhupf shape. That’s not to say that what came out of it wasn’t tasty though, it was and the whole thing disappeared in a couple of days. The next step with this kind of enriched bread, utilising the bundt pan, is a friends Rosinenstuten (raisin bread) recipe.
I’ve been baking a lot of bread recently, at least one loaf per week, sometimes as many as three. All of them have just been my usual mix of 400g of Strong White, along with 100g of Rye, which I quite like. I wanted to try some sort of enriched bread though, something like a Gugelhupf or a Panettone, but as I had neither a Gugelhupf or a Panettone tin, I decided to have another attempt at some Brioche
I hadn’t realised that it had been so long since I’d last attempted some Brioche, nearly two years, so was keen to try again. Rather than use the recipe from Bread: River Cottage Handbook No. 3, I decided to use the one on Paul Hollywood’s website. I’m not sure what it is, but I’ve found that I’m getting better results using Paul’s recipes, rather than Dan’s. It might just be that I’m not over proving my bread anymore, either way, Paul’s recipes just seem to produce nice bread.
I mixed up the dough and stuck it into the fridge before going out for the evening. I popped back to the house to pick something up a few hours later and opened the fridge to check on the dough, it had decided to try and break free from its shackles and was almost out of its container. There was me thinking that yeast doesn’t work at low temperatures, the Allinson dried active baking yeast that my wife accidently bought (it was supposed to be the Doves Farm quick yeast) certainly seemed happy enough to keep going for a couple of hours at least.
The following morning I shaped the dough, which was still quite sticky and pliable, into a ball and popped it into our 23cm springform tin and left it on the work surface to rise. I was a bit worried that the yeast might have exhausted itself in the fridge the night before, so after a couple of hours of inactivity, I put the tin onto a bit of work surface that had sunlight on it. Hey Presto, it’s Safeway, an hour later the dough was peeking over the top of the tin, so into the oven it went.
It required a few minutes longer than the time stated in the recipe, but then the tin I used was also an inch smaller, so presumably the Brioche was a bit thicker and needed a few extra minutes to finish. It came out of the tin with no issues and was left to cool while we all went down the pub for a few halves of Oakham Green Devil IPA. I must have been going on and on about it down the pub, as I ended up coming home and cutting a few slices to share around the pub garden.
The end result was fantastic, if I do say so myself, the kids must have thought so too, as they were even asking for it in the mornings before school. As I had a kilner jar of mulled pears that hadn’t sealed, I toasted some of the Brioche and had some of the pears, with some sour cream and pomegranate molasses for my breakfast. Any day that starts with a slab of toasted Brioche has to be a good day.