Gluten free Self-Saucing Chocolate Puddings

IMG_3932I had a craving the other day for both a chocolate brownie and a chocolate lava cake (what a dilemma I hear you say!) and I just could not decide what to make! Then suddenly I remembered a recipe that I haven’t baked in ages that fits both those bills and is slightly (only slightly) healthier then your average cake! My Gluten free Self-Saucing Chocolate Puddings! Now don’t be fooled, these cakes are not your ordinary gluten free dessert. I have fed this to a Coeliac before, watched them eat the whole thing and then remember their intolerance before asking “wait but this isn’t gluten free, I’m going to get sick”. It was seriously that good that they didn’t even realise that it was ok for them! Additionally, the recipe is so easy you could make it with your eyes closed!!!

So if your after a warm, rich gooey chocolate pudding that literally oozes yumminess then be sure to give this a go! Great for those with a wheat intolerance AND those who enjoy a yummy dessert!!

What you’ll need:
1 cup gluten-free self-raising flour
3/4 cup caster sugar
1/2 cup cocoa powder, sifted
1/4 cup almond meal
65g melted dark chocolate
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
30g butter, melted
3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 3/4 cups boiling water
Double-thick cream/ice cream to serve

What I did:
1. Preheat your oven to 180 degrees C and lightly spray 4 large ramekins (or a large baking dish) with some non-stick spray.
2. Combine flour, caster sugar, almond meal and 2 tablespoons cocoa in a bowl. Add milk, vanilla, chocolate and butter and stir to combine. Pour mixture into prepared ramekins/dish.

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3.Combine brown sugar and remaining cocoa in a small bowl and then sprinkle the mixture over the top of each of the ramekins (this will make your sauce). Pour boiling water to cover sugar mixture and then pop into the oven.

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4. Bake for about 25-30 minutes or until a skewer inserted around the edge of pudding comes out clean. Remember not to cook the pudding too much or you will loose that beautiful rich sauce!

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5. Let them cool slightly (I know that part is hard!) and then serve with cream or ice cream!!

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Happy Baking and Enjoy!!

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 (My bowl after I was done!!)

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Healthy Strawberry, Coconut & Nutella Muffins

I love experimenting with my baking and what better day to do so then Sunday!! Last night I had trouble sleeping so instead I thought about variousways to improve my muffin making skills. I really want to crIMG_3914eate a muffin recipe that produces light, fluffy, delicious cupcakes with as little of the bad stuff as possible! Anyway I started thinking about muffins that I like to eat that fit that category and of course you have your regular muffin mix but then theres also the friand, which is light and fluffy and predominately uses almond meal and egg whites instead of flour! Now I’ve made muffins with an almond meal and flour combination as my dry ingredients and that was pretty tasty but I hate wasting the yellow bit of the egg! So i decided to sort of combine the two recipes so that I didn’t waste anything at all. I’m also trying to avoid using too much refined sugar and friands tend to use quite a bit of icing sugar so that would need to be changed. What I needed, I thought, was a whipped egg white, to give the muffin its sense of light, airy-ness and a more natural sweetener such as honey or maple syrup to give a little sweetness. I also decided to incorporate coconut to replace some of the flour, adding another layer of flavour and texture whilst healthy-ifying the muffins just a little bit more! The other essential component of experimental baking is using whats already available in your fridge or pantry and at the moment we have an abundance of beautiful, plump strawberries that would be the perfect addition to my muffins!

So off I went, adding a little bit of this and a little bit of that. I must add that when I experiment I tend not to use measures (or I don’t really remember them) but what I ended up with made 6 beautiful, moist strawberry muffins with a cheeky Nutella dollop centre!! Sooo yummy and now my house smells amazing! So heres what I did:

1. Separate two eggs, keeping the egg whites in one bowl and the yolks in another.

2. Add to the bowl with the yolks, 1 cup of self raising flour, sifted (could use gf flour or wholemeal flour), 1/4 cup shredded coconut, 2Tbs maple syrup (or honey), a dash of cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla essence. Mix together to form a smooth consistency. You may need to add a dash of milk (or water if you want it dairy free) to loosen the mixture. I used about 1/4 cup soy milk.

