Delicious Date and Walnut loaf recipe

Date and walnut loaf recipe

Delicious Date and Walnut loaf recipe

Sometimes you need a little afternoon pick me up and for me this is it. A slice of date and walnut loaf tastes great on its own but with a little butter spread across it – deeeelishhh!. Oooooh butter! One of life’s little luxuries! The reason I like this loaf so much is because it has a really firm texture. One slice is often enough – who am I kidding one slice is never enough! I wish I could pack it into packed lunches but the whole nut allergy at school thing prevents me so we’ll just have to stick to eating it here at home. (smiles as she types!)Date and walnut loaf recipe

I am a massive date fan. I have them with a cup of tea at the end of the day (instead of another slice of cake or cookie) and the really soft, gooey medjol ones are my favorites. But when you get a regular pack and they’re all a bit hard I bake with them. By soaking the dates in boiling water they get really soft. You can leave them to cool for half an hour and they’re perfectly ready but to make them really moist for your cake leave them over night in an air tight container and give them a shake every now and then.

I didn’t used to like walnuts but over the years they’ve been growing on me. I don’t like it when you can’t taste them in a cake so I often just quarter them so the pieces are big and chunky but you can chop them smaller if you prefer. Toasting them (or baking them in the oven) makes all the difference. It’s like you’re sealing the flavour in. Definitely worth the effort.

Date and walnut loaf recipeYou can 🖨 this recipe off here

Date and walnut loaf recipe

EmmaMT x

 

FAQ: What size eggs should I use for baking?

FAQ: What size eggs to use for baking

What size eggs should I use for baking?

….is a question that I’ve been asked quite a few times – and have since made sure I remember to include that detail in my recipes. I’ve used both medium and large eggs in my cakes. I used to think that larger eggs would make lighter cakes – which it can do for an 8″ cake, but as the cake sizes get bigger and the quantity of egg increases there’s a point when the cake will be ruined. You see the difference in egg sizes will produce different weights. And that’s where the problems start. So, substituting one large egg for a medium won’t make much of a difference but if your recipe calls for 8 medium eggs and you only have large it will be the equivalent of 10 medium eggs! Check out the sizes below.

Small eggs weigh Medium eggs weighLarge eggs weigh

Storing eggs

All eggs are at risk of carrying salmonella bacteria inside their shells and that risk is dramatically reduced if shop bought eggs are stored in the fridge at 4ºC or below. For that reason never use damaged or cracked eggs. Discard them immediately. Eggs should be stored in the fridge until needed then they should be allowed to come to room temperature for an hour before baking. The reason for this is that eggs won’t whisk up if they’re cold – it’s due to the temperature of the air inside they egg whites. They need to be warm enough to easily expand. The whites of an egg is what gives a cake structure and with less air bubbles due to cold eggs you’ll have a less stable cake. Maybe that’s why cakes sink in the middle!?!

NB: How to tell if your eggs are stale

The easiest way to check the freshness of an egg is to place it in a glass of water. If it sinks it’s fresh. If it floats it’s not and bye bye egg.

FAQ: What size eggs to use for baking

A word about egg yolks

If egg whites are full of protein and add lightness to a cake it’s the yolk that keeps it moist. The yolk is the fat part of an egg and will prevent the protein whites from whisking – hence it’s essential to have absolutely no yolk in your whites when making meringues. It’s also why I add an extra egg yolk to gluten free cakes when they need extra moisture.

So, to answer to the original question “What size eggs do I use to bake with?”

The answer is always medium. A lot of the time a cake will need equal quantities of egg, sugar and flour as a base to start from. For a perfectly balanced cake weigh your eggs (once out of the shell) and then use exactly the same amount of the dry ingredients and see how your Victoria sponge improves!

FAQ: What size eggs to use for baking

I really hope that has been helpful. I have to say that when I was looking for facts about eggs I discovered this post on Chasing Delicious which is totally fantastic – as well as gorgeous to look at. Check it out if you want real depth and knowledge about eggs and baking.

Happy baking

EmmaMT x

How NOT to make a mermaid birthday cake

How NOT to make a mermaid birthday cakeSometimes my cakes go wrong and when I say wrong I mean REALLY wrong. I didn’t realise quite how wrong this cake went until I had finished it.  Tim -my harshest critic, walked into the kitchen and I asked “What do you think?” his response after looking at the mermaid was …

“Well, he doesn’t look very happy does he!”

