Sunday, 22 April 2012

Lush Carrot Cake.

Now this is a definite, continual joy to consume in very large amounts, and the very first proper cake-sized cake I baked. Normally I just bake it plain without any dried fruits or nuts and just take in the moist heaven of the sponge and cream cheese topping. Also normally I bake it as a single layer 9" cake (As in the last photo) but for today's bake I'm whacking it into two 7" tins, adding walnut pieces and filling as well as topping with the cream cheese lushness Mmmmmmm....


  • 2 Medium free range eggs
  • 200g Golden caster sugar
  • 50g Light muscovado sugar
  • 100ml Sunflower oil
  • 1 tsp Vanilla extract
  • 250g grated carrot
  • 125g pineapple
  • 300g plain flour
  • 1 1/4 tsp Bicarbonate of soda
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp Ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp Ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp Ground ginger
  • 100g Walnut pieces, chopped or whole (Optional)
  • 50g Sultanas (Optional)
Cream cheese icing:
  • 200g Soft cheese
  • 50g Unsalted butter (Room temp)
  • 1 tsp Vanilla extract
  • 200g Icing Sugar
  • Preheat the oven to 180c
  • In a large mixing bowl, mix together the eggs, caster sugar and muscovado sugar.
  • Add the oil and vanilla extract and mix.
  • Blitz the pineapple in a processor to small pieces. I do this at the same time as grating the carrots, just swapping over the blade to grater attachment.
  • Add the carrot and pineapple to the bowl and mix.
  • Sift the flour, salt, bicarb and spices into a bowl and add slowly whilst just mixing until fully incorporated.
  • Put aside as many walnuts as you want to decorate the top, then chop up the walnuts for the sponges into small bits.
  • Stir in the chopped walnuts and sultanas.
  • Prep your baking tin or tins. Grease and line or use cake release spray.
  • Bake for about 45mins. The sponge should just be starting to come away from the tin edge. 
  • Check it's baked with a cake tester or cocktail stick, it should come out fairly clean from the centres.
  • Cool in the tins for 15 mins, then turn out onto a cooling rack to cool completely.
  • For the icing...
  • Add the cream cheese and butter to a mixing bowl and beat for a couple of mins.
  • Keep beating and add the vanilla.
  • Then sift the icing sugar and add about a third at a time until each amount is well mixed in.
  • Eat the entire contents of the bowl. Spread the cream cheese mix as a filling and topping. You might want to chill the icing for 5 mins to make it behave, especially if you have a domed (That's domed, not doomed!) cake. 
  • Eat :) 

Here's a few tunes from people that have nothing to do whatsoever with carrot (tops)

La Roux - In For The Kill

Part-time red-head is good enough for me to include some Haley Williams! :D Paramore - Misery Business

Tim Minchin - Taboo :)

I had no idea this existed! - The Carrot Song  Altogether now - "Carrots wear green, furry hats........." YeeeeeeeeHaarrrrrr!

 Finally, for a lush cake, a lush song from Lush - Ladykillers.

Stay carroty people, stay carroty.

Friday, 20 April 2012

Chocolate and Hazelnut Cake.

You know that time when you want to bake and have a quick look through the shelves and cupboards to suss the options available. Well this is where this baby was conceived. Right up to when I decided I wanted to try to replicate some awesome looking caramel hazelnuts I'd seen on Pinterest, when a shopping trip was needed for whole hazelnuts. After making daft looking cakes like Oxford Rocks with it's leopard spot sponge, and before that the Valentines cake I wanted to pull things back a bit towards the basic tasty and good looking cake that takes about a tenth of the hours to make. I was quite happy with the Easter pimped Honey cake but even that had decoration un-relating to the actual cake, so with this one, I actually managed to keep the decoration chocolate and hazelnut based. I even felt a bit bad for veering off into the world of caramel lol.