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3. In your other bowl, use an electric mixer to beat the egg whites to form stiff peaks. Then fold this mix into your flour/coconut mixture, being mindful not to knock the air out of it. Have a little taste and make sure its to your liking. Remember that the strawberries will add quite a bit of sweetness naturally so this mix shouldn’t be overly sweet.

4. Line your muffin tins and divide the mixture between 6 cases. Then slice up your strawberries and press down into each muffin. The strawberries should be covered by the mixture. Add a small dollop of nutella (optional) and try to press this down into the mixture also. Finally, top with a strawberry slice for beautiful presentation.

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5. Bake in a preheated oven (200 degrees C) for about 15-17mins or until a skewer comes out of the centre cleanly.

6. Allow to cool and sift generously with icing sugar and then enjoy!

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Enjoy and Happy Baking!!

Chocolate Muffins with a Gooey Caramel Surprise

ImageLately I’ve been watching a lot of Masterchef so I decided to give myself an invention test challenge! My sister needed something sweet to take to a friends house and I knew that mum had bought an extra tin of condensed milk (it was on sale this week) so with that i decided something with caramel had to be done. My sisters friend also loves chocolate so I came up with Chocolate Muffins with a caramel centre. Now normally when I cook I tend to look at a variety of recipes and then put together the best components to make my own recipe, but on this occasion I decided to go completely blind just to challenge myself! And it turned out a treat! Beautiful light and fluffy muffins, filled with a rich sweet caramel centre! What more could you want!

I used what I knew about muffins as the basis for my chocolate cake mix (essentially; flour, milk, eggs, sugar, butter & cocao powder) and then used the recipe for caramel that I would normally make for caramel slice! Simple! I also wanted to give my bake a bit of trendy finesse, so instead of using paper muffin tins I decided to use baking paper squares pressed into my muffin tin.

Once the muffins were cooked and cooled I then cut a little hole in the centre, into which I then spooned my caramel mixture! Wow what a combination! I also re topped the hole with the cake that I had removed earlier and then put a nice big blob on top of the whole thing! Overall, I was really pleased and impressed with my bake, especially as it was one of the first times I really went without any guidance on my cooking (even though it was just muffins). I would highly recommend giving this recipe a go, and maybe even adding some salt to the caramel if your a fan of salted caramel like me. Another great reccomendation would be to heat the muffins slightly before eating them so that the caramel melts a little! mmm yum!

Hope you enjoy this one as much as I did!

What you’ll need:

2Tbs Cocoa Powder

1 Cup self raising flour

1/2 cup sugar

1 egg

80g melted butter

1 cup milk

1 tin condensed milk

1Tbs butter

2Tbs golden syrup

What I did:

1. Preheat your oven to 180 degrees C. Sift your flour and cocoa powder, then add your sugar, egg, melted butter and milk. Mix on a low speed with an electric mixer until combined then turn up the speed for about 2mins until the mixture is light a fluffy.

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2. Lightly spray your muffin tin with non-stick spray then line with squares of baking paper (you could use pre-bought muffin cases). Divide the mixture between 6 muffins and then pop into the oven. They should take about 15mins but test with a skewer to ensure that they are fully cooked. Leave to cool completely.

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3. Meanwhile, add your condensed milk, butter and golden syrup to a saucepan and cook over a low heat. Remember to stir constantly so that it doesn’t burn or get stuck to the bottom. Continue until the caramel turns to a nice dark rick colour.

4. Allow the caramel to cool.

5. Using a sharp knife, cut a small hole into the top of each muffin, keeping the cut out piece of cake. Spoon or pipe your caramel into the hole and then re-top with the cake piece. Add a nice dollop of caramel to top the whole thing off!

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Enjoy and Happy Baking!!

