Tickle my Toblerone

Ok, let’s be honest about this. When it comes to Easter, pretty much all most of us can think about is chocolate. Chocolate, chocolate, chocolate. Egg-shaped, bunny shaped, wrapped in gold foil, or purple, filled with fondant or covered in a crunchy shell-coating.

It seems fitting that I do a chocolatey cake recipe for today’s blog post. Even if you’ve had so much of the stuff over the bank holiday weekend that you’re sick the sight of it, I think you’re going to want to add this little bundt to your repertoire of quick and easy cakes. Chocolate is my go-to flavour because it’s usually a hit with everyone. You’ll be able to whip up when you’re in the mood for something tasty.

This cake isn’t based on an egg-shaped chocolate – it features another funkily-shaped bar…Toblerone. This pyramid-shaped bar of pointy yumminess, a favourite of airport travellers everywhere, is flavoured with honey and nougat. I decided to take those flavours and turn them into a bundt: as usual I have used the basic bundt recipe from DollyBakes as my starting point and tweaked it into my own creation. If you haven’t checked our her site yet, please do so, as there isn’t anything about bundt cakes that woman doesn’t know!

Here’s the recipe for my Toblerone Bundt, with chocolate, honey and almond…

Ingredients for a 12-cup bundt

  • 225g butter or margarine
  • 400g golden caster sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 300g plain flour
  • 50g ground almonds
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 250ml natural yoghurt
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 toblerone bar (I used a 200g bar)
  • flaked almonds (optional)

Method

  • Preheat your oven to 160 degrees
  • Prepare your bundt tin with cake release spray
  • Cream butter and sugar in the mixer (or by hand) until pale and fluffy
  • Slowly add the eggs one at a time and mix gently
  • Mix the flour, salt, bicarb, cocoa and ground almonds together in one bowl, and the yoghurt, honey and vanilla in another.
  • Gradually add the flour mix, alternated with the yoghurt mix, mixing very slowly
  • Fold in the flaked almonds if using
  • Add the batter to your prepared tin, reserving a small amount
  • poke triangles of toblerone into your cake batter, point side down, in a circle around the tin (see pic) then cover the top with the remaining batter
  • Put in the centre of your oven and bake for around an hour and 15 minutes (I always check mine at around 50 minutes and see how it’s getting on.
  • Leave in the tin to cool for at least 30 minutes, but you can allow to go cold before turning out.
  • Decorate however you like…I chose to drizzle it with melted chocolate and crumble some toblerone pieces on top.

A half-sized version of this went with me on the train to Newcastle for a team meeting, and was a hit with my colleagues, who were tasting my baking for the first time! Four of us demolished the whole thing over two days…quite impressive cake consumption.

Advertisements

Chocolate and Cherry Cake

Sometimes simplicity is best. There’s a temptation to create cakes with loads of layers, lots of flavours and toppings galore, and there’s no doubt that experimenting with baking like that can be exciting and challenging, but sometimes it’s good to get back to basics, classic flavours and just make a great, plain cake.

imageI decided to do just that with this chocolate and cherry cake. I had been sent some samples to review from the lovely people at Sugar and Crumbs. I’ve used their products before, having found out about them at the Cake and Bake show in Manchester last year. I was on the Clandestine Cake Club stand, and Sugar and Crumbs were just opposite us – I ended up buying loads of packets of their flavoured icing sugars. They suggested something chocolatey for Mothering Sunday, and with my mum coming over to visit, I saw a perfect opportunity to come up with a decadent chocolate cake for her to enjoy.

So, this cake uses their cherry-flavoured cocoa powder and I wanted to keep it simple to really test out the flavour of the cocoa powder. The cake itself is an indulgent and moist sponge filled with a cherry conserve. It’s a great base mixture that you can flavour as you wish. It’s also really easy and takes no time to mix together!

