Carrot cake sandwich cookies

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As you are all aware, The Great British Bake Off is back! Before it started I thought it would be a nice idea to bake something inspired by the show each week and blog about it. Week 1 was cake and although I had the best of intentions, I didn’t get round to my GBBO inspired bake because I was baking ready for my photography session with Betty last weekend.

While I was searching through endless cooking blogs (which is what I seem to spend hours doing without realising these days), I came across a blog called Mummy Mishaps (http://www.mummymishaps.co.uk/) by @JennyPaulin. She is running a little competition where food bloggers are baking an item inspired by that week’s show and then there will be a star baker each week. This has been appropriately called The Great Bloggers Bake Off.

I decided to move on from cake week and join in with week 2 – biscuits! I came across this recipe months ago and wanted to try it because everyone raves about the carrot cupcakes I make, so I wanted to see if these would be as popular. They have the same key ingredients as the carrot cupcakes but are in cookie form instead. The original recipe is one by Martha Stewart but I have tweaked it slightly.

I took these into work and they went down very well! I think they are a great alternative to cupcakes but have the same flavours that people seem to love. Sometimes I find biscuits a little bit boring so the filling in these add something a little bit special.

For the filling
2oz full fat cream cheese
2oz unsalted butter at room temperature
1/4 cup icing sugar
1tsp lemon juice

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and put to one side while you make the filling
  2. Beat the cream cheese and butter until smooth. Add sugar and lemon juice and mix until combined
  3. Cover and put in the fridge for at least 30 minutes until firm. Meanwhile, make the cookies

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For the cookies
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted

1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg yolk
3/4 cup plain flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup rolled oats
3/4 cup packed finely grated carrot
1/3 cup sultanas

  1. Whisk together butter, sugars and egg yolk. In another bowl whisk together flour, cinnamon and salt. Add flour mixture to butter mixture and stir until combined. Mix in the oats, carrot and sultanas
  2. Spoon level tablespoons of mix onto the baking trays leaving enough room to allow for the cookies to spread. Flatten the mix down slightly

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  1. Bake for 15 – 18 minutes, turning the trays half way through, until the edges are crisp. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely
  2. When cooled, turn one cookie upside down so the flat side is facing upwards. Spoon about 1 tsp of the chilled filling onto the cookie. Put another cookie onto and gently press down so that the filling spreads to the edges

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Before being filled, the cookies can be kept in an airtight container at room temperature for up to three days. The filling can be made ahead and chilled for up to five days.

The original recipe can be found at – http://www.marthastewart.com/341124/carrot-cake-cookies

GBBO

Monkey bread

Monkey Bread 2

(photo by Greedy Betty)

This is the first of three posts that will include photographs from my photography lesson with Betty. I started talking to her on Twitter and was blown away by her fantastic photography on her website www.greedybetty.com. When we realised we both lived in the same town, she very kindly invited me over so I could get some photography tips. Photographing food is something I would really like to improve on.

It was fantastic to learn about lighting, how to create a scene for a photograph and tips on how to use my camera on the manual setting which had always scared me! It was great to meet up with someone who was as passionate about food as I am. It was a fantastic opportunity to learn, and also meet such a lovely person. I hope in future posts you will be able to see small differences as my photographs improve (go easy on me though!). Photoshop is top of the list followed very closely by a light box!

This recipe is the first I decided to make for the photography session. I saw it on one of my favourite blogs – Sally’s Baking Addiction (http://sallysbakingaddiction.com/). She has so many delicious sounding recipes, but when I saw her recipe for Monkey Bread I knew it would be the first recipe I tried. The recipe is little cinnamon balls baked in a bundt tin with the idea of picking the individual balls off, like monkeys do when they groom each other. Bundt cakes seem to be very popular at the moment, and this recipe is another way of using your bundt tin but for something a little different.

I know I say you should make a lot of the recipes I feature on here, but if you love cinnamon rolls, this is the recipe for you. It is absolutely delicious! Personally, I think American recipes are great for cinnamon based food because American’s seem to love their cinnamon and know how to use it. It makes a big old portion which makes it perfect for a party or a family occasion.