Mouelleux au Chocolate

ImageAs I’ve mentioned before, Rachel Khoo is one of my cooking idols. I love love love her recipes, which are rich and decadent and make me feel like a real Parisian! Yum! About six months ago, I watched an episode of her show, The Little Paris Kitchen where she made the most mouthwatering dessert I have ever seen. Sadly, I was so distracted by the beautiful food that I forgot to write half of the recipe down!! So when I found her recipe online for Mouelleux au Chocolate (or to us non-french speaking cooks) Chocolate Lava Cakes I knew it was the perfect dessert for my families Easter lunch. Whilst the original recipe can be found on Rachel’s website (link above), I found it reproduced on another beautiful blog called Paris loves Pastry! And I’m so glad I discovered it too because there are so many recipes there that I will be making very shortly. Definitely one for you to check out!

What is great about this dessert is that it is actually super simple to make (I almost couldn’t believe it) but looks spectacular when served. Aside from that, this is no ordinary chocolate lava cake! The centre is actually filled with beautiful rich salted caramel, which spills out of the centre when cut. Yum! I served mine with the homemade vanilla bean Ice-cream that I posted earlier last week but you could easily serve with a scoop of good quality store bought ice cream. Cream would work also but I feel with a hot dessert, the cold creamy ice cream is just perfect!

So here it is; Rachel Khoo’s Mouelleux au Chocolate:

(This recipe will make about 5 individual puddings)

What I used:

For the salted caramel filling:
– 150g white sugar 
– 150ml double cream 
– 1 teaspoon salt, preferably fleur de sel but if not available salt flakes are fine

For the cake:
– 150g dark chocolate
– 85g unsalted butter (⅓ cup)
– 170g brown sugar (¾ cup)
– 85g plain flour (¾ cup)
– 6 eggs

What I Did:

1. First off you need to make the caramel sauce, as it needs to cool before you can use it. In a small saucepan, heat your cream so that it is warm but not boiling. Meanwhile, using another saucepan, cook your sugar until it begins to caramelise. Remember not to make it too dark as it will continue to colour once removed from the heat. Add your cream and continue to stir. Often, when you add the cream to the hot sugar, it can seize up and form a hard ball of toffee, but don’t worry, continue to stir it over a medium/low heat until it re-melts into a beautiful caramel. Stir in your salt and then leave to cool completely in the fridge.  

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2. In a double boiler, melt the chocolate and butter. Then combine the flour and brown sugar in a medium bowl.

3.Slightly beat the eggs (just to break the yolks) before adding them to chocolate mixture and stirring vigorously. Then add the eggy chocolate mixture to the flour/sugar and mix well.

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4. Lightly spray your ramekins with a non-stick spray or butter before filling them 2/3 full with the chocolate mixture. Pop them into the fridge for about 45 mins to firm up a bit.

5. Fill a piping bag with your salted caramel mixture and pipe a decent dollup into the center of each ramekin. This part can be a bit messy so be prepared to lick your fingers!

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6. Bake at about 180degreesC for 15-20 minutes (my oven actually needed 20mins at 200C so just keep an eye on them). They should be firm to touch on the outside but slightly wobbly in the center.

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7. Turn the ramekins upside down onto a plate and serve immediately and be prepared for this to happen….

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Enjoy and happy Baking!!

 

Magical Messina and the Golden Egg

If your a resident of Sydney then you will be well familiar with Gelato Messina. For those of you that aren’t, Messina is a bit like Willy Wonka’s chocolate Factory, only this time with Gelato. The company produce a wide variety of unique gelato flavours that are made daily in store. Some of my personal favourites include Italian Nougat (a honey based gelato with roasted nuts, egg whites and Italian nougat), Salted Caramel & White Chocolate (salted caramel gelato with white chocolate chip) and Pannacotta with Fig Jam and Amaretti Biscuit! Yum!! You really can’t go wrong whatever you choose. Aside from gelato though, Messina is very well known for their Gelato cakes and this Easter was no exception. 

This year, the team at Messina created “Veruca Salt” ($28) and I was lucky enough to snatch up one of the few that were being sold, and boy-oh-boy was it well worth it!!