Ingredients

  • 225 g self raising flour
  • 3 tablespoons of cocoa powder (cherry flavour)
  • ½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • 175g golden caster sugar
  • 3 free range eggs
  • 150ml buttermilk
  • 150ml sunflower oil
  • 3 tablespoons golden syrup
  • Cherry jam or conserve (I used Frank Cooper’s Red Cherry Oxford Conserve)
    For the icing (optional)
  • 100g soft butter
  • 200g icing sugar (I used sugar and crumbs Black Forest flavour icing sugar)
  • Splash of milk
  • Fresh cherries to decorate

Method

  • Preheat oven to 150 (140 fan oven) and prepare two 8 or 9″ sandwich tins with paper and sides greased
  • Weigh out the dry ingredients into a bowl and mix together
  • Using a mixer, whisk the eggs until they’re pale. Add the buttermilk, syrup and oil and give a quick whizz
  • Divide the mixture between the two tins and pop in the centre of the preheated oven.
  • Bake for 30 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean and the sponge springs back to the touch.
  • Allow to cool in the tin for a few minutes then turn the cakes out onto a rack to cool.
  • Slather one of the sponges with cherry jam – I used about half a jar. Top with the other sponge
  • For the buttercream, beat the butter until it starts to soften then add the icing sugar gradually, with a splash of milk. Keep beating until it’s light and fluffy.
    Make sure you taste it lots along the way to make sure it’s the right amount of sweet!
  • On top of the cold cake, whack the buttercream in whatever style you choose. I went for a bit of piping, just for a laugh (my piping is abysmal!) but swirled on with a palette knife looks just as good. Then top with some fresh cherries if you like. Take the stones out or leave them in…just warn people if you’re not pitting them. Ouch!image

And that, my lovely people, is it!

imageSo what’s the verdict. Well, the whole cake disappeared in one day, so that tells you something. The opinion of my tasters (mother, sister, four children, friends) was that the cherry flavouring in the sponge was subtle but definitely there. Sugar and Crumbs pride themselves on their flavours being natural, and we all agreed that the cherry flavour wasn’t synthetic tasting at all, and not too strong. It definitely added to the cake and we all liked it. Thumbs up. The black forest icing sugar in the buttercream was also really, really good! I used it with half normal icing sugar so the flavour wouldn’t be as intense, and that balanced nicely.

I’ve used several of the Sugar and Crumbs icing sugar flavours, and also the orange cocoa powder before (all bought by moi) and enjoyed the results of all of them, so I’d definitely suggest giving them a go. There are lots of flavours to choose from and they are a good way of adding an extra layer of flavour into your baking. I have a friend who made some lovely meringues (you can read her blog about them here) using raspberry ripple flavour icing sugar.

Disclaimer: I was sent these products to review by Sugar and Crumbs, but I have not been paid to write about them. All opinions are my own (and that of my cake testers!)image

Ginger and Chocolate Bundt

Welcome to the first recipe of my 101 ways with fresh ginger series.

With piles and piles of ginger root burning a hole in my freezer, I wanted to create a tasty cake for the second Gin Club gathering, which I was hosting this weekend. Gin Club is nothing more than a few friends getting together to try a few different gins with a variety of mixers and garnishes…and a few snacks, but it’s really taken a hold on us and we love it!

Without wanting to get too experimental, I decided on a classic ginger and chocolate combination, and of course, a bundt. As there were only five of us, I kept it small using my 6-cup Anniversary tin from Nordic Ware. Feel free to adapt the amount of ginger to suit your tastes. I wanted it to taste gingery, but not overwhelmingly so.

If you don’t have a 6-cup, simply double the quantities for a full size bundt tin.

Ingredients

  • 225g soft dark brown sugar
  • 115g margarine or butter
  • 2 large eggs
  • 175g plain flour
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder (I used Green & Blacks)
  • ¼ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 125ml natural greek yoghurt
  • 50g dark chocolate
  • Fresh ginger root, peeled and grated. I used a thumb-sized piece