This recipe needs to be left overnight. Please read the whole recipe before starting.

For the dough
1 package of yeast
1/4 cup warm water
1 & 1/4 cups warm milk (semi skimmed or higher)
1/3 cup unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp  salt
5 cups plain flour
Spray oil

  1. Put the yeast in a bowl and add the warm water. Stir it around a let it sit for a couple of minutes. Add the milk, melted butter, sugar, eggs, salt and 3 cups of flour. Beat using a dough hook for 3 minutes (or mix by hand)
  2. Add enough flour to form a firm dough. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface. Keep adding enough flour until it forms a firm dough, this will be about 5 cups in total. Knead until the dough is smooth and elastic, this should take about 5 minutes. Don’t over knead or else you will have a tough chewy dough. Form the dough into a smooth bowl and put it into a large greased bowl and cover with cling film. Put it in the fridge for 8 hours or overnight to allow the dough to prove

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For the coating
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 & 1/4 cups granulated sugar
1 tbsp ground cinnamon

  1. Melt the butter in a small bowl. In another bowl mix the granulated sugar and cinnamon together
  2. Spray a 10-12 cup bundt tin with spray oil and set aside. Punch down the dough and then pull small pieces of dough off and roll them into balls approximately 2.5cm in width. You need approximately 40-45 balls in total so don’t roll them too big or too small!
  3. Dip each dough ball into the melted butter and then roll in the sugar and cinnamon until generously coated. Do this with each ball and arrange them neatly into the bundt tin. Depending on how generous you are with the sugar and cinnamon mix, you may need a little more sugar

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  1. Once all of the balls are assembled, cover with cling film and leave for 45 mins for the dough to prove

For the drizzle
1/4 cup butter, melted
2/3 cup light or dark brown sugar (I used 1/3 cup of each)
1 tsp vanilla extract

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Melt the butter and whisk in the brown sugar and vanilla extract. Pour this over the dough balls in the bundt tin

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  1. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until golden brown. If the top looks like it is browning too quickly, cover loosely with foil
  2. Allow to cool in the tin for 10 minutes and then turn out

For the glaze
1 cup icing sugar
3 tbsp cream or whole milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

  1. Whisk all of the ingredients together and pour over the bread. You may need to add a little bit more cream/milk to get to a nice pouring consistency

This recipe is so tasty you won’t be able to stop yourself going back for another gooey, sticky cinnamon ball! You have been warned!

Cat Minkey Bread

 (photo by me!)

Please visit www.greedybetty.com for more of Betty’s amazing work.

Blueberry muffins

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My favourite flavour of muffin has always been blueberry. When I was 10 we went to Florida and I remember having this huge blueberry muffin that I had to eat in more than one sitting it was so big! Everyone has their own idea of a perfect muffin, and to me I love a muffin with a soft top. I’ve seen a lot of recipes that require a sugary crunchy top – this isn’t what I’m looking for!

I went shopping for a few bits on Friday evening and was tempted by a big punnet of juicy blueberries. At the time, I didn’t know exactly what I was going to bake with them, but at least I knew the direction I was going in. Its becoming more difficult each week for me to decide what to bake as there are so many things on my to bake list. I like finding an ingredient that jumps out at me and then searching for a recipe.

That night I was talking to a few people on Twitter about blueberry muffin recipes and Esther (@Bournebaking) suggested a recipe she had adapted and perfected. I am am always willing to try recipes that fellow bakers have tried and tested. Before settling on this recipe, I had looked around and saw a few recipes that used yogurt. I saw that Esther’s recipe used milk so thought I would try two batches – one using milk and the other using yogurt and then I could compare the two.

I’m getting a little fed up of my usual sultana bran for breakfast. I’ve tried yogurt or fruit instead but these don’t seem to keep my full for very long so they are more of a snack. I thought a muffin would be a perfect breakfast item, but it has to be relatively healthy. I am conscious of keeping food quite healthy and keeping an eye on the calories if possible (sometimes you do need to ignore this and treat yourself though!). The milk version of this recipe has 292 calories whereas the yogurt version has slightly more at 309. Ideally I’d like to find a tasty muffin for around 200 calories that doesn’t compromise on flavour. Watch this space as I search!

