How much do you love chocolate brownies? Well let me tell you as I sit here typing I’ve had both daughterlings come and ask me when they can eat these soft cherry brownies? They’ve only been out of the oven for two minutes but they’ve made the whole house smell all chocolatey. “They’re for New Years Eve” I told them as they skulked off as if they had to wait an eternity.
Brownies rock NYE
I’ve found that with this recipe these brownies taste good when still warm with a dollop of ice cream but if you can bare to wait they improve in richness if eaten a day after baking. I made these to take to a New Years Eve party this year where there will be other chocolate loving kids so I wanted to add a soft cherry flavour. Usually I add glacè or natural morello cherries but for this one I decided to make them quick and easy and used a tin of pitted cherries in juice. I drained the juice completely so they wouldn’t make the cake all gooey – well more gooey than it should be. I also didn’t cut them in half so when you eat them you get all that juicy flavour in one hit.
The result? Pretty good I’d say.
3 medium eggs
275g caster sugar
175g salted butter
200g dark chocolate
175g plain flour
2 tbsp cocoa powder
1 tin of pitted cherries (about 230g)
Line a 20x 30cm baking tin with silicon paper and pre-heat your oven to 180*C (160*C for fan ovens).
Place the eggs in a bowl and whisk up then add the sugar and combine. Set to one side.
Place the butter in a saucepan over a medium heat and when melted remove from the heat and add the broken up dark chocolate until it melts. Place over the heat if necessary but be sure to watch that it doesn't burn.
Measure and sieve the flour and cocoa into a separate bowl.
Add the chocolate to the egg and sugar mix and combine. Add the dry ingredients and fold in.
Stir in the drained pitted cherries then transfer to the cake tin.
Bake for 30 minutes. The top will start to form cracks. That shows it's ready to be removed from the oven.
Leave the tin on a rack to cool completely before removing the cake from the tin.
To cut neat portions place a large knife in hot water then dry before cutting each slice. The heat from the blade will slice easily through the whole brownie if you re-heat it each time.
So what are you baking for New Years Eve then? Last year I made a tart and the year before I made Tiramisu. Anything goes as long as it sees in a sweet new year and brings you plenty of joy and happiness.
Happy New Year.
Lemon Drizzle cake with Flora Buttery
When someone asks you if you’d like to do a sponsored post the chances are you’re going to say yes. When that post involves you baking- and lets face it, demolishing a Lemon drizzle cake in almost one sitting the answer is definitely a double yes!
Flora asked me to choose a recipe from their website and I have to say I was surprised at just how many recipes there were (gazzillions!) From their selection the Lemon Drizzle cake was the one that I fancied eating most right at that very moment. But I had to wait for the weekend food shop to get my hands on a tub of the Flora Buttery (it’s available in all supermarkets). By the time I had a tub arrived I was craving chocolate so I gave the Flora buttery it’s first baking test run on the choc chip cookies from a few weeks ago. Normally a softer butter (or margarine) would make a really gooey-not-in-a-good-way cookie but these were delish. I’ve already made them again.
Lemon Drizzle cake – everyone’s favorite.
When I used to work at Woman & Home magazine and we had a cake sale it was always the Lemon Drizzle and the banana cakes that sold out first. For that reason I though that it would be a good idea to make this Lemon Drizzle for when I was visiting a friend. It was the perfect balance of sweet and zingy. I baked the cake but I always worry I’m going to drown the cake in the lemon sugar syrup so I just brushed it on liberally when the cake came out of the oven. There’s something very satisfying about watching syrup seep into a cake. As the cake is hot it literally disappears in milliseconds. There was tons of syrup left which made me think I’d made the cake wrong. In hindsight I could have added a lot more syrup at this stage but it still tasted great without it. Really light and the texture of the cake was so soft and springy.