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The “cake” (if that’s what you call it) was encased in a crisp white chocolate shell, dusted with gold and shimmering along. Inside, we discovered a creamy salted caramel gelato with, would you believe it a gooey orange yolk centre. Between all of us eating it, we felt that the centre was a cross between a subtle lemon curd/passionfruit/pineapple flavour that surprisingly worked perfectly with the salted caramel flavoured gelato. What I love in general about Messina Gelato is that whilst they create unique and unusual flavoured products, all gelato is of a high standard, tasting just like they make in Italy. Now if the egg wasn’t enough already the whole thing rested on a base of milk chocolate hazelnut mousse, filled with a soft vanilla marshmallow placed on top of an amaretti crunch. My boyfriend described this bit as a wagon wheel on steroids but put more eloquently, the mousse was rich and fluffy, while the amaretti crunch added a beautiful crumbly texture. Finally, the egg was nestled in a web of crisp, glossy spun sugar that reminded me of gourmet fairy floss!

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Wow! the whole this was an amazing experience to eat, with every single component working harmoniously with the next. I kind of wish I bought two! Nonetheless, if your in Sydney, be sure to go and give them a visit!! For more info on their many store locations or the test your taste buds with their phenomenal range of flavours, check out their website here.

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Barbie Birthday Cake

ImageTonight I ventured into unchartered baking waters….children’s birthday cakes! Yep you read correctly, I haven’t baked a children’s themed birthday cake before but don’t hold that against me. This cake was for my boyfriend’s niece who turns 6 this weekend and has a new-found obsession with Ballerinas. A few weeks ago, when she started planning her own party, she requested that I make her a pink Ballerina Cake. After my initial shock at being asked to make someone a cake (I honestly couldn’t believe someone would want me to make them a cake, for a real birthday party) and agreeing to do it I was then left with the dilemma of actually achieving my request. After a little thought and a few of the good old google searches I finally settled on the traditional Dolly Varden style cake. For those of you that aren’t too sure what that is, think back to your early childhoods when it was all the rage to stick your Barbie doll into an upside down pudding shaped sponge cake, covered in lollies and you’ve got it!

So one dilemma down, I was then faced with the issue of locating a baking tin the right size and shape for what I needed. Simple right? Sadly not so. Whilst I was able to locate a few stores that sold the tin, all were out of stock. Meanwhile Ebay wanted almost $50 for the tin, which for me (baking a cake as a one off) was far far too much. Luckily though, I discovered that you can hire cake tins from cake supply stores! What a fantastic idea! And luckily I located a Cake supply store not too far from my house from which I was able to hire the tin for the night for a measly $4!! Now theres a bargain if I ever did see one.Image

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To bake the cake, I cheated and used two Greens Vanilla Cake mixes (frosting included and totally ok to do so), oiling the tin well to ensure that it didn’t stick (that would have been a very unneeded problem that I was going to avoid at ALL costs!) While the box recommended cooking the cake for 45mins at 180 degrees C I ended up cooking for around 1.5 hours at quite a low temperature. This was largely because the cake cooked very quickly on the top surface, whilst the inside was completely raw. To counter that I simply turned down the temperature and let it go, low and slow! Overall though I would recommend allowing plenty of time for this stage as it can be quite unpredictable because of the shape and large size of the cake. Once cooled, I turned it out onto a cake board and cut a small hole in the top for Barbie to sit (I had to remove her legs so probably best to buy a cheap Barbie, mine cost $2 from the Reject Shop). With the help of my trusty assistant (my sister, who I bribed with lollies!) I then covered the sponge in pink butter cream frosting, being careful not to dirty the poor legless Barbie on top. We then decorated it using pink musk sticks and pink and white marshmallows and voila! A princess Barbie Cake!!

To be honest I think I am more excited then the birthday girl will be tomorrow when she sees it, largely because I doubted the success of this one just a little when I couldn’t get the sponge to cook but I really do hope she likes it! For any parents out there looking for a little girls birthday cake, I would say this one is a sure 

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winner! You can theme it in any way you like (I’ve even seen a witch doll cake) and can cover it in lollies (what more does a kid want then that). Its a very simple cake to make and doesn’t require much skill in terms of difficulty. My only advice would be to search for a tin nice and early, get yourself an assistant (possibly the birthday girl) and allow plenty of time for baking. Then sit back and enjoy the ooo’s and ahhh’s!

Happy Baking!!