For the muffins
2 cups plain flour 
1 cup blueberries
1/4 tsp salt
3 tsp baking powder
3/4 cup caster sugar
1 egg (beaten)
1 cup milk or low fat yogurt
1/4 cup vegetable oil 

  1.  Preheat the oven to 200°C and line a muffin tin with 10 paper cases
  2. Wash and dry the blueberries carefully. Add them to a bowl with the flour, salt, baking powder and sugar. Mix everything together gently
  3. Mix the milk/yogurt and oil together in a separate bowl and then add the beaten egg
  4. Make a well in the dry ingredients and add the wet ingredients. Mix until just combined – don’t over mix. It will look quite lumpy
  5. Fill the cases with the mix and bake for 15-20 mins until a cocktail stick comes out clean (mine took 17 minutes)

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The two mixes looked very different. The milk mix (top photo) will be quite runny whereas the yogurt mix (bottom photo) is very thick and does take a bit more mixing to make sure all of the ingredients are combined. When filling the cases, I filled them approximately 1cm below the top of the case. This meant that some of the muffins had odd shaped tops where the mix had overflown. This is not ideal for something like a cupcake where you need a flat top, but I like this look for a muffin – makes it look more rustic! If you do want them all perfectly uniform, fill the cases 3/4 full.

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When comparing the two different recipes, there really isn’t a great lot of difference. The yogurt made a slightly denser muffin, but it was still light and fluffy and somehow gave an almost creamy texture. Use whichever you prefer or try both and let me know which you liked best!

Thanks again to Ester @BourneBaking for a fantastic recipe. Please follow her on twitter and visit her website www.bourne-baking.co.uk

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Scotch eggs

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I decided to make scotch eggs among other things for Rien’s birthday. What I call ‘picnic food’ is Rien’s favourite type of food so I knew I wanted to give scotch eggs a go. I based my recipe on Simon Rimmer’s recipe which can be found on the BBC Food website (http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/scotcheggs_85851) but I did end up tweaking it slightly.

These do take a little bit of time and were never going to be the healthiest picnic snack. Try making them for a special treat.

For the filling
4 eggs
275g sausage meat
1 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp mustard powder
1 tsp wholegrain mustard

Salt and pepper

  1. Gently put the eggs into a pan of cold salted water. Place over a high heat and bring to the boil, then reduce the heat until the water is at a simmer for exactly nine minutes
  2. Drain and cool the eggs under cold water. When the eggs are cooled, peel them. I find it is easiest to gently crack the shell by tapping it on the work surface and then using the wrong end of a teaspoon to carefully peel the shell away from the egg. Don’t panic if you accidentally peel some of the white away with the shell – it really isn’t the end of the world

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  1. Mix the sausage meat, thyme, mustard powder, wholegrain mustard and salt and pepper together in a bowl. Divide the sausage meat into four and flatten each one on a bowl into an oval shape. Each oval should be approximately 12.5cms in length and 7.5cms at its widest point

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For the coating
50g plain flour
100g panko breadcrumbs
1 egg
Salt and pepper
Vegetable oil

  1. Season the flour with salt and pepper and roll each egg in it so it is completely coated
  2. Place each floured egg onto a sausage meat oval then wrap the sausage meat tightly around the egg making sure there are no gaps
  3. Dip each sausage meat covered egg in the beaten egg and then into the panko breadcrumbs. Make sure it is completely covered

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  1. Heat the oil in a deep pan until a breadcrumb sizzles and turns brown when dropped in. The eggs need to be completely submerged so how much oil you need depends on how big your pan is. I used approximately 1.5 litres. I know this sounds a lot but I have heard that deep frying is actually healthier (don’t laugh) than shallow frying – I won’t bore you with the details!
  2. Carefully lower each egg into the hot oil and cook for 8-10 minutes until they are crisp and golden and the sausage meat is cooked. Don’t overcrowd the pan because this will lower the temperature of the oil. I cooked 2 eggs at a time
  3. Remove from the oil using a slotted spoon and allow to drain on some kitchen paper. Allow to cool then tuck in

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Only two of my scotch eggs turned out perfectly. One completely exploded and the egg made a break for freedom and the other had a bit of a crack. I think this was down to not making sure the sausage meat was as tightly compacted as it should be. Cooking is all about trial and error so don’t worry if the same happens to you – they’ll still taste as good and definitely look home made!