He !!! He !!. Well I guess Tim did have a point. I had given HER the most enormous chest. Not quite sure what I was thinking about whilst making this mermaid for a 6 year old! And to make matters worse this was a cake for Free Cakes For Kids. I managed to squish the head a ‘little’ when I was adding it onto the body (without a neck) and then even further still when I attached the strands of long, heavy, sugarpaste hair. Her beautiful oval shaped head kind of became square and rugged looking. But I didn’t notice at the time. I was too busy concentrating on making the hair stick to her head.

The right way to decorate the cake

How NOT to make a mermaid birthday cakeI was really happy with the rest of the cake.  I baked an 8″ Madeira cake and filled half a Christmas pudding bowl tin with cake mix to get the curved top. I used the ingredients for a 9″ cake and split the mixture accordingly.

I buttercreamed the cakes together – cutting the 8″ in half. I then did a crumb coat and covered the cake in blue sugarpaste. I really like the sea like decorations. The twists were made when I covered the cake board in sugarpaste. I just rolled out different sized cones and twisted the tops then left them to dry out. The same effect was used with the seaweed but the green strips were long and thin and were twisted and stuck to the cake straight away. I like how it gives the base of the cake a 3d effect.

For the air bubbles I rolled tiny little balls of sugarpaste and used a balling tool  to make a hole in the centre. They were then stuck on by making the back damp.

The flowers were made in advance too but just a day before. They were set in painters pallettes so they would dry curved. You can see how I make flowers here.

The cake toppingsHow NOT to make a mermaid birthday cake

Seriously! What was I thinking with those knockers!!!! I can’t believe I thought that looked appropriate for a six year old!!! Anyway, as well as the well boosomed mermaid with the chiselled jaw, I made a number ‘6’ from a roll of sugarpaste which was left to dry for ages – like a week. I also made the name in the same way for the front of the cake. (you can see how I make the names here).The ‘6’ had rocks placed behind to hold it up and in place.

If you really want to know how I made the mermaid this is how!

How NOT to make a mermaid birthday cakeThe mermaid’s tail was added to the cake first then the body. A ‘belt’ was added around the join. The tail and belt were marked with a half moon cake decorating tool. The arms were added and the painted head was attached. Finally the hair was stuck onto the mermaid using royal icing.

I had such great intentions and aspirations for this cake but I felt it fell flat. The little girl who it was for loved it – but let’s face it – she was six, it was a mermaid and it was cake. What’s not to love in her little world? Next time Free Cakes For Kids I promise I’ll do better! Maybe you should give me a man to make from sugarpaste. I think I’ve got that down pat!

All kidding aside – this was another cake for an amazing charity. The recipients are always so grateful to receive a cake for their little ones and it’s an absolute pleasure to be able to give back to our community in that way.

So, have you had a cake that’s gone wrong or just not to plan? I’d love to know all about it and see the cake wreck love. Feel free to share your cakes on the CakesBakesAndCookies Facebook page. It’s good to share.

EmmaMT x

 

The only choc chip cookie recipe you’ll ever need!

The only choc chip cookie recipe you’ll ever need!

The ultimate choc chip cookie recipe

Do you ever have one of those days when only a choc chip cookie will do? I love them but Beau simply adores them. Whenever I’m baking that’s what she wants – Freezer cookies. So, when I went to make her a quick batch I discovered that I actually didn’t have all the ingredients I needed so in true EmmaMT style I just made up teh recipe as I went along and used similar alternatives. What I discovered was a batch of the most moreish, soft, gooey chocolateyness I have ever tasted. I had to hide them just so I wouldn’t eat them all before I had shot them. In fact I am alone in my house right now as I type this and I know that there are still five more calling me from downstairs

“Emma! Come and eat us. We’re all soft and warm and bursting with waaaayyyy too much chocolate to resist us!” 
The ultimate choc chip cookie recipe

But resist them I must. I promised Tim that I wouldn’t eat them all and that there would be some when the girls get home too! Pfew! My waistline thanks him for that!

Alternatives that work

The thing about these cookies that took me by surprise it how good they taste when made with margarine instead of butter. I knew that the brown and granulated sugar would work instead of soft brown sugar but I expected them to be a bit soggy not perfectly gooey. They were just right. Another benefit is that you can use margarine straight from the fridge as it’s soft to begin with. I used Flora’s Buttery as I have a post I’m writing for them in April and had it in the fridge already. It’s goooood!

