Re-bake: cinnamon Nutella cake

Cinnamon Nutella cake

It was my turn to do the charity baking for work this week, so I settled on two tried-and-tested favourites – courgette and mozzarella muffins, and this rather delectable cinnamon Nutella cake.

It’s super easy to make – no sifting, no separate wet and dry mixes, etc. Just throw everything into a bowl, stir, layer the mix with dollops of Nutella in the tin, and bake. Now that’s my kind of cake.

Cinnamon Nutella cake mix

Cinnamon Nutella cake mix

The cake was perfect after an hour in the oven, although there was some very slight leaking of melted Nutella from the bottom of the cake when I pulled the baking paper off – but that’s probably due to the fact I always put in a bit more Nutella than the recipe calls for (it, erm, stops me eating quite so much straight from the jar).

Cinnamon Nutella cake mix in tin

Cinnamon Nutella cake mix in tin

I actually used Morrisons own-brand hazelnut and chocolate spread this time, but I honestly couldn’t tell the difference between that and Nutella, apart from the lovely lower price, of course.

The cake itself has a nice thick crumb (due to the lack of sifting!) with a fairly strong cinnamon flavour and some luscious mouthfuls of ‘Nutella’ at the bottom (if anyone can come up with a way to stop the spread sinking to the bottom during the baking, please let me know!).

Cinnamon Nutella cake

This is an excellent cake to make if you’re in a rush, or just have a longing for some cakey Nutella goodness. There was some cake left over after the sale, which means I get to enjoy a piece as a rare treat this weekend (let’s gloss over the number of WeightWatchers points it contains…!) – lovely!

The recipe

On the BBC Good Food website here – http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/1688/cinnamon-nutella-cake

First bake: white chocolate, cherry and coconut cookies

White chocolate, cherry coconut cookies

As has been well documented on this blog, I’m a huge fan of coconut, chocolate and cherries. The other night, I decided to whip up some cookies using these very flavours by adapting a recipe from my trusty BBC Good Food book – with delicious results.

Cookies are brilliant if you want to bake but don’t have much time – or many ingredients. This recipe can be adapted in any number of ways – just replace the chocolate, coconut and cherries with whatever else you like. It didn’t take me long at all to make these, even though I had to bake them in batches due to the mysterious disappearance of one of my baking trays.

I’ve never actually made this recipe before, but it’s wonderfully easy – just mix and bake. I sped things up further by using dessicated coconut and glace cherries rather than, say, creamed or fresh coconut and fresh cherries.

White chocolate, cherry and coconut cookie dough

White chocolate, cherry and coconut cookie dough

The cookies are amazing – gooey white chocolate, sweet cherries and intense coconut all combine for a taste sensation! I wish I’d made more as they all disappeared in record time!

The recipe

Adapted from the recipe for Smarties cookies in BBC Good Food 101 Cakes & Bakes.

Makes 14 cookies

  • 100g/4oz butter, softened
  • 100g/4oz light muscovado sugar (I used 75g of this and 25g of golden caster sugar)
  • 1 tbsp golden syrup
  • 150g/6oz self-raising flour
  • 100g white chocolate, broken into chunks
  • 10 glace cherries, sliced in half
  • 50g unsweetened dessicated coconut

1. Preheat the oven to 180C/Gas 4/fan oven 160C. Line two baking trays with baking paper (or bake in batches).

2. Beat the butter and sugar in a bowl until light and creamy, then beat in the syrup.

3. Stir in half the flour. Stir the chocolate, cherries and coconut into the remaining flour and stir into the mix, working together with your fingers to create a dough.

4. Divide into 14 balls, space them well apart on the baking trays and flatten slightly with your fingers.

5. Bake for 12 minutes until pale golden at the edges. Cool on a wire rack.

First bake: spiced honey cake

Spiced honey cake

There isn’t anything much more comforting than a spiced cake, especially on a dreary day or when you’re simply feeling a little under the weather. This recipe from Asda magazine caught my eye not just because of the spices, but also due to its use of honey – yet another baking ingredient I adore!

It’s a fairly simple cake to make; the wet and dry ingredients are mixed separately, then there’s the fun bit where you stir some bircarbonate of soda into orange juice and watch it fizz up! The mix ends up being rather runny (see pic below), but it does firm up in the oven.

Spiced honey cake mix

Spiced honey cake mix

The cake was baked to perfection in 45 minutes. I managed to forget to retain a tablespoon of the orange juice for the icing, so I used a splash of syrup from a jar of stem ginger, a little orange blossom honey and some water instead. The recipe says to drizzle the icing over the cooled cake, which I did in careful diagonal lines to begin with, but then ended up accidentally splashing a fair bit in the middle of it, so just drizzled the rest over any old how – hence the messy appearance!