Pimm’s cupcakes

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I found this recipe via one of the people I follow on twitter – @becsj76. She posted her recipe of Pimm’s cupcakes as well as a lovely photo. I love a glass of Pimm’s in the summer so what better way is there to enjoy Pimm’s than in a cupcake too?!

The recipe was really simple and quick which is always a plus if you want to bake but not spend hours in the kitchen on a hot sunny day! For this recipe, I used Aldi’s version of Pimm’s; Austin’s. It is half the price, and in my opinion tastes nicer. Feel free to use whichever you prefer.

For the cupcakes
100g margarine
150g caster sugar 
150g self raising flour
3 tbps Pimm’s
2 eggs

  1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC
  2. Mix the margarine and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the eggs and Pimm’s and mix again and then add the flour
  3. When combined, divide the mixture between 12 cupcake cases
  4. Bake for 20-25 mins until a cocktail stick comes out clean

For the buttercream
100g butter
225g icing sugar
2 – 3 tbsp Pimm’s

  1. Mix the butter and icing sugar together until combined
  2. Add the Pimm’s one tablespoon at a time until you get the correct consistency for piping
  3. Pipe onto the cupcakes and decorate; I kept it simple with a slice of strawberry

These cupcakes have a lovely flavour without being too overpowering. Thanks again to Becs for a great recipe. If you would like to see more of her recipes follow her on Twitter or like her Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/Aunties.Cupcakes1

2014-07-25 23.05.19

 

Chocolate ripple cheesecake

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I wanted to make something for my brother-in-law’s birthday, and after talking to my sister, we decided on a chocolate cheesecake. After looking through a few recipes, I decided on this one by Mary Berry (http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/americanchocolaterip_6334). We all love a bit of Mary Berry!

I have slightly adapted the original recipe because I found there was no where near enough base mixture on the original recipe. Even though the base is the part of a cheesecake I’m not fond of, there is no way you can make a cheesecake without a proper base! I also used milk chocolate digestives for the base and a mixture of plain and milk chocolate in the cheesecake mix simply because I like milk chocolate more.

For the base
300g milk chocolate digestive biscuits
150g melted butter

  1. Preheat the oven to 160C and lightly grease a spring release tin. The one I used was 9″ which is 22cm
  2. Crush the digestive biscuits until they are a fine crumb texture. I do this by putting the biscuits in a food bag and bashing it with a rolling pin
  3. Melt the butter and mix with the biscuits. Tip into the tin and press the mix down so the bottom of the tin is evenly covered

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For the cheesecake
100g plain chocolate
50g milk chocolate
700g full fat cream cheesee
225g caster sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs

  1. Split the chocolate into chunks and melt in a bowl over a pan of simmering water – make sure the bottom of the bowl doesn’t touch the water. Leave to cool slightly
  2. Put the cream cheese in a bowl and beat until soft. Add the sugar and beat again until well mixed. Then add the vanilla extract and the eggs one at a time making sure everything it combined
  3. Spoon half of the mixture onto the biscuit base making sure there are spaces between them

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  1. Add the melted chocolate to the remaining cheesecake mix and stir until fully mixed. Spoon this mix into onto the base, in between the other mix already in the tin. Swirl the top to create a marbled effect

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  1. Bake the cheesecake in the oven for 30 minutes or until it becomes slightly puffy around the edges but still looks soft n the centre. In my oven, it took roughly 40 mins to get to this stage so keep an eye on it. Turn the oven off and allow the cheesecake to cool in the oven
  2. Once the cheesecake has had time to cool in the oven, put in the fridge to cool completely before serving

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My cheesecake didn’t turn out as marbled or rippled as I would have liked. I think this was because my vanilla ‘half’ of the mix wasn’t quite half! This meant there was more chocolate mix which made it look more layered than rippled. It still looked and tasted really good though, so make it look however you want! Not bad for only the second cheesecake I have made!