The ultimate choc chip cookie recipe

The trick to getting the perfect soft cookie

… is to not over bake them. This is something that has taken me years to perfect. They only need 9-10 minutes in the oven. The edges will start to turn golden brown but not brown-brown- if you know what I mean? They’ll be light and puffy and they’ll look under baked. They’re not. Just take them out of the oven and place the tray on a cooling rack and leave them for 20 minutes before removing them. I know, I know. Warm cookies from the oven are too good to resist so just do your best!  As they cool they wrinkle and look like the ones above. Chocolate heaven. The ultimate choc chip cookie recipe

Even after nearly forty minutes the chocolate was still all warm and melted. See? It’s hard to resist! Hence there are now only five left from the batch – which makes 18. (just so you know I’m not completely greedy I did bake these yesterday. I haven’t eaten them all by myself in one go!

The ultimate choc chip cookie recipe

🖨 Print this recipe off here

 

I hope these become a staple in your recipe repertoire as they have mine! Let me know how you get on and if you manage to resist/share them.

EmmaMT

x

The only Coffee Madeira cake recipe you’ll ever need, and it fits all cake tin sizes!

The only Coffee Madeira cake recipe you’ll ever need, and it fits all cake tin sizes!The only Coffee Madeira Cake recipe you'll ever need

After countless emails and comments here on Cakes Bakes And Cookies I am finally happy to share my new Coffee Madeira cake recipe. I’ve tried it so many different ways – with esspresso, with more coffee, with less coffee and this is THE one! It’s a perfect balance of lightly textured cake with a smooth coffee flavour. The buttercream has a delicious coffee flavour but not too strong and when put together the balance is… well, just right.

I made the 9″ Coffee madeira cake mix and split it between five small 6″ tins. Have you seen these tins from Lakeland? They’re a clever set designed for making rainbow cakes and now they do them in an 8″ set too. I wanted to have an impressive layer cake suitable for a coffee morning but you can use this recipe in one 9″ cake tin for a layered wedding cake.

 

Coffee Madeira cake chart

This chart is for round cakes. For square cakes just go up one inch so an 8″ square cake will use a 9″ round recipe.

The_only _Coffee_Madeira_Cake_recipe_you'll_ever_need

How to make Coffee Madeira cake

  1. Line the cake tin with baking paper. I use sunflower oil to grease the tin so the cake stays soft. Butter tends to bake too quickly giving you a harder cake on the outside.
  2. Pre-heat your oven to 180ºC (Fan oven160ºC)
  3. Start by creaming the butters together then add the sugar and beat till it’s pale and fluffy.
  4. Very slowly add the eggs – a spoonful at a time. Add a spoon of the flour to prevent curdling if necessary.
  5. Add the hot water to the coffee and disolve. Set to one side to cool.
  6. Sieve the flour and baking powder into a separate bowl. Add the flour and coffee in three goes. This produces the fluffiest and most moist cake rather than adding all the flour then all the water.
  7. Add the walnut halves mixing as little as possible.
  8. Bake for time stated on the chart for your size cake tin or until a skewer comes out of the centre clean.
  9. Don’t open the oven door for the first 30 minutes. It will make the cake sink.
  10. Leave the cake to cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes before adding the sugar syrup and turning out of the tin carefully.

How to make the sugar syrup:

  1. In a saucepan heat the water and sugar until the sugar is completely dissolved. Let it simmer for 2-3 minutes then leave to cool. I make my sugar syrup when the cake goes into the oven.
  2. Once your cake is removed from the oven let it sit for 5 minutes then use a pastry brush to brush the sugar syrup over the entire cake. You only need to cover each area of the cake once and avoid soaking the cake or you will end up with a big soggy mess not a nice moist cake. Make sure you get the edges of the cake covered as they tend to dry out the most.
  3. Leave for a further 10 minutes before turning your cake out onto a rack to cool completely.

The only Coffee Madeira Cake recipe you'll ever needCoffee buttercream recipe

These buttercream quantities are enough to fill each cake when split into two layers and coat the outside with a crumb coat and top coat.