The finished cake is rather gingerbread-y in texture, but still sufficiently soft enough to be classified as a cake. It’s wonderfully light – there’s no butter in this recipe, just sunflower oil. The spice flavour is nice and strong, but doesn’t overpower the honey.

Spiced honey cake

All in all, this is an excellent cake and one I would make again. It’s highly recommended if you too love spiced cakes, and also if you’re trying to reduce your fat intake – there’s only 4.1g of fat (including 0.6g of saturated fat) and 5 WeightWatchers ProPoints per piece! So go ahead and treat yourself without feeling guilty…

The recipe

Taken from Asda magazine (July 2012).

Serves 16

  • 225g plain flour
  • 1 level tsp baking powder
  • 1 level tsp mixed spice
  • 1 level tsp ground ginger
  • 1 level tsp ground cinnamon
  • 75g caster sugar
  • 175g orange blossom honey
  • 75ml sunflower oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • finely grated zest of half an orange
  • 1 level tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 100g icing sugar
  • 100ml freshly squeezed orange juice, plus 1 tbsp for the icing (I used 1 tsp stem ginger syrup, 1 tsp orange blossom honey and a splash of water instead of the orange juice in the icing)

1. Line a 21cm shallow square cake tin with baking paper. Preheat the oven to 180C/160C fan/Gas 4.

2. Sift the flour, baking powder, mixed spice, ginger and cinnamon together in a bowl. Stir in the caster sugar.

3. In another bowl, beat the honey, oil, eggs and zest. Stir into the flour mixture.

4. Stir the bicarbonate of soda into the orange juice. It will start to fizz up. Immediately stir into the cake mixture until evenly mixed. Pour into the tin – it’s a very runny mixture but firms up when cooked.

5. Bake for 45 minutes or until the top springs back when lightly pressed. Cool on a wire rack.

6. Mix the icing sugar with the extra orange juice, then drizzle on top of the cake. Cut into 16 squares.

First bake: blackberry muffins

Blackberry muffins

Here’s a rather shamefaced confession for this particular baker to make: I’ve re-joined WeightWatchers in an attempt to shed the pounds that have crept on ever since I moved back home to be faced by my mum’s awesome curries night after night. Don’t worry (if, indeed, you are worried) – I will keep baking lots of bad-for-you delights, although I won’t “test” as much as I used to. I’m making a small concession this time round, though, by trying a WW recipe to help get me on the right track.

I’ve actually had quite a good experience with WW baking recipes in the past (but not so much with their rank veggie lasagne and some sort of low-fat cheesy pasta that, quite rarely for my dustbin of a family, was unanimously voted The Most Disgusting Thing Ever). I actually prefer WW’s gingerbread to a richer version I’ve also made, and there are also some good cookie recipes. This muffin recipe caught my eye because they’re only 4 ProPoints each, and also because I very rarely bake with blueberries, for some reason.

Unfortunately, my local supermarket didn’t have any blueberries, so I settled for some blackberries instead, which again I don’t bake with very often. I followed the rest of the recipe to the letter, even going so far as to buy skimmed milk, which I would normally denounce as milk-coloured water.

Blackberry muffin mix

Blackberry muffin mix

The muffins were really easy to make, although I felt a little under pressure by the recipe demanding that I spoon the mix into the tin “quickly”. I’m very slow at transferring muffin mix to paper cases, because I’m obsessed with making sure each case has an equal amount of mix (funnily enough, the muffins always end up being different sizes anyway).

As you can see from the pictures, the muffins were well browned by the time 20 minutes was up. The blackberries held their shape pretty well, although as my brother found out to his dismay, they went soft enough to unexpectedly fall out of the muffins when broken in half!

Blackberry muffins

The muffins are, rather surprisingly, pretty tasty. I did complain that they weren’t particularly sweet on my first bite, but then I got some juicy blackberries and all was right with the world again. The texture is very light, which is to be expected when using margarine, yogurt and skimmed milk in place of good ol’ butter, but not in an unpleasant way – far from it, in fact.

All in all, I really like these muffins and would make them again, hopefully with blueberries next time just to see what they’re like with them in. I would recommend these if you too are trying to get rid of some excess weight, but can’t do without cakey delights altogether!