1st May - Chocolate Celebration Cake version added below the choc/hazelnut. :)


  • 250g Golden Caster Sugar
  • 130g Unsalted Butter (Room temp)
  • 2 Free range medium eggs
  • 30ml Sunflower oil
  • 80ml Milk
  • 2 TBSP Nutella
  • 200g Plain Flour
  • 2 tsp Baking powder
  • 40g Cocoa powder
  • 30g Ground Almonds
Filling and sides:
  • 150g Unsalted butter (Room temp)
  • 2 TBSP Nutella
  • 1 TBSP Milk
  • 30g Cocoa powder
  • 300g Icing sugar
  • 60g Double cream
  • 120g Dark chocolate
  • 15g Unsalted butter
  • 3 Hazelnuts
  • 50g Hazelnut bits
  • 30g Granulated sugar

  • Turn the oven on to 170c
  • Prep two 7" or 8" tins, either by greasing and lining with baking paper or spraying with cake release spray.
  • Put the butter and sugar into a mixing bowl and cream together.
  • Keep mixing. Add one egg at a time.
  • Add the oil
  • Add the milk.
  • Add the Nutella.
  • Sift the flour, baking powder, and cocoa into a bowl and add gradually to the mixing bowl.
  • Add the ground almonds.
  • Mix until just fully combined.
  • Split evenly between the tins and bake for about 25 mins.
  • Check they're cooked with a cocktail stick or knife which should come out clean when inserted into the centre of the sponges.
  • Allow to cool in the tins for 15 mins, then tip out onto a cooling rack to cool completely.
  • To make the buttercream, beat the butter and Nutella together for a couple of minutes.
  • Sift the icing sugar and cocoa, and add to the butter mix a bit at a time.
  • Add the milk and mix for at least 5 mins.
  • Spread on one sponge and then place the other sponge on top so that the 2nd sponge's flat base is facing upwards.
  • Apply buttercream to the sides of the cake with a palette knife. You can do this properly by applying a thin crumb layer first, which traps any loose crumbs, and then another layer. 
  • Press crushed hazelnuts into the sides of the cake in whatever style takes your fancy. I poured some out at the base and then pushed up into place with a palette knife. 
  • For the topping, pour the cream into a saucepan and heat until bubbles start to form at the sides.
  • Turn the heat off and add the chocolate. Stir gently until melted.
  • Add the butter and stir until melted.
  • Allow to cool for 5 mins.
  • Using a teaspoon, dribble some of the choc mix down the sides of the cake.
  • Then spread the rest over the top of the cake.
  • Decorate with chopped hazelnuts as required.
  • To make my not-quite-what-they-were-meant-to-be caramel hazelnuts, I melted 30g of granulated sugar in a small saucepan, just gently moving it with a spatula as it melts. I then arrange 5 hazelnuts on manipulated paper clips sandwiched between 2 cartons of fruit juice and two tins of beans. I then sprayed a baking tray with cake release spray and placed it underneath the nuts, the hazelnuts. I then dribbled the melted sugar over the hazelnuts. What I was looking for was a long, sleek, single pointy caramel finger, like the T-1000's finger in Terminator :) I think that involves dunking the nuts in the caramel or allowing it to cool a bit because when I dribbled the caramel over the nuts it tended to fall off before it got right round to the underside. Also 2 flat juice cartons weren't quite high enough and the strands backed up on themselves and contorted or snapped off. I'll find out next time :)
  • Allow to cool and place on the cake. You can also string some of the caramel and use that as decoration.
  • Eat cake :)

I'm submitting this production into May's Alphabakes. Alphabakes is run monthly, alternately by Ros at The More Than Occasional Baker, and this month's by Caroline at Caroline Makes... This months letter is 'H', and what letter does hazelnut begin with children? That's right! :)

Chocolate Celebration Cake.

I contemplated giving this fella his own page, and might do, but for now he's so linked to the cake above I think I'll tag him down here...and also the photos were a bit pants :)

Same recipe as above but:

No Hazelnuts.
No Nutella.
All over buttercream with 250g butter, 250g icing sugar, 1 TBSP milk and 2 heaped TBSP cocoa powder.
A sprinkling of cocoa powder.
2 flakes, crushed.
2 bags of maltesers.
1 bag choc buttons.
Melt dark and white choc onto baking paper or a sheet of acetate, then chill, for the shards, and also to drizzle over the wired maltesers.
I was going to decorate with milk and white choc curls as well, done with a peeler, but they didn't come out nice enough so I ended up just putting a few right in the centre where the wires go in.

Tunage courtesy of course from Hazelnut O'Connor - Eighth Day

Rabbit action! Watership Down featured a rabbit called Hazelnut! (Are you sure? - ed.) Written by Mike Batt of the Wombles fame, Art Garfunkel - Bright Eyes.

Talking of Terminator fingers, a Tuuuuuuuune! from T2 - Guns and Roses - You Could Be Mine

...and finally, random gorgeous tune of the day. One of the best from Elastica - Never Here.