 

The_only _Coffee_Madeira_Cake_recipe_you'll_ever_need

How to make coffee buttercream

  1.   Mix the water and coffee together till disolved then set to one side to cool.
  2. Start by beating the butter so it becomes light and fluffy.
  3. Sieve the icing sugar over the top of the butter then mix until well blended. I place a tea towel over my Kitchenaid and hold it carefully in place whilst mixing to prevent the dust from the icing sugar going everywhere.
  4. Once combined add the coffee and mix for 2-3 minutes so it becomes really light and fluffy. This consistency is good for a filling between layers of cake as it’s thick. I pipe buttercream between layers as it stays thicker than when I used a palette knife. It’s also easier to control and get flat.
  5. When covering a cake with a buttercream crumb coat before adding sugarpaste or for a decorative finish you need the buttercream to be more fluid. You can get this consistency by adding a drop or two of milk and mixing it in well. Do this slowly as once it’s too soft it’s a pain to get it to firm up again. How soft you want your buttercream is a personal choice. I like to be able to smooth the buttercream on with a palette knife easily and have it come off the sides with a side scraper without breaking the cake, but I don’t want it too soft.

The only Coffee Madeira Cake recipe you'll ever need

For the five layer Coffee Madeira cake

To create the coffee morning five layer cake I made the cake mix and placed it equally in each tin – which was around 150g per tin. The cakes only took 25 minutes to bake. To decorate I piped a squiggly line on the outside of each layer and filled the middle of each cake evenly.That way you get a pretty outside edge.

For the top I spread the buttercream neatly to cover the edges then piped another squiggly line around the outer edge. I broke up some extra walnuts and sprinkled them on top of the icing.

This cake was a hit in our house. Beau asked for “just a small slice” for breakfast. You can’t have a small slice of this cake.  Whichever way you cut it it’s going to be big. She managed to finish it off no problem!

Another thing about this cake is that I have been testing Madeira cakes made with butter and oil (instead of margarine). The cakes come out really light and much flatter but they don’t last as long. So if you give this a try decorate your cake to seal it (with a complete covering of buttercream) by the day after you bake it. You’ll also want to eat it within two or three days.

http://cakesbakesandcookies.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/Coffee-Madeira-cake-chart-PDF-.pdf

Hope you like it

EmmaMT x

p.s. For all of you asking for a lemon Madeira cake recipe – that’s coming next month with charts too!

How to make a Baymax birthday cake

How to make a Baymax birthday cake

How to make a Baymax Birthday cake

Last month I was asked to make Dulcie’s 5th Birthday cake and it wasn’t a Baymax birthday cake. In fact I feel a bit guilty that my first response when asked was ‘Oh no, not another Minecraft cake with hundreds and hundreds of little green squares!” Dulcie’s mum very graciously changed her mind to a Baymax cake and I was soooo pleased. Not only that it wasn’t a Minecraft one but because we loved Big Hero 6 and I knew Baymax was going to be a fun one to do.

The challenge was to make him a bit interesting and not just a big white figure on a cake board. Dulcie’s mum said “No pink”. It sounds like Dulcie is like Darcey – properly feminine and a complete tomboy at the same time. She also asked for the cake to be blue. “No problem” I said. And then I tried to make it!

The impossible blue Baymax birthday cake !

I set off on a google research mission. I’ve coloured my madeira cake before but never a specific blue colour and I know from the past that a yellowy, cream cake mix will not make a blue cake. It will be green! I even asked at the cake decorating shop how to do it. They weren’t sure so we looked for a ‘white’ cake to bake that could be coloured on line. The cake on the blog we found was as pure as snow. The author had removed egg yolks and replaced them with buttermilk. She used white butter- which we can’t get here (if you know of any please let me know) and it looked light and fluffy. I tried. It was not pretty! The cake was very light in colour but no where near white enough. I added the blue colouring and baked it. It came out illuminous turquoise. Not good. It also went completely solid after one day, even though it was double wrapped in cling film. Yuck!

For the next trial I baked my madeira cake, removing the egg yolks – replacing them with double cream, I used sunflower oil instead of the very yellow margarine and I used President butter – the whitest butter I know of. It still came out deep green but it was marvelously flat and very soft. In the end- running out of time,  I had to see if a green cake would be okay and when Dulcie’s mum said “Go for it” I made another batch of my madeira cake – again making it as light in colour as possible and only adding a touch of blue colour and the end result was lovely. Pfew!

How to make a Baymax Birthday Cake

This cake was relatively straight forward to make. As long as you have enough cakes to stack you’re good to go.  Cover the cake board a few days in advance so it has time to harden.

