Frosted walnut layer cake + peanut butter cookies + Oreo brownies

Frosted walnut layer cakeNo, I didn’t go on the baking bender to end all benders in one night. I made these three recipes – frosted walnut layer cake, peanut butter cookies and Oreo brownies – over the course of the last few weeks, but haven’t had a lot of time to blog about them what with planning a wedding, organising my hen do, training for a 10K and, of course, just normal everyday life!

I thought it would help to blog about all three recipes at the same time, rather than labouring over three separate posts. And, hey, you get to drool over even more baked goods than usual!

Mary Berry’s frosted layer cake

I made this cake (pictured above) for my fiancé, who has been begging me to bake it ever since it turned up in a technical challenge on last year’s Great British Bake Off. It was fairly challenging, so I can only imagine how difficult it is without a full recipe to follow!
Frosted walnut layer cake 2
This is basically three layers of walnut sponge sandwiched with a big pile of buttercream and smothered with an even bigger pile of icing. There’s so much sugar in this recipe – be warned if your teeth tingle at the merest hint of sweetness!

The icing was quite tricky, and didn’t seem to completely set (I can’t remember from the show whether it’s supposed to, though), but I was pleased with my caramelised walnuts. I think my favourite bit of the cake was the buttercream, to be honest!

You can find the recipe on BBC Food here.

Peanut butter cookies

Peanut butter cookies
I made these when I found myself without any baked goods in the house, which really isn’t a great situation to be in. The recipe is from Dan Lepard’s Short and Sweet. I followed it to the letter, using spelt flour rather than the other option of wholemeal, but added a chopped up Twirl (milk chocolate fingers for the international readers out there!) at the last minute, just for the hell of it.

The cookies were gorgeously peanutty, but also ridiculously sweet! I don’t know if that’s down to the brand of peanut butter I used (think it was the ultra cheap stuff from Asda), the addition of the chocolate, or because Dan really does call for too much sugar, but just be warned! I’d tone it down next time by reducing the overall amount of sugar from 325g to about 200g.

Peanut butter cookies
The texture was rather interesting – they weren’t soft like a traditional cookie, but had more of a biscuit-like crunch, and also had distinct layers, which I assume is down to the bicarb. You can find the recipe on the Guardian website here.

Oreo brownies

Oreo brownies
Finally, I made these Oreo brownies after almost a year of a colleague asking (begging!) me to make them. I made them a few days ago for his birthday, and I think I met expectations!

The recipe is just my usual brownie recipe, with a packet of roughly chopped Oreos thrown in:

Makes 16 brownies

  • 320g dark chocolate
  • 250g unsalted butter
  • 3 large eggs
  • 125g dark brown sugar
  • 125g caster sugar
  • 85g plain flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 154g packet of Oreos, roughly chopped

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to gas mark 3/160C/140C fan. Grease and line a 20cm square tin.
  2. Melt the chocolate and butter together in a pan or in a bowl set above a pan of simmering water. Set aside and leave to cool slightly.
  3. Whisk the eggs until pale then add the sugars and whisk again thoroughly.
  4. Fold the chocolate mixture into the egg mixture.
  5. Sift the flour and baking powder into a bowl and stir the Oreos in to coat.
  6. Add the flour and Oreo mixture to the wet ingredients and stir until just combined.
  7. Pour the mix into the tin and bake for about 1 hour, checking the brownies after 40 mins in case your oven is better than mine!
  8. Once the brownies look set on top, remove them from the oven and leave them in the tin to cool for at least 1 hour before slicing them up.

Recipes from around the web

Flour

Credit: WordRidden (Flickr)

I follow quite a few baking blogs/websites now, so I thought it would be nice to share the recipes I’ve recently stumbled across that I’ve added to my ‘to bake’ list. Hopefully I’ll make this a fairly regular feature on the blog!

1) Coconut and raspberry set cheesecake (The Caked Crusader)

Considering how much I love coconut, it’s crazy that I’ve never even thought of using it in a cheesecake before. This looks absolutely divine!

2) Coconut mascarpone cake with mascarpone cream (Dan Lepard for the Guardian)

Yes, it’s coconut again. Dan Lepard made this cake for his recent civil partnership ceremony. It’s properly spectacular and a cake I would love to be surprised with on a special occasion. (Hint hint. Anyone? Oh, never mind).

3) Tres leches cake (Something for the Weekend)

Okay, I came across this on TV a fair while ago (when Something for the Weekend (RIP) still existed, obviously) but it’s never far from my mind. Just look at all that creamy dairy goodness…

4) Chocolate chunk peanut butter cake (Cake, Crumbs and Cooking)

So good it’s all gone before anyone can take a photo of it, apparently. As I’ve blogged before, chocolate and peanut butter is a most excellent combination, and one I definitely want to indulge in again soon.

5) Black Forest gâteau (BBC Good Food)

My version of this would never look as neat as it does in the picture, but I would certainly have fun eating cleaning up the mess.

What recipes have you got your eye on for making in the near future?

First bake: peanut butter brownies

Peanut butter brownies

I wasn’t intending to make two brownie recipes in a row, but I wanted to whip up something new fairly quickly yesterday to ensure we had sweet treats on hand for a lazy day of watching films. I spotted this in my recipe folder and (surprisingly for indecisive me) made an instant decision to bake some peanut brownies.

As with pretty much every single brownie recipe I’ve ever tried, these were really quick and easy to make. The joy of making brownies is that to get the required firm-crust-soft-inside consistency, it’s pretty much compulsory to just chuck everything in, stir only a little, and then empty the mix into the tin and bake for just 30-40 minutes, depending on the recipe.

This particular recipe includes a very small amount of faffing in that you need to melt some of the ingredients first and then melt a little of the peanut butter and chocolate separately to decorate the brownies at different stages of the baking process. But even all of that is incredibly straightforward if you can melt the decorative peanut butter and chocolate in the microwave instead of on the hob.

Pre-oven peanut butter brownies in the tin

Pre-oven peanut butter brownies in the tin, with melted peanut butter on top

The only sticking point was that with the recipe requiring the eggs to be mixed in straight after melting the ingredients, I had to get my boyfriend to do the mixing very quickly for me while I cracked the eggs in to make sure we didn’t end up with a disgusting scrambled egg concoction in the warm mix. That turned out fine as well, so if you do try this recipe I would recommend remembering to either let the mixture cool a little before you add the eggs, or to make sure you’ve got your eggs and flour ready to be quickly stirred in so you can stick them straight into the hot pan without ending up with a brownie disaster.

I put these in a gas oven for a little longer than 35 minutes, as I was also baking some rolls for lunch (not from scratch!) and had to move the brownies to the bottom shelf for a bit. If they’d stayed on the top shelf they would have been fine to remove after 30 mins, I think.

So, how do they taste? Extremely good! I’m a huge fan of the peanut-chocolate combination and the balance of salty nuttiness, dense chocolate and sweet brown sugar is spot on for me. The crust is pretty solid and the inside is perfect – not too gooey but not too dry. I used a 50/50 mixture of standard dark chocolate (Co-op Fairtrade with 48% minimum cocoa solids) and something more intense (Co-op Truly Irresistible, 85% cocoa solids). I decorated with the former to save the big cocoa hit for the cake itself, and I think this worked well.

Peanut butter brownies

The recipe

Happily for my lazy fingers there’s no need to copy this out of a book; the recipe is on the BBC Good Food website here: http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/1272634/peanut-butter-brownies