Rock cakes

Rock cakes
I fancied making something quick and easy the other week, so I opened my newly acquired Delia’s Cakes book and landed on this recipe for rock cakes.

I can’t really remember the last time I had a rock cake, but I had a vague idea of them being a bit cakey and a bit biscuity (but most likely to be biscuity if they’re not homemade). This recipe actually gets the balance spot on – especially when you have one that’s still a bit warm from the oven!

Rock cakes
The main flavours come from mixed dried fruit, nutmeg and mixed spice. I used flame raisins and mixed peel for the dried fruit, and stuck to the spices specified by Delia (although you could use anything you like, really).

You start making the dough as if you’re making scones or shortbread – by rubbing butter into flour and sugar to create ‘breadcrumbs’. Everything else goes in to create what Delia calls a “stiff dough”, but what I call a bit of a crumbly mess! Luckily, it’s a crumbly mess that holds together long enough to shape into rough peaks.

Rock cakes
The rock cakes were baked in just under 20 minutes and were ready to eat not long after that. They were absolutely delicious – buttery and soft on the inside and crumbly on the outside. The fruit and spices went very well together – the flavours reminded me a bit of Christmas! I can imagine the recipe working well with other spices too, such as cinnamon and cardamom.

This is a great recipe to make if you want something nice with a cup of tea, but can’t be bothered making a proper big cake – and do try the rock cakes warm!

Rock cakes

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Raisin spice cake

Raisin spice cake
I’m hell-bent on going about my life as if it was proper autumn, rather than this strange sort-of-autumn-but-actually-still-a-bit-summer we’ve been having. This includes baking, and this raisin spice cake really is a rather lovely autumnal bake perfect for a chilly evening with a nice cup of tea.

I’ve made this cake once before, but I didn’t have a ring tin at the time, so I just made it in a standard round tin. I think it looks much nicer as a ring cake, even if it is a bit more of a faff to get out of the tin!

The recipe is very straightforward – make the topping and place it at the bottom of the tin (I used a bundt tin), then put the cake mix on top and bake.

Raisin spice cake topping

Raisin spice cake topping, pre-baking

The topping is a rather lovely combination of chopped hazelnuts, spices and demerara sugar, and there’s a good amount of it, so you’ll definitely appreciate it when the cake is out of the oven and ready to eat.

The cake itself has yet more spices and raisins plumped up with a bit of orange juice, which makes for a lovely flavour that propels the bake above your average fruit cake.

Raisin spice cake
Oddly for me and my temperamental oven, the cake was perfectly cooked in the time stated in the recipe, which was nice as I had to miss 10 seconds of the Great British Bake Off quarter-final to take it out of the oven!

As mentioned, it didn’t come out of the tin without bits of it coming away with the tin, which was disappointing. I did, however, make sure those bits didn’t go to waste *ahem*.

The cake seemed massive when it was baked, but my boyfriend and I managed to polish it off alarmingly quickly. It really is a wonderful cake and just the thing for autumn, if it ever gets here!

Raisin spice cake
The recipe

This is in BBC Good Food 101 Cakes and Bakes, but it isn’t on the website. It seems to be accessible via Google Books, though.

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

Re-bake: sticky marmalade tealoaf

Sticky marmalade tealoaf

It was my turn for the charity baking at work this week. I wanted to continue putting my new loaf tin to good use, so I settled on this sticky marmalade tealoaf – a suitably warming treat for this cold weather.

The recipe is brilliant – lots of marmalade, lashings of ground ginger and some mixed spice, combined with light muscovado sugar and pecans. Yum yum yum! Plus, it’s incredibly easy to make – you just throw everything in a bowl, mix and bake, before slathering some more marmalade on top for the stickiness.

Sticky marmalade tealoaf mix

Sticky marmalade tealoaf mix

It baked in the time specified by the recipe, although the final texture was a bit more crumbly than the previous times I’ve baked this tealoaf. It was a slight struggle getting it to cut into neat slices – the pic below was the best of the lot!

Sticky marmalade tealoaf

 

I *think* it went down well in the office, although it can be hard to tell sometimes! The bit I tasted was perfect; moist, spicy, sweet, slightly bitter and – most importantly – sticky. It’s lovely while it’s still warm – just the thing to have when you’ve come in from the cold and want a cup of tea with something sugary.

The recipe

From BBC Good Food 101 Cakes & Bakes. What I think is the same recipe is available online here too – I would definitely recommend using pecan halves instead of mixed nuts, though.

 

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.