Thursday, 13 November 2014

Be-Ro Chocolate cake with chocolate buttercream

At the end of last month, It was my work colleague's last day.  I'm known for my bakes at work, so a homemade chocolate cake was fitting for a parting gift. He has always been a really supportive co-worker. Over the years, I have learnt a lot about youth work from him.

I used Be-Ro recipes for both the cake and the buttercream. I made a naked two-tier cake (like I normally would) and was going to leave it as it was. However,  by the next day, I was unhappy with the way it looked (so ugly!), so decided to cover it all with the chocolate buttercream.


My second attempt at crumb-coating a tiered cake. I also piped some buttercream stars around the top of cake (using a Wilton star tip), as well as gave it a few sprinkles. Think it looks much better for it!


I was pleased that I decided to cover the cake and add extra decoration. It was also extra practice in cake decorating for me! My co-worker was really touched by the cake :–)


For the 2 sandwich chocolate cakes

200g (7 oz) Self-raising flour
25g (1 oz) cocoa powder
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
Pinch of salt
75g (3 oz) plain chocolate, broken into pieces
275g (10 oz) light brown sugar
50g (2 oz) butter, at room temperature
3 eggs, beaten
1 tsp vanilla extract
150ml (1/4 pt) sour cream
75ml (3 fl oz) milk

1. Preheat the oven to 160°C fan / 180°C conventional / gas 4.
Grease and line the base of s 2 x 23 cm (9 inch) sandwich tins.
2. Sift the flour, cocoa, bicarbonate of soda and salt into a bowl and set aside.
3. Place chocolate into a microwave-safe bowl.
Heat in the microwave for 30 seconds intervals, stirring after each 30 seconds, until melted.
4. Cream sugar and butter together in another bowl.
5. Gradually add the eggs, with a little of the flour mixture after each addition.
6. Stir in the vanilla, sour cream, milk and melted chocolate.
7. Pour the mixture into the tins and bake for 30 minutes,
or until firm and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.
8. Cool completely before icing the cakes.

For the chocolate buttercream

100g (4 oz) butter, at room temperature
220g (8 oz) icing sugar, sieved
2 tbsp cocoa powder, sieved
4 tsp hot water

1. Beat butter until soft.
2. Gradually beat in icing sugar and cocoa powder then the water.


Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Fig Almond Cake and Fig Chocolate Slice


Parents got me many fresh figs on the cheap (4 for 23p)! I’ve never used fresh figs in baking and wanted to try a few experiments. Two out of three experiments were a success. Here, I am sharing the recipes for Fig almond cake and Fig chocolate slice. These turned out well and the evidence disappeared quickly at work!

I chose to use this Nestle recipe for Fig almond cake. I normally have condensed milk in the cupboard/fridge so this is a good way of using it up. I really enjoyed the taste and texture of this Fig almond cake. I didn’t have any flaked almonds to put on top so left them out. However, I think they would have added another tasty dimension to the cake.

I used this recipe for Fig chocolate slice. People were surprised and couldn't tell that there were figs in the brownie-like Fig chocolate slice. Apart from the occasional crunch from the fig seeds, you wouldn’t know there was something very healthy in it. A great way to sneak goodness into a very chocolaty indulgent treat!

The original recipe for Fig chocolate slice is served warm with a Brown sugar cream. I didn’t make the cream but you may want to give it a go. I ate mine at room temperature but imagine it would be nice warmed up too.


I made a few cupcakes out of the Fig cake mixture. I had leftover caramel buttercream icing leftover so used it up on these cupcakes. I use this recipe for caramel buttercream icing that goes well with chocolate cake. I let the caramel icing cool down and harden at room temperature. I then beat it with a hand-held mixer which loosens the hard icing. It becomes more like a buttercream consistency which you can pipe easily onto cupcakes. I had a go at trying different piping techniques with my new Wilton ruffle 125 piping tip.

Leigh really enjoyed these cupcakes. The Fig cake pairs well with the caramel buttercream.




So, here are the recipes for both Fig almond cake and Fig chocolate slice.
Starting with the Fig almond cake…




¾ cup butter (150 g), softened
½ cup (100 g) caster sugar
4 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
1 tin (397 g) condensed milk
1½ cups (210 g) plain flour
½ cup (50 g) ground almonds
1 teaspoon baking powder
1½ cups (300 g) fresh figs, peeled and chopped
¼ cup (25 g) flaked almonds, optional



1. Preheat the oven to 190°C.
Grease and line a 23 x 28 cm baking tin.
2. Mix in a bowl the butter and sugar until well combined.
Add eggs, vanilla and condensed milk then mix to combine all together.
3. Add flour, ground almonds and baking powder then mix until well combined.
4. Fold the figs into the mixture and pour mixture into the tin.
Sprinkle flaked almonds on top, if using.
5. Bake in oven for 35-40 minutes,
or until when inserting a skewer in the centre comes out clean.
Remove from the oven and cool completely.





And followed by the recipe for Fig chocolate slice…


200g dark chocolate, broken into pieces
150g butter, cubed
1 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs, whisked
250g fresh figs, peeled and finely chopped
3/4 cup self-raising flour
1/4 cup cocoa powder

1. Preheat oven to 180°C.
Line base and sides of 4.5cm (deep), 18cm (base) square cake tin with baking paper.
2. Place chocolate and butter in a microwave-safe bowl.
Microwave, stirring every 30 seconds, until melted and smooth.
3. Stir in sugar and vanilla. Set aside for 5 minutes to cool.
4. Stir egg and fig into chocolate mixture.
5. Sift flour and cocoa over mixture. Stir until well combined.
6. Spread chocolate mixture into prepared pan.
7. Bake for 25 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out slightly sticky.
Slice should be set and have a crust, but still be a little soft inside.
8. Remove from oven and set aside to cool completely in tin.
Cut into 16 slices.




Friday, 7 November 2014

Date & Walnut Chew Bars

I had a packet of walnuts that needed using up.  When looking for a recipe, I came across a tray bake with an unusual name – ‘Chinese Chews’. On further research, I couldn't find out much more about the origin of the name. No one seems to know where it has come from.

Anyways, I liked the sound and look of them and decided on using this Chinese Chews recipe.  I don’t think I've had anything like it before. Don’t know why they’re called what they’re called – didn't think they were particularly Chinese! However, I found this to be an easy-to-make and delicious tray bake (the flavours of dates and walnuts marry well together) with a surprisingly good texture (chewy from the dates with bits of crunch from the walnuts). I definitely recommend making this!



3/4 cup plain flour
1 cup caster sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup dates, chopped
1 cup walnuts, chopped
3 eggs, well-beaten
Icing sugar, for topping if using 
1. Preheat oven to 150° C.
Grease and line an 8 x 12-inch pan.
 2. Combine flour, caster sugar, baking powder and salt.
Sift into a medium sized mixing bowl.
3. Stir the dates, walnuts and eggs into the dry ingredients.
Make sure ingredients are well combined – the batter will be sticky.
4. Spread the batter out into the prepared pan.
5. Bake for 30 minutes,
or until top is golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean.
6. Cool completely and cut into squares.
7. Dust with icing sugar, as desired.