Ricotta, Almond and Lime Cake

I love Ricotta cakes!! They are so light and fluffy and best of all creamy and when used correctly really lift any basic cake recipe to make it something really special. I’ve mostly heard of people using Ricotta in baking to make a ricotta cheesecake (also very very delicious) but on Friday I caught an episode of Good Chef Bad Chef that really got my attention. The shows host Adrian Richardson was baking a beautiful Ricotta, Almond and Lime Cake which just looked divine! So moist and fluffy I was actually salivating watching the whole thing!Image

It was also quite perfect as I had a family picnic planned for the next day (sadly the weather did not agree) and I was hoping to make something sweet to take along. What I really really love about this recipe is that it is so unbelievably moist and light, which is perfect for a Sunday afternoon tea or picnic in my case. Its also not overbearingly sweet, so it’s perfect for more mature taste buds and is gluten free. On top of all of that, it uses ingredients that most people already have in the pantry, making it quick and simple to make! 

I’m going to include the recipe below but again, please remember that this one isn’t my own so I most definitely (and sadly) can not take credit for the flavour explosion that is about to occur in your kitchens once you give it a go! One thing that I think might add to the whole cake for next time (if you were going to perhaps serve it as a dessert at home with a scoop of thick clotted cream or ice cream) might be a lime sugar syrup (lime juice, sugar & water), poured over the cake as soon as it comes out of the oven. A bit like a Greek style semolina cake. Anyway, the choice is yours because either way this cake is heavenly!! 

What You’ll Need:Image

250g ricotta cheese (I used light)

4 eggs, separated

1 tsp almond extract or amaretto

175g caster sugar

2 cups almond meal

Finely grated rind of 1 lime

¼ cup flaked almonds

¼ cup pistachio, chopped

What I Did:

1. Preheat your oven to 150C. Grease and line the base and sides of a 20cm loose bottom cake tin.

2. Beat together the ricotta, egg yolks, almond extract and sugar in an electric mixer until smooth. Stir in the almond meal and lime zest.

3. Whisk the egg whites in a clean, dry bowl until soft peaks. Fold 1/3 of the egg whites into the ricotta mixture to loosen, then fold in the remaining. Spread into the tin, sprinkle with the almonds and pistachios, and bake for 30-40 minutes until golden and a skewer comes out clean.Image

4. Cool slightly, then turn on to a wire rack. Cool completely and then serve with a dollop of clotted cream, ice cream or as it is. (If adding a sugar syrup I would do this now, as soon as you take it out of the oven. Simply pour the syrup slowly over the top and let it absorb into the cake as it cools).

(Recipe taken from http://www.goodchefbadchef.com.au/recipes/785-ricotta-lime-and-almond-cake).

Enjoy and happy Baking!!

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Marathon Bake

ImageThis past weekend signalled a marathon baking session for me! It was my little sisters 21st Birthday Party (here in Australia your 21st birthday is quite a milestone so often involves a large party/celebration) and I, being the genius that I am volunteered myself to bake all the cakes! The Party itself had a pink and white theme so my sister and I decided to make a two-teir round cake for the centre-piece followed by 70 cupcakes for the guests. The first step for me began about two days before the party, when I baked the three round cakes that I needed. Now I should probably mention that for this event I decided to use packet mixes (shock and horror!) mainly because I had to bake on such a large scale I didn’t want to waste time measuring things out. I also worried that a home-made mix might have room for error, which i really didn’t have time to accommodate as I also had to decorate all the cakes. Either way, I was very happy with the flavours of all the cakes (I used WhiteWings mixes). So, about two days before the party I started baking, first up was two separate red velvet cakes about 30cm in diameter, followed by a raspberry swirl cake about 20cm in diameter. All in all this part was very easy, follow the instructions and out comes a lovely moist cake that smelt delicious in the oven!  I then flattened them out on top using a serrated knife (the off-cuts then became the taste tests for my family). So far so good! I particularly wanted to bake these cakes in advance as I’ve read somewhere that its easier to cover them in ganache and fondant a day or so after they’ve been baked as the crumbs are a bit firmer once you’ve cut the tops off them. Once they were cooled, I popped them into airtight containers and left them in a cool place.