Blackberry muffins

The recipe

Find it on the WeightWatchers site here: http://www.weightwatchers.co.uk/food/rcp/index.aspx?recipeid=7007752

Herman the German friendship cake

Herman the German friendship cake

Meet Herman the German friendship cake. Someone told me about this chain letter-esque phenomenon that’s been sweeping the country a few weeks ago. You’re given a starter mix (akin to that for sourdough bread) along with a set of instructions, and you spend the next 10 days stirring it once a day and adding stuff to it. Then on the penultimate day you add more stuff, divide it into 4, give away 3 portions and add yet more stuff to the fourth portion on day 10 to turn it into a fabulous cake.

I have to say, I was a little dubious about it at the time, but when I acquired my own starter mix last week I was determined to give it a go. So, this is what my mix looked like on day one:

Herman cake starter mix - day 1

Herman cake starter mix – day 1

Doesn’t look that promising, right? But, amazingly, if you keep in a bowl loosely covered with a tea towel, it starts to bubble and rise. I diligently stirred it for the next three days, marvelling at how much it was bubbling each time. I added flour, sugar (I used light muscovado here because I didn’t have any caster sugar at the time) and milk, then continued with the daily stirring until day 9.

I added flour, sugar (caster this time) and milk again, and divided it up. The next day (which was yesterday!) I proceeded to add the rest of the cake ingredients. I chose to follow the original recipe (apple and raisin) but there are lots of variations you can choose from, including chocolate, lemon and almond, Christmas and marble cake.

Herman cake mix

Herman cake mix – day 10

I used 1 cooking apple instead of 2, because the ones I got were HUGE, and used sunflower oil where the recipe calls for cooking oil. I also (of course) used vanilla extract instead of essence. I would recommend making the optional topping, too, (I used demerara sugar) because it really is the icing on the cake, so to speak!

I put my cake mix in a 20 cm round tin, which is probably the smallest tin you can safely use considering the amount of mixture you end up with. You can use any tin you like, though, as long as it’s big enough. The recipe said to bake for 45 mins, leaving it in for an extra 20 mins if needed, but mine ended up baking for a solid 2 hours!

It was definitely worth the wait, though. I had my first piece while the cake was still warm and it was luscious. I would describe it as a fairly light but very sweet fruit cake, topped with a gorgeously crunchy sugar crust. The pieces of apple are really nice – I now wish I’d put in a bit more!

Herman the German friendship cake

I love this cake and will definitely try it again! I’m going to freeze the leftover starter mix and try another variation – if I can’t give it away, that is! However, you can also make your own starter mix from scratch, so that’s a definite option too.

Herman the German friendship cake

The recipe

Follow these instructions if someone gives you a starter mix, or make your own from scratch with this recipe.

First bake: coconut and raspberry cheesecake

Coconut and raspberry cheesecake

I’ve been meaning to try this recipe ever since I saw it on the excellent Caked Crusader blog a few weeks ago; you’re probably familiar with my love of coconut by now, and I can’t resist a cheesecake! It’s a good recipe to do if you’re oven-phobic, as it simply has to set in the fridge. Well, it’s simple for some, I think – but it wasn’t for me!

Things started off fairly well. The base (I used digestives) was fine and I rather messily mixed all the extremely healthy ingredients for the rest. I used 300g of raspberries rather than 400g, simply because Aldi sold them in 150g packs. I also coated the raspberries in flour to prevent them from sinking to the bottom like it did for the Caked Crusader, which seemed to work. The main difference for me, though, was having to use vegetarian gelatine instead of the pork-derived stuff. I couldn’t find it in leaf form, so settled for a powder product called Vege-Gel, by Dr Oetker.

Unfortunately, something went a bit wrong. I’m not sure if I mixed in the gelatine wrongly, or if the powder itself wasn’t very good, but the cheesecake didn’t entirely set. I left it in the fridge for nearly 24 hours, and when I took it out I gave it a shake to make sure it had set. It didn’t wobble at all, so I confidently took the cake tin ring off it to take a photo – and quickly had to put it back on again! It seemed to have set on the outside, but not in the middle, causing it to collapse (you can see the beginnings of this in the pic above).

I ended up having to scrape the whole lot into a big tupperware box, because the plate wasn’t big or deep enough to cope with a wholesale collapse. We’ve been eating it in bowlfuls, and it does taste extremely lovely (fairly rich, with a hint of coconut and the welcome tartness of the raspberries), but it did end up being cheesecake slop, which was slightly disappointing!

I don’t think I’ll be able to try this again until I find a decent vegetarian substitute for pork gelatine, but I’m glad I gave it a go despite the disastrous results!

The recipe

From the Caked Crusader blog here: http://thecakedcrusader.blogspot.co.uk/2012/07/coconut-and-raspberry-set-cheesecake.html