Rye apple and cinnamon cake

Rye apple and cinnamon cakeCall me behind the times, but I’ve only recently managed to start investigating flours that aren’t your plain, self-raising, strong or wholemeal variety. I bought a bag of rye flour the other week to bake a particular cake, but I didn’t have all of the other ingredients for it, so I settled on this rye apple and cinnamon cake from Dan Lepard’s Short and Sweet instead.

The recipe calls for this being made in a small tin, but as I only had a large one, I threw all caution to the wind and used my 20cm round tin instead (I really do know how to party…).

Rye apple and cinnamon cake 2
This cake is definitely my favourite kind – really easy to make. Melt butter, golden syrup and sugar together, mix in the other ingredients and fold in chunks of apple coated in cinnamon before topping with almonds and demerara sugar, and baking. Job done!

I found that I had to leave the cake in for about 15 minutes longer than the recipe said, which was partly due to my dodgy oven and partly because of the different tin I used. I expected to have to bake it for significantly longer than a standard cake anyway because of the rye flour (which is similar to wholemeal flour in terms of density), but that didn’t seem to make too much of a difference – perhaps because it was mixed with ground almonds.

Rye apple and cinnamon cake 3
This cake is very much of the comfort food variety – you wouldn’t wheel this out for a special occasion, but it’s just the thing for teatime on a dreary autumn day. The texture is fairly rough due to the rye flour, but the flavour of the apples and cinnamon really comes through. I think it helped that I used Bramley apples, but you could probably use standard dessert apples too.

Definitely one to make again!

Dorset apple cake

Dorset apple cake
I’ve had some Bramley apples lying around for a while – I’d bought some to make mincemeat with, but Asda delivered way more than I needed due to their weird substitution rules. I recently acquired a fancy tarte tatin dish thanks to the folks at my old place of work, but I reluctantly decided that I couldn’t very well make a 30 cm tarte tatin just for myself and still keep to a post-Christmas sensible eating regime. Instead, I made this Dorset apple cake.

It’s a delightfully simple recipe (by Edd Kimber of GBBO fame) and contains raisins and cinnamon as well as the apple, making for some lovely flavours. You can serve the cake warm from the oven with custard or ice cream, or have it cold at teatime – it’s equally delicious either way.

Dorset apple cake
The only trouble I had with the cake was (as always) the baking time. Perhaps I didn’t cut the apple into small enough chunks, but my Dorset apple cake took well over an hour to properly cook through, as opposed to 30-40 minutes! Still, it meant that the house smelled rather deliciously of cooking apples for quite a while, which was very pleasant.

The cake was a little fragile while still warm, so if you make this do be careful when releasing it from the tin and slicing it up. It does become slightly sturdier when it’s completely cool, though.

Dorset apple cake
I made the cake yesterday and have so far had it warm with custard and cold on its own. I have one (big) slice left after distributing the rest to my mum, which I’m going to try warm with ice cream in the interests of trying all possible combinations so I can decide which is best. The things I do for this blog! :o)

The recipe

Can be found on the BBC Good Food website here. I used raisins instead of sultanas.

First bake: spiced beetroot, apple and hazelnut muffins

Spiced beetroot, apple and hazelnut muffins

Beetroot has recently become one of my favourite vegetables. I’ve always liked it, but I’ve tasted or used it in a few recipes over the last few weeks and am amazed at how versatile it is. So, today, I decided to bake this recipe that I’ve had my eye on for a while to see just what else the beetroot can do.

The recipe seems fairly simple on first glance, but be warned: it takes longer than you think to grate a pile of apples and beetroot! The effort is well worth it, though. Once you’re at the point where you can throw the grater into the sink/dishwasher, it’s just a matter of whipping up the dry and wet mixes and folding them together. Then, the rather wonderful crunchy hazelnut topping is made – this is sprinkled over the muffins in their cases before baking.

Spiced beetroot, apple and hazelnut muffin mixes

Left: hazelnut topping, right: raw muffin mix in cases

The recipe calls for 3 heaped teaspoons of mixed spice and 1 tsp of cinnamon altogether, but I found out too late that I didn’t have any cinnamon, so I just added more of the mixed spice. Another substitution I made was ready-packed toasted chopped hazelnuts for the blanched hazelnuts, just to save time.

The muffin mix seemed pretty wet to me; I think this is because of the amount of beetroot. The recipe rather unhelpfully calls for ‘a pack of cooked beetroot’, which could mean anything! I used a 250g pack, which I now think is a bit too much, so I would recommend you use 150-200g if you make this recipe. There also seemed to be LOTS of the topping mix, but it turned out to be just the right amount!

Spiced beetroot, apple and hazelnut muffins

I left the muffins in the oven for a few minutes longer than the 20 specified in the recipe, because of the wet mix. I had one warm not long after taking them out of the oven, and it was scrumptious! As I suspected, the muffin itself is very moist, but flavoursome nonetheless; I think it would be spicier if less beetroot had been used, however. The topping is what makes the muffins really sing, though – the sweet, nutty crunchiness complements the fruity apple and beetroot perfectly!

This really is a brilliant autumn recipe and one I would recommend if you have a hankering for something comforting but a bit different for your next bake. Just make a note of my changes to the original recipe to make the muffins really perfect!

Spiced beetroot, apple and hazelnut muffin

The recipe

From Vegetarian Living magazine here: http://www.vegetarianliving.co.uk/recipes.php?do=view&recipe=541

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.

Re-bake: carrot, apple and raisin cake

Carrot, apple and raisin cake

Do you ever buy so-called ‘healthy’ cakes and other snacks aimed at weight watchers and end up disappointed at how flavourless they are? They might only contain 0.0000000000001g of saturated fat per serving, but they’re usually rubbish when it comes to taste. The solution? Make your own healthy cake – like this vegan-friendly carrot, apple and raisin cake.

I absolutely love this cake – it’s packed with fruit and, most importantly, flavour. Orange juice and zest give it an uplifting zinginess, while pumpkin seeds add a little crunch (and are also low GI). The fat comes from vegetable oil rather than butter (although I used sunflower oil) and there are no eggs – the moisture in the carrot and apple is more than enough to hold it all together.

Cut into 12 pieces, the cake has 1g of saturated fat and 207 calories per serving – which I think is brilliant considering how tasty it is! So if you are trying to lose weight, are vegan or generally don’t get on with dairy products, this is the cake to go for when you want to treat yourself.

Carrot, apple and raisin cake

The recipe

Taken from BBC Good Food 1o1 Cakes & Bakes, and also available online here (obviously grease the tin with something other than butter if you’re vegan or dairy-intolerant!).