After I had ‘taste tested’ the cake I decided that rather than waste the lemon sugar syrup I would brush most of what was left over on top of the cooled cake. Oh – my- goodness!!!! That’s when it all came together for me. So good. So zingy. So deeeelish! In fact the true test of whether a cake is good is when Tim comes into the office peers over my shoulder while I’m writing this post and says “Mmmm that looks good. Can you bake it again?” – I should note that as my official taste tester he is a bit rubbish. He has amazing will power and will eat just one slice of cake, whereas I will eat till it’s gone (that’s why Monday’s are so good. No kids, no Tim, just me and the freshly baked goods!) I only saved one slice of this for Tim before I headed off to my friends – obviously it was not enough!
My reply to Tim was ” I can make another lemon drizzle cake but I was planning on making muffins today” to which he replied “You can make those too!” Hello ever widening hips!
The Lemon Drizzle Cake recipe
You can 🖨 off this recipe here
Disclaimer: Thank you to Flora for sponsoring this post. All thoughts and opinions and ramblings are my own
Matzah Kugel Pudding recipe for Pesach
If you’re Jewish I think I know what you’re thinking. “Oh yeah thanks Emma. Today is the last day of Pesach. Great timing for a Matzah Kugel Pudding!” and I get it. This recipe would have been a whole lot more helpful if it had gone out last week when Pesach – the Jewish passover started. But I hadn’t perfected it then and I don’t want to share anything with you that isn’t just right. Also I had so many downloads this year on the first two days of Pesach for the cinnamon balls biscuits and almond macaroons that I know you’ll love this recipe next year anyway!
This is a basic matzabrai recipe – matzahbrai is an eggy breakfast we eat during Pesach. I love it and eat it all year round for lunch. The key to this recipe is to keep the egg soft and moist. The Matzah Kugel Pudding can become dry and therefore really stodgy really quickly so if there’s a bit of movement when it’s time to take the Kugel out of the oven that’s just fine.
I added a whole load of almond flakes to this recipe as I’m a bit addicted to them at the moment and lets face it this is the perfect time of year to fill up on almonds – basically all the cakes made at Peseach use almonds in one form or another. Almonds make it really tasty. I also add a drizzle of honey on the whole pudding when it comes out of the oven. If you eat it then it tastes divine but if you come back to it the next day and nuke it in the microwave the honey just seeps in. Deelish!
You can 🖨 this recipe off here
You can of course make this pudding anytime of year but during Pesach when food gets a little bit limited it’s a real treat. Definitely one to make every year along with the cinnamon balls and almond macaroons. I feel a new family tradition coming along!
Easy peasy White Chocolate cheesecake
Last Saturday I was out all day. I came home to an ill and bedridden Tim and Beau and a Darcey who was taking over the whole kitchen. If you’ve ever wondered how many bowls and utensils it takes to make a cheesecake when you’re nine years old I can tell you. ALL of them!
You have to give it to her though. She was bored and wanted to do something with her weekend. It wasn’t TV and it wasn’t games on the iPad so I was pretty happy, but I did get back in the nick of time. The recipes (yes plural recipes for one cake!) weren’t exactly what we had to hand. We didn’t have enough chocolate or cream cheese. We also had the wrong biscuits. Ever ingenious Darcey was going to make it work. She bashed up the snack biscuits we have for packed lunches – the individually wrapped chocolate covered bars. She didn’t turn them into fine breadcrumbs as you normally would with a cheesecake base. There were plenty of chocolatey lumps which meant the base of the cake tin wasn’t exactly covered. I switched off my perfectionism and let it go. It was after all Darcey’s cake.
As I got home she was just about to heat up the milk (which I had to reduce a little- like by half!) and add the chocolate. This is the kind of baking I do- make it up as you go along and take notes so you know what works and what doesn’t, but I don’t think she would ever know that. She just wanted to make a cake. By the time we had mashed the recipes together with what we had I suggested that we bake this ‘no bake’ cheesecake as it was a bit too runny and I doubt it would ever have set.