What's that? You want to see Julianne Regan lipsyncing on Japanese TV? Why certainly! Here's All About Eve - Every Angel.

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

The Apple & Pear Trilogy

This trilogy of Apple and pear bakes started off as a traybake recipe which then got reduced and squeezed into a brownie tin and cupcake bake. The Tray bake produced the the most pleasing result, with the cupcakes 2nd, and brownie tin 3rd. The brownie tin was just a little too shallow and produced the driest of the bakes due to the amount of baked surface area compared to insides. They did though produce the most snigger inducing results. What? Nipples? I didn't say nipples! Who said nipples!?! Shocking!

The final batch of cupcakes were also pimped up with a bored-out centre of creme fraiche icing which made a bloomin nice little combo!

Ingredients for 9" x 12" Tray bake

  • 170g Self Raising Flour
  • 170g Plain flour
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 1 tsp Ground Cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp Ground Nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp Ground Cloves
  • 1 tsp Bicarbonate of Soda
  • 2  Apples
  • 1 Pear
  • 115g Unsalted Butter (Room Temp)
  • 170g Light Muscovado Sugar
  • 1 Large free range Egg (Separated) 
  • 3-4 TBSP Milk
  • Turn oven on to 180c
  • Sift the flours, salt, spices and bicarb into a bowl.
  • Peel and core the apples. Chop one up and put in food processor. Slice thin rings from the other apple and put aside for top decoration. Then add the rest of the apple to the processor.
  • Peel the pear and add to the processor.
  • Blitz until puree.
  • In a mixer bowl, cream the butter and sugar together well.
  • Keep mixing and add the egg yolk.
  • Keep mixing and add alternate amounts of the flour and fruit mixtures until all added.
  • Add enough milk and mix in so that the batter will spread easily in the tin.
  • Whisk the egg white until it forms soft peaks.
  • Gently fold the egg white into the batter mix until combined.
  • Prep a 9" x 12" baking tray by greasing and lining with baking paper, or with cake release spray.
  • Spread the batter into the tray evenly.
  • Place the apple slices on top. Add a light sprinkling of cinnamon if you like. 
  • Bake for approx 35-40 mins or until a cocktail stick come out of the centre clean.
  • Cool in the tin for 10 mins then turn out onto a rack to cool completely.
  • Cut into slices and munch :)

Ingredients for the 12 hole brownie tin and 12 cupcakes:

  • 140g Self Raising Flour
  • 140g Plain Flour
  • 1/4 tsp Salt
  • 1tsp Ground Cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp Ground Nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp Ground Cloves
  • 3/4 tsp Bicarbonate of Soda
  • 2 Apples
  • 1 Pear
  • 90g Unsalted butter (Room temp)
  • 140g Light Muscovado Sugar
  • 1 Free Range Medium Egg (Separated)
  • 2-3 TBSP Milk
Preparation is the same as above :) Apart from you'll want 12 apple slices for the tops.

Soooo immature to think they look like nipples!!! You MGMT - Kids you!

3 ways to bake this, and a crackin vid from the 3 Beastie Boys - Sabotage

3 ways to bake this, and 3 Yeahs! Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Heads Will Roll Oh Karen! :)

and for no reason at all apart from its beauty - Mazzy Star - Fade into You

and finally (I've heard that before! - ed.) The mighty Pendulum - Propane Nightmare (Did they split recently? Can't remember, will have to check....)

Stay pointy everybody, stay pointy!

Monday, 9 April 2012

Oxford Rocks cake for The Oxford Bake Off

A long, long time ago, March 24th to be precise, there was in Oxford Town, a Bake off. I attended along with this time-eating cake, some mad chocolate brownies, and a loaf of Sun-dried tomato and basil bread.
The cake and brownies took hours and hours of planning, practice runs, frustration, sorting logistics and setting up. The bread took a few minutes, got un-ceremonially placed on a plate at the bake off, and then won it's category! Yay! lol To be fair to it though it did bake really well, looked ok, and tasted good.