The next day I was onto the cupcakes. Again, I used WhiteWings Vanilla and Raspberry Swirl mixes for the cupcakes. The trickiest part of this stage was not overfilling the cupcakes, so that once baked, the tops would sit just flush with the top of the paper case. Normally I would fill them up quite a bit so that the top of the cupcake was a dome shape but not this time. I used a measuring cup and meticulously measured out 1/4cup per cake! It was all very precise! Now while they were baking I began exercising my multitasking skills by covering and assembling my round cakes. First up were the two red velvet cakes, which I covered in the cream cheese frosting that I was included in the packet. I was a bit disappointed though as the consistency was not very nice (I had planned to use the packet frosting to ice the cupcakes also) but continued the best that I could. Once I’d stuck the two layers together and covered the whole thing I got onto the fondant icing. What.A.Workout!! Wow, I didn’t even need to go to the gym that morning!! Truly it was really hard, especially as I was working alone. One thing that I would really recommend doing though is rolling it out between grease-proof paper. That way it doesn’t stick to anything and it’s very easy to pick up and roll out over the cake. Finally, after about half an hour (and with very sore arms) I could stand back and admire my cake..until I realised I had to repeat the entire process on tier two!! I must say though that I was quite happy with the finished result, especially considering I have only worked with fondant once before (at which time I got my nice strong boyfriend to help me with the rolling part!) Once it was all done I then inserted my dowels. So to do this I pushed one directly into the centre of my bottom tier, marking where it was flush with the top of the cake. I pulled it out and cut it using a hand saw, repeating the process so I had 6 small pieces, one in the centre and the rest in a star around it. Dowels are completely necessary in a layered cake as they ensure the whole thing won’t collapse (my worst nightmare) and can be purchased from your baking supply store. I used wooden ones but I have read that you can get them in plastic too. I also learnt that I needed a small wooden board underneath the top tier to give further support and luckily my cousin, who is an avid baker herself had a spare one which I could borrow! The other final thing I should add is that I didn’t assemble the cake until it was time to serve it, preventing a possible collapse!

So, once all of this was said and done I moved onto icing my cupcakes on the morning of the party! Again I used a store bought buttercream frosting mixture which you add milk and vanilla to. To keep with the theme, I also added some colouring to make them pink and a dash of rosewater to give a hint of flavour! Using my piping bag I attended to each cupcake, topping it off with a little popping candy. And finally, after 3 days of baking and flour and sugar and frosting I was done!!Image

I must say the whole process was totally worth it! Everyone loved the cakes and most people were asking where we had bought them from! Since the party I’ve also been asked to make cakes for a few upcoming birthdays although, I’m not sure if thats a good thing just yet!! Anyway, some tips for baking en mass!

1. Using a packet cake mix is totally fine, this will ensure your cakes come out of the oven perfectly meaning one less thing to worry about!

2. Start in advance and allow yourself plenty of time! Theres nothing worse then having to rush on something like this

3. Use a measuring cup to ensure your cupcakes are all even sizes

4. Cut the top of your round cakes off so that your left with a flat surface

5. Roll your fondant between two pieces of grease proof paper to avoid it sticking to the bench or tearing

6. Have a helper on standby to lift it onto your cake

7. Use dowels, they’re not very expensive or hard to put it and will prevent all your hard work collapsing…literally

8. Refrigerate your cakes once they are done, especially if its hot!

9. Place a round cardboard piece underneath your tiers for further support

10. Remember to enjoy…even in moments of stress!!

Best Birthday Cake

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Today is my little sisters 21st Birthday so I really wanted to make her something special to celebrate. Luckily she came up with the perfect option, an MnM Cake!! So I’ve seen pictures of these cakes before and always wanted to make one and now that I’ve done it, it is the easiest cake I have ever made and possibly one of the best looking! Trust me, serve your friends one of these and they will think your a masterchef. It really does look very impressive, which is great because its so simple.

ImageYou need only 4 ingredients (yep you read that right, just 4)!!