To shape the cakeHow to make a Baymax Birthday cake

I used a number of tins with paper liners in them as I didn’t have enough of the same size to get the height. The paper cases were for 7″ cakes. I made 3 x 7″, 1 x 6″, 1 x christmas pudding bowl – for the curved shoulders and one 4″ cake for the head. I used my 9″ Madeira cake mix and split the cake mix between the tins.

As the cakes were so uneven I flattened off the tops and stacked the cake to see how it would look. Once I was happy I added buttercream between each cake and smoothed the shape of the body. To make the cake secure and prevent the layers slipping off one another I pushed three wooden skewers into the body and snipped the ends off.

To make the headHow to make a Baymax Birthday cake

The head was a small 4″ cake. Use a sharp bread knife to shape it into a head shape then cover in buttercream and then cover with sugarpaste. I made the head first so it could harden up a little for when I needed to handle it into place later.

To cover the bodyHow to make a Baymax Birthday cake

Once cut to shape cover the body in a crumb coating of buttercream. Place it in the fridge to set for 10-15 minutes. I had to remove a shelf to fit him in. Then add a second coat of buttercream to get a smooth surface for the sugarpaste to sit on. I like to chill the second coat for another ten minutes but it’s not essential.

Roll out the sugarpaste quite thick – around the depth of two £1 coins. I covered the body in one go so as I lifted the sugarpaste off the work surface I knew it would stretch and likely tear if it wasn’t thick enough. As it’s positioned it does get thinner. To make sure there are no creases lift the sugarpaste at the bottom up and gently lift it away from the cake with one hand while smoothing it down with the other. This action will stretch the sugarpaste into shape and prevent creases. This does take some practice but just take it slow and don’t be afraid to pull the sugarpaste away furhter than feels right. Tuck the paste right into the base of the cake and remove any excess. I was able to lift the cake up and tuck the sugarpaste underneath then place Baymax onto the cake board (with royal icing to make him stay in place). I then rubbed down where my hand was to make him smooth again.

Use a drop of royal icing to position the head in place.

To add the arms and details
How to make a Baymax Birthday cake

The arms and legs were made from sugarpaste. Roll out sausage shapes then make them gently squared off at the ends. On the legs use a palette knife to make groves where the feet are and on the arms cut an additional oval for the elbows. Both the arms and legs were stuck into position with royal icing. The arms need to be held for a minute till they stick and won’t slide off. Once the arms were secured four fat sausage fingers and thumbs were added.

The badge on Baymax’s chest was made with a circle cutter. A palette knife was then used to make the detail lines in the centre.

For the face be really careful to position the eyes- cut out from black sugarpaste and a line of sugarpaste, exactly where you want them to be. Black sugarpaste is really sticky and once it’s on you won’t get the marks off. Luckily Baymax’s face is really simple. I used edible glue to position them so there was no chance of seepage.

Decorations for the Baymax birthday cake How to make a Baymax Birthday cake

I really love writing names in sugarpaste since I made Asher’s climbing wall cake . Again, I wrote the name out in a big black marker on paper and placed silicon paper over the top then traced the letters in a long thin line of rolled out sugarpaste. I then left the name to dry. Drying a name takes around 4-5 days but you can speed the process up by placing it in a warm (not hot or it will melt) oven. I put my oven on to 50ºC for five minutes then I turn it off and place the name inside for only 10 minutes. Remove it and leave it to cool completely. Repeat if you want the name firmer. The firmer the name the easier it is to handle and the less likely it is to break. Use Royal icing under and behind the name to stick it in place.

As the cake was going to be pretty bland with just Baymax I made little cubes of sugarpaste into wrapped gifts by adding ribbons and bows on top. They were placed around Baymax. I also didn’t just want to have a number 5 any where so I made a mini birthday cake complete with five candles for the number to sit on. I did this with thick sugarpaste cut out into circles in beige and then had smaller white discs (for cream) with red ‘jam’ over the top. These were layered up together with royal icing to hold them together.  If I was to change anything about this cake it would be to make the sponge layers of this mini cake more brown. Next time!  The candles were thin florists paste (as it dries harder quicker) with sugarpaste flames on top. I used red and orange sugarpaste which wasn’t completely blended together to make the flames more interesting.

How to make a Baymax Birthday cake

So, that was it. I really loved making this Baymax birthday cake. I think it works for boys or girls, you just change the colours to suit. What do you think?

All that’s left to say is

Happy Birthday Dulcie you gorgeous smiley munchkin you. xxx

EmmaMT

x

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