So, to start with, the cake. As it was the Oxford Bake Off, I wanted to do something Oxford based, and after a few other ideas, came up with a music from Oxford theme, and the original design is pretty much what the final cake ended up being. It is a Chocolate and Orange sponge made in a rock n roll leopard skin stylee, with a truffly chocolate filling, then I tried to make an Oxford blue buttercream, but didn't quite get there, then I decorated with regalice records featuring bands from Oxford (Radiohead got the 3 centre spots), some icing musical decoration, a base ring of Crunchie rocks, and finished off with a bit of airy height from the 'Oxford Rocks!' Maltesers. The last time I used maltesers on the Valentines cake, they were randomly placed, so when I went to line these up I didn't foresee the frustration of getting the little sods lined up properly lol


  • 225g Self Raising Flour
  • 25g Cornflour
  • 2 tsp Baking Powder
  • 250g Caster sugar
  • 250g Unsalted butter at room temp
  • 4 Free range medium eggs
  • 5 TBSP milk (Or just enough to make the batter easily spreadable in the tins)
  • 1 Heaped TBSP Cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp Orange extract
  • Yellow, red and black concentrated colour gels.
  • 100ml Double cream
  • 170g Dark Chocolate
  • 1/2 tsp Orange Extract
  • 200g Unsalted Butter at room temp
  • 400g Icing Sugar
  • Blue and Black concentrated colour gels
  • Black and White Sugarpaste/Regalice for the records
  • Icing Sugar and few tsp of Lemon juice for the icing. 
  • Maltesers 


  • Make 3 records and allow to dry for a few days.
  • Preheat the oven to 180c
  • Prep 2 9" round tins as you like. Greased and lined or cakey release spray.
  • In a mixing bowl, cream together the butter and sugar.
  • Sift the Flour, Cornflour and baking powder into another bowl.
  • Add one egg and some flour at a time to the butter mixture and mix well until all 4 eggs and all flour added.
  • Add a tablespoon of milk at a time until the batter is of a consistancy that will push out to the tin edges easily.
  • Take out 300g of the batter into a seperate bowl.
  • To the remaining batter add the tsp of Orange extract and a few drops of yellow colour gel and mix.
  • Split the batter evenly between the two tins and smooth level.
  • Put the 300g of batter back into the mixing bowl, add the cocoa powder, a drop of red and drop of black colour and mix well. This will be piped, so add a small amount of milk now if necessary.
  • Spoon the batter into a piping bag with about a size 5 nozzle or cut a similar sized hole in the end of the bag.
  • Poking the nozzle down into the yellow batter, squeeze out lots of little blobs without breaking through to the surface. Then squeeze lots of little blobs out onto the surface of the batter, so it looks something like this on one of my practice run cakes.....

  • Give the tins a bit of a wobble then bake for about 30 mins or until a cocktail stick comes out of the centres clean.
  • Leave in the tins for 15 mins then tip out gently onto a cooling rack
  • When the sponges are cool pour the cream into a saucepan and heat until bubbles appear at the edges.
  • Add the chocolate and stir together.
  • Allow to cool a bit until not runny but spreadable, and over the surface of one sponge.
  • Sandwich the sponges together.
  • Mix together the butter and icing sugar and add colour if you want to.
  • Cover the cake with the buttercream using a palette knife.
  • Use a black food pen and write on the 3 old records and place them in the centre.
  • Roll out black and white Regalice and using whatever you can find to make the right sized circle cuts, in my case an old baking powder tub, a bottle cap, and a straw, make 6 records and place on the cake Let them dry a while before writing on them. (Slightly quicker to write that than make them lol)
  • Mix together some sifted icing sugar and drops of lemon juice to make enough icing for the musical bits and pieces, and go as mad as you like piping the icing on. Save some for the maltesers.
  • Pipe the letters onto the Maltesers, attach to wires, stick in cake.
  • Take to Oxford Town Hall and eventually, eat :)

The Oxford Bake off was conceived by Kate and was a charity event for the benefit of:

As I write this, there is currently a wonderful Oxford Bake Off recipe book available to buy for just £5 from here with contributions from the likes of Holly Bell, Kate Shirazi, Oxford Cupcakes, and Jane Asher!

Piccies from the bake off:

And a few tunes from the Oxford boys and girls:

Another excuse to slip in this baby from Death By Crimpers - Obsessive

Radiohead - Creep (Uncensored, so don't click 'play' kids! Oi, no, stop that, oh now you've done it, that's the end of the world, you're all going to end up foul mouthed criminals, oh wait, that's from playing COD.) Oh, ignore all that, it's the radio friendly 'Very' version lol

Some tunage from Swervedriver - Dual

Some Supergrass - Richard III 

Classic from The Auteurs - Lenny Valentino

The Candyskins - Submarine Song.

Finishing with the awesome Ride - Time of her Time