Sponge cake with raspberry and mascarpone cream

This was the first cake I made when I got my mixer for my birthday. Obviously I was desperate to try it out so I wanted to make my own birthday cake to share with my family.  I knew I wanted to make a sponge cake with fresh fruit, but all the recipes I had seen before either used buttercream or fresh whipped cream – not ingredients my Dad and sister would like! After a while of looking, I came across this recipe by Delia Smith that used mascarpone as the filling – perfect!

For the cake:
175g self raising flour
1 rounded tsp baking powder
3 large eggs
175g caster sugar
175g butter
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

  1. Preheat the oven to 170ºC and line and grease two 20cm loose bottomed cake tins
  2. Sift the flour and baking powder into a bowl. Then add all the rest of the sponge ingredients and mix until everything is combined and smooth. This is what is called an all-in-one cake as all of the ingredients are added in one stage
  3. Divide the mixture between the two tins and spread out until level. Place in the centre of the oven for 30-35 mins

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  1. Allow the cake to cool completely on a wire rack

For the filling:
225g fresh raspberries
3-4 tbsp raspberry jam
250g mascarpone
200ml fromage frais
1 tbsp caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract

  1. Whisk the mascarpone and fromage frais together and then add the sugar and vanilla extract
  2. Put one cake on your serving plate and spread with one tablespoon of jam

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  1. Next spread half of the cream mixture and then scatter with the raspberries. Add the remaining cream and drizzle with the remaining jam

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  1. Place the second sponge cake on top and press down gently. Dust with a small amount of icing sugar

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This cake is a great alternative from the usual sponge cakes. The recipe is incredibly easy and very light and fluffy – a perfect cake for the summer.

The original recipe can be found at http://www.deliaonline.com/recipes/cuisine/european/english/all-in-one-sponge-cake-with-raspberry-and-mascarpone-cream.html

Yucatan chicken skewers

I am quite disorganised/forgetful when it comes to shopping. I write a list but still end up forgetting things; Rien has given up and just accepts we’ll have to go to the supermarket numerous times in a weekend! I decided I wanted to make this recipe and thought I had all of the ingredients but like usual, I didn’t – no orange juice! One of the things I like about cooking is how you can adapt recipes and add more of what you like and take out (or forget) other ingredients. Like I said, I missed out the orange juice but I added some paprika.

For the skewers:
6 chicken thighs
125ml fresh squeezed orange juice
60ml fresh squeezed lime juice
2 tbsp honey
2 tbsp sunflower oil
2 tbsp ancho chilli powder
1 tsp paprika
3 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
Salt
Pepper
Wooden skewers (soak in water first)

  1. Remove bones and skin from chicken thighs and cut each thigh into 2 or 3 strips
  2. Whisk together the orange juice, lime juice, honey, oil, chilli powder, garlic, salt and pepper in a shallow dish. Add the chicken thighs and leave in the fridge to marinade for 1 – 4 hours

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  1. Soak the skewers in water and thread the chicken onto the skewers (the below photo shows the Yucatan skewers next to ones marinated in lime, garlic and oil)

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  1. Cook the skewers on a griddle or BBQ for approximately 5 minutes each side or until cooked through

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Because using a BBQ is a man’s job (we must encourage men when they offer to help!), Rien was in charge of cooking the skewers. It was his first time using a BBQ so some got a little charred, but I actually like the charred flavour food gets from being cooked on a BBQ.

To go with these chicken skewers, I made some pepper and halloumi skewers. These are as easy as they sound – chopped peppers and cubed halloumi on a skewer but are a good side dish for the skewers.