For the topping

  • 50 g dark chocolate
  • double cream
  • crystallised ginger to garnish

Method

  • Start by preheating the oven to 160 (fan) and preparing the tin. I use cake release spray to thoroughly coat the inside.
  • Cream the butter/marge with the dark brown sugar. It will get paler and fluffy in texture – should take a few minutes on high speed.
  • Next it’s egg time. Turn your mixer down to its slowest speed and them one at a time, until they’re mixed in but don’t mix too much at this stage. It might look a bit curdled, but fret ye not. It’ll come together.
  • Stop. Flour time. Mix it with the cocoa powder, bicarb and salt. Add some to the mixture, with half of the yoghurt. Mix slowly, add a bit more flour, the rest of the yoghurt, finishing with the flour. Don’t mix too much just yet.
  • Melt the chocolate using your preferred method – I do mine in a metal bowl, over a pan of simmering water, making sure the bowl doesn’t touch the water. It won’t take long and don’t over-heat it or it’ll go grainy. With the mixer on slow, pour in the chocolate. Give it a whiz for a few seconds so everything is mixed in.
    image
  • And now it’s the ginger. Mine was frozen, which I found made it so much easier to peel and grate. It breaks up the fibres of the ginger, meaning it gets evenly distributed in the cake. So that’s my little tip! Stir it through the batter with a spatula.
  • Pop it into the tin, and onto the middle shelf of the oven.
    image
  • Bake for around 50 minutes, check it with a skewer to see if it’s cooked. Probably give it another 10 minutes. That should be it done. You can still leave it in a little longer if you want a bit more a of a crunchy crust on the outside. Don’t worry about over-baking it – bundts are tough little cookies. Well, cakes, not cookies but you know what I mean. they’re pretty resilient!
  • Leave to cool in the tin for about 20 minutes, longer if you like. Then turn out onto a rack to cool.
  • Whilst the cake is cooling (and making the kitchen smell amazing) make the topping. Melt the other 50g dark chocolate in the bowl over the simmering water again. When it’s melted, take it off the heat and drizzle in the cream, stirring constantly. Keep going until it reaches the consistency you want for your topping. When the cake is cold, pour the topping over. I wanted it quite thick but runny enough to slide down the side of the cake. This also meant I could lick the remaining dribbles from the plate underneath!
  • Finally garnish with little pieces of crystallised ginger over the top.
image

Dark chocolate and fresh ginger bundt

And how did it go down with the Gin Club girls? Really well! And I don’t think it was just the gin talking.
I was really pleased with the texture, the softness, the chocolatey goodness…and most of all the warm gingery flavour.

image

Christmas in November – Amaretto and Dark Chocolate Bundt

Christmas festivities should not start until December. Don’t get me wrong, I love Christmas, but I have always disliked how it seems to be creeping earlier and earlier into the year, especially in the shops. The pressure to buy and consume is huge, even more so now with the sudden UK explosion of Black Friday – the day after Thanksgiving in the USA. Retailers offer discounts on loads of items, causing mass hysteria, riots and even injuries. It’s mental! Whilst I’m all for a decent discount I hate the mob mentality Black Friday fosters and I disagree with it wholeheartedly. But I digress. Back to Christmas!

I have actually been feeling festive a little sooner this year. Maybe it’s because of having two children who are now old enough to understand it, even if they don’t grasp the more subtle messages of Christmas! I can’t really throw myself into it until the eldest’s birthday has been done, which it has now, so I officially give myself permission to start Christmas this weekend. I’ve bought a festive jumper, done some Christmas shopping and I’ve even started listening to the Michael Bublé christmas album (much to Mr H’s disgust). There may also be some wine-mulling going on this weekend. Oh yes!

Adding to the Christmas spirit was last night’s Clandestine Cake Club gathering. A joint event between all three Manchester clubs, we met at the lovely Proper Tea, near the Cathedral. I will add a link to the official write up of the event when it’s been done, but for now I’d like to share with you the cake I made for it. The theme was European Cakes – a nod to the Great British Bake Off European week, which we’d particularly enjoyed, a chance to challenge ourselves with something a bit different, and because the Manchester European Christmas markets are in full swing. I’d set my heart on baking something Italian, possibly even Sicilian, but Sicilian ‘cake’ recipes aren’t that abundant on t’interweb. What did take my fancy was something called Buccellato. It’s a ring-shaped pastry affair, stuffed with figs and other dried fruits, almonds, citrus and nuts, and oodles of festive spices. Brilliant. It also is pastry, which is something I still need to conquer, so it was going to be a good challenge. Having bought all the ingredients, I looked at the recipe in more detail…which is what I should have done beforehand, because the thing requires several stages of chilling: you need to chill the pastry, the filling, the assembled thing before cooking…given that I was starting this at 8pm on the night before cake club, I got a serious case of can’tbearseditis. So I quickly rustled up a Plan B. And not too shabby a plan B! I love Amaretto, and I love dark chocolate, and the two go together so well. So, a bundt it was!