Once the cake was out of the oven and completely cooled Darcey covered it with chocolate which she had grated with our Cusipro grater that has this handy cover. When you turn the cover over it to the bottom it collects all the gratings. She grated milk and white chocolate and that was sprinkled over the whole cake. She didn’t stop there adding random dollops of chocolate sauce – the kind usually saved for ice-cream on top of the sprinkles. This unfortunately meant that Tim gave it the nick name of Darcey’s litter tray cheesecake. Luckily Darcey didn’t hear that and it didn’t stop him from tucking into a healthy slice of it.
Totally delicious! In fact it’s such a success I’ve asked Darcey to make it for our New Year’s Eve dinner. She’ll need to make it again anyway. She got really upset when it was all gone and everyone had eaten it up. I don’t thinks she quite gets that that is the desired outcome of any bake. It will come to her I’m sure. Until then I will continue to let my little one bake to her hearts content – no matter how many mash ups and books she need all at once.
Darcey’s White Chocolate cheese cake
Lemon and Lime Madeira cake recipe
I’ve been wanting to test out this Lemon and Lime Madeira cake recipe for ages. I made it a few years ago for my sister’s charity cake morning but I didn’t measure the ingredients or take photos so when fellow Free Cakes For Kids volunteer Zowie had a Macmillian coffee morning this weekend I thought it was the perfect opportunity to make it again.
It’s a bit of a show stopper as this time I made it three tiers tall and I have finally worked out how to have a decent amount of buttercream between layers without it all squidging out from the sides.
Lemon and Lime Madeira cake recipe
- 170g Butter – at room temperature
- 170g margarine – at room temperature
- 400g caster sugar
- Juice 1 lemon and 1 lime (3 ½ tbsp cake, 1tbsp sugar syrup and 1 ½ tbsp buttercream)
- Rind of 1 lemon and 1 lime (½ for the cake, ½ for the buttercream)
- 7 medium eggs- at room temperature
- 510 plain flour
- 3 ½ tsp baking powder
- 7 tbsp water
Sugar syrup ingredients
- 40g caster sugar
- 40ml water
- 1 tbsp lemon & lime juice (taken from original fruit)
- 450g butter- at room temperature
- 450g sieved icing sugar
- 1 ½ tbsp lemon & lime juice (taken from original fruit)
- Lemon and lime rind
How to make the Lemon and Lime Madeira cake
To make the cake
- Line three 8″ cake tins with silicon paper and pre heat your oven to
180ºC (Fan oven160ºC). I use sunflower oil to grease the tins so the cakes stay soft. Butter tends to bake too quickly giving you a harder cake on the outside.
Start by creaming the butters together then add the sugar and beat till it’s pale and fluffy.
Very slowly add the eggs – a spoonful at a time. Add a spoon of the flour to prevent curdling if necessary.
- Grate all of the rind from the lemon and the lime then juice them both. Run the juice through a sieve so there are no pips or pith. These will be used for the cake, the buttercream and the sugar syrup so don’t put it all in the cake at once or you’ll end up with a very, very zingy cake! Put 3 ½ tbsp of juice into the cake mix and set the rest aside.
Sieve the flour and baking powder into a separate bowl and have the hot water ready. Add the flour and water in three goes. This produces the fluffiest and most moist cake rather than adding all the flour then all the water.
Finally fold in half the zests.
- Spoon into the three cake tins. The mixture should be 565g for each tin – if you want really even cakes.
Bake for 30-35 minutes or until a skewer comes out of the centre clean.
Don’t open the oven door for the first 20 minutes. It will make the cake sink.
Place the cakes on a wire to cool.
- Make the sugar syrup while the cakes are baking.
To make the sugar syrup
- Place the water and sugar into a saucepan and bring to a simmer.
- Simmer until all the sugar has dissolved then add the lemon and lime juice.
- Set aside and allow to cool.
- Once the cakes are out of the oven brush over the top of each cake with the sugar syrup. You only need to cover each area once. Don’t be tempted to put too much syrup on or you’ll end up with a soggy mess.
- Leave the cakes to cool for 15 minutes before turning them out of the tin to go completely cold before you arrange them with buttercream.
