Saturday, 23 February 2013

Coffee, maple and pecan cake

This cake is so good that I've made it three times in the space of 10 days!

I discovered it at at work a few weeks ago - a colleague had baked it for someone's leaving do and when she told me what it was I thought, 'oh, sounds alright'  but when she took the lid off the box and I was punched in the face by the most delicious smell of coffee mixed with a hint of sweetness, I knew that I was in for a treat!

And oh how I was! It was such a light cake, with a big coffee kick that was balanced perfectly by maple syrup and coffee frosting. You know it's a good one when the whole room goes quiet as everybody tucks in, apart from the occasional 'ooh' and 'mmm'. I knew I had to get the recipe and somewhat surprisingly, it was from the ocado website.

Yep.. definitely not enough frosting in there!
 I knew exactly when to make it, too - the theme for the Runcorn and Widnes Clandestine Cake Club last month was Love at First Bite and I decided that this cake fitted the bill perfectly. I had a practice go at it and realised that my colleague had doubled (possibly tripled) the original recipe as hers was humungous, but following the recipe I got a nice modest sandwich and decided to just double the frosting amount next time, as it was a bit scant the first time. The best bit about making this was greedily smearing frosting onto the spare bits of cake after I'd levelled it off... hmm on second thoughts maybe that's why the frosting was a bit scant! The first cake was dispatched to my Mum's workplace and reports back were good.

So, the second outing was to the Runcorn and Widnes CCC. Definitely better with double the frosting! It was so nice to overhear positive comments about my cake at the meeting and someone asked me for the recipe which always puts a smile on my face! You can read the write up for the event here.

Finally, it got a third run out last weekend. Mike's Mum retired recently and we were going to their house for the traditional 'celebratory buffet' and so I decided she needed a cake. And I knew this was a good one so out it trotted again, this time with some quite poorly iced writing on! I don't know what it is with writing icing, it gives me the shakes and robs me of any confidence in my ability to spell! I had to trace the letters with a skewer first (yep so there's really no excuse for it!) and even then suddenly the words didn't look quite right... they were though, so all was well.

So after three successful goes with this cake I can most definitely recommend it, lovely, easy, and quick cake to throw together. You can find the recipe here. I think I will retire it for a while though now, I've also got another coffee cake to post about so that's probably enough for a few months at least! The recipe is online here - I would definitely double the frosting though, you need enough for a good slathering plus extra to gobble down with the left over cake top!

Saturday, 16 February 2013

Caramel & Pretzel M&Ms cupcakes

I seem to have developed an obsession with American M&Ms. I'm not sure why, since I've never been that much of an M&Ms fiend, but import them from America, put some funky flavours in whack up the price tag and I'm sold!

After munching my way through some Pretzel M&Ms I decided they must be incorporated into something baked, and the thought of them mixed in to caramel cupcakes sounded just right.

Gorilla in the whisk....
I used the Hummingbird Bakery's recipe for Caramel cupcakes and folded in some bashed up M&Ms to the mixture. With hindsight, this wasn't the best recipe to use since I've found that Hummingbird recipes tend to be very runny and so unsurprisingly, the M&Ms mostly sank to the bottom (and then got stuck to the bottom of the cupcake case..).

That aside, the flavour combination definitely worked and so I just need to come up with a firmer cupcake batter to support the little chunks of pretzelly M&M goodness! I've been baking with a lot of caramelly flavours recently which is unlike me - I don't really like too much caramel normally because it's too sweet, but find the right flavour to pair it with and I'm in!

The recipe I used is from Cake Days and has been reproduced on many a blog post, so I won't bother - if you want to use it and don't have the book, one of the places you can get the recipe is here. I used 3 bags of pretzel M&Ms and just reserved 12 to use on the top and bashed the rest up. I was annoyed at myself for eating the 4th bag I bought because I think the cakes could have done with a few more in them!
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