It’ll be no surprise to you that I based it on the Build-a-Bundt formula from Bolton CCC’s Dollybakes, which is my most trusted bundt recipe. And I just made my own tweaks for the flavours. Here goes…

Ingredients

For the cake

  • Butter or marge – 225g
  • Caster sugar – 375g
  • Light soft brown sugar – 75g
  • 4 free range eggs
  • Plain flour – 350g (plus a bit extra)
  • Salt – ½ teaspoon
  • Bicarbonate of Soda – ½ teaspoon
  • Greek yoghurt – 250ml
  • Almond essence – 1 teaspoon
  • 50g dark chocolate
  • Amaretto Disaronno – I used 100mls

For the topping

  • 50g dark chocolate
  • 100mls double cream
  • 2 tablespoons amaretto disaronno
  • Amaretti biscuits (hard) or flaked almonds

Method

  • Preheat the oven to 160 oC
  • Start by creaming together the butter and sugars, either in a mixer (hello trusty Kitchen Aid) or with a hand mixer until pale and fluffy. This should take a few minutes at high speed.
  • Turn your mixer down low. Beat the eggs together in a bowl and add very gradually, making sure each addition is fully mixed in before adding more. Go steady here.
  • Next, add the flour, bicarb and salt together, alternating with some of the yoghurt and almond essence. Do this gradually. Some people prefer to do it by hand but I find the mixer on slowest speed is fine…just make sure you don’t over-mix it. Be stingy with the mixing!
  • Finally bung in the amaretto and give it a quick whizz. At this stage, because you’re adding more liquid than usual, you might need to add a little bit more flour (hence the extra in the ingredients). If you feel the batter is looking a bit too slack, add a table spoon of flour and fold it in by hand. Sorry for being vague here but it all depends on a few factors…the consistency of the yoghurt being a big one, which is why I prefer Greek style for this recipe as it’s thicker. Basically just use your eye and experience and judge when you think it’s right!
  • Split the batter by popping half of it into another bowl.
  • Melt the dark chocolate by heating it slowly in a bowl, sitting over a pan of simmering water. This shouldn’t take long. Fold the chocolate into into one of the bowls of batter.
  • Prepare you tin of choice (I used my trusty star shaped Bundt but this should work with most shapes). Cake release spray and a coating of flour.
  • IMG_7036You can now marble the batters together however you choose. I did one layer of plain, one of chocolate, then another plain, chocolate and finished with more plain, then swirled them slightly using a skewer…but the choice is yours! You could do zebra layers, which looks ace, dollops around the tin…lots of options. Don’t fill more than ¾ full.
  • Pop in the centre of the preheated oven and bake for an hour and 15 minutes thereabouts – I checked mine after an hour, turned it and gave it a bit longer…an hour and 20 in total.
  • Let it cool in the tin for 15 mins then turn out onto a wire rack. Allow to cool completely.

IMG_7038

  • When the cake’s cold, make the chocolate ganache. Melt the chocolate in a bowl over a simmering pan of water.
  • Remove from the heat and slowly add the cream, stirring constantly. Then add the amaretto and keep stirring. You can add more cream and amaretto if you like, but not too much. I was sort of guessing at this bit!
  • Drizzle this over the top of your cake in a stylish manner!
  • Scatter the top with crushed amaretti biscuits or toasted almond flakes…or both if you like.

Amaretto and dark chocolate bundt

And there it is! Amaretto and Dark Chocolate bundt. We had a fantastic cake club christmas do, with some brilliant bakes. If you fancy coming along, we’d love to see you. Follow @MancNorthCCC on Twitter and join us on the Clandestine Cake Club website.