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These are perfect if you’re planning on having a BBQ this weekend because they are really tasty and easy to make! You can find the original recipe at www.foodnetwork.co.uk.

Nutella buttercream

It is no secret that I am a Nutella fan. I came to the obvious conclusion that adding Nutella to buttercream could never be a bad thing!

The recipe I used was from a blog called Cooking Classy (http://www.cookingclassy.com/2013/09/banana-cupcakes-nutella-buttercream-frosting/). Their recipe used a banana cupcake, but I decided to use a simple vanilla cupcake.

This recipe makes enough buttercream for roughly 12 cupcakes. However if you like buttercream piled high on your cupcake, the recipe says to make 1 1/2 the amount below.

1/4 cup unsalted butter
1/4 cup salted butter
1/4 cup Nutella
2 1/2 tsp cocoa powder
2 cups icing sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract  
3-4 tsp double cream

  1. Beat together the butter until pale and fluffy
  2. Add the Nutella and cocoa powder and beat again to combine
  3. Add the vanilla extract and icing sugar and mix slowly until combined
  4. Finish by adding enough cream until the buttercream is the right consistency – it should be firm enough to hold its shape when piped. Mix one last time and then it is ready to pipe onto your cupcakes
  5. Decorate the cupcakes however you like, I used chopped hazelnuts and chocolate sprinkles

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Chocolate and hazelnut bundt cake

I have been very quiet on here recently because I have been on holiday in Mexico. The hotel was amazing and the food was delicious! They’ll be more of that in a later post.

Just before I went, Mum bought me a bundt tin. Bundt cakes look amazing and come in fantastic patterns and are recognised by their ring shape. When it came to finding a recipe, I knew exactly where to look. I follow someone on twitter who is referred to as the Bundt Queen – @DollyBakes. After looking at her recipes I was instantly drawn to her chocolate and hazelnut bundt cake – anything with Nutella in gets my vote! (http://www.dollybakes.co.uk/2013/09/chocolate-hazelnut-bundt-cake.html)

The hazelnut yogurt was as a little tricky to find. The original recipe said it could be found in Morrisons and Marks & Spencer. I couldn’t see it in M&S but after some serious hunting, we found it in Waitrose. I asked someone in M&S if they had it and it was definitely worth it to see their face wondering what on earth I was talking about!

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For the cake
225g butter
450g golden caster sugar
4 medium eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
350g plain flour
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tsp salt
250ml hazelnut yogurt 
100g milk chocolate chips
50g chopped hazelnuts
4 tbsp Nutella
Spray oil

  1. Preheat the oven to 160ºC and grease a 2.4L, 10 cup, 10 inch bundt tin. I used spray oil

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  1. Cream the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy
  2. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after egg and then add the vanilla extract
  3. In a different bowl, mix the flour, bicarbonate of soda, salt, chocolate chips and nuts
  4. Alternate between adding the flour and yogurt starting and ending with the flour, sifting it as you add it. Don’t over mix
  5. Tip in the dry ingredients trapped by the sieve, which have been coated in flour which will help them from sinking
  6. Mix everything together once more just so the dry ingredients mixed through
  7. Pour 3/4 of the mix into the prepared tin

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  1. Spread the Nutella over the cake mix. If you mix it with a spatula in a bowl first this makes is easier to spread. Keep the Nutella away from the edges of the cake

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  1. Cover with the remaining mix and spread evenly. Give the tin a wipe with kitchen roll if you have managed to get the mix on the tin like I did!
  2. Bake in the centre of the oven for about 1 hour 15 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean. It should be shrinking from the sides of the tin slightly. It took approximately 1 hour for the cake to be cooked in my oven so keep an eye on it!
  3. Leave the cake to cool for 10 minutes, then remove from the tin

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  1. Allow to cool completely

For the icing:
300g icing sugar
100g cocoa powder
Chopped hazelnuts for scattering

  1. Mix the icing sugar and cocoa powder together with enough water to make a runny icing
  2. Pour over the cake and sprinkle with chopped nuts

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This is a fantastic recipe and can’t wait to try more bundt cakes!