First bake: soured cream bundt cake

Soured cream bundt cakeI had a bit of a cake tin shopping spree a few weeks ago, obtaining tart tins, a madeleine tin and a bundt tin very cheaply. I’ve been most looking forward to using the bundt tin, and thought BBC Good Food’s recipe for soured cream bundt cake with a butter glaze would be the perfect place to begin, not to mention the ideal way to clog up an artery or two!

There was some faffing involved in making the cake mix – rather than throw everything in a bowl and mix it all together (my favourite method!), you beat together butter and sugar, gradually beat in the eggs, then do some weird half-and-half mixing with the flour, baking powder and soured cream. Then it all goes in the tin and into the oven. Towards the end of the cooking time, you make the butter glaze using sugar, butter, water and vanilla extract.

Soured cream bundt cakeAs you can see from the pictures, my cake didn’t turn out as perfectly as I’d hoped – I gave the cake a good 10 minutes or so longer in the oven than the recipe specified as it didn’t look quite done at the end of 40 minutes, but it seems I should have left it in for a bit longer, as bits of it came away when I tried to prise it from the tin (is there such a thing as a bundt cake tin liner? It would be very helpful!).

Once the cake is out of the tin, brush on some of the butter glaze and then pour the rest over for a cake that could well give you a small heart attack.

Soured cream bundt cake

The result is a beautifully soft, delicious cake that’s also dangerously moreish! My boyfriend pronounced it one of the best cakes I’ve ever made him and, without sounding too big-headed, I think I agree! The vanilla flavour is strong without being overpowering, and the soured cream really makes for a most excellent texture. This is one I’ll definitely make again!

Soured cream bundt cake

The recipe

From the BBC Good Food website here: http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/2155638/soured-cream-bundt-cake-with-butter-glaze

First bake: pan Gallego

Pan GallegoProper Bread isn’t high on my list of baking priorities (the last time I made bread that wasn’t pitta, naan or chapattis was in May), but I’ve had to start practicing again ahead of holding a Spanish-themed housewarming party next month, for which I will need to bake some Spanish bread. The bread in question is this rustic-looking thing, pan Gallego, which hails from the Galicia region.

Pan Gallego is supposed to contain a mixture of pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds and millet, but I only had sunflower seeds so I just used those. It’s made using a mixture of strong white and wholemeal flour, along with a dash of olive oil. The recipe I used called for fresh yeast, but I only had dried and that worked perfectly.

Pan GallegoThis was a rather time-consuming bread to make in terms of kneading and proving, but it was well worth the effort. The bread rose nicely both during proving and baking, making for a huge beast of a bread! Although I was rather lax in allowing it to burn slightly on top, the interior is delicious and, to be honest, I hate wasting food so I’ve been eating the burnt bits anyway, and it’s still nice!

I’ve so far had this on its own, toasted with butter and honey, with manchego cheese and to mop up a half-invented vegetarian Spanish stew, and it’s been lovely on every occasion. There’s still lots left and I’m looking forward to trying it with other things!

The recipe

Can be found in Baking by Martha Day. A very similar recipe can be found online here.

First bake: blackcurrant Bakewell cake

Blackcurrant bakewell cakeI love the flavour of blackcurrants, but having never seen fresh ones for sale, I’ve never had the chance to bake with them. I did, however, console myself with the help of blackcurrant jam, tinned blackcurrants and this rather quick and easy recipe for blackcurrant Bakewell cake the other week.

Blackcurrant bakewell cake mix

Blackcurrant bakewell cake mix

This is really is a ridiculously easy cake to make. Everything apart from the jam gets mixed in one bowl and thrown in a tin. Bake for a bit, add the jam, and bake for a bit more. Et voila! Blackcurrant Bakewell cake.

Blackcurrant bakewell cakeAs is my wont, I did improvise a little by adding tinned blackcurrants along with the jam, in the hope of imparting more of a fruity flavour. It definitely worked, and created a pleasing tang that went nicely with the sweet jam and almond extract.

Blackcurrant bakewell cakeOf course, tinned fruit is no substitute for fresh, but I live in hope that one day I will have some fresh blackcurrants to go mad with…

The recipe

On the BBC Good Food website here: http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/694638/blackcurrant-bakewell

First bake: orange macaroon cake

Orange macaroon cakeMy love of coconut is well-documented on this blog. Whenever I’ve baked with it in the past, though, I’ve tended to pair it with fairly obvious flavours – cherries, raspberries and mangoes, for example. So I was intrigued when I came across this recipe for orange macaroon cake in Dan Lepard’s excellent Short & Sweet recipe book.

I would never have thought of pairing coconut with orange, but it’s a combination that works oh so well in this cake. It probably helps that the orange flavour is incredibly strong – there’s the zest of two oranges in the sponge (as well as a large splash of orange liqueur) and then the zest of one orange plus some juice in the icing. Yum!

Orange macaroon cake mix

Orange macaroon cake mix

The cake was very easy to make. The sponges came out beautifully – I had to leave them in a little longer than the recipe said, but that wasn’t really a problem. The icing was a doddle and the recipe makes just enough for the top and middle of the cake, which is something of a rarity in my experience as I usually end up with far too much! One thing I would say is don’t forget to sift the icing sugar first – I always do this when making icing and it really makes such a difference to the consistency.

Orange macaroon cakeThe coconut flavour comes from dessicated coconut, but I think next time I would reduce the amount of triple sec and add a splash of Malibu to even things out slightly, and perhaps use some coconut cream in the icing. That’s not to say you can’t taste the coconut – it’s definitely there, but as you all know by now, I can always go for more!

Orange macaroon cakeThis really is a lovely cake and I would heartily recommend it if you have a thing for citrusy bakes and/or fancy trying something a little bit different with coconut. You won’t regret it!

The recipe

From Short & Sweet by Dan Lepard, and also available online here: http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2008/apr/12/foodanddrink.shopping2