 

What You’ll Need:

1 Chocolate Cake (can be any flavour really. I got my recipe from the GABO website and I used their frosting recipe as well. Be sure to halve the quantities if you use this one as its far too much for what you need)

1 Portion of Chocolate frosting

1 Large packet of MnM’s (I used peanut ones but you could also use maltesers or berries) 

2 Packets of Arnotts chocolate fingers 

What I Did:

1. Cut the top of your cake off so that the cake is flat (just like this…and you get to eat the leftovers, Yum!) Image

2. Cover the cake (including the sides) in a nice generous amount of frosting.

3. Press the Arnotts chocolate fingers around the outside of the cake, making sure they touch the bottom/plate. They should form a “wall” once your done

4. Pour your MnM’s onto the top of the cake so that the entire thing is covered

And it’s really that simple!! A perfect and easy cake for birthdays or celebrations, this one is sure to impress any guest. The best bit about it (aside from the fact that its so damn easy and tastes delicious) is that you can customise it to suit your own taste. I’ve seen people use KitKats on the outside instead of Arnotts chocolate fingers and top it with maltesers or mixed berries. Give it a go, you won’t be disappointed

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Christmas Baking

Christmas is fast approaching and what better way to start off by baking a Christmas Fruit Cake! I think there’s a bit of a misconception that Fruit Cake is one for the oldies (and I must say that on any usual day I would also be in agreement) but at Christmas there is nothing that I enjoy more then making a Christmas Cake. You could say that it has become somewhat of a tradition in my family, one that was first started by my mum and handed down to me. My recipe is one that differs slightly from the traditional Fruit Cake but i’m sure you’ll agree it’s just as delicious (if not more!)

Preferably you’ll need to start around 3 weeks before you want to eat it (if you can resist the temptation) so what better time then now! I usually make two cakes because my dad really struggles with the concept of not being allowed to cut it open until Christmas Day but its completely up to you as to what you’d like to do. For a more kid-friendly version substitute the alcohol with orange juice. 

What I used:

4 cups of mixed dried fruit

1 cup of glace cherries

1/3 cup of rum or quantro (or any other orange flavoured liquor you’d like)

250g butter (unsalted)

1 1/2 cups brown sugar

2tsp vanilla essence

4 eggs

100g Dark chocolate

2tbsp apricot jam

2 cups plain flour

2tsp ground cinnamon

1tsp mixed spice

125g slivered almonds

Round spring-form cake tin (23cm deep)

What I did:

The day before: Cut the glace cherries in half and combine with the dried fruit. Add your alcohol (or orange juice) and stir well. Cover and soak your mixed fruit overnight for best results (min. 1 hour if you forget to do this part).

Preheat oven to 160 degrees Celsius. Line your baking tin with baking paper so that it doesn’t stick. I cut out two circles to cover the base and longer strips to go around the edges. Make short cuts along the edge pieces so that it sits in snuggly and spray the tin with canola oil spray to get it to stay in place. It should look like this

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Cream butter, sugar and vanilla using an electric mixer until its light and creamy looking and then add your eggs, one at a time. Make sure you beat well in between each one. Meanwhile, melt your chocolate and jam together until its smooth and silky. Beat this into the butter/sugar mixture on a low speed.

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Sift into this your flour, cinnamon and mixed spice. Add the almonds and stir to combine. Finally, add your dried fruit mix and stir well. Ensure that everything is mixed really well together.

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Spoon your mixture into the prepared pan like so

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Bake for 95mins or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out cleanly. This can take a while as the cake is very deep. Allow to cool completely in the tin before removing. And now you wait….ok kidding! Before you do that, wrap the cake tightly in foil and store in an airtight container in a cool place in your house (not the fridge). Keep it here until your ready to cut it open and trust me you won’t be dissapointed. The flavours will all have had a good amount of time to combine and intensify beautifully.

When serving, I like to cut star shapes out of melted white chocolate (melt the chocolate and spread thinly on baking paper. Leave to set. Use a cookie cutter to pop out the shapes and place over the top of the cake) and or wrap some nice ribbon around the edge. But again, it’s completely up to you!

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This is the one that I made last year for Christmas and trust me, it was well worth waiting for!!

Hope you enjoy! What Christmas treats do you like to bake for family and friends during the festive season??