To make the buttercream
Place all the ingredients in a bowl and beat until light and fluffy. This will take 3-5 minutes. If using a stand mixer you can carefully place a tea towel over the mixer -around the outside of the bowl to prevent the icing sugar being thrown out all over the place. If using a hand held mixer loosely combine the ingredients before whisking.
Make sure the cakes are level by cutting off any domes from the tops
- Fill a piping bag with a wide nozzle with the buttercream. Pipe dots all around the bottom cake layer then fill the inside. Use a spatula to smooth it a little.
- Place the next layer on top then repeat with the next layer of buttercream finishing off with the top layer of cake.
- Place in the fridge to chill for 10 minutes. This encourages the buttercream to harden up a little making it easier to spread buttercream on the outside edges.
- Use a little of the buttercream to spread a crumb coating on the top and outside edge – filling any gaps between the layers as you go, then chill in the fridge for 20 minutes. The longer it’s in the fridge the harder the coating will get and the easier it will be to add the next layer. I’ve been leaving the crumb coating a little bit rough (rather than smoothing it completely flat) recently and it’s made adding the outside coating much easier.
- Once the crumb coating is firm add a thicker outer coating all over the cake. Use a serrated ruler to create a design in the buttercream across the top and then on the sides.
- Place any decorations on the top (these Daisies were from Poundand) and then chill again for 10-15 minutes.
From what I tasted – I never leave an off-cut uneaten, that’s what buttercream is for isn’t it? this is one seriously zesty, moist cake.
Honey cake recipe for Rosh Hashanah
Every Jewish festival comes with a traditional cake. Rosh Hashanah – which is the Jewish New Year, is Honey cake. Rosh Hashanah is celebrated over two days and it’s one of the biggest festivals in the Jewish calendar. We get together and eat – a lot, gathering for big meals and lots of honey cake.
Traditionally honey cake is a really dense and heavy cake but I’ve been making lighter versions for years now. This one is made with syrup. Now I know what your thinking. If it’s made with syrup why is it called honey cake? Well, Syrup makes the cake a bit heavier than honey and that’s what my mum does and what her mum did and what her mum did. Get the picture? So I thought I’d give it a go. I didn’t want my cake to be too heavy so I made it the Genoise way. Still light but with a superior moistness! Yummarge!
Honey cake recipe
- 90g plain flour
- 100g Self Raising flour
- 1¼ tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
- ½ tsp ground cinnamon
- 4 eggs (separated)
- 100g caster sugar
- 110ml syrup
- 110ml sunflower oil
- 110ml tea (the stronger the better)
- Line an 8″ baking tin well. This cake mix is more like batter than cake so it will run out of any cracks in a loose bottom tin. It’s also quite sticky once baked so I always bake in cake liners. It also makes it easier to give the cakes as gifts.
- Heat your oven to 180ºC (Fan oven160ºC)
- Make the strong tea and set aside to cool a little.
- In a separate bowl measure out all the dry ingredients
- Measure the egg whites and sugar into a heat proof bowl and place over a bain-marie. You want to warm the mixture not heat it up. If it gets too warm you’ll have scrambled eggs – yuck! Whisk the ingredients to add air and make the mixture double in size. Remove from the heat and carry on whisking with a hand held whisk or in a stand mixer. Stand mixer is easier.
- Measure the oil into a jug and while whisking the egg whites slowly add the oil in a slow and steady trickle. Add the egg whites and the oil and whisk further.
- Add the cooled tea and whisk again.
- Sieve the dry ingredients over the cake mix. Avoid pouring the dry contents into the bowl in one go as the weight of it will burst loads of air bubbles and we need them to give the cake lightness. Fold the dry ingredients into the mix until completely combined then pour the ingredients into the cake tin. The mix will resemble a very wet batter. It will rise into a deep cake so fill the case to ¾ full.
- Bake in the centre of the oven for 45minutes or till the cake starts coming away from the sides. This cake is incredible light so if you press the top with your finger it will leave an indent even if the cake is baked.
- Remove from the oven and leave to cool completely on a rack before removing from the tin.
This cake tastes great on the day of baking but even better the day after
Happy New Year to all my Jewish readers